History of the christian church



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Ratherius "deserves in many respects to be styled the Tertullian of his time." 1490Some see in his castigation of vice the zeal of a Protestant reformer, but his standpoint was different. He was learned and ambitious, but also headstrong and envious. His works are obscure in style, but full of information. The chief are

1. The Combat, also called Preliminary discourses, in six books. 1491 It treats in prolix style of the different occupations and relations in life, and dwells particularly upon the duties of bishops. It was the fruit of his prison-leisure (935–937), when he was without books and friends.

2. On contempt for canonical law. 1492 It dates from 961, and is upon the disorders in his diocese, particularly his clergy’s opposition to his dispensation of its revenues. In all this Ratherius sees contempt of the canons which he cites.

3. A conjecture of a certain quality. 1493 This is a vigorous defense of his conduct, written in 966. Fourteen of his Letters and eleven of his Sermons have been printed. 1494 In the first letter he avows his belief in transubstantiation.


§ 179. Gerbert (Sylvester II.).
I. Silvester II. Papa (Gerbertus): Opera, in Migne, Tom. CXXXIX. col. 57–350. Contains also the biographical and literary notices of Natalis Alexander, Fabricius, and the Bened. Hist. Lit. de la France. OEuvres de Gerbert par A. Olleris. Clermont, 1867. Pertz: Monum. Germ. Tom. V. Script. III. contains Gerberti archiep. Remensis Acta Concilii Remensis, and the Libri IV. Historiarum of Richerus monachus S. Remigii. Richer was a pupil of Gerbert, and his history of France was first edited by Pertz.

II. Abr. Bzovius: Sylvester vindicatus. Rom., 1629. Hist. Lit. de la France, VI., 559–614. C. F. Hock: Gerbert oder Papst Sylvester und sein Jahrh. Wien, 1837. Max Büdinger: Ueber Gerberts wissenschaftl. und polit. Stellung. Marburg, 1851. Gfrörer: Allgem. Kirchengeschichte, Bd. III. Abth. 3. Wilmanns: Jahrbücher des deutschen Reichs unter Otto III. Berlin, 1840. Giesebrecht: Geschichte der deutschen Kaiserzeit, Bd. I. 613–616; 712–715: 842 (3d ed. 1865). Hefele: Conciliengesch. Bd. IV. 637 and passim. (2d ed. 1879). A. Olleris: Vie de Gerbert. Clermont-Ferrand, 1867. Eduard Barthelémy: Gerbert, étude sur sa vie et ses ouvrages, suivie de la traduction de ses lettres. Paris, 1868. Loupot: Gerbert, sa vie et ses écrits. Lille, 1869. Karl Werner: Gerbert von Aurillac. Wien, 1878. Hauck: Silvester II., in Herzog, XIV. 233–240. Comp. also Ceillier, XII. 901–9II. Neander: III. 371–374, and Reuter: Aufklärung in Mittelalter, I. 78–84.


Gerbert, the scholar and philosopher in the Fisherman’s chair, and the brightest light in the darkness of the tenth century was born before 950, of low parentage, in or near Aurilac in Auvergne, and educated as a monk in the Benedictine convent of that place. He accompanied Count Borel of Barcelona to Spain and acquired there some knowledge of Arabic learning, but probably only through Latin translations. He also visited Rome (968) in company of his patron Borel, and attracted the attention of Pope John XIII., who recommended him to Emperor Otho the Great. He afterwards became the tutor and friend of the youthful Otho III., and inspired him with the romantic and abortive scheme of re-establishing the Graeco-Roman empire of Constantine the Great in the city of Rome. He was ambitious and fond of basking in the sunshine of imperial and royal favor.

Gerbert became master of the cathedral school of Rheims and acquired great fame as a scholar and teacher. He collected rare and valuable books on every subject. He was intensely interested in every branch of knowledge, divine and human, especially in mathematics, astronomy, physics, and music; he first introduced the Arabic numerals and the decimal notation into France, and showed his scientific and mechanical genius by the construction of astronomical instruments and an organ blown by steam. At the same time he was a man of affairs, a statesman and politician. 1495

In 972 he obtained through imperial favor the abbey, of Bobbio, but was involved in contentions with the neighboring nobles and left in disgust, though retaining his dignity. "All Italy," he wrote to a friend, "appears to me a Rome, and the morals of the Romans are the horror of the world." He returned to his position at Rheims, attracted pupils from near and far and raised the cathedral school to the height of prosperity. He was the secretary of the council held in the basilica of St. Basolus near Rheims in 991, and gave shape to the flaming speech of the learned bishop Arnulf of Orleans against the assumptions and corruptions of the papacy.6 No Gallican could have spoken more boldly. By the same synod Arnulf, archbishop of Rheims, an illegitimate son of one of the last Carolingian kings, was deposed on the charge of treason against Hugh Capet, and Gerbert was chosen in his place, at the desire of the king. But his election was disputed, and he assumed an almost schismatical attitude towards Rome. He was deposed, and his rival Arnulf, with the aid of the pope, reinstated by a Council of Senlis or Rheims (996). 1497 He now left France and accepted an invitation of his pupil Otho III. to Magdeburg, followed him to Italy (996), was by imperial favor made archbishop of Ravenna (998), and a year afterwards raised to the papal throne as Sylvester II. He was the first French pope. The three R’s (Rheims, Ravenna, Rome) mark his highest dignities, as expressed in the line ascribed to him:
"Scandit ab R. Gerbertus in R., fit postea papa vigens R."
As Gerbert of Rheims he had advocated liberal views and boldly attacked the Roman Antichrists who at that time were seated in the temple of God; but as Sylvester II. he disowned his Gallican antecedents and supported the claims of the papacy. 1498 He did, however, nothing remarkable during his short and troublesome pontificate (between 999–1003), except crown King Stephen of Hungary and give the first impulse, though prematurely, to the crusades at a time when hundreds of pilgrims flocked to the Holy Land in expectation of the end of the world after the lapse of the first Christian millennium. 1499

His character has been very differently judged. The papal biographers of the later middle ages malignantly represent him as a magician in league with the devil, and his life and pontificate as a series of monstrous crimes.0 This story arose partly from his uncommon learning and supposed contact with Mohammedanism, partly from his former antagonistic position to Rome. Some modern historians make him an ambitious intriguer. 1501

His literary labors are chiefly mathematical.2 His theological works are few and unimportant, and do not rise above the superstition of his age. His short treatise, "De Corpore et Sanguine Domini," is a defense of the doctrine of transubstantiation as taught by Paschasius Radbertus, with the additional notion that the consecrated elements are not digested like other food (as the Stercorianists held), but are imperishable spiritual nourishment for the inner man, and constitute the germ of the future resurrection body. 1503 Where words give out there is the more room for faith. 1504

In his sermon De informatione episcoporum, if genuine,5he presents the high theocratic view of the middle ages, raises the episcopate far above royalty, 1506and attacks the common traffic in ecclesiastical dignities (simony), but maintains also that all bishops share with Peter the care of Christ’s flock. 1507 This indicates that the tract was written before his elevation to the papacy, and that he did not hold the ultramontane or Vatican doctrine of papal absolutism.

His Epistles to popes, emperors, kings, queens, archbishops and other dignitaries., shed light on the history of the times, and show his high connections, and his genius for politics and intrigue. 1508 They are mostly short, and include also some letters of Otho III. The longest and most interesting is addressed to Queen Adelaide, wife of Hugo Capet, and the suffragans of the diocese of Rheims, 1509in defense of his ordination as archbishop of Rheims in opposition to his rival Arnulf, whom he afterwards reinstated in his see as soon as he became pope. 1510
§ 180. Fulbert of Chartres.
I. Sanctus Fulbertus, Carnotensis episcopus: Opera, in Migne, Tom. CXLI. col. 163–374. They were first printed by Masson at Paris, 1585.

II. Du Pin, IX. 1–6. Ceillier, XIII. 78–89. Hist. Lit. de la France, VII. 261–279 (reprinted in Migne, l.c. col. 167–184). Neander III. passim. Reuter: Gesch. der Rel. Aufklärung in Mittelalter (1875), I. 89–91. J. B. Souchet: Hist. du diocèse et de, la ville de Chartres. Chartres, 1867–1876.4 vols. Cf. Karl Werner: Gerbert von Aurillac. Wien, 1878. A. Vogel in Herzog2 IV. 707 sq.


The most distinguished pupils of Gerbert were the Emperor Otho III., King Robert of France, Richer, the historian of France, and Fulbert of Chartres, the most renowned teacher of his age. They represent the rise of a new zeal for learning which began to dispel the darkness of the tenth century. France took the lead, Italy followed.

Fulbert, called by his admiring disciples "the Socrates of the Franks," was born of poor and obscure parents, probably at Chartres, about 950, and educated in the cathedral school of Rheims by Gerbert. He founded a similar school at Chartres, which soon acquired a brilliant reputation and rivalled that of Rheims. About 1003 he was elected chancellor of the church of Chartres, and in 1007 its bishop. When the cathedral burned down (1020), he received contributions from all parts of France and other countries for its reconstruction, but did not live to finish it. He was involved in the political and ecclesiastical disturbances of his country, opposed the use of the sword by the bishops, and the appropriation of church property, and sale of offices by the avaricious laity. He lost the favor of the court by his opposition to the intrigues of Queen Constantia. He died April 10, 1029.1

Fulbert’s fame rests chiefly on his success as a living teacher. This is indicated by his surname.2 He was not an original thinker, but knew how to inspire his pupils with enthusiasm. 1513 His personality was greater than his learning. He wisely combined spiritual edification with intellectual instruction, and aimed at the eternal welfare of his students. He used to walk with them at eventide in the garden and to engage in familiar conversations on the celestial country; sometimes he was overcome by his feelings, and adjured them with tears, never to depart from the path of truth and to strive with all might after that heavenly home. 1514

His ablest pupil was Berengar of Tours, the vigorous opponent of transubstantiation, and it has sometimes been conjectured that he derived his views from him.5 But Fulbert adhered to the traditional orthodoxy, and expressed himself against innovations, in letters to his metropolitan, Leutberich, archbishop of Sens. He regarded the real presence as an object of faith and adoration rather than of curious speculation, but thought that it is not more difficult to believe in a transformation of substance by Divine power than in the creation of substance. 1516 He was a zealous worshipper of the saints, especially of the Virgin Mary, and one of the first who celebrated the festival of her Nativity.

The works of Fulbert consist of one hundred and thirty-nine (or 138) Letters, including some letters of his correspondents; 1517nine Sermons; 1518twenty-seven Hymns and Poems,, 1519and a few minor compositions, including probably a life of St. Autbert. 1520 His letters have considerable interest and importance for the history of his age. The longest and most important letter treats of three doctrines which he regarded as essential and fundamental, namely, the trinity, baptism, and the eucharist. 1521

From the school of Gerbert at Rheims proceeded the school of Fulbert at Chartres, and from this again the school of Berengar at Tours—all equally distinguished for popularity and efficiency. They in turn were succeeded by the monastic school of Lanfranc at Bec, who came from Italy, labored in France, opposed Berengar, his rival, and completed his career in England as archbishop of Canterbury. He was excelled by his pupil and successor, Anselm, the second Augustin, the father of Catholic scholasticism. With him began a new and important chapter in the development of theology.
§ 181. Rodulfus Glaber. Adam of Bremen.
I. Rodulfus Glaber (Cluniacnesis monachus): Opera, in Migne, Tom. CXLII. col. 611–720. The Historia sui temporis or Historia Francorum is also printed in part, with textual emendations by G. Waitz, in the Monum. Germ. Script., ed. by Pertz, Tom. VII. 48–72, and the Vita Willelmi abbatis in Tom. IV. 655–658. Comp. Ceillier: XIII. 143–147. Wattenbach: Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen. Potthast: Biblioth. Hist. medii aevi, p. 521.

II. Adamus Bremensis: Gesta Hammaburgenais ecclesiae Pontificum, seu Historia ecclesiastica. Libri IV. Best. ed. by Lappenberg in Pertz, Mon. Germ. Scriptores, Tom. VII. 267–389. German translation by Laurent, with introduction by Lappenberg, Berlin, 1850 (in "Geschichtschreiber der deutschen Vorzeit;" XI. Jahrh. B. VII.). In Migne, Tom. CXLVI. col. 433–566 (reprinted from Pertz).—Comp. Giesebrecht: Wendische Geschichte, III. 316 sqq.; Wattenbach: Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen (first ed. p. 252 sqq.); Koppmann: Die mittelalterlichen Geschichtsquellen in Bezug auf Hamburg (1868); Potthast, l.c p. 100; C. Bertheau in Herzog2 I. 140 sqq. Of older notices see Ceillier, XIV. 201–206.


Among the historical writers of the eleventh century, Rodulfus Glaber, and Adam of Bremen deserve special mention, the one for France, the other for the North of Europe.

Rodulfus Glaber2was a native of Burgundy, sent to a convent in early youth by his uncle, and expelled for bad conduct; but he reformed and joined the strict Benedictine school of Cluny. He lived a while in the monastery of St. Benignus, at Dijon, then at Cluny, and died about 1050.

His chief work is a history of his own time, from 1000–1045, in five books. Though written in barbarous Latin and full of inaccuracies, chronological blunders, and legendary miracles, it is an interesting and indispensable source of information, and gives vivid pictures of the corrupt morals of that period. 1523 He wrote also a biography of St. William, abbot of Dijon, who died 1031. 1524



Adam of Bremen, a Saxon by birth, educated (probably) at Magdeburg, teacher and canon of the chapter at Bremen (1068), composed, between 1072 and 1076, a history of the Bishops of Hamburg-Bremen.5 This is the chief source for the oldest church history of North Germany and Scandinavia, from 788 to the death of Adalbert, who was archbishop of Bremen from 1045–1072. Adam drew from the written sources in the rich library, of the church at Bremen, and from oral traditions. 1526 He went to the Danish King Sven Estrithson, who "preserved the whole history of the barbarians in his memory as in a book." He is impartial and reliable, but neglects the chronology, . He may almost be called the Herodotus of the North except for his want of simplicity. He was familiar with Virgil, Horace, Lucian, and formed his style chiefly after Sallust; hence his artificial brevity and sententiousness. 1527 He ranks with the first historians of the middle ages. 1528
§ 182. St. Peter Damiani.
I. Beati Petri Damiani (S. R. E. cardinalis Episcopi Ostiensis Ordinis S. Benedicti) Opera omnia in quatuor tomos distributa, studio et labora Domni Constantini Cajetani (of Montecassino), first publ. Rom. 1606–’13; in Paris, 1663; in Venice, 1783. Reprinted with Vitae and Prolegomena in Migne’s "Patrol. Lat.," Tom. CXLIV. and CXLV. (1853). Tom. I. 1060 cols.; Tom. II. 1224 cols.

II. Three biographies of Damiani, one by his pupil, Joannes monachus, who, however, only describes his monastic character. See Migne, I. 47–204. Acta Sanctorum (Bolland.), for February 23, Tom. III. 406–427. Acta Sanctorum Ordinis S. Bened., Saec. VI. Also the Annales Ordinis S. Benedicti, ed. Mabillon, Tom. IV., lib. LVIII.-LXII. (which extend from a.d. 1039–1066, and notice the public acts of Damiani in chronological order).

III. Jac. Laderchi: Vita S. Petri Damiani S. R. E. Cardinalis. Rom. 1702. 3 Tom. Albr. Vogel: Peter Damiani. Jena, 1856. Comp. his art. in Herzog2 III. 466 sqq. F. Neukirch: Das Leben des Peter Dam. Göttingen, 1876. Jos. Kleinermanns (R.C.): Petrus Damiani in s. Leben und Wirken, nach den Quellen dargestellt. Steyl, 1882. Comp. also Ceillier, XIII. 296–324. Neander, III. 382, 397 and passim; Gfrörer Gregor. VII, Bd. I.; Höfler: Die deutschen Paepste; Will: Die Anfänge der Restauration der Kirche im elfte Jahrh.; Giesebrecht: Gesch. der deutschen Kaizerzeit, vol. II.; Hefele: Conciliengesch., vol. IV.
I. Life. Peter Damianus or Damiani (1007–1072),9a friend of Hildebrand and zealous promoter of the moral reform of the clergy, was a native of Ravenna, had a very hard youth, but with the help of his brother Damianus (whose name he adopted), 1530he was enabled to study at Ravenna, Faenza and Parma. He acquired honor and fortune as a teacher of the liberal arts in his native city. In his thirtieth year he suddenly left the world and became a hermit at Fonte Avellano near Gubbio (Eugubium) in Umbria, following the example of his countryman, Romuald, whose life he described. 1531 He soon reached the height of ascetic holiness and became abbot and disciplinarian of the hermits and monks of the whole surrounding region. Even miracles were attributed to him.

He systematized and popularized a method of meritorious self-flagellation in connection with the recital of the Psalms; each Psalm was accompanied with a hundred strokes of a leathern thong on the bare back, the whole Psalter with fifteen thousand strokes. This penance became a rage, and many a monk flogged himself to death to the music of the Psalms for his own benefit, or for the release of souls in purgatory. The greatest expert was Dominicus, who wore an iron cuirass around his bare body (hence called Loricatus), and so accelerated the strokes that he absolved without a break twelve Psalters; at last he died of exhaustion(1063). 1532 Even noble women ardently practiced "hoc purgatorii genus," as Damiani calls it. He defended this self-imposed penance against the opponents as a voluntary imitation of the passion of Christ and the sufferings of martyrs, but he found it necessary also to check unnatural excesses among his disciples, and ordered that no one should be forced to scourge himself, and that forty Psalms with four thousand strokes at a time should be sufficient as a rule.

The ascetic practice which he encouraged by word and example, had far-reaching consequences; it became a part of the monastic discipline among Dominicans 1533and Franciscans, and assumed gigantic proportions in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, especially during the reign of the Black Death (1349), when fraternities of Flagellants or Cross-bearers, moved by a spirit of repentance, preceded by crosses, stripped to the waist, with faces veiled, made pilgrimages through Italy, Germany and England and scourged themselves, while chanting the penitential psalms, twice a day for thirty-three days, in memory of the thirty-three years of our Lord’s life. 1534

Damiani became the leader of the strict monastic party which centred at Cluny and labored, from the sacerdotal and theocratic point of view, for a reformation of the clergy and the church at a time of their deepest degradation and corruption. He compared the condition of his age to that of Sodom and Gomorrah; he opposed simony and the concubinage of priests, as the two chief sources of evil. He advocated a law which punished simony with deposition, and which prohibited the laity from hearing mass said by married priests. Such a law was enacted by the Lateran Council of 1059. He also condemned in the clergy the practice of bearing arms, although even Pope Leo IX., in 1053, led an army against the pillaging Normans. He firmly maintained that a priest should not draw the sword even in defense of the faith, but contend only with the Word of God and the weapon of the Spirit.

A man of such talent, piety and energy could not remain hidden in the desert. He was drawn to Rome, and against his will chosen bishop of Ostia and Cardinal of the Roman church by Stephen X. in 1058. He narrowly escaped the triple crown in 1061. He was the spiritual counsellor and censor of the Hildebrandian popes (Gregory VI., Clement II., Leo IX., Victor II., Stephen X., Nicolas II., Alexander II.), and of Hildebrand himself. He was employed on important missions at Milan, Florence, Montecassino, Cluny, Mainz, Frankfort. He helped to put down the papal schism of Cadalous.5 He had the confidence of the Emperor Henry III. whom he highly praise as a second David, became confessor of the widowed Empress Agnes, and prevented the divorce of her son Henry IV. from his wife Bertha. He resigned his bishopric, but was again called out from his retreat by Hildebrand; hence he called him his holy Satan, and also the lord of the pope. 1536 He despised the vanities and dignities of high office. He preferred his monastic cell in the Apennines, where he could conquer his own world within, recite the Psalter, scourge himself, and for a change write satires and epigrams, and make wooden spoons. "What would the bishops of old have done," he said, "had they to endure the torments which now attend the episcopate? To ride forth constantly accompanied by troops of soldiers with swords and lances, to be girt about with armed men, like a heathen general! Every day royal banquets, every day parade! The table loaded with delicacies for voluptuous guests; while the poor pine away with famine!"

His last work was to heal a schism in the church of his native city. On his return he died of fever at Faenza, Feb. 23, 1072, one year before Hildebrand ascended the papal chair to carry out the reforms for which Damiani had prepared the way with narrow, but honest, earnest and unselfish devotion.

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