Church Life in the 11th & 12th Centuries

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Camaldolese History Class, "Church Life in the 10th & 11th Centuries" (during Romuald and Peter Damian's time).

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So this time, this second session, I'd like to talk a little bit about the 10th and 11th centuries to give some background and some idea of what we're working with when we're talking about how is the church life at the time of Romuald and Peter Damian. What are the problems between the church and the state during these crucial centuries? Amazing time. I bought and put into the library a book entitled 1000 A.D. It was published when the whole hoopla about the millennium has come up. And so they published what it was like in the first millennium. And of course, this is exactly when our people were around and doing their thing, especially Romuald. And so it's the actual number, 1000 A.D.


And it's an interesting little book. And it gives you some idea of some of the things going on at that time. Certainly one of the main problems going on at that time is answering the question, well, how do we ensure who the next emperor will be? So how to ensure the succession of the imperial crown? And of course, there's all kinds of people fighting and factions fighting over the imperium during this time. And a correlated question which comes into focus then during this time, a little bit down the line, but during the lifetime certainly of Peter Damian, is who makes the pope? Who is the pope maker? Is it the king? Is it the emperor? What do we do? Because for a while here, as you will see,


it is indeed the emperor who names the pope. The problem of the succession of the imperial crown comes into question, comes into focus quite clearly during the life of Romuald when his good friend Otto III dies at the tender age of, what, 23 or something like that. And the empire is thrown into a quandary. What to do? How do we solve this? Because they weren't ready for it. And they didn't have an automatic successor because he died childless. Generally speaking at this time, the nobility are living in a feudal world, F-E-U-D-A-L, feudal, and some of them in a futile world. In this world picture of the feudalistic framework,


the local lord, the local ruler, is it, is the power which holds the keys to certainly happiness or sadness, but also often to life and death, without recourse often, let alone taxation, justice, and so forth. And so the local territory of the noble is his personal thief, his personal property, and everything that lives within it is his property. And so this is a time of constant petty wars. Every little hoo-ha wages war against the hoo-ha next door. And they're all trying to align themselves with powerful hoo-has so that they don't get overwhelmed by the other hoo-ha.


And so you have everybody hoo-ha-ing around. And often families are aligning themselves strategically through marriage precisely for this reason. Well then if we get in trouble, this whole family will come into our side and stem off the war. And of course there's a constant need of money, a need for money then, because there's constant war. And you can't wage war without paying the troops, without feeding the troops, feeding the horses, bribing off people, purchasing more hoo-has than you have already gathered around yourself. What is this hoo-ha business? This will be today's theme, hoo-ha. Give me another word and I'll use it. Potentates, whatever. So much of the so-called justice of the day depended upon money. Whether you had it, first of all,


or whether you could pay it as a bribe, secondly, or get it somewhere to stem off what one could call justice, in quotes. And within this church structure, it's not much different at times, unfortunately, because you have people buying their ways into abbacies, bishoprics, parishes, and so forth, benefices. Those who have enough money can have the power, both in the civil and in the religious realms. Now this isn't across the board, but unfortunately during this time within the church, at certain times in this period, it's the majority who are buying their way. It's not the exception. The people who are falling into symphony are the majority. It's incredible. They don't think anything of it, even though


it's been condemned, even though it's quite clearly on the books as an absolute no-no. Also, often during this time, whether you were pro-emperor or anti-emperor, often depended upon either what family you were in, or what hoo-ha group you belonged to, because there are constant factions on the imperial stage as well, playing. And that's why you have, during this time, any given emperor really spending his entire realm or his entire reign fighting off usurpers or pretenders or anti-imperial forces or whatever. It's not a good time for peace.


Absolutely. Well, certainly if their abbots and bishops and whatnot were politically aligned, some of them stayed apart, but often the case is true. And you'd find monks and bishops being dragged off to war also, if they were aligned. So, unfortunately, the church at this time is a product of its own day. And when it came to people elections, once again, you have family factions literally waging war over who's going to be pope. It is a time that is rife with schism. At one point during this period, during the time of Peter Damian, you have three popes at the same time. Benedict IX, Gregory VI, and Sylvester III.


All of them in Rome. You have Benedict, who was a dissolute young man, layman, very violent, and with a lot of pull and a lot of hoo-hahs around him, who make him pope. And he is, where is he? Let's see. He's in the Lateran palace at this time. So he's pope of the Lateran. Across the city, you have Gregory VI, who's a respected old man. Peter Damian just loved him and was very happy when another group elected him pope at this time, despite Benedict IX being proclaimed pope by this other group. And they installed him at, I think it was Maria Maggiore. Yes. And this fellow was an archpriest of the city. He wasn't just a young violent bloke like this other one. This is an old revered archpriest,


whom it turns out, down the line, unfortunately, paid his way into this election. He listened to a relative who urged it on him, and it seems true that he actually, and unfortunately for Peter Damian, Peter Damian is the arch foe of Simony. Peter Damian sends a congratulatory letter to Gregory VI at Santa Maria Maggiore. He says, wonderful, wonderful that you're pope. And then later it comes out that he bought his way into the office. So you have two anti-popes, and then you have Sylvester III. And Sylvester III is elected by yet another faction, the Crescenti family, who install him at the Vatican, or what would be the Vatican at this time, and St. Peter's. And so you have three anti-popes, we call them that. There are three popes at the same time, all in Rome. This is just an example, by the way. This happens more than once during these centuries. And the only way they get out of this mess is to make yet a fourth pope.


And the one who does it is the emperor. The emperor says, enough of this crap. And he proclaims one of his consorts, who takes the name Clement II, who ends up being a fine pope. Short life, but fine. And that emperor names four popes in a row. Including poor Damases II, who is also close to the emperor, but only lived 23 days of his papacy and then died. Right away we think, well, he was obviously poisoned because so many of them were, but that was mainly a little later. And it seems that he died of malaria, actually, not through any misdeed among the nobility or within the ranks of the clergy. Okay, just as an example of the kind of mess that they had to deal with.


If you read the letters of the saints, or the church fathers at this time, there weren't yet any church mothers reigning until Hildegard comes on the scene. They're constantly, you know, declaiming these things that are going on and screaming about this pope or that bishop and whatnot. Well, many of them were indeed anti-popes or supporters of the anti-popes. So you have a church that's badly in need of reform, certainly in need of some kind of centralized authority and a machine set up so that you can ensure succession. Now, we're on the church, you know, and the state holds true, too. Certainly you need to set up something that ensures succession, validity, and a sort of how-to go about things. It's not all dark at this time. The one shining area within the church is monasticism. Monastic reforms are a dime a dozen these days, and they're all good. Certainly you're familiar with the Cluniac Reform, which is going on at this time.


And Cluny, at its height, had 1189 monasteries within its Reformation. Not all, a peak of reform, but that many within its orb, following at least, you know, a major part of the reform. Two of our own houses of our history that come into play here are St. Polinarium Classe, just outside Ravenna, where Romuald first became a monk, and Couchat in southern France, where Romuald gathered around himself a small group of solitaries after he fled Venice. After they fled Venice, and lived a monastic life in the forest on the mountain just outside the monastery, and there became invested or imbued with being a spiritual master for others.


But Cluny wasn't the only authority. Peter Damian, later on, was actually sent to Cluny as a cardinal. It was one of his main missions. He had a number of them. To settle a dispute between Cluny and the local bishop, who wanted power over Cluny. Well, he thought Cluny was immense power within the church, and the local bishop thought he wanted some of that. He wanted some of that control. And so Peter Damian was sent by the Pope to Cluny to be a trouble shooter. And he also, as we'll see later, he was sent to Milan, the same formula. There was another good monastic reform going on in Lorraine, both in southern Lorraine and northern Lorraine. In the northern part of Lorraine, Gore's Abbey. And in the southern part, Royne.


There's a new book coming out, it's already over a year past its due publication date, by Oxford, and I've already pre-ordered a copy, on this Gore's reform. Which would be very interesting, because it's time of our own beginnings, and there's going to be some overlap. On its own, it should be good for our library anyway. But it'll be interesting to see some of the times that it makes. Einstein, down in Switzerland, was also a seat of reform at this time. And then shortly, there was the Waldian reform, the Abbey of Anita reform, which is Waldian also, but I wanted to mention it specifically. And the Valambrosio reform of Valberti. All of these wonderful monastic reforms within a church that is badly in need itself of reform.


And, when the time comes for that need for reformation to be answered, it's going to take place within what is called Gregorian or Hildebrandine reform. Only because Gregory VII's name before he was Pope was Hildebrand. Very powerful man within the church for decades prior to his elevation to the papacy. Why did I bring that up? Oh, this Gregorian reform that's set up for the church, answering the questions, how do we elect a pope? How do we effect reform within the church? How do we make people listen? How do we rein in, renegade clerics?


How do we prevent this from happening, more than one pope? All of that. He based on the monastic reforms that were in effect. And so basically, what we have happen at this time in the church history is that the church is reformed, quote unquote, monastically. That is, the reforms that are going to take place during this time are based on the things that worked on the monastic scale within the monastic reforms. Lay investiture, I just want to say a little bit about this. Lay investiture, do you remember what lay investiture is? Anyone? Well, just think of it, of the investiture.


Lay investiture. What's going on there? There's something that's not right. Who's being invested? No, it's common people, in this case kings, rulers, who are naming and consecrating. The bishops, and it's a real problem that will come into play here. Not only on the papal plateau, but also local kings and rulers who are naming bishops to seize. And without recourse, I mean, that's just the way it is. King names this, that fellows the bishop. Lay investiture goes a little bit beyond that, in fact. Lay investiture is not just something precariously tossed into the mix here.


There's a basis for this. The basis for the king having this kind of power, because during this time, and for centuries prior to, and certainly afterwards, the king is looked upon as being also the vicar of Christ for the people, literally. And so who else, who already has power over everything else, why wouldn't he have that kind of power, to name the bishop? Power over the church as well. They were called vicars of Christ, just like the phrase that describes the pope nowadays. And the kings were over-bishops. But, of course, reformers within the church are asking themselves the question, how can we stabilize and centralize and stabilize the papacy,


and then, by way of extension, bishoprics and local church power, without having the church become just another department within the imperial, without just another political branch, without becoming another political branch. And that's where this comes in. This is when Gregory's reform really takes root and starts through a series of local synods. He just sends out PACs, teams, mission teams, who hold local synods for any given area and effect down-to-earth reforms for whatever's going on in that territory. Gregory makes decrees from his own increasingly more centralized power within a church that is coming to him and supporting him.


So a lot of the stuff that I was talking about prior to this, family factions and all the hoo-ha business, despite all of that, people are leaving that and coming to the center, coming to Gregory VII and supporting him to get something stabilized and get the church under wraps and get a lot of the needed reforms accomplished. And so that's how he did it. And he really managed to reestablish papal supremacy. This whole business of lay investiture, and that's why I have this here, Rene, one of the first things you mentioned, because the Concordat of Worms in 1122, it finally comes to a head. And it effected the final compromise between the temporal and the religious spheres of power on this scale.


Okay, any questions on that before I go into the heresies of the day? What we're looking at is just sort of getting a general feel for this time in which our own reformers come into being as well as some others. Okay, the two biggies at this time are Simony and Nicolaitism, or you can also see it referred to as Nicolaitanism, usually it's Nicolaitism. If you remember, basically the two problems heretically at this time are paying for church power, paying for church power, or having sexual problems. This Nicolaitism is all sexual stuff, all clumped together and called Nicolaitism.


If you remember that, money and sex, then you've got the two of them. And it probably holds today, too, as well. If you think about it, money and sex runs the world. Simony, you know, is already in effect before our people come up, before Romuild and Peter Damian, both of whom become leading foes against Simony. Long before they came on the scene, this was already going on. But they became, along with John Valverti, loudmouths, outspoken opponents to the general practice at the time. That was the scandal of it. This just isn't the exceptional thing. The general, the majority of people at certain periods during this time,


from the Pope on down, are Simonyan. For instance, I mentioned that Gregory VI was Simonyan. He bought his way in, because he was an anti-Pope. Just think of all the ones they haven't found out about. I mean, a lot of money was passed under the table, under the throne, you know. And that no one knew about. It was just sort of a, you know, I mean, that's just the way the world went, the religious world as well. John Valverti really proclaimed himself anti-Simoniacal, right at San Miniato, in Florence. Well, they kicked him out, and he shook the dust off his feet and said, enough of this crap, because the bishop himself, or excuse me, the abbot himself, was Simoniacal, right there at San Miniato.


As well as the bishop, actually, in Florence at the time. So he got in trouble with all of Florence. And he beat feet on it there. Just an example. Here's the type of legislation enacted by the popes during this period. This is legislation from Pope Leo IX. Great Pope is one of those, the third one appointed by the emperor to end this kind of stuff. Quote, 1059. No cleric or priest shall receive a church from laymen in any fashion, whether freely or at a price. No one shall receive the habit of a monk in the hope or with the promise of becoming an abbot. No priest shall hold two churches at the same time for the money. No one shall be ordained or promoted to any ecclesiastical office


by simoniacal heresy. So remember, it's not just a no-no. It's actual heresy. And the scandal of this time is that it's been heresy, and they're still doing it. The majority of people are doing it. The majority of the church at times here are either heretical themselves or under powers who are heretical. Everybody's looking for kickbacks, and you end up with a lot of, not necessarily bishops, but a lot of parish priests who are ordained. They bought their way, or their fathers bought their way into that office, or the fathers bought for them that office. Sometimes it's dynastic. You have father to son to father to son, because they're all married and having children. You end up with this whole group of,


and this just drives Peter Damian crazy, who can't even write or read, do not know Latin, can't even do the Latin of the mass, and yet pretend for the money, for the benefits. And it just goes on and on as if, what's the problem, you know, this is the way things are done. Well, anyway, it's not a good thing. The two main foes of simony who work with the popes to do away with it are Peter Damian and Humbert, both cardinals at the time, Cardinal Peter Damian and Cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida, both of whom are outspoken foes of simony who have written tracts against simony.


Peter Damian himself was, again, a troubleshooter, not just on the monastic scene, to me, but also the pope's troubleshooter. He sends them into cities that have gone, I mean, it's obviously simoniacal, and everyone has done it, and everyone's standing there guilty of the heresy, and all the miters are heretical, and the whole business. Peter Damian gets sent in there to clean up these messes, a lot of them. For instance, to Milan. He was sent to Milan, and he knew that when he was going to Milan that he would have to rein in some very, very powerful people who had bought their ways into church office, and he knew he had to be the bad guy. He had to come in and clean up the mess. He was horrified when he got to Milan,


saw the evidence of what had happened, what had been going on, listened to people who were in the know, and discovered that everyone in Milan, the whole thing, the whole city in its environment, all the clerics, every one of them were simoniacal, and he had to pit himself against every single person invested with ecclesiastical power, many of whom, granted, wanted to rectify things, wanted to get out from under, even if it was secret, a secretly heretical standing. But that's the kind of thing he had to deal with, and the archbishop was obviously to everyone flagrantly simoniacal, and not only for the ecclesiastical power, but for the money. Nicolaitism, this word,


refers to, it gets its name from Revelation chapter 2, where it refers to the advocates of returning to pagan worship in the book of Revelation. There are, if you go just down the line a couple centuries, there are other people who will say, well, actually, it's referring to Nicholas of Alexandria. Scholars tend to say that even if you would go by that, the word still comes from the use in Revelation 2, and they highly doubt whether this Nicholas of Alexandria even existed in the 3rd century. Anyway, we've got the word, and so what it refers to is any kind of sexual aberration going on in the clergy during the Middle Ages, and it's during the Middle Ages that this term becomes vogue.


And so I already mentioned one part of Nicolaitism, during the 11th century, and that is you have all these priests who are indeed married, and if they aren't married legally, they're living with concubines. They have their mistresses, often living right there in the rectory with them, what can be called a rectory. You have gay priests who have formed their own little communities of two and three for sexual purposes. So you have everybody getting it one way or another, if they can. And this shouldn't be surprising to us knowing the situation,


that many of these people are just laymen who have either had the office forced on them by a father who wanted to place all of his sons and get them all set up, and who don't want to be priests to begin with, or people who have bought the office themselves, again, just for the power, just for the financial stability that it gives. And so you get all these people, why should they worry about whether they have a mistress or not, given the circumstances of their state of being to begin with? And so this too is widespread. Not universal, but widespread. And Peter Damian just rails and rails against this sort of thing, much of which is right around him, local priests around him. And in some ways he rails even more


about the absolute ignorance of the clergy in this day. Again, because many of them don't know how to read or write, they just had this office given them by family, or they paid their own way into it. Again, Pope Leo IX, 1059, legislation. Imagine having to legislate this. No one shall hear the Mass of a priest who he knows for certain keeps a concubine or has a woman living with him. So what does this do? You have the Pope saying, you can't even go to a Mass. You can't even acknowledge that this person is really a priest. Well, you have all these people holding these offices, and you have the Pope saying, this is the only way we're going to stamp this out, is that people have to pull away from this, pull away from the heresy, or having anything to do with it,


so that we can begin anew from the grass up. As we, if you look into the life of Peter Damian especially, but also Ronald, you're going to see them closely aligned with these popes, especially Peter Damian, who has among his supporters some of these popes, popes who use him over and over and over again as their troubleshooter. And many of these people are written to by Peter Damian, either because they should be doing something


or because they did something which pleased Peter Damian, or he's encouraging to them as the power on the throne to effect certain changes here and there specified. Peter Damian in many ways spent his entire life doing this sort of thing. Certainly a fellow with a lot of passion. One of these lectures I'll be devoting to Peter Damian himself. This is for you, so you know where we're going, this topical index or outline. But I just want to mention now that this man, this incredible energy that he gave to church reform and monastic reform, and did so much. But he must have been an incredible bugbear to live with.


Although there's evidence again that he was just revered by his fellow monks, but maybe he was on the road enough months at a time that that could be. Because I don't know what it would be like to be living with or under a prior like Peter Damian who doesn't just scream at the outside, but he's constantly the perfectionist. Why don't we not address this? I'm done with today's lectures as such. I'm just curious how the church theologically justifies the litany of succession when you have such a footless, animal, cheesy focus of issues. Well, you mean how they finally got one?


Well, I know how they talk about historically, but he really puts it out into the whole concept of epistolic succession. See, this doesn't come into play until here. This is all along, you have all these problems going on, and until this reform comes down and says, look, we've got to address this, brings the church together, they decide on the College of Cardinals as such is going to do the election and ensure the succession from here on. Until then, you didn't have that. And now? Are they validly ordained, though? Who? Oh, yeah, this was an archpriest of Rome. Good guy. Also the valid episcopal ordination? Yeah, but this fellow wasn't. This fellow was a layman, and then suddenly had everything,


but it was for money. This fellow, unfortunately, well, one could question whether it was a valid episcopal ordination because he evidently ended up paying his way under the table as an old archpriest in Rome. And this one was a good person, too. This one already was a bishop. Down the road, though, we're going to have even worse situations. Just think of when you have the Avignon papacy going on, and then they get as many again as three archipopes, and all with their College of Cardinals. I mean, all each flocked around themselves, their whole entourage. And you have, in some cases, saints on either side and people rallying around, and it becomes a real mess. So this doesn't end the mess, but at least it,


whether history listens to it or not, at least it sets up the apparatus whereby the church can be assured the papal succession. Unfortunately, later on, you get not only bishops and people, the local people, who imprison the electors until they get their way and their candidate, you also have occasions where you have rulers, lay rulers, doing the same. Now, you elect this one, or you're not coming out. I guess it really blurs the models. It's hard to have a mechanic model when you have such scandals like this. I mean, see what happened a couple of years ago in Korea, this whole thing came to a head, where these sort of mafiosos like Koreans came to bad way with the government


about 20 years ago. And so they all dove into Buddhist monasteries there. And then 20 years later, they come into power positions, and you have these warring Buddhist monasteries, and they have those sort of street battles a couple of years ago, and they're pouring chamber pots off the walls on each other's heads, and one monastery was attacking another, and stuff was really going on. You know, it's a different way. It's more theological. Well, theological. But I mean, this is real stimulus for questions like that. Oh, and it's going to be an ongoing... Right. We do have a line that we can point to,


put these in brackets and point to him, you know. And this really does only cover a couple of years. In fact, this guy comes back to the throne three times. One time kicks this one out of the city, depending on which family has more arms at the time. But I know what you're saying, yeah. Well, and even within the succession, there are a number of them who are poisoned, a number of them who are absolutely dissolute down a couple centuries down the line, you know. It's not a shiny facet of our church. And yet, if we want to get into theological justification, the church is the people. And, you know, you do have the ruling faction and that whole business about power and how to take care of it and everything. But really, theologically, the church is the people


gathered around the altar and the cross of Christ. And so, you know, that's where we have to take refuge anyway, because all of this, not that, all of this is going to come back again and again and again in the history of the church. Even into the 15th, 16th, 17th hundreds, you have some real questionable things going on on the papal scene. Okay? All right, so next time, then, we'll actually talk about Romuild, Romuild of Ravenna. And that's the day, the morning after I get back, Wednesday the 16th, we'll have class, because Thursday is the rec day. Okay? Jazz. Boom, boom.