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History of the Catholic Church A 2,000-Year Journey. 214 Church History. Part 3 The Church of the Early Middle Ages. Changing the Face of Europe. Islamic threat grows – Northern Africa falls along with much of East. Invasions stopped in Spain. End of the Dark Ages.

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History of the catholic church a 2 000 year journey

History of the Catholic ChurchA 2,000-Year Journey

History of the catholic church a 2 000 year journey

214 Church History

Part 3

The Church of the Early Middle Ages

Changing the face of europe

Changing the Face of Europe

  • Islamic threat grows – Northern Africa falls along with much of East. Invasions stopped in Spain.

End of the dark ages

End of the Dark Ages

  • Islam on the move – armies of Arabs on jihad devastated North Africa

  • Mediterranean becomes a Muslim lake

  • Italy and other coastal areas constantly attacked by fierce raiding parties who even raid inland

Moorish Chieftain

  • Constantinople, capital of Byzantium, is attacked

  • Spain overrun by Arabs and Berber allies, but one small area is held by the Christians

Not entirely dark an example

Not Entirely Dark: An Example

John Philoponus, Christian Scientist, Philosopher, Theologian (c. 490-570)

It was because of (not despite) his Christianity that he could go against 1,000 years of Hellenistic belief…

  • Stars: mutable objects; corruptible matter

  • Sun is fire

  • Appearance of cosmic changelessness is the mere effect of the immense temporal and spatial intervals of cosmic movement

  • Argued against Aristotle: light moves

  • Hypothesized that space above the atmosphere is a vacuum

    As a Christian, he saw the entire universe as a “creature” of God

Saving europe tours poitiers

Saving Europe – Tours (Poitiers)

  • Moors (Arab/Berbers) stormed into France

  • Pepin’s son, Charles Martel scraped together a Franksh army to meet the Moors as they rode north

  • Clash at Tours a turning point in European history – Franks soundly defeated the Moors and turned them back from Europe

Battle of Tours

  • Wake-up call for do-nothing Merovingian kings

  • Charles’ prestige passed to his son, Pepin the Short

Pepin the short and strong

Pepin the Short…and Strong

  • Pepin wrote to the Pope: “Who should rule, he who inherited a title, or he who actually rules?”

  • Pepin crowned king

  • Pepin’s concept of kingship: “To us the Lord has entrusted the care of government.”

  • Very different from tribal concept of kingship: state personal possession of the king

Pepin the Short

Pepin and st boniface

Pepin and St. Boniface

  • Pepin also established Papal States

  • Invited St. Boniface to reform whole of Western Frankish Church

  • St. Boniface very successful converting German tribes

  • Everywhere he promoted the authority of the papacy and the need for Catholic rulers to defend it

  • Boniface died a martyr, June 5, 754

  • Pepin overshadowed by his son, Charles the Great who inaugurated the Carolingian era

St. Boniface

Irish monks saving civilization

Irish Monks: Saving Civilization

  • Toward the end of Merovingian rule in the kingdom of the Franks, learning had nearly disappeared

  • Ignorance was widespread and writing itself had greatly deteriorated

  • The Irish missionaries saved the day (and the civilization) by:

    • Reforming monastic life and discipline

    • Restoring ascetic ideals, even among the laity

    • Focusing on literacy among the Franks and others

St. Columbanus

Charlemagne king of the franks

Charlemagne, King of the Franks

  • Unlike Pepin, Charles was super-sized

  • 1st concern: order throughout Frankish realm & defend borders

  • In 30 years he waged 60 campaigns, half of them personally

  • He fought Muslims in Spain, Basques in the Pyrenees, wild Avars in Hungary, and pacified northern Italy

  • Biggest headache: pagan Saxons

  • Forced conversion on Saxons; resettled them within his realm


King of the Franks

Charlemagne holy roman emperor

Charlemagne, Holy Roman Emperor

  • Turning point: Christmas Day, 800

  • Pope St. Leo III crowned Charles as Roman Emperor

  • Coronation represents two important developments:

    • Restoration of the Western Roman Empire – dream of European unity under a Catholic ruler would survive the empire’s demise

    • Shift in geographical focus of Western civilization – from Mediterranean (Mare nostrum) to the North

      Henri Pirenne: “Had there been no Mohammed, there would have been no Charlemagne.”


Charlemagne s reforms

Charlemagne’s Reforms

  • Economic reforms under Charlemagne

  • Agricultural innovations produced a true agricultural revolution

  • Issued standardized coins to facilitate local trade

  • Muslim conquests hindered foreign trade, but Charlemagne achieved increase in foreign trade by using Jewish merchants who moved in both Christian and Muslim worlds

The Caliph and Charlemagne

  • Charlemagne even corresponded with the legendary Caliph of Bagdad, Harun al-Rashid.

Carolingian renaissance education

Carolingian Renaissance: Education

  • Charlemagne also began a great educational and cultural revival

  • Great need, particularly among clergy

  • Opened school at Aachen, his capital, to promising students of all classes –included girls

  • Same occurred throughout the country

  • Schools used ingenious methods and specified humane treatment of students – with playtime & exercise

  • Recruited Alcuin, English deacon

Charlemagne receiving Alcuin

Carolingian renaissance art

Carolingian Renaissance: Art

  • Charlemagne also supported a revival of the arts and architecture

  • One of his greatest works was his palace chapel built in the Byzantine style with a design and mosaics modeled after a Byzantine church he had visited in Ravenna

  • Charlemagne had numerous other building projects (many of wood perished in the barbarian waves late in the 9th century

Charlemagne’s Palace Chapel in Aachen

(Aix-la- Chapelle)



Alcuin recruited the best and the brightest scholars of Europe

Unlocked what had been preserved for centuries in the monasteries

Stressed the mastery of Latin, the need for books, and careful copying of texts

These scholars also contributed much original work of their own

Books writing

Books & Writing

Few people today realize that only three or four original antique manuscripts of the Latin authors are still in existence.

“Our whole knowledge of ancient literature is due to the collecting and copying that began under Charlemagne, and almost any classical text that survived until the eighth century has survived till today.” – Kenneth Clark

Books writing1

Books & Writing

Even in the 6th Century scribes were busy copying the Scriptures

Alcuin’s zeal for books and libraries was echoed throughout the Carolingian world

Carolingian miniscule – a new form or writing, tremendous improvement – clearly formed letters, upper and lower case, spaces between words

Charlemagne demanded homilies be translated into common languages so all people could benefit from them

Agricultural revolution

Agricultural Revolution

Beginning with Charlemagne, many improvements in how land was farmed in Europe: an true agricultural revolution

  • Rediscovery of Roman farm technology (waterwheel)

  • Development of the heavy plow, horseshoe, new horse harness

  • Dense forests cleared for farming

3 Whippletree Set

  • Dikes created to hold back the sea and enclose fertile soil

  • Three-field system of crop rotation – increased output to support larger population

  • Moved beyond subsistence farming – more people could take up trades – villages grew

Alfred the great 849 899

Alfred the Great (849-899)

English king who, like Charlemagne, strongly encouraged education

Ensured classics of previous centuries were translated into Anglo Saxon

Personally translated for his people works on the Church, geography and other subjects in simple and popular style, often adding simple material of his own composition

Chaos in rome barbarians again

Chaos in Rome, Barbarians Again

  • After Charlemagne’s death in 814 his empire was divided in two with a Middle Kingdom in between

  • Barbarian and Muslim attacks continued, battering Europe

  • Papacy too (with a few exceptions) reached an all-time low

  • Manipulated elections; popes deposed and replaced

  • Decline of royal political control; feudal lords gobbled up Church land with impunity

  • Viking raiders from Scandinavia; Magyars from Eastern Europe


Serf and turf

Serf and Turf

It’s for whacking peasants. I call it a serfboard.



  • Complex roots in Roman times & Germanic customs -- by the 800’s invaders and ineffective rulers had splintered the Carolingian Empire

  • Feudalism: a kind of coping mechanism

  • Only a strong local warlord could maintain order & public safety – needed support of fighting men loyal to him (vassals)

  • Feudal pyramid: Cavalry (vassals) required horses and land which the lord would give in return for loyalty

  • Meanwhile, who farmed the land? The fighting men needed farmers, and the farmers (non-warriors) needed protection – manorialism

  • Peasants (serfs) lived on lords’ & vassals’ manors cared for the land & produced the food – received a place to live, protection



  • Serfs made up the bottom lever of feudalism’s pyramid, vassals the middle and overlords and kings the top.

  • Feudal/manorial system at top & bottom could be brutal with thugs fighting each other and brutalizing peasants – and would have been much worse without the Church

  • Early on relationships between lords & vassals were ingeniously Christianized

  • Lords & liegemen swore solemn oaths before clergy to defend & support each other

Roland giving fealty

  • Knights swore to protect the clergy, poor & weak and not to harm their property (the Peace of God)

  • Truce of God limited times when fighting could be done and finally eliminated most private wars altogether

Feudalism a way of life for christendom

Feudalism – a Way of Life for Christendom

  • Bishops and abbots often had large landholdings, and monasteries reflected feudal estates in organization, management, and self-sufficiency.

  • Feudalism offered stability and protection and became a way of life.

  • Hard work, warfare and primitive living conditions prevailed for all levels.


Decline of feudalism

Decline of Feudalism

Rise of King’s Power



Help & Obey




In France, Spain & England

Growth of villages & towns


Peasants (serfs)

Wars among nobles make them weaker

Better life in towns

More trade, more towns

Kings took back their land & power

Kings with more power

More peasants moved to towns

Trade Developed

Create centralized government



The rise of towns

The Rise of Towns

  • Agricultural revolution – increase in superfluous serfs who yearned to set up shop in local villages

  • Villages growing into towns – organized and self-governing – irresistible to ambitious & talented serfs

  • Lords often stymied by military strength of towns & their walls – and that most were outside their jurisdiction

  • “Town air makes free” – if a man could support himself in a town for a year and a day, he was no longer a serf but a freeman

  • Feudal trappings would survive, but the towns with their new middle class became the center for schools and guilds

Medieval Town

The guilds

The Guilds

Organizations of masters and apprentices in various crafts, profoundly influenced by Catholic principles:

  • Guildsmen had to charge customer a just price & deliver a quality product

  • Guildsmen agreed to limit hours of work and provide just compensation for his workers

  • Guildsmen required to assist ill or injured members – came to provide insurance, etc.

  • Every guild had a patron saint & celebrated the feast day with Mass and processions

  • Guilds contributed to the support and artistic decoration of the local church, and provided for the schooling of talented youth


The role of kings

The Role of Kings

The emergence of national kings throughout Europe meant the reappearance of central political authority and the hope of peace and order

  • Royal rights were contested by powerful feudal nobility, so kings sought allies elsewhere

  • The towns withstood the opposition of feudal aristocracy by appealing to the kings

  • In return for a charter from the king and his protection, towns gave their allegiance

  • Rich and powerful towns made this cooperation valuable and weakened the impact of the country warlords

  • 11th century produced some remarkable and admirable kings: Stephen of Hungary, Henry II of Germany

Henry II of Germany

Divine right of kings

Divine Right of Kings

“Once you get past the divine right of kings, I’m not much into theology"

Early middle ages

Early Middle Ages

  • Early form of Divine Right of Kings

  • Lay Investiture Controversy

  • Popes & many bishops function as Territorial Rulers

  • Inheritance Disputes

  • Simony

Renewals reforms in the early medieval church

Renewals & Reforms in the Early Medieval Church

  • Carolingian Reform (9th Century)

  • Cluniac Reform (10th Century)

  • Reforms started by Pope St. Leo IX (11th Century)

  • Gregorian Reform: Pope St. Gregory VII (11th Century)

1 000 a d a new sprit

1,000 A.D. – A New Sprit

The early springtime of Christendom

  • Invasions has ceased (except for Norman raids)

  • Badly needed reforms had begun in the Church

  • Nations were being organized under competent Christian kings

  • Standard of living on the rise

  • Church architecture reflected these changes

    One chronicler wrote:

    “One might have said that the whole world was shaking off the robes of age and pulling on a white mantle of churches.”

Abbaye aux Dames, Caen, 1050 AD

From the ground level

From the Ground Level

Theologians denying the deposit of faith

Heretical sects spreading

Priests discarding celibacy

Bishops buying their offices

Popes either morally deficient or were met with indifference

Lay interference

The move toward reform

The Move Toward Reform

A Cistercian (11th Century)

Wealth & political importance caused ecclesiastical positions to be regarded as desirable sources or prestige & power

Spiritual character of offices obscured; kings filled offices with unqualified laymen to gain favor or payment

Vows of chastity & poverty forgotten

Growth of general sentiment – among monks, rulers & laity – of what was wrong and a desire to root out evil

This groundswell of indignation came to a head just as the papacy was ready to act

Some outstanding, fearless figures rose up to demand reform and condemn the sins of both clergy and laity

Reform the beginnings

Reform: the Beginnings

  • Monasteries too had fallen under the influence of the age -- 1st Step was a renewal of monastic fervor

    • Reorganization of Benedictine life – Cluny established (910) by William, Duke of Acquitane

    • Camaldolese hermits by St. Romuald (1012)

    • Vallumbrosan hermits by St. John Gualbery (1038)

    • Alpine hospices by St. Bernard of Menthon (1008)

  • Exerted a profound influence on Church life

    • Rules reserved an ideal of law & order during a period of civil wars & social unrest

    • By their austerities they made reparation for widespread sin

    • They brought about a return to deeper spiritual life among both clergy and laity

    • Prepared the way for the faithful to receive the grace needed to enact real reform based on prayer & self-denial

Councils preachers

Councils & Preachers

Pope St. Leo IX

Councils and preachers attached the evils of simony, breaches of vows of celibacy, and clerical worldliness

The push, however, was to ensure only worthy candidates would be accepted into the priesthood and hierarchy

1st top-level reforms begun by Pope Leo IX (d. 1054) and his immediate successor, Pope Nicholas II (d. 1061)

Growth of papal power pope st gregory vii

Growth of Papal PowerPope St. Gregory VII

To free the Church from political control, Pope St. Gregory VII (1073-85) attacked 3 evils:

  • Simony [buying and selling of ecclesiastical offices/spiritual goods]

  • Alienation of property [the passing of Church property into the private hands of a bishop’s or priest’s offspring]

  • Lay investiture

Pope St. Gregory VII

Growth of papal power pope st gregory vii1

Growth of Papal PowerPope St. Gregory VII

  • To restore the authority of the pope over the Church he:

  • Decreed that the pope held supreme power over all Christian souls – the supreme judge under God alone (1075)

  • Made all bishops and abbots subject to him; declared his powers of absolution and excommunication were absolute. [DictatusPapae].

  • Asserted papal authority over Emperor Henry IV.

  • Established Roman Curia as the central organ of church government

Pope St. Gregory VII

Catholic thought culture

Catholic Thought & Culture

St. Anselm of Canterbury (d. 1109)

  • Archbishop of Canterbury, defended Church’s rights & liberties against encroachments of English kings

  • Philosopher & theologian, developed a method of reasoning; prepared the way for the great thinkers

  • Devotion to Our Lady; first to establish the feast of the Immaculate Conception in the West

St. Peter Damien (d. 1072)

Italian Benedictine monk; unbending foe of corruption & laxity

Authored important works on liturgy & moral theology

Supported future Pope St. Gregory VII in his struggle for the rights of the Church

Catholic thought culture1

Catholic Thought & Culture

St. Wulstan of Worcester

St. Wulstan (d. 1095)

English monk & bishop

Relentless reformer; enforcer of celbacy

Ended the salve trade in England & Ireland

French Scholars

Sylvester II (Gerbert of Aurillac), elected Pope in 999, was perhaps the greatest scholar of his time; strong promoter of education, particularly among the clergy

The Cluniac reformers also had a strong impact on monastic education – relationship between morally good living & good thinking

Fulbert, student of Gerbert, bishop of Chartres, inspired teacher and reformer

Culture in germany

Culture in Germany

Bl. Herman Contractus of Reichenau (d. 1054)

  • Crippled scholar; scarcely able to sit up or speak; yet his knowledge was encyclopedic

  • Authored numerous works of prose, poetry, mathematics, history

  • Authored many hymns including the Salve Regina, still sung today

Hroswitha of Gandersheim (d. 1002)

Nun & poet; 1st Christian dramatist; 1st female historian

Writings emphasized virtue and role of Our Lady as an ideal; wrote in Latin

East west schism 1054 a d

East-West Schism [1054 A.D.]

Remote causes: Disagreements on Doctrine & Authority

Beginning Nicaea (325) Church formally defined important doctrines

Disagreements often came from the East (Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople)

Although Eastern Church (through Bishop of Constantinople) recognized Pope as successor of Peter and head of the whole Church, resentment arose – sense that West dictated to East – and there were often temporary estrangements

East west schism 1054 a d1

East-West Schism [1054 A.D.]

Remote causes: National Churches

  • Effects of various Eastern heresies and the consequent rise of national churches

  • From the 5th Century: Arianism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism initiated the separation and subdivision into more Eastern churches

  • These became the national churches quite early on, preceding the Great Schism to come:

    • Coptic Churches of Egypt and Abyssinia (Ethiopia)

    • Jacobite Churches if Syria and Armenia

    • Nestorian Churches of Mesopotamia and Persia (Iraq & Iran)

East west schism 1054 a d2

East-West Schism [1054 A.D.]

Remote Causes: Iconoclast Crisis

  • Icons: stylized paintings of Christ, Mary & the saints – generally on wood (except for hands and face) and covered with a relief of pearls, silver & gold

  • Opposition to the veneration of icons initiated by Eastern emperors had two phases:

    • Begun by Emperor Leo the Isaurian in 728; ended in 787 when 2nd Council of Nicaea condemned the heresy & allowed veneration of sacred images

    • Began under Leo V in 814; ended in 842 when the Feast of Orthodoxy was established by Empress Theodora

East west schism 1054 a d3

East-West Schism [1054 A.D.]

Remote Causes: Opposing Ecclesiologies

Deeper level – opposing views on the nature and structure of the Church

East’s view incorporated into its view of the Church's union with the Empire; saw, for example, relationships between bishops merely as administrative problems

Over time Eastern Church focused on its autonomy within borders of Eastern Empire

Western Church further defined its concept of the Primacy making it even more catholic (universal) and absolute

East west schism 1054 a d4

East-West Schism [1054 A.D.]


Prelude to the Schism

Mid 9th Century St. Ignatius, Bishop of Constainople, denounced immorality of emperor. Ignatius was deposed and Photius replaced him

867 Photius summoned a synod; attacked “errors” of Western Church; excommunicated pope

One of the “errors” was inclusion of words, “and from the Son” (Filioque) in Nicene Creed

Council of Constantinople (381) had left question open – Eastern Church preferred “and through the Son.”

10-year estrangement – when Ignatius died in 877, Pope John VIII appointed Photius to vacant see (878) if Photius agreed to submit to Holy See in all matters and make reparations for his past errors. Photius remained faithful to the pope until his death.

East west schism 1054 a d5

East-West Schism [1054 A.D.]

Michael Cerularius

The Schism

In 1043 the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, rivived Photius’ old charges and added some new ones

He began a major anti-Roman campaign, closing Latin-rite churches and attacking the papacy

Pope Leo IX sent delegates to Constantinople without success.

On July 16, 1054 Michael Celularius was solemnly excommunicated

Celularius responded by calling an Eastern synod and excommunicated the Pope and the entire Latin Church

This began the schism that still divides the East from Rome

East west schism 1054 a d6

East-West Schism [1054 A.D.]

Pope Urban II

The Aftermath

After the schism, relations between the two Churches continued to disintegrate

Despite the split Pope Urban II sought to help free Byzantine territory from the Muslim Turks and then regain the Holy Land from the Saracen Muslims by launching the first Crusade in 1096

By the Fourth Crusade [1202-1204] the sack of Constantinople by Christian knights dealt the death blow to East-West unity

Reconciliation attempts were made in 1274 at the Council of Lyons and again in 1438-49 at the Council of Florence -- both were unsuccessful

East west schism 1054 a d7

East-West Schism [1054 A.D.]

The Aftermath

Church of Constantinople & other Eastern Churches banded together in a group known as the “Orthodox Eastern Church” in which the Patriarch of Constantinople held a kind of precedence

The term “Orthodox” had originally been applied to Churches that accepted the Council of Chalcedon against the Nestorian and Monophysite heretics; now it applied to Eastern Churches in schism with Rome

After the fall of Constantinople (1453) Eastern Churches broke up into autonomous national Churches

Grave consequences: Church unity in the East suffered and gave rise to splintered Churches; missionary work in Asia and Africa stopped; the Church was confined to Europe until the 16th century

In 1964 Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras met in Jerusalem and lifted the mutual excommunication orders of 1054. Dialogue continues.

History of the catholic church a 2 000 year journey

The Crusades: Truth & Fiction

  • Much has been stated about the Crusades that is far from accurate

  • There were both good and bad aspects to the Crusades & we will address both

  • The Crusades were a concerted effort to rescue the Holy Land from the hands of infidels

  • Their results were mixed at best – although some achieved considerable victories

  • They did, however, unify Christians of different countries under a common banner and with a common sacred goal

History of the catholic church a 2 000 year journey

The Crusades: Remote Causes

  • The Crusades finally began nearly five centuries after Muslim armies had set out to conquer the Christian world

  • By the time the Crusades began (1095), Muslim armies had conquered two-thirds of the Christian world

  • The Crusades began:

  • 457 years after Jerusalem was conquered

  • 453 years after Egypt was taken

  • 443 years after Italy was first plundered

  • 380 years after Spain was conquered

  • 363 years after France was attacked

  • 249 years after Rome was sacked

  • Only after centuries of church burnings, killings, enslavement and forced conversions of Christians

History of the catholic church a 2 000 year journey

The Crusades: Prelude

  • During Charlemagne’s time and afterwards Christian pilgrims could usually visit the Holy Land without too much interference. It was then ruled by the Caliphate of Egypt

  • But in the 11th century things changed -- even before the Seljuk Turks conquered Jerusalem (1071), Christian pilgrims were harassed and killed

  • In 1095 When the Seljuks threatened to attack Constantinople, Byzantine Emperor Alexios I asked the Pope to aid the Church and the Eastern Empire.

Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos

Pope urban ii s speech clermont france in 1095

Pope Urban II's SpeechClermont, France in1095

The Crusades: Immediate Cause

  • In 1094 or 1095, Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos asked the pope, Urban II, for aid against the Seljuq Turks, who taken nearly all of Asia Minor from him

  • At the council of Clermont Urban addressed a great crowd and urged all to go to the aid of the Greeks and to recover Palestine from the rule of the Muslims

  • The Pope’s summons brought thousands of Frenchman, Germans, English and Italians willing to go off on such a mission

  • On their chests they bore a cross of red fabric and became known as crociati or Crusaders

1st crusade 1095 ad

1st Crusade 1095 AD

History of the catholic church a 2 000 year journey

The Seven Crusades

  • 1st Crusade – 1095 – Pope Urban II

  • 2nd Crusade – 1147 -- Pope Eugene III

  • 3rd Crusade – 1190 – Richard Lionhearted

  • 4th Crusade – 1202 – Sack of Constantinople

  • 5th Crusade – 1217-1221 – Lateran Counsil

  • 6th Crusade – 1248 1248) –St. Louis IX

  • 7th Crusade – 1270 – St. Louis IX

History of the catholic church a 2 000 year journey

The Siege of Jerusalem

  • 1000s died during the siege, many innocents

  • Yes there were Crusader atrocities; no excuse but there were far greater ones by the Turks

  • Crusaders were at the limit of their endurance, starving and dehydrated, and forced to endure systematic mockery of Christianity and murders of Christians by Muslims on the walls

  • When siege broke, several commanders tried to restrain their men, but without unified command little could restrain the besiegers

  • As bad as it was, it paled compared to what 1000s of Christians suffered at the hands of Muslim armies

History of the catholic church a 2 000 year journey

The Crusades: Providential Role

  • Crusades played a providential role in the life of the Church – even though sometimes diverted from their sacred purpose and misused by some participants

  • Revealed the extraordinary spirit of faith that prevailed throughout Christendom in the Middle Ages

  • At the Pope’s request, hundreds of thousands left all they had to face danger and death in distant lands in a noble effort to recover the sacred places where Jesus walked

  • Crusades brought West back into contact with the East’s science, literature and art, opening up new worlds of thought for Western scholars

  • Opened trade routes to the Orient, stimulated commerce

  • Preserved the Church in the West from Islamic conquest, allowing Christian medieval culture time to develop in peace

The crusades orders of knights

The Crusades: Orders of Knights

Presence of Crusaders in the East led to the formation of religious orders of knighthood

Knights Templars – founded 1119 in Jerusalem; lived under the Rule of St. Bernard; took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, plus a vow to protect pilgrims; white mantle & red cross

Knights Hospitallers– founded 1137 from the hospital of St. John at Jerusalem; took the 3 religious vows plus vow to care for sick; became known as Knights of Malta; black mantle & white cross

Teutonic Order of Knights – founded 1190 at Acre; took 3 religious vows plus another to care for sick; white mantle & black cross

New religious orders

New Religious Orders

The Church was faced with the growing spiritual needs of an ever increasing number of members

As people began to live in cities and towns, the mendicant orders became for them a means of salvation – foremost were the Franciscans & Dominicans

Contemplative orders also grew substantially and it was in this period that the Carthusians and Cistercians came on the scene

New religious orders contemplatives

New Religious Orders: Contemplatives


Founded by St. Bruno of Cologne – end of 11th century

Prayer, manual work, study, perpetual silence, abstinence from meat


Founded by St. Bernard of Clairvaux in 1112

Bernard considered the last Father of the Latin Church

Canons Regular

Combined the cloister with parish life

New religious orders mendicants

New Religious Orders: Mendicants

Carmelites & Augustinians

  • Other mendicant orders began to adapt rules to new modes of religious life

  • Mendicants lived among faithful

  • Friars made contemplation overflow into works of charity


Founded by Francis of Assisi (d. 1226) – determined to follow ideal of evangelical poverty

St. Clare: Poor Clares in prayer and strict seclusion

Approved by Pope Honorius III in 1223


Founded by St. Dominic (d. 1221) – Friars Preachers – conversion of heretics

Approved by Pope Honorius III in 1216

Canon law

Canon Law

  • Canon Law had existed in various “codes” since Church’s beginning

  • Their sources included: Scripture; church councils; texts of the Church Fathers (patristic writings); Roman Law; papal documents.

  • During the 9th Century numerous codes were published based on forged documents – designed to support certain corrupt behaviors

  • The Church-wide reforms of the 11th Century also led to reforms in Canon Law to counteract corruption and abuses

Canon law1

Canon Law

  • As they struggled to justify their vision of the Church, reformers realized that the Church needed a body of law that would be recognized throughout Christendom.

  • They also realized there should be a central authority with the power to modify and change law when needed. Ultimately they recognized that the papacy should be the center of that reform

  • The eleventh-century canonists emphasized papal judicial and legislative primacy as it had never before in the canonical tradition. They created a new Petrine ecclesiology.

Canon law2

Canon Law

  • Gratian of Bologna [d. 1170?] – “Father of Canon Law”

  • Gratian's Decretum quickly became the standard textbook of medieval canon law


Canon law3

Canon Law

  • Pope Gregory IX [d. 1241] summoned Raymond of Pennafort to Rome in 1230 and asked him to compile a new codification that would replace all earlier collections of decretals with one volume

  • Gregory promulgated the new collection in 1234 and, along with Gratian’s Decretum, it became the most important collection of papal decretals in the schools and in the courts of Europe

  • These codifications strongly supported papal authority

  • Legalism within the Church was firmly established by the middle of the 13th century

Raymond of Pennafort

Rise of the university 1000 a d

Rise of the University [1000 A.D.]

  • Cathedral Schools & Monasteries were established mostly for the education of clerics and monks; sometimes also open to sons of nobles.

  • Preservation/copying of ancient manuscripts & liturgical books; Cluny & Gregorian Reforms


Abelard flawed superstar

Abelard: Flawed Superstar

  • Teacher in Cathedral schools of Paris

  • Students came from all over to study under him – theology & philosophy

  • New approach in using principles of Greek logic – dialectics – to study matters of faith

  • Wrote books on ethics, logic and universals

  • Controversial in his approach to Scripture and theology, he was nevertheless the first of the great teachers of the 2nd millennium

  • Scandal with his young student, Heloise, and their son, Astrolobus – secret marriage. Later he became a monk and she a nun. Buried together.


Bernard of clairvaux

Bernard of Clairvaux

  • Wanted to remain in his monastic cell, but kept encountering wrongs to right

  • Revitalized the Cistercians; sorted out a painful papal schism; preached the 2nd Crusade; advised Popes bluntly; wrote wonderful works of mystic theology;

  • Accused of being puritanical, he strived for austerity in the Cistercians – no distractions

  • Called Abelard’s theology “foolology” & secured Abelard’s condemnation at Counsil of Sens (1141)

  • Was reconciled with Abelard by Abbot Peter the Venerable of Cluny

Bernard of Clairvaux

Intellectual life in the high middle ages

Intellectual Life in the High Middle Ages

  • Rediscovery of the writings of Aristotle (monasteries & Arabic sources)

  • Slow/gradual process; many church leaders resisted newer methods -- truth comes from God's revelation, not human reason

  • Foundation of independent Universities in Bologna (1088), Paris (1150), Oxford (1167), Cambridge (1208), Salamanca (1218), etc.

  • Establishment of four separate/specialized faculties: theology, philosophy, law, and medicine

The scholastics schoolmen

The Scholastics (Schoolmen)

These medieval intellectuals presupposed the compatibility of faith & reason, uniting philosophy & theology thereby unifying the accummulated knowledge up to this time:

  • St. Bonaventure, OFM (1221-74), thought that the human will was more important than the human intellect

  • Thomas Aquinas, OP (1225-74), the most influential of all Christian theologians: comprehensive systemic "Thomism"

St. Bonaventure

St. Thomas Aquinas

The scholastics schoolmen1

The Scholastics (Schoolmen)

Examples of applying scholastic thinking to religious questions:

  • What is a sacrament? How do they convey grace? How many are there?

  • How can one explain the "real presence" of Jesus in the Eucharistic bread & wine? (“transubstantiation”)

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