Short History of the Papacy in the Middle Ages by Walter Ullmann

By Walter Ullmann

This vintage textual content outlines the improvement of the Papacy as an establishment within the center a long time. With profound wisdom, perception and class, Walter Ullmann lines the process papal heritage from the past due Roman Empire to its eventual decline within the Renaissance.

The concentration of this survey is at the establishment and the belief of papacy instead of person figures, spotting the shaping energy of the popes' roles that made them awesome personalities. The transpersonal thought, Ullmann argues, sprang from Christianity itself and ended in the Papacy as an establishment sui generis.

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Short History of the Papacy in the Middle Ages

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For the stern monarchic rule envisaged by the papacy could in practice exist and work only through a clean and tidily conceived system of higher and lower ranks and hence through delegation of powers from the supreme monarch. Indeed, one may go as far as to say that the petrinological system of the papacy received a powerful supplementation through the writings of Pseudo-Denys. From now on one could speak of a descending theme of government, because powers were held to descend from the supreme Being, that is, from God, to lower placed ranks and offices, each of which functioned according to its station and calling.

One of the reasons why the ‘peace’ of 519 was greeted with enthusiasm by the papacy was that it appeared to give some relief from the oppressive government by the Gothic king. With the Goths the papacy had in any case far less in common than with the imperial government in Constantinople with which it shared the common bonds of the ancient Roman heritage despite the basic differences in matters of ecclesiastical government. Nevertheless, the Goths continued to use the papacy as their instrument, as was clearly evidenced by the peremptory order of Theodoric the Great to Pope John I that he should plead personally for the followers of Arianism with the imperial government.

This was the so-called Legend of St Silvester composed between 480 and 490 by an unknown author. The piece later gave rise to one of the most influential forgeries in history (see below p. 77). Because of its vivid imagery and evident skill of narrative, the work was very widely read and well known throughout the medieval period. It depicted the conversion of Constantine the Great (who by this time had already assumed legendary proportions) with a wealth of concrete detail. But behind this innocuously apparent façade a very clear design was detectable.

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