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The Later Middle Ages$
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Isabella Lazzarini

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780198731641

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198731641.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 October 2021

The church and religious life

The church and religious life

(p.79) 3 The church and religious life
The Later Middle Ages

Robert Swanson

Oxford University Press

Late medieval Europe identified itself as explicitly Christian and specifically catholic. Christianity provided moral and ethical guidelines for organizing and structuring human society; it also presented moral and ethical challenges to contemporary social structures and practices. It accordingly provoked constant debate on issues like the violence of warfare, the validity of lending money at interest, social differentiation, and relations with other religious traditions. These were also traumatic years in the western church’s institutional history, especially for the papacy. Preceding evolutions continued and were consolidated, but there was also reaction as obscured tensions and ambiguities became more apparent, revealing fissures and forces which threatened the church’s status and its claims to catholicity within Europe. The chapter deals with a broad range of issues: the papacy; ideas about the church, the pope, and conciliarism; the evolution of national and local churches, the lower clergy, and the religious orders; and, of course, spirituality, heresy, dissent.

Keywords:   church, papacy, religious orders, councils, spirituality, Later Middle Ages, clergy, heresy

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