What can the turbulent religious world of the high middle ages tell the modern viewer about Europe during this period?  My text for this is Traditions & Encounters by Bentley and Ziegler.

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The text does not come out and give us an explicit answer about this.  Instead, we have to think for ourselves about what the religious world of this time tells us about Europe in those days.  We need to look at the aspects of the turbulence and infer things.

One thing that we can infer is that Europeans were coming to be influenced by things like rationality and secular thought.  This was making them confront the idea that religion could possibly be opposed to rationality.  They had to try to figure how they were going to reconcile the ideas that were being proposed by science and the ideas given to them through their religious faith.

A second thing we can infer is that there were splits between what the elites told the masses and what the masses believed.  In other words, we can say that there was, to some extent, class conflict over religious issues.  We can see this, for example, in the popular heresies of the time.  The elites of the Church preached one thing, but people often came to believe in such things as Catharism because they felt that such “heresies” did more to explain the reality that they perceived than official church teaching did.  This shows us that there were class divisions at this time.

Finally, we can infer that religion was tremendously important to people during this time.  If religion had not been so important, there would not have been so much conflict arising from religion.  Religion would not have been able to inspire people to go on Crusades or on pilgrimages.  It would not have inspired conflicts between people.

Thus, we can infer a number of things about Europe in the high Middle Ages from looking at the religious world of the time.

Lauren1234's profile pic

Lauren1234 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

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To do:

describe the religious events or feelings during the particular period you are referring to and then compare how these changed or differed (both within this time and to times before and after)

can you explain a reason for these changes?

how do these changes relate to society or societal change?

was the nature of religion shaped by society or the other way around?

These are just some points to consider when searching for your thesis.

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