What did people really believe in the Middle Ages?
We are delighted to announce the commissioning of A Short History of Medieval Christianity by G.R. Evans, with a release date set for March 2016.
For G.R. Evans, Professor Emeritus of Medieval Theology and Intellectual History in the University Cambridge, too much emphasis has been placed on a governing elite and too little on those – the great mass of the semi-literate and illiterate, and the emergent middle classes – who stood outside the innermost circles of ecclesiastical power, privilege and education.
Characteristically breezy and readable, her detailed outline will extend, in a grand chronological sweep, from the fall of Rome and embrace of Christianity by Constantine to the underlying reasons for the Reformation.
Along the way we will encounter the sale of indulgences, the appeal of monasticism, the lure of pilgrimage, the rise of the friars, the encounter with Islam, heresies like those of the Waldensians, Albigensians, Lollards and Hussites, and above all Christianity as it was practised and understood by the great mass of laypeople: to the extent of examining the degree to which superstitions and pre-Christian practices were lived and tolerated alongside the Church’s liturgies.
What is notable about the period, from a modern perspective, is the homogeneity there was about cosmology: how the idea of life after death, the road to heaven or to eternal perdition in hell, utterly dominated the emotional and psychological landscape. There may have been differences about how to attain a life in the hereafter: but the fundamentals of what life was thought to be about – ‘delayed gratification’, as Evans puts it – were remarkably consistent and ubiquitous.
Discover more about the series by visiting short-histories.com. ■