In the early Middle Ages relations between Church and State were founded on a spirit of co-operation. Three dates are of capital importance. In 380 Theodosius decreed that all his subjects should embrace ‘the faith delivered to the Romans by the Apostle Peter’; in 490 the hierarchy of Gaul baptized Clovis, the young Frankish king, and thereby determined the fate of the barbarian world; while at Christmas in the year 800, Pope St. Leo III conferred the ancient crown of empire upon Charlemagne, a descendant of the invaders. Throughout six hundred years and more, by means of unending courage and endurance, the Church had kept a restraining hand upon those turbulent princes who dominated Europe, with the result that society had returned step by step to the light of civilization.

There was another side to this tremendous achievement. Though herself a spiritual power, the Church had worked well upon the temporal plane; but in doing so she had failed to put first things first. Her leaders had grown deaf to the Gospel precept; by mixing with the world they had lapsed into worldliness. The history of the barbarian epoch of that of continual co-operation between the spiritual and the temporal, a co-operation with Charlemagne treated as a principle of government.

Henri Daniel-Rops, Cathedral and Crusade: Studies of the Medieval Church (1050-1350) 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s