Many of the leading 14th century writers despaired at the state of the Church and at the profligate nature of the Avignon Papacy. Churchmen were seen living luxurious lives whilst the Church taxed the poor and did little to attend to spiritual matters. The popes could not even summon up a crusade to attack the infidel. Below are some observations from contemporary writers:
Boccacio in the Decameron has a Jew observe that the Pope and his cardinals were "without distinction of rank they were all sunk in the most disgraceful lewdness, sinning not only in the way of nature but after the manner of the men of Sodom, without any restraint of remorse or shame, in such sort that, when any great favour was to be procured, the influence of the courtesans and boys was of no small moment. Moreover he found them one and all gluttonous, wine-bibbers, drunkards, and next after lewdness, most addicted to the shameless service of the belly, like brute beasts"
Even the Bishop of Rochester, Thomas Brinton, was moved to observe that the Pope and his Curia neither "refuse nor spurn gold.” Nothing is so closed that it cannot be opened with gold, nothing too hidden that with the influence of coins it can be made public. With gold bishoprics are bought and souls are lost"