Alfred the Great King-England, Charlemagne Holy Roman Emperor, King Pelayo-Spain

Kolbe Home Page
Greatest Books Curriculum

POL 1223 Medieval World: The Birth of Christendom (3)

(POL 1223) is a continuation of POL 1133. From a study of Ancient Politics, the course moves to a consideration of major historians, thinkers, and statesman in the Christian tradition. Special attention is given to the epochal shift resulting from the incarnation of the "King of Kings" and the establishment of his kingdom amid the Roman Empire:

"And the fourth kingdom shall be as iron (Rome). As iron breaketh into pieces, and subdueth all things, so shall that break and destroy all these (previous kingdoms of the ancient world)....But in the days of those kingdoms the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, and his kingdom shall not be delivered up to another people, and it shall break in pieces, and shall consume all these kingdoms, and itself shall stand for ever" (Daniel 2:44)

Ancient political thinking reached its apex in the writings of Saint Augustine who understood that Christ had established the definitive Kingdom of God amid the pagan Roman Empire. Following the fall of Rome, whose legions were frigid before the barbarians of Europe, this new kingdom turned its eyes toward them and subsequently broke them "in pieces" and one by one "consumed their kingdoms" until Christendom was established on Christmas Day 800 AD in the reign of Charlemagne. Charlemagne allied the temporal armies of Christendom with the spiritual force of her monks and missionaries teaching the barbarians of Europe to destroy their gods and to bow to the Holy Trinity.

This course closely examines this unprecedented encounter and the establishment of the temporal (political-economic-social) arm of Christendom, which reached its appex in the High Middle Ages as expressed in the writings of Saint Thomas, Aquinas, Saint Bonventure and Saint Francis of Assissi. Thereafter, it enters in to decline and ends with the dissolution of the Medieval synthesis initiated by the political writings of Machiavelli who helped reopen the doors of classical antiquity and the way to the "Enlightenment" and "Age of Revolution" to be studied in the subsequent semester. 



The Emperor Constantine: The Edict of Milan
The Emperor Theodosius: The Code of Theodosius (excerpt)
St. Augustine: City of God (excerpt)
Josephus: History of the Jews (excerpt)
St. Benedict: The Rule
King Alfred the Great: English Book Of Jusice (Dooms)
St. Francis of Assisi: Selected texts
Paulus Orosius: Against the Pagans
St. Patrick and Northern Monks
St. Joan of Arc: Trial Transcripts
St. Thomas Aquinas: Treatise on Law (From Summa)
St. Thomas Aquinas: De Regimine Principium (De Regno-finished Tolomeo of Lucca)
Msgr. Phillip Hughes: History of Church
Venerable Bede: Ecclesiastical History of England
Einhard: Life of Charlemagne
Christopher Dawson: Early Devopment of Rome and Christianity as Soul of the West
Niccolo Machiavelli: The Prince (excerpt)
Martin Luther: Letter to German Nobels; 95 Thesis; Let Your Sins be Strong

Hilaire Belloc: Europe and the Faith