Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Church after the fall of the Roman Empire

In the 3rd and 4th centuries CE the Western Roman Empire began to be invaded by barbarian tribes, which were coming from Central Asia and in 476 CE the Germanic tribe leader Odoacer, "King of Italy", deposed the last Western Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustulus, marking the end of Western Rome. This could have easily dealt a major blow to christianity, which had grown so much throughout Rome. Fortunatelly this was not the case, as the barbarian tribes that took control of the Roman territory did not completely change the culture in the area but instead kept it along with christianity. It is infact the opposite that occured. With the fall of this great empire the Roman Catholic Church actually gained power instead of losing it.

There was a large hole left with the collapse of Rome and the Church became one of the main powers that stepped in to fill it. The Church, which based its hierachial organization of popes, bishops, priests, and monastaries on the organization of the Roman Empire, began to take over some of the functions of the government in the new nations which took the place of the Western Roman Empire. These functions included, politics, administration, education, and welfare. These new functions gave the Church more power than it had previously had, while also causing it to become quite wealthy. This new found power and wealth lead to the conversion of the many "pagan" people of Europe and to the expansion of christianity.

Strayer, Robert W. Ways of the World. Vol. 1. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin's, 2009. 2 vols. Print.

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