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The Church in the Later Middle Ages

The Church in the Later Middle Ages
Norman Tanner

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The Later Middle Ages (1300-1500 CE) have often been characterised as a period of decline for Christendom. The era seems to sit uncomfortably between the remarkable achievements of church and society in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and the revivals of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation in the sixteenth century. The period has even been called a 'Babylonian Captivity' for the Church, echoing the struggles of the Israelites in exile, and reflecting the transferral of the papacy to Avignon in 1309.Norman Tanner challenges this negative view, examining a vibrant period of ecclesiastical history in its own right rather than just through the lenses of the centuries that preceded and succeeded it. He discusses the trials of the age in the form of the papal schism between 1378-1417, the heresies of Cathars, Lollards and Hussites, the Hundred Years' War, and the terror of the Black Death. Yet he focuses, too, on the great ecumenical councils, the flowering of intellectual life in the Renaissance and the extraordinarily rich spirituality of mystics like Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Siena and Meister Eckhart.

What comes to light in this lively and readable volume is that the later medieval age was actually one of extraordinary achievement for the Church: of deepening and enrichment, as well as of schism and conflict.

Author Info

Norman Tanner is Professor of Church History at the Gregorian University in Rome. He previously held teaching positions in the faculties of both history and theology at the University of Oxford. A medieval historian of international stature, he is best known for his groundbreaking books on the great ecumenical councils of the Middle Ages.


'This promises to be an impressive and valuable series.'
– Stewart J. Brown, FRSE, Professor of Ecclesiastical History, University of Edinburgh

'A series such as this is hugely welcome. Its emphasis on the history of ideas, and on the global – not just European – experience of Christianity and its manifestations of church, will be valued by students, scholars and general readers alike. The I.B.Tauris History of the Christian Church brings ecclesiastical history into a new era, for a new generation.'
– Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church, University of Oxford

'The new I.B.Tauris History of the Christian Church series has quickly established an enviable reputation for impressive scholarship.'
– Journal of Ecclesiastical History

'[T]he book's central strength... stems from the author's conscious commitment to balancing a traditional institutional approach, proceeding as it were from above and focusing on pope, clerical hierarchy, and monastic orders, with a more gritty approach from below, exploiting what can be gleaned from a myriad of documentary sources (wills, visitation records, popular spiritual reading, and the like) and focusing, above all, on the laity and its characteristic modes of religiosity.'
– Francis Oakley, The Catholic Historical Review

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.
Series: I.B Tauris History of the Christian Church

ISBN: 9781845114381
Publication Date: 31 Jul 2008
Number of Pages: 256
Height: 234
Width: 156

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