History 104A, October 21: The Way of the Cross
Please take out your crosses, whether you're a Muslim or Jewish.
Beat me back so I don't burn myself with your crosses.
What we were doing is using that little diagram for the cross
that's in your little packet to talk about the power and the role of
the church during medieval times. And of course medieval times is I
guess I never gave you a date and time line. What we're really
talking about is the period from 500 to 1500 CE. Now, we identified
to you that the church in a sense begins with the crucifixion of
Christ or before, but the power or the role, the uniqueness, the
development, the expansion of the church more or less beginning in the
fourth century really begins to reach its main peak and control with
Gregory the great, the Pope that is in the end of the sixth century.
And continues in many ways until 1517 when, although Christianity
continues as a major force, what we now know as Catholicism begins to
weaken its hold over western Europe with of course Martin Luther's
hosting of the 95 thesis, and we're coming up on the anniversary of
it. He did it on Halloween, October 31st. I'm not sure they
celebrated Halloween in 1517. That's something to look into, the
harvest, the forests, but certainly they did celebrate all hallows
night or all hallows Eve.
Okay. We went halfway around the cross. We stopped at the
bottom with the truce of God. During medieval times, it was
considered sinful to fight on holy days. And therefore, during the
holy days, you were supposed to cease battle. Of course some of you
know that we have sort of that same tradition. We stop fighting for
example during World War II around Christmas time -- I'm sorry, World
War 1 -- so that we could play soccer between the trenches between the
German and the French. That tradition continues basically through
today. However, the person who really never followed that tradition
was George Washington. If you recall, he attacked the Hessians on
Christmas day after they were all nice and drunk. He was the father
of our country, so we can forgive him his transgressions since he was
considered a good Christian. The only one of the fathers of the
republic that really saw himself thoroughly as a Christian, but that's
The problem was that by 1100 there were about 200 Christian
holidays. How can you have fun and not kill people if you only have
165 days to do it in? Generally, despite the fact that it was
considered a sin, the battles continued. Religion does play a role
and people get very upset when it violates even in war, like wars are
supposed to have rules. We're supposed to be gentlemen and Americans
are not supposed to burn the bodies of the Muslims because we are
supposed to -- oh well. I've always got a kick out of that. How do
we maintain the sense of morality in the immorality of war? But
that's a personal statement. We'll let that go.
Hospitality -- it was the church pretty much that created the
hospices, places where people would stop on their way traveling. They
actually ran in some ways many of the inns by the monasteries by the
churches where people stopped off. They went into a convent; they
went into a monastery. They stayed overnight and they provided not
only the hospitality itself, but they gave a certain level of what
we're going to talk about later, sanction actually and charity. In
other words, the main institutions that we identify with private
industry today or identified with government were under the control of
the church. And of course some of our best literature, I suppose,
coming out of the high middle ages deals with travelers. And we'll
talk about false images a little later, like people stayed in one
place. There was a lot of traveling going on often to pilgrimages,
pilgrimages to holy places to receive some sort of grace. It is
considered good works. And you could achieve salivation by going to
places that were sacred, similar to traveling to the place where
Christ was crucified, to the holy land. And still we go to places in
Europe around the Vatican and places like that, there are people who
are going to sell you pieces of the true cross. They have all these
little images that are going to help you in your salivation at least
for Catholics, the feeling at one time was that these were good deeds,
quite different from the Protestant sense of Martin Luther where it
was based on faith and faith alone rather than good working. You did
your good works under Protestantism because you had good faith. Under
catholicism, the good faith were the keystones to the salivation.
Interdict -- you know what excommunication is. Excommunication
is when an individual is forbidden from taking the sacraments. They
are declared a heretic or removed from the church in some fashion. An
interdict does it to the whole country. An interdict excommunicates
everyone in the country whether they were good or bad for the failings
of the kings, of the nation, of the state. Translation, priests are
forbidden in those countries to provide the sacraments or in those
particular areas. And the purpose of an interdict is to, in a sense,
cause a rebellion among the peoples against the principle, the leaders
of that nation, to force them to give in to the Pope.
Q This is jumping forward a bit, but did a Pope ever give that to
Henry the VIII? Or to England under the right of Henry the VIII?
THE PROFESSOR: The answer is, yes.
A I know that they excommunicated him, but --
THE PROFESSOR: When the interdict was placed on the nation?
THE PROFESSOR: I think it was and Henry simply went ahead and
created his own church, the Church of England. Even earlier than that
an interdict was placed on England under John. I don't remember what
John's number was, but John the brother of Richard the lion hearted.
If you recall, Richard went off to fight in his mother's lands. Well,
first of course John stood on the throne so Robin Hood could hassle
him while -- John took over officially fighting for his mother's land
in France. And John refused to follow orders and dictates from the
Pope. And he was excommunicated. And the country had an interdict
placed on it. The bearings -- by the way, what an interdict also
does, it removes any futile obligations. If you have vouchers,
loyalty to the king or to a lord, the interdict says those vows are no
longer valid. And with that, the barrens rebelled against John and
received the most famous document in English history, what is often
the cornerstone, the first beginnings of what we often identify in the
English language countries as the beginnings of democracy. Because in
1215 John gave to the barrens the magna carte, the great charter.
Most of you have heard about the great charter, and it's supposed to
be the beginnings of democracy. Input was allowed; discussion was
allowed; and their views were to be respected. They, not being the
people, that's the interesting part of it -- we often see it the
people have a say. No, this was only the barrens. The barrens had a
say now. Once the interdict was removed and John gave into the
Pope -- I might know that he withdraw the interdict in 1225 --
withdraw, I'm sorry -- basically the rights he had given under the
magna carta. This is not uncommon historically. You give something
and then you draw it back later. But in any case, the fact that the
magna carta was issued opened the door for further democracy and
finally the people's right to participate in government. Of course it
takes hundreds of years good faith that finally comes into being.
The last interdict that I know of occurred in 1926 in Mexico,
1926. That's not as long ago as we think. We're not talking medieval
you were. The Mexican revolution in 1917 brought on a very strong
anti-church feud in Mexico. The first Mexican revolution, 1857
confiscated church lands because the church owned over 50 percent of
the land. People died, left their land to the church so that they
would help them go to heaven. They were doing good works. The church
never tied to it kept, the land. And we're talking 50 percent of the
land, but probably 75 percent of the best and most arid land which
keep people peasants. Most of that was confiscated. But under the
1917 Constitution, all churches were not to have any land. The church
land itself was to belong to the state. Priests were not to wear
their habits, their whatever it's called, their collar and vestments
outside of the church itself. They had to dress like normal people
when we walked the streets, nuns as well. And more so, they were not
allowed to say anything political from the pulpit at the church. So
it basically broke the power of the church itself. In fact, some of
you may know and I think I mentioned this before, I did my
dissertation, my Ph.D. dissertation on a governor in a state in
southern Mexico called Tobasco and his name was Tomas Gardeno
Carnival. And he was a socialist who followed the dictates of the
Mexican revolution of 1917 and became governor of the State of Tabasco
in 1920. As governor of the state, he proceeded to outlaw any
religion when meant Catholicism by ordering all the priests to marry.
Of course priests can't marry, so basically it forbid the church. And
when asked why he wanted priests to marry, he said he wanted to
legitimatize their children. I did tell you about this before; right?
He went on of course to develop a group of red shirts that broke into
homes and stole all religious items and created bonfires of crosses
and Bibles. He named his pet as Jesus Christ that was shown in
various agricultural circles; his pet bull, the Pope, his pet cow, the
Virgin Mary; and his brother named his son Lucifer. This is what we
call a fun story. I picked up on it in a book called the Power and
the Glory by Graham Green where they talked about the brandy priest
who kept hidden, he was a drunkard but he would sneak into villages
and perform the sacraments.
Mexico had from 1926-29 something known as the Christero
rebellion where priests mainly in northern Mexico led armies against
the revolutionary Mexican government. And it wasn't until 1929 that
the then President of Mexico a man named Calles fined signed a ..
with the church recognizing that church's rights in Mexico -- it still
did not remove some of the prohibitions, but it gave them the right to
fully exist and that made a big right in the nation and the sacraments
returned and the interdict was removed. When I visited Mexico the
first time many many centuries ago, priests still were not allowed to
wear their vestments on the streets. You didn't know who was a priest
and who was a nun, but that's changed today. If you go down to
Mexico, you will see the habits, the vestments being worn today.
Change is coming. 1926 to 29, that's modern times in a sense. For
most of you, it's ancient history; but in reality, it's not a thousand
Interdict -- it also brought one of the most famous incidents in
recent history. In 1057 I believe it was the Pope Gregory the seventh
placed an interdict on the holy Roman entire and it's emperor Henry
the fourth. And his barrens rebelled against Henry. Henry met the
Pope in the Alps at a place called Canossa, I believe. I'll check the
spelling. At Canossa he stayed outside for three days barefooted on
his knees in the snow and in the Alps. Amazing he didn't freeze to
death. I don't know how much of the story is true or not, begging
forgiveness and begging the Pope to forgive him, the emperor of the
holy Roman empire. The Pope finally came out and forgave him. He
went back and the interdict was removed. The barrens had to give
their power back to holy Roman emperor. And a couple of years later
Henry came down with his barrens and removed the Pope. But that's the
way the cookie crumbles, to use an old statement, hour of the
Cannon law -- as I talked earlier, church courts basically the
law of medieval Europe was the church law and people functioned under
church law. Now, while the church made decisions such as we talked
about the inquisition, the church never executed people. They never
burned them at the stake. After they were convicted under the
interdict, under the inquisition, they were given over to the civilian
authorities. The church washed their hands of them, and it was the
civilian authorities who burned them at the stake.
The basis of modern law of course the Justinian code of the
modern empire that passes onto church law which we know of as canon
law which comes to us today in civil law. I already talked about
church lands in Mexico. Actually, under Spanish control in Mexico in
1776 the king of Spain issued an edict that said that no priest can
demand land forgiving the last rights, which let's us know that often
priests we refused to give the last rights, extreme unction until
people turned over portions of their land to the church.
Charity -- today when we think of most charitable organizations,
they're private organizations like united way or they're government
welfare programs. Throughout most of the history from medieval times
it was controlled by the church. The government did not provide
charity. The church took care of people. To some extent charity
ended with Protestantism for a long while within the churches. Part
of the reason was the tremendous influence -- and we'll talk more
about this of Calvinism -- that you were predestined to heaven and
hell, that you were born a saint or a sinner. And what indicated
whether you were a saint or sinner is wealth. If you worked hard, you
became wealthy, God was on your side and it indicated you were going
to go directly to heaven. However, if you were poor, then God was
punishing you because it was just the beginning of your burning in the
ever lasting fires of hell. So why give charity to the poor. Let
them burn in hell. The faster they die the faster they're going to go
to hell and they're out of the way.
Q I was just going to say maybe the chauvinism (sic), that's more
like the Hindu like or like a caste system, like if you're born in
this lower caste, you're destined to be a lower caste person for the
rest of your life and the only way of containing social stratification
is by marrying someone --
THE PROFESSOR: The difference in the Indian caste system is that
while in this life you might be stuck in the caste, if you follow and
live your life without desire and you accept your life, then you will
be reborn, reincarnation into a higher caste. So you look forward to
the constant rebirth. The difference of course would the sense of
predestination is you're living poorly and then in the next life there
isn't any except for hell.
A So that's bad.
THE PROFESSOR: So this is no hope at all. If you know you're
going to go to hell, why not go out and have a ball all a way. The
answer in being in part because of the different levels of hell and
that comes through from Dante's inferno. You want to constantly be
careful because you don't want to go to the deeper level so you're
hoping as a sinner your sin is going to be at a higher level of hell.
People didn't go out and commit further sins. As long as I'm evil, I
might as well be real evil.
A Yeah, that's my thinking.
THE PROFESSOR: Yeah.
Manuscripts -- as we indicated knowledge is power. The church
controlled that knowledge. They had the libraries. They had the
books and this were very few of them because they had to be
handwritten. The illuminated manuscripts of course had these
beautiful letters the gold leaf and they were of course the perfect
kind of writing. We are very much expressed historically especially
the period of Charlemagne around 800s the illuminated manuscripts that
came out of that period. Sometimes the calligraphy was absolutely
gorgeous with the colors that comes through. Priests would spend most
of their life doing one book.
Q Wasn't there a project about five or six years back where a few
universities got their best calligraphies together and make an
illuminated version of the holy Bible?
THE PROFESSOR: Very possible. It wouldn't surprise me but it
doesn't stick anywhere in my mind.
The best movie dealing with this whole sense of the power of the
book and the libraries is one that I absolutely recommend that every
student get a chance to see. The book itself is not as easy to read.
It's called -- In the Name of the Rose with Sean Connery. It deals
with a monastery around 1200. And Sean Connery plays a priest that's
sort of like a Sherlock Holmes. But it centers around the library in
the monastery and the books themselves. I guess from the book
although I saw it, was the thinking thing I didn't realize the most
shacking thing was the fact that they had just developed reading
glass. For the first time coming out of the study of stained glass
windows they finally got class for people to read. Up until that
time, if you're a nun or a monk and you were doing manuscripts most
people at the age of 40 can't read anymore. Their lives are over
without glass. So it was quite an amazing discovery because it gave
people the ability to continue doing their work and reading,
especially close up. In any case, The Name of the Rose is a book by
an Italian literature professor is a little cumbersome, but I enjoyed
reading it but the movie is not. I'm sure it's floating around on
rental. It was done about 10 years ago I believe.
The right of sanctuary -- where is sanctuary offered today?
A International waters.
THE PROFESSOR: Yeah, I guess, not necessarily, but you're right,
international waters. I'm going to swim out into international water
physical do something wrong.
A Actually, I think it just means anyone can go after you.
THE PROFESSOR: Sanctuaries are often in embassies. If they're
willing to accept us in the embassy, that embassy the property of that
nation which translates to they are not supposed to intervene in the
embassy. Of course that was of course part of that big issue back in
1980 when the Iranians allowed some quote/unquote students terrorists
whatever you want to call them, to occupy the American embassy and
keep prisoner for that 444 days, some 50 American citizens.
Q How come the marines didn't shoot the people that were going
inside the embassy? Did they dry to shoot them?
THE PROFESSOR: You've got marines on base. It's like any
problem, if you have masses of people moving on you. You have a
chance, number one. Number two, do you want the create an
international incident? How far do you go? Those are choices made by
the commander in a field. How do you choose on something like that?
I think also we did not expect them to really take over. Of course
the marines can only shoot once they come into the property. On the
outside, they are only protected by the outside government. You don't
have a lot of marines sitting there. Maybe 10 at the most. It's not
like you have 100 or so Iranian military outside of the gates. They
Embassies become sanctuaries today. And try gaining sanctuary in
a church today and the authorities will go in. They do not respect
church sanctuary. Translation, of course, become that the medieval
times the church was the power. And if somebody reached inside a
monastery or inside a church, it was supposed to be sacred and
respected. Don't get me wrong, there were times when civil
authorities did go in and massacre every nun and every monk and take
the fugitive that they were looking for. But as the whole, a
sanctuary was supposed to be guarantee.
Well, that finishes our religion for today. We have a group
meeting. So you're life in Rome. So let's break up into the groups.
I'll put out the sheets. You can pick them up here.