In full consciousness of his high-priestly dignity he set his face against these and all similar attempts; and his zeal and firmness in defending the authority and rights of the Holy See against the attacks of the conciliar and national parties within the Church deserve double recognition, in view of the eminently difficult circumstances of that period.
The Greeks, fearing the domination of the papacy, were at first more favourably inclined toward the conciliar party; but the astute diplomacy of the Roman representatives, who have been charged by certain Greek writers with the skilful use of money and of lies, won over the emperor.
France had been conspicuous in the conciliar movement.
By the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges (1438) it had secured the advantages of the conciliar movement.
But this general unity became official, and expressed itself in organization, only with the rise of the conciliar and metropolitan systems. Already before the end of the and century local synods were held in Asia Minor to deal with Montanism, and in the 3rd century provincial synods became common, and by the council of Nicaea (canon 5) it was decreed that they should be held twice every year in every province.
Europe had sinned in the face of God; otherwise Jerusalem would never have fallen; and the idea of a spiritual reform from within, as the necessary corollary and accompaniment of the expedition of Christianity without, breathes in some of the papal letters, just as, during the conciliar movement, the causa reformationis was blended with the causa unionis.
Although his pontificate had been so stormy and unhappy that he is said to have regretted on his death-bed that he ever left his monastery, nevertheless Eugenius's victory over the council of Basel and his efforts in behalf of church unity contributed greatly to break down the conciliar movement and restore the papacy to the position it had held before the Great Schism.