Episode 13 AD 1100s & 1200s

Latin Christendom

During 12th and 13th centuries the society that was to become known as ‘Europe’ – Latin Christendom – consolidated itself, deepening and ramifying its cultural characteristics. It had the social mass and complexity to be, for the first time, a new and unique civilization, joining those already existing.

Here we examine what were the realities of language at that time, the culturally forming and educating role of religion at all levels, the unifying pull of the Roman papacy, and finally the various forms of military-religious activity, especially the knights Templar and other Orders.


  • The Latin Occident, for so long the poor cousin of the Roman Eastern Mediterranean, was, by the 1100s, a distinct and fully-fledged Civilisation in its own right.
  • An overview of the linguistic realities of medieval Christendom. The diversification of the ‘Romance’ from Latin; Latin remaining the common language of educated people.
  • Medieval Christendom, though a society of great localism, was nevertheless remarkably culturally and morally uniform.
  • Examples of this cultural uniformity of southern Sweden and Sicily, shaped, over time, by the local centrality of the Christian church. The collective social vision of the world, of the cosmos, and of the individual’s place within them, was supplied by the narratives of the Latin church.
  • Socially, the Latin priesthood were a caste apart, as reflected in church architecture. Sculptural and painted Christian stories on the churches were used as ‘books’ for the illiterate. This uniform repertoire of religious narratives, over the generations, formed the European identity and permeated the inner life of individuals.
  • The ‘Roman reflex’ of the Latin church, the desire for order, authority and uniformity. The emergence of the papal monarchy as the clearest expression of this.
  • The papacy from the mid-1100s built up the institutional apparatus, rules and methods of a universal spiritual jurisdiction over Christendom.
  • Pope Innocent II, the papacy at its apex of influence and authority
  • The mentality of the time understood the world as part of the Divine plan; society was the Christian Republic, under God, and under his ‘vicar’, the pope. This unity of purpose was continuously undermined by sectional interests of the nobility.
  • The inherent insecurity of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem prompted the formation of communities of knights dedicated to the protection of pilgrims. These communities took religious orders, and became the Knights Templar and the Knights Hospitaller.
  • The real nature of the Christian Military Orders. Europe- and Near East-wide institutional establishments of the Knights Templars.
  • The mentalities of the high Middle Ages seem very different to our own, and yet it is historically demonstrable that our morality, our sense of self, and of who we are and how we should behave are all rooted in the society that formed in Europe during the Middle Ages. We are merely weaving variations on what we have inherited from then.

Now with the audio-only version included

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