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AP European. The middle ages and the spread of Christianity. The Middle Ages. Early Middle Ages : 500-1,000 C.E. Germanic tribes take over what’s left of the Roman Empire in Europe. Little long distance trade Small towns and villages Low rate of literacy High Middle Ages : 1,000-1500 C.E.

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ap european

AP European

The middle ages and the spread of Christianity

the middle ages
The Middle Ages

Early Middle Ages: 500-1,000 C.E.

  • Germanic tribes take over what’s left of the Roman Empire in Europe.
  • Little long distance trade
  • Small towns and villages
  • Low rate of literacy

High Middle Ages: 1,000-1500 C.E.

  • ~ 1200 C.E. more complex trade begins to develop
  • Towns and cities grow
  • A middle class begins to emerge
  • The Renaissance takes hold towards the end…
the franks
The Franks
  • Looked as though they would unite all of Europe under one banner.
  • Mainly through conquests  initially by Clovis (481-511)
    • Destroyed the last vestiges of Roman power
    • Converted to Roman Catholicism in order to unite other Frankish tribes. Also earned the favor of the pope in Rome.
    • Drove out the Visigoth kingdom in southwester Europe.
the franks2
The Franks

The Carolingian Family Takes Over

  • Clovis’ decedents have Europe wrested away by Charles Martel, grandfather of Charlemagne.
    • Unites most of western Europe under the Carolingians.
    • A unified territory helped protect against Viking raids from the North.
    • In 800 the pope crowns Charlemagne “emperor,” implying that he was the heir to the Roman empire.
    • What does this tell us about the region’s political atmosphere?
origins of the holy roman empire
Origins of the Holy Roman Empire

In spirit it starts with the crowning of Charlemagne in 800.

In practice it begins with the loose alliance of Francia, Bavaria, and Saxony, et. al.







philosophy of the middle ages
Philosophy of the Middle Ages

Thomas Aquinas

(c. 1220-1292)

philosophy of the middle ages1
Philosophy of the Middle Ages

Unofficial philosopher of the Catholic church.

Helped to recover the philosophy of Aristotle for Christendom.

Maintained a distinction between philosophy and religion.

Tenets of Aquinas

Rational knowledge is acquired through sensory experience, which our minds then reflect.

Tabula rasa (clean slate)


How might this interfere with his Christian beliefs?

philosophy of the middle ages2
Philosophy of the Middle Ages

Tenets of Aquinas

  • The world in which we live is through and through God’s creation, therefore it is impossible for the knowledge gained to conflict with religious revelation.
  • Essence vs. Existence
    • What is a unicorn?
    • Does it exist?
    • What is a tiger?
    • Does it exist?
philosophy of the middle ages3
Philosophy of the Middle Ages

Tenets of Aquinas

  • Refutation of Anselm’s ontological argument for the existence of God.
    • Defines God’s essence, but no characterization of God’s essence, however exhaustive, will guarantee existence.
medieval antisemitism
Medieval Antisemitism

Antisemitism: against the Jewish people

Anti-Judaism: against the Jewish religion

  • Known as the oldest hatred because its origins can be traced back to the establishment of Christianity.
    • Medieval and modern (c. 17th & 18th cent.) antisemitism comes from the gospels of the New Testament of the Christian scriptures.
    • The root of antisemitism comes from the myth of the Christ killers, or the charge of deicide.
      • Acts 2:22-3, Acts 3:13-15, Acts 7:51-2
      • Mathew 27:23-25 (justifies generational hatred)
      • John 8:44-5 (establishes that Jews are agents of Satan)
      • Rev 2:9, 3:9 (Jews participate in a “synagogue of Satan)
medieval antisemitism the church fathers
Medieval Antisemitism – The Church Fathers
  • Christian antisemitism took root during the Patristic period.
    • During the writings of the “Church Fathers” – those thinkers, theologians, writers, teachers and bishops from roughly 100 C.E. to either 451 C.E. or the 8th century (at the Council of Nicaea).
    • Tertullian: North African theologian in the 2nd & 3rd cent. Known as “father of Latin Theology. Writes AdversusJudaeos, and says that “though Israel may wash all its members everyday, it is never clean. Its hands are always stained, covered forever with the blood of the prophets and of our Lord.” – De Oratione
medieval antisemitism the church fathers1
Medieval Antisemitism – The Church Fathers
  • Jerome: European priest (d. 420 C.E.) who spent most of his time in Antioch and Bethlehem. His translations serve as the basis for the Latin Church’s official Bible, the Vulgate.
    • Identifies the Jews with Judas and with the immoral use of money. “Whom do you suppose are the sons of Judas? The Jews. The Jews take their name, not from Juda who was a holy man, but from the betrayer… The synagogue was divorced by the Savior and became the wife of Judas, the betrayer.”
    • Calls Jews “poison snakes” and “wolves.”
medieval antisemitism the church fathers2
Medieval Antisemitism – The Church Fathers
  • Augustine: d. 430 C.E. , bishop of Hippo Regius. A disciple of Ambrose, he identified the Jews with Cain.
    • Because Cain served as a warning to those tempted by murder, he held that the Jews should wander endlessly while suffering punishment for their murder of Jesus – to serve as a suffering reminder to those who would rebel against Christ.
    • He writes, “not by bodily death shall the ungodly carnal Jews perish…Only when a Jew comes over to Christ, he is no longer Cain.”
  • Ambrose: preached that it was a moral act to burn down Jewish synagogues…“wasn’t it the Jewish people in the synagogue who are possessed by the unclean spirit of demons – as if bound fast by the coils of a serpent and caught in snares of the devil?” referring to Luke 4.
medieval antisemitism the church fathers3
Medieval Antisemitism – The Church Fathers
  • Thomas Aquinas: justified the confiscation of Jewish possessions by claiming that Jews are slaves to the Church, “The Jews are themselves subjects of the church and she can dispose of their possessions as do secular princes. The Jews are slaves [or serfs] of kings and princes.
    • “Jews, in consequence of their sins, are or were destined to perpetual slavery.”
medieval antisemitism1
Medieval Antisemitism

Antisemitic Myths in the Middle Ages

The Blood-Libel

Ritual Murder

The Myth of the Consecrated Wafer

Examples of the Blood-Libel and Ritual Murder

William of Norwich

Little Hugh of Lincoln

Simon of Trent