The China of the Jesuits

The history of the Society of Jesus’ first missions is a story of great journeys. Abstract During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries many reports and travel narratives helped to create a more positive image of China around the world. The remarkable efforts of the Society of Jesus were essential to this new view, thanks to[…]

A History of Changing Western Attitudes Toward Islam

Since its beginnings in the Arabia of the 7th century CE, the religion of Muhammad the prophet had pushed against the borders of Christendom. Less than a week after the attack on the Twin Towers in New York on 11 September 2001, US President George W. Bush gave a remarkable speechabout America’s “Muslim Brothers and sisters”.[…]

The Treaty of Tripoli: An Agreement in 1796 Confirming the U.S. as a Sovereign, Secular State

Ratified by the United States Senate unanimously without debate on June 7, 1797, taking effect June 10, 1797, with the signature of President John Adams. Introduction The Treaty of Tripoli (Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary), signed in 1796, was the first treaty[…]

The Albigensian Crusade: Christian Armies Turning the Sword Inward in Medieval France

The Albigensian Crusade was the first crusade to specifically target heretic Christians – the Cathars of southern France. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Not successful in repressing the heresy, the on-off campaigns over two decades, led by Simon IV de Montfort, did achieve their real purpose: the political annexation of the Languedoc region, eventually bringing it[…]

The Early Medieval Papacy and Spread of Christianity Beyond the Roman Empire

As the political boundaries of the Roman Empire diminished and collapsed in the West, Christianity spread beyond the old borders of the Empire and into lands that had never been under Rome. Introduction Christianity in the Middle Ages covers the history of Christianity from the Fall of the Western Roman Empire (c. 476) until the Fall[…]

Secluding Nuns in Early Christian Monastic Communities to Avoid Scandal

Since the early days of monasticism, the presence of nuns led to restrictions that limited contact between men and women. Pope Francis recently stated that Catholic nuns in various parts of the world, including Africa, Europe, India and Latin America, have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of priests and bishops. In his comments during a news[…]

The Differences between Ancient and Medieval Byzantine and Armenian Christianity

The types of Christianity they professed had important differences that led to a lack of recognition and tensions between the two groups. Introduction Although both the Byzantines and the Armenians were Christian, the types of Christianity they professed had important differences that led to a lack of recognition and tensions between the two groups and[…]

The Constantinian Shift: Rome’s Transition from Pagan Tolerance to Christian Supremacy

Roman religion and tolerance for others drastically began to change following the Edict of Milan. Introduction Constantinian shift is a term used by some theologians and historians of antiquity to describe the political and theological aspects and outcomes of the 4th-century process of Constantine’s integration of the Imperial government with the Catholic church that began with the First Council of Nicaea.[1] The term was popularized[…]

The Historical Context for the Protestant Reformation

To circumscribe the Reformation solely within the sphere of theological disputation is to mask the complexity of both its birth and afterlife. By Jay Gundacker and Sean Hallowell Martin Luther To understand the rapid spread of Luther’s ideas, a brief account of the role that the Church played in Medieval society is necessary. In the[…]

The Church in Medieval Europe

The Church dominated the culture and society of Medieval Europe so powerfully that its people thought of themselves as living in “Christendom” – the realm of the Christians. Introduction Overview Medieval Christendom was divided into two parts. The Christians of eastern Europe were under the leadership of the patriarch of Constantinople (modern day Istanbul, in Turkey). Those in[…]

Classical and Christian Conceptions of Slavery and Gender, and Their Influence on Germanic Gaul

Roman honor and shame became Christian virtue and shame. The Christian reinterpretation of the classical Roman dichotomy of “honor” and “shame” into “virtue” and “shame” in Late Antiquity did not benefit enslaved men and women equally. Enslaved men experienced a moral elevation of their suffering, which allowed them to recast their vulnerability as a strength[…]