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A review of Iogna-Prat’s book by H.E.J. Cowdrey [English Historical Review, September, 2003] brings forward a  new question;

                ” . . . how, when and why did Christianity change from initially being a community of believers to become a Christendom that was coterminous with the human social order and directed by a Church that was charged to control those who were within and to reduce to obedience those who were without?”


Cowdrey’s choice of the word “coterminous” might be an unintentionally self revealing answer to his own question. “Coterie”, meaning a group of individuals with a common interest, defines what was lacking in individual Christian Kingdoms of that time period as well as the individual factions of the Christian Church. The individual kingdom’s myopic self-interests caused constant feuding and costly battles with each other.

Likewise, factions within the Church caused similar infighting for power. Both the kingdoms and the Church needed a common enemy. Did either group recognize, at that time, that a common enemy of the Church could also be dressed in the clothes of a common enemy of the kingdoms? Or did an internal enemy of the church – – – heresy, – – – cause the first step that resulted with an unintended consequence? Only those who, at that time, resided in the power of the Cluny knew the answer to that question.

The original intent may have been quite straight forward and simple; “How do we remove heresy from the Church?” Of course, heresy must be defined. Who was to define it? How did they identify those who committed it? Once heresy was dealt with it would be quite logical to prevent it from reoccurring by simply negating “otherness” through preaching and, if necessary, remove “obstinence” with armed laymen.


Tomorrow: Peter the Venerable

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