Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe: Documents in Translation

By Edward Peters | Go to book overview

II
THE PROBLEM OF REFORM, DISSENT, AND HERESY IN THE ELEVENTH AND TWELFTH CENTURIES

The eleventh and twelfth centuries have been regarded by most modern historians as marking a new beginning in European history. With the ending of Viking, Magyar, and Arab invasions and the growth of population and agricultural productivity, European society developed rapidly through the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries. Scholars have traced the consequences of this change in books as diverse as Marc Bloeh's Feudal Society, Charles Homer Haskins's The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century, R. W. Southern 's The Making of the Middle Ages, and Georges Duby's Rural Economy and Country Life in the Medieval West. Robert Lopez has written of the Commercial Revolution of the Middle Ages, and Philippe Wolff of The Awakening of Europe. In the long view, the links between eleventh-century and eighteenth-century European society seem stronger than ever, and the difference between this period and the Carolingian period which preceded it, as well as the age of political and industrial revolution which followed it, seems sharper.

Thus, the growth and variety of forms of religious dissent that the sources reveal suddenly around the year 1000 is an important facet of the European experience during a period of profound change and social and cultural transformation. Although no historian would consider the changes in religious temper simply a function of change in other areas of life, no historian can ignore change in all such areas if the history of the whole life of European

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