A History of the Church in the Middle Ages

By F. Donald Logan | Go to book overview

5

CHURCH, CAROLINGIANS AND VIKINGS

It might be thought that the word ‘Carolingian’ derives from the greatest person of that dynasty, Charlemagne (Carolus magnus, Charles the Great), but such is not the case. The word ‘Carolingian’ derives from Charles Martel, whose son Pepin became the first king of the dynasty. At the height of their power under Charlemagne, the Carolingians controlled a vast area of Western Europe, not just the area of modern France nor even of Napoleonic France. The Frankish campaign into Spain famously failed at Roncesvalles (778), giving us the epic Song of Roland (Chanson de Roland) and fixed the south-western border of their lands at the Pyrenees. Yet their south-eastern lands extended deep into central Italy. And their power extended from the western sea well into central Europe, including Saxony, Thuringia and Bavaria, thus neutralizing the Avar threat to the eastern borders. In the north, Carolingian dominion stopped only at the inhospitable Danish march. Europe was not to see such massive territorial control by one power until the time of Napoleon in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and Hitler in the twentieth century. It was in the context of this Frankish aggrandizement that the church was to play a major role. The relationship of the kings of this dynasty, particularly Pepin III (751-68), Charlemagne (768-814) and Louis the Pious (814-40), with the papacy profoundly influenced that institution and the Christian religion more generally. It was a dynasty too soon, a dynasty too ambitious in its aims and too weak even at its strongest moment to survive long. Within ninety years from the coronation of Pepin (751) the Frankish lands, the new ‘empire’, were divided into three parts and soon into even more parts as centrifugal forces left it in pieces. Yet, on that account, its accomplishments should not be denied: they were considerable, like nothing before, and they touched the church on many levels and in many ways that continued long after the grandsons of Charlemagne were engaged in unseemly fratricidal warfare.


Franco-papal alliance

Events in Italy and Francia combined to form the central political alliance of the Middle Ages. More than political and, indeed, more than an alliance, the

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A History of the Church in the Middle Ages
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Plates xi
  • Maps xii
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Pre-Medieval Church 3
  • 2 - The Beginning of the Middle Ages 13
  • 3 - Justinian and Mohammed 30
  • 5 - Church, Carolingians and Vikings 71
  • 6 - The Church in Disarray, C.850-C.1050 90
  • 7 - Reform, the East, Crusade 105
  • 8 - The Twelfth Century 131
  • 9 - Three Twelfth-Century Profiles 152
  • 10 - The Age of Innocent III 184
  • 11 - The Emergence of Dissent and the Rise of the Friars 202
  • 14 - Death and Purgatory 275
  • 15 - Exile in Avignon and Aftermath 297
  • 16 - The Great Schism 315
  • 17 - The Fifteenth Century 332
  • List of Popes, 500-1500 354
  • Index 357
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