5b – The European Age: 1000-1500 AD

Notes Outline


    1. Monastic Reformers
      1. Robert of Molesme (1028-1111)
        1. After establishing a Cluniac monastery in Molesme with five other austere hermits in 1075, Robert and 20 other monks left Molesme to establish a new monastery with a stricter observance of the Benedictine Rule.  The monks acquired a plot of marsh land south of Dijon called Citeaux (Lt. Cistercium), and so founded the Cistercian Order.
        2. Though Robert returned to Molesme a year later, the abbey at Citeaux continued under the leadership of Alberic, Stephen Harding and others.  In the beginning the Cistercians were extremely severe in their asceticism and founded monasteries in the wildest and most difficult locations.
      2. Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)
        1. After his mother’s death Bernard and 30 other young noblemen of Burgundy sought admission into the Cistercian order under Stephen Harding in 1113.  In 1115, Bernard was sent to establish a new house in Clairvaux, which grew to over 700 monks and sent out bands of monks, establishing 163 daughter monasteries in Germany, Sweden, England, Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland, and Italy.
        2. Though a man of deep devotion and asceticism (reportedly accompanied by multitudes of signs and wonders), Bernard held to an ardent Mariology, believed in monastic soteriological assurance, organized the 2nd crusade (1147–1149), wrote the the Rule of the Knights Templar, and opposed radical reformers (e.g. Arnold of Brescia).
    2. Mendicant Preachers
      1. Peter Waldo (c.1140-1218)
        1. A rich merchant from Lyon, Waldo was converted around 1170 by a sermon on Mt. 19:21 and the testimony of the life of St. Alexis.  He then, after issuing an ultimatum, gave his real estate to his wife, and the remainder of his belongings he distributed to the poor.
        2. He soon gained a following, which became known as “The Poor Men of Lyon” or the “Waldensians.”  The movement practiced extreme poverty, which inherently protested the opulent Church of the day.  They also encouraged lay preaching and the translation of the Scriptures into the vernacular, which resulted in their excommunication in 1184 and formal condemnation at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215.  In the following centuries, many Waldensians were tried and sentenced to death throughout Europe.
      2. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226)
        1. Born to a rich merchant family in Italy, Francis lived a heathen childhood before becoming a soldier at the age of 20.  After an imprisonment and near death sickness, Francis converted to the dismay and disinheritance of his family.  After hearing a sermon in 1209 on Mt. 10:9, he devoted himself to a life of poverty and preaching.
        2. Within a year, Francis had eleven followers, whom he led to Rome to seek permission from Pope Innocent III to found a new religious order.  The order quickly grew to over 5000 within 10 years and sent out bands of mendicants throughout Europe, even to the ends of the known world by 1300.
      3. Dominic de Guzman (c.1170-1221)
        1. Born of Spanish nobility, Dominic was the son of a visionary mother, Joan of Aza.  He studied philosophy and theology at the University of Palencia, and in 1194, he became an Augustinian monk.
        2. After preaching against the gnostic Albigensians for years, Dominic established himself and six priests in a house in Toulouse in 1215.  A year later while in Rome he was granted the Order of Preaching Friars, and two principal houses were established, near the universities of Paris and Bologna.
        3. In 1218 Dominic began a tour of Europe of over 3,000 miles, entirely on foot, and it is reported that many miracles were performed on this trip including four people being raised from the dead.  By his death in 1221, there were over 60 Dominican houses from Spain to Scandinavia to Palestine.
        4. Societas Tratrum peregrinantium propter Christum gentes (‘The Company of Brethren Dwelling in Foreign Parts Among the Heathen for the Sake of Christ’) formed c.1300.
    3. Mystical Theologians
      1. John (Meister) Eckhart (c.1260-1328) – German Dominican, scholasticism as mechanical professionalism, emphasized union with God.
      2. John Tauler (c.1300-61) – German Dominican, Luther’s greatest influence (~Augustine).
      3. Gerard Groote (1340-84) – Netherlands, The Brethren of the Common Life, influenced by Eckhart, devotional piety, monastic house at Windesheim (The Imitation of Christ by Thomas `a Kempis).
    4. Reformation Forerunners
      1. John Wycliffe (1328-1384) – Lutterworth, England, Oxford, condemnation, peasant uprising, Lutterworth (Lollards).  Primacy of preaching, Scriptural authority, papal condemnation, bones exhumed (1428).
      2. John Huss (1372-1415) – Bohemia, professor of theology at Univ of Prague, influenced by Wycliffe, church practices.  Condemned at Council of Constance (1415), burned at stake, followers United Brethren.


    1. Europe
      1. Denmark – King Harold Bluetooth, ‘Made the Danes Christians’, first bishops (948).  King Knut (d.1035), elected king 1016, used Christian laws, almost Byzantine unity of church and state, archbishopric created in 1104.
      2. Norway
        1. Olaf Tryggvasson (969-1000) – Born the great-grandson of Harald Fairhair, the first King of Norway, and the son of Tryggve Olafsson, king of Viken (southeastern Norway), Olaf became a slave, was rescued, became a Viking swashbuckler, baptized by an English hermit on one of his raids in the Scilly Islands, became king of Norway (995), state religion by force.
        2. Olaf Haraldsson (995-1030) – (Saint Olaf) finished the task started by Tryggvesson (though much less violent), destroyed all the pagan temples, organized the Church, brought in priests and bishops from England, won kingdom by 1016.
      3. Iceland – Vikings were original settlers, vigorous and independent culture, oldest Parliament in the world (>1000yrs), ancient complex language kept pure, Christ accepted democratically.  Stefnir Thorgilsson (996) – Olaf Tryggvesson sent emissaries, democratic obedience to the decision of a ‘wise man’ > whole hearted acceptance, under Norwegian authority.
      4. Greenland – Erik the Red (d.1002) outlawed from Norway, Erik’s son Leif Ericson baptized in Norway during Olaf Tryggvesson, brought back a priest, first bishop sent from Norway in 1123.
      5. Sweden – Olof Skotkonung (c.1050), first Christian king (early 11th c.), obstinate resistance from people.  King Inge (early 12th c.) also attempted national Christianization but failed.  King Sverker (1130-55) – called in Cistercian monks from southern Europe (i.e. Cluny), first Cistercian Archbishop, Steven, appointed at Uppsala in 1164.
      6. Finland – Early contact with Hamburg and Bremen, but real conversion came with Sweden conquest; crusade of Erik IX in 1155, forced baptism.  Bishop Henry of Uppsala – accompanied Erik, martyred, venerated as founder of Finnish Church.  First indigenous Bishop of Abo, Magnus, in 1291.
      7. Prussia – Adalbert of Prague (997), Bruno of Querfurt (1009), and many others martyred.  50 years of battle, conquered by the Teutonic Knights (f. 1198-9) who brought with them Dominicans (c.1250) > baptism or banishment.
      8. Ukraine – Turkish origin, Dominicans entered in 1221.  Prince Bort converted and baptized in 1227, bishopric created in 1228 (Hungarian Dominican).
      9. Lithuania – First Christians in 1244, King Mindowe baptized in 1251, regression after his death.  King Jagiello, fighting Teutonic Knights, turned to Poland, married Polish Christian princess, baptized in 1386 > end of European paganism as organized body.
    2. Asia
      1. Russia – Multitudes of missionaries after A.D.1000 spread the faith throughout Russia, from Kiev, to Novgorod, to Moscow, etc.  St. Theodosius (d.1074), Petchersky Lavra (Monastery of the Caves) in Kiev, example of poverty, inspiration to later monastic reform (saving the Orthodox Church).  Stephen Charp (1340-96), Bishop of the missionary diocese of Perm (1383), local language, no political involvements, primarily sought to deepen Christian faith.
      2. Mongolia/China
        1. Though the Assyrian Church was decimated by the “Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period” (907-960) in China, it was revived substantially during the 11th through 13th centuries, only to die out again during the 14th century when the Mongolians accepted Islam en masse.
          1. Originally seen as ally against Muslims, Genghis Khan (d.1227) conquered Asia in 12 years (1223); grandson Kublai Khan (d.1294) reigned in Peking; shamanistic, respected religion.
          2. Father John of Plano Carpini (b.1180) – Franciscan dispatched by Pope Innocent IV to form alliance against Muslims, rejected by Khan Güyük (1246) who assumed divine authority.  William of Rubruck – Flemish man sent by French King Louis; found Nestorians in court (1253), also rejected by Khan, ‘divinely appointed sovereign of all the world’.
          3. Mongols capture Baghdad (1258) and Damascus (1260) > Nestorian Church flourishes throughout Asia, archbishopric est. in Peking (1275).  Acre captured in 1291 > entire Mongol world absorbed by spreading Muslim culture
          4. Marco Polo and uncles in China (1275-91), message from Kublai Khan to Pope to send 100 learned, devoted Christian men > 20 yrs later, Pope Nicholas IV sent two—one of which John of Monte Corvino (d.1328) who found Nestorians in India, notably at St. Thomas’s Mount, reached Peking (1294), received by Khan Timur, but rejected gospel.  Built a church, baptized 6000 by 1305, trained 150 boys in Greek and Latin.  Archbishop (1308).
          5. John of Marignolli – from Avignon, sent with >50 friars in 1335, Khan Timur again rejected gospel, returned to Avignon (by way of India) in 1353.  Latins expelled from Peking in 1369 when Chinese recovered the city from the Mongols > end of Western missionary enterprise in China for 200 years.
          6. Small groups of Franciscans in Mongol dress among nomadic hordes (1335), Khan Toqtai of the ‘Golden Horde’ in eastern Russia baptized in 1311, Muslim successors.
        2. The demise of the Assyrian Church seems to be the result of a number of factors.  In central Asia it was due to Islamic pressure and the Tamerlane massacres (c.1360-1400), and in China it was the change of dynasties.  Both of which were the result of the church’s identification and allegiance with the political governments of the time.  Thus, as those governments fell, so did the church.
      3. India – Three friars and lay brother sent to India in early 1300’s, Jordan of Severac survived, settled in Travancore with Nestorians, Bishop of Columbum (1329).
    3. Africa
      1. Roger Bacon – Crusades an expensive futile folly; Thomas Aquinas – infidels have natural rights.  Francis of Assisi – first to act on principles, three trips to Saracens: Morocco (1212), Spain (1214) and Egypt (1219), met with Egyptian Sultan.
      2. Ramon Lull (1235-1315) – born on island of Majorca, worldly youth, converted by a thrice-repeated vision of Christ crucified > Franciscan, well traveled, profound scholar.  Three things in conversion of Saracens: 1) comprehensive knowledge of language, 2) book of the truth of Christian religion by reason, 3) willingness to die for the gospel.  Four trips to North Africa, died during last trip because of beatings.