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Religion in the Late Middle Ages

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

The Papacy lost much of its power to the national monarchs in the Late Middle Ages and never regained its former influence which reached its zenith under Pope Innocent III. The period of the Late Middle Ages was marked by serious conflicts between the popes and the national monarchs which reached their height with the Avignon Papacy, also known as “the Babylonian Captivity” from 1309 and 1377. The seat of Papacy was moved to Avignon, while the popes came under French influence.

When Pope Gregory XI decided to return to Rome in 1378 the French Cardinals elected Roger of Geneva as Pope Clement VII who chose his residence at Avignon. The double election resulted in the Western Schism also called the Great Schism although this term is usually applied to the East-West Schism of 1054. With aim to settle the Western Schism the Catholic Church convoked the Council at Pisa in 1409 which resulted in the election of a third pope, Alexander V. The Western Schism finally ended with the election of Pope Martin V at the Council of Constance in 1414.

The Council of Constance also dealt with heresy and condemned John Hus of Bohemia for heresy and burned him at the stake in 1415. The heretic movements continued despite Hus’ death, while all the councils convoked to eradicate heresy and to reconcile the Eastern and Western Churches failed. The Catholic Church also failed to restore its former power and prestige and was shortly before another major schism – the Protestant Reformation.

Art, Architecture and Culture in the Late Middle Ages

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

Gothic style and Christian motifs dominated art and architecture of the Late Middle Ages. However, the rise of the cities, foundation of universities, increased trade and rise of bourgeois class which patronized art increased the amount of secular motifs, while Italy entered the period of the Renaissance – a cultural movement marked by revival of ideas from classical antiquity and development of linear perspective in painting which spread throughout Europe by the end of the Late Middle Ages.

Replacement of Latin with the vernacular languages and introduction of classical ideas were the most important changes in the literature of the Late Middle Ages. The pioneers of Renaissance humanist literature and promoters of the vernacular languages were Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio and Geoffrey Chaucer.

Religion in the High Middle Ages

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

The period of the High Middle Ages was marked by great influence of the Christian principles in all aspects of life of all medieval social classes. Under Pope Innocent III (c. 1161-1216) the Papacy reached its height but the High Middle Ages also saw the conflict between the Church and European monarchs known as the Investiture Controversy.

Despite its influence and power the Catholic Church felt threatened by the heretic movements and desperately tried to root them out mostly with propaganda of newly established mendicant orders (Franciscans, Dominicans) as well as with inquisitorial trials. The period of the High Middle Ages was also marked by the final separation between the Latin and Orthodox Church with mutual excommunication in 1054 which came to be known as the East-West Schism or the Great Schism. The relations between both Christian Churches were afterwards hostile.

Among the most important events of the High Middle Ages were the Crusades. The First Crusade was launched by Pope Urban II to help the Byzantine Empire against the Seljuk Turks and to free the Holy Land from the Muslims in 1096.

Religion in the Early Middle Ages (Christianity and Islam)

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

The Early Middle Ages was marked by the rise of Christianity, while the Christian Church was the only centralized institution that survived the fall of Rome. There were five patriarchates in the 5th century with seats in Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. Patriarchates in Jerusalem, Alexandria and Antioch lost their importance because of the Muslim Conquests by the end of the 7th century, while Patriarchate in Rome greatly increased its influence mostly due to its close connections with the Frankish kings.

Good collaboration between the Frankish kings and Patriarchate in Rome brought benefits for both sides. By converting to Christianity the Frankish kings assured themselves an important ally in predominantly Arian Western Europe, while the Roman Exarchate gained great wealth for supporting the Frankish Kings. The Church received large estates where it exercised feudal authority, while tithes were paid to the Church as indemnity for secularization after the second half of the 8th century. Pippin the Younger deposed Childeric III in 751 with Papal support. In return, he made a donation to the Pope known as the Donation of Pepin which became the basis for the establishment of the Papal States. Although conversion of the Frankish kings to Christianity was of great importance Christianization of wider population took place slowly, especially in the countryside. However, whole Europe was practically Christianized by the end of the Early Middle Ages at the end of the 10th century.

Islamic faith emerged in the Arabian Peninsula in the 630’s and spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa after Muslim Conquests in the middle of the 7th century. The Muslim Conquests continued in the 8th century. The Siege of Constantinople in 718 failed but the Umayyads managed to conquer the Iberian Peninsula. However, the defeat of Umayyad forces by the Franks under leadership of Charles Martel in the Battle of Tours in 732 ended the Muslim Conquests in Western Europe.

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