Ch 02 The Growth of Feudalism

Ch.2-The Growth of Feudalism-Sect 3-Christianity

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CHAPTER II: THE GROWTH OF FEUDALISM

SECTION 3: CHRISTIANITY

 THE WELSH HELD TO ROMAN LEARNING, BUT NOT THE ENGLISH.

THE WELSH ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE ENGLISH WAS LITTLE MORE THAN THAT THEY WERE SENT BY GOD TO PUNISH THEM.

AUGUSTINE LANDED IN KENT IN 597, BRINGING A RELIGIOUS REVIVAL FROM POPE GREGORY THE GREAT. CHRISTIAN KINGS WERE ESTABLISHED, AND BAPTISM OF THE WILLING MASSES OCCURRED IN KENT, ESSEX AND EAST ANGLIA, BEFORE TAKING ROOT FURTHER AFIELD IN NORTHUMBRIA WITH PAULINUS, THE FIRST BISHOP OF YORK.

THE NEW RELIGION HAD A RESOUNDING BUT HOLLOW VICTORY. WHEN EDWIN WAS DEFEATED AND KILLED BY PENDA IN 633, THE REVERSION OF NORTHUMBRIA WAS EVEN MORE RAPID.

RELIGION WAS A MATTER UPON WHICH KINGS DECIDED POLICY AND PEOPLE FOLLOWED.

THIS CELTIC TYPE OF CHRISTIANITY WITH ITS SIMPLE PIETY AND ABSENCE OF CENTRALISM CAUGHT ON WITH THE ROUGH NORTHERN TYPES.

IT HAD A UNIQUE BLEND OF HEROIC PAGANISM AND THE MILDER FAITH OF THE IRISH. SO, WHEN PENDA FROM MERCIA DEFEATED AND KILLED OSWALD, THE FAITH REMAINED.

IN 664, ROMAN AND CELTIC CHRISTIANS MET AT WHITBY TO SETTLE DIFFERENCES, SUCH AS THE KEEPING OF EASTER AND THE SHAPE OF PRIESTLY TONSURE.

ROMAN CHRISTIANITY INHERITED ALL THAT WAS ROME WITH CENTRAL DISCIPLINE, DEFINITION OF PROPERTY AND RECOGNITION OF SLAVERY AND WAS COMMITTED TO BISHOPRICS AND PARISHES, VERY SIMILAR TO FRANCE OF THAT DAY.

THE VICTORY OF ROME AT THE WHITBY SYNOD WAS THEREFORE A VICTORY FOR FEUDALISM AND ALL IT ENTAILED.

THE ROMAN IDEOLOGY COULD NOT HAVE BEEN FURTHER REMOVED FROM THAT OF CUTHBERT OF LINDISFARNE, WHO LIVED FOR WEEKS ON A HANDFUL OF RAW ONIONS, OR WHO STOOD ALL DAY UP TO HIS NECK IN SEA WATER TO PRAY.

ALTHOUGH IT WAS CUTHBERT WHO BUILT CHURCHES AND LECTURED KINGS, IT WAS WILFRED TO WHOM THE FUTURE BELONGED.

ONLY PRIESTS WERE LITERATE, SO THEY BECAME THE PERMANENT BUREAUCRACY TO HALF WITTED KINGS AND THANES, PARTICULARLY IN THE MATTER OF PROPERTY.

THESE PRIESTS UNDERMINED WRITTEN PROPERTY RIGHTS AND WEAKENED COMMUNAL RIGHTS.

BOOKLAND WAS GRANTED BY BOOK, AND ITS GRANTING IMPLIED COMPLETE PRIVATE OWNERSHIP.

THE FIRST CHARTERS WERE MADE IN FAVOUR OF THE CHURCH, AND THEIR ADVANTAGES WERE REALISED IN THAT THEY WERE INCREASINGLY SOUGHT AFTER BY THE HIERARCHY AND MAGNATES.

THE CHURCH SPREAD THE FEAR OF HELL AND INDULGED IN PLAIN FORGERY. CHURCH LANDS BECAME SO EXTENSIVE WHEREBY THE STATE WAS WEAKENED.

TAXATION AND MILITARY SERVICE FELL ON THE PEASANTS, AND THE CHURCH WENT HAND IN HAND WITH NOBILITY IN THE SUBJECTION OF THE CULTIVATOR.

ON THE OTHER HAND, DUE TO IT COMPRISING A LITERARY CLASS AND BECAUSE OF ITS TRADE AND CONTACTS WITH EUROPE, THE CHURCH WAS A PROGRESSIVE FORCE.

SKILLS IN MASONRY AND WOOD LED TO THE BUILDING OF THE GREAT CHURCH AT HEXAM. HOUSES WERE BUILT, CASTLES CONSTRUCTED AND ALTHOUGH THESE WERE NOT AS GRAND AS THE NORMAN MANORS, THEY WERE FAR SUPERIOR TO THE MUD AND WATTLE HUT OF THE FEUDAL SERF.

METAL WORKING AND ILLUMINATION OF MANUSCRIPTS REACHED A HIGH STANDARD, AND BEDE AT JARROW, THE MOST LEARNED MAN OF HIS DAY, WAS ENGLAND’S FIRST HISTORIAN.

THE POLITCAL HISTORY OF THE AGE IS THAT OF THE STRUGGLE OF THE KINGS IN KENT, NORTHUMBRIA, MERCIA AND FINALLY WESSEX, WHO ALL HAD A SHARE IN THE TEMPORARY SUCCESS OF THEIR KINGDOMS.

THE CELTIC CHURCH SUFFERED DECLINE BECAUSE OF INTERNAL FEUDS AND THE WARLIKE CHARACTER RETAINED BY ITS PEOPLE.

THE REASONS FOR THE RISE OF MERCIA ARE MORE OBSCURE, BUT THE RICH MIDLAND PLAINS AND THE WAR EXPERIENCE GAINED AGAINST THE WELSH PREVAILED. HOWEVER, ITS WEAKNESS WAS ITS ABSENCE OF NATURAL FRONTIERS, WHICH LAID IT OPEN TO ATTACK.

BY CONTRAST, WESSEX HAD GOOD FRONTIERS AND A HINTERLAND LARGE ENOUGH TO ALLOW EXPANSION IN THE SOUTH WEST, BUT NOT LARGE ENOUGH TO BE A MENACE.

BY THE 8th CENTURY, WESSEX WAS DEVELOPING VALUABLE CONTACTS WITH FRANCE’S CHARLEMAGNE, WHO JUST RISING TO FULL POWER ACROSS THE CHANNEL.

WESSEX, UNDER EGBERT, BEGAN TO DRAW AWAY FROM ITS RIVALS, ALTHOUGH THE ISSUE WAS STILL IN DOUNT UNTIL THE INVASION BY THE NORTHMEN TURNED EVENTS. NORTHUMBRIA WAS OVERRUN, FREEING WESSEX FROM ITS ANCIENT RIVALS, BUT LEAVING IT FACE TO FACE WITH A NEW AND MORE FORMIDABLE ENEMY.

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