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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : CHAPTER XI The Mediaeval History of Continental Churches

A Key To The Knowledge Of Church History by John Henry Blunt

CHAPTER XI The Mediaeval History of Continental Churches

A.D.900-A.D.1500

[Sidenote: No Mediaeval Church history in Asia or Africa.]

Before proceeding to the consideration of the different European Churches in Mediaeval times, it may be well to remark that from the year 500 the Christian history of Asia and Africa is almost a blank. Arianism, partly imported into Africa by the Vandals, who crossed thither from Spain, and partly of native growth, as well as the opposite error, Eutychianism, took from the African Church all spiritual life and vigour, so that the apostasy of Mahomet met with no formidable obstacles when in the seventh century it swept like a flood over what had been Christian Africa. It is true that the Copts in Egypt and the native Christians of Abyssinia appear to have preserved the Apostolic Succession, but both these Churches are in a state of great depression, and the Faith they profess is mingled with much ignorance and superstition, as well as with positive error.

A similar process took place in Asia. Arianism, chiefly in its later development of Nestorianism, with Eutychianism and other errors, ate out the heart of the Church, faith grew weak, and love grew cold, and {121} Mahometanism once more triumphed almost unchecked. Although the Churches of Asia are not all utterly extinct, yet they share more or less in the state of ignorance, superstition, and depression which is a natural consequence of the serious errors with which their profession of Christianity is intermixed, as well as of the way in which the few despised Christians are mingled with their richer and more numerous Mahometan neighbours.

Section 1. The Church of Italy.

[Sidenote: Lombard kingdom in Italy.]

The kingdom of the Goths in Italy was not of long duration, and their successors and fellow-Arians, the Lombards, only obtained possession of the northern portion of the Peninsula, whilst Rome and Southern Italy became once more subject to the emperors of the East. Gregory the Great (A.D.390-A.D.604) began the work of converting the Lombards to the Catholic Faith, and in the middle of the seventh century Arianism had disappeared from Italy. [Sidenote: Renewal of the tie between East and West.] The renewal of the connexion between the Eastern and Western Empires, and the attempt of the Emperor Justinian to subject the see of Rome to that of Constantinople, placed Gregory under the necessity of vindicating the independence of the Church of Italy, and of denying the right of any one Patriarch to assume authority over another. St. Gregory's holiness and learning, and the wisdom of his endeavours to reform corruptions, were most beneficial to the Church over which he ruled. [Sidenote: Its rupture.] The Image-breaking Controversy put an end to the nominal tie between the Eastern emperors and the Church of Italy (about A.D.730), and almost the whole {122} of the peninsula soon after became part of the dominions of Charlemagne. This great Emperor's influence was used in Italy, as elsewhere, to foster the work of the Church, which however suffered severely from the state of lawlessness and confusion incident on the breaking up of Charlemagne's empire after his death, A.D.814. [Sidenote: Depression of the Church in Italy.] The Church of Italy in the ninth century had also to undergo the inroads of the Mahometans in the South, and of the heathen Magyars (or Hungarians) on the North, as well as of the Northmen, who ravaged and pillaged the churches and monasteries on the coasts. Other depressing influences were to be found in the secularization of the Bishops of Rome through the increase of their temporal power, and the usurpation by the German emperors of the right of election to the popedom, which properly belonged to the Clergy of Rome. [Sidenote: Gregory VII.'s reforms.] The corruptions which from these and other causes had crept into the Church of Italy, drew towards them the attention of the famous Hildebrand, afterwards Pope Gregory VII. (A.D.1073-A.D.1085), and his efforts at reformation were not without a beneficial effect. [Sidenote: Heresies of the Albigenses] Early in the twelfth century the heretical sect of the Albigenses, whose doctrines resembled those of the ancient Manicheans, spread from the South of France into Italy, where they received the name of Paterini. [Sidenote: and Waldenses.] Both they and the kindred sect of the Waldenses came under the notice of Innocent III. (A.D.1198-A.D.1216). The Albigenses were exterminated with circumstances of great cruelty, but the {123} Waldenses survive to the present day in the valleys of Piedmont. [Sidenote: Evil effects of the residence at Avignon on the Italian Church.] The seventy years' residence of the Bishops of Rome at Avignon (A.D.1305-A.D.1376) was felt by the Church of Italy to be an injury and a great evil, and in the forty years' schism which followed the return of the chief pastor of the Italians to his own episcopal city (A.D.1378-A.D.1417), only the kingdom of the Two Sicilies sided with the anti-Popes. [Sidenote: Other depressing influences.] Meanwhile the constant warfare between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines in Italy, the feuds between the different republics, the worldliness and evil lives of too many of the Popes, and the luxury and immorality which increased riches, consequent on increased commerce, brought with them, had all tended to a state of things in which the purifying influences of the Church as |the salt of the earth| were sorely needed. [Sidenote: Desires for reformation.] Longings for a reformation of men's lives and morals were smouldering in many breasts, and in the city of Florence these hidden wishes were kindled into a flame by the zeal and eloquence of the monk Girolamo Savonarola, who however fell a victim to his zeal, A.D.1498.

[Sidenote: Liturgy of the Italian Church.]

The ancient Liturgy of the Church of Italy was derived from one bearing the name of St. Peter, and revised by St. Gregory, A.D.590. This Roman or Gregorian Liturgy, though with certain later additions, is still in use throughout Italy, the only exception to this rule being the cathedral and diocese of Milan, which still preserve a Liturgy known as that of St. Ambrose, who was Bishop of Milan from A.D.374 to A.D.397.

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Section 2. The Church of France.

[Sidenote: Orthodoxy of the Franks.]

The Franks alone of all the barbarians who swept over Europe at the time of the decay of the Western Empire, were Catholic from their first conversion to Christianity; and to this circumstance the French kings owed their title of Eldest Sons of the Church. It was by the influence of a French princess, Bertha, the Christian wife of Ethelbert, king of Kent, that St. Augustine and his companions were favourably received in England; whilst another princess of the same race, Ingunda, who married the son of the Visigoth king of Spain, is said to have brought about the conversion of her husband from Arianism to the Catholic faith, by her own constancy under persecution. [Sidenote: The Church under Charlemagne.] During the reign of the Emperor Charlemagne (A.D.768-A.D.814), the French monasteries became seats of learning, and amongst the learned men who assisted the Emperor in his efforts for the religious and intellectual improvement of his people, may be mentioned the English Alcuin, who held an honourable position at the French court as the instructor and adviser of the monarch and his sons. [Sidenote: The French Liturgy.] The Gallican Liturgy, a branch of the Primitive Liturgy of Ephesus, was entirely disused by order of Charlemagne, and the Roman service used in its stead. [Sidenote: Conversion of the Northmen.] From about A.D.870 the Northmen, who had long been a scourge to France, began to settle down in that country, and were gradually converted to the Christian Faith, their chief, Rollo, marrying a Christian princess, A.D.911, and being baptized in the following year. [Sidenote: The Crusades.] A French {125} hermit, Peter of Auvergne, was the instigator of the First Crusade, which was preached by him at Clermont, and joined by a large number of French nobles, the command of the expedition being given to Godfrey de Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine. The system of Crusades thus inaugurated for the defence of Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land, and the winning back of the Holy Places from the hands of the Mahometans, was turned to a cruel and unjustifiable use in the thirteenth century, when Innocent III. proclaimed a Crusade against the Albigenses in the South of France, in which multitudes of these unhappy and misguided men were slaughtered.

[Sidenote: Rupture between France and the Pope.]

During the reign of Philip IV. (A.D.1285-A.D.1314) a collision took place for the first time, between the Church and Kingdom of France and the authority of the Pope. Hitherto the disputes between the Popes and the French monarchs had been on personal rather than on political grounds, and had given no opportunity for defining the exact limits of papal authority in France. [Sidenote: Comparative independence of French Church.] But meanwhile the French Clergy had not lost their feeling of nationality, and the kings of France had been able to use much more independent action in the appointment of Bishops than was the case in other countries. Hence the Bishops and Clergy joined with the king in resisting the sentence of excommunication pronounced by the Pope on Philip and his kingdom. Neither King nor Pope appear to have been influenced by any religious feeling in their contest, and after the miserable death of Boniface VIII. (A.D.1303), and the murder of his successor, Philip's unprincipled interference in the {126} election of Clement V. was productive of great evils. [Sidenote: Evil results of the conduct of Philip IV.] The cruel massacre of the Knights Templars, the corruptions of the Papal Court in France, and more indirectly the Great Schism in which the Church of France espoused the cause of the anti-Popes, may all be traced to the conduct of Philip IV.

Section 3. The Church of Spain and Portugal.

[Sidenote: Conquest of Spain by the Moors.]

Before the end of the sixth century, the Visigoths, who had settled in what is now Spain and Portugal, had been converted from Arianism to the Catholic Faith. In A.D.711 the Mahometan Moors crossed over from Africa to the South of Spain, and in A.D.713 all the Peninsula, except the small mountain district of Asturias, had fallen into their hands. The more independent and hardy amongst the Spanish Christians took refuge in this inaccessible portion of the country, whilst others dwelt amongst the Moors, and appear for a time to have been allowed the exercise of their religion unmolested by any systematic persecution. [Sidenote: Persecution of the Spanish Church.] About A.D.830, however, the policy of the Moorish conquerors underwent a change, and during the next hundred years multitudes of Christians in Spain suffered martyrdom for their faith. [Sidenote: The re-conquest of Spain by the Spaniards.] After the death of Hachem, the last Caliph of Cordova (A.D.1031), and the subdivision of his dominions, the Christians of Asturias succeeded in making head against their oppressors, and gradually won back from them district after district, until Ferdinand III. (A.D.1214-A.D.1252) succeeded in reducing the Moorish possessions to the single province {127} of Grenada. This last remnant of Mahometan dominion was wrested from the Moors A.D.1492, and Spain, as well as the separate kingdom of Portugal, was once more entirely Christian. [Sidenote: Effect of national circumstances on Spanish Christianity.] It is perhaps hardly to be wondered at, that the continual state of religious warfare in which Spain was so long plunged should have given a somewhat stern character to Spanish Christianity. The Inquisition, when introduced into Spain by the mistaken zeal of the good Queen Isabella towards the end of the fifteenth century, found a readier welcome than elsewhere, and gained an additional tinge of severity in a country which had been brought into such close contact with one of the deadliest forms of unbelief.

[Sidenote: The Spanish Liturgy.]

The original Liturgy of Spain was, like the ancient Liturgy of France, a form of that used at Ephesus. It received the name of Mozarabic, from having been in use by Christians living in the midst of Arabs, or Moors, and was not discontinued in the Church of Spain until A.D.1080, when after much resistance on the part of the Spaniards it was abolished by order of Alphonso VI., King of Castille and Leon, under the influence of Pope Gregory VII., and the Roman rite substituted throughout the country.

Section 4. The Church of Germany.

[Sidenote: Conversion of Germany by French]

The large tract of country which is now comprehended under the name of Germany was won to the Church by a long series of missionary labours. In the beginning of the seventh century Frankish missionaries laid the foundations of a Church in Bavaria and on the banks of {128} the Danube, thus paving the way for the conversion of Southern Germany. [Sidenote: and British missionaries,] Central Germany, then called Franconia, was the scene of the labours of Kilian, an Irish missionary (A.D.630-A.D.689), whilst the English Bishops Wilfrith (A.D.677) and Willebrord (A.D.692-A.D.741), preached with much success to the Frieslanders in the Northwest of Germany, now included in Holland. [Sidenote: Labours of St. Boniface] It is, however, to a Devonshire clergyman, Winfrith, better known as St. Boniface (A.D.715-A.D.755), that the title of Apostle of Germany is generally given, not only on account of his unwearied missionary labours in still heathen districts, but also on account of his success in organizing and consolidating the different branches of the German Church. He became Archbishop of Mentz, and Metropolitan, and at last suffered martyrdom at the hands of some heathen Frieslanders at the age of seventy-five.

The Emperor Charlemagne endeavoured to compel the rude Saxons in the neighbourhood of the Baltic to embrace the Christian faith; but eventually he was induced to trust less to the force of arms for their conversion, and more to the missionary work of the Church. [Sidenote: and of Willehad.] Amongst the prominent members of this Saxon mission, we find another English priest, Willehad, a native of Northumbria, afterwards Bishop of Bremen, who died A.D.789.

The first attempts to plant the Church in Moravia were made by German missionaries in the ninth century. [Sidenote: Eastern missionaries in Moravia] These do not appear, however, to have been very successful, and about A.D.860, two Greek monks, Cyril and Methodius, entered upon the same sphere of labour. Methodius was afterwards consecrated Metropolitan of Pannonia {129} and Moravia by the Pope; but there was considerable jealousy on the part of the Latinized Germans towards their Eastern fellow-labourers, and eventually the Moravian Church was subjected to the Bishops of Bohemia.

[Sidenote: and Bohemia.]

The first Christian Duke of Bohemia was converted about A.D.871, whilst staying at the Moravian court, probably by Methodius; but the Church made very slow progress in Bohemia until after the conquest of that country by Otho the Great (A.D.950), and the foundation of the Bishopric of Prague by King Boleslav the Pious (A.D.967-A.D.999). In Bohemia, as well as in Moravia, the influence of the Greek missionaries made itself felt in the impress it left upon the ritual and usages of the two Churches, especially in the fact that the native Sclavonic language was used in Divine Worship; but in the end German influences prevailed in both countries, and the national |use| gradually made way for the Latinized ritual common in Germany.

[Sidenote: Conversion of North Prussia,]

Until towards the middle of the tenth century, the Church made but very small progress in the northern portion of what is now the kingdom of Prussia. These regions were then occupied by a Sclavonic race called Wends, who yielded an unwilling submission to the Western emperors, and disliked Christianity as being the religion of their conquerors. Between A.D.964 and A.D.968, several bishoprics were founded in this country by Otho the Great, and amongst them the metropolitan see of Magdeburg. A revolt of the Wends frustrated for the time the success of the emperor's plans, but in the next century Gottschalk, who became king of the Wends A.D.1047, and was himself a Christian, did all in his {130} power to aid the missionary work of the Church among his people. He was martyred by his subjects, A.D.1066, and heathenism triumphed once more. During the twelfth century, the Wendish kingdom was dissolved, and its territories divided amongst different German princes, after which the Church gradually regained and extended its hold on the country. The northern Wends, who obstinately adhered to their Pagan superstitions, were at last converted chiefly by the labours of St. Vicelin, who became Bishop of Oldenburg, A.D.1148.

[Sidenote: of Pomerania,]

The conversion of Pomerania was first attempted by the Poles, who, on obtaining possession of the country at the end of the tenth century, founded a bishopric at Colberg, A.D.1000. It was not, however, until their more complete subjection to Poland about a hundred years later, that any marked result was obtained. Otho, Bishop of Bamberg, who placed himself at the head of the Pomeranian mission A.D.1124, was at last enabled to overcome the fierce opposition which the heathen natives offered to the work of the Church, and by A.D.1128 Christianity had gained a firm footing amongst them.

[Sidenote: of Prussia Proper.]

From Pomerania the Church extended itself eastward to Prussia Proper, about A.D.1210. Here, too, Christianity was very distasteful to the natives, partly as being the religion of their enemies the Poles. About A.D.1230, the |Order of Teutonic Knights| was instituted for the purpose of subjugating Prussia; and, after a depopulating warfare of fifty years' duration, the remaining inhabitants embraced Christianity. Before the end of the thirteenth century, the German element had quite superseded the Sclavonic in Prussia, as well as in Pomerania, and in what had formerly been the kingdom of the Wends.

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[Sidenote: Extent of Roman influence in Germany.]

The Church in Germany, taken as a whole, was very much under Roman influence, partly, perhaps, on account of the early connexion between the emperors of the West and the see of Rome, and partly from the constant state of civil warfare into which Germany was plunged from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries. In these contests the near neighbourhood of the Popes to the Italian possessions of the Western Empire gave them a hold on the affairs of Germany which they were not slow to use, and the turbulent German nobles were disinclined to resent an interference which was so often exerted in their behalf against an unpopular sovereign. The temporal power of the Popes was, however, much weakened by the great Schism; and though the Church of Germany acknowledged the true Pope, there was, amongst its members, a very widespread sense of the urgent need of some searching reformation. To this feeling may be traced, not only the unhappily disappointed expectations with which so many persons looked to the Councils of Constance and Basle, but also the unsound and exaggerated teaching of such men as John Huss and Jerome of Prague.

Section 5. The Church of Hungary.

[Sidenote: Conversion of Hungary.]

The Hungarians or Magyars were descended from a Tartar or Finnish tribe, who settled in Pannonia towards the close of the ninth century, and thence made fierce inroads on Italy and Germany. In A.D.948, two Hungarian chiefs were baptized at Constantinople, and the daughter of one of them afterwards marrying Geisa, Duke of {132} Hungary (A.D.972-A.D.997), Christian influences were, by degrees, brought to bear upon the Hungarian people. About the same time German missionaries began to labour in Hungary, but it was not until the reign of St. Stephen, the first King of Hungary (A.D.997-A.D.1038), that the country was completely evangelized. [Sidenote: Hungary Latinized.] Stephen did all in his power to aid the work of the German missionaries; Hungary was divided into dioceses, and the originally eastern origin of the Hungarian Church, as well as the Sclavonic origin of the people, forgotten under the desire felt by the king to keep on a friendly footing with the German emperors and the Popes.

[Sidenote: Attacks of the Turks.]

The Church of Hungary suffered severely from the invasion of the Mongul Tartars, A.D.1241, and when, about a century later, some of these Tartars returned from Asia and settled in Europe under the name of Turks, Hungary, owing to its frontier situation, was constantly liable to their attacks. During the fifteenth century, Hungarian bravery was the great barrier that opposed the spread of Mahometanism over Western Europe. Even after the fall of Constantinople, the Turks vainly endeavoured to make themselves masters of their Christian neighbours, and found themselves obliged to retreat discomfited from the siege of Belgrade, A.D.1456.

Section 6. The Church of Poland.

[Sidenote: Conversion of Poland.]

The Church of Poland was founded about A.D.966, when a daughter of the Christian Duke of Bohemia married Miecislav, Duke of Poland, and introduced Christianity into her adopted country.

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[Sidenote: Romanizing the church of Poland.]

The Polish Church at first bore traces of its Eastern origin in its liturgy and ritual, but these traces were removed by Casimir I. (A.D.1040-A.D.1058), who, previous to his accession, had been a monk in a French or German monastery, and who made a point of bringing the Church of his own country into uniformity with the other Churches of the West.

Section 7. The Scandinavian Churches.

[Sidenote: Conversion of Denmark]

About A.D.822, a mission was sent from France to Denmark under Ebbo, Archbishop of Rheims, which resulted in the conversion of Harold, King of Jutland, who was baptized at Mayence, A.D.826. At the request of Harold, a fresh mission to Denmark was organized and headed by Anskar, a monk of Corbey, near Amiens, who is often known as the |Apostle of the North.| [Sidenote: and Sweden.] From Denmark Anskar made his way to Sweden, A.D.831, where he was favourably received by the king, and a year or two later was consecrated Archbishop of Hamburg, with jurisdiction over the whole northern mission. [Sidenote: Slow advance and vicissitudes of the Church.] At first the progress of the Church, both in Denmark and Sweden, was very slow and fluctuating, and the ravages of the northern pirates, or Vikings, caused great loss and suffering; but after some years, Anskar was enabled to disarm the opposition of Eric the heathen King of Denmark, and to make a favourable impression upon the Swedish nobles. After his death in A.D.865, the Church in Denmark went through many vicissitudes owing to irruptions of the Northmen and other invaders, as well as to native opposition. {134} Svend, who reigned over Denmark A.D.991-A.D.1014, though brought up a Christian, persecuted the Church until his re-conversion during a victorious sojourn in England. [Sidenote: English missionaries in Denmark] Svend's son and successor, Canute the Great (A.D.1014-A.D.1033), was very zealous in his endeavours to undo the evil effects of his father's violence, and sent missionaries from England, by whom the bulk of the Danish nation were converted to Christianity.

[Sidenote: and Sweden.]

In Sweden, too, the Church made but slow progress after the death of Anskar, until, in the beginning of the eleventh century, the King Olaf Skoetkonung, having been himself baptized about A.D.1008, invited to Sweden certain English clergymen, who laboured there with great success. The first bishopric in Sweden was placed at Skara in West Gothland, and filled by Turgot, an Englishman.

[Sidenote: Conversion of Norway, by English missionaries.]

The knowledge of the Gospel was first brought, in the tenth century, into Norway from England by Hacon, who is said to have been educated at the court of Athelstan, and who endeavoured, with the aid of English priests, to bring about the conversion of his subjects. Hacon was, however, induced, by the bitter opposition of his countrymen, to yield a weak compliance to their idolatrous practices, and the Church languished and almost died out until the reign of Olaf Trygovason (A.D.993-A.D.1000), who had been baptized in the Scilly Isles during a piratical expedition. The labours of the English missionaries were finally successful in the reign of Olaf the Holy (A.D.1017-A.D.1033), who was earnest in his efforts to further the work of the Church. It may be remarked that Norwegian Bishops were usually consecrated either in England or France, {135} though all the Scandinavian Churches were still professedly dependent on the Archbishopric of Hamburg.

[Sidenote: Conversion of Iceland,]

In Iceland some traces of early Christianity, probably the result of the labours of Irish missionaries, were still remaining when it was colonized by Norwegian settlers in the ninth century; and towards the end of the tenth century successive attempts were made by a Saxon Bishop and by missionaries from Norway, to revive and deepen these impressions. The opposition of the heathen colonists was, however, of so determined a character, that it was only by the gradual conversion of the mother country, and the labours of new bands of missionaries, chiefly English and Irish, that Paganism was by degrees overcome.

[Sidenote: Greenland,]

From Iceland the Church made its way to Greenland, another Norwegian colony, which was converted mainly by the instrumentality of an Icelandic missionary, in the first half of the eleventh century; but this ancient Church died out in the fifteenth century. About the same time Christianity spread through the Norwegians to the Orkney, Shetland, and Faroe Islands.

[Sidenote: and Lapland.]

The Church was first planted amongst the Lapps by Swedish missionaries in the thirteenth century, but it was not until the sixteenth and two following centuries that Christianity became the religion of the country.

Section 8. The Churches now comprehended in European Turkey and Greece.

We look in vain in the history of the Church in Eastern Europe for the missionary activity which {136} bears so prominent a place in the annals of Western Christendom. [Sidenote: Lack of missionary zeal in the East.] The minds of Eastern Christians were still much occupied by continued contests between the Catholic Faith and developments of already condemned heresies, and to these succeeded the scarcely less absorbing controversy about Image-breaking. Nor was there in the East the same pressing contact with Paganism, which made it in the West a political necessity no less than a religious duty at once to christianize and civilize the ever advancing hordes of heathen barbarians. [Sidenote: Conversion of Bulgaria.] The evangelization of Bulgaria was, however, begun early in the ninth century, by the carrying off of the Bishop of Adrianople and many of his flock, in a victorious inroad of the Bulgarians, A.D.811. Half a century later the Bulgarian King Bogoris, influenced by his sister, who had been brought up a Christian at Constantinople, put himself and his country under the tuition of the Greek patriarch Photius. Soon after, becoming weary of his Eastern instructors, he applied for aid to the Western Church, and, in A.D.867, the Pope Nicholas I. despatched two Italian Bishops and other missionaries to Bulgaria. [Sidenote: Collision between Greek and Roman missionaries.] This interference of the Roman Church, in an already occupied field of missionary labour, added considerably to the jealousy between East and West, and helped to bring about the eventual and lamentable schism. Bogoris soon after returned to his allegiance to Photius, insisted on the withdrawal of the Roman Mission, and obtained a Greek Archbishop of Bulgaria from Constantinople.

[Sidenote: Peculiar position of the Eastern Church.]

The state of external isolation in which the Church of the Eastern Empire was placed by the {137} Schism of A.D.1054, had a tendency to increase its exaggerated spirit of conservatism, which was also encouraged by the indolent unenterprizing temper of the Greeks of the later empire, whose blood had not been quickened by the same admixture of races as had given new life to the worn out nations of the West. [Sidenote: Effects of the Crusades.] Under these circumstances the crusades were hardly less a cause of terror to the Greeks than were the advances of the Turks themselves, and tended to widen rather than to heal the unhappy breach between the Latin and Greek Churches. [Sidenote: Unjustifiable proceedings of the Latins.] The foundation of a Latin Patriarchate at Jerusalem, after the taking of that city in A.D.1099, could not but be accounted an usurpation on the part of the Pope, which was, however, far surpassed in injustice by the erection of a Latin empire and a Latin Patriarchate in Constantinople itself, A.D.1204. During the time that this oppressive arrangement lasted (i.e. till A.D.1261) the rightful Patriarch took refuge at the court which the Eastern emperors held at Nicaea in Asia Minor, and the fugitives there clung to their national Church, and her rightful independence. [Sidenote: Attempts at reunion.] The Emperor Michael Palaeologus, after driving out the Latins from Constantinople, endeavoured once more to effect a reunion between East and West, partly from political and partly from personal motives, and a formal act of union was signed, A.D.1274. Neither the Greek Clergy nor the Greek people would, however, consent to give up their own national religious customs, nor to acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope; and this shadow of union died out with the death of the Emperor, its originator. [Sidenote: Invasion of the Turks.] In the fourteenth century {138} the Turks were treacherously invited over to Europe as allies of the usurper, John Cantacuzenus (A.D.1347-A.D.1353), and so firm a footing did they gain, that the rightful Emperor, John Palaeologus (A.D.1341-A.D.1391), found himself obliged to appeal to Rome for aid, promising in return to reconcile the Greek Church to the Roman communion. The affairs of Western Europe, were, however too unsettled to admit of such aid being afforded, and the Emperor was obliged to give up all his possessions to the Turks, except Constantinople, Thessalonica, part of the Morea, and a few islands. Another appeal was made, with the same results, by his son, Manuel Palaeologus (A.D.1391-A.D.1425). [Sidenote: New attempts at reunion.] John VII. (A.D.1425-A.D.1448) opened fresh negociations with the West, and he and the Patriarch of Constantinople, together with twenty-one other Eastern Bishops, appeared (A.D.1438) at the Council of Ferrara (afterwards transferred to Florence). At this council a decree of union was once more signed by the Greeks, on condition of their receiving aid against the Turks (A.D.1439). This fresh attempt at union was repudiated by the Eastern Church at large, but a troop of French and Italian crusaders started for the East. Constantinople was, however, doomed, and the good and brave Constantine Palaeologus (A.D.1448-A.D.1433) was the last, as he was one of the best, of the Greek emperors. [Sidenote: Fall of Constantinople] The city fell, after an obstinate defence, on the 29th May, A.D.1453, and Constantine was among the slain. The Turks pillaged and slaughtered indiscriminately, and turned into a mosque the beautiful Church of St. Sophia, built by the Emperor Justinian in honour of the |Holy Wisdom| of God.

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[Sidenote: and the Greek Empire.]

All the Greek Empire had now fallen into the hands of the Turks, except the small mountainous district of Albania, which held out until the death of George Castriota (dreaded by the Turks under the name of Scanderbeg), A.D.1467. The rocky strip of land known as Montenegro has been enabled to maintain an unbroken independence.

[Sidenote: State of the Church of Greece under Turkish rule.]

The Church of Greece was now no longer the dominant and recognized religion of the country, but it was not extinguished. The numerous mountain monasteries, inaccessible from their construction and position, were the chief strongholds of the Christian Faith; and so, |cast down, but not destroyed,| the Church in Greece struggled on, until, after nearly three centuries of Turkish rule, Greece itself once more became a Christian kingdom.

Section 9. The Church of Russia.

[Sidenote: Decay of the Church after its first planting in Russia.]

The Church, founded in the South of Russia by St. Andrew, appears not to have spread to the other parts of this vast country, and to have died out, perhaps under the influence the hordes of barbarians who poured westward from Asia to Europe.

[Sidenote: Foundation of the present Church.]

The Church of Russia, as it now exists, owes its foundation chiefly to Greek Missionaries, who began their labours about A.D.866, amongst the tribes bordering on the dominions of the Eastern Empire. Before the middle of the next century Christianity had gained a footing in the ancient capital of Kiev, and about A.D.933 the Princess Olga was baptized at {140} Constantinople. [Sidenote: It flourishes under Vladimir.] In the reign of her grandson, Vladimir (A.D.986-A.D.1014), the Church made great progress in Russia. Vladimir made a public recognition of Christianity, and by his marriage with the sister of the Greek Emperor strengthened the links which bound Russia to Constantinople. The Greek missionaries were aided in their labours, churches and bishoprics were founded, and the Holy Scriptures and Service Books translated into the native Sclavonic language; the Greek monks, Cyril and Methodius, who have been already mentioned as instrumental in the conversion of Bohemia and Moravia, taking also an active share in the Christianizing of Russia. [Sidenote: Independence of the Russian Church,] In the reigns of Yaroslav and his successor (A.D.1019-A.D.1077), the empire became completely Christian, and the Church of Russia was placed on an independent footing, with a native primate at its head. Innocent III. (A.D.1198-A.D.1216) attempted to win over Russia to the Roman communion, by offering to confer the title of King on Prince Roman, but his offer was at once rejected. [Sidenote: which it has steadily refused to give up,] Russia suffered severely from the ravages of the Mongul Tartars, A.D.1223, and Pope Innocent IV. took advantage of the distressed condition of the Russian church and the removal of the Greek Patriarchate from Constantinople to Nicaea, to make another attempt at detaching Russia from communion with the Greeks. David, Prince of Galicia, professed himself willing to receive the crown and title of king from Rome, but this arrangement was not of long duration, and about A.D.1230 a Metropolitan of the Russian Church was consecrated by the Greek Patriarch, to fill up the vacancy which had taken place {141} ten years before during the Tartar invasion. Kiev, the original seat of the Russian Patriarchate, was burnt and pillaged by the Tartars, and the see was transferred to Vladimir, A.D.1299, and thence during the early part of the next century (A.D.1320) to Moscow, where it has since remained.

[Sidenote: and has preserved unbroken.]

For more than two centuries, until A.D.1462, Russia was oppressed by the yoke of the unbelieving Tartars, but the Church still maintained her independence, and steadily resisted the various attempts which were made to bring about a reunion between East and West, by the subjugation of the former to the unjust claims of the latter.

The preaching Friars having been in vain employed for the conversion of the Albigenses, their efforts were supplemented by the institution of the Inquisition.

{142}

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