AN03de_European Middle Ages- Church Authority, Challenges, and Reform. (Ch.13, 14)
Timeline: 6th – 15th C.
FS: The Medieval Church was more than a religious Institution and it’s difficulties showed that.
Church leaders and political leaders competed for power and authority. Though the Church filled a void left by the collapse of the Roman Empire (West), the great burden imposed on a young institution inevitably contributed to corruption and ambiguous policies. The High and Late Middle Ages witnessed a resurgence in Church influence partially attributed to the reforms ‘pushed’ by powerful popes.
I. The Church and Challenges of the Early Middle Ages
1. Served to ‘fix’ migrating populations in Europe a century after the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West. St. Benedict and his Benedictine Rules. (1)
2. Targeted and plundered by Vikings
3. Often plundered, via taxation, by monarchs who needed funds.
4. Weakened as a place of learning.
5. Clergyman become illiterate
B. Growing pains
1. Corruption among some Church leaders
b. Clergy marriages
c. Land donations or pledges become the feudal holdings of Bishops and Abbots. The feudal responsibility replaces the religious obligations.
2. No standard or fair papal selection process. (The Western Schism 14th – 15th C.)
II. Scholars Offer an Interpretation
The papacy was challenged by an Englishman named John Wycliffe (WIHK•lihf). He preached that Jesus Christ, not the pope, was the true head of the Church. He was much offended by the worldliness and wealth many clergy displayed. Wycliffe believed that the clergy should own no land or wealth.
Wycliffe also taught that the Bible alone, not the pope, was the final authority for Christian life. He helped spread this idea by inspiring an English translation of the New Testament of the Bible. Influenced by Wycliffe’s writings, Jan Hus, a professor in Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic), taught that the authority of the Bible was higher than that of the pope. Hus was excommunicated in 1412. In 1414, he was seized by Church leaders, tried as a heretic, and then burned at the stake in 1415.
III. Church Revival via Reform and Reorganization During the High Middle Ages
1. Adopt stricter rules.
2. Many pledge loyalty directly to pope.
3. Cluny, in France, becomes a model for these reformed monastic orders.
B. The College of Cardinals and the selection of Pope (11th – 14th C.) (2)
1. Its origins date to the 11th C., but its rules for papal selection are not set until the late 14th C.
2. To address 14th C. issues concerning the selection of a new pope. (3)
3. Council of Constance 15th C. ends Western Schism.
C. Movement to end these practices with stiffer penalties and enforcement.
2. Clergy Marriage
3. Lay Investiture
a. Favored by King
b. Opposed by Church (Pope)
c. Conflict: Gregory VII vs. Henry IV (Germany) (4)
d. Concordat of Worms (1122)
D. Religious Power develops into Secular Power
a. Removed from the community of Christians
b. Cannot enter Heaven in the after-life.
2. Interdict: Prohibits the performance of religious ceremonies and rituals within the borders of a specific area. This would include, but not be limited to: Baptism, Communion, and Last Rites.
IV. Church Initiatives in the High & Late Middle Ages
A. 11th C. ‘Church’ as ‘Kingdom’
B. Church ‘Enemies’
1. Heresies & Church Reaction
a. Flagellant Movement
b. 1225: Office of the Inquisition
2. Challenge of Islam and Judaism
a. Crusades (1095-1292)
b. Reconquista (Iberia: 11th – 15th C.)
3. Challenges to Church Authority by Secular Leaders (Monarchs)
V. Battle for the minds & souls of Men: Increasing Role of Friars
A. Catholic Order of Priests
1. Monks: Sequestered in Monasteries
2. Friars: Travel and live among the people.
B. Role of the new (Friar) Orders of the 13th C.
1. Dominican Order (Scholarly) (5)
a. John of Paris: Thought and wrote about of Papal (Church) authority vs. Monarchial (Royal) authority.
b. (St.) Thomas Aquinas: Used logic to answer philosophical questions regarding the faith (Summa Theologiae).
2. Franciscan Order (6)
a. Devoted to serve the needs of the poor and ill.
b. (St.) Francis of Assisi: Viewed nature as full of God’s divinity.
VI. Architecture reflects the local view of Man’s relationship with God via Gothic Cathedrals.
A. 11th – 12th C. => Romanesque
B. 12th – 13th C. => Gothic
VII. Summary: Why it matters now.
The Catholic Church represents the faith of the largest Christian community on Earth. It’s reforms, even today, will impact many people.
– World History: Patterns of Interaction
– Pr03deThe High Middle Ages
– The Rules of St. Benedict, c530:
– PBS’ NOVA Series: Building the Great Cathedrals. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/building-gothic-cathedrals.html.
– PBS’ NOVA Website: Physics of Stone Arches. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/physics/arch-physics.html.
– Film: CNN’s Millennium Series.
– Reference sites included (Accessed Feb. 2004)…
Teacher Note: Information on Monasteries and their role in Medieval society was predominantly derived from notes taken at a teachers’ symposium sponsored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 21 May 2001. The focus was Medieval Art: The Cloisters Collection.
1. Benedict was a monk and leader in the establishment of religious communities. His ‘Rules’ brought order and structure to the lifestyles of monks. The order of priests that bears his name is the Benedictine order. The floor plan of Medieval monasteries showed that there was a space dedicated for quiet contemplation (The Cloister), storage for objects made of ‘valuable materials’ used in rituals (The Treasury), and storage for objects of great ‘religious value’ (The Reliquary).
3. In 1305, Philip IV, king of France, persuaded the College of Cardinals to choose a French pope. The newly selected pope moved from Rome to the city of Avignon, France. The move to Avignon badly weakened the Church. When reformers tried to move the papacy back to Rome matters were made worse. In 1378, Pope Gregory XI died when visiting Rome. The College of Cardinals met in Rome to choose a successor. The body was influenced by the population’s desire for a “Roman” pope. The cardinals announced that an Italian had been chosen: Pope Urban VI. Urban VI’s passion for reform and his arrogant personality caused the cardinals to elect a second pope a few months later. They chose Robert of Geneva, who spoke French. He took the name Clement VII. Now there were two popes. Each excommunicated the other. In 1414, the Council of Constance attempted to end the Great Schism by choosing a single pope. By now, there were a total of three popes: the Avignon pope, the Roman pope, and a third pope elected by an earlier council at Pisa. With the aid of the Holy Roman Emperor, the council forced all three popes to resign. The Council chose a new pope, Martin V, in 1417 ending the schism but leaving the papacy severely weakened.
4. Bans Lay Investiture in 1075 leading to the showdown at Canossa with Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor.
5. Dedicated to the scholarly study of the faith. They became the Church’s ‘professors’ and were early instructors within Europe’s fledgling medieval universities. This order dominated the roles within the Holy Office of the Inquisition. They wore white robes. Ex.: John of Paris, St. Thomas Aquinas, Fr. Torquemada.
6. Dedicated to a life of poverty and charitable work to Christian communities in need. They wore plain brown hooded robes with a rope belt.
Vocabulary (Refer to Pu03de_The Early Church for pertinent vocabulary on this topic)
1. Basilicas were structures within which meetings and gatherings occurred during the Roman period. They could often be found in the Forum. As the pagan era gave way to the Christian, an effort to disassociate the structure (which would now be used for gatherings of the faithful) from its pagan origins called focus to the distinctive shape. The structure had a cross-like shape that became increasingly pronounced as the architectural design evolved in the Christian era. By the 5th C. basilicas and the ‘cross’ shape were a marriage of form and faith. Myths developed that strengthened Christian origins of the basilica design (eg. involving the spice Basil).
2. Relic: To classify as a relic, the object must be closely associated with a significant religious figure from the past. An example would be The Shroud of Turin. This object is believed to be Jesus’ burial cloth.
3. Christendom is a territorial conception of the Christian community. It is a secular expression of the authority that Church leaders can exercise over land inhabited by the faithful. The implication here is that the head of the Church (Pope) can exercise authority like a king over his kingdom.
4. Petrine Doctrine: This doctrine, developed and strengthened from as early as the 2nd century, is formerly presented by Leo I (4th C.). It becomes the justification for the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome (the future Pope) over all other clergymen in Christendom. The title of Pope isn’t routinely used until after the 6th C.
5. The Great Schism: ‘Schism’ means to divide or split. In 787, 7th ecumenical council, convened by Byzantine Empress Irene, is called to refute iconoclasm. The council declared that images ought to be venerated (but not worshiped) and ordered them restored in churches. Practically the only Western delegates were the papal legates, but popes have confirmed the conciliar canons. It is the last council accepted by both the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church as ecumenical. In 1054, the Pope of the Roman Catholic (Western) Church excommunicates the Patriarch of the Eastern (Greek) Orthodox Church and vice-versa. The split (Schism) remains to this day.
This should not be confused with The Great Schism of the 14th – 15th C. (also referred to as the Western Schism to distinguish it from the 1054 split) That rift was a crisis resulting from Cardinals choosing a second pope after becoming disappointed with the pope originally chosen. Two popes now claimed the position. The crisis did not end until the Council of Constance (1414 – 1418) settled the dispute by electing a new pope and asking for (and receiving) the resignations of the other two popes.