In Florence, economic realities and spiritual yearnings intersected in mysterious ways. A busy grain market on a site where a church once stood, for instance, remained a sacred place where many gathered to sing and pray before a painted image of the Virgin Mary, as well as to conduct business. At the same time, religious communities contributed directly to the economic development of the diocese in the areas of food production, fiscal affairs, and urban development, while they also provided institutional leadership and spiritual guidance during a time of profound uncertainty. Addressing such issues as systems of patronage and jurisdictional rights, Dameron portrays the working of the rural and urban church in all of its complexity. Florence and Its Church in the Age of Dante fills a major gap in scholarship and will be of particular interest to medievalists, church historians, and Italianists.
From the rich archives of the abbey of the Holy Trinity of Cava, Valerie Ramseyer reconstructed the complex religious history of southern Italy. No single religious or political figure claimed authority in the region before the eleventh century, and pastoral care was provided by a wide variety of small religious houses. The line between the secular and the regular clergy was not well pronounced, nor was the boundary between the clergy and the laity or between eastern and western religious practices.
In the second half of the eleventh century, however, the archbishop of Salerno and the powerful abbey of Cava acted to transform the situation. Centralized and hierarchical ecclesiastical structures took shape, and an effort was made to standardize religious practices along the lines espoused by reform popes such as Leo IX and Gregory VII. Yet prelates in southern Italy did not accept all aspects of the reform program emanating from centers such as Rome and Cluny, and the region's religious life continued to differ in many respects from that in Francia: priests continued to marry and have children, laypeople to found and administer churches, and Greek clerics and religious practices to coexist with those sanctioned by Rome.
In her earlier work, The History of the Ancient World, Susan Wise Bauer wrote of the rise of kingship based on might. But in the years between the fourth and twelfth centuries, rulers had to find new justification for their power, and they turned to divine truth or grace to justify political and military action. Right began to replace might as the engine of empire.
Not just Christianity and Islam but also the religions of the Persians, the Germans, and the Mayas were pressed into the service of the state. Even Buddhism and Confucianism became tools for nation building. This phenomenon—stretching from the Americas all the way to Japan—changed religion, but it also changed the state.
The History of the Medieval World is a true world history, linking the great conflicts of Europe to the titanic struggles for power in India and Asia. In its pages, El Cid and Guanggaeto, Julian the Apostate and the Brilliant Emperor, Charles the Hammer and Krum the Bulgarian stand side by side. From the schism between Rome and Constantinople to the rise of the Song Dynasty, from the mission of Muhammad to the crowning of Charlemagne, from the sacred wars of India to the establishment of the Knights Templar, this erudite book tells the fascinating, often violent story of kings, generals, and the peoples they ruled.