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Current time:0:00Total duration:8:06

Video transcript

- [Instructor] In previous videos, we talked about the dramatic turnaround in the fourth century in terms of how Christianity was treated in the Roman Empire. As you enter into the fourth century, it's persecuted by Diocletian, but then Constantine takes power. He's sympathetic to the Christians. He even convenes them in order to unify the Christians, to have a more unified sense of what it means to be Christian, in order to settle things like the Arian Controversy, and he converts himself to Christianity. And as we exit the fourth century, you have Theodosius, who makes Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire and then begins to persecute other religions. Now, what we're going to do in this video is continue the narrative, and in particular, we're going to see how there's an evolution between the church in the west and the church in the east. In previous videos, we already talk about how the Roman Empire itself is initially administered between west and east, and then that administration becomes more and more formal. Theodosius is the last emperor to truly rule both halves. They start getting ruled separately. And as you get into the latter half of the fifth century, the western empire itself falls to Germanic conquerors. Now, in previous videos, we talk about how the emperors who rule from Constantinople consider themselves to continue the Roman Empire. They didn't call themselves the Byzantine Empire, as we now call them. They call themselves the Roman Empire. They considered themselves Roman emperors. The west falls, as I just mentioned, into a bunch of Germanic kingdoms. Justinian is able to reclaim a lot of the land formerly lost in the western Roman Empire. Now, there's some other interesting actors we see emerging on this map, and once again, we're now in the sixth century. You have these Germanic tribes, the Visigothic kingdoms here in modern-day Spain, and here in modern-day France, you have the Franks. And the word France really is referring to land of the Franks, another Germanic tribe. Now, they are able to factor much, much more relevantly. And when I say about, I'm saying over the next several hundred years in this eventual division, culturally and religiously, between east and west. As I mentioned in previous videos, the division, yes, it will center on notions of language. In the west, especially in the church, Latin is used. In the east, in the church, Greek is used. There are spiritual debates that we will touch on in a few minutes, but there's also a power struggle. You have the Byzantine Emperor seated in Constantinople. You have the Bishop of Rome, now known as the Pope, the Pope of Rome, who considers themselves more and more the leader of all of Christianity, and their argument there is look, this is the church that, according to tradition, was founded by Peter, first amongst the apostles. You have the patriarch of Constantinople and patriarchs of other significant centers of Christianity that say wait, hold on a second. Yes, Bishop of Rome, you are very important. But we consider you to be first amongst equals. You don't have jurisdiction over all of Christendom. Together we have jurisdiction. And this was, to some degree, the case under Justinian, and it was very clear at this time that the Byzantine emperor was very powerful, not just over the temporal realm, really referring to the day-to-day material realm, but also a lot of influence on the spiritual realm, which was really supposed to be the domain of the bishops or the popes or the patriarchs. This notion of the pentarchy was codified in the Justinian law, this idea that these five centers of Christianity really have extra weight and collectively are really leading Christendom. Now, as I mentioned, things get interesting as we fast forward about 250 years. So let's go to the year 800. So, one thing you might notice is that group in yellow, the Franks, have now conquered a lot more, and they're conquering it under the leadership of Charlemagne. At the same time, you see this green over here. Islam has dramatically spread from its founding in the early seventh century, all the way now as we're exiting the eighth century, to cover most of the Middle East, Persia, bordering on modern-day Pakistan, India, north Africa, and even going into modern-day Spain. At the same time, especially because of these Islamic conquests, the Byzantine Empire and the Byzantine emperor is significantly weaker. So you can imagine the pope in Rome here saying, well, who's going to protect me, especially from my political enemies? Now, Charlemagne considers himself something of a protector of Christianity, and Pope Leo III goes to him for protection, and Charlemagne is able to actually provide it. And in exchange, or perhaps in thanks for that, the pope crowns Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor. Now, what's significant about this is it really introduces a fourth actor here, because the title Holy Roman Emperor was intentionally given to say, look, now you, Charlemagne, you are the heir to the grandeur of Rome. You are the heir to the Roman emperors. Now, you might be saying, wait, isn't that what the Byzantine emperors thought they were? Didn't they think this was the Roman Empire? And at that time, their emperor was an empress. It was Empress Irene of Athens. And so once again, this is creating further tension. They're using different languages, Latin versus Greek. You now have the western pope recognizing a different, I guess you could say, Roman emperor in Charlemagne. The nature of the west is becoming more Germanic, and using the language Latin, while the nature of the east is continuing in Greek traditions. On top of that, what you have in the year 800, you're actually in this period where you've had several conflicts over this notion of iconoclasm. This iconoclasm movement, you could say, started in 726 when the Byzantine emperor said, enough of these images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary and other figures of Christianity in our churches, citing references in the Old Testament saying that hey, we shouldn't have these images. And so this iconoclasm or these destroying of icons starts to begin. Well, the pope in the west, they say, hey, we don't think we have to listen to you. I am the Bishop of Rome. I have universal jurisdiction. And then to add insult to injury, now, in 800, you have Charlemagne being crowned Holy Roman Emperor. Now, a thread further running through this is something we've talked about in a previous video, this notion of filioque, where in 381, the Council of Constantinople, they augment the Nicene Creed where they say, and we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life who proceeds from the Father. Well, in the west, they add the Latin term filioque, which means and the Son. This is touching on some of these notions in the Arian Heresy where, where does the Holy Spirit proceed from, if the Father and Son are really co-divine, co-equal, of the same substance, shouldn't the Holy Spirit proceed from both rather than just one? Well, those in the east said, hey, this isn't what we agreed to, while those in the west say, hey, we don't think it's so important that you agree to things, because we have the seat at Rome, the seat that was established by Peter.