600 Years Council of Constance

Peter Lenk (1947), Imperia, 1993. Photo: http://www.konstanzer-konzil.de

Three popes, which simultaneously claimed the right to the papacy, religious turmoil and political conflict throughout Europe – for these reasons, spiritual and secular dignitaries came together for the Council of Constance in the bishop city of Constance between 1414 and 1418. The Council of Constance shaped European history with long-lasting effects. While turmoil shook Europe, the theological, political, and social issues of the day were mainly solved through dialogue on Lake Constance.
Entitled “Europe is a guest”, the ceremonies in the anniversary years 2014-2018 take up the most interesting themes of the congress. The inaugural year 2014 was dedicated to King Sigismund (1368-1437), the self-appointed patron of the Council and the diversity of issues at the Council of Constance. 2015, the “Year of Justice, ” paid tribute to the theologian and reformer Jan Hus (1369-1415). Hus, who had traveled to Constance to defend his teachings, was sentenced and burned to death on 6 July 1415 in Constance. This year, 2016, is dedicated to medieval life, in which a literary figure, Imperia, moves into focus. Imperia is a woman holding two men on her hands, Pope Martin V and Emperor Sigismund. Both are naked except for the crown and tiara, their symbols of power. The statue refers to a short story by Honoré Balzac (1799-1850), La Belle Impéria, a satire of the Catholic clergy’s morals, where Imperia seduces cardinals and princes at the Council of Constance.

Honoré de Balzac’s (1799-1850) character represents the medieval life. Martin V (1369-1431) was elected as a new pope In 1417 in Constance. This year also marks 500 years since the Reformation. This is reason to seek inter-religious dialogue within Europe. The last year of the commemorations, 2018, is dedicated to Oswald von Wolkenstein (1377-1445), minstrel and knight, who often traveled and performed at various European courts. The European cultural exchange and the tension between Christian and secular literature are central themes of the final year. (Further information: www.konstanzer-konzil.de)