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Francesco Zabarella

(Padua, 10.8.1360 -Konstanz, 26.9.1417)

Francesco Zabarella studied philosophy, theology and law in Padua, under Antonio Naseri. He then moved to Bologna to study under Lorenzo del Pino and Giovanni da Legnano, where he was awarded the canon law licence on 27th May 1382.
He also graduated in utroque iure from Florence in 1385, where he went on to teach canon law for the following five years. There, he began his ecclesiastic career which led him to become a cardinal on 6th June 1411.

He came back to Padua at the start of 1391 and, in January 1406, he was part of Padua’s diplomatic mission that approved the city’s submission to the Serenissima Republic. Until 1410, he taught decretals at the University of Padua. That year, Antipope John XXIII named him bishop of Florence and, the year after, he was appointed cardinal, playing a leading role in the events surrounding the Western Schism.

John XXIII sent him as a legate to Sigismund of Luxembourg, king of the Romans, in order to convene a general council to recompose ecclesiastical unity. This council met in Constance on 5th November 1414. He died in Constance in 1417 and was buried in the choir of the Franciscan church there. His body was later moved to Padua and laid to rest in the cathedral.

In his work De eius temporis schismate tractatus, compiled from 1402, Zabarella made an important contribution to establishing the principle that the council had greater authority than the pope. He also published canon works and a number of philosophical and theological texts, including Tractatus de felicitate, conceived in Praglia between the summer and autumn of 1400, while the plague spread around Padua.