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RELI 0070 The Western Church in the Middle Ages

This course explores the history of the church in western Europe from the eleventh to fourteenth centuries.  In some senses the notion of 'the church' as a single entity is misleading: there were a series of different ecclesiastical institutions, often pursuing conflicting interests.  However, there was a strong cultural sense of 'the church', and in practical terms it became more unified under papal leadership in this era.  The period also saw tremendous creativity in pastoral care, monasticism, intellectual life, the crusades, the birth of the friars, and responses to heresy.

Sample Syllabus

  • Papacy and Hierarchy
  • Regnum and Sacerdotium
  • The Saints
  • Popular Religion
  • Heresy and Heterodoxy
  • Building Heaven on Earth
  • Christian Scholars and Scholarship
  • Christendom and the Non-Christian World


Introductory Reading

  • Southern, R.W., Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, new edn, 1990
  • Brooke, R. & C., Popular Religion in the Middle Ages. London: Thames & Hudson, 1984
  • Hamilton, B.  Religion in the Medieval West. London: Arnold, 2nd edn, 2003
  • Tierney, B. (ed.), The Crisis of Church and State, 1050-1300. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1964
  • J. Shinners (ed.), Medieval Popular Religion, 1000-1500: A Reader. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2nd edn, 2009
This experience cannot be contained by words
The academic reasons for studying with Oxford professors stands by itself as the number one reason someone should want to engage in this program, but ...
Katherine Ciesla, Autumn Semester 2010, Elmhurst College