Medieval church and state relationship

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medieval church and state relationship

Religion dominating the state. The Eastern Orthodox churches conceive of the relationship between church and state as religion as well as much of medieval . In the early middle ages, Europe was separated in many smaller kingdoms, while the Catholic church remained a very strong and centralised institution. During. The uneasy relationship between church and state dominated the Middle Ages and has continued into modern times. In the 11th century, during the reign of Henry III as Holy Roman emperor, the split between East and West was formalized when the pope at Rome and the patriarch of.

Church and state in medieval Europe

During the 12th and 13th centuries, papal power greatly increased. In the 13th century, however, the greatest scholar of the age, St. Thomas Aquinasborrowing from Aristotle, aided in raising the dignity of the civil power by declaring the state a perfect society the other perfect society was the church and a necessary good.

The medieval struggle between secular and religious power came to a climax in the 14th century with the rise of nationalism and the increased prominence of lawyers, both royalist and canon. Numerous theorists contributed to the atmosphere of controversy, and the papacy finally met with disaster, first in the removal of the popes to Avignon under French influence and second with the Great Schism attendant upon an effort to bring the popes back to Rome.

Church discipline was relaxed, and church prestige fell in all parts of Europe. The immediate effect of the Reformation was to diminish the power of the church even further. Christianity in its fractured condition could offer no effective opposition to strong rulers, who now claimed divine right for their positions as head of church and state. Many Lutheran churches became, in effect, arms of the state. In the 17th century there were few who believed that diversity of religious belief and a church unconnected with the civil power were possible in a unified state.

medieval church and state relationship

Common religious standards were looked upon as a principal support of the political order. When the notions of diversity of belief and toleration of dissent did start to grow, they were not generally seen to conflict with the concept of a state church.

The Puritansfor example, who fled religious persecution in England in the 17th century, enforced rigid conformity to church ideas among settlers in the American colonies. The concept of secular government as expressed in the First Amendment to the U. Constitution reflected both the influence of the French Enlightenment on colonial intellectuals and the special interests of the established churches in preserving their separate and distinct identities. The Baptistsnotably, held the separation of church and state powers as a principle of their creed.

The great wave of migration to the United States by Roman Catholics in the s prompted a reassertion of the principle of secular government by state legislatures fearing allocation of government funds to parochial educational facilities.

The 20th century saw the First and Fourteenth amendments to the Constitution applied with considerable strictness by the courts in the field of education.

In the Orient, the right to worship freely was promoted by most ancient Indian dynasties until around C. King AshokaB. One must, on the contrary, render to other creeds the honor befitting them. However, they also insisted that indigenous peoples pay homage to the state religion as well, a policy which put monotheistic faiths such as Judaism in a position of either compromising their own principles or rebelling against the state's authority.

The Jews rebelled against enforced Hellenization in Macabeean revolt of the second century B. The Ancient Romans tolerated Jewish non-compliance with the requirement to honor the gods of the state. The Roman state saw itself as the ultimate authority and locus of law and loyalty with an Emperor who claimed divinity and expected to be worshipped.

The Christian Church, which only appeared much later, recognized the necessity of the state in the maintenance of law and order but could not accept its claim to be sacred or to have authority over morality or people's souls. It saw itself as having the authority to determine what was God's law and expected people to put obedience to God and the Church above obedience to civil law and the Emperor.

After a period of conflict, Christianity was made the official religion of the Roman Empire so as to unite and reinforce it. Both state and church each had their own, sometimes overlapping, spheres of influence over people, one temporal and the other spiritual. The Emperors had considerable authority over Church doctrine and discipline while trying to incorporate Christian principles into civil law. Constantine was looking for a religion that could unify the empire in a way that the old Roman religion could not.

He thought Christianity could fulfill this role and in proclaimed the Edict of Milan, which removed penalties for professing Christianity and returned confiscated Church property. He considered himself responsible to God for the spiritual health of his subjects, and thus a duty to maintain orthodoxy. By doing so he forced the church to define itself by a creed and used the power of the state to enforce orthodoxy.

Up until this time the church had rarely made such decisions and did not have the power to persecute heretics. That the church allowed an unbaptized emperor to do so changed the relationship between church and state. The Eastern Orthodox churches sometimes refer to Constantine as the "13th Apostle" so great was his influence on the Church.

The idea that the Emperor is head of the church as well as the state is known as Caesaropapism. Christianity became the official state religion under Theodosius I in the early fifth century C. The later Roman Empire under Christianity repressed non-Christian religions and Christian heresies alike. Jewstoo, suffered under the influence of Christian bishops such as Ambrose of Milanwho prevailed in his opinion that a Christian emperor must not compel a local bishop to pay for the rebuilding of a synagogue he had led his parishioners to destroy.

This precedent was also an important one for asserting the independence of the Western church from the state. Under the influence of Saint Augustine of Hippothe Western church viewed the state as a "secular" power whose role was to uphold Christian law and order and to punish those who do evil.

Augustine's teaching is the origin of the term "secular," by which he referred to the period prior to Christ's second advent. The Eastern church took a different view, seeing a positive role for the state as God's agent in society. A third course would be adopted in lands affected by the rise of Islamwhich recognized no distinction between religion and the state. In the eastern Byzantine Empirethe emperors, although sometimes deferring to powerful bishops and monks on matters of theology, considered themselves to be the "supreme pontiff" of the Church, as well as head of state.

Justinian I promulgated the doctrine of harmonia, which asserted that the Christian state and the Church should work together for God's will on earth under the emperor's leadership.

A strong supporter of Orthodoxy and opponent of heresy, Justinian secured from the bishops in attendance at the Second Council of Constantinople inan affirmation that nothing could be done in the Church contrary to the emperor's will. This doctrine remained in effect until the Ottomans conquered Constantinople now Istanbul in the fifteenth century. In the West the Bishop of Rome emerged as the central figure of the Roman Catholic Church and often asserted his spiritual authority over various kings, on both theological and political matters.

There are two powers, august Emperor, by which this world is chiefly ruled, namely, the sacred authority of the priests and the royal power. Of these that of the priests is the more weighty, since they have to render an account for even the kings of men in the divine judgment. You are also aware, dear son, that while you are permitted honorably to rule over humankind, yet in things divine you bow your head humbly before the leaders of the clergy and await from their hands the means of your salvation.

On the basis of this document the Pope and his representatives claimed the authority to appoint and crown kings suggesting that all temporal authority had to be legitimized by the Church.

The Italian humanist Lorenzo Valla proved inthat the Donation was a fake by analyzing its language, and showing that certain phrases were anachronistic and that the purported date of the document was inconsistent with the content of the document itself.

However, the Vatican placed Valla's work on the list of prohibited books, and defended the document's authenticity.

Church vs. State - Medieval Europe by Lexi Carlin on Prezi

It continued to be used as genuine until Baronius in his "Annales Ecclesiastici" published admitted that the "Donation" was a forgery, and eventually the church conceded its illegitimacy.

The precise purpose of the forgery is not entirely certain, but it was clearly a defense of papal interests, perhaps against the claims of either the Byzantine Empireor the Frankish king Charlemagnewho had assumed the former imperial dignity in the West and with it the title "Emperor of the Romans. It has been suggested that an early draft was made shortly after the middle of the eighth century in order to assist Pope Stephen II in his negotiations with Pepin the Shortthe Frankish Mayor of the Palace.

In return for Stephen's support, Pepin apparently gave the Pope the lands in Italy which the Lombards had taken from the Byzantine Empire. These lands would become the Papal States and would be the basis of the Papacy's secular power for the next eleven centuries. Inserted among the twelfth-century compilation known as the Decretum Gratiani, the document continued to be used by medieval popes to bolster their territorial and secular power in Italy.

It was widely accepted as authentic, although the Emperor Otto III did denounce the document as a forgery. Nationalism and the Renaissance In Europe, the supremacy of the pope faced challenges from kings and western emperors on a number of matters, leading to power struggles and crises of leadership, notably in the Investiture Controversy of the eleventh century over the question of who had the authority to appoint local bishops.

The reason the kings wanted to be involved was that the church owned and controlled vast areas of land and so the bishops had great economic and thus political power.

A see-saw battle ensured during the succeeding centuries as kings sought to assert their independence from Rome while the papacy engaged in various programs of reform on the one hand and the exercise of considerable power against rebellious kings on the other, through such methods as excommunication and interdicts.

In England there was a clash between church and state over the legal jurisdiction. King Henry II wanted the clergy to be tried in civil courts and not church courts on the basis that everyone should be judged by the same law and receive the same punishment. The problem was that clergy who committed even crimes such as murder were being judged very leniently by the ecclesiastical courts, which was seen as unfair. The Archbishop of CanterburyThomas Becket disagreed as he wanted to defend the independence of the church.

During the Renaissancenationalist theorists began to affirm that kings had absolute authority within their realms to rule on spiritual matters as well as secular ones. Kings began, increasingly, to challenge papal authority on matters ranging from their own divorces to questions of international relations and the right to try clergy in secular courts.

This climate was a crucial factor in the success of the Protestant Reformation. He went on to dissolve the monasteries and confiscate much church land which he redistributed to his supporters. The result was the destruction of the country's welfare provision. Modern period Protestant churches were just as willing as the Catholic Church to use the authority of the state to repress their religious opponents, and Protestant princes often used state churches for their own political ends.

Years of religious wars eventually led to various affirmations of religious toleration in Europe, notably the Peace of Westphaliasigned in These seminal documents in the history of church and state played a significant role in both the Glorious Revolution of and later in the American Revolution. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen guarantees freedom of religious opinion. No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief… The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen likewise guaranteed that: In the French case, not only would the state reject the establishment of any particular religion, it would take a vigilant stance against religions involving themselves in the political arena.

The American tradition, on the other hand, welcomed religious arguments in public debate and allowed clergymen of various faiths to serve in public office as long as they adhered to the U.

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The French leadership, having suffered from centuries of religious wars, was also deeply suspicious of religious passion and tended to repress its public expression, while the Americans adopted a positive attitude toward newer and smaller faiths which fostered a lively religious pluralism.

These two approaches would set the tone for future debates about the nature and proper degree of separation between church and state in the coming centuries. Contemporary Many variations on relationship between church and state can be seen today.

Some countries with high degrees of religious freedom and tolerance have still maintained state churches or financial ties with certain religious organizations into the twentieth century.

Conflict between the Church and the State | Medieval Period

Englandfor example, has an established state religion but is very tolerant of other faiths as well. In Norwaysimilarly, the King is also the leader of the state church, and the twelfth article of the Constitution of Norway requires more than half of the members of the Norwegian Council of State to be members of the state church.

Yet, the country is generally recognized to have a high degree of religious freedom. In countries like these, the head of government or head of state or other high-ranking official figures may be legally required to be a member of a given faith.

Powers to appoint high-ranking members of the state churches are also often still vested in the worldly governments. Several European countries such as GermanyAustriaand several Eastern European nations officially support large religions such as the Catholic ChurchLutheran Evangelical Church, or the Russian Orthodox Churchwhile officially recognizing other churches as legitimate, and refusing to register newer, smaller, or more controversial religions.

Some go so far as to prohibit unregistered groups from owning property or distributing religious literature. In most European countries churches are involved in education. In the UK religious education is compulsory in all state schools.

There are many Church of England and Catholic schools which are funded by the state and recently Sikh and Hindu schools have received the same status. In Germany Lutheran ministers and Catholic priests teach confessional religious education in public schools. Turkish women wearing head scarves Other countries maintain a more militant brand of separation church and state.

Two prominent examples are France and Turkey. Turkey's policy has changed somewhat in recent years with the advent of a less-secularist government.

This model of a secularist state protects the religious institutions from some types of state interference, but public expression by religious institutions and the clergy on political matters is limited. Religious minorities are also limited from expressing themselves publicly by wearing distinctive clothing in the workplace or in public schools. A more liberal secularist philosophy is expressed in the American model, which allows a broad array of religious expression on public issues and goes out of its way to facilitate practices of religious minorities in the workplace, public schools, and even prisons.

American churches are forbidden, however, to support candidates for public office without jeopardizing their tax exempt status; and they are limited in the amount of money they can spend to affect pending legislation.

The opposite end of the spectrum from separation of church and state is a theocracy, in which the state is founded upon the institution of religion, and the rule of law is based on the dictates of a religious court. Examples include Saudi Arabiathe Vaticanand Iran.

In such countries, state affairs are managed by religious authority, or at least by its consent. In theocracies, the degree to which those who are not members of the official religion are to be protected is usually decided by experts of the official religion.

A special case was seen in Marxist-Leninist countries, in which the state took a militantly atheistic standpoint and attempted, by varying degrees, to suppress or even destroy religion, which Karl Marx declared as the "opiate of the people" and a tool of capitalist oppression.

Some have argued that in Marxist states, the ideology of Marxism-Leninism constituted a kind of atheist religion, and that such states in fact do not separate "church and state" but replace a theistic state religion with an atheistic one. While Marxist-Leninist states today are rare, North Korea still officially holds to this ideology and China still adopts a hostile attitude toward various religious groups based in part on the Marxist attitude of its leaders. Religion and state in Islam The advent of Islam created another attitude toward the relationship between religion and the state.

Theoretically, Islam sees no distinction between religion and the state.

medieval church and state relationship

The ideal function of the state in Islamic tradition is to uphold the Shariaor Islamic law. In practice, however, governments in Islamic countries encompass a wide spectrum of attitudes toward the relationship between religion and the state. Islamic lands generally recognized no distinction between religious and secular government until the period of the Ottoman Empire beginning with Osman I in the early fourteenth century. Islamic lands were ruled by the Islamic codes, or Shariausually under a caliph as the supreme political leader.

Although forcible conversions of non-Muslims were allowed in some circumstances, Islamic law guaranteed the rights of both Christians and Jews to worship according to their own traditions. Thus, Christians were usually granted greater religious freedom in Muslim lands than Muslims were granted in Christian countries; and Jews generally fared better under Muslim rulers than Christian ones.