Post-classical history


Arianism the heresy of Arius, condemned by the Council of Nicaea (AD 325), for teaching that in the Trinity the Son was not equal to the Father and Holy Ghost, but in our period more generally, the sin of dividing the church

canon (i) a rule; (ii) a person whose life was governed by a Rule; (iii) one of the governing body of a cathedral, with a share of its revenues

canon law the law of the church

clerk a man in holy orders; a literate person

commune a sworn association; hence the collective identity and governing body of a city. Many were formed, especially in Italy, from c. 1100, generally dominated by noble clans

consul title often given to the officers of the commune, usually chosen to serve for a year; also often called boni homines– good men

contado the area surrounding a (normally Italian) city and subject to its jurisdiction

deacon a member of the clergy ranking below priests

desert fathers the early Christian hermits who lived with extreme austerity in the Egyptian desert, the most famous being St Anthony (dates traditionally given as 251–356)

Donatism the heresy that the efficacy of a sacrament depends on the worthiness of the minister

eucharist the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, celebrated in the Mass

fathers of the church the leading thinkers and writers of the early church, including Jerome (c. 331–420), Ambrose of Milan (340–97), Augustine of Hippo (354–430) and (Pope) Gregory the Great (540–604)

Flanders approx equals modern Belgium and north-eastern France

Francia here, roughly the northern part of modern France and the French-speaking Low Countries, which had been ruled by Charlemagne but was not always ruled in its entirety by those who succeeded him as King of the Franks

inquisition (inquisitio) the device, originally of Roman law, of securing information by putting designated individuals on oath

Italy in our period only a geographical expression, but one which does not now carry unacceptable connotations: cf. Languedoc

Languedoc the name by which the region between the Alps, the Pyrenees and the Dordogne became known after the greater part of it was conquered and absorbed by the French crown (see Chapters 1518). There is no accepted name for it before those events that does not imply a prejudgement of them. ‘Midi’ (‘de la France’) and ‘Occitania’ are open to similar objections. For this reason I have wherever possible preferred topographical designations.

legate a representative of the pope, with delegated papal powers

Low countries region around the deltas of the Rhine, Scheldt and Meuse rivers, including modern Netherlands and Belgium, parts of Germany and northern France

Manichees, Manichaeans alleged followers of Mani (d. 271), often applied in our period to those particularly suspected of abstention from meat and sex

mark a unit of weight, in principle 8 ounces = 160 silver denarii (pennies); in practice it varied considerably

neoplatonism a philosophical tradition stressing the corruption of matter: see pp. 16–17

nicolaitism the heresy of defending clerical marriage

popolo collectively, the groups that emerged in opposition to the noble communes in Italian cities from c. 1200: see p. 236

reliquary container for the relics of a saint, often splendidly decorated

sacraments religious rites regarded as conveying divine grace. Today in the Catholic Church they are: baptism, confirmation, the eucharist, penance, extreme unction, ordination and matrimony; but in the twelfth century their number and status were still undefined and often controversial.

simony the sale of spiritual powers: see Chapter 5

synod a council or assembly of clergy

Templar member of the religious Order of the Temple, founded in 1119 to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land, which rapidly became extremely wealthy and powerful

tithe proportion of crops and other produce paid in principle to the priest, and in practice to his ecclesiastical superiors or the secular lord (see pp. 72–3)

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