The Christian Influence on the Middle Ages Essay

Submitted By Felisha-Rodriguez
Words: 1123
Pages: 5

A common judgement of religion is that if it causes so much trouble, it shouldn’t exist. Well, had religion never existed, many of life’s aspects society has grown accustomed to, some that are claimed as indispensable such as : a strong military, a fundamental educational foundation and a written language to accompany verbal languages would also cease to exist. During the High Middle Ages, Christianity began to assert itself through various controversial forms. One of the forms being through war during the crusades where Christians and Muslims defended their separate faiths by means of conquering territory. Assertion also occurred through scholastic philosophers who dared to answer questions regarding concepts such as realism and happiness. Lastly, through literature with Dante’s Divine Comedy and The Wycliffe Bible in Middle English.

The Great Schism of 1054 was the division of the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, relationships between these two churches were embittered by ecclesiastical differences and theological disputes. The Schism ended in Constantinople becoming the seat of the Eastern Orthodox Church (SG 2). Religion based arguments were typical Christians versus Other Christians. Although the East-West Schism had ended between 1095 and 1972 nine crusades were preached by the Christian church. These campaigns were predominantly persuaded by the wanting to free the Holy land from unbelievers (SG 5). The soldiers were called crucesignati meaning "signed by the cross" due to the crosses worn on their clothing. In 1171, the crusaders were defeated by the Seljuk Turks at Manzikert. The Byzantines asked the Pope for mercenaries to help them recover the lands they had lost. The first crusade was launched by Pope Urban II in 1095, it began as a pilgrimage and by 1099 it became a military expedition by European Roman Catholics. “While the Crusades stand as a symbol of the expansive energy and religious zeal of high medieval Europe, their long term impact was a heightening of the already tense relations between Christians and Muslims (Matthews 238). Once the crusaders arrived at the Holy Land, a massacre of the city’s inhabitants occurred resulting in Jerusalem’s successful recapturing. Christians were able to retain control from 1099-1187. Christian pilgrims still continue to dream of the recapturing of the Holy Land (SG 6).

Anselm, the archbishop of Canterbury, founded Scholasticism, a system of theology and philosophy based on Aristotelian logic used to clarify issues and explore the ramifications in order to draw a conclusion. The center of Scholasticism is “Faith Seeking Understanding” (Matthews 241). Anselm’s ontological argument for the existence of God stated that if God exists in our minds, he must exist in reality. In the end, “faith comes first, but reason can increase faith. Belief leads to understanding” (SG 10). But then came the universals controversy of whether or not human beings and church existed in reality or just in the mind. Peter Abelard sought to teach a moderate realism, which went against what his own teachers and many scholars presented by stating that “universals existed, but only as mental concepts and as mental devices to sharpen and focus thinking” (Matthews 241).

Had it not been for the medieval scholars who improved the education system, current students would not have the highly beneficial opportunities we have today. There was a time when the simple idea of a University, a single place where one could study many different subjects without having to travel across lands seemed ludicrous. During medieval times Universities concentrated on 7 liberal arts: grammar, rhetoric, dialectic/logic, mathematical, arithmetic, theology, astronomy (SG 9). These subjects are still the core foundation of the scholastic system today. Other scholars also sought to connect faith with reason. One of them being, Gratian with his Decretum, a manual of canon law containing valuable