MARTIN V (Otto Colonna) (1417-1431) was elected at Constance on St Martin's Day, in a conclave composed of twentythree cardinals and thirty delegates from the five different " nations " of the council. Son of Agapito Colonna, who had himself become a bishop and cardinal, the new pope belonged to one of the greatest Roman families; to Urban VI. had been due his entry, as referendarius, upon an ecclesiastical career. Having become a cardinal under Innocent VII., he had seceded from Gregory XII. in 1408, and together with the other cardinals at Pisa, had taken part in the election of Alexander V. and afterwards of John XXIII. At Constance, his r61e had been chiefly that of an arbiter; he was a good and gentle man, leading a simple life, free from intrigue. While refraining from making any pronouncement as to the validity of the decrees of the fourth and fifth sessions, which had seemed to proclaim the superiority of the council over the pope, Martin V. nevertheless soon revealed his personal feelings by having a constitution read in consistory which forbade any appeal from the judgment of the sovereign pontiff in matters of faith (May 10, 1418). As to the reform, of which everybody felt the necessity, the fathers in council had not succeeded in arriving at any agreement.
Martin V. himself settled a great number of points, and then passed a series of special concordats with Germany, France, Italy, Spain and England. Though this was not the thorough reform of which need was felt, the council itself gave the pope a satisfecit. When the council was dissolved Martin V. made it his task to regain Italy. After staying for long periods at Mantua and -Florence, where the deposed pope, Baldassare Cossa(JohnXXIII.),cameandmadesubmissionto him, Martin V. was enabled to enter Rome (Sept. 30, 1420) and measure the extent of the ruins left there by the Great Schism of the West. He set to work to restore some of these ruins, to reconstitute and pacify the Papal State, to put an end to the Schism, which showed signs of continuing in Aragon and certain parts of southern France; to enter into negotiations, unfortunately unfruitful, with the Greek Church also with a view to a return to unity, to organize the struggle against heresy in Bohemia; to interpose his pacific mediation between France and England, as well as between the parties which were rending France; and, finally, to welcome and act as patron to saintly reformers like Bernardino of Siena and Francesca Romana, foundress of the nursing sisterhood of the Oblate di Tor de' Speech! (1425).
In accordance with the decree Frequens, and the promises which he had made, Martin V., after an interval of five years, summoned a new council, which was almost immediately transferred from Pavia to Siena, in consequence of an epidemic (1423). But the small number of fathers who attended at the latter town, and above all, the disquieting tendencies which began to make themselves felt there, induced the pope to force on a dissolution of the synod. Pending the reunion of the new council which had been summoned at Basel for the end of a period of seven years, Martin V. himself endeavoured to effect a reformation in certain points, but he was carried off by apoplexy (Feb. 20, 1431), just as he had designated the young and brilliant Cardinal Giuliano Cesarini to preside in his place over the council of Basel.
See L. Pastor, Geschichte der Papste (1901), i. 205-279; J. Guiraud, L'tat pontifical apres le Grand Schisme (1896); Muntz, Les Arts a la cour des popes pendant le xV et le xvi' siecle (1878); N. Valois, La Crise religieuse du xV siecle; le pape et le concile (1909), vol. i. p. i.-xxix., 1-93. (N. V.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)