While Jesus Christ was alive
Jesus went from town to town, preaching and healing. A group of believers went with him. They were called the disciples of Jesus. There were twelve main disciples. Jesus, accompanied by his 12 chosen disciples, travelled to neighbouring towns and villages, proclaiming the advent of the kingdom of God. He also healed the sick and infirm who asked help from him by divine power. Jesus' popularity increased rapidly, especially among social outcasts and the oppressed.
After the death of Jesus
After the death of Jesus, his followers began to spread his teachings. They called themselves followers of 'The Way' . Later on, people called them Christians because they worshipped Christ as the Son of God. Their faith was called Christianity. The Romans did not like the Christian faith and, there fore, they killed many Christians. Saul was a persecutor of Christians. One day, he was blinded by a strong light and he talked to Jesus. Later he recovered his sight and changed his name to Paul. He became the greatest of the Christian missionaries preaching to non-Jews. Paul travelled to many towns and villages in the eastern Mediterranean and Greece . All the time, he told the people about Christianity. As a result, many people became Christians. Paul wrote many letters to the churches he visited to give advice. These letters made up the main part of the New Testament. Paul died as a result of persecution by Emperor Nero.
The Persecution of the Christians
them were sent to amphitheatres where tigers and lions killed In the second and third centuries AD, Christians had a hard life in Rome. Many of them were slaves. Some Romans thought that they were bad men because they had a different religion and met secretly. Christians did not worship the Roman emperor. They did not take part in festivals during which people had to worship the Roman emperor. They said that they could worship only the Christian God. When there was trouble in Rome, the Romans often blamed the Christians. In the year 64, there was a great fire in Rome. Some people said that Emperor Nero started it himself but blamed the Christians. For many years, Christians were persecuted in Rome. Many of them in shows for the public. Some Christians were nailed to crosses or burnt alive. The persecution of Christians did not stop until Emperor Constantine became a Christian.
Spread under Emperor Constantine
In 312, Constantine was the Emperor of the Western Roman Empire. He had a dream while sleeping before an important battle. In the dream, Constantine was promised victory if he fought under the sign of a cross. Constantine told his soldiers to paint a cross on their shields. He then led his army into battle and won. After this victory, Emperor Constantine allowed Christians to worship in peace. Constantine had a meeting with the Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire. The two emperors agreed to let Christians live peacefully. After Constantine's reign, Christianity continued to be a legal religion in the Roman Empire. Many emperors supported Christianity and helped it to spread. In 380, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire stretched along the Mediterranean coast and up to England. Christianity spread quickly as the missionaries had good roads to travel and there was peace in the entire Roman Empire.
Spread under Charlemagne
"Charlemagne" means "Charles the Great". Charlemagne became the ruler of the Franks in 771. He was a great military leader. He expanded his empire until it included most of western Europe. Charlemagne was a Christian. His conquests helped to spread Christianity in many ways. There were Christian priests with Charlemagne's armies. When Charlemagne conquered a town or country, the priests converted the people to Christianity. However, Charlemagne was rather cruel to the Saxons in Germany. When his soldiers captured the Saxons, they told the Saxons that they would be killed if they did not become Christians. As a result, many Saxons were converted to Christianity by force. Charlemagne wanted to see the church work properly and his empire administered carefully. He, therefore, encouraged an education system based in the monasteries. Monks were teachers of arithmetic, grammar and singing. They also taught about Christian church. Throughout his reign, Charlemagne cooperated with the church and gave it more power. Pope Leo III wanted Charlemagne to protect the church and its lands. In 800, Pope Leo crowned Charlemagne as Emperor of the Romans. Later on, people called this empire the Holy Roman Empire.
Development of the Christian Church
When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in 380, the Church developed quickly. When Christianity spread to the Roman Empire in the 1st century, the Church sent missionaries to many places to spread the gospel (good news about Christ). It looked after the poor and the sick. Gradually, a church organization called the Roman Catholic Church developed in the Roman Empire and Rome became its centre. The word "Catholic" means "universal" or "in all countries". The Christian Church was called the Roman Catholic Church because its centre was in Rome, but there were Christians in many countries. In each village church there was a parish priest. Several parishes formed a diocese. A bishop was in charge of each diocese. An archbishop was in charge of a large area with several dioceses and bishops. Gradually the Bishop of Rome became the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. He was called the Pope, meaning "the father of the Church". The Roman Catholic Church became more and more important in Europe. The laws of the Roman Empire were abolished when barbarians conquered Rome in 476. The Roman Catholic Church used its own laws known as "Canon Law". The law courts of the Church had great power. They could deal with anybody who did not obey the Church. These courts also tried all cases concerning marriage, wills and contracts made under oath. Ordinary people had to obey the king's law s well as the laws of the Church. Bishops and priests could not be punished by the laws of a king. They were punished only under Church law. The Church was the greatest landowner in Europe. Sometimes rulers gave land to the Church. Sometimes rich people left land to the Church when they died. The Church also had its own system of taxation. Ordinary people had to give the Church a tenth of their crops of income. Therefore, the Church became very rich. Thousands of new churches were built throughout Europe. They were the finest buildings of that time. Many of them are still used today. In the Middle Ages, very few people could read and write. Even some kings could not read or write. Bishops, because of their education, became advisers to rulers. They could influence the ruler's policies. Sometimes, they ruled a country while the king enjoyed himself. During that period, there were many monasteries in Europe. Monks studied hard and made handwritten copies of books. It was the Roman Catholic Church which kept education alive. The Church helped to start universities. When young men went to university, they studied to become a priest. For a long time, this was almost the only job for education people.
Life of Religious People
People went to church regularly and they had to obey the laws of the Roman Catholic Church. Every Christian had to give a tenth of his crops to the parish priest. The priest had a grain story. He could help peasants when they had no food. Monks were men who lived in a monastery under religious vow. Nuns were religious women who lived in a convent. Monks and nuns took three vows: obedience to the Church; poverty - they promised to own nothing; chastity - they promised never to marry. Monastic life was started by St. Benedict in the 6th century. He set up some strict rules for life in a monastery. He and his followers were called Benedictines. They wore black robes, so people called them the "Black Monks". The Benedictines were known to be keen learners. Most of them were scholars and they copied religious books. There were many other kinds of monks. They belonged to different orders. For example, there were Cistercians and Carthusians. The Cistercians wore white robes, so people called them the "White Monks" . Most of them were farmers. The Carthusians helped the sick and the poor. They also copied religious books. Friars were men who belonged to a religious order. They travelled from one place to another, preaching Christianity. They owned nothing and had no fixed home. The term "monk" is different from "friar" because monks lived permanently with one group or in a monastery, and aimed at isolating themselves from the world. The friars wanted to sere people. They did not want personal possessions, so that they might have more time and energy to do missionary work or other charitable work. There were many kinds of friars. Franciscans and Dominicans were the two main kinds of friars. In 1209, St. Francis of Assisi started the Franciscan religious order in Italy. St. Francis and his followers wore grey robes, so they were called "Grey Friars" . They walked through hills and villages of Tuscany. They helped the sick and old people. They worked with peasants to bring in the harvest, and showed them how to pray to God and be good Christians. In the 13th century, St. Dominic started a religious order in France called the Dominicans. These men wore a black robe and were called the "Black Friars". They started their work in 1216. Many of them were scholars and taught in universities. They also travelled throughout Europe, teaching people about Christianity. Another group of friars was called the Augustinians. Augustinians preached in Europe and other countries. Many Augustinian friars were missionaries in the New World after the 16th century. Monks had to work in the monastery and outside. They helped in the kitchens or copied religious books by hand. After the fall of Tome in 476, monasteries were the only centres of learning and knowledge in many parts of Europe. The monks could read Latin, and some of them could read Greek. Monks grew corn to make bread. They grew their own vegetables. Some monasteries had many sheep. The monks sold most of the wool and gradually the monasteries became rich. Sometimes, a noble or rich man gave land to a monastery.
Europe during the Middle Ages was called Christendom. "Christendom" is "all the Christian people and countries in the world" . At that time, Europe was divided into many kingdoms, but all Christians belonged to the Roman Catholic Church. All priests understood Latin, the Language used by the Church. Thus, religions gave the Christians a feeling of unity.
Eastern Orthodox Church
When Emperor Constantine ruled the Roman Empire, he lived in Constantinople in the eastern part of the Empire. When the Roman Empire was divided into two parts, the Christian Church was also divided into two parts. Rome was the centre of the western part. Constantinople was the centre of the eastern part. The Pope in Rome was the head of both parts of the Church. After the Western Roman Empire ended, the Church in Constantinople gradually became separated from the Church in Rome. There were quarrels between the two parts of the Christian Church between the 9th and 11th centuries. Finally in 1054, the Church in the eastern part separated from the Church in Rome and called itself the Eastern Orthodox Church. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the Popes in Rome attempted to unite the two Christian Churches, but failed. Today the Eastern Orthodox Churches are the major churches in Greece, Russia, eastern Europe and western Asia.
The Crusades were military expeditions sent by the Christians between the 11th and the 14th centuries to recapture the Holy Land from the Muslims. The word crusade comes from the Latin word 'crux' meaning 'cross'. The cross is the symbol of Christianity. The European soldiers who went on the crusades were called crusaders. They had a large red cross on their clothes and shields. It meant that they were Christians carrying the cross.
In 637, the Arabs captured Jerusalem in Palestine, but they allowed Christian pilgrims to continue visiting the Holy Land. In the 11th century the Turks conquered large parts of the Arab Empire. In 1087, the Turks conquered Palestine and captured Jerusalem. They refused to et Christian pilgrims visit the Holy Land. christians who entered Palestine were killed. Pope Urban II wanted to make it safe for all Christian pilgrims to visit the Holy Land. He wanted Christians to recapture Palestine. In 1095, the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I asked the Pope for help in fighting the Turks who were threatening to conquer Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. The Pope then asked the leaders of Christian countries to stop fighting among themselves, and to unite and fight against the Turks. The Pope thought that by helping Emperor Alexius I he could bring the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church together.
There were total four formal
Crusades led by nobles, princes and kings and other Crusades like the Children's
Crusades and the Peasant Crusade. However, except the First Crusade, all
Crusades failed. The main aim to free the Holy Land was not achieved. Some
crusaders had selfish interests. Some hoped to win land and wealth. Some
merchants joined in to search for new markets. Moreover, the Crusades were
lack of good leaders. At the same time, Christians and Muslims became more
unfriendly to one another.
|to recapture the Holy Land||princes and nobles||It was a successful crusade. They captured Jerusalem and regained most of the Holy Land. Muslims were defeated.|
|to regain Edessa lost to the Turks||princes and nobles||It failed. The crusaders were defeated by the Muslims and they could not get back the Holy Land.|
"Crusade of Kings"
|to recapture Jerusalem which was captured by the Muslim leader, Saladin in 1187||Philip
Richard I (England)
Frederick I (Holy Roman Empire)
|It failed. Frederick I died on the way to Jerusalem. Philip II had quarrels with Richard I and he withdrew the wars in the excuse of illness. Although the Christians were not able to get the Holy Land back, it was not a total failure. Richard I made an agreement with the Muslim leader, Saladin, to allow Christians to visit Jerusalem safely.|
|to regain Jerusalem||Stephen
(a shepherd boy)
children led by Stephen were sold to the Muslims in Egypt as slaves.
Many of the children led by Nicolas died on the way. Both failed.
During the 16th century, some men protested against the Roman Catholic Church. They were later called Protestants. They broke away from the Catholic Church and formed the Protestant Church. This period is called the Reformation. During this period, the Roman Catholic Church also reformed itself. The Reformation also led to wars between Catholic and Protestant countries.
Causes of the Reformation
By 1500, the Roman catholic Church had become a very large, rich and powerful organization. The Church was the largest landowner in Europe. It controlled many different religious orders and thousands of priests, monks and nuns. However, there were many wrong things in the Church. Many monks were not educated and did not understand ,much about their religion. They did not know Lain - the language of the Church. Many of them did not keep their vows of poverty and chastity. Another thing wrong was that rich men bought important positions in the Church. When they took office, they charged high fees from the people for services. They wanted to make money. Churchmen also sold indulgences. These were documents which Christians could buy from Church officials. If one bought an indulgence one would not be punished from one's sins. Before the Reformation, reformers were already attacking the Church. In the 14th century, John Wycliffe, a professor of Oxford University in England criticized the Pope's control over the church. He said that the Catholic Church did not follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. He translated the Bible from Latin to English so that the ordinary people could also understand it. In Bohemia, John Huss criticized the Church and said that the Church was too rich and the priests too powerful. In 1415, he was burnt to death for this criticism. The Renaissance had changed people's attitude towards the Church. Consequently, people began to question the ideas and beliefs of the Church. They felt that the Church was putting too much emphasis on unimportant ceremonies, and neglected the problems of life. The famous writer, Erasmus, wrote a book called 'In Praise of Folly'. He pointed out the need for an improvement in the lives of the clergymen.
Several rulers opposed the authority of the Pope. Philip IV of France forced the Pope to leave Rome and live in Avignon in southern France. This was called the Babylonian Captivity. Then in 1378 the Great Schism spit the Papacy. Italian cardinals elected an Italian Pope who lived in Rome. French cardinals chose a Frenchman in Avignon. Finally the cardinals, who did not like either of these Popes, elected another Pope. Then all three became rivals. The troubles ended with the election of a new Pope in 1417. By that time, the long conflict had greatly destroyed the fame of the Pope. The Pope had neglected his spiritual leadership and his authority was weakened.
Changes outside the Church tended to decrease the Church's authority. One of these changes was nationalism (strong devotion to one's own nation). Kings with their rising nations did not want to listen to the Pope. Nor did the people welcome the rules and commands of foreign churchmen. Some people thought that they should have a national church, controlled by their own country. They treated the Pope as a foreign priest. As the Church was the largest landowner in Europe. Kings needed the land of the Church because they wanted to tax it and used this money for armies and navies. The kings wanted to take away the Church land and the Protestant Revolution gave them the chance to do this. People outside the Italian states were not happy about taxes charged by the Pope. All the taxes they paid were sent to Rome. Every Christian had to pay 10% of his income to the Church. The people wanted the money to stay in their own country for its poor people. They did not want to spend the money on luxuries for the Pope. By 1500, there were many criticisms of the Catholic Church. Thus, there was a lot of support given to a man who opposed the Catholic Church early in the 16th century. The name of this man was Martin Luther.
The Protestant Church
Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a highly educated Augustinian monk in Germany. He taught students about the Bible at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. In 1517, a man called Tetzel came to Wittenberg to sell indulgences. Tetzel said that money paid to him would be used to rebuild the church of St. Peter in Rome. In fact, however, half of the money was used to pay the debts of Albert, who became archbishop of Mainz at the age of 24. Albert had borrowed a lot of money from bankers, so he sent Tetzel to sell indulgences to get him some money. Martin Luther thought that it was wrong to sell indulgences in this way. In October, 1517, he wrote out a list of 95 objections to the sale of indulgences by Tetzel. He also criticized Albert. Luther fastened his list to a church door in Wittenberg so that everybody could see his objections. Some people supported Luther but others said that he was wrong. There were arguments for several years. Luther also disagreed with some opinions of Catholic scholars. In 1520, Luther's writings were burnt at Rome. In 1521, the Pope excommunicated Luther. This meant that Luther was no longer a member of the Catholic Church. In the same year, Luther was declared an outlaw. Luther was supported by some German princes. He hid in the castle of the Elector of Saxony. While he was hiding, Luther translated the Bible from Latin into German, so that the German people were able to read it themselves. Then many people followed Luther's ideas. They were called 'Protestants' because they protested against the Pope's teachings. Luther's ideas were printed on the new printing press. They spread quickly. Catholics continued to attack Luther in their writings. They planned to hold a great meeting at Trent, In Italy, to make improvements in the Catholic Church. Luther believed that Christians should follow the example set by Jesus Christ. Like Wycliffe, he believed that people should read the Bible themselves. He died in 1546, but he had started a reform movement which affected the lives of people in many countries.
John Calvin became one of the leaders of the Protestant movement. He was a Frenchman and at first intended to enter the Catholic Church as a priest. However, he became a Protestant some time between 1528 and 1534. Calvin was invited to go to Geneva in southern Switzerland, where he became a pastor in the Protestant Church. Calvin wanted to introduce Christianity into the daily life of the people of Geneva. The people had to follow strict laws and were punished if they disobeyed them. They were not allowed to drink alcohol, gamble, play games, dance or wear fine clothes. Children who disobeyed their parents were beaten. Calvin encouraged trade in Geneva. He set up an academy and improved education. He made the people build a good system of drains to keep the city clean. Later on, other Protestants followed some of Calvin's methods and ideas. His ideas are known as Calvinism.
Henry VIII, king of England, did not agree with the ideas of Martin Luther, but he quarrelled with the Roman Catholic Church for reasons which were not religious. In 1527, Henry VIII wanted to dissolve his marriage to his wife, Catherine, for two reasons. Although she had many babies, most of them died at birth. He had no son. Secondly, he was in love with Anne Boleyn and wanted to marry her and make her the queen. At first, Henry thought that he could get an annulment easily. He tried to get an annulment for several years. But the Pope under pressure from Catherine's supporters and family, refused to give it to Henry. When he failed, he persuaded the English Parliament to pass laws (in 1533 and 1534) which made the English ruler the supreme head of the Church of England. Henry remained a Catholic, but did not recognize the authority of the Pope in Canterbury, who declared that Catherine was not Henry's lawful wife. Henry married Anne Boleyn in 1533, but had her executed in 1536. The Pope excommunicated Henry in 1535. Henry then closed down all the monasteries in England between 1536 and 1540. He took their lands and money. He gave or sold some land to his nobles, so that they could support him. He did not want to return the land to the monasteries later on. Henry died in 1547. As the new king, Edward VI, was only a boy, a Protestant uncle became the regent. Protestantism spread. When Edward VI died in 1553, Mary I became queen. She was a Catholic. Mary had a hard life while Henry VIII and Edward VI were alive. She made England Catholic again. About 300 people, including Archbishop Cranmer, were burnt alive for opposing the Catholic religion. This caused much trouble in England. Mary died in 1558. Her sister Elizabeth I became queen and ruled until 1603. During the long reign of Elizabeth I, England became a Protestant country. The Pope excommunicated Elizabeth in 1570. Spain attempted to invade England in 1588, but was badly defeated. There were plots by Catholics to kill Elizabeth. These events made Elizabeth I increasingly anti-Catholic. She set up a moderate Protestant church in England. The Church of England had its own prayer book in which words were used to satisfy both the Catholics and the Protestants. After Elizabeth I, most rulers of England were Protestants.
The Catholic Reformation
In 1414-1418, a General Council of the Roman Catholic Church met at Constance in Germany. One of the main aims of the Council was to make reforms in the Church. The Council condemned many of Wycliffe's views, but it failed to make important reforms. In this way, it helped to bring about the Protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther. In 1545-1563, the Council of Trent met to try to stop the Reformation. The Catholic Church acted in many ways to get people back to Catholicism. These actions were part of the Catholic Reformation (also called Counter-Reformation). The Catholic Reformation had two aims. The first aim was make reforms to stop abuses in the Catholic church. The second was to stop the spread of Protestantism. The council decided to forbid the clergy from becoming involved in non-religious affairs. They could not give away to their friends or relatives money belonging to the church. The Council of Trent prepared a list of books Catholics were forbidden to read. The Inquisition which was started by Philip II of Spain in the Netherlands was revived. This was a series of courts which could put people to death or sentence them to prison. These courts killed thousands of Protestants.
The Society of Jesus
Many Catholic bodies were organized to make Catholic influence strong again. One of the outstanding bodies was the Society of Jesus. Ignatius Loyola was the founder of the society of Jesus, which helped to reform the Catholic Church and convert many people to Christianity. Ignatius was a brave Spanish knight. His legs were injured in a battle and he had to rest for a long time. He read about the life of Christ and the saints. He decided to change his life and serve Christ. In 1537, Ignatius and his friends became priests. In 1540, Pope Paul III approved of the new Society of Jesus. Ignatius was elected its leader. Members of the Society were know as Jesuits. They were highly educated. Their training was long and hard. They went from Europe to Africa, India, China and Japan to preach Christianity. The Society set up many good schools. Many Jesuits became teachers in schools and universities. In modern times, members of the Society of Jesus are sometimes called the 'Soldiers of Christ'. They go out into the world to try to help people in many countries. They also try to convert people to the Roman Catholic religion.
The Reformation encouraged religious toleration and freedom. People were free to choose their own religion and began to respect different religious ideas.
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