Sunday, October 18
Today's topic is religion. Now, now, don't get your knickers in a knot. I have picked points that I hope won't be controversial for people. And remember, this is in a historical context, not personal opinion. Well, I suppose all history is based somewhat off of opinion, but these points are acknowledged by most historians.
*Just a note of warning. Please keep in mind that I am just telling you the facts. I will not accept any controversial or rude comments whatsoever. So if you feel the urge to say something like that, please keep it to yourself. I will remove you from the blog if you don't follow these rules. Thanks!*
Alright, now that the ugly part of this post is done, let's get into some history! Woohoo! Today I will be talking about religion during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period. Now, where to start, where to start....
1. The crusades of course! It was Pope Urban II who was so disgusted with Jerusalem being overrun by Muslims that he ordered it to be recovered in the name of the Roman Catholic Church. Europe jumped at the chance-- mainly due to the riches to be found in the East. But to be frank, it didn't go so well. Although the Europeans did conquer the Muslims on a few occasions... for the most part it was a mess. England, France and Spain kept squabbling like babies, ruining their chances of success. Nothing has really changed in the 1000-ish years since.
2. During this time (1119) the famous Knights Templar were founded, as well as the Knights of St. John, who are still around today. The Knights Templar were created to help pilgrims make the trip to Jerusalem, while the Knights of St. John were used to help sick or injured pilgrims make the strenuous trip. Of course, the Knights Templar served in many other capacities during the Crusades. They were some of the most skilled fighters and were revered throughout Christendom and Muslim countries. As I'm sure you know, they have been steeped in mystery since their founding all those years ago. Were they on a secret religious mission? Possibly. In the beginning there were only 9 Templars, which leads credence to the belief that they were hiding something of great import. Unfortunately, the Order came to an untimely end Friday October 13th, 1307 when french king, Philip IV, had the Templars arrested and tortured. It's generally agreed that Philip was motivated by greed rather than his belief that the Templars were corrupt. In 1312 the Templars were officially dissolved by Pope Clement V. And yes, it is very likely that the Friday the 13th hype originated here.
Alright, moving along...
3. One of the main reasons the Roman Catholic Church played such a prominent role in society during this time was because they were the intermediary between you and God. That's right, unlike today, you could not pray to God directly. In the Church's opinion, you were full of Sin and if you talked to God, you would soil him. Therefore, you had to attend Church and confession to pray. However, that's not to say that the religion was aimed at the everyday person as it probably should have been. No, no, no. The Church had to remain in complete control at all times, therefore, giving the masses power of any kind was preposterous. Here are just a few ways they maintained control:
3a. Mass was held in Latin, which only Church officials and select scholars knew.
3b. Priests were the only ones given full communion of bread and wine. The rest of the congregation only got bread-- if that.
3c. The Bible, which you can now buy at any bookstore, was NOT available to the masses, or even the nobility. Again, only Church officials had access to a Bible until the very late 1400's, early 1500's when the Gutenberg's printing press was invented. Instead, the masses had to learn their religion from things like stain glass windows and paintings. The Church also created the Book of Hours, which was basically a picture book depicting important scenes in the Bible.
3d. Unlike today where people will wear medallions of religious icons, people would tear out pages of the Book of Hours and wear it around their necks for good luck... (Trust me, you can't make this type of stuff up. Man, I love history).
4. Another intermediary between you and God were the Saints. This is where things get a little sticky... because you didn't need to attend Church to pray to the Saints. BUT, you're not really praying to them per se. Rather, you are asking them to carry your prayers to God on your behalf. However, the Saints are greedy people, which is why you had to "worship" their icons etc...
5. Now, this one is a bit controversial, but remember, this is history, not my opinion, or anyone else's. In this era (1453-1789) of the witch craze, Martin Luther and his Reformation, and barbarians in the New World, the biggest fear in the Church was... sexual deviance. Homosexuality, lesbianism, and adultery were the most feared offenses.
Okay, that's all I've got for today. I hope you learned something! If you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask me! If I don't know, I will be able to ask my professor. Now, my Mum brought up last time that I didn't mention my history prof's last name... Well, it's Wigelsworth.
Yep, I'll just let that one sink in.