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27 Jul

Religion in the Early Middle Ages (Christianity and Islam)

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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