Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

in the establishment of a Danish monarchy, were the cause of wholesale degeneracy in the Church. Discipline was relaxed, grave disorders arose, and the State was too much occupied with public defence to pay much heed to Church matters. The condition of things is graphically described in Wulfstan's address to the English, about 1023, where he bitterly complains of the lack of ecclesiastical discipline, and the open disregard of all law by clergy and laity alike.1

With the restoration of the old Wessex line in the person of Edward the Confessor there was a temporary return to the old conditions, accompanied by the introduction of foreign influence and customs, preparing the way for the great change made at the Conquest.

Here then we come to the end of the first stage of our inquiry. It was a stage in which Church and State were blended together; the same people were citizens of the State and members of the Church; and as all were citizens, and all were Church members, what more natural than that they should regard themselves now in one capacity, now in the other, and so make one shire or national

1 The Anglo-Saxon text of this address is in Sweet, AngloSaxon Reader. A short summary is in Hunt, History of the English Church from 597-1066, p. 387. For a translation of the full text, see Appendix B.

meeting serve for purposes both spiritual and temporal. And this was partly the result of the national character and the position of the country.

The Teutonic race, of which the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes were branches, was ever a democratic race, and had never been subject to the Roman Empire. The other continental nations of the Latin race had been part of the Western Empire, and came naturally under the Papal organisation which succeeded the Empire, whilst the Church and nation of England remained to a large extent isolated from the rest of the Western world. We formed our

own civil policy, uninfluenced by Roman law or custom, and although the southern part of England was evangelised by Roman missionaries, and the English Church was organised by Theodore, the fact that a large part of the country had been evangelised from Iona had a great influence in perpetuating a feeling of local independence, and the Church, in its worship, its liturgy, and its customs, was not distinctly Roman nor distinctly Scottish, but a blending of the two. The kings of England considered themselves as emperors, equal in dignity to the Emperor of the West or to the Byzantine Emperor, and this was symbolised by the eagles woven in the coronation robe. So the Archbishop of Canterbury was no

mere delegate from Rome, but Papa alterius orbis.

And thus the English nation and Church were insular, and clung tenaciously to their insularity. The Church lost by this the advantages of intercourse with theologians of greater culture, but the close association of Church and State gave the Church a great power in moulding national life and character. The strong feeling of the independence and freedom of the national Church acquired during this period was never lost, though dormant for a while, and when the link with the Papacy was once more broken, men looked back to Anglo-Saxon times for the model of a truly national Church.

CHAPTER III

DIFFERENTIATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

IN THE NORMAN PERIOD

The new conditions under the Norman kings resulted in bringing England into nearer connection with the Continent, and in consequence the relationship between the English Church and the Papacy became closer.

From the time of Theodore the Papal Primacy had always been acknowledged, but there was no idea of Papal Supremacy or of any right of Papal jurisdiction in England. From the time of Theodore to that of King Offa no Roman legation had appeared in England, and in later times Dunstan boldly refused to obey a Papal sentence.

The Church was strongly and intensely national; indeed it may be said that the Church was the mother of the nation, inasmuch as for a long period it was the only centre of English unity..

Before the establishment of the Wessex supre

macy, Englishmen, as citizens, were Mercians, Northumbrians, or West Saxons; as members of the Church they owned one head at Canterbury. And so the Churches, as Stubbs says, were schools and nurseries of patriots, and depositories of old national glories.

The introduction of foreign ecclesiastics, which had already begun under Edward the Confessor, and the closer relations with the Papacy established after the Conquest, brought a certain amount of culture into the Church, helped to destroy some narrowness of view which the isolation of the Church had produced, and led to a broader distinction between Church and State, but made the Church much less national in sentiment.

William the Conqueror very soon perceived that, so long as the Church was the nurse of national sentiment, so long would there always be a spirit of resistance to foreign dominion. Hence he began to substitute Norman abbots and bishops for native ones. The national Witan was not likely to help him in this, and so he applied to Hildebrand, who was then the minister of Pope Alexander II., and de facto Pope, for assistance. A Papal legation was sent over, which summoned a council of English bishops, and laid down the doctrine of the rights of Papal jurisdiction, as

« AnteriorContinuar »