Monday, June 22, 2009


By Brian Welter

Christendom was created and sustained by the papacy, and when the corruption of the papal court had become too entrenched through the centuries, Christendom broke up. Papal leadership made and sustained Christendom. Yet rather than total domination from Rome, this was done with great variety and diversity of outlook. Rather than faithfully following the papacy in every little detail, it was the shared broad vision of this world that Christendom took from the papacy. This happened even when the papacy or pope himself was unpopular.

1) Social and Cultural Generalities; Popular Belief; Saints

1.1 Medieval images of Christ

Christ as warrior: Christ descending to hell on Holy Saturday (Dante Hell Canto 4); Christ fighting the devil and paying a ransom (Anselm; Aquinas); Christ who fights evil; what kind of grace does this lead to? Masculine God of grace or feminized God of sentimental love?

Feminizing images of Christendom (being married to Christ; images of Christ as a nurturing mother); Bernard of Clairvaux; Hedewijch and the female mystics; feminized, sentimental love

Mary: Her increasing place after 1000 as intercessor – God is close to the individual concerns; Saint Bernard of Clairvaux; Mechtild of Magdeburg (Mary as goddess)

Augustine's Christology and soteriology; Platonism and neo-Platonism in Aug: and influences on popular belief

Bonaventure: “there is no separation between theology and mysticism in Albert [the Great] any more than in Bonaventure.”1 ; Bonaventure's mysticism i.e. Knowing Christ personally; Bonaventure's Platonism

1.2 Church Control

Church controlled marriage (Bede): As the Church gained more and more conversions, it was able to control family life. This gave Christianity power over people's most intimate lives, and also allowed for the Church to control the upbringing of children. Increased Church control of marriage resulted in infant baptisms becoming the norm, as Christian families were formed. Paganism was increasingly marginalized, as pagans could no longer turn to their families for support when the Church was changing other aspects of society.

“this identification of the church with the whole of organized society is the fundamental feature that distinguishes the Middle Ages from earlier and later periods of history” - the Church was of the world, “appearing as a state alongside other states, with its own law courts, tax system, and bureaucracy.”(Foley 186-7)

The Church controlled the economy: was the final arbiter on which occupations were sinful and which were not – the Church's blessing of a profession meant that that profession could expand and take off; it had more prestige; medieval corporations under the tutelage of the Church, including have an official patron saint and religious duties, symbolized by the corporation's sponsorship of a window in a church (Le Goff); Usury a sin (Dante, Hell Canto 11)

1.3 Medieval Christian Imagination

“Sans avoir de centre dominant (Rome qui aurait pu et dû l'être était trop excentrique; Jérusalem fût, même au temps des croisades et du royaume latin de Terre sainte, un centre surtout symbolique; et l'Empire, après l'éphémère installation de Charlemagne à Aix-la-Chapelle, n'eut pas de capitale), la Chrétienté se constitua un territoire central.” (Le Goff; Un Moyen Age en Images, p. 16) ; Le Goff: the peripheral areas were important, especially for evangelization: This was so because (I'm talking here) the papacy had given this vision for Christendom to follow.

“Une des étranges caractéristiques de l'espace de l'Occident médiéval est d'avoir eu des centres idéologiques périphériques ou externes.” (Le Goff; Un Moyen Age en Images, p. 36) -> Because its spiritual centre was external to it, Christendom became more and more open to new or strange ideas, including the gradual re-introduction of Aristotle into its philosophy. One of the results of the tragedy of the sacking of Constantinople in 1204 was the import into Italy and therefore the West of Greek art and books, for which Christendom hungered. It acknowledged its backwardness and its dependence on other areas for its spiritual and intellectual roots and growth.

12th C.: “la nostalgie de cette centralité [Rome] perdue mais conservée dans l'imaginaire.” (Le Goff; Un Moyen Age en Images, p. 36) Thus, even when Rome, that is, the papacy, didn't function well or was corrupt, the ideology of the papacy and Roman leadership carried it for decades, if not centuries. Christendom's centre was a spiritual rather than physical location; Christendom, which eventually grew into the modern West that continues this tradition, was more about an idea than it was about something physical. They weren't building a material civilization, but a spiritual one.

The medieval imagination, while demanding concrete manifestations of God through miracles and other works, also had a great capacity for the beyond, the non-physical. The medieval imagination was an imagination of absence as well as presence, where heaven or Jerusalem became the Platonic ideals for this world. With no internal centre, Christendom looked to a spiritual centre, whose physical location was Jerusalem and whose real, spiritual location was heaven. This life was therefore ephemeral, a journey, to something much more substantial.

2) The Bible

The Bible was the greatest source of the medieval imagination.

2.1 Bible as Reference

The Bible and life in reference to it; King Ethelfrith is compared to Saul (Bede)

The centrality of Jerusalem as the city of God reflects the love for the Bible, as Bonaventure's following words show not only the medieval love for the biblical Jerusalem, but for the reign of God's peace that medieval Christians believed it had known in history: “ Rogate quae ad pacem sunt  Ierusalem. Sciebat enim, quod thronus Salomonis non erat nisi in pace, cum scriptum sit: In pace factus est locus eius, et habitatio eius in Sion.”2

Love of the Bible (Bede)

2.2 The Vulgate

Helps to centralize the Church under Rome and to ensure that all of Christendom is Latin – makes Latin the unifying language of Christendom; one of the most important commonalities; the Vulgate Bible was the primary reference point for Christendom and the creation of the medieval imagination, as it provided for the common language

In the exclusive hands of the clergy, helped promote the clerical-lay division of Christendom i.e. The clerical nature of Christendom (the clerics were the protectors and promoters of Christendom, as well as among the chief beneficiaries). Christendom was in the hands of the clergy, and the laity were outside of much of what it offered and stood for.

2.3 Illuminated Manuscripts; the Bible and Art (Cathedral Sculpture)

2.4 Eschatology and the Book of Revelation

Eschatological sense to the Middle Ages (Bede): Medieval Christians waited for the coming of Christ. They were a Pentecostal people; signs of the end were everywhere; they dealt with natural or social disasters, as well as war, as signs from heaven that the end was near, and that these events had great, cosmic meaning; Christendom was caught up in the centre of a great cosmic drama; medieval mystery plays

Augustinian eschatology -> Bonaventure's eschatology (Franciscan eschatology)

Joachim of Fiore: his “prophetic books” were “a powerful criticism of the clergy and its corruption, and point, as divine remedy, to a providential cleansing and a destruction of institutional Christianity, to be replaced by the 'Eternal Gospel' of the Holy Ghost. Joachim foretold a new age of 'love and freedom' as opposed to authority and despotism. The Church was, in the new age of the Holy Spirit, to be ruled by contemplatives, and by the Holy Spirit through them.”3 ; Joachim's use of the Bible


(Read (

Various prophets of the apocalypse (Hildegard of Bingen (?))

3) Saints

3.1 Early Medieval Saints and Bishops and their Unique Teaching Office

Early medieval saints and bishops: Power over nature; connection between the physical world and the spiritual-Christian world (Bede)

Miracles: Sight to the blind (Bede): Christianity replaced paganism as the way to improve one's lot in this world as well. Believers' lives improved in the here and now; i.e. The material benefits of Christianity, and how it reorganized society

A miracle solved the issue (Bede): Miracles were also sources of power for saints and for the Church. Through miracles people believed. God became tangible through miracles. In this sense, as with the sacraments, the idea of Christendom, which had God at the apex, was made concrete and physical for all to see. Medieval folk looked for signs of God's existence everywhere. Even the great doctors of the Church, such as Thomas Aquinas, looked for signs through analogy.

Relics and totemism (Bede): Relics, as with miracle-producing preachers and saints, were conduits of the divine. People expected them to produce miracles, and used them as a focus for their prayers. Instead of going to the doctor or a hospital, people placed their hopes for cures in relics. Relics were therefore a source of great hope and joy, and were central to medieval Christendom. In a way, they had a eucharistic or sacramental function. As the Church moved peasant Christians further and further away from the Eucharist, the people practiced popular devotions.

Power of God shown everywhere; always looking for signs, since there was division between faith/God and nature; nature was a second revelation (Bede) God's power was real in this world, and was not, at least in the early Middle Ages, seen in psychological terms. The inner disposition of the person was not as important as the outward signs. An analogy between the created world and the reality of God was taken for granted.

3.2 Ideals of Conversion and Sainthood

The ideal behavior of a saint and saintly conversion, which included tears; prophecy of the saint; visions; messages from heaven; oracles (Bede): Conversion bestowed on a person the power of the Holy Spirit. In the saints, this power manifested itself in a particularly strong, visible way, through spiritual and physical power. These signs were a requirement for being a saint. Sainthood was not a psychological category, but a category of power, especially healing power.

3.3 Augustine of Hippo

Augustine's Confessions as the paradigm of personal reflection and psychology of faith, struggle, and ultimate conversion

Historiography (City of God): how did Christendom see its earthly vocation; Christendom had a vocation and was about more than power – more than about accumulating and spending power; its had meaning in history, as it made up the new Israel – it continued not only Rome but Jerusalem as well, thus answering Tertullian's question, What do Rome and Jerusalem have in common?

Merton p. 155 Merton, An Introduction to Christian Mysticism “The Augustinian theology, inseparable from the drama of Augustine's own conversion and of his whole life, comes to give all the spirituality of the West a special character of its own.” ... “this overwhelming influence of Augustine.” especially in the Cistercians, the Franciscans (esp after Bonaventure)

Augustinian anthropology and epistemology underscored much of Christendom. Platonism. Manicheism.

“The personality of Augustine and his Mysticism: the drama and conflict of Augustine not only profoundly and definitively shaped his own spirituality, but through him reached down to most of the medieval mystics of the Christian West.”4 (Merton still, p. 158): “His mysticism is highly reflexive and subjective. All that is said about subjective piety in the West, all the attempts to lay the blame on this or that later mystic, remind us to look to Augustine as to the real source.... His 'subjectivity' is obviously quite compatible with a deep sacramental and liturgical piety and above all with a profound sense of the Church.” ; (p.158): “His mysticism is therefore closely bound up with psychological observation, especially reflection on the workings of mystical experience, its roots, etc.”: “This psychology reaches into his anthropology itself, with the Trinitarian structure of the image of God in man. This is found everywhere in the West after Augustine.”
Also Aug's dramatic interior struggle with evil influences the West after him (Merton 158) (MORE from MERTON)

3.4 Saint Francis of Assisi as the Second Christ

Francis seemed to usher in a new epoch, as testified by the beliefs of Joachim di Fiore and Bonaventure. Francis as the second Christ. (“ dedit dominus noster Christus; cuius praedicationis repetitor fuit pater noster Franciscus, in omni sua praedicatione pacem in principio et in fine annuntians, in omni salutatione pacem optans, in omni contemplatione ad exstaticam pacem suspirans, tanquam civis illius Ierusalem, de qua dicit vir ille pacis, qui cum his qui oderunt pacem, erat pacificus: Rogate quae ad pacem sunt Ierusalem.”5 For Bonaventure, Francis' sainthood includes participating in Christendom's vision of Jerusalem as the city of the savior and a spiritual city of God. Francis is the saint of peace, rather than a Christian warrior who crusades or fights in Spain. Francis helps popularize the inwards sense of spiritual struggle, where the penitential movement didn't fight the Saracens but went inward and individual. Christendom had peacemaking saints, as the Church worked to construct peace within Christendom; it was not acceptable for Christians to fight against one another.

Francis' response to clerical corruption, heretics (Waldensians), and the new bourgeois money economy. “The Franciscan movement is especially tied up with the Joachimite prophecies, and when the crisis of the order ensued, the Spiritual Franciscans looked back to Joachim for their inspiration and carried on a bitter struggle”6; Dante: Joachim in Heaven, circle 12

The institutionalization and watering-down of the Franciscan ideal: the split in the order (the Spirituals); St. Bonaventure and his spirituality and leadership of the Franciscans. The energy of the Franciscans led to a new evangelization of the urban areas. The friars bring contemplation to far-flung urban areas throughout Europe, whereas the monastics had been rural fixtures

The friars at the University of Paris: this went against the spirit of Francis, who believed in a simple, humble, almost anti-intellectual spirituality, a philosophy of Christ rather than one of the universities. Yet because these friars, along with the Dominicans, were at the forefront of the new evangelization, they found themselves at the forefront of the new, urban education and theology, which, while in continuity with the Cathedral schools, were a break from the monastic theology and learning which had previously dominated. Learning in Christendom became urban, separated from liturgy and spirituality, and eventually sponsored the division of philosophy from theology. Christendom gained much from the renewal group, the Franciscans, but needed to tame it, something it had failed to do with the Cathars and Waldensians.

Francis brought mysticism out of the monasteries and into the world.7

4) Spirituality and Theology 1: Sin and Damnation

4.1 The Interior Life: Growing Psychology of the Spiritual Life

As stated above, much of this is rooted in Aug's psychological turmoil and psychological reading of the virtues / the good and sin / evil. Manicheism.

Theology begins to speak more and more to the inner lives of people rather than to the outer, legalistic and behavioral aspects; the sacraments are only one aspect of this, since most people do not have regular access to these; those who do have regular access are also turning inwards; individualization of spirituality - the sinner is alone before God and he/she rather than the community answers for sin; structural or communal sin is not a priority; Dante's hell is primarily a place of the individual; communities are not damned; individuals are, so there is a pre-eminence of the individual soul and a basic equality of humans even with the great hierarchical society of the MA

Avarice, which even touches the Church and its cardinal and other clerics (Dante, Hell 7)

Psychology of anger (Dante Hell 7; 9)

Despair, sin; virtue (Dante)

Pride: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Dante's psychological and sociological analysis of sin (Dante Hell 11) reflects the increasingly individualistic side of Christianity. Christendom allowed at this point for the development of the individual.

The psychology behind the sin of fraud (Dante Hell 11)

Deepening self-analysis / self-psychology and sense of one's own thoughts (Dante Hell 13)

4.2 Hell and Damnation
Church teaching: People scared of hell; the church policy was to deliberately scare people; belief in original sin; heavy guilt, which even virtues don't get rid of (Bede)
Augustine's Original Sin; sexuality (Confessions)

Medieval mystery plays – the devil and his trickery, and the gullibility of Christians, who are ensnared by him

Final judgement (Dante Hell 6); can't escape who your were while on earth when you die (Dante Hell 14) A direct, immediate line between one's earthly actions and eternity in hell exists in Christendom. Morality was about keeping yourself out of hell primarily, and only in selected writings and people was morality and spirituality about coming to know God. Building the kingdom of God on earth was not the job of Christians, but saving themselves and others from punishment.

God's justice is fearful: the damned cannot escape their unrepented sins (Dante Hell 12); the vengeance of God, and punishment of hell comes from God (Dante Hell Canto 14) Fear of hell and of God's justice permeated the world in which medieval Christians lived. Decisions and actions carried out in this world had eternal meaning and significance. Christendom was an otherworldly ideology that didn't see itself building anything permanent now. It operated under a sense of waiting and expectation for better things to come, if only people could behave. Because sin and punishment were individual, the Church and Christendom had a growing preoccupation with the individual. The salvation of a soul depended more on the individual than on the society. Society served the individual in that it served to educate and support the individual and his soul on the hopeful journey to salvation. The individual did not exist to serve the society in a salvatory sense. Thus Dante meets and talks with individual souls in hell. While some of these were certainly part of a greater movement and may have been heavily influenced by someone else, in the end the individual soul had to pay the price; the commune didn't exist in hell. Dante imagines no society in hell, under which the individual soul is subsumed. At no point to individuals melt away into the collective, and on the Day of Judgment this won't happen either.

The sense that life is short and eternal life is long (Dante Hell 12); the need for repentance (Purgatorio 3 (i think)

4.3 Defilement of the Natural World

Spirituality: The defilement of the secular world, and the love for the contemplative life, even by those (clerics) who serve secular church or government interests (Bede); Pope Gregory the Great would have loved to remain a monk rather than serve as pope, which was a burden

5) Spirituality and Theology 2: The Church's Teachings

5.1 The Monastic Life

The high esteem for monks and the monastic life; the rejection of worldly living for monastic spirituality i.e. The superiority of monastic spirituality over lay spirituality (Bede): “the sole hope of salvation, of remission of an individual's sins, lay with the prayers of the monks... in this frightened and unstable world.” (Mullins 8)

St. Benedict and his rule; Cluniac reform; the Cistercians: theology, their support for the papacy instead of the local bishop aided the centralization of Christendom under the papacy and prevented any ecclesiastical rivals to the pope from developing in the West: aside from a Council no one could hope to rival the papacy;

Monastic theological and spiritual writings influenced Christendom, including the papacy itself.

The development of Latin church culture i.e. Church culture was not primarily a vernacular culture, though mystery plays and popular devotions developed in parallel to ecclesiastical Latin

The development of book culture and how monasteries were the great publishing houses of Europe, and through this they came to influence the papacy itself, as in Gaul's monasteries' writings on liturgy (Germanization of the Eucharist); spirituality became bookish, about orthodoxy rather than orthopraxy; this book culture meant that Christendom's religion was more and more bookish and university-oriented, and less and less from the people or from the liturgy – the great synthesis and unity of Christendom did not mean that every element in the schema participated fully in the ordering of things; these gaps were to be the undoing of Christendom

Monasteries at the heart of Christendom, including spiritual, theological, but also social and economic: “it was the monasteries that held a vital key in the shaping of a new Europe. They acted as colleges, patrons of art and architecture, moral guardians, benevolent landlords, founders of social services, centers of capital wealth, as well as being institutions of vast political influence on an international scale, with the ear of kings, emperors, and popes.” (Mullins, p. 7)

The Rule of Benedict and the salvatory role of labor” work as penitence – work was bad because it was divine punishment for original sin, but the monks gave labor prestige because they gave penitence and humility prestige (Le Goff); Christendom was a penitential culture, which meant that innovation and creativity only happened in certain areas that served penance or were released from the need for penance (like the theology professor)

How monks drained swamps and built up agriculture i.e. Citeaux the swamp became the source of the Cistercians, who went to the forested fringes of Europe and worked what hitherto had been unworkable land (Cluny, Cistercians)

5.2 The Sacraments: The Eucharist

Germanization of the Eucharist: e.g. “vessels were not only forged of precious metals, they underwent a special rite of blessing or consecration.” (Foley 177) – Christendom synthesized the Germanic spiritual worldview and the Latin theological worldview; the old spirits and practices of the northern peoples were transmuted into Latin Christian practices, including the changing of gods/goddesses into saints and angels

Transubstantiation (Aquinas; 4th Lateran Council); the magic and drama of the Germans; The Blood of Jesus; Eucharistic devotions; the body that suffers ->suffering

Theology of the Eucharist

Increasing division between the clergy and the laity -> the laity are not close to the Eucharist and can't even see it; strict hierarchy (Foley); before the pagans were considered unclean by the church, who now sees Christian lay as unclean, and doesn't completely trust them, especially that they are 100% 'clean' of paganism - the laity are to be kept under control, as they are peasants who are close to nature and therefore to the devil (?); they speak the vernacular rather than the church's language; some of their priests cannot even say Latin mass – a great disruption in Christendom was the lack of integration of the laity, which was a cause of the Reformation and the ultimate end of Christendom – Christendom failed to fully integrate the people; Christendom was not a people's ideology or a “people's program” with the “whole people of God”; Christendom was thus radically inclusive and exclusive at the same time, where this suspicion on the part of the Church signalled that the evangelization of Europe had not been complete

“a sustained emphasis on the unworthiness of the laity.... Unworthy people did not go to communion regularly, and offertory processions were eliminated in many places.” (Foley 167)

Increasing liturgical confusion and innovation: “Popular devotion focused on seeing the host rather than receiving it: (Foley 194); indulgences, Masses for the dead – brought the liturgy into every aspect of people's lives, as they may have had pagan rites for the dead before the Church came

The 8th sacrament: Knighthood (La Chanson de Roland; Percival ou la Quete du Grail; ) - the unity of Christendom, and of how even fighting men had to order their consciences to God's plan

Ordination in Germanic Europe: “multiple rites that invested the priest with new powers, including the ability to move things from the realm of the profane to that of the sacred, and effectively moved him from one realm to the other as well.” (Foley 177); the integration of the Germanic peoples, away from the earlier Arianism

5.3 The Interior Life: Growing Psychology of the Spiritual Life; Mysticism

Bonaventure, Itinerarium Mentis in Deum, Merton notes after quoting from it: “Here love and prayer are contrasted with study, which is incapable of bringing us to union. Note however that St. Bonaventure certainly stresses the unity of the intellectual and spiritual lives as much as anyone ever did.” (An Introduction to Christian Mysticism: Initiation into the Monastic Tradition 3.,p. 152) In Itinerarium Mentis in Deum, Bonaventure describes his individual spiritual experience as something of importance for the Church and his own teaching, as theology becomes interior, individual, somewhat subjective, and experiential: “ad montem Alvernae tanquam ad locum quietum amore quaerendi pacem spiritus declinarem, ibique existens, dum mente tractarem aliquas mentales ascensiones in Deum, inter alia occurrit illud miraculum, quod in praedicto loco contigit ipso beato Francisco, de visione scilicet Seraph alati ad instar Crucifixi. In cuius consideratione statim visum est mihi, quod visio illa praetenderet ipsius patris suspensionem in contemplando et viam, per quam pervenitur ad eam.”8
This important spiritual experience happened outside of the liturgy and the rites of the Church. Individual subjective experiences by both men and women were having an unprecedented, revolutionary impact on the Church. Catherine of Siena's (I think) mysticism led her to give advice to the pope, which he took seriously. It led Julian of Norwich to become, outside of the clergy-only confessional, a spiritual adviser to members of all strata of her society. This pentecostal, opening up of the spiritual life in Christendom happened at the time of the institutional Church's greatest power and the greatest separation of clergy and lay. It allowed for revolutionary levels of freedom, as the Church slowly lost control to mystics, visionaries, and others from all walks of life who took the personal initiative.
Bonaventure's above words also indicated that the path to God was increasingly seen in mystical, individual light rather than in a corporate, sacramental, ritualistic light. Note how his spiritual searching did not occur during the Mass. The above words also reflect the advanced level of mystical prayer that was occurring at this time, as well as the attempt by Christians as individuals to articulate these experiences. At this time, most of this articulation was within the bounds of orthodox theology. For Bonaventure, love is the key to the spiritual life: “Via autem non est nisi per ardentissimum amorem Crucifixi, qui adeo Paulum ad tertium caelum raptum7 transformavit in Christum, ut diceret: Christo confixus sum cruci, iam non ego; vivit vero in me Christus; qui etiam adeo mentem Francisci absorbuit.”9 Bonaventure adds that one can enter this path only through the crucifixion, without mentioning the sacraments, before warning against entering by the wide gate, that is, the gate of hell. Thus the virtues and the vices play an increasing role in salvation.
Bonaventure next acknowledges that the Blood of Christ saves, but he doesn't specify as to whether this is the blood of the historical event of the crucifixion, a once and for all event, or the blood of Christ available to all Christians for all ages through the Eucharist. This lack of precision contrasts with the precise formulations of Aquinas and other scholastics ot only concerning the Eucharist, but all areas of theology. Bonaventure has his own precision in Itinerarium Mentis in Deum, but it is the psychological and spiritual precision of the mystic, of one concerned with the subjective spiritual life.
Bonaventure: Knowledge comes from God. Christians receive this knowledge rather than create it or find it. At the beginning of his work Itinerarium Mentis in Deum he notes his and Christendom's debt to God: “In principio primum principium, a quo cunctae illuminationes descendunt tanquam a Patre luminum, a quo est omne datum optimum et omne donum perfectum.”10 Illumination comes through revelation because there is a greater knowledge, a knowledge of the perfectly real, which reflects Plato's idea that humans were living in the half-dark, and that the truth, of which we could know only a little, existed in the perfect, fullest sense.
Christendom thus became defined as the place of prayer, with a culture of prayer to go along with the external rites and the militia christi as increasing numbers of mystics and church leaders teach and write about prayer techniques, and as the Church becomes more and more a Church of prayer and not only of rites and credal formulations: “Desideria autem in nobis inflammantur dupliciter, scilicet per clamorem orationis, quae rugire facit a gemitu cordis, et per fulgorem speculationis, qua mens ad radios lucis directissime et intensissime se convertit.”11 Here again, the following words reflect an almost total neglect of the place of the sacraments, including the Eucharist, in the Christian spiritual journey, and many aspects, including the individual, affective, spiritualized components of the following words, could easily find their place in the Protestant Reformation, or later Lutheran Quietist spirituality: “Igitur ad gemitum orationis per Christum crucifixum, per cuius sanguinem purgamur a sordibus vitiorum, primum quidem lectorem invito, ne forte credat quod sibi sufficiat lectio sine unctione, speculatio sine devotione, investigatio sine admiratione, circumspectio sine exsultatione, industria sine pietate, scientia sine caritate, intelligentia sine humilitate, studium absque divina gratia, speculum absque sapientia divinitus inspirata.”12
This kind of mysticism frequently sounds close to Pelagianism in the emphasis on human effort and the minimal discussion of divine grace. The spiritual life and its fruits are not a gift from God, but something that Christians are to reach in their zealousness: “Exerce igitur te, homo Dei, prius ad stimulum conscientiae remordentem, antequam oculos eleves ad radios sapientiae in eius speculis relucentes, ne forte ex ipsa radiorum speculatione in graviorem incidas foveam tenebrarum.”13 Yet a little later in the same work Bonaventure does acknowledge that we cannot lift ourselves up through our own strength, but only through the help of a greater power.
Bonaventure's writings also reflect the increasingly psychological view of the person and Christian spirituality, as Christendom took a turn towards the person and the psychology of the individual: “ Secundum hunc triplicem progressum mens nostra tres habet aspectus principales. Unus est ad corporalia exteriora, secundum quem vocatur animalitas seu sensualitas: alius intra se et in se, secundum quem dicitur spiritus; tertius supra se, secundum quem dicitur mens.”14

Virtue is interpreted psychologically (Dante)

5.4 Purgatory and Suffering

Hope is the purpose of Purgatory (Dante Purgatorio 2); righteous punishment for sins that prepares the Christian to see God (Dante Purgatorio 1,3); homecoming to God (Dante Purgatorio 1)

Christian life as a journey; go deeper, i.e. There are no shortcuts in the spiritual life (Dante Purgatorio 1); Bonaventure and the inward journey

“La forêt devient le desert chrétien avec ses tentations, ses dangers, mais fût aussi le le lieu d'un accès privilégié à Dieu.” (Le Goff; Un Moyen Age en Image, p. 41)

5.5 Faith and Reason

The reasonableness of faith (Dante Hell Canto 11); the mystery of the Trinity (Dante Purgatorio 3)

Aquinas and Aristotle -> the need to Christianize Aristotle before he can be accepted within Christendom i.e. Separation of philosophy and theology, but theology is the queen of the sciences and philosophy is the handmaiden of theology, which means that theology wtill has the last word on the limits of philosophy; philosophy without faith: the destiny of the great pagan philosophers (Dante Purgatorio 3): A philosophy without Christian faith cannot save people, and leads to an eternal dissatisfaction.

The scholastics and the University of Paris; Abelard's new teaching style, which was an aggressive, confrontational style that shook theology and gave no comfortable answers, but challenged authority and the tradition instead: philosophy no longer guards tradition and theology, but challenges it and questions everything; it is all right to question things

Abelard versus Bernard of Clairvaux: the separation of theology from liturgy and from prayer/contemplation, as theology becomes a university subject, objectified as something to be studied and analyzed rather than as the life-giving source of the community; theology becomes the domain of experts who fragment theology into its various disciplines

Anselm and the use of philosophy to prove God's existence

The Dominicans (and the University of Paris and the papacy) as guardians of orthodoxy: theology (such as regarding the Eucharist or ecclesiology (Gratian's Decretals)) becomes much more defined and precise; theology becomes a science and moves further and further away from the liturgy and prayer / contemplation (including the monasteries) as its centre becomes the university, with philosophy becoming increasingly independent of theology (unlike Islam?) and an increasing threat to the Summas of the time

The great theological summas as another counter to the heretical – Christendom's attempt to bring everything into a (theological) whole, understandable philosophically

The natural law; and how nature follows the mind of God (Dante Hell Canto 11); Aquinas' analogy from nature; natural law as an example of how philosophy supports
theology; Platonism and Aristotelian roots -> synthesis of Greek reason and Hebrew transcendence i.e. Christendom / the Middle Ages was the time of synthesis as well as summa, where everything was to be ordered and united – a unitary view of the world, where everyone and everything, including knowledge, has its ordered place – is not a revolutionary or reforming (semper reformanda) mindset or theology; theologians and the Church magisterium aim to preserve rather than to find the new and the creative; creativity was the creativity of expressing this unity, as in the creativity of the summas

“scholastic theology was becoming more and more a speculative science and less and less a wisdom, even though the great theologians kept stressing the sapiential aspect of it.” ... “with the great love for scholastic thought there was developed a kind of contempt for patristic and strictly religious wisdom, and for contemplation as such.” (152 Merton, An Introduction to Christian Mysticism: Initiation into the Monastic Tradition 3.)s

5.6 Late Medieval Lay Piety

Tauler, Eckhart, the Beguines, Hadewijch; the Brethren of the Common Life; the Theologia Mystica; the Rhineland Mystics: 14th C. msytics: “under the influence of the school of Cologne etc. where Albert the Great taught, were strongly Dominican and Dionysian, with an intellectual stress, even a speculative character, that prevented their Dionysian trend from becoming exclusively affective and anti-intellectual. Normally, we find that the mystics of darkness of the Rhenish and English schools are strongly Thomistic.” (p. 153 Merton, An Introduction to Christian Mysticism); The Cloud of Unknowing (Dionysian according to Merton); Merton: 155: “The Dominicans begin to break away from the dominance of Augustine and it is in the Rhenish mystics, largely under Dominican infuence or actually Dominicans themselves, that we see Dionysius preponderant over Augustine.”

(p. 155 Merton, An Introduction to Christian Mysticism “Bridal mysticism {is} affective, cataphatic, erotic, a mysticism of desire and espousal, {with} a stress on the faculties of the soul, especially the will; {it is} generally Augustinian {and} tends to be anti-intellectual.”

Increasing individualism (Le Goff); Merton 174 An Introduction to Christian Mysticism

Pilgrimage: The Book of Margery Kemp, and how she was harassed, accused of Lollardry by the bishops as she went on her pilgrimage

The virtues: Humility: bishops discussing whether to follow Aug's tradition, will only if he shows he is humble (Bede)

6) Ecclesiastical Affairs

6.1 The role of the papacy

Pope Gregory the Great sent missionaries (and encouraged them when they wanted to give up), including Augustine, to Britain; other pope's corresponded with missionaries in England and with Christian English royalty (Pope Bonifatius); the authority of the papacy, and its concern for orthodoxy (Bede)

6.2 Latin (Roman) Church Culture

Sending Aug to Britain also meant sending Roman/Latin Church culture northwards (Bede)

Conflicts between Irish/British Christians and Rome over (especially) the date of Easter: the drive towards uniformity and conformity; the papacy laying claim to very certain bounds , where this policy creates a coherent Western civilization: the papacy creates a unified civilization with the same givens (Bede)

The papacy represented the continuity of ancient Rome, which Charlemagne also found important, though when his dynasty never took root the Roman inheritance fell back again onto the papacy

6.3 Clear Church Teaching and Leadership

Church teaching: clear theology e.g. Gregory the Great sees a clear difference between the Old and New Testaments (the New supersedes the Old) (Bede)

6.4 Clerical Corruption and Anti-clericalism

Corrupt papacy – loss of prestige and ability to lead: resulting fragmentation of Christendom

Rich clergy (Dante Hell 7) – early medieval bishops helped protect the people against dragons, serpents, and other natural disasters, as well as representing continuity with the Roman empire in their diocese since they often represented the only capable administration; by the high MA the bishops had become corrupt and distant from the people, no longer pastoring them

Papal reforms especially 11th C.

Increasing curial power; the development of the cardinals

Albigensians and the Albigensian Crusade: the attempt by people, including the laity, to create a pure church separate from the old corrupt one led to the fragmentation of Christendom, which the papacy tried to heal not by reforming the Church and itself but by calling the Albigensian crusade

Scandal: Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales' portrayal of lewd churchmen

7) Politics

7.1 War and Christianity

Bishops as military leaders; war and troops sanctified by priests i.e. Separation between religious and political powers didn't mean that the religious and the political didn't play a role in each other's spheres; close relationship between Christianity and war: Christian kings fought wars (Bede)

Christian spiritual power had military applications i.e. Faith and military prowess (Bede)

Heaven is against the enemy (Bede) – Providential view of Christendom and of history; Christendom was meant to be, guided and protected by the hand of providence; the enemy could be opposed and even crushed because they were outside of this providential history, remnants of the un-elect; Christendom as the elect community of history, where an entire transnational, translinguistic community was the elect, and this sense of the elect made Christendom into a single cultural unit; the military aspect of Christendom had an important part to play in this providence – these were Christ's soldiers fighting Christ's fight (a prefiguring of the Crusaders' sense of fighting for Christ); the military sense actually came from the ideological sense of Christendom and the need to protect it from inner and outer enemied

the Constantinian heritage (Milvian Bridge); Augustine's theory of the just war

Faithfulness and thankfulness of the troops (Bede)

7.2 Conversion through Rulers

Pope Gregory aimed to convert secular leaders because they could convert their subjects and create a Christian society; mass baptisms of leaders, nobles, and the people (Bede)

Worldly power is blessed by God: a kind of divine-right of kings ideology e.g. The Church forces a pagan king to convert so that he can marry a Christian woman (echoes of Das Nibelungenlied) (Bede)

King Edwin, and not the papacy or other agents of the Church, set up the bishopric of York (Bede)

The Christian rulers then guaranteed the continued operation of Christendom by backing the church, though rulers often did fight with the papacy; Thomas a Kempis and how this sometimes didn't work yet how the system itself did continue

7.3 Papacy and Empire

Keepers of the Keys of Heaven: 754: Pope Stephen II (752-757) annointed Pepin III “king with holy oil at Reims in 754” -> “reflected the new ruler's need for spiritual underpinning of his authority.” (p. 151) ; Charlemagne and the papacy (pope helped renew the Carolingian church); “Within a short time this monopoly of crowning, anointing and investing with a sword gave the papacy considerable leverage in the choice of a new emperor.” (p. 151); by the 10th C.” “deeply entrenched acceptance of papal authority in Western Christendom.” Widespread belief “that the pope and his synod had the right to impose the discipline of the canon law on lay rulers ... meant that in the longer term a king had to come to terms with the papacy.”; French reforming monasteries promoted papal power over that of French bishops (193)

7.4 Investiture
Keepers of the Keys of Heaven: Leo IX (1049-1054) and Hildebrand (Gregory VII 1073-85) wanted to recover the Church's “freedom from lay domination” -> “part of a wider move to enhance the status of the clergy over the laity” and to increase the separation between the 2 orders, “the clerical and the lay” (203); 1077 Canossa: the papacy was trying to become a universal institution: “The transformation in the nature of the papacy in this period reflects wider changes taking place in Western Europe. The ideal of a common Christian society of shared beliefs and culture needed an institutional structure that could no longer be provided by the emperors.” (214)

1122 Concordat of Worms resolved the investiture controversy

8) Christians, heretics, pagans, Muslims

8.1 Clean and Unclean

Heresy treated as unclean; heretics as violators on the way to hell – same as pagans; Catholics (right believers) should avoid these people; i.e. Either-or mentality – no salvation outside the Church ; paganism was devil-worship i.e. Not a neutral choice (Bede)

The filth of hell i.e. The impurity of non-Christians (Dante Hell Canto 6)

Pelagianism (Bede) and Arianism, and how the defeat of these strengthened the papacy; the papacy used its opposition to heretics as a tool for Church centralization

Bishops fight heretics (Bede)

8.2 Aggressive Proselytizing

Aggressive proselytizing (Bede)

Violent destruction of pagan altars, temples (Bede): Gregory of Tours fighting the pagans in late ancient Gaul as a template for later proselytizing

8.3 Fear of Paganism

Constant threat of falling back to idolatry / paganism (Bede)

Culture war against paganism: the Church promoted the division in society between Christians and pagans, which eventually marginalized the pagans (Bede)

8.4 Paganism and the Devil / Demons

The Cross overpowers the devil: belief in demons and the devil; evil is reified; the rejection of demons in becoming Christian; the blood of Christ saves us from the bonds of the devil (Pope Boniface) (Bede)

Aggressive view towards pre-Christian Europe: Greek gods and pagan gods become demons and denizens of hell – the old, pre-Christian world is therefore damned, except in its philosophy; yet even its philosophers cannot be saved since they didn't know God; i.e. Philosophy alone cannot save (Dante) Christendom was to be an all-encompassing community radically inclusive of everyone, where it called each person to responsibility for belief, and to duty before the Christian community; community was naturally, inherently Christian community, and pagans were increasingly sidelined and cast off of the community

8.5 The Crusades

When Pope Urban called for the crusade, Christendom obeyed with great, violent energy; exemplifies the place of the papacy in the medieval imagination / Christendom;

Penitential character of the crusades (First Things)

Expansion of Europe / Christendom

The Other / Enemy is defined outside of Europe as Muslims as it is inside with pagans and Jews -> an increasingly confident, self-assured, expansionist Christendom that had taken its first wobbly steps with Charlemagne in Spain (and the Song of Roland), i.e. The ruler who had with the pope laid the foundation of Europe / Christendom had also laid the foundation of the Crusades by exemplifying Christian military assertiveness against the Muslims, pushing back against Islam

The place of Islam in Christendom's imagination: a heretical religion with which one could never make peace, as exemplified by the savagery of the crusades (Maalouf); the sense that Christendom was on the defensive against the Muslims and had a duty to protect Christendom i.e. Siege mentality to Christendom which was encouraged by the papacy and the Church because it served to unite the West against the enemy at the fringes; the image of the militia christi, perhaps a holdover from Constantine and his victory at Milvian Bridge and a holdover from the warrior, Germanic culture of Northern Europe which had only recently fully converted to Roman Christianity; Christianity had yet failed to sublimate this warrior instinct, so could only channel it away from Europe itself; could there have been a Christendom without Islam? Christendom developed after Islam had developed, so the easy answer is that Islam was essential (La Chanson de Roland and the Reconquista gave a sense in the early medieval period of Christendom)

Richard Coeur de Lion and other heroes of the Crusades

Peter the Venerable and religious zealousness in the Crusades; the pogroms along the Rhineland as a prelude to the massacres in the Holy Land, culminating in the bloodbath in Jerusalem in 1099

Knights Templars: holiness fused with fighting a physical, human enemy rather than the demonic enemy of the Egyptian desert, as fought by the desert fathers

Increased trade with the Muslim world, and imported culture from the Muslim world

Saint Francis in Egypt: the other attempt to convert the Saracens

A sense that Christendom is the centre of the world and the centre of God's plan; that Christendom has the truth and a divine mission to the rest of the world (hence the Albigensian crusade and the religious wars in the Baltics

Christendom is Europe: European culture is Christian culture, and vice versa; to become a Christian demands that one be a European: hence the Crusaders' lack of respect for Christians in Anatolia and the Near East during the Crusades: they often alienated the Armenian, Syrian, Oriental, and Greek Christians; 1204 4th Crusade sacked Constantinople and stole art treasures, which they brought back to the “true” centre of Christendom, which was Rome and Italy; the forced unification and Romanization of the Greek Church at Constantinople, with a Latin patriarch; the Crusaders' failure to keep their promise and hand Antioch back to the Byzantine Emperor; the Crusades were to make the Holy Land as extension of Christendom/Europe/the Latin world, rather than a way to support the Byzantine emperor in his fight against the Turks i.e. The crusaders did not work with the Byzantine Emperor, but went as colonizers

“Le monde barnarisé sur lequel agit et dans lequel baigne l'Eglise du hait Moyen Age est un monde extraverti, tourné vers des tâches extérieurs, vers des proies ou des fins matérielles: la conquête, la nourriture, le pouvoir, le salut dans l'au-delà. C'est un monde, disons primitif, qui si définit par des attitudes, des conduites, des gestes. Les gens ne peuvent y être jugés que sur des actes, non sur des sentiments.” (Le Goff, Pour un autre Moyen Age, p. 169): (ME) and the crusades were the last great expression of this germanic extroversion/Christian warrior-ism, after which Christians and the Church increasingly turned inward and psychological, which promoted individualism and subjectivity. Christian warriors were after this confined to the romances and arthurian literature developed during and after the Crusades. Allegory also developed, as in Le Roman de la Rose and the Divine Comedy.

8.6 Heretics in the High Middle Ages

Heretics go to hell (Dante)

First part of Middle Ages: the Church is not strong enough to militarily confront heretics (Pelagians in Britain (Bede)) but they aggressively proselytize; Second part of Middle Ages: the Church is strong enough to call on men of arms to hunt down and eliminate heretical groups: Albigensians, Waldensians, Jan Hus, John Wycliff; the Inquisition;

Joachim of Fiora “was not alone by any means. There were many more heterodox and really heretical movements in the twelfth century, marked by rejection of some of the most important doctrines of the Church, the throwing off of all authority, and frank rebellion.” - including the Waldensians, the Albigensians, Arnold of Brescia (Merton p. 173, An Introduction to Christian Mysticism) According to Merton, Joachim “was accepted, trusted and blessed by the popes.... He must not be loosely equated with the heretics. He was universally respected and approved by the Church, and his work was posthumously condemned only after his disciples had caused it to be interpreted in dangerous ways, and hotheads had in fact appealed to him to justify rebellion.”


(p. 156-7 Merton, An Introduction to Christian Mysticism) Because of Pelagianism, Montanism and Manicheism (Tertullian) : “the background of Western spirituality we find {marked by} this uneasy division and anxiety on the question of grace and effort, along with tendencies to activism, to violent controversy ..., to pessimism, to a juridical and authoritarian outlook, and a pronounced anti-mystical current.”
Bibliography of Primary Works

Annales regni Francorum, Annales Fuldenses /Annales Vedastines

Annales Xantenses


Augustine, De Civitate Dei

Bede, Historia

Benedict, The Rule of Saint Benedict

Boethius, Consolatio Philosophiae


Cantar de mio Cid

Carmina Burana

La Chanson de Roland

Chaucer, Geoffrey, The Canterbury Tales

Chretien de Troyes Le Chevalier de la Charette

da Varagine,Jacopo, Legenda Aurea, or Legenda Sanctorum.

Dante, De Monarchia
Divina Comedia

De Gesta Francorum et aliorum Hierosolimitanorum

de Joinville, Jean Vie de Saint Louis

Donatio Constantini

Einhard, Vita Karoli Magni

Gesta Romanorum

Gratian, Decretum Gratiani or Concordia discordantium canonum

Gregory the Great, Regula pastoralis
Life of Saint Benedict

Historia Brittonum

Historia Caroli Magni / Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle

Kempe, Margery, The Book of Margery Kempe

Liber Pontificalis

Nicholas of Cusa, Writings on Church and Reform

Das Niebelungenlied

Otto von Freising, Gesta Friderici Imperatoris

Palatina, Bartolomeo, Lives of the Popes


Le Roman de la Rose

Sacrementaria Gregoriana

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica
Summa contra Gentiles

The Cloud of Unknowing

Bibliography of Secondary Works

Collins, Roger, Keepers of the Keys of Heaven: A History of the Papacy. Basic Books. 2009.

Foley, Edward. From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist. Collegeville, Minnesota: Order of Saint Benedict. 2008.

Le Goff, Jacques. Un Moyen Age en images. Paris: Editions Hazan. 2007.
Pour un autre Moyen Age. Gallimard. 2001.

Maalouf, Amin. Les Croisades vues par les Arabes: La Barbarie franque en terre sainte. Paris” J'ai Lu. 2007.

Merton, Thomas. An Introduction to Christian Mysticism: Initiation into the Monastic Tradition 3. Edited by Patrick F. O'Connell. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications. 2008.

Mullins, Edwin. Cluny: In Search of God's Lost Empire.

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