Early Medieval Europe


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Describes the early phases of medieval Europe, including the Judaic and Christian roots.

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Early Medieval Europe

  1. 1. Early Medieval Europe Founding of the Church
  2. 2. Introduction: The Roots (This Series) <ul><li>Judaism </li></ul><ul><li>Greece </li></ul><ul><li>Rome </li></ul><ul><li>Christianity and Christ Himself </li></ul><ul><li>The Early Theologians </li></ul>
  3. 3. Introduction: Fluorescence (The Next Series) <ul><li>Dark Ages </li></ul><ul><li>Feudalism </li></ul><ul><li>The Sociopolitical Structure </li></ul><ul><li>Eve of the Renaissance </li></ul>
  4. 4. Roots of Medieval Era: Judaism of Abraham <ul><li>Hebrews: a population in the city of Ur in Sumeria </li></ul><ul><li>The word is derived from Greek biblia, which means “book,” hence “People of the Book” </li></ul><ul><li>Abraham was said to have led his people out of Ur and migrated westward to the Fertile Crescent to settle in Canaan or Israel (see map) </li></ul><ul><li>There he made a covenant with God (Yahweh): “I will be your God; you will be my people” (Lower left) </li></ul><ul><li>Hence the expression “The Chosen People.” </li></ul>
  5. 5. Roots of Medieval Era: Judaism of Moses <ul><li>Israelites migrated to Egypt but fell into slavery as pharaohs tried to expel last of the Hyksos. </li></ul><ul><li>Under Moses (1300 BCE), departed from Egypt and headed toward Canaan </li></ul><ul><li>At Galilee, forged the ideology of monotheism, the religion of one God </li></ul><ul><li>Also defined a set of ethical and spiritual obligations </li></ul><ul><li>Agreed to a covenant binding the community to God in return for his protection </li></ul>
  6. 6. Roots of Medieval Era: The Decalogue <ul><li>The Ten Commandments governing relations between humans and God and among each other </li></ul><ul><li>Framed in the negative, similar to the Egyptian Book of the Dead </li></ul><ul><li>First Commandment: Thou shalt not have other gods before me—devotion to a single God (similar to a single God Aten among the Egyptians </li></ul><ul><li>Retribution is threatened (to 3-4 generations) but unspecified </li></ul><ul><li>The trials of Job test his faith </li></ul>
  7. 7. Roots of Medieval Era: Judaic Model of the Universe <ul><li>To the Sumerians (and later the Greeks), the universe was chaotic at the beginning </li></ul><ul><li>Hebrews: the universe was well organized and planned underpinned by a moral code </li></ul><ul><li>God transcended nature and its phenomena </li></ul><ul><li>The conception of an ethical monotheism was to influence Western thought </li></ul>
  8. 8. Roots of Medieval Era: Christianity <ul><li>Christianity emerged from Judaism but also Greek and Roman tradition </li></ul><ul><li>It entailed a rejection of the rationalistic thought of both Greeks and Romans and trended toward mysticism </li></ul><ul><li>“The Ways of God are mysterious”: Job’s trials </li></ul><ul><li>Various cults of the mysteries emphasized sacrifice, death and resurrection </li></ul>
  9. 9. Roots of Medieval Era: Judaic Model of the Messiah <ul><li>Roman occupation of Jerusalem sparked a revolt over their refusal to worship the emperor and the gods </li></ul><ul><li>The Jews worshipped only God </li></ul><ul><li>Rivalry between the Sadducees, who saw the Messiah as a temporal leader </li></ul><ul><li>And the Pharisees who saw the Messiah as the spiritual leader of his flock to salvation </li></ul><ul><li>The monastic Essenes practiced asceticism, a theme very much in the medieval tradition </li></ul>
  10. 10. Christ: His Early Years <ul><li>The phases of His Birth and Youth is summarized on p. 198 </li></ul><ul><li>Key events: </li></ul><ul><li>The period prior to birth: the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel, the Visitation, </li></ul><ul><li>The Nativity (birth), the Adoration of the Magi (upper left) </li></ul><ul><li>The Massacre of the Innocents and the flight to Egypt </li></ul><ul><li>Christ as a youth impressing the Elders with his wisdom (lower left) </li></ul><ul><li>The Baptism and the Temptation </li></ul><ul><li>The calling of the Apostles </li></ul><ul><li>Miracles, including the raising of Lazarus </li></ul><ul><li>The Transfiguration </li></ul>
  11. 11. The Passion of Christ (Last Days) <ul><li>Entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) </li></ul><ul><li>The Last Supper </li></ul><ul><li>Night before the Crucifixion: agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Betrayal by Judas’s kiss </li></ul><ul><li>The Trial before Pilate </li></ul><ul><li>The Road to Calvary with the Cross and Crown of Thorns </li></ul><ul><li>The Crucifixion </li></ul><ul><li>The Entombment </li></ul><ul><li>The Resurrection </li></ul>
  12. 12. Roots of Medieval Era: Jesus Christ and His Teachings <ul><li>Little if anything is known about his life except the birth of the Christ child </li></ul><ul><li>The Sermon on the Mount captures most of his essential laws, if not all </li></ul><ul><li>Basic theme: pure altruism—”love thy neighbor as thyself” </li></ul><ul><li>“ You must be perfect, just as your heavenly father is perfect” </li></ul><ul><li>Eschewed wealth: “but lay up for yourself treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and thieves do not break through nor steal” </li></ul><ul><li>Preached the spirit over the letter of the law </li></ul>
  13. 13. Paul the Apostle <ul><li>Before Paul, the preaching had been mostly among Jews </li></ul><ul><li>The Apostle Paul spread the Gospel to non-Jews: Greeks, Romans, and peoples of Asia Minor </li></ul><ul><li>Accounts: Saul, a Tentmaker from Taursus, Asia Minor, experienced a conversion on the way to Damascus </li></ul><ul><li>After the conversion, Paul committed to writing 14 of the 27 books of the New Testament </li></ul><ul><li>Essence of his preaching: Humankind was born in original sin by Adam and Eve’s defiance of God’s command not to each the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Christ in his death absolved humankind from this sin </li></ul><ul><li>The condition: to be baptized in Christ. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Dark Ages: A Terminology Revised <ul><li>The term Dark Ages, which cover the years 475-1000 AD, refers to the Early Middle Ages </li></ul><ul><li>The term is understood in two senses: </li></ul><ul><li>A period in which little is known (dark to us) </li></ul><ul><li>A period in which society was backward, with no significant progress in the arts or the sciences </li></ul><ul><li>This period follows the </li></ul><ul><li>Because of the pejorative sense of the phrase, the term has gradually been abandoned </li></ul><ul><li>Now, Early Middle Age or Late Antiquity are preferred </li></ul><ul><li>This was a rich period of religion, folklore, and the arts; the Song of Roland, the Gregorian chants, and Christian liturgical pages characterized this era. </li></ul><ul><li>The feudal structure was also established then </li></ul>
  15. 15. Roots of Medieval Era: Greece <ul><li>Stoicism: ethical view of life and equality among humans </li></ul><ul><li>Neo-Platonism: A magical union between individual soul and Ultimate Being, similar to Platonic ideal of Form of Goodness </li></ul><ul><li>Plotinus, Egyptian neo-Platonist: Union with the One can only be achieved by degrees </li></ul>
  16. 16. Spread of Christianity: The Roman Vehicle <ul><li>Rome came to be the center for interpretation of Christianity </li></ul><ul><li>Created dogma , or prescribed doctrine that, once defined, there could be no deviation </li></ul><ul><li>Created liturgy , the rituals for public worship </li></ul><ul><li>Roman legal system became the basis of church canon law </li></ul><ul><li>Under Pope Leo, Peter (the Rock) was the first apostle after Christ and so established the lineage founded by Him. </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, the papacy was patterned after imperial Rome </li></ul>
  17. 17. Rome and Christianity: The Council of Nicaea <ul><li>At the Council of Nice (Iznik) called by Constantine, the Nicene Creed was adopted in 381 CE </li></ul><ul><li>Pledges belief in variety of miraculous phenomena, including virgin birth </li></ul><ul><li>The belief in the Trinity (Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit) </li></ul><ul><li>A break between Classical rationalism and Christian mysticism </li></ul><ul><li>Embraces truth and the intuition of truths beyond ordinary understanding. </li></ul><ul><li>A shift from homocentric classical world view to a God-centered world view of the medieval period. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Christianity: The Dominant Themes <ul><li>A divine incarnate as human, but also </li></ul><ul><li>As a human being, a man from Nazareth who is without sin </li></ul><ul><li>Virgin birth, emphasized in Catholicism as the Immaculate Conception </li></ul><ul><li>Crucifixion as the sacrifice for humankind’s sin and redemption </li></ul><ul><li>The crucifixion is an act of grace: a divine favor for the undeserving </li></ul><ul><li>He leads a sinless life, by example, by parable, by sermons, and by miracle </li></ul><ul><li>An opposition between the profane (natural, human body) and the sacred (God, spiritual, soul) </li></ul><ul><li>Antagonism between the profane (physical pleasures and the human body) and the sacred. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Christianity: Human Nature and Salvation <ul><li>Made in the image of God, humans have free will and the responsibility to find God </li></ul><ul><li>Human nature: many believers assume humankind was conceived in original sin </li></ul><ul><li>Began with Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge after being tempted by a serpent to do so </li></ul><ul><li>Others believe that living an exemplary life in keeping to God’s wishes is the key to a heavenly afterlife </li></ul><ul><li>Both schools accept the role of God’s grace as key to a heavenly afterlife </li></ul>
  20. 20. Christianity: Grace as Key to Salvation <ul><li>Only through the grace of God is salvation possible </li></ul><ul><li>Christianity: only by accepting Jesus as the savior is it possible to receive grace </li></ul><ul><li>Good deeds alone is insufficient to obtain grace; they may serve as evidence for having been saved </li></ul><ul><li>Once saved, a person will lead an exemplary life for love of God and fellow humans </li></ul>
  21. 21. Christianity: Theodicy <ul><li>Theodicy: An attempt to explain why the good incur so much evil in their lives </li></ul><ul><li>Job’s torments are a biblical example </li></ul><ul><li>Explanations comprise: </li></ul><ul><li>An attempt to save others, as exemplified by Jesus' suffering on the Cross to save humankind </li></ul><ul><li>St. Augustine: Result of the sins committed by Adam and Eve </li></ul><ul><li>Suffering gives a powerful demonstration of the value of Christian faith </li></ul><ul><li>Existence of suffering is one of the mysteries of God’s ways </li></ul>
  22. 22. Christianity: Faith and Reason <ul><li>Church has held that human reason can lead to truth as well as Scripture </li></ul><ul><li>Because reason is subject to human error, nevertheless, faith and scripture are the surest path to truth </li></ul><ul><li>Fideism: view that only through faith can truth and God be known </li></ul><ul><li>There is a tension between faith and science on matters where the conclusion conflict </li></ul><ul><li>Roman Catholic Church has decreed that faith and science are parallel to each other and do not conflict. </li></ul>
  23. 23. The Roman Catholic Church: The Template for Medieval Ideology <ul><li>The Roman Catholic Church is the self-proclaimed oldest embodiment of Christianity </li></ul><ul><li>The church thus adheres to several doctrines of principle: </li></ul><ul><li>Biblical Interpretation: The Bible is to be interpreted by papal and bishopric directives (papal infallibility was not declared until 1870) </li></ul><ul><li>Apostolic Succession: The pope and bishops are in a linear spiritual succession to Christ </li></ul><ul><li>Owing to this belief, their authority carries the same spiritual legitimacy that Christ conferred upon his apostles </li></ul>
  24. 24. The Roman Catholic Church: Dogma <ul><li>Several doctrines are to be accepted without question: </li></ul><ul><li>The Gospel of Christ </li></ul><ul><li>The wine drunk and wafer eaten during communion is he literal (not just symbolic) blood and body of Christ </li></ul><ul><li>Belief in the Immaculate Conception of Mary </li></ul><ul><li>Confession: The mechanism for the atonement of sin through confession </li></ul><ul><li>Saints: Those who have led exemplary lives and have performed at least one miracle may be canonized as saints </li></ul><ul><li>Grace: The belief that because no ordinary human, however pious, is worthy of salvation, God freely bestows grace due to his love and goodness. </li></ul>
  25. 25. The Roman Catholic Church: Sacraments <ul><li>An observable sign of grace or of the sacred, which include the Seven Sacraments </li></ul><ul><li>The Eucharist: Observance of the Last Supper </li></ul><ul><li>Baptism: Cleansing in water for admission into the church </li></ul><ul><li>Confirmation: Gift of the Holy Ghost for those already baptized </li></ul><ul><li>Penance: Repentance for sins, such as in confession </li></ul><ul><li>Anointing of the Sick: Last rites for the dying; also known as Extreme Unction </li></ul><ul><li>Matrimony: Marriage within the church for a lifetime partnership </li></ul><ul><li>Holy Orders: The hierarchical order of the clergy; ordination of candidates for the clergy </li></ul>
  26. 26. The Eastern Orthodox Church <ul><li>The Great Schism: The Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox separated in 1054 </li></ul><ul><li>Tradition: emphasis on the Greek rather then the Latin tradition </li></ul><ul><li>Doctrinal differences over </li></ul><ul><li>Icons, which follow a formulaic methodology </li></ul><ul><li>Statues are rejected as idolatry </li></ul><ul><li>Infallibility of the Pope: bishops are the direct descendents of the original apostles </li></ul><ul><li>Marriage of priests </li></ul>
  27. 27. Christian Monasticism: St. Benedict <ul><li>Before Christianity, communal sects saw asceticism as an alternative to decadence of urban life </li></ul><ul><li>St. Basil formed the orders in the Eastern Orthodox churches : fasting , poverty, celibacy </li></ul><ul><li>First monastery in West founded by St. Benedict in Cassino in southern Italy </li></ul><ul><li>Monks required to vow poverty, celibacy, and obedience to the abbot of the monastery </li></ul><ul><li>Obligation including working to free the monastery from dependence on the outside world </li></ul><ul><li>Calendar created by Dionysius Exiguus marked the birth of Jesus as Anno Domini (Year of Our Lord) </li></ul>
  28. 28. Christian Fathers: St. Augustine of Hippo <ul><li>The most influential of early church fathers </li></ul><ul><li>Under the influence of Paul and Plotinan, the neo-Platonist, converted to Christianity at age 33 </li></ul><ul><li>Led a dissolute life of womanizing, gambling, and fathering an illegitimate child </li></ul><ul><li>This forms the basis of his personal account, Confessions </li></ul><ul><li>Argues the existence of three temptations of one’s lower self: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and ambition of the world </li></ul><ul><li>The higher self is the love for God </li></ul>
  29. 29. St. Augustine’s Influence on Christian Dogma <ul><li>Source: A multivolume set City of God </li></ul><ul><li>The rationalization of evil as the perversion of good created by God </li></ul><ul><li>Doctrine of the Just War: war as reprisal for abuse of morality </li></ul><ul><li>History as divinely ordered and directed toward a predestined end (a fundamental tenet of Christianity) </li></ul><ul><li>Dualistic model of reality: material vs. spirit, body vs. soul, earth vs. heaven, Satan and God, </li></ul><ul><li>This dualistic model pervaded medieval thought and indeed Western thought for years to come </li></ul><ul><li>Matter is the matrix in which God’s message is hidden </li></ul>
  30. 30. Christian Fathers: St. Jerome <ul><li>Christian educated in Rome </li></ul><ul><li>Translated both the Hebrew Bible and the Greek texts of the New Testament into Latin </li></ul><ul><li>Thus created the Vulgate, the Latin edition of scripture that ultimately became the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church </li></ul><ul><li>Found the “pagan” beliefs of the classical and Hebraic literature to form the edifice of the new faith. </li></ul>
  31. 31. Christian Fathers: St. Ambrose <ul><li>Drew on Hebrew, Greek, and Southwest Asian traditions to formulate Christian doctrine and liturgy </li></ul><ul><li>Wrote some of the earliest Christian hymns for congregations </li></ul><ul><li>Reference to God as “Light of Lights” reflects the cult of Mithras (Zoroastrianism) and Plato’s analogy of the Good and the Sun </li></ul>
  32. 32. Christian Fathers: St. Gregory <ul><li>Elected to the papacy in 590 </li></ul><ul><li>Established the administrative machinery by which all popes would govern the Church of Rome </li></ul><ul><li>Sent out missionaries to convert the population of England </li></ul><ul><li>Extended the temporal authority of the Church throughout Western Europe </li></ul><ul><li>Organized the liturgical music of the early Church </li></ul>
  33. 33. Conclusion: The Foundations of Medieval Society <ul><li>Hebraic, Greek, and Roman traditions founded the base and some of the superstructure of Medieval Europe </li></ul><ul><li>Christianity formed the main superstructure </li></ul><ul><li>However, the Germanic tradition added its own segment and so also would form part of the Medieval West </li></ul><ul><li>All the themes of the arts, the music, architecture, and the sculpture of the era would rest on Christianity </li></ul><ul><li>We will look at these in the final segment of these lectures. </li></ul>