A Short History of the Papacy in the Middle Ages

By Walter Ullmann | Go to book overview

atomic age: as an institution it has witnessed the birth, growth, prosperity, decay and disappearance of powerful empires, nations and even of whole civilizations; it has witnessed radical transformations in the cosmological field evidenced by bloody revolutions, intercontinental wars and popular upheavals of such magnitudes and dimensions that wholly novel political and social structures appeared in their train.

Because the focal point of this book is the papacy, and not the popes, the emphasis lies on the organic development of the institution. Individual popes figure only in so far as they make their appearance as the transmitters and instruments of the papal idea itself. That consequently certain topic receive less attention than others and that, vice-versa, some topics such as how the papal idea unfolded itself in time and space, are given greater prominence, would in view of the subject of the book seem comprehensible. The attempt to present the historical development of the papacy as an institution had to be made: of histories of the popes there is no shortage. I also thought that the general reader and the student of history to whom the book is primarily addressed would be more helped by concentration on the essential features than by a sheer accumulation of mere facts which, as often as not, are, if at all, only rather tenuously held together by the fortuitous circumstances of a surviving source or still more frequently by their equally fortuitous occurrence within a specified stretch of time. Throughout the book I have stressed one feature which is particularly necessary in a work on the papacy (as distinct from the popes), and that is the role which Constantinople played in the evolution of the institution. The imperial régime in Constantinople played a crucial role in the orientation, structure and physiognomy of the medieval papacy: this is a point which is hardly ever given any prominence, but it is a feature which must be stressed if the history of the institution is to be made accessible to understanding. In more than one direction the history of the medieval papacy is co-terminous with the existence of the Byzantine empire. In brief, it was very largely the challenge by Constantinople and the response and reaction by the papacy which in vital and basic respects determined the path of this institution. Lastly, this book is also a modest attempt to integrate facts with ideas because the concentration on the one to the exclusion of the other would appear to be no longer adequate; in any case the two are too closely linked to be artificially divorced.

-viii-

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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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