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Dark Ages Missions(or Early Middle Ages)500-1000Part 1 The corrupting influence of power, prestige and unlimited finances changed the Church to a myopic view of ministry in its attempt to create a Christian Kingdom, instead of spreading out over the world.
A Glimpse of the medieval missionary Germanic warriors to be converted • “The missionaries of the middle ages were nearly all monks. They were generally men of limited education and narrow views, but devoted zeal and heroic self-denial. Accustomed to primitive simplicity of life, detached from all earthly ties, trained to all sorts of privations, ready for any amount of labor, and commanding attention and veneration by their unusual habits, their celibacy, fasting and constant devotions, they were upon the whole the best pioneers of Christianity and civilization among the savage races of Northern and Western Europe. The lives of these missionaries are surrounded by their biographers with such a halo of legends and miracles, that it is almost impossible to sift fact from fiction. Many of these miracles no doubt were products of fancy or fraud; but it would be rash to deny them all.” • “The same reason which made miracles necessary in the first introduction of Christianity, may have demanded them among barbarians before they were capable of appreciating the higher moral evidences.” • Philip Schaff and David Schley Schaff, History of the Christian Church (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997). John of Montecorvino
Introduction to the Period • 476 marked the end of the Christian Roman Empire in the West – Beginning of the German rulers • Rome had been sacked by the Goths (Germans) in 410. At 100 AD pop. in Rome was 450,000, but by 600 the pop. was 20,000! • Visigoths were persuaded to leave Italy for Gaul (France); the Suevi tribesman took over NW Spain; Vandals, S. Spain. • In Constantinople Christian fanatic Empress Pulcheria bought off the Huns and issued harsher edicts against unbelievers • Britain had been abandoned by the Romans (to defend the Empire) and was in anarchy • Next 500 years in establishing external acceptance and internal doctrinal issues– identity with decadent Roman culture was thought bad • Each Christian Church in their region demanded submission to their doctrinal position and persecuted dissidents. With no central authority, powerful individuals built a following.
Introduction to the Period Latin mss Greek mss • The Empire was in a state of decay and deterioration thus disadvantage to being identified with “Christian” Rome. Plagues of 510 to 700 killed 50% of pop. • A chief means of expanding Catholicism was through the Church brokered strategic marriages: Catholic brides for barbarian kings, and thus Catholic bishops brought into pagan royal households, thus tutoring royalty on rewards and terrors of aligning with Catholic Church • The Dark Ages is period between Classical Roman (Greek) culture (thru 6th cent) and the early Renaissance (11th cent) • The developing German-Roman culture evolved a syncretistic religious culture of the new Roman Catholicism • Civilizing meant Christianizing, every aspect of life was made to relate to Christian concepts, to build the kingdom of Christ – Church began writing Canon Laws • With no emperor in the West, the Bishop of Rome took on greater authority in Europe, including temporal powers over much of Italy • Soon Celtic Christians, Arian Christians and Catholic Christians were at war with each other for centuries
Four main events of the Early Middle Ages or the Dark Ages • Barbarian Rule • Feudalism • Islam • Holy Roman Empire Cultured life only in the monasteries Emperor Justinian (527-65) Byzantines able to reestablish Roman rule in Italy and N. Africa
Europe at 450 Hunnic Empire 450 Attila the Hun
Barbarians Germanic tribes by Red) 750 BC; pink) 500 BC; yellow) 250 BC; Green 1 AD Migrations from 200-500 • A term which refers to people who speak a language no one understands • Refers to the Vikings, Huns, Vandals and Goths who created the chaos of the Dark Ages. • Germanic people were not necessarily the invaders but the mercenaries hired to defend the nation’s borders, giving opportunity to rise in high rank of the Army. Soon the defense of the nation was in their hands, then the rule quickly followed. • Much paganism was retained in their superficial conversion to Christianity • All were converted to Arian Christianity before becoming part of Roman Empire • Most converted to Roman Christianity by armed force of Charlemagne (i.e. The Saxon Wars)
Feudalistic social structure Priest, knight, commoners • From warring bands in conquered territory to civilized social structures took centuries beginning in 757, Pepin, Duke of the Franks • Vassalage: Most trusted generals were eventually given tracts of land – only way to generate wealth. Land, a fief, for military service (“knight’s key”) • Three Key concepts: • Lords: a feudal tenant who holds land directly from the king (i.e. a baron), thus aristocrat • Vassals: (serfs who live on land of a Lord, who swore an oath of loyalty to the Lord • Fiefs: (land)- inheritable lands or revenue-producing property (i.e. fiefdom) • Three Estates of society: • First Estate: clergy (divided into higher and lower clergy) (owned 10-15% of land in France) – typically 2nd son of a Lord or others who joined the clergy. • Second Estate: Nobility (typically 0.5% of population- only 1st born inherited estates) • Third Estate: commoners, workers, farmers, (typically 97% of population) • Catholic Church was ally to this civil-military structure with its right to share (tithe) in the society’s output, and dominance in the moral and material welfare
Irish Peregrini [“pilgrims”] • The invading Germanic groups destroyed monasteries and learning centers, except in Isles • In 510 Irish peregrini,“itenerating teacher/preachers,”trained in Irish monasteries, traveled throughout Europe • With abundant sheep, copies of Scriptures more easily available. • Irish “miniscule” – first use of small letters • Over the next 300 years their monasteries produced “thousands” of scholars all over Europe • Columbanus took abandoned Roman forts and turned them into monasteries, eventually reaching Italy • To counter the conversion of Europe to Celtic Christianity, Rome sent Bishop Augustine to Britain • The free-roving independent Celtic Christianity became unacceptable and was ejected from England as Roman trained priests took over Britain by mid-7th cent. • At Synod of Whitby (664) Catholicism won: King Oswy said, “I dare not longer contradict the decrees of him who keeps the doors of the Kingdom of Heaven, lest he should refuse me admission.” (a reference to the pope).
Monasticism (“the art of dwelling alone”) or Mission Compounds • The goal of the monastery was to become holy by isolation from cares and sins of public life – the only haven for godliness • Took vows of poverty, obedience, service, celibacy and some silence • Learning was preserved mostly in monasteries and agricultural experimentation • As Roman Empire disintegrated, Latin ceased to be used except in the monasteries and Mass – everyone spoke their distinct dialect • The Irish or Celtic monastic cycle: evangelize (find those interested in God and Church), build a monastery to house disciples, educate and train for livelihood (agriculture, carpentry, teach literacy, etc) and evangelism, then send out groups to repeat the cycle • Admiration for the monks because they exorcized demons, helped the poor and defended the oppressed against abusive officials Abby on Iona
Dynastic Marriage-Conversion Method • Fleeing before the Huns, the Burgundians settled N. of Italy and S. of Gaul. • As Burgundia grew in power until they cut off Roman Catholic Soissons in N. Gaul from Rome • Burgundians had converted to Arianism • “In a method which would be used repeatedly by the Catholic hierarchy, a Catholic princess, would be found for the “hoary Germanic warrior.” • Though the warlord might never convert, the bride would arrive with her own Catholic bishop as ‘private confessor’ and the offspring would be raised in the Catholic faith. • Clovis, king of Franks was married to 17-yr old Clothilde in 493. Her daughter was married to King of Visigoths in the repetition of Catholic marriage broking. • The peasants and plebs were forced to follow their king • Thus barbarian Europe was converted to Catholicism