The Carolingian ChurchPosted: April 19, 2007
After Europe started to decline, the papacy started to become corrupted, the royalty’s standards for life and religion waned and the clergymen’s intellectual and spiritual state deteriorated. In the 8th century the much needed revival was started by the flourishing
Anglo–Saxon missionaries from Frankish Gaul. Also doing missionary work in the 6th century were the Irish missionaries, one of which was Columban, in Gaul and Italy. Although they were many these European missionaries did not consolidate their work resulting in a complete do over by Christianity later in the 7th century. After these men continued in their work a new era resulted in a “new royal house”, the taking of office of Martel’s heirs, who had been raised in the monastery of St Denis near Paris. These men, Carloman and Pepin, were two Frankish rulers that carried out a major restructuring of the Frankish church. These two men created reforms of the clergy and church organization that brought on a rekindling of religious and intellectual life. Religious growth in the East made possible the opportunity for the papacy to break free.
Meanwhile, in the west Pope Gregory II not only rejected the edict banning the use of icons. Later, the pope’s claim to sovereign rule in Italy and independence from the Eastern Roman Empire was backed up what is known as one of the great forgeries of the Middle Ages, The Donation of Constantine. This document supposed that Constantine had bestowed Rome and the western part of the Empire. The Donation was not exposed as a forgery until the fifteenth century.
On Christmas Day 800, Charlemagne, was crowned the next emperor by Pope Leo III. Although this decision revived the Empire in the West, Charlemagne did not delight in the thought of owing his crown to the pope. The new emperor kept educating the new reform in the church as his father, Pepin along with His chief educational adviser Alcuin of York. The empire that Charlemagne started did not last much past his own life it brightened European culture during a hard dark time that came to be in that time. This ‘Carolingian Renaissance’ turned to classical ancient times also turned to early Christianity for its model. The deepness of this new Carolingian Renaissance and the political vitality of it revived the Empire and stimulated new theological activities.
There were many theological disputes during the time of the Carolingian Renaissance. Some of these areas that Alcuin had to fight against were: alleging that Christ in his humanity was only the ‘adopted’ Son of God, the perpetual virginity of Mary, the question of predestination. After Charlemagne died the new Carolingian Empire was destroyed by civil wars. The state of the political and church standings threatened the independence of the bishops. A new system laid down by the now ruling laymen in the church, ‘proprietary’ system, provided the land and erecting of the church building. Although during the tenth and the first half of the eleventh century the popes were many timed corrupt the papal institution continued to function and to be valued throughout the West.