The Great Schism

The Great Schism


The Great Schism was the significant event in Medieval History that split Europe into two halves, Eastern Europe and Western Europe. This giant split in Europe was in the making for awhile, as it was mostly caused by centuries of political and religious disagreements. Most of the religious disagreements originated from the two major Patriarchates; Constantinople in Eastern Europe and Rome in Western Europe. Some of the causes for the split where different liturgies, political differences and language barriers, as the East spoke Latin and the West spoke Greek. However, the major reason for the split had to do with the Pope’s authority.

In Europe, there were five Patriarchs who were bishops that held jurisdiction in Patriarchates. The city of Rome was the first Patriarchate that held the most influence out of the other Patriarchates because Rome’s patriarch was the Pope. Over time, Constantinople, one of the Christian Patriarchates, became grander than Rome and made claims that it was superior to Rome because of Constantinople’s political influence in Europe. Rome rebuked Constantinople by saying that Rome held more influence because the Apostle Peter, Prince of the Apostles, symbolically received the “Keys of Heaven” from Jesus and founded the first Christian Church in Rome. Whoever became Peter’s successor would symbolically receive the “Keys of Heaven” and the successors became known as the Popes. The Pope is the Patriarch of Rome, so Rome held the “Keys of Heaven”, which made them more influential.

Constantinople could not stand the fact that Rome, a city that had lost political power and significance over the centuries, was as influential over the other Patriarchates as it was. As a result, Constantinople began to despise the Pope’s authority because they were not being recognized for their political influence. Constantinople eventually started to ignore the Pope’s requests which started numerous events that would lead up to the split. The major event that caused the split was when Michael Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 1043-1058 AD, shut down all of the Christian Churches in the East that were practicing Western liturgies. In response, the Pope sent Roman representatives to the East to reason with Michael, but the men ended up excommunicating Michael. The men probably did not know the consequences of their actions, but when the men excommunicated Michael they indirectly excommunicated everyone in Eastern Europe. Constantinople was shocked by this and retaliated by convincing the Byzantine Emperor and the other Eastern Patriarchates to religiously/politically split with Rome.

Ultimately, the Great Schism was the result of political and religious disagreements between the Patriarchates of Rome and Constantinople. The split resulted in Europe being divided religiously/politically and is still evident today. In modern times, Eastern European Christian Churches are not obliged to obey the Pope’s will. Therefore, one can see different liturgies between the orthodox Christians and unorthodox Christian Churches. Relations between the East and West have improved over the centuries, as there is now calm between the East and West.


Zeus’ ethical behavior vs. Jesus’ ethical teachings

Zeus’ ethical behavior vs. Jesus’ ethical teachings


If one were compare at Zeus’ ethical behavior and Jesus’ ethical teachings, one would see that Zeus’ ethics contradicts Jesus’ ethics. Zeus, in Greek mythology, was a murderous rapist that thrived when he was at war with anything. He abused his power over everything that was beneath him because he derived pleasure from seeing his opponents suffer in agony. In Christian mythology Jesus was a loving being that wanted everyone to be morally ethical, so they could receive eternal life in the Kingdom of God.  Jesus eventually died to free the world from sin, so people could have a chance to find peace and prosperity. One can see the differences between Zeus’ and Jesus’ ethics by looking at some of their stories.

In Ovid’s depiction of Zeus in his book “Metamorphoses”, one would see the tale of Zeus (or Jove, his Roman name), and Io. Zeus raped Io when she refused to have sex with him and he lied to his wife when she confronted him about Io. This was not the first time, nor the last time, that Zeus raped/slept with a woman while married to his wife. If one were to look at Jesus’ teachings in “The Bible”, one would see that Jesus strongly opposed adultery. Being faithful to one’s wife was one of the Ten Commandments, the Ten rules that Christians are supposed to adhere. Jesus even taught people that by looking at a woman with lustful eyes, one had already committed adultery in one’s heart.

One legend of Zeus is the story of Prometheus and the fire. Prometheus stole fire from the gods of mount Olympus and gave it to the humans that were cold and blind from darkness. Zeus was furious at Prometheus for stealing the fire, so he gave Prometheus a punishment that would last for eternity. Zeus chained him to a rock and made an eagle visit Prometheus everyday to eat his liver; it would regenerate everyday because of his immortality. Zeus also created corrupt women for men as a punishment for obtaining the fire that Prometheus stole. Jesus taught that killing or hurting people that had wronged you was not the proper way to conduct oneself. Unlike Zeus who created immoral women to punish men for something that they did not commit Jesus honored men and women alike because he taught that everyone is equal under God.

One can find many instances where Zeus was being unethical or immoral to gods and humans alike. He was a despicable god that possessed selfish desires to only benefit himself and destroy anything that obscured his goals. Jesus was an ethically righteous being whose sole purpose for coming to earth was to rid the world of inequity and impurity. He fed thousands without food, healed many from deadly illnesses, taught moral behaviors to enlighten people and freed millions from the bondages of sin and guilt. If one were to weigh the deeds of each individual, one would find that Jesus was an ethical being while Zeus was a horrendous creature that could have used some of Jesus’ wisdom.

Reasons for the conflicts between the German Emperors and the Popes

Reasons for the conflicts between the German Emperors and the Popes


In the Medieval period, the conflicts between the German Emperors and the Popes started when the Church was electing a new Pope. After the election, Alexander III became the Pope, but some of the Cardinals claimed that Victor IV was the rightful Pope, even though he lost the election. To settle the matter, German Emperor Fredrik Barbarossa (r. 1155-1190 AD) called upon the two candidates to settle the matter in his royal court. Victor IV was present at Fredrik’s court, but Alexander refused to attend because the Papal document, the Gregorian Reform, stated that earthly rulers were not allowed to choose the rightful Pope. As a result, Fredrik declared that Victor IV was the rightful Pope, essentially making Victor IV an anti-Pope. While this created some conflict between Fredrik and Alexander, the conflict became exceedingly worse during Fredrik’s campaign in Italy.

Fredrik wanted to control Northern Italy for its wealth. However, the Northern Italian cities and Alexander did not want the Holy Roman Empire to control Northern Italy. In response to Fredrik’s impending invasion, Alexander and the Italian cities formed the Lombard League. The Lombard League managed to stop Fredrik’s conquest of Northern Italy. As punishment for defying the Pope, Alexander forced Fredrik to do penance for his crimes. Fredrik caused many conflicts with Alexander during his reign, but Fredrik’s son would initiate more conflicts against the Popes.

Fredrik II (r. 1220-1250AD) succeeded in becoming the German Emperor because he had promised Pope Innocent III many things for his support in the election. Once Fredrik became Emperor he forsook all of his promises to Innocent, so he excommunicated Fredrik. Fredrik ignored Innocent’s excommunication, so the next Pope, Gregory IX, excommunicated him again. Fredrik ignored Gregory’s excommunication, so Gregory was going to depose him as Emperor, but he died before he could depose him. The successor of Gregory was Pope Innocent IV, who managed to depose Fredrik as Emperor. In response, Fredrik was going to wage war against the Church, but he died in 1250 AD before he could obtain his revenge. These are the chronological events that led to the strenuous conflicts between the German Emperors and the Popes during the Medieval period.

Jesus vs. leaders of Israel in the Gospel of Mark

Jesus vs. leaders of Israel in the Gospel of Mark


In the Gospel of Mark, a book in the Christian Bible, Jesus was despised by the leaders of Israel because he was preaching a revolutionary religion called Christianity. The official religion in Israel at that time was Judaism and the leaders were becoming wary of Jesus’ growing influence throughout the land. The Israel leaders tried to prevent Jesus from preaching his doctrine, but it always resulted in Jesus becoming more renowned and in turn made the leaders more spiteful. Despite the leaders’ advances against Jesus, the doctrine spread rapidly across the region.

When Jesus started preaching his doctrine, the leaders became fearful that Jesus was attempting to undermine them and Judaism. Jesus was claiming that he was the son of God and to prove his claim, he performed miracles in the name of God. The miracles included; healing, exorcisms, feeding thousands with little food, etc. This was blasphemy in the leaders’ eyes because in Judaism there is only one God. These actions made the leaders detest Jesus because he only gained more followers with each miracle he performed.

One day, Jesus was healing a group of people on a day of rest in Jewish tradition called the Sabbath. A group of Jews that were watching Jesus healing people went to tell the leaders that Jesus was healing people on the Sabbath, which was illegal. The leaders had begun to sabotage Jesus’ doctrine by publicly criticizing Jesus for working (healing) on the Sabbath. They said that because God created the Sabbath, no work is to be done on that day, including healing. Jesus rebuked them, saying that the Sabbath was created for man, not vice versa. He also exclaimed to the people that the leaders would rather let people unnecessarily suffer for the leaders’ beliefs instead of relieving people from their suffering as soon as possible. This put the leaders in an unlikeable spotlight in the eyes of the people, so they stopped pressing their grievances.

Jesus and his disciples went to a Temple in Jerusalem and threw out the corrupt people inside of it. The leaders went to the Temple and asked Jesus, “By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?” Mark: 11:28. This was a trick question to undermine Jesus because if he said that his authority came from God, the leaders could arrest him for blasphemy and probably execute him. If Jesus said that his authority came from himself, he would lose credibility in the eyes of his followers. Jesus replied with, “I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.” Mark: 11:29.

When Jesus was baptized, the prophet John was a witness to God proclaiming that Jesus was his son, so John told people about God’s proclamation. If the leaders said that John’s baptism was from heaven, Jesus would have asked them, “Why did you not believe him”. The leaders dared not to say that John’s baptism was from men, for they feared the people’s reaction because they truly believed that John was a prophet. The leaders offered no answer, so Jesus did not answer and the leaders’ animosity toward Jesus only grew.

There are numerous reasons why the leaders quarreled with Jesus, but the main reason had to do with Jesus preaching a new doctrine and his claims that he was the Son of God. This went against everything that the leaders believed in, as they believed in only one God and one religion, Judaism. This was the main wall that divided the leaders from converting to Christianity and the reason why they repeatedly tried to undercut Jesus. The wall dividing Jesus and the leaders grew so thick over time that the leaders eventually handed Jesus over to the Roman authorities to be crucified. It was because of the leaders’ stubbornness and religious beliefs that they divided themselves from Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Life in Western Europe during the 9th through 10th century invasions

Life in Western Europe during the 9th through 10th century invasions


Life in Europe was strenuously difficult during the 9th-10th century because of the invasions from the Muslims, Magyars and Vikings. People were afraid to travel, commerce was almost non-existent and fine arts declined dramatically. The Kings were unable to protect their subjects from the invaders, which was clear when kings had to bribe them to not invade their kingdoms. The subjects knew this fact, so they turned to the nobles for protection against the invaders. In response to these circumstances, two systems called Feudalism and Manorialism were created to deal with the invaders.

Manorialism was when a lord would let the common people, called surfs, live on their land for protection from the invaders. In exchange for protection, the surfs cared for the land and paid a fee. Feudalism was when the lords would hire vassals, soldiers or knights to protect their land while they were away fighting the invaders. Peasants in this system were the only productive force that the lords had, so most of the economic pressure in Europe was put on the peasants. The lords and vassals did not have it easier either, since they had to battle the invaders to protect the surfs that were providing the limited economic productions. Things did eventually improve, as the invaders were finally defeated. When the invaders were defeated, the lords improved the Feudalism and Manorialism systems that were haphazardly emplaced which would become Europe’s governing system for centuries onwards.

During the 9th-10th century, living conditions in Western Europe were difficult because of the invasions. People were scared, food was scarce and people had to sacrifice freedom for protection just to survive. While the Feudalism and Manorialism systems were not perfect, it supported Europe while the lords were off fighting the invaders. If it were not for the Feudalism and Manorialism systems, Europe might have succumbed to domination by the Vikings, Muslims or Magyars.

Little Flowers and Heaven

Little Flowers and Heaven


I believe the book, “Little Flowers”, provided the common man with confidence about avoiding Hell, but not Purgatory. As long as one truly believed in the Trinity and followed the spiritual ways of God, then one should have been able to escape the clutches of Hell. Unfortunately, the book did not provide the common man with confidence that he would escape the clutches of Purgatory. In the book, Purgatory is a realm that spirits head to if they need spiritual cleansing before heading into heaven. If one’s spirit went to Purgatory, that person would endure many horrors but would eventually be released into Heaven after their cleansing. However, even some of the most holy Friars were not able to escape Purgatory, albeit their time in Purgatory was brief. In the end, I believe the book provided enough reassurance to the common man that although he may not be able to escape the clutches of Purgatory, if he was a devout Christian then he would eventually find his way into heaven.

The Fourth Crusade

The Fourth Crusade


The Fourth Crusade was sponsored by Pope Innocent III in 1201-1204 AD and it’s mission was to recapture Jerusalem from the hands of the Muslims. Innocent recruited Westerners because it was easier for Innocent to convince Westerners to Crusade instead of the Easterners. Before the Crusaders could start their voyage to Jerusalem, they had to pay the Venetians for building them a fleet of ships that would carry them to Jerusalem. However, the Crusaders did not have enough money to pay the Venetians for the fleet, so they made a deal. The Crusaders would give the Venetians half of all the loot that they would receive from taking Jerusalem and the Venetians would let the Crusaders have the fleet. The Venetians agreed, but they travelled with the Crusaders to make sure that they did not forsake their deal. All was going according to plan, until the Crusaders were forced to stop at Constantinople to restock their provisions.

In Constantinople, the Crusaders met Alexium, who was next in line to the throne of the Byzantine Empire. Alexium was in a complicated situation with his brother, who illegitimately stole the throne from Alexium, so he was desperate to obtain the throne. Alexium promised to pay off the debt that the Crusaders had with the Venetians and promised more money if they could obtain the throne for him. The Crusaders agreed and they ascended Alexium to the throne of Emperor in 1203 AD by threatening Constantinople that they would take it by force if they did not allow Alexium to have the thrown. With Alexium as Emperor he paid off the Crusader’s debt and provided them with provisions, but he was having a difficult time paying the Crusaders the extra money that he promised. To pay the Crusaders the money that he still owed them, Alexium excavated graves to steal the jewelry from within and took numerous Church possessions that were valuable. The inhabitants of Constantinople were appalled at Alexium’s actions and eventually killed him in 1204 AD.

The Crusaders were outside of Constantinople when Alexium was killed. They were shocked that the people of Constantinople had killed their rightful successor. In response to their friend being murdered, they ransacked Constantinople, committed mass genocide and burned many homes to the ground. After conquering Constantinople, the Crusaders transformed the capital of the Byzantine Empire into the Latin Empire. The conquest of the Holy Land was forgotten by the Crusaders because they were excommunicated by Pope Innocent for the raid of Constantinople, thus making the Crusade invalid. The Crusaders also many valuables from the raid that they could not carry to the Holy Land, so all thing considering they went back to the West.

Eastern and Western Europe had their differences and usually kept to themselves, but when the Westerner Crusaders ransacked Constantinople and turned it into the Latin Empire, their relationship turned form salvageable to hostile. This attack solidified the East’s and West’s split and one can still see the damage caused by the attack in modern times by looking at the relationship between the Eastern and Western European Churches. The conquest of Constantinople by the Crusaders went down in history as the most notorious act of all the Crusades.

Thomas Aquinas’ proof of the existence of God

Thomas Aquinas’ proof of the existence of God


Thomas Aquinas was a Scholastic Philosopher in the Medieval Ages who wanted to prove that Aristotelianism and Church logic were similar. To prove this, he devised a thesis called the Summa Contra Gentiles were he attempted to prove the existence of God by only using reason and no Bible sources. The Summa Contra Gentiles talked about the Quinque Viae (Five Ways) that he could prove God’s existence. I will only be looking at the First Way in which he proves that God does exist by using Aristotelian/Scholastic logic.

The First Way that Thomas proves the existence of God is using the Aristotelian concept of Potentiality and Actuality. Potentiality is an object’s “potential” to do something while Actuality is when an object is able to “actualize” it’s “potential”. Thomas goes on to say that something else has to actualize an object’s potential because it cannot actualize its own potential. An example that Thomas used to explain the concept is if there was a rock on the ground, it has the “potential” to move. The rock is unable to “actualize” that “potential” itself, but if a person holding a stick were to move the rock then the stick “actualized” the rock’s “potential” to move. The rock could not actualize it’s own potential to move; it was the stick that “actualized” the rock’s “potential”. However, if an object’s potential cannot be actualized by itself and something else must actualize it’s potential, then what actualized the stick’s potential to move so it could move the rock?

Thomas then introduced the concept of the “essential order series” to explain the stick’s phenomenon. The essential order series focuses on the objects involved in producing a series of orders that consist of Potency and Act (or Potentiality and Actuality). An essential order series must have a beginning; something that starts the series of Potency and Act. There has to be a “last member” in the essential order series that is causing the series of orders to happen. Going back to the stick/rock example; the rock’s potential to move was actualized by the stick moving, but the Potency and Act concept states that an object’s potential cannot be actualized by itself because something else has to actualize the object’s potential. The essential order series also states that the series of Potency and Act must have a beginning; something that starts the entire series. If this is the case, can the essential order series end?

According to the laws of Potency and Act there can be no end because something’s potential always has to be actualized by another object because the object itself cannot actualize it’s own potential. However, the essential order series must have a “last member”; something that starts the series of Potency and Act. The only way that this series could have a “last member” is if the thing in question was Pure Act and no potential. This thing must be something that is unchanging; something that is unable to move from Potency to Actuality because it is Pure Act. Thomas then concluded that the thing that is Pure Act and no potential has to be God. This is the argument that Thomas used to prove the existence of God by only using logic and no Bible sources.

Misconceptions about the Crusade

Misconceptions about the Crusade


In modern times, there are people that have come to believe some misconceptions about the Crusades during the Medieval period. Most of the misconceptions revolve around a few notions, such as the Christians crusaded against the Muslims unprovoked or that the Christians crusaded for the sole reason of obtaining a fortune. These misconceptions are not without merit, as the Crusaders did questionable acts during the Crusades that are looked down upon today. However, these misconceptions can be realized if one were to look at the events preceding and during the Crusade.

Some people believe that the Crusaders attacked the Muslims unprovoked or because they were Muslims, but if one were to look at the events preceding the Crusade then one would see that the Muslims were at fault. The Crusades did not start until the 12th century, but the Muslims started invading Europe as early as the 9th century. The Muslims had taken over 2/3rds of the Christian world by the 12th century; some of the countries that the Muslims invaded include: Italy, Austria, Spain, France, Portugal, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, Ukraine, Russia and more. The Muslims had conquered most of the Christian World, but the Catholic Church did not respond to the invasions until the 12th century by sending out Crusades. By looking at the Muslims’ actions before the Crusades, one can see that the Crusaders did not attack the Muslims unprovoked.

Another misconception that people hold about the Crusades is that the Crusades were created because the Catholic Church saw a chance to obtain a fortune by stealing people’s possessions in the name of God. While it is true that the Crusaders did take people’s possessions every now and then, the sole purpose of the Crusade was not taking possessions. The Crusades were a response to the Muslims invading Europe and modern research has concluded that most of the Crusaders were relatively wealthy people that owned sizable amounts of land before they joined the Crusades. Most of the Crusaders went bankrupt, sold their land or mortgaged their land because Crusades would last for years. If a Crusader was not consistently making money to keep their land functional, the only option was to sell/mortgage their land. Crusaders seldom made little to no money on Crusades, so if a man joined the Crusades to become wealthy then he would only end up poorer in the end.

There are more misconceptions about the Crusades, but these are the major misconceptions that people believe today. The Crusades were created in the 12th century to combat the deadly forces of the Muslim invasions that threatened to swallow the Christian World whole. The Crusades were not created to kill Muslims because Christians wanted to; they were created to protect the population of Europe. While it is true that the Crusaders took people’s possessions from time to time, it was not the main goal of the Crusades. The main reason they took people’s possessions was to supply the Crusades with provisions that it usually lacked. This does not excuse the Crusaders’ actions, but the point is that taking people’s stuff was not the main objective of the Crusade. Thanks to the Crusades and other European Kingdoms, they managed to halt the Muslim invasions and Europe was finally free from the Muslim threat.

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