Christian Europe—Medieval Church

600 to 1600
Gregory the Great to Council of Trent

Era Summary       Characters       Timeline       Reading Assignments      

Characters—Medieval Church

Character/Date Short Biography


Gregory the Great
Increased the power of the papacy by church reforms and effective management.
Pope Gregory VII
Tested wills with Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV over 'investiture' issues.
Pope Boniface VIII
Pope who advocated of papal supremacy against king Philip IV of France, and was ultimately defeated.
Alexander VI
Disgraced the office of Pope by appalling behavior, and worldly politicking.
Pope Julius II
Renaissance character known as "Warrior Pope" for his defense of the Papal states. Commissioned Michelangelo and Raphael.
Pope Leo X
Pope during the Protestant Reformation. Known for extravagance, and building St. Peter's.

Religious Orders

Benedict of Nursia
Established the Benedictine order of monks. Founded the monastic movement in Europe.
St. Dominic
Founded Dominican Order of scholars, theologians, and teachers.
Francis of Assisi
Founded the Franciscan order of indigent Friars.
Bernard of Clairvaux
Monk who helped revive the original spirit of monasticism among the Cistercian Order.

Saint Scholars

Francisican Theologian and Philospher. Doctor of the Church.
Thomas Aquinas
Foremost theologian and philosopher of the Catholic Church. Doctor of the Chruch.
Catherine of Siena
Saint who helped resolve the Papal schism of the 14th century.
Anthony of Padua
Greatly loved Franciscan preacher and teacher. Many miracles attributed to him.

Counter Reformation Saints

Charles Borromeo
Archbishop of Milan, and noted reformer of the Catholic clergy during the reformation era.
Ignatius of Loyola
Founder of the Jesuits order, dedicated to the Pope. Important counter-reformation figure.
Francis de Sales
Reformation era priest noted for opposing the spread of protestantism in Savoy.
John of God
Dedicated his life to helping the Poor. Founded order of Hospitallers, which cared for the sick.
Philip Neri
Noted Italian saint of the Reformation era, and founder of the Congregation of the Oratory.

Martial and Civic Leaders

Girolamo Savonarola
Monk who raged against the extravagance and sins of the Renaissance. Burned at the stake.
d. 510 BC
Virtuous Maiden, killed herself after assault by son of Tarquin Superbus.
Grand Master of the Knights Hospitallers who defended Malta from the siege in 1565.
Andrea Doria
Renowned Naval Commander from Genoa. Fought in the service of Charles V. Fought Turks and Pirates in the Mediterranean.
Cosimo de Medici
Patriarch of the powerful Medici family in Florence. Wielded great power 'behind the scenes.'
Lorenzo de Medici
Great power broker Renaissance Florence. Great Patron of the Arts.

Timeline—Medieval Church

AD YearEvent

Conversion of European Nations

500 St. Remi and Clotilda convert Clovis, king of the Franks (Gaul).
500 Columba and Irish missionaries establish monasteries in Scotland.
600 St. Columbanus founds Celtic missions in Eastern Gaul and Switzerland.
600 Leander and Isidore of Seville convert king Recared and the Visigoths (Hispania).
600 Augustine of Kent converts Ethelbert, first Saxon-Christian king in Britain.
750 St. Boniface leads a mission of British monks to convert the Frisians in Germany.
780 Charlemagne converts Wittekind, leader of the German-Saxons.
850 St. Cyril and St. Methodius convert the Slavs of Moravia (Czech Republic)
850 St. Ansgar of Hamburg, serves as missionary to Swedes and Scandinavians.
880 Alfred the Great converts Guthrum, leader of Danish invaders of England.
880 Rollo the Viking converts to Christianity and becomes Duke of Normandy.
1000 St. Adalbert of Prague, serves as missionary to Poles, Czechs, and Prussians.
1000 Olaf II of Norway, converts his Vikings subjects to Christianity.
1000 St. Stephen, king of Hungary, converts his Magyar subjects to Christianity.

Eastern Church and Early Councils

527-565 Reign of Justinian the Great, height of Eastern Roman Empire.
636-647 Moslem Conquest of Syria and North Africa.
680 Third Council of Constantinople (6th) — condemns Monothelites.
787 Second Council of Nicaea (7th) — condemns Iconoclasts (image breakers).
869 Fourth Council of Constantinople (8th) — resolves Photian Schism (850-869).
1054 Eastern Schism due mainly to political division

Western Church and Frankish Empire

520 Benedict of Nursia establishes traditions of Western Monasticism.
537-753 Byzantine Papacy: Roman Pontiff subject to Byzantine Emperor.
600 Gregory the Great asserts Roman authority over France, Spain; sends mission to Britain.
756 Donation of Pepin grants central Italy to Roman pontiff.
800 Charlemagne crowned Emperor of the West by pope in Rome.
962 Otto the Great conquers Northern Italy, crowned HRE by Pope.
1053 Pope forges alliance with Normans, condones Norman conquest of S. Italy.
1054 Eastern Schism, initially due to conflicts over Norman aggression in Italy.

Crusades and Military Orders

1096 First Crusade — creation of Crusader States in Jerusalem/Antioch/Edessa.
1099 Knights Hospitallers order founded by Blessed Gerard.
1119 Knights Templars order founded in Jerusalem, Bernard of Clairvaux Patron.
1189 Third Crusade — reclaims Acre from Saladin but fails to retake Jerusalem.
1202 Fourth Crusade — Crusaders sack Constantinople, establish Latin Empire in East.
1248 Saint Louis IX leads failed Seventh Crusade to Egypt.
1270 Eighth/Ninth Crusades to Tunisia ends Badly. St. Louis dies in Tunisia.
1291 Last Crusader Kingdom of Acre falls to Mamluks.

Gregorian Reforms

910 Order of Cluny founded, plays leading role in Reforms.
1073 Accession of reformer Hildebrand as Pope Gregory VII
1077 Emperor Henry IV seeks reconciliation from Pope at Canossa.
1123 Lateran I Council (9th) — Addressed Investiture Controversy, Canonical Elections.
1179 Lateran III Council (11th) — Clerical reforms, heresies condemned, Papal elections regulated.
1213 Lateran IV, "The Great Council" (12th) — called by Innocent III: Albigenses condemned. Paschal communion ordered.
1221 Mendicant order of St. Dominic established.
1226 Mendicant order of Francis of Assisi established.
1229 End of Albigensian Crusade in Southern France. Inquisition founded to deal with heretics.

Avignon Papacy and Schism

1245 First Lyons Council (13th) — 7th Crusade called. HRE condemned, Reunion of Greeks, etc.
1274 Second Lyons Council (14th) — Churches reunited briefly. Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure die during council.
1294 Pope Boniface VIII elected Pope after Celestine 'resigns'. Feuds with French king Philip the Fair .
1309-1376 Avignon Papacy: Popes, beginning with Clement V reside at Avignon (high papal mortality rate in Rome).
1311 Council of Vienne (15th) — Knights Templars suppressed. Condemnation of Beghards, Beguines, etc.
1314 Knights Templar leaders condemned for heresy, executed on Friday the 13th. Curse of Jacques de Molay.
1375 Conquer almost all Greek Empire, except Constantinople.
1376 Pope returns to Rome, ( thanks to Catherine of Siena). Wyclif preaches heresy.
1378-1417 Western Schism — Council of Constance (16th) ends schism, condemns heresy of Jan Hus.
1431 Council of Basel/Florence (17th) address concilarism and briefly ends eastern schism.
1453 Constantinople falls to the Ottomans and Greek Patriarch dies before an east-west union can be ratified.

Reformation Era

1419-1434 Hussite War in Germany ends with reconciliation to Church.
1478 Spanish Inquisition instituted, deals mostly with false conversions of Jews and Moors.
1492 Expulsion of the Jews from Spain. Many seek refuge in Catholic Italy.
1494 Beginning of "Italian Wars" Sixty Year conflict in Italy between French and Spanish powers.
1498 Girolamo Savonarola condemned for criticizing clerical corruption.
1502 University of Wittenberg founded by Elector of Saxony, Luther's patron.
1514 Fifth Council of Lateran (17th) — Endorses doctrine of 'Papal supremacy' but fails to address reforms.
1517 Martin Luther condemns indulgences. Posts theses on door of Wittenberg Palace chapel.
1525 Peasant revolt in Germany put down harshly by Protestant nobles.
1527 Rome sacked by troops of Charles V during Italian Wars.
1534 Act of Supremacy — Church of England breaks with Rome. (John Fisher, Thomas More, martyrs).
1540 Jesuit Order established by Ignatius of Loyola. Admitted Conversos, favored by Popes, grew rapidly.
1545-1563 Council of Trent (18th) — addresses Protestant heresies, clerical reform. clarifies doctrine and scriptural interpreation, regulates liturgy. Jesuit scholars orchestrated procedings.
1555 Peace of Augsburg gave rights to Protestant Princes, ended religious wars in Germany.
1566 St. Pius V promulgates reforms of Trent, Charles Borromeo leads reform effort in Milan.
1571 Battle of Lepanto, Holy League defeats Ottomans in Mediterranean.
1575 Oratory of Philip Neri established in Rome.
1598 Edict of Nantes, granting political rights to Huguenots, ends Religious Wars in France.
1648 Peace of Westphalia.

World Evangelization

1511 Establishment of first American bishoprics in the New World.
1514 Bartholomew de Casas begins advocating for the rights of natives.
1524 Twelve Apostles of Mexico Arrive to convert natives of New Spain
1530 Juan de Zumarraga , protector of Indians, appointed first Archbishop of Mexico
1531 Our Lady of Guadalupe appears to Juan Diego in Mexico
1541-1552 Missions of Francis Xavier in Goa, Ceylon, Malacca, Japan
1542 New Laws for the Protection of the Indians promulgated by Charles V.
1551 First Universities in the Americas: University of San Marcos in Lima and University of Mexico.
1560 Inquisition established in Goa and Brazil
1582 Matteo Ricci and Michele Ruggieri establish first Jesuit Missions in China.
1597 Death of Paul Miki and 26 Japanese Martyrs in Nagasaki
1608 Samuel de Champlain establishes Quebec colony in Canada
1608 First Jesuit Mission in Canada established in Acadia
1609 First Jesuit Reductions (Missions) established in Paraguay
1622 Urban VIII establishes the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith
1632 Maryland founded as Catholic colony in the Americas
1642-49 Deaths of Isaac Jogues and "North American Martyrs" at the hands of Iroquois

Recommended Reading—Medieval Church

Book Title
Selected Chapters (# chapters)

Core Reading Assignments

Notre Dame - History of the Church: Early Middle Ages   Babarians and Monasticism to Papacy and Empire (4)
Notre Dame - Church History: The Later Middle Ages   Struggle for Independence to The Western Schism (5)

Supplemental Recommendations

Hodges - Saints and Heroes to the End of the Middle Ages   Benedict, 480-543 to Savonarola, 1452-1498 (14)
Hall - Stories of the Saints    entire book
Forbes - Life of St. Benedict    entire book
Notre Dame - Life of St. Gregory the Great    entire book

Easy Reading Selections

Jewett - God's Troubadour, The Story of St. Francis of Assi    (entire book)  
Steedman - Legends and Stories of Italy    (entire book)