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Before the Gregorian ReformThe Latin Church at the Turn of the First Millennium$
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John Howe

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452895

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452895.001.0001

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“Wolves Devouring the Lambs of Christ”

“Wolves Devouring the Lambs of Christ”

(p.13) Chapter 1 “Wolves Devouring the Lambs of Christ”
Before the Gregorian Reform

John Howe

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines how the Latin Church was reformed in the tenth century following a series of attacks on the Carolingian Empire by non-Christian invaders. The epic Battle of Maldon, composed in eleventh-century English, is an account of how Ealdorman Byrhtnoth fought Viking invaders on a beach near Maldon in 991. Although he was killed, this invasion was followed by more offensives that culminated in the 1016 crowning of Cnut as king of England. This chapter first highlights the difficulties historians face when reading Battle of Maldon before discussing the attacks launched by the Vikings, Muslims, and Magyars against the Carolingian Empire. In particular, it considers the archival and cultural destruction carried out by barbarians, along with their attack on church leaders, destruction of churches, and looting of ecclesiastical furniture. It also assesses the impact of such barbarian invasions on Christian morale, what survived to be reformed, and what reconstruction was required.

Keywords:   barbarian invasions, Latin Church, Carolingian Empire, Vikings, Muslims, Magyars, Battle of Maldon, churches, non-Christian invaders

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