A Short History of the Papacy in the Middle Ages

By Walter Ullmann | Go to book overview

Preface

THE PRINCIPAL OBJECT of this book is to show in outline how the papacy as an institution developed in the Middle Ages. In time the book spans the history of the medieval papacy from its small and insignificant beginnings in the late Roman Empire to its eventual decline in the age of the Renaissance. The chief concern is the papacy, and not the individual popes. That personalities of necessity do figure prominently is understandable because an institution can be worked only by men, but they were organs who were charged with the application and execution of the idea which the institution itself embodied. Great and outstanding personalities there indubitably were, but in their official capacities they were shaped and guided by the institution itself. A history of the medieval papacy is not therefore a summary of individual papal biographies.

The history of the medieval papacy is the history of an idea, and this idea complex as it is in its genesis and structure, was a time and space conditioned conception of Christianity. The papacy was the embodiment and concrete manifestation of this idea. It was an organism or an institution that derived its sustenance exclusively from this transpersonal idea. There is reason to say that in the early and high Middle Ages it was on the whole the papacy which guided the popes-the papal office absorbed the papal personality. This is precisely the feature which makes the medieval papacy an institution sui generis and renders any comparison with other forms of government-for instance, of kingdoms, empires, towns, corporations, principalities, ruling dynasties, etc.-a fruitless task. For the papacy rested on a fairly closely defined programme, on a blueprint which was held to have been not of the papacy's own making but to have been given to it by a specific act of divinity. Whether this was, doctrinally, a tenable proposition is not for the historian to say. What is for him to say is that the papacy is the only institution within the European or Western orbit of civilization which links the post-apostolic with the

-vii-

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A Short History of the Papacy in the Middle Ages
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface to the Reprint vi
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction x
  • 1 - The Papacy in the Late Roman Empire 4
  • 2 - The Papal Conflict with the Imperial Government 28
  • 3 - The Papacy and the Conversion of England 51
  • 4 - The Western Orientation of the Papacy 71
  • 5 - The Papacy and Latin Europe 91
  • 6 - The German Monarchy and the Papacy 116
  • 7 - The Gregorian Age 142
  • 8 - Tensions and Conflicts 173
  • 9 - The Zenith of the Medieval Papacy 201
  • 10 - Central Government and the Papal Curia 227
  • 11 - Gradual Decline of Papal Authority 251
  • 12 - Avignon, Rome and Constance 279
  • 13 - The Last Phase of the Medieval Papacy 306
  • Abbreviations 333
  • Bibliographical Notes 337
  • Appendix 367
  • List of Medieval Popes 372
  • Index 377
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