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He reveals how the church unified the people of Western Europe as they worshipped with the same ceremonies and used Latin as the language of civilized communication. From remote, rural parish to magnificent urban cathedral, A History of the Church in the Middle Ages explores the role of the church as a central element in determining a thousand years of history. This new edition brings the book right up to date with recent scholarship, and includes an expanded introduction exploring the interaction of other faiths - particularly Judaism and Islam - with the Christian church.

This carefully organized and easy-to-read history would make a fantastic text for an undergraduate survey course, a useful resource for grad students and teachers, and a good read for anyone even A History of the Church in the Middle Ages. The Church wanted to end this lay investiture because of the potential corruption, not only from vacant sees but also from other practices such as simony. Thus, the Investiture Contest was part of the Church's attempt to reform the episcopate and provide better pastoral care. Pope Gregory VII issued the Dictatus Papae , which declared that the pope alone could appoint or depose bishops, or translate them to other sees.

Henry VI's rejection of the decree lead to his excommunication and a ducal revolt; eventually Henry received absolution after dramatic public penance barefoot in Alpine snow and cloaked in a hairshirt see Walk to Canossa , though the revolt and conflict of investiture continued. Anselm , Archbishop of Canterbury, over investiture and ecclesiastical revenues collected by the king during an episcopal vacancy.

The English dispute was resolved by the Concordat of London, , where the king renounced his claim to invest bishops but continued to require an oath of fealty from them upon their election. This was a partial model for the Concordat of Worms Pactum Calixtinum , which resolved the Imperial investiture controversy with a compromise that allowed secular authorities some measure of control but granted the selection of bishops to their cathedral canons.

As a symbol of the compromise, lay authorities invested bishops with their secular authority symbolised by the lance, and ecclesiastical authorities invested bishops with their spiritual authority symbolised by the ring and the staff.

The Church in the Middle Ages

The Crusades were a series of military conflicts conducted by Christian knights for the defense of Christians and for the expansion of Christian domains. Generally, the Crusades refer to the campaigns in the Holy Land sponsored by the papacy against invading Muslim forces. There were other crusades against Islamic forces in southern Spain, southern Italy, and Sicily, as well as the campaigns of Teutonic knights against pagan strongholds in Eastern Europe see Northern Crusades.

A few crusades such as the Fourth Crusade were waged within Christendom against groups that were considered heretical and schismatic also see the Battle of the Ice and the Albigensian Crusade. The Holy Land had been part of the Roman Empire, and thus Byzantine Empire, until the Islamic conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries.

Thereafter, Christians had generally been permitted to visit the sacred places in the Holy Land until , when the Seljuk Turks closed Christian pilgrimages and assailed the Byzantines, defeating them at the Battle of Manzikert. Urban II called upon the knights of Christendom in a speech made at the Council of Clermont on 27 November , combining the idea of pilgrimage to the Holy Land with that of waging a holy war against the invading forces. The First Crusade captured Antioch in and then Jerusalem. The Second Crusade occurred in when Edessa was retaken by Islamic forces.

Jerusalem would be held until and the Third Crusade , famous for the battles between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. Innocent excommunicated the Venetians and crusaders. This was effectively the last crusade sponsored by the papacy; later crusades were sponsored by individuals. Thus, though Jerusalem was held for nearly a century and other strongholds in the Near East would remain in Christian possession much longer, the crusades in the Holy Land ultimately failed to establish permanent Christian kingdoms.

Islamic expansion into Europe would renew and remain a threat for centuries culminating in the campaigns of Suleiman the Magnificent in the sixteenth century. On the other hand, the crusades in southern Spain, southern Italy, and Sicily eventually lead to the demise of Islamic power in the regions; the Teutonic knights expanded Christian domains in Eastern Europe, and the much less frequent crusades within Christendom, such as the Albigensian Crusade , achieved their goal of maintaining doctrinal unity.

The Medieval Inquisition officially started in , when Pope Gregory IX appointed the first inquisitors to serve as papal agents to remove heresy. Heretics were seen as a menace to the Church and the first group dealt with by the inquisitors were the Cathars of southern France. The main tool used by the inquisitors was interrogation that often featured the use of torture followed by having heretics burned at the stake. After about a century this first medieval inquisition came to a conclusion.

A new inquisition called the Spanish Inquisition was created by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in order to consolidate their rule. This new inquisition was separated from the Roman Church and the inquisition that came before it. At first it was primarily directed at Jews who converted to Christianity because many were suspicious that they did not actually convert to Christianity.

Later it spread to targeting Muslims and the various peoples of the Americas and Asia. Modern western universities have their origins directly in the Medieval Church. They began as cathedral schools, and all students were considered clerics. This was a benefit as it placed the students under ecclesiastical jurisdiction and thus imparted certain legal immunities and protections. The cathedral schools eventually became partially detached from the cathedrals and formed their own institutions, the earliest being the University of Paris c.

Universities as institutions that issue academic degrees were inspired by Islamic madrasahs founded in the ninth century. Ansgar, a native of Amiens , was sent with a group of monks to Jutland Denmark in around at the time of the pro-Christian Jutish king Harald Klak. The mission was only partially successful, and Ansgar returned two years later to Germany, after Harald had been driven out of his kingdom. Though by Western Europe was ruled entirely by Christian kings, Eastern Europe remained an area of missionary activity.

For example, in the ninth century SS. Cyril and Methodius had extensive missionary success in Eastern Europe among the Slavic peoples , translating the Bible and liturgy into Slavonic. In the ninth and tenth centuries, Christianity made great inroads into Eastern Europe, including Kievan Rus'.

The evangelisation, or Christianisation, of the Slavs was initiated by one of Byzantium's most learned churchmen — the Patriarch Photius. The Byzantine emperor Michael III chose Cyril and Methodius in response to a request from Rastislav , the king of Moravia who wanted missionaries that could minister to the Moravians in their own language. The two brothers spoke the local Slavonic vernacular and translated the Bible and many of the prayer books.

As the translations prepared by them were copied by speakers of other dialects, the hybrid literary language Old Church Slavonic was created. Methodius later went on to convert the Serbs. In a short time the disciples of Cyril and Methodius managed to prepare and instruct the future Slavic clergy into the Glagolitic alphabet and the biblical texts. Methodius and Cyril were mainly living and working in the Macedonian city of Ohrid , which they made the religious capital of the Balkans. Bulgaria was officially recognised as a patriarchate by Constantinople in , Serbia in , and Russia in All these nations, however, had been converted long before these dates.

The missionaries to the East and South Slavs had great success in part because they used the people's native language rather than Latin as the Roman priests did, or Greek. As their mother was a Slav from the hinterlands of Thessaloniki, the two brothers had been raised speaking the local Slavonic vernacular. Once commissioned, they immediately set about creating an alphabet, the Cyrillic script ; they then translated the Scripture and the liturgy into Slavonic.

This Slavic dialect became the basis of Old Church Slavonic which later evolved into Church Slavonic which is the common liturgical language still used by the Russian Orthodox Church and other Slavic Orthodox Christians. The missionaries to the East and South Slavs had great success in part because they used the people's native language rather than Latin or Greek. In Great Moravia, Constantine and Methodius encountered Frankish missionaries from Germany, representing the western or Latin branch of the Church, and more particularly representing the Holy Roman Empire as founded by Charlemagne, and committed to linguistic, and cultural uniformity.

They insisted on the use of the Latin liturgy, and they regarded Moravia and the Slavic peoples as part of their rightful mission field. When friction developed, the brothers, unwilling to be a cause of dissension among Christians, travelled to Rome to see the Pope, seeking an agreement that would avoid quarrelling between missionaries in the field.

Constantine entered a monastery in Rome, taking the name Cyril, by which he is now remembered. However, he died only a few weeks thereafter. Soon, however, Prince Ratislav, who had originally invited the brothers to Moravia, died, and his successor did not support Methodius. In the Frankish king Louis and his bishops deposed Methodius at a synod at Ratisbon, and imprisoned him for a little over two years. In , Methodius was summoned to Rome on charges of heresy and using Slavonic. This time Pope John was convinced by the arguments that Methodius made in his defence and sent him back cleared of all charges, and with permission to use Slavonic.

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The Carolingian bishop who succeeded him, Witching, suppressed the Slavonic Liturgy and forced the followers of Methodius into exile. Many found refuge with King Boris of Bulgaria — , under whom they reorganised a Slavic-speaking Church. Meanwhile, Pope John's successors adopted a Latin-only policy which lasted for centuries. Some of the disciples, namely St. Naum who were of noble Bulgarian descent and St.

History of the Church in the Middle Ages

Angelaruis, returned to Bulgaria where they were welcomed by the Bulgarian Tsar Boris I who viewed the Slavonic liturgy as a way to counteract Greek influence in the country. Prior to Christianity, the majority of Bulgaria was Pagan. Shortly after, Boris I accepted many Christian missionaries into the country. At the time, the majority of the missionaries were Byzantines and Bulgarians. The conversion of Bulgaria was particularly painful and bloody as many people were converted through force.

However, many continued to secretly worship their pagan gods. Constantinople and Rome contended to attract the powerful Bulgaria through the use of religion. After the split of the Eastern and Western churches in the 11th century, the Eastern church located in Constantinople took control of Bulgaria implementing Orthodox Christianity. Starting in the 14th century, the Ottomans conquered many places in the Balkans including Bulgaria, which led to many new forced and voluntary converts to Islam.

Despite the constant warfare, the Christians and Muslims lived together in relative peace in Bulgaria. The two religious groups influenced each others cultures and religious practices. The success of the conversion of the Bulgarians facilitated the conversion of other East Slavic peoples , most notably the Rus' , predecessors of Belarusians , Russians , and Ukrainians , as well as Rusyns. By the beginning of the eleventh century most of the pagan Slavic world, including Russia, Bulgaria and Serbia, had been converted to Byzantine Christianity.

The traditional event associated with the conversion of Russia is the baptism of Vladimir of Kiev in , on which occasion he was also married to the Byzantine princess Anna, the sister of the Byzantine Emperor Basil II. However, Christianity is documented to have predated this event in the city of Kiev and in Georgia. About the year Hesychasm attracted the attention of a learned member of the Orthodox Church, Barlaam of Calabria who at that time held the office of abbot in the Monastery of St Saviour's in Constantinople and who visited Mount Athos.

Mount Athos was then at the height of its fame and influence under the reign of Andronicus III Palaeologus and under the 'first-ship' of the Protos Symeon. On Mount Athos, Barlaam encountered Hesychasts and heard descriptions of their practices, also reading the writings of the teacher in Hesychasm of St Gregory Palamas , himself an Athonite monk.

Trained in Western Scholastic theology, Barlaam was scandalised by Hesychasm and began to combat it both orally and in his writings. As a private teacher of theology in the Western Scholastic mode, Barlaam propounded a more intellectual and propositional approach to the knowledge of God than the Hesychasts taught.

A History of the Church in the Middle Ages

Hesychasm is a form of constant purposeful prayer or experiential prayer, explicitly referred to as contemplation. Barlaam took exception to, as heretical and blasphemous , the doctrine entertained by the Hesychasts as to the nature of the uncreated light, the experience of which was said to be the goal of Hesychast practice. It was maintained by the Hesychasts to be of divine origin and to be identical to that light which had been manifested to Jesus' disciples on Mount Tabor at the Transfiguration.

This Barlaam held to be polytheistic , inasmuch as it postulated two eternal substances, a visible and an invisible God. On the Hesychast side, the controversy was taken up by St Gregory Palamas , afterwards Archbishop of Thessalonica , who was asked by his fellow monks on Mt Athos to defend Hesychasm from the attacks of Barlaam. St Gregory himself, was well-educated in Greek philosophy. St Gregory defended Hesychasm in the s at three different synods in Constantinople , and he also wrote a number of works in its defence. In these works, St Gregory Palamas uses a distinction, already found in the 4th century in the works of the Cappadocian Fathers , between the energies or operations Gr.

St Gregory taught that the energies or operations of God were uncreated.

A History of the Church in the Middle Ages by F. Donald Logan

He taught that the essence of God can never be known by his creations even in the next life, but that his uncreated energies or operations can be known both in this life and in the next, and convey to the Hesychast in this life and to the righteous in the next life a true spiritual knowledge of God see theoria. In Palamite theology, it is the uncreated energies of God that illumine the Hesychast who has been vouchsafed an experience of the Uncreated Light. Palamas referred to this experience as an apodictic see Aristotle validation of God rather than a scholastic contemplative or dialectical validation of God.

In the dispute came before a synod held at Constantinople and was presided over by the Emperor Andronicus ; the synod, taking into account the regard in which the writings of the pseudo-Dionysius were held, condemned Barlaam, who recanted and returned to Calabria , afterwards becoming a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church. One of Barlaam's friends, Gregory Akindynos , who originally was also a close friend of St Gregory Palamas, took up the controversy, and three other synods on the subject were held, at the second of which the followers of Barlaam gained a brief victory.

But in at a synod under the presidency of the Emperor John VI Cantacuzenus , Hesychast doctrine was established as the doctrine of the Orthodox Church. Up to this day, the Roman Catholic Church has never fully accepted Hesychasm, especially the distinction between the energies or operations of God and the essence of God, and the notion that those energies or operations of God are uncreated. In Roman Catholic theology as it has developed since the Scholastic period c.

Some of these positions depend on Aristotelian metaphysics. The contemporary historians Cantacuzenus and Nicephorus Gregoras deal very copiously with this subject, taking the Hesychast and Barlaamite sides respectively. Respected fathers of the church have held that these councils that agree that experiential prayer is Orthodox, refer to these as councils as Ecumenical Councils Eight and Nine.

George Metallinos , Professor of theology at Athens Greece see gnosiology. The Western Schism, or Papal Schism, was a prolonged period of crisis in Latin Christendom from to , when there were two or more claimants to the See of Rome and there was conflict concerning the rightful holder of the papacy.

The conflict was political, rather than doctrinal, in nature. In , Pope Clement V , due to political considerations, moved to Avignon in southern France and exercised his pontificate there. For sixty-nine years popes resided in Avignon rather than Rome. This was not only an obvious source of confusion but of political animosity as the prestige and influence of the city of Rome waned without a resident pontiff.

Though Pope Gregory XI , a Frenchman, returned to Rome in , the strife between Italian and French factions intensified, especially following his subsequent death. In the conclave, elected an Italian from Naples, Pope Urban VI ; his intransigence in office soon alienated the French cardinals, who withdrew to a conclave of their own, asserting the previous election was invalid since its decision had been made under the duress of a riotous mob.

For nearly forty years, there were two papal curias and two sets of cardinals, each electing a new pope for Rome or Avignon when death created a vacancy. Each pope lobbied for support among kings and princes who played them off against each other, changing allegiance according to political advantage. In , a council was convened at Pisa to resolve the issue. But the existing popes refused to resign and thus there were three papal claimants. Another council was convened in , the Council of Constance.

The council finally deposed him in July The council in Constance, having finally cleared the field of popes and antipopes, elected Pope Martin V as pope in November. The Renaissance was a period of great cultural change and achievement, marked in Italy by a classical orientation and an increase of wealth through mercantile trade. On the one hand, it was a time of great artistic patronage and architectural magnificence, where the Church pardoned such artists as Michelangelo , Brunelleschi , Bramante , Raphael , Fra Angelico , Donatello , and Leonardo da Vinci.

On the other hand, wealthy Italian families often secured episcopal offices, including the papacy, for their own members, some of whom were known for immorality, such as Alexander VI and Sixtus IV. In addition to being the head of the Church, the Pope became one of Italy's most important secular rulers, and pontiffs such as Julius II often waged campaigns to protect and expand their temporal domains.

Furthermore, the popes, in a spirit of refined competition with other Italian lords, spent lavishly both on private luxuries but also on public works, repairing or building churches, bridges, and a magnificent system of aqueducts in Rome that still function today. It was during this time that St.

Peter's Basilica , perhaps the most recognised Christian church, was built on the site of the old Constantinian basilica. It was also a time of increased contact with Greek culture, opening up new avenues of learning, especially in the fields of philosophy , poetry , classics , rhetoric , and political science , fostering a spirit of humanism —all of which would influence the Church.


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In , Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire. Under Ottoman rule, the Greek Orthodox Church acquired substantial power as an autonomous millet. The ecumenical patriarch was the religious and administrative ruler of the entire "Greek Orthodox nation" Ottoman administrative unit , which encompassed all the Eastern Orthodox subjects of the Empire.

As a result of the Ottoman conquest and the fall of Constantinople , the entire Orthodox communion of the Balkans and the Near East became suddenly isolated from the West. For the next four hundred years, it would be confined within a hostile Islamic world, with which it had little in common religiously or culturally. This is, in part, due to this geographical and intellectual confinement that the voice of Eastern Orthodoxy was not heard during the Reformation in sixteenth-century Europe.

As a result, this important theological debate often seems strange and distorted to the Orthodox. They never took part in it and thus neither Reformation nor Counter-Reformation is part of their theological framework.


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The new Ottoman government that arose from the ashes of Byzantine civilization was neither primitive nor barbaric. Islam not only recognized Jesus as a great prophet, but tolerated Christians as another People of the Book. As such, the Church was not extinguished nor was its canonical and hierarchical organisation significantly disrupted. Its administration continued to function.

One of the first things that Mehmet the Conqueror did was to allow the Church to elect a new patriarch, Gennadius Scholarius. The Hagia Sophia and the Parthenon , which had been Christian churches for nearly a millennium were, admittedly, converted into mosques, yet countless other churches, both in Constantinople and elsewhere, remained in Christian hands. Moreover, it is striking that the patriarch's and the hierarchy's position was considerably strengthened and their power increased. They were endowed with civil as well as ecclesiastical power over all Christians in Ottoman territories.

Because Islamic law makes no distinction between nationality and religion, all Christians, regardless of their language or nationality, were considered a single millet , or nation. The patriarch, as the highest ranking hierarch, was thus invested with civil and religious authority and made ethnarch , head of the entire Christian Orthodox population.

Practically, this meant that all Orthodox Churches within Ottoman territory were under the control of Constantinople. Thus, the authority and jurisdictional frontiers of the patriarch were enormously enlarged. However, these rights and privileges see Dhimmitude , including freedom of worship and religious organisation, were often established in principle but seldom corresponded to reality. The legal privileges of the patriarch and the Church depended, in fact, on the whim and mercy of the Sultan and the Sublime Porte , while all Christians were viewed as little more than second-class citizens.

Moreover, Turkish corruption and brutality were not a myth. That it was the "infidel" Christian who experienced this more than anyone else is not in doubt. Nor were pogroms of Christians in these centuries unknown see Greco-Turkish relations. Missionary work among Moslems was dangerous and indeed impossible, whereas conversion to Islam was entirely legal and permissible. Converts to Islam who returned to Orthodoxy were put to death as apostates. No new churches could be built and even the ringing of church bells was prohibited. Education of the clergy and the Christian population either ceased altogether or was reduced to the most rudimentary elements.