The Great Schism, Philip II Augustus, & Medieval Sacraments

When the Roman emperor Constantine established Constantinople as the new capital of the Roman empire, Constantinople grew greater and greater, until it passed Rome in greatness. Constantinople was considered “The New Rome” by many people. The church in Constantinople, due to these changes, wanted to be viewed as superior, or at least equal or near equal, to Rome; whose church had been viewed as the authority of all the Christians for a long time.

Rome did not accept this, and said that Rome’s authority was not from it’s status in the world, but that the apostle Peter founded the church in Rome and then died there. Constantinople, for a time, said that it had been founded by the apostle Andrew, but this was later found to be almost certainly false. The competition between the two churches got even worse when the other major dioceses of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem fell under Muslim control. They also disagreed with each other on many issues such as whether married men can become priests and the iconoclast controversy. There was also a big language and cultural barrier between the Western and Eastern churches.

These factors contributed to the Great Schism. The schism started when Roman legates excommunicated Michael Celularius, the Patriarch of Constantinople. They had no intention of excommunicating all of Constantinople, or the entire East, but only Celularius. The schism persists today, with the exception of the Uniate churches.


When Charlemagne’s descendants died out, the French nobility elected Hugh Capet, a little known figure as the king. The nobility wanted someone with little power as the king of France so that they could get away with doing what they wanted. The Capetian kings slowly gained more power by taking the fiefs of vassals who died without their heirs and those who were unfaithful to their feudal obligations. Due to this, France became more centralized in power under the king.

Before, France had been considered a minor power who was not much of a threat to anyone in Europe. But, under Philip II Augustus, France became the dominant power in Europe. Philip ruled from 1180-1223 AD. He destroyed the Angevin Empire, crushing King John of England. France experienced even more centralization and administrative sophistication.


In the Medieval church, there seven sacraments which the people took part in. The Catholic church still practices these sacraments today. They considered it to be a sensible sign of invisible grace. The Catholic view of justification was that the soul, which is darkened by sin, needs to be cleansed by the grace of God. This grace is conveyed to people by the sacraments. The seven sacraments are Baptism, Holy Communion, Matrimony, Holy orders, Extreme Unction, Penance, and The Mass.


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