The Papal Monarchy: The Western Church from 1050 to 1250

The Papal Monarchy: The Western Church from 1050 to 1250

The Papal Monarchy: The Western Church from 1050 to 1250

The Papal Monarchy: The Western Church from 1050 to 1250

Synopsis

In this book Morris examines the building of Christian society between 1050 and 1250. The two centuries covered were among the most creative in the history of the Church and saw the emergence of much that is considered characteristic of European culture and religion: universities, commmerical cities, hospitals, the crusades, the inquisition, papal government, canon law, and marriage in its "western" form.

Excerpt

The title of this book expresses a paradox, not a fact. A papal monarchy was in principle and in practice inconceivable in medieval Europe. One of the distinctive features of Christianity has been a clear separation between church and state. The awareness of two powers, each with its own area of authority, was founded upon the ministry of Christ and embodied in his command, 'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's' (Mark 12: 17). The distinction between sacred and secular, between kingdom (regnum) and priesthood (sacerdotium) is a commonplace of Christian thinking, and it was not forgotten between 1050 and 1250. On the contrary the sense of opposition between clergy and laity grew stronger, as clergy were discouraged from secular employment and debarred from those activities of government which involved the use of force and imposition of death sentences. In the proper sense of the words, papal monarchy was impossible. A pope could no more rule a kingdom than a king could say mass. Yet the language of papal monarchy is inescapable in our sources, and the popes adopted imperial dress and ceremonial. Rhetoric and symbolism expressed a complex reality. In part they described the supremacy of papal authority within the church, a supremacy which was widely recognized although it was rarely defined as absolutism. But papal claims went further. The ineffectiveness of state power at the beginning of our period meant that the clergy supervised activities which in the ancient or the modern world alike have been the business of the state or of voluntary societies. These included the provision of hospitals and schools, jurisdiction over marriage and probate, the defence of Christendom against the infidel, and the preservation of peace within its borders. As the supreme authority within the church popes had final responsibility for all these matters, and it is striking to find how many major initiatives were undertaken directly by the Roman Church: the history of the crusades, of the friars, and of the inquisition, for example, was shaped by papal . . .

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