Six Great Heresies of the Middle Ages

So-called heresies offered the opportunity for religious expression outside of the narrowly defined and self-serving precepts of the Church. Introduction The medieval Church established its monopoly over the spiritual life of Europeans in the Early Middle Ages (c. 476-1000 CE) and consolidated that power throughout the High Middle Ages (1000-1300 CE) and Late Middle Ages[…]

‘Donation of Constantine’: A Medieval Forgery for Authority

The Donation of Constantine was most likely written, and almost certainly used, to coerce Pepin the Short to give up land. Introduction The Donation of Constantine (Donatio Constantini or the Donatio) is a medieval forgery dated to the 8th century CE purporting to be an original 4th-century CE document in which the Roman emperor Constantine the Great (r. 306-337 CE) granted[…]

Monastic Orders of the Middle Ages

Monasteries in the Early Middle Ages already had rudimentary rules and guidelines. Introduction The monastic orders of the Middle Ages developed from the desire to live a spiritual life without the distractions of the world. Men and women who took religious vows were seeking a purity of experience they found lacking as lay people. Their[…]

The Medieval Church

The Church regulated and defined an individual’s life, literally, from birth to death and was thought to continue its hold over the person’s soul in the afterlife. Introduction Religious practice in medieval Europe (c. 476-1500 CE) was dominated and informed by the Catholic Church. The majority of the population was Christian, and “Christian” at this time meant[…]

Unam Sanctam: Spiritual Authority and the Medieval Church

The medieval Church developed and retained its power by encouraging the innate human fear of death and the Church’s vision of itself as the only path to salvation from hell. Introduction The pagan systems of the past all had some version of judgment after death whereby ‘good’ people were rewarded and ‘bad’ people punished, but[…]

Investiture: Medieval Nobility Cashing in on Church Appointments

It began as a power struggle between Pope Gregory VII and Emperor Henry IV in 1076. Introduction The Investiture Controversy or Investiture Contest was a conflict between church and state in medieval Europe over the ability to appoint local church officials through investiture.[1] By undercutting imperial power, the controversy led to nearly 50 years of civil war in Germany. According to historian Norman[…]

The Medieval Idea of Legitimacy and the King’s Two Bodies

The idea of the sacred nature of political power in the medieval world. By Dr. Lorena StuparuInstitute of Political Sciences and International RelationsRomanian Academy Abstract Based on Ernst Kantorowicz’s work The King’s Two Bodies, this paper intends to show that the idea of the sacred nature of political power, of the legitimacy which transcends the[…]

The Rise of the Western Church in Early Medieval Europe

During the first half of the sixth century, the Church had to face the difficulty of preserving itself under the rule of Germanic kings. Think about it for a moment. Christianity was not legally recognized and did not begin its real institutional evolution until 313, two years after the death of Diocletian, the emperor who[…]