Long before the Protestant Reformers announced the theme of post tenebras, lux – “after darkness, light” – to describe their work of reforming the Church, another great reformation shook the foundations of Christendom and resulted in sweeping changes for both Church and culture. This was the Gregorian Reform of the 11th century, spearheaded by the imposing, fiery force of Pope Gregory VII and carried out in titanic theological and political struggles with the State and, very intriguingly, with other catholic bishops.
The Gregorian Reform, sometimes also called the Investiture Contest, had wide-ranging, lasting effects on the Christian consciousness of Europe. So severe was the shaking, and so fantastic the rebuilding, that Martin Luther himself once wrote that all the worst features of the papal system during his day could be traced right back to the reign of Pope Gregory VII, five centuries earlier. In a sense, then, significant aspects of the Protestant Reformation owe their concerns and shape to this much earlier catholic reformation.
In this 6-week survey, we will read and discuss important excerpts from some of the key texts that have come down to us from the 11th century. Our aim will be not just to study “history,” as some sort of record of “dates and dead people,” but to get a sense of the fascinatingly rich, immensely influential personalities and critical issues that disturbed both Church and State and set the Christian world on the course it would follow for the next 500 years.
The Reformation of the 11th Century, 6 weeks – $0
Required Texts: course packet (free)