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Baldwin, M. W. (ed.) / Volume I: The first hundred years

I: Western Europe on the eve of the Crusades,   pp. [2]-29 PDF (56.0 KB)

Page 28

in a field closely related to the work of the reforming popes — canon
law. The fundamental bases of ecclesiastical law were the Bible and the patristic
writings — especially those of Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine. To this
mass of material were added the decrees of popes and councils. From the sixth
century to the eleventh the churches of the various European states had been
developing their own canon law in their own local councils. Obvi ously if
the church was to have an effective centralized admin istration, it needed
a common, generally accepted canon law that might be applied throughout Christendom.
Fortunately, the elev enth century was marked by great interest in legal
studies. Roman law as expounded in the works of Justinian's jurists and practical
handbooks based on them had been continuously studied and applied in Italy,
but one of the most valuable parts of Justinian's monument, the Digest, had
apparently been forgotten. It was re discovered in the eleventh century and
spurred what was probably already an active interest in law. Bologna became
particularly noted as a center of legal studies. Lanfranc, abbot of Bec and
later archbishop of Canterbury, had studied Roman law in Italy. Equipped
with their legal training many ecciesiastics set to work to produce codes
of canon law for the church. Gregory VII had a group of canonists at work
on codes that would emphasize the papal authority. The complete reconciliation
of the divergent versions of ecclesiastical law had to await Gratian in the
twelfth century, but the process was well begun in the eleventh. 
 In theology and philosophy the eleventh century was com pletely overshadowed
by the twelfth. Anseim, abbot of Bec and archbishop of Canterbury, was a
powerful and rather original thinker whose proof of the existence of God
was greatly admired throughout the later Middle Ages. Lanfranc and Anselm
made the monastic school at Bec the chief center of scholarship in northern
Europe. The great cathedral schools of Laon, Chartres, and Paris had their
beginnings in the eleventh century. This period also saw the first literature
in French. The Chanson de Roland clearly existed in some form before the
end of the century, and the first trouba dours were at work in the south
of France at the same time. The best known of the early troubadours, duke
William IX of Aqui taine, took part in the abortive crusade of 1101. In the
north the eleventh century was the great age of the Norse sagas. In archi
tecture this era saw the rapid development of the Romanesque style with its
massive barrel vaults, ingeniously carved capitals, 

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