Church History II - Lesson 2
Background of the Reformation II
This course will cover the various events that occurred before the Reformation. The main events covered are: The restructuring of the papacy, the Muslim invasion, the launching of the crusades, and the life of John Wycliffe and his challenge of the church’s authority.
Background of the Reformation II
Background of the Reformation II
• The restructuring of the papacy
o The beginning of bureaucracy
o Roman church’s task in society to make it more powerful
o Bureaucracy resented
• Islam’s invasion of Turkey
o Pope’s launch of the crusades to help the Eastern Empire
o Liberation of Jerusalem a cover upp>
o Indulgences, a way to support the crusades
o The Roman church continues to charge tax even after the crusades are over
• Papacy’s struggle for power
o More than one pope elected
• The conciliar movement
o Roman church’s lack of credibility
• Western Europe’s Plague
o Intensification of religion
• John Wycliffe
o A brief view of his academic life
o Questioning of the authority of the church of Rome
o Declaring the ultimate authority of the bible
o Wycliffe’s declarations are made public
o Translation of the bible to English language
o Wycliffe’s condemnation and punishment
- You'll uncover the historical context, key figures, and theological developments of the Reformation, along with its lasting impact on church, society, and modern Christianity.
- The crusades, and John Wycliffe's challenge of the church’s authority happened before the Reformation.
This lesson covers the Renaissance period and the life and beliefs of Martin Luther.
- This lesson provides a comprehensive understanding of the history of the Protestant Reformation and the theology of Martin Luther. You will gain knowledge of Luther's theological beliefs, including justification by faith alone, as well as the major events of the Reformation and the influence of the printing press on spreading Protestant ideas.
- This lesson explores the success of the Reformation in spreading to other parts of Europe beyond Germany in the late 16th to 17th centuries. It discusses the factors that contributed to this success, including the printing press, vernacular languages, and secular ruler support. Additionally, the transcript examines the impact of different reform movements on society and culture, such as the Calvinist and Anabaptist movements.
- You will gain insight into the spread of the Reformation across Europe and beyond, covering its origins, impact in Germany, expansion into Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, and the Catholic response through the Council of Trent and establishment of the Jesuits.
- By exploring this lesson, you will gain insights into the historical relationship between the Church and State, from early Christianity to modern times. You will also gain an understanding of the specific relationship between the Church and State in America, particularly with regard to the First Amendment. Additionally, you will learn about current debates around the separation of Church and State and how the Church should engage with political power.
- In this lesson, you will learn about how the English Reformation was initiated by King Henry VIII's desire to annul his marriage, leading to the breakaway from the Roman Catholic Church and the establishment of the Church of England, which went back and forth between Protestantism and Catholicism until Queen Elizabeth I established it as a Protestant church.
- In this lesson, you will learn about the life and reign of King Henry VIII and the key events and people that shaped the English Reformation, including his opposition to the Protestant Reformation, his desire for a male heir, and his establishment of the Church of England, which had far-reaching consequences for England and the Church as a whole.
- In this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of King Henry VIII's reign, including his relationships with his wives, his role as head of the English church, and his impact on the Reformation in England, as well as the political and religious agendas he pursued during his final years, and his legacy and impact on the Anglican Church.
- The English Reformation, which took place during the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI, was a significant period in English history that resulted in the establishment of the Church of England and the break from the Roman Catholic Church. This class lecture explores the political, social, and religious factors that contributed to the English Reformation, as well as the theological developments that occurred during this period. It also examines the wider impact of the English Reformation on the Reformation movement in Europe and the subsequent development of Protestantism in England.
- Gain insight into the intricate history of 16th-century Catholicism and British Protestantism, exploring key events, figures, and their impact on the religious landscape.
- Explore the 16th-century Reformation in Europe and Britain, analyzing key figures, theological disputes, and the impact on religious landscape.
- Gain an in-depth understanding of the Reformation in the Lowlands, its historical context, key figures, movements, and its impact on religious and political landscapes.
- In this lesson, you gain a deep understanding of the Reformation in Great Britain under Elizabeth I, focusing on key figures, religious struggles, and the lasting impact on modern-day Britain.
- Explore the intricate history of the Protestant Church in England under Elizabeth I, delving into key figures, events, and theological shifts that shaped its religious landscape.
- In this lesson, you explore the development of the Protestant Church in England under King James, gaining insight into its history, key figures, and the influence of theological movements on its growth.
- By studying this lesson, you will gain a deeper understanding of the Protestant Church in England under Cromwell, its theological developments, and the lasting impact of this period on the church's history.
- Gain deep insights into the late 17th-century Protestant Church in England, its key events, influential religious groups, and major figures, as you explore the complex interplay of religious, political, and social forces shaping its development.
- By analyzing the Age of Reason's influence on Church History, you gain knowledge of the interplay between faith, reason, and scientific inquiry that reshaped religious beliefs and institutions during this pivotal era.
- Gain a thorough grasp of church history from 1500-2000, exploring key events, figures, and theological developments that have shaped Christianity's growth and evolution.
The life and thought of the Christian church from the Reformation to modern times. Designed as an orientation to the shape of the whole tradition with special focus on the history of Christian doctrine and spirituality.
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Dr. Gerald Bray
Church History II
Background of the Reformation II
I pointed out that from the middle of the 11th century, I mean, you can pick your date. Really? You can either take 1046, which is the date when Pope Leo the ninth took office, or you can take 1059, which is the first year in which the College of Cardinals elected a new pope. It doesn't really matter. But sometime in this period, you are experiencing an under an ongoing restructuring of the papacy. That is to say that the way of selecting new popes is brought under control. It is much more centralized. And there's the beginning of the development of a bureaucracy to serve the pope. Now, this is extremely important, particularly when you remember that in at this time in European culture, virtually the only people who could read were in the church in some way or other. Either they were monks or they were priests or they were something or other around the papal court. But they were in the employment of the papal organization. And the the residue of this we still see in our language today, because the English word clerical can mean both ministerial, you know, in terms of church or it can mean secretarial. I mean, if you are a clerical worker, you are presumably working in an office somewhere. But if you are a cleric, you are, you know, ordained an ordained minister. You see it's the same word just used in a slightly different context. And so that has to be remembered. You see, there was this very strong connection between the two. Now, once the papacy and its bureaucracy got organized. Business came its way inevitably and I already pointed this out, that matrimonial problems of just about every kind came to be dealt with by the church probate of wills.
Testamentary jurisdiction was also taken over by the church. The other thing that the church dealt with, incidentally, the other main thing was defamation of character. Can anyone tell me why they think defamation of character was regarded as as a church matter? What would be the way of thinking? I'm trying to get you into the medieval way of thinking. Now. Defamation of character. Why would they why would that be regarded as a spiritual issue? We come to some degree, but. Well, I'm not written. Yes. I mean, witch hunting was also, of course, a church matter, but not now. That's not the the main reason. There's that there's a vague connection, but it's it's not really. It's because when you libel somebody, when you attack somebody, you're attacking their character. You see. And so it is it is regarded as a spiritual offense and it's not the same thing as hitting there. Bobby You know, sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. This kind of thing, you know, you calling people names is actually an attack, a spiritual attack on them, an attack on their soul. Or so it was understood. And of course, the English word libel, which comes from this I'm mentioning all this, of course, because, you know, you you may want to sort of get your $0.02 in at the White House before the changing of the guard. But the English word libel is from the Latin word rebellious, which means a little book, and it has nothing to do with slander at all. And the reason is that in the church courts, when you made an accusation against somebody, you had to make this accusation in writing and the dossier, the file that you submitted was this libelous.
So if you if you put a rebellious against somebody, you know, I mean, that was you were attacking them and you were accusing them of something. And of course, this entered the English language is libel. But today the word libel has come to mean slander, you say, although it never meant that originally. So it's a it's a residue of this of this tradition, that defamation of character was an act and something to do with the church courts. Anyhow, if you think about it and think about yourself, for instance, how many times in your life are you likely to go to court or have anything to do with the law? Well, not very often, probably. I mean, when you get well. Well, we hope, But I mean, I'm talking about ordinary people now. You know, the average person, I mean, not politicians, but, you know, if you're just an ordinary person, I mean, you are likely to have to enter into a legal contract when you get married, you'll go through some sort of legal thing. And of course, when you write a will and when you die, you will also, you know, well before you die, of course. But I mean, when you're writing the will, that is also a legal thing. Now, there are other times in modern society when you might have to use a lawyer, you know, for buying property and that sort of thing. But generally speaking, those two things are very central to everybody's life and to most people's lives. You say that marriage and death are important. This, of course, was catered for through baptism. And again, everyone was baptized by it was compulsory, more or less, and the baptism was registered in the church. So the three key moments of life, birth, marriage and death.
You came into contact with the church authorities and therefore, of course, the church exercised a great deal of control over the life of individual people. And of course, if you fell out with the church, what would they do? They would excommunicate you. And if you were excommunicated, you could not use the services as the modern equivalent of the excommunication. Is losing your card in the ATM. You know, I mean, that is the modern equivalent. And believe me, it was it will send a sort of shiver up your spine in exactly the same way, especially if you are, you know, if you haven't got anything, any money and you need it passed. And that's, you know, that's what you have to get it. When that machine swallows your card, you are excommunicated, you say in modern terms. So if you know what that experience is like, you know what excommunication must have felt like, you know, to those who made hit. Now I'm saying all this because it's very important, particularly when we come to the Reformation, because the Reformation was in one sense, a break with all of this system. But in another sense it is not. And if, for example, scholars today want to ask themselves how many people actually became Protestants, and, you know, to what extent was Protestantism a popular movement in any given place at any given time? The best way of telling how many people actually accepted Protestantism is by examining the wills, which they wrote. Because in order to write a will in the Middle Ages and indeed for a very long time afterwards, you had to do this in the presence of a priest or clergyman of some kind and as some church official. And it was a spiritual act, you had to swear.
And you had to make a statement of faith when you began. You see, I commit myself to Almighty God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints and blah, blah, blah. And you go on like this. Now, the way you can tell whether somebody is Will is Protestant or Catholic is by the way, this is all phrased. You see, if they leave out the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints and so on, if they just talk about committing their soul to almighty God, if they don't ask for prayers after they have died, this kind of thing, then you know that this person was a Protestant. You're saying that they did not believe in prayers for the dead, so they didn't ask for them. You see, in their will and this is this is the best way of telling just exactly how many people really accepted Protestantism. And you can go through, you know, the wills from, say, about 1500. Of course, they would all be Catholic. And then by 1600, depending on where you are. But let's say in England, for example, by 1600, they will mostly all be Protestant, you see, and you can tell even chart the progress of scientism year by year. By the way, the wills were written. So that's when I'm saying all of this. I'm not just giving you sort of trivial Pursuit information. I mean, this is something which is very important for measuring what was going on at the time, for deciding what was really happening. All right. Well, the church, of course, of, let's say, controlled this huge bureaucracy and it grew and it grew and grew. The problem, of course, with all bureaucracy is that it starts tripping itself up inevitably. Let's say, for example, you want to get an annulment of your marriage.
All right. Well, first of all, you've got to prove that you are entitled to an annulment of your marriage. And that's not an easy thing to do, of course. But you you do that, first of all. But then let's say you are refused by the local authority. So then you appeal to some more regional authority and eventually you end up appealing to Rome. In fact, in many cases, people skipped the intermediate process. They didn't appeal to the stages. They went straight to Rome to to adjudicate a case, whatever it was. And this could be probate of wills. It could be annulment of marriage, it could be any number of things. The result, of course, was that the Roman bureaucracy was swamped with people sort of making appeals to this, that and the other. Rome was a very long way away. The people in Rome had absolutely no idea who was appealing to them and what it was about. You know, they just didn't understand what was going on at all. Half the time, it therefore took them years and years and years to come to any kind of decision. And you could find some people had to wait ten, 20 years for an annulment of their marriage. Well, that's a long time to wait, especially when you die at 40, you know, or something like that. I mean, it's not a very practical proposition. And so the church bureaucracy came to be deeply resented by all kinds of people. It was resented, but nobody could think of a better solution. You know, it's rather like the federal government and paying tax and all this kind of thing. You know how popular the IRS is, but what else do you do? You know, and I know what would you have to say? Just don't tax anybody at all.
But that's not possible. You have to have some kind of tax system. But working out a better system and we all see the faults with the existing system. But replacing it with something better is not easy. And you see it, too. And so this is where the church sort of landed itself up in the course of the 12th and 13th century. I mean, where do we go from here? Now, another thing that sort of started causing problems was that not long after the papacy reorganized itself, some Turkish tribes from Central Asia who had recently been Islamists, they'd become Muslims, invaded what is now Asia minor, what is now Turkey and destroyed the army of the Eastern empire, the empire based at Constantinople. And this caused tremendous panic in the East because they needed help. Somehow or other, they had to chase the Turks out if they could. We know, of course, that they didn't succeed. But, you know, the aim was to get rid of the Turks and restore the Eastern Empire to some something like its former glory, if possible. Now, the emperor in Constantinople looked around and said, Where can I get help? And he appealed to the pope in Rome. The pope thought this was a wonderful opportunity for making the Eastern Church and the empire, of course, indebted to him and therefore taking taking it over, get it, gaining control of it. Now, this was. A papal policy at the time. I think I pointed out to the other day that when William the Conqueror wanted to invade England, the pope agreed to support him in return for letting the pope run this church. That was the sort of payoff that the pope expected in return. And the pope got it in the year 1077.
The pope managed to humble the German emperor, Henry the Cross. I think it was by making him walk barefoot in the snow in order to prove that the pope had the right to appoint bishops in Germany and that the emperor should not interfere in church affairs. And so the idea of humbling secular rulers in order to glorify the church was something that Rome had more or less taken under its belt. And when the emperor of the East appealed for aid in this way, this was seen in Rome as yet another opportunity for extending papal power and influence. Needless to say, the Eastern emperor didn't quite see it like that. You were dealing, in effect, with a completely different civilization. The East was very much more advanced than the West at this time. A very good example, famous story of the Byzantine Princess Fano, who went to marry the German Emperor Otto. The second some time I forget when exactly? When it was about nine, eight, around there that 100 years before this. And she went to Germany with all her retinue and so on, and created an amazing sensation for all kinds of weird and wonderful things that she did, of which it seems that the oddest from the German point of view was that she ate her food with a fork. She was the first person in Western Europe to use a fork when eating food. And the Germans were horrified. I mean, after all, God has made fingers. We need forks. You know, this is an attitude which is still prevalent, I know, in certain circles. But, you know, there she was. And so the the painters of the court in Germany was so upset by this that they painted the devil with a fork in his hand.
And that's where the devil's pitchfork comes from. Well, you can see you see this kind of thing. This is this is not what you might call what is it you call a cross-cultural experience. Yes. I mean, it just shows you, you know, sort of how this kind of thing can go wrong. And this gives you some idea of what happened because the pope went to Clermont Clermont-ferrand, which is in the middle of France here, and it called the Great Council together and preached and for an army to go and rescue the east. Well, of course, the pope couldn't very well say, we want to go and rescue Constantinople. That wouldn't have got anybody moving. He said, we want to go and liberate Jerusalem. And of course, that got everybody suddenly moving. This was the launching of the Crusades in the year 1095. I don't think even the pope realized what kind of response he would get, because virtually the entire military establishment of Western Europe, the knights in shining armor and people like that, rallied to the banner and started marching across. I mean, they marched, you know, across Europe down here, first of all, to Constantinople. But then on the way down through to Jerusalem, when this army turned up at the gates of Constantinople, the Eastern emperor was absolutely horrified, you know, because here were all these barbarians as far as he was concerned, you know, sort of suddenly on the doorstep, people who let their beards grow, who didn't wash, you know, didn't use forks, this kind of thing. You know, I mean, it's rather like sort of having a horde of Albany fans in there suddenly on your doorstep. What do you do with that money now? I mean, well, you know, and it's hard to know.
So and, of course, the Westerners were just as horrified when they saw the Greeks, because as far as they were concerned, it was no wonder that the Greeks couldn't fight the Turks. I mean, they were all gay, you know, as far as their because they wore silk and, you know, with forks and things like that. So this was not a very happy meeting, as you know, back and forth. They didn't get on very well at all. Well, the Eastern emperor, of course, decided the best thing to do was ship them across to Asia and let them get slaughtered by the Turks as fast as possible. You know, that was his idea. But that didn't quite happen, much to everybody's surprise. The Crusaders managed to battle their way through to Jerusalem and capture it and establish in Palestine crusader states which survived for nearly 200 years. You know, the last one was wasn't exterminated until 1291. So that's nearly 200 years later. However, nobody had really thought that this would happen. You see, nobody had planned for this to happen. And the papacy found itself in a very difficult situation because on the one hand, it got all the glory. You know, I mean, this was a papal enterprise going off and conquering Jerusalem and wasn't that nice and so on. Yes. But then once they conquered it, they had to administer it. They had to do something with it. And, of course, that's a very much more difficult proposition, You know, I mean, especially in that part of the world. And it's all very well to sort of wave your saber at somebody like Saddam Hussein. But, I mean, if you ever actually overthrew him, what would you do? You know, you'd have to run Iraq.
And that is not a very inviting proposition. Now, really, I mean, it's a problem, you see. I mean, because you're stuck with the aftermath, you have to you have to deal with it. And, you know, I mean, they send troops into Bosnia to keep the peace and they tell everybody they're going to be there for ten months or something. And, you know, we all know perfectly well that ten months is ten years or 100 years. I mean, it's just forever, isn't it? I mean, there's no end to it, really. So this was the problem. You see, they they arrived in Palestine, conquered the place. Then they had to hold it and maintain it. And this cost an awful lot of money. To do. I mean, it became a very expensive proposition. And so the papacy, in order to support the crusading states, in order to send more crusaders to the east, you know, when these states were in danger and so on, had to have money to pay them. It had to raise the money to pay them. And so the papacy began to find any way that it possibly could to tax people. And taxes were because they were a bureaucracy. They had lots of clever people who knew how to raise taxes. And so they they squeezed money out of whoever they could in any way that they could manage. And one of the favorite ways of doing this was by selling indulgences. And you say, well, what's an indulgence? All Well, an indulgence is time off in purgatory. Now, purgatory never existed before about this time. I mean, nobody really talked about this kind of thing. In the early church, there was heaven and hell. And that was that. The difficulty was, of course, that a lot of people felt that they weren't good enough to go to heaven.
I mean, it's surprising, but it's true. An awful lot of people don't you know, they feel they've done something in their life which is so awful that they'll never get into heaven and that God will never love them and so on. This is still true today. And you only find out when you start preaching it. We start preaching the love of God and preach that you know that God loves you even though you're the most awful person. It's amazing how many people will sit up and listen all of a sudden because nobody's ever tell them this before. And yet that's what they that's what they're thinking deep down inside. Not you, of course. In talking with the Catholic opposed and I think about beginning with Gregory during the sixth century who he started the doctrine, the first thought, well, maybe yes, But I mean, the developed doctrine comes later. All right. I mean, there's the speculation about this kind of thing, but it becomes a fix to the system in the 11th century around this time. And that there's a very good book on the subject, if you want to read it by somebody, by a Frenchman called Jack in the Gulf called the Birth of Purgatory, which is a very interesting study of all this and how it all happened. But basically, purgatory was invented as a pastorally as a pastoral measure. You see, to us we think of purgatory as more or less the same thing as hell. You know, if somebody said, Are you enjoying your church history class and you say it's purgatory, I mean, you might as well say it's hell. It's the same thing, isn't it, as far as the outside world is concerned. But in theology, purgatory and hell are two completely different things.
Why? Because hell is eternal punishment. No hope here. You know, it's like being on death row in Texas. You know, you've had it if that's what happens to you. And then there's no reprieve, you say. And it's shocking. But anyway, you see, this is what is likely to happen. You see, too, I mean, you get into this, this into hell, you say goodbye. Purgatory, on the other hand, is paying off your debts. I mean, okay, you have to suffer the pain and the fire and everything else, and you have to go through this and that. But you're working off your debt the whole time. The exit of purgatory is not hell, but heaven. Therefore, purgatory is specially designed for all those people who aren't good enough to go to heaven when they die and say that they can work it off for several million years after they've gone. Now, I just tell you this I'm not proud of it, but I'll tell you that I'm going to spend a lot less time in purgatory than any of you because I've got a dispensation from the Pope. I went to Rome months Christmas Day and heard the pope sort of talk. You know, this is not the present one. This is politics. Think, you know, give this Christmas Day message for every Vatican Square and everybody who was there got a million years off in purgatory. Isn't that nice? So anyhow, so I don't want to I don't want to boast, you know, but I'll be in heaven a million years before you. So but this was this was this. This was the way it was. Now. By prayer and various other spiritual exercises. Of course, you could start paying off your debt now. But the church came up with the idea.
This is all very clever so that you can pay off the debt for your dead relatives. Now, this is very clever indeed. You say I don't have this feeling. I mean, my dead relatives can stay in purgatory for as long as they jolly well like. And I'm not going to do anything to get them out, because that's fine, you know. But that I'm a mean, nasty, horrible person. You say that a lot of people, they want their loved one out of purgatory. You say sooner rather than later. And so, of course, they will say masses or, you know, walk barefoot or do whatever they can to help their, you know, their food, their loved one, you know, spend less time in purgatory paying off with it for them. Well, this is fine, except that it can be a nuisance. Walking barefoot in the snow and so on. I mean, there's got to be an easier way than that. And the church, of course, came up with it. All you have to do is pay. Or say you can buy your way out of purgatory. And this is what is known as buying indulgences. That's what it is that, you know, you give so much to the church, you know. I mean, you give your local university $60 million and they build a divinity school. And so you get, you know, another several million years off in purgatory. I mean, it's it's all sort of organized like this. You see the sale of indulgence that hasn't stopped. It just takes a different form these days by and and people can do this. You see, it's a it's a it's a very clever thing to do. And so this is what the church did and of course, made it an enormous amount of money doing it.
Now, I say this because, of course, as you know, it was the sale of indulgences which sparked Martin Luther to protest, even though the sale of indulgences have been going on for hundreds of years. I mean, it suddenly the penny dropped, you know, and in his mind at one point and he realized this was wrong and sort of started campaigning against it. But you need to understand the place that the sale of indulgences began to occupy within the Roman church and why you see, and why there was such resistance to abolishing it, because it was a wonderful source of income. You know, I think it's rather like tobacco tax. I mean, they know they ought to get rid of tobacco, but they won't because they make too much money off it. You see, it's this this sort of thing. So you have this this going on in the later Middle Ages. Now, the trouble was that as time went on, the Crusades became more and more of a bottomless pit. You could throw money at Palestine, you know, and just go on throwing money there. And it never did any good whatsoever. Heliport. And eventually they were overrun. And so after 200 years, there was nothing to show for all this tremendous outlay of money. And the papacy as a result, lost an enormous amount of prestige because its pet project went down the drain. Did this mean that they gave up selling indulgences and taxing people in other ways because there was now nothing to spend the money on? Well, hardly. You know, I mean, you might as well say that now that the Cold War is over and we don't need a huge defense budget, does this mean that taxes go down? Ha ha ha.
You know, my next joke? It's funny how bureaucracies find another way of using the money, you know, from the way that they originally claimed was necessary. You know how these things are very strange, anyhow. Okay, so the church, of course, did nothing. They carried on with the system as it had always been. Even though there was now even no real justification for it other than keeping the bureaucracy going. And the bureaucracy was unpopular. And this led to a huge crisis in the church, which broke out around the 1300s because the last of the Crusader states went in 1291. So it's this time you see the crisis is building up. And the crisis was felt above all in France because the king of France, who at that time only ruled a very small portion of the country that we now call France, but was trying to extend his his power and so on, and felt that controlling the church and especially the revenues of the church would be a wonderful way of doing this. The king of France tried to get his hands on as much of the church's money and wealth as he could. And of course, the pope didn't like that very much. And so a quarrel broke out between them. Well, the pope excommunicated the French king and, you know, did everything he could to try to win his case. But it didn't work very well. And when the pope died with this Pope, Boniface, the eighth of, you know, when he died in 1303, the crisis reached a peak because for a while there was no successor. The College of Cardinals was divided in one thing and another. Eventually, however, they elected the archbishop of Bordeaux. Bordeaux, which is over here, who was a Frenchman, of course.
And the king of France simply said, You're not going to Rome. Basically, the French king took the archbishop, now the pope and his Clement the Fifth as his prisoner. I mean, it was a sort of a very genteel kind of imprisonment. But, you know, the pope was sort of told you're not leaving France. And instead of going to Rome, the pope set up in the French city of Avignon, down here, as in the Rome Valley, not far from Marseilles Avenue, which became the center of the papacy from 1305 until 1376. So 70 years, this is known it was called at the time the Babylonian captivity of the papacy. Well, yeah. However, that's one point of view. Obviously, from the most Europeans standpoint, the first move of the papacy to avenue was actually a very good thing. And the reason it was a good thing was that Avignon was much closer to the heart of Western Europe than Rome was, because if you look at the map, you see getting to Rome was a very difficult thing because you had to cross the Alps. And crossing the Alps was not an easy matter. And in fact, to get from Germany or France or England to Rome could easily take you the better part of two years, because if you missed the season, you see, I mean, if it started snowing in the Alps before you got there, you'd have to winter somewhere on the north side of the Alps and then wait until the spring, the spring so and so on, and then cross over in the spring. And then you get to Rome. And by the time you were ready to head back again, it'd be winter again. So to me, it was not an easy journey.
And so going to Avignon, where you could come sail down the road and you see, it was just it was quite an easy journey this way that you could avoid it. The Alps was very much better and people could get to Avenue and back again much faster than if they had to go all the way to Rome. So this was a popular move with especially with the princes and rulers of Northern Europe who felt that the papacy had sort of come to them in a way, You know, it was much, much more accessible. But, of course, the papacy itself could not stay in Avignon forever, because the only claim, the only real claim that the pope had to be head of the church was that he was bishop of Rome. And if he separated himself from Rome, which is where Peter, the apostle Peter was buried, and so on, sooner or later somebody was going to say, Well, where's your authority? I mean, you know, what makes you the head of the church? Because you've nothing to do with Rome. You're you know, you're an avenue. And what's that got to do with us? And so the papacy itself, the popes themselves, realized that sooner or later they were going to have to go back to to Rome. And in 1376, the pope finally said, Right, pack your bags, we're going. And he did. And he got to Rome the following year. It took him over. It took him several months, I mean, again, because of winter and so on. But in 1377, the papacy went back to Rome. The pope thereupon died. I mean, he wasn't there for more than about six months, but he dropped dead. The cardinals at this point, who were all Frenchmen basically and have been born and brought up in Avignon, virtually said, we're going back to Avignon.
You know, I mean, Rome is Rome is the pits at Rome had been let go to ruin for 70 years, and I didn't have anything to say. Whereas, I mean, having now, you know, was a French city. So it had, you know, nice baguettes, French bread and Camembert and all this kind of thing. And now we have to go back to Rome and live with those awful Italians. And now we want to go home. And basically that's what they said and. They they made an agreement with one of their number and they said, right, reelect you, Pope. It will elect you pope. But you've got to promise that when you win, you as soon as you're made pope, you'll go back to having them. And so this cardinal said, right, fine, you know, happy with that. So they elected him pope. He was pope. I think it was urban. The. It was I didn't even notice in the sixties. I can't remember which. Anyhow, he got elected and what did he do? Promptly turned around and said, well, now I'm elected by we're staying here. You know, he changed his mind. Not the first person, of course, to tear up his election promises, but they lost the cardinal. The cardinals thereupon said, You've broken faith with us. You've broken your values, which is a terrible thing to do in the Middle Ages. The pope said, yes, but I mean, I'm the vicar of God on Earth, you know, so I can do what I like and, you know, push off, which the cardinals that promptly did. They removed themselves to Pisa in northern Italy, held another conclave as the meeting for electing the pope was called, and elected a rival pope who took them back to Avignon.
So from 1378 onwards, there were two popes, one in Rome, one in Avignon. And this period is known as the Great Schism. Now, this was a terrible thing. This was worse than the Babylonian captivity as far as the papacy was concerned, because the whole mystique, the whole raison d'etre, if you like, of the papacy, was that it was the center of unity of the church. So the minute you have to, you know, you have a two headed monster and this does not work, and the whole of Western Europe had to decide. Which of these popes they were going to recognize. Well, of course. How do you decide? Forget theology. Of course, you know, theology has nothing to do with real life when it comes to making this kind of decision, as you know. Well, it's true. You know, I mean, people like people who decide to get which church do you get married in? And you get married in the church that has the best photographic, you know, the most photogenic church. Never mind anything else. Well, it's the same it's the same sort of thing here, you see. France, of course, supported the Avignon papacy because Avignon was in France, and so they wanted it in France. And that was that was fine. They would support that. England justice predictably supported Rome. Why? Because. Don't like France. You say that all this Scotland, of course, supported. Now, why? Because they don't like England. So you have this sort of knock on effect, you see. I mean, nothing whatever to do with the merits of the case. But the result was that Western Europe was split politically and socially because of this schism, which naturally just went on because there was no way of solving it.
This horrified church leaders, obviously, they did everything they possibly could to overcome it, including at one point trying to persuade the two popes to resign. And there would be a council, church council called and they would elect a successor. They would like a single successor and say that while two existing popes would resign. And then there's this third man who was elected would become the pope. Well, the two existing popes were more or less cajoled into that. The council met. They elected a third pope. Result. There were then three popes because the two wouldn't resign, you see. And this went on and on. It was a terrible situation, which was not finally resolved until the year 1417, when one of the popes died and the Avignon Pope died. And the Roman pope was then recognized by the Avignon Party. They got fed up with the schism and they recognized they didn't elect the successor. They said, All right, well, we'll follow the Roman line you see at that particular point. But this was a generation, you see, of of division in the church at the highest level. And, of course, it had tremendous knock on effects because all of a sudden people started saying, well, who is the pope anyway? What is his claim? You see, why do we have this kind of system? What's going on? How is it possible for one person to cause such a commotion or see if we have if we have a break in the system at this level, why is the whole of Western Europe thrown into chaos? You're saying because of this? Is this the way it should be? And lots of people started saying, well, no. This is not the way it should be. We don't need this kind of thing.
What is wrong is that the system is a false one. It shouldn't work like this. And so that grew up instead, something which is called the conciliar movement. Which said that the church should be run by councils. Councils are representatives from each country. Each area of Western Europe, which would gather together once every five years and legislate for the church. And the Pope could be the sort of chairman of the council. That kind of thing. They went against the Pope entirely, but basically they wanted to turn the pope into a constitutional monarch. No. We'll see over the church as a whole. They wanted to remove as much real power from him as they possibly could. Well, this conciliar movement was very popular for quite a long time, but it had a number of weaknesses. The main one being that given the problems of travel in the 15th century meeting every five years. Was not a practical proposition. Because you would really be on the road the whole time. You know, getting getting there and back again would take the better part of a year in some cases. And so doing this was it was a very difficult thing. You could hardly imagine it happening. Also, the pope kept the bureaucracy because the bureaucracy was still that it was still functioning. And so the pope, by controlling the bureaucracy, could more or less set the agenda and save for these councils. And gradually by a lot of clever maneuvering and so on, the papacy managed to regain its control over the church, and the conciliar movement petered out. It just it just didn't die the death of its own accord because, you know, it was too ambitious an idea for its time. It couldn't work. However, there were other factors which had to be taken into account as well.
The first of these was the plague. The plague which struck in 1346, coming from the Black Sea down through Constantinople, through Italy. And by 1350 it was really 1346 to 15 around that time. It had touched most of Western Europe, not everywhere. There were some places that escaped the plague. But on the whole, the plague or the Black Death bubonic plague went right across the whole of Western Europe. Now, we cannot imagine today what a disaster this was. Because it is estimated that up to one third of the population died. Now if you compare that with a modern epidemic. You know, I mean, something like AIDS is a drop in the ocean. I'm thinking, what else? What other epidemics do we have, you know, flu or something? I mean, still, it's not one third of the population by any means. You know, maybe a lot of people in its own own way. But in percentage terms, you know, it's not that significant. So but you are losing, as I say, at least one third of everybody that's one person in three is no longer there. And bubonic plague spread rapidly. And it was almost instant death. You see. It was a very quick departure. People would be fine and well one day and then be dead the next, you know, because they got the plague. And so it was felt to be a visitation from God. Of course, you see, for the sins of the people. I mean, this was a terrible, terrible thing. Now you can go places. I mean, in England, for example, I know this for a fact, there are places which are still deserted today because they were plague villages, one that you may have heard of. If you read T.S.
Eliot. You ever read the poem Poet T.S. Eliot in his Four Quartets? The last of them is called Little Gidding. And Little Gidding is a plague village. It was there before the plague. I mean, there was a village, and now all that's left is the church. And there are places in England, even in England, you see, which is heavily populated. But you can go across the eastern part around here in Norfolk and suddenly you'll come across a church in the middle of a field and you think, What's it doing there? You know, I mean, who did that? And the reason is that there used to be a village there. But in the middle of the 14th century, the plague struck. The village was wiped out, the church was left. But for generations, nobody would go near because of the contamination. You see, they wouldn't be. You can sort of see the superstitious in the end. So they build a village a mile or so down the road, you know, which is where the modern village is leaving the church out in the country because the church was was in what was the middle of the village, you see. And this is still there. You can still see this 650 years later. You know, that is a long time. So the scar, the scars of the plague are still visible in Western Europe today. If you know where to look, you see they're still there. You can still see the effects. Now, this, of course, did several things. First of all, manpower. The labor pool was eradicated after 1350. There was tremendous shortage of labor. This in turn meant that there were fewer people to go into the monasteries. You see, they were needed on the farm, this kind of thing.
And so things like monastic life declined because there were fewer new recruits. People were unwilling to sacrifice their children to become priests, you say, because they they needed to build up the population again. So as I say, that the church suffered in this way, but at the same time, religion became much more intense than it had previously been because people felt that death was much nearer at hand than it was. You see, I mean, with the plague around, people had to think very carefully about their sins, about their eternal destiny and all this kind of thing. But you have at this point, of course, as you can see, a movement in two directions. On the one hand, the institutional church is suffering. On the other hand, there's a growth of interest in religion and in, you know, spiritual things generally. So how are you going to cater for this? Well, what happened in the later part of the 14th century is that people began to look for alternatives to the institution. They began to ask themselves, you know, is this the only way to God? Is there not another way to get to God? Is it perhaps because of the corruption of the church that we have been punished in this dreadful way? You say do we need to look elsewhere and in a different way for, you know, for the future, for our future and for our salvation? And so the. 14th century was a time of increasing restlessness. In this respect, it was a time when there was a great growth in witchcraft. Witchcraft had always been there, of course, but it became much more popular. In the 14th century, people looking for alternatives. Rather like today, you know, new age religions and all this kind of thing became much more prevalent than they had been previously.
And even inside the church, even inside the the structures of the administration, people began to ask questions. People began to wonder, you know, whether there wasn't a new and different way. And the person who sort of was the right man in the right place at the right time, if you like, was John Wycliffe. There are different ways of spelling request to spell it like that. Wickliffe was a lecturer in the University of Oxford University's had been founded by the church basically around this time in the late 11th century. They began to develop to provide bureaucrats, basically. I mean, they were church institutions designed to provide men for the service of the church, whether they were going to be priests or lawyers or whatever they were. That was their main purpose in existing. And Wickliffe taught at Oxford, which of course was one of the earliest and most famous of these universities and these new schools of learning. Wickliffe began to question the fundamental basis of the church as it was in his time. He denied the claims of the papacy. Well, that was fairly common. I mean, lots of people, you know, had problems with the papacy. But still, you know, he he articulated it in a way that had not previously been done more seriously. He questioned the sacramental theology, which had been growing up in the Middle Ages and which gave the priests their power over the people. Because if you believed, for example, that a priest standing in front of the altar in the church could, by saying the right words, turn a piece of bread into the body of Christ or turn a cup of wine into the blood of Christ, and that you needed to participate in this body and blood of Christ in order to be saved.
You could have a lot of practical control over people. You know, you could by by withholding the sacrament from them. You could, in effect, deny them access to salvation. And Wickliffe questioned all of this in particular, because, of course, at this very time, the church, for hygienic reasons, was not allowing the average person to drink from the cup. In other words, they give you a bit of bread, you know, for communion. But you were not supposed to take the cup for obvious reasons. I mean, it was it was a hygienic move initially. But like everything else, it became theology ized and people said, well, is communion in one kind valid? And the church theologians said, yes, because if you take the human body, the blood is part of the body. So if you eat the body, you're eating the blood as well. You know, it's in the body and you don't really have to have it separately. This was their argument. See, so that communion in one kind provided it was the right kind of button, the bread, not the wine, was okay, you know. And they tried to justify it. And this was obviously somebody like Wickliffe, you know, who was an educated person begins to question all of this and wondering whether this is really the right way to go about it or not. Wickliffe, of course, had to base his criticisms on some things, and so he came up with the view that only the Bible. Is the authority in matters of faith. That if you are trying to prove whether something is right or wrong, you must try to find it in Scripture. If it is not in Scripture, then you can't impose it on the church. You see that in that tradition, which is which is an accretion of interpretations of one kind or another.
This is all very well, but it is not authoritative. And if you look in the Bible, you will not find anything about communion in one kind. You will not find anything about transubstantiation. You will not find anything about indulgences or purgatory or any of these things you say. In fact, if you look in the Bible, you will. You will get the surprise of your life. If you are a medieval churchgoer, because you will find very little of what you do as a matter of course, in your church is actually in the Bible, you say. And so this was a new revelation for a lot of people. Now, we might have got away with all of this because he was a university lecturer. And of course, no one takes them very seriously, as you know. And in Oxford especially, it's full of eccentrics. And, you know, one isn't really terribly surprised to come across these odd oddities. And had he gone on, you know, just lecturing in front of a classroom and saying these things, it would have been probably okay, you know. But Wickliffe, of course, had bright ideas and he decided that this was not good enough. You see, just talking to students, he had to go out in the highways and byways and preach this new message to the average person. And so he is he became an open air preacher in Oxford. And that was an entirely different thing because Wickliffe, of course, preaching to the ordinary person, was basically giving the game away. You know, I mean, what had been a secret sort of club or sort of shoptalk, if you like, you've seen within the clerical establishment now becomes public knowledge. And it's very interesting to follow the career of Wickliffe in this response, throwing money there.
And it never did any good whatsoever. Not only that, but one of his biggest problems was finding words, too, to express what he wanted to say. Because, of course, everything that went on in the in the theological faculty was in Latin. I mean, the lectures were in Latin. Does anyone know, incidentally, when the first lectures in English were given in theology? Also, can anyone guess what sort of time it was in around the turn of the century to. No, no, no, no. It was earlier than that. I think the first recorded English language lecture in Oxford was in 1806. So, you know, it's not that long ago and it's certainly nothing to do with the Reformation, you know. Anyhow, that's just in passing. But we have, of course, that everything was in Latin, in the university, but if we only went out in the street to preach, we had to preach in English. And there were no words. I mean, the English language just did not have the vocabulary to express what he wanted to say. And so the first thing he had to do to say I mean, it was all very well to talk about, you know, the importance of the Bible. But most people had not read the Bible, could not read the Bible. And so Wickliffe began a policy of Bible translation and, you know, sort of to give the Bible to the people in a language which they could understand. Now, this, as I say, may sound like an easy operation, but actually it was extremely difficult because in the process of translating, he had to invent words in the English language, which did not exist at that time. You know, especially theological words, was that justification is all very well to stand up and talk about justification by faith.
But if nobody uses these words and you say, if this is not I mean, Wycliffe must have sounded like a computer manual. You know, you pick up a computer manual which is designed for the ordinary person to tell you how to read a computer and you can't understand a word of it. You know how it is. You recognize each individual word, but you don't know how it's put together because you don't talk that kind of language. Well, this is this was the problem that we faced, is the communicating to the average person. Now, how much Wickliffe himself actually got involved in the business of translation, We don't know. There's a lot of controversy about this. But whether he did it himself or whether he got his student assistance to do it or whatever, this you can argue to the cows, come home, write a PhD thesis on it and so on, and still we won't be any wiser. It doesn't really matter. The fact of the matter is there were two versions of the Bible in English which eventually appeared, thanks to wit, Cliff's ministrations and his encouragement. Now, Wickliffe himself was condemned by the Pope in 1377. He'd only just got back to Rome to a man, you know, and that was Cliff's case, knocking on the door and, and which was condemned at this point. Not a lot happened to him because of the great schism. Wycliffe was lucky, you say. I mean, because of the schism in the church, the people had other things on their mind. And so Wickliffe really didn't suffer very much. I mean, he was excommunicated. Of course, he had to leave Oxford. Yes, but he died in his sleep, you know, which is more than happened to most heretics at a slightly later time.
So Richter was was quite lucky as these things go. And he died in 1384 on New Year's Eve. I must have been too excited about it now. But I how 31st of December was easy to remember. You say when he died, Wycliffe's followers were given the name Lowlands. This is an old English word. It comes from the verb to lull. We don't use that word really now? Not very much anyway. Meaning to mumble, to murmur, because these people were regarded by those who didn't like them as people who went around mumbling. What were they mumbling? Well, they were learning the Bible. They were they were memorizing Bible verses. They were the navigators of their time, you know, sort of going around learning Bible verse as well. Fair enough. And the lads used to meet in convertibles, as they called them. I mean, in small groups we would call it home group Bible study, this sort of thing, to learn the scriptures and to to study what they taught. And Lord spread very rapidly, very widely. And despite many attempts to stamp it out, it survived until the Reformation, which is very important. You see, there were still lowlands around when. The Reformation broke out. I mean, there may not have been there many, but they were there. Wycliffe's Bible or the two versions also survived. But it's rather interesting to note that it wasn't printed. It was a hand handwritten, of course, because there was no printing in which it would cause time. But even when printing came along, nobody printed witless Bible. It wasn't, in fact printed until 1850, a long, long time after it was originally written. So you can now get it or you find it in our library. But the printed edition you find in the library is 19th century, not from the time it was originally used.
So what was the reaction to this? Well, the reaction to this was, first of all, Wycliffe was branded as a heretic. And Bible translation in England was outlawed. As a result, anybody who translated the Bible was also massively analog and therefore automatically a heretic. And nobody was allowed to do it. And in the year 1407, translating the Bible was forbidden by law. If this was done, you see, if you were if you did translate the Bible and you were accused of heresy. You would suffer burning at the stake. Burning at the stake was a penalty more or less invented for heretics. And again, it was made the law in 1401. This is in England. It was made in other European countries at more or less the same time. Can anybody guess when the law on Harris burning people at the stake for heresy was repealed? It was eventually repealed. But anyone know when we could guess? More or less. When you say what? 1956 No, no. 1676. But again, you see that my point saying that is long after the Reformation, you know, it was not a thing that was was taken away at the time of the Reformation, but it went on for a long, long while. Why was burning at the stake chosen for heretics or cleansing of their sin? Very good. Yes. Fire is a piece of purifying fire. That's absolutely right. And also, although I mean, I'm sure you haven't tried it, burning at the stake is actually a relatively humane way of putting someone to death. I know it doesn't sound like it, but if you burn someone at the stake, they don't die of fire. They die of suffocation because long before your body actually gets burnt, you know, you've died from the from the smoke.
So, I mean, although, you know, we don't want to recommend it or anything like that. I mean, given that the alternative was hanging and that hanging didn't always work terribly well because they didn't always tie the rope. Right. You know, and it could get rather messy and horrible. And execution didn't always get, you know, through the neck on the first blow. And that could be rather nasty and horrible as well. Burning at the stake was relative. I mean, you know, given that we don't want this sort of thing anyhow, I mean, it was relatively humane, shall we say. You know, given given the alternatives. Well, that's true. Yes, that's true. Yes. I mean, there were complications, but on the whole, you know, it wasn't too bad. The other thing was that was that burning at the stake was a marvelous public show because, you know, you would have to build up the pyre and it would take several days to do that. And then, you know, there would be a great public ceremony and you burn someone publicly in the town square, which was a marvelous object lesson to anybody else who might wish to try this, you see. And so it was felt that its deterrent value, the value of it as a as a as a deterrent, was quite high. And so the argument went. In fact, one of the interesting things about burning at the stake is that not many people were burnt. And one of the reasons why not many people were burnt is that there weren't many people who knew how to do it. You know, it's one of these things all very well to have hanging or, you know, execution or something like this as a death penalty. But unless you have people who know how to do it, you know, it doesn't really work very well and burn it, because burning at the stake was a new way of doing this.
And it was reserved for this particular crime. I mean, people didn't get burned at the stake for anything else. It was only for heresy. There weren't that many opportunities for practicing with the result that when the Reformation came, you know, and burning at the stake sort of came back into fashion because of the heretics right after the center. Of course, that time there was a lot of popular opposition to it because although people realized that it was on the statute book, you see, I mean, technically this is what you were supposed to do. It was so rare in actual practice that, you know, people didn't didn't feel that it should be done at all. You know, there was a lot of opposition. And indeed, the reaction against it when it started to become frequent was very strong. And this was one of the most powerful factors in spreading Protestantism among the people at large because they saw what happened. You see what the church was prepared to do to stamp it out. The Smithfield family became yes, yes. At the time of the Reformation. How many were? Well, in total, probably 300 or 400, something like that record saying, yes, there are. I mean, is no way of telling how many people. And in all, because, you know, not necessarily the records we have are not necessarily complete. But I think it's possible to document something like 300 or so, you know, of them. Yeah. I mean, there were some those. No, no, it was it was all over the place. I mean, people got burnt, you know, I mean, in different places. But in London was obviously a major center for it, and so was Paris because of of being central Joan of Arc.
You see, she was burnt at the stake for heresy in Paris because, well, you know, that was a central place to do it. So what when was that? 1431. Not long after that came in. But she was accused of heresy and burnt as a witch, you say, for doing things like wearing men's clothing. You know, just just think. Imagine if you put women to death today for wearing jeans. You know, there wouldn't be many left with them. But anyway, that's she was she was actually, I mean, a crazy thing. Absolutely mad. But, you know, this this went on to a limited extent. I mean, Joan of Arc is a famous case, but she's famous in a sense, because it wasn't that common. You know, it was sufficiently rare. And of course, the public reaction, I mean, Joan of Arc death made it turned her into a heroine. You're saying so I mean, you should be careful about this because you burn people at the stake. It's going to have the opposite effect, possibly. Don't you know? You know what? So anyhow, this is what, you know, was going on at this time. However, another person, a very famous person who was burnt at the stake was Iron Horse, who was a disciple of Wickliffe and who lived in Bohemia, which is here now. That's now the Czech Republic. How did he pick up Wickliffe? Well, of course, Wickliffe did all his writing, his theological writing in Latin. Latin was the common language. So he just read Wickliffe in Latin, thought Wickliffe was a good guy and basically took up with Cliff's ideas and began to spread them all around Central Europe. One of his big things was that he wanted to restore communion in both kinds in the church.
He felt that this was to him. This was a sort of classic example of how the church had usurped the authority of Scripture, you see, by going against what the Bible taught. So he was very hot on that. Anyway, he was convoked to appear at the Council of Constance Constance, which is on the border between Germany and Switzerland. And you can spell it the English way, Constance or the German way sounds the same. It just looks different. Constance In 1415 where he was, he was tried for heresy before the Pope and condemned now hosts had been granted safe conduct. To stand trial. But this was broken. He was arrested and burned at the stake in Constance in 1415. This is very important to remember because 100 years later, Martin Luther was convoked to another council to stand trial for heresy. He was granted a safe conduct as well. And people were genuinely afraid for his life because they remembered what had happened to us. You see, 100 years before. Well, anyhow, the her cites, as they came to be called, could not like the lowlands were not wiped out. They continued to exist. They continued to press their claims and in a sense to form a kind of underground opposition to the authorities so that there was kind of like it's kind of like a spreading oil slick. You know, it just means somebody to light a match and poof, the whole thing goes up in flames. You see, there were moves in this direction already long before Luther and Luther tapped in to forces which were already in existence, and about which he didn't necessarily know a great deal himself personally here. I mean, Luther was asked, Are you a follower of hers? And he sort of like, stop and think about it, you know, as a hearse.
Hearse? Oh, yes, yes. Yeah. Yes, I am. You know, that was sort of Luther's reaction. I mean, you know, he kind of had to it didn't come naturally to him to think like this. But he did identify with this sort of thing. He identified with witchcraft eventually when he really you know, when he realized that what we had said and of course, in this way, the Protestant Reformation claimed these 15, 14th and 15th century heretics, I suppose you'd have to call them.