History of the Catholic Church to the Renaissance

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History of the Catholic Church to the Renaissance
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The history of the Catholic Church is traced to apostolic times. Its history is an integral part of the history of christianity and of Western civilization.

History of the Catholic Church to the Renaissance - THE  BORGIAS   wikiCatholics believe as a point of faith that their Church was founded by Jesus Christ. Catholic doctrine asserts that it is the continuation of the Church that was founded at the Confession of Peter. It interprets the Confession of Peter as Christ's designation of Apostle Peter (pictured left) and his successors in Rome to be the temporal head of his Church. Thus, it asserts that the Bishop of Rome has the sole legitimate claim to Petrine authority and the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff. The Catholic Church claims legitimacy of its bishops and priests via the doctrine of apostolic succession and authority of the pope via the unbroken line of popes, successors to Simon Peter. The authority of the Apostle Peter and his successors is thus viewed as a continuous history from Jesus Christ. The institution of the papacy as it exists today developed through the centuries. Church tradition records that Peter became the first leader of Christians in the Imperial capital of Rome.

The Apostles and many Christians traveled to Northern Africa, Asia Minor, Arabia, Greece, and Rome to found the first Christian communities. Christianity spread quickly through Roman Empire, and by the second century there were many established bishoprics within the Empire including Northern Africa, France, Italy, Syria, and Asia Minor, and twenty bishoprics outside the empire, mainly in Armenia. Irenaeuss (d. 202) defended the apostolic tradition. History of the Catholic Church to the Renaissance - THE  BORGIAS   wikiIn 313, the struggles of the Early Church were lessened by the legalisation of christianity by the Emperor Constantine I (pictured right). In 380, Christianity became the state religon of the Roman Empire by the decree of the Emperor, which would persist until the fall of the Western Empire, and later, with the Eastern Roman Empire, until the Fall of Constantinople.

During this time (the period of the Seven Ecumenical Councils) there were considered five primary sees according to Eusebius: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria, see also Pentarchy. After the destruction of the western Roman Empire, the church in the West was a major factor in the preservation of classical civilization, establishing monastries, and sending missionaries to convert the peoples of northern Europe, as far as Ireland in the north. In the East, the Byzantine Empire preserved Orthodoxy, until the massive invasions of Islam in the mid-seventh century. The invasions of Islam devastated three of the five patriarchal sees, capturing Jerusalem first, then Alexandria, and then finally in the mid-eighth century Antioch. The whole period of the next five centuries was dominated by the struggle between Christianity and Islam throughout the Mediterranean Basin. The battles of Poitiers, and Toulouse preserved the Catholic west, even though Rome itself was ravaged in 850, and Constantinople besieged. In the eleventh century, already strained relations between the primarily Greek church in the East, and the Latin church in the West, developed into the East-West Schism, partially due to conflicts over Papal Authority.

History of the Catholic Church to the Renaissance - THE  BORGIAS   wikiThe fourth crusade, and the sacking of Constantinople (pictured left) by renegade crusaders proved the final breach. In the sixteenth century, in response to the Protestant Reformation, the Church engaged in a process of substantial reform and renewal, known as the Counter-Reformation. In subsequent centuries, Catholicism spread widely across the world despite experiencing a reduction in its hold on European populations due to the growth of religious scepticism during and after the Enlightment. The Second Vatican Council in the 1960s introduced the most significant changes to Catholic practices since the Council of Trent three centuries before.

Renaissance Church

History of the Catholic Church to the Renaissance - THE  BORGIAS   wikiIn Europe, the Renaissance marked a period of renewed interest in ancient and classical learning. It also brought a re-examination of accepted beliefs. Cathedrals and churches had long served as picture books and art galleries for millions of the uneducated. The stained glass windows, fresccoes, statues, paintings and panels retold the stories of the saints and of biblical characters. The Church sponsored great Renaissance artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, who created some of the world's most famous artworks (Sistine Chapel pictured right). The acceptance of humanism had its effects on the Church, which embraced it as well. In 1509, a well known scholar of the age, Erasmus, wrote The Praise of Folly, a work which captured a widely held unease about corruption in the Church. The Papacy itself was questioned by councilarism expressed in the Councils of Constance and the Basel. Real reforms during these ecumenical councils and the Fifth Lateran Council were attempted several times but thwarted. They were seen as necessary but did not succeed in large measure because of internal feuds within the Church, ongoing conflicts with the Ottoman Empire and Saracenes and the simony and nepotism practiced in the Renaissance Church of the 15th and early 16th centuries. As a result, rich, powerful and worldly men like Rodrigo Borgia (Pope Alexander Vi) were able to win election to the papacy.
History of the Catholic Church to the Renaissance - THE  BORGIAS   wikiThe Fifth Lateran Council issued some but only minor reforms in March of 1517. A few months later, October 17, 1517, Martin Luther (pictured left) issued his Ninety-Five Thesis in a letter to several bishops, hoping to spark debate. His theses protested key points of Catholic doctrine as well as the sale of indulgences. Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, and others further criticized Catholic teachings. These challenges, supported by powerful political forces in the region, developed into the Protestant Reformation. In Germany, the reformation led to war between the Protestant Schmalkaldic League and the Catholic Emperor Charles V. The first nine-year war ended in 1555 but continued tensions produced a far graver conflict, the Thirty Years War, which broke out in 1618. In France, a series of conflicts termed the French Wars of Religon was fought from 1562 to 1598 between the Huguenots and the forces of the French Catholic League. A series of popes sided with and became financial supporters of the Catholic League. This ended under Pope Clement VIII, who hesitantly accepted King Henry IV's 1598 Edict of Nantes, which granted civil and religious toleration to Protestants.