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Before the Gregorian Reform: The Latin Church at the Turn of the First Millennium
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John Howe
Before the Gregorian Reform: The Latin Church at the Turn of the First Millennium by John Howe at Abbey's Bookshop,

Before the Gregorian Reform: The Latin Church at the Turn of the First Millennium

John Howe


Cornell University Press

European history;
Early history: c 500 to c 1450&1500;
Religion & beliefs;
Christian Churches & denominations


372 pages

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Historians typically single out the hundred-year period from about 1050 to 1150 as the pivotal moment in the history of the Latin Church, for it was then that the Gregorian Reform movement established the ecclesiastical structure that would ensure Rome's dominance throughout the Middle Ages and beyond. In Before the Gregorian Reform John Howe challenges this familiar narrative by examining earlier, pre-Gregorian reform efforts within the Church. He finds that they were more extensive and widespread than previously thought and that they actually established a foundation for the subsequent Gregorian Reform movement.

The low point in the history of Christendom came in the late ninth and early tenth centuries-a period when much of Europe was overwhelmed by barbarian raids and widespread civil disorder, which left the Church in a state of disarray. As Howe shows, however, the destruction gave rise to creativity. Aristocrats and churchmen rebuilt churches and constructed new ones, competing against each other so that church building, like castle building, acquired its own momentum. Patrons strove to improve ecclesiastical furnishings, liturgy, and spirituality. Schools were constructed to staff the new churches. Moreover, Howe shows that these reform efforts paralleled broader economic, social, and cultural trends in Western Europe including the revival of long-distance trade, the rise of technology, and the emergence of feudal lordship. The result was that by the mid-eleventh century a wealthy, unified, better-organized, better-educated, more spiritually sensitive Latin Church was assuming a leading place in the broader Christian world.

Before the Gregorian Reform challenges us to rethink the history of the Church and its place in the broader narrative of European history. Compellingly written and generously illustrated, it is a book for all medievalists as well as general readers interested in the Middle Ages and Church history.

By:   John Howe
Imprint:   Cornell University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 24mm
ISBN:   9781501732683
ISBN 10:   1501732684
Pages:   372
Publication Date:   January 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Unspecified

John Howe is Professor of History at Texas Tech University. He is the author of Church Reform and Social Change in Eleventh-Century Central Italy: Dominic of Sora and His Patrons and coeditor of Inventing Medieval Landscapes: Senses of Place in Western Europe.

An extensively researched, engagingly written, and nicely illustrated book.... Howe draws upon his own impressive research to demonstrate the numerous contacts between the Roman and Greek churches. * American Historical Review * In this deeply learned and handsomely illuminated book, John Howe boldly reinserts the role played by church reform into the story of the formation of Europe during the fraught centuries around the millennium. He magnificently brings to life the creativity of an era too often overshadowed by the glories of the Carolingian and twelfth-century 'renaissances' that came before and after it. Like the gold and jewels that gleam on a medieval psalter, the work is studded with elegant evocations of the rich spirituality and dazzling material culture of Europe around the year 1000: its books, liturgy, statuary art, reliquaries, manuscripts, castles, and the `white mantel' of its churches. Before the Gregorian Reform is a mature work of scholarship written by a leading scholar of church history at the top of his craft. -- Hans J. Hummer, Wayne State University, author of <I>Politics and Power in Early Medieval Europe</I> Before the Gregorian Reform is wide-ranging, thoughtful, and thought-provoking, written in a clear and indeed engaging way: I have found this book very stimulating, and have learned a great deal. -- G. A. Loud, University of Leeds, author of <I>The Latin Church in Norman Italy</I> There is much of use here: the stress on the physical, acoustic and aesthetic aspects of developments in the tenth and early eleventh centuries is welcome, and these sections bring together a wide range of recent literature. Mediterranean areas, especially Italy, receive due attention... the emphasis on Byzantine ideas is refreshing. * Journal of Ecclesiastical History * Builds on a good deal of recent research which emphasises the deep roots of later developments, and draws attention to the diversity and vitality of religious life at this time.... He succeeds in evoking interest in the tenth-century Church. * English Historical Review * A comprehensive and accessible survey of two hundred years of church history.... A richly textured and arresting image of a world rooted in its Carolingian past yet foundational to the expansionist and ecumenical church of the later Middle Ages.... Indispensible to any medieval history syllabus. * H-Soz-Kult *

  • Winner of Helen and Howard R. Marraro Prize (AHA) 2018 (United States)
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