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Author Topic: What happened to the Roman Catholic church during the Medieval times.  (Read 3371 times) Average Rating: 0
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NMHS
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« on: September 12, 2009, 11:38:21 AM »

Hello Everyone, I am currently reading, and learning as much as I can about the Orthodox church and I was reading some commentaries the other day from some Orthodox resources and to paraphrase the resources stated that there were issues going on in the Catholic church during that time period.  I know of the reformation and have heard of some issues but I haven't been able to find much more information regarding the Catholic church and this time period.  Can someone enlighten me to some of the major issues that were occuring during that period and where I can find more information on this topic. ...............hopefully this is the right forum for this ??.  Thanks Caleb
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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2009, 01:57:00 PM »

- Dictatus papae
- Investiture Controversy
- Scholasticism
- Crusades
- Western Schism
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« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2009, 02:10:35 PM »

Hello Everyone, I am currently reading, and learning as much as I can about the Orthodox church and I was reading some commentaries the other day from some Orthodox resources and to paraphrase the resources stated that there were issues going on in the Catholic church during that time period.  I know of the reformation and have heard of some issues but I haven't been able to find much more information regarding the Catholic church and this time period.  Can someone enlighten me to some of the major issues that were occuring during that period and where I can find more information on this topic. ...............hopefully this is the right forum for this ??.  Thanks Caleb

Hi!

There's an awful lot could be said here - is there any particular aspect you're interested in? Early or late medieval? In England, on the Continent, in general?

Something I think is very distinctive of the Catholic Church during this period is that, in 1215, the 4th Lateran Council was called, and this really started the ball rolling on educating, and involving, the laity in their religion. The Council made some quite modest demands - such as, for instance, the demand that all lay people should attend Confession (and receive the Eucharist) a fixed number of times in the year. However, because these people (who had often been onlookers before, and who usually couldn't understand the Latin in which much of the Church service was conducted) needed to know what to Confess, they needed to be taught about their faith.
As a result of the concerns raised in this Council, therefore, the clergy had to really change and strengthen the way they related to lay people. It's from this time (early thirteenth century) on that you really begin to see a big increase in things like preaching manuals describing how to teach lay people, in picture books that they could use, and in adapted prayer books that they could follow. Eventually, people began to demand that their religious texts be translated out of Latin and into the vernacular languages (this is particularly true of England), and, eventually, came to feel that each ordinary person should be able to make their own theological judgements. This is the genesis of Lutheranism, I guess.

That'd be the thing I would pick out of the Medieval period - the changes in the role of lay people in religious activity. But there's masses more, so do ask if there's any one thing you want to know.

Good luck with your studying!

Liz
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« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2009, 02:25:42 PM »

Wow, this will turn into a large endeavor for you if you choose to dig into it...lol! Two books I'd recommend are "The History of the Popes" by Eamon Duffy, and "The Stripping of the Altars" by Eamon Duffy. He's an Irish Catholic Church historian, but not an apologist per se so he's pretty unbiased and fair to both East and West. He doesn't delve into some of the common apologist traps when "defending" one side or the other. At least in my limited reading of him. The Stripping of the Altars is a THICK book though and heavy duty reading....but quite enlightening as to some of the good and bad that was going on in the late medieval Church of England.

I'm sure many more books will be discussed but these are good fairly unbiased ones...and the history of the Popes is great intro to Church history and some of the details of the medieval Church...

As a good rule any book or article that says the Medieval Roman Church was "all bad" should be questioned...and some of these neo-apologetic "studies" that claim "there was no need of a Reformation at all, the Roman Church was doing NOTHING wrong and Martin Luther was just mentally ill" are just as suspect. (and absurd IMO) Truth usually lies somewhere in the middle of the extremes when it comes to history. Have fun but be prepared for some shocking things...(like how the "celibate" priesthood in the West really wasn't so celibate, particularly in England....by that I mean having "families" not just sleeping around) But the medieval Church wasn't full of "dumb laity" as is sometimes portrayed either....it's fun but lengthy subject. I hope your journey goes well.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2009, 02:30:42 PM by NorthernPines » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2009, 02:42:27 PM »

Wow, this will turn into a large endeavor for you if you choose to dig into it...lol! Two books I'd recommend are "The History of the Popes" by Eamon Duffy, and "The Stripping of the Altars" by Eamon Duffy. He's an Irish Catholic Church historian, but not an apologist per se so he's pretty unbiased and fair to both East and West. He doesn't delve into some of the common apologist traps when "defending" one side or the other. At least in my limited reading of him. The Stripping of the Altars is a THICK book though and heavy duty reading....but quite enlightening as to some of the good and bad that was going on in the late medieval Church of England.

I'm sure many more books will be discussed but these are good fairly unbiased ones...and the history of the Popes is great intro to Church history and some of the details of the medieval Church...

As a good rule any book or article that says the Medieval Roman Church was "all bad" should be questioned...and some of these neo-apologetic "studies" that claim "there was no need of a Reformation at all, the Roman Church was doing NOTHING wrong and Martin Luther was just mentally ill" are just as suspect. (and absurd IMO) Truth usually lies somewhere in the middle of the extremes when it comes to history. Have fun but be prepared for some shocking things...(like how the "celibate" priesthood in the West really wasn't so celibate, particularly in England....by that I mean having "families" not just sleeping around) But the medieval Church wasn't full of "dumb laity" as is sometimes portrayed either....it's fun but lengthy subject. I hope your journey goes well.


Ooh! I will add to that, if you like Eamon Duffy but are daunted by The Stripping of the Altars (it's a pretty thick tome), try his book called English People and their Prayers. It's a lovely book, full of little anecdotes, and really brings to life the kind of way late-medieval Catholics saw themselves and their worship. I really recommend it.

Edit: Btw (and Duffy is good on this), something that pervades Medieval Catholicism is the need to combat superstition! It's not all theology by any means ...
« Last Edit: September 12, 2009, 02:53:17 PM by Liz » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2009, 09:46:07 AM »

Fox's Book of Martyrs; see Chapters 4 and on.
http://www.ccel.org/f/foxe/martyrs/home.html

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« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2009, 09:55:02 AM »

Fox's Book of Martyrs; see Chapters 4 and on.
http://www.ccel.org/f/foxe/martyrs/home.html

Troubled?

Quite a dodgy source if you're looking for info on Medieval Catholicism, as opp. to Renaissance Protestant propaganda, no?
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« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2009, 10:24:06 AM »

Quite a dodgy source if you're looking for info on Medieval Catholicism, as opp. to Renaissance Protestant propaganda, no?
Tell me more!
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« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2009, 11:12:58 AM »

Paul Johnson's "A History of Christianity" was quite interesting (and depressing with all of the ecclesiastical shenanigans). I particularly enjoyed the section on the Dark Age (5th-11th centuries) as it shows how monasticism contributed to the development of agriculture in Northern Europe.
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« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2009, 01:04:50 PM »

Quite a dodgy source if you're looking for info on Medieval Catholicism, as opp. to Renaissance Protestant propaganda, no?
Tell me more!

 Smiley If you really want to know ... (I love a chance to quote a bit, and it is on-topic).

Foxe's account is pretty biased pretty much all the way through. He's very clear that Catholics are bad, and Protestants are persecuted. He also likes to give pretty anecdotes about the noble deaths of Protestant martyrs (eg. those who died during Mary I of England's reign). Quotations from the same link Gamma Ray put in above; they're from Chapter 16.

He's famous for the account of the deaths of Latimer and Ridley, leading Protestants during Mary's reign, who were burnt at the stake in Oxford. (There's a memorial to them a little way down the road from my house). The story goes that, as they were led to the flames, Latimer said to his companion, 'Be of good cheer Mr Ridley; and play the man. We shall this day, by God's grace, light up such a candle in England, as I trust, will never be put out'. From a propaganda point of view, this is clever: Foxe was a good Protestant and didn't like the veneration of the old Catholic saints, but he made his martyrs sound like new, Protestant saints.

He also tells how Archbishop Cranmer died. Cranmer was the translator of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and the English Lord's Prayer. He was also Henry VIII's bishop, who married Henry to Anne Boleyn and therefore, I suppose, he was one of the people who orchestrated the end of English Catholicism. He was an old man when he was persecuted by Mary I's government for refusing to give up his Protestant faith. At first, he was tortured and he signed the confession that was required of him, in which he denied his faith. He was, despite this, sentenced to be burnt to death. He was ashamed, and - according to Foxe - took back his denial of his faith. He said that, in signing the denial, 'my hand hath offended, writing contrary to my heart, therefore my hand shall first be punished; for when I come to the fire it shall first be burned'. He was put on the pyre in the same place where Latimer and Ridley had been burnt, and he held his right hand into the fire until in burnt to a cinder, before dying.

...

Or at least, this is Foxe's version. The justification for thinking about Foxe in the context of the medieval Catholic Church is, I guess, that his version of events influenced historians for a long time. Even in the last century (20th), it wasn't uncommon for historians to get their view of the abuses of medieval Catholicism from the early Protestant sources, like this one. For example, Foxe gives an account of the Wycliffite movement of the late-fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The Wycliffites desired an English (not Latin) Bible, and increasingly challenged the power of the clergy and what they saw as the corruption of the Church. Some of their followers also challenged the doctrine of the Real Presence, claiming that it was absurd to think God could be in bread and wine. Foxe's account makes Wycliffe, the leader, sound like a man of great insight who just lived too early, and still you see historians' accounts that take Foxe's view and think that anti-Wycliffites were all corrupt or reactionary (which they really weren't!)

Anyway ... I guess this is more to do with the historiography and the last gasp of Medieval Catholicism, so I don't know how useful it will be, NMHS. Sorry if it's a total digression - I love this stuff you see!

Liz.

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« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2009, 10:13:22 PM »

Fox's Book of Martyrs; see Chapters 4 and on.
http://www.ccel.org/f/foxe/martyrs/home.html

Troubled?

Quite a dodgy source if you're looking for info on Medieval Catholicism, as opp. to Renaissance Protestant propaganda, no?


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« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2009, 02:01:09 PM »

Its been awhile since I have been able to come back and see all the responses.  I figured it was a large topic to start diving into.  Thanks for all the feedback.  Caleb
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« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2009, 03:56:04 PM »

Don't forget abut Husitism also.
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« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2009, 04:07:57 PM »

I would highly recommend reading Malcolm Barber's Medieval Europe: The Two Cities, 1050-1300. Especially the section on developments in the Catholic Church.

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