Site of St. Trillo's Celtic Monk's Cell, Rhos-on-Sea, North Wales.
St. Trillo was a 6th century CE celtic monk who established a hermit's cell on this site. His original cell is long gone, likely constructed from wattle, daub and a wall of stones. The site was probably chosen as it is the source of a natural spring (under the altar in the current six person chapel). The current chapel is of an unknown age and has been repaired many times over centuries. It is likely that St. Trillo kept livestock in the marshes that once occupied the land which is now currently the town centre. Rhos-on-Sea gets its name from this site. The current chapel is thought to be the smallest in the UK.
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Tarry, rash wanton! Am I not thy lord?
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Fic Teaser - Now Available
Fuck. Bella’s hands were shaking as she pulled into Forks High School. The first day of a new school had never gone well for her. Renee liked to drift. Inconsistent income led to them moving a lot, which had suited her mother fine. Life was an adventure, which to her mother meant not staying in the same place for more than two years. People gawked at her, and such a small town was sure to be worse.
Pressure started to build in her sinuses as she pulled into a parking spot. Bella quickly shut down her truck, sniffling. The glove box stuck until she yanked it free, and pulled out napkins.
Any fucking second now. I hate nosebleeds.
The world seemed to slow in the second it took for blood to drip down onto the napkin. The first thing she felt was the rush of air as her door was opened. Time sped back to normal with a blur of ginger hair, and wide, black eyes. The void of his eyes was burned into her brain as pain ripped through her. Before she could open her mouth to scream, a delicate hand made of stone pressed against her lips hard enough to bruise them.
“I’m sorry about this.” The words are whispered, and barely get through the broken glass boiling through her veins. In an instant the person on top of her is gone. She can feel the pain pulsing outwards with every beat of her heart. She can feel it all too clearly. Every single nerve ending is alight, and it’s all she can do not to scream. Her muscles are spasming. Cold stone wraps around her torso.
I’m dying. Of a nosebleed. There’s a blanket of gray above her, but all she can see is the abyss that brought her death. Her last thoughts are not of the family she’s leaving behind, or the life she could have lived, or any of the things she should have been thinking. Bella’s last thought, before pain stole it from her, was relief.
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so i finished Midnight Mass tonight. i thought i would have a lot to say about it, but honestly i feel like the whole thing was more of a horror story to people outside fundamentalism. if you come from the inside, it was all pretty par for the course.
yes, even the likening of sacrament to vampirism
i think it was beautifully done as always, beautifully written. i thought it portrayed the enticing nature of that kind of faith perfectly. i thought it showed how easily that type of community accepts people like beverly keane and how very little difference there is in the end between her and the people who thought they were kinder than her.
i think there's something to be said about how if you live your life in that kind of faith that you have to burn yourself in order to not be one of them, kill that part of yourself to not commit the kinds of horrors they did. lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate, and all that jazz.
i liked the dream motif. its kind of funny how it seems a lot of us ex-pats from that world seem to really love star analogies.
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Origen says that when God became flesh in the person of Christ human nature was able to "find God." But then he adds, "We affirm that human nature is not sufficient in any way to seek God and find him with purity unless it is helped by the one who is the object of the search." When Saint Paul testified that the Greeks "knew God," he also said, "They did not achieve this without God's help." For "God manifested it to them" (Rom 1:19). Unlike other forms of knowledge, the knowledge of God begins with God's movement toward human beings, what in the language of Christian theology is called grace.
The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God
Professor Robert Louis Wilken
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-- Hebrews begin to think of themselves in a new way
-- found in difficulty and rescued by God
-- commandments were a reminder that God freed them
-- they wondered why God was so interested in them
-- they were not sure why they were selected
-- begin to see themselves as chosen people
-- previously thought of themselves as a conglomerate of clans, and now as a united people
-- interpreted as being selected to bear a burden for this god
-- law was given to them by YHWH
-- Hebrews must spread that law
-- Hebrews were the bridge between humanity and YHWH
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Stops calling myself a "raised catholic" and starts calling myself a "recovering catholic" for kicks.
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Happy International Women’s Day! Today’s post is about the religious works of Catherine Parr and I just want to say thank you to @amuseoffyre for suggesting this topic. Tudor religion is one of my research interests and I could have written an entire dissertation about these texts.
As always, I would recommend reading this post on wordpress if you can because the formatting is better! Footnotes are hidden under the ‘read more’ at that end of the post.
Catherine Parr was Henry VIII’s sixth, and final, wife but there’s more to her than just her marriage to Henry. I know that her name was also spelt Katherine, Katheryn, Kateryn and Katharine but I’ll be sticking to Catherine in this post because that’s what I learnt when I was in primary school and I haven’t moved on since then.
Also, a quick disclaimer: Parr’s views about religion are obviously not my own. Please remember that these texts were produced during the 1540s – during the first English Reformation – and Catherine Parr had very strong opinions.
Catherine Parr wrote and published three religious books:
Psalms or Prayers (1544)
Prayers or Meditations (1545)
The Lamentation of a Sinner (1547)
Each book shows the progression of Catherine Parr’s writing, from translation to original work, and I want to spend a little bit of time exploring each individually.
Psalms or Prayers
Psalms or Prayers was the first book published by Catherine Parr who, at the time, was Queen consort of England. It is an English translation of the Latin Psalms which was published by John Fisher in c.1525.
She published the book anonymously through the King’s printer, Thomas Berthelet, but Janel M. Mueller argues that the translation is Catherine’s work for a number of reasons. Notably, two extant prints from the original run of twenty copies were gifts from Catherine to Henry VIII, her husband, and William Parr, her brother.
It has been stated that the translation revealed Catherine’s Protestant sympathies. England had a complicated relationship with Protestantism during the reign of Henry VIII and I’d describe the Church of England as both Anglo-Catholic and semi-Protestant at this time. Henry VIII still had Catholic advisors and there were Catholics at court – who did not like Catherine Parr – but the CoE had adopted certain Protestant ideas. During the latter years of his reign, Henry was committed to mixing Catholicism and Protestantism in the English Church.
Parr made some interesting changes to the text and these changes are, as pointed out by Mueller and Micheline White, most prominent in ‘A Prayer for the King’. White emphasises that this translation was written and published around the time that Henry went to war with France and Parr’s translation of ‘A Prayer for the King’ works to affirm Henry’s virility and masculinity but also ‘served (amongst other things) to represent Henry to God, his courtiers, his soldiers, and his people as a particular kind of Davidic monarch’. This translation reflected the events of the time and Henry VIII’s needs as he prepared for war.
Prayers or Meditations
Prayers or Meditations, written in 1545, was the first book published in England by a woman under her own name and in the English language. Mueller states that the book was first printed on the 2nd of June under the title Prayers stirryng the mynd vnto heauenlye medytacions and this edition reprinted two non-biblical prayers that originally featured in Psalms or Prayers. The definitive edition, which was the third edition of the book, was first printed on the 6th of November of the same year.
It was sixty pages of vernacular texts that Catherine Parr used for personal devotion. Catherine based the book on the fifteenth-century Catholic devotional book The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis but she altered it to suit the practices and beliefs of the developing Church of England and her own beliefs. Mueller acknowledges several ‘divergences’ in the ‘theological and psychological outlook’ between the work of Thomas à Kempis and Parr’s book which only ‘widen as Parr excerpts and reworks her source’. She imbued the book with her own spirituality but respected the word of the Bible to such an extent that she quoted it verbatim, never deviating from the word of the Bible when she included it. All three editions of Prayers or Meditations were a success among English readers during Catherine’s lifetime.
Parr is thought to have envisaged this book as a private counterpart to the Exhortation and Litany by the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, which was intended for public devotion, and Mueller argues that this was an ‘ambitious’ and ‘autonomous’ project by Parr who sought to provide English readers – including Henry VIII – with a private devotional experience.
Princess Elizabeth (who later became Elizabeth I) even translated it into Latin, French and Italian as a New Year’s gift to Henry VIII and Catherine. Imagine getting a trilingual translation of your own book as a present from your stepdaughter.
The Lamentation of a Sinner
The Lamentation of a Sinner, Parr’s wholly original work, was the first conversion narrative published in England. It is thought to have been written in the autumn of 1546 at the latest and the manuscript was circulated at court in November of the same year. The book was eventually printed in November 1547, after Henry VIII’s death, but it was much less circulated among English readers than Parr’s previous works.
Reading this was an odd experience, even today, because it feels like a very personal book. It’s written in the first person and it recounts Parr’s own religious experience and her journey towards the faith that she’s so confident in. The first section is confessional as Parr details her life before she, to quote Parr, ‘knew Christ’ and parts of this section are very striking. There’s one moment where she’s talking about ignorance in which she says:
Such were the fruits of my carnal and human reasons, to have rotten ignorance in price, for ripe and seasonable knowledge. Such also is the malice and wickedness that possesseth men; such is the wisdom and pleasing of the flesh.
These lines strike me as uncomfortably honest, especially as they were written by a queen during the Tudor era, as she admits that she did not accept Jesus and God but, instead, happily lived in sin with ‘blind […] Ignorance’ guiding her. Just before this she also says ‘I made a great idol of myself; for I loved myself better than God’ and this bit made me raise my eyebrows a bit because I couldn’t believe that Catherine had admitted to so great a sin. I know that this is a conversion narrative (a document detailing her own conversion to Protestantism from Catholicism or ‘Ignorance’) and she also was trying to encourage other Christians in England to consider Protestantism more seriously – some bits of this book are blatantly pushing forward an anti-Catholic narrative – but it also feels too personal to be reading. I felt as though I was intruding upon her diary or something like that even though she wrote this with the intention of it being published for all to read.
Catherine also writes about the disconnect between Christians: ‘It is much to be lamented: the schisms, varieties, contentions, and the disputations that have been, and are, in the world about Christian religion; and no agreement or concord of the same, amongst the learned men.’ This is a bit odd because she too was advocating for a specific branch of Christianity but perhaps she thought she could unite all Christians under her own understanding of Protestantism. I’m not sure. She goes on to, very briefly, mention how ‘unlearned’ people – which, at this point in time, was most of the population of England – had a different relationship with God because their access to the Bible was restricted. During the 1540s, there was a lot of conflict surrounding the English Bible and in 1546 all English-language Bibles were burnt except for the Great Bible (the first authorised English Bible) and Henry VIII actually attempted to restrict the use of the Great Bible to certain social classes. Catherine speaks so frankly about her own privilege and it seems like she did truly care about the people of England – if only on a spiritual or religious level – as she advocated for their access to the English Bible.
In the later sections of this piece, there is a clear sense of anti-Catholicism as Catherine argues, in her ‘simple and unlearned judgement’, that people should not follow the doctrines of men (by which she means Catholic clerics) because they are ‘so blinded with the love of themselves and the world, that they extol men’s inventions and doctrines, before the doctrine of the Gospel’. This argument against Catholicism became very common in England later in the Reformation, especially in the reign of Elizabeth I, but Catherine is leaning into it even in 1546/7. She was definitely a Reformist at heart. At one point, she refers to the Bishop of Rome as ‘riffraff’ and I apologise to any Roman Catholics reading this but that bit actually made me laugh.
Catherine’s The Lamentation of a Sinner is just fascinating because it reveals so much about her and her beliefs. I could have written a whole series of posts just about that one book.
Researching this was absolutely fascinating for me because I’m really interested in the development of English religion after Henry VIII’s reformation but if you want to read more about Catherine Parr and her work then I’d really recommend Mueller’s book*. It is rather expensive – as most academic texts are – but it does include detailed background info, excellent analysis, and complete versions of each of Catherine’s books.
If you enjoyed this post or found it interesting then please consider buying me a coffee or, if you’re interested in any of the books I’ve talked about in this post, check out my bookshop.org UK* list which features all of the books I’ll be talking about during Women’s History Month!
This post contains affiliate links that are clearly marked with an asterisk. I will receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you.
1. White, Micheline, ‘The Psalms, War, And Royal Iconography: Katherine Parr's Psalms Or Prayers (1544) And Henry VIII As David', Renaissance Studies, 29 (2015), 554-575 (555)
2. Janel M. Mueller, Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2011), p.369
3. Mueller, Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence, p.378
4. Mueller, Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence, p.370
5. Catherine Parr, 'The Lamentation of a Sinner', in Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2011), p.452
6. Catherine Parr, 'The Lamentation of a Sinner', in Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2011), p.449
7. Catherine Parr, 'The Lamentation of a Sinner', in Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2011), p.449
8. Catherine Parr, 'The Lamentation of a Sinner', in Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2011), p.469
9. Catherine Parr, 'The Lamentation of a Sinner', in Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2011), p.470
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What I can't seem to figure out is this: why these "imposter spirits" would ignore me for all those years when I went to mass, received holy communion, invoked the holy spirit, said my rosary and gave offerings to the Virgin Mary, prayed to Jesus Christ and St. Cecilia, but as soon as I started following the Greek gods and worshipping Artemis, all of a sudden they should decide it was time to all come out and try to get me.
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St Patrick's Anglo-Saxon 7th Century CE Chapel and Stone Graves, Heysham, Lancashire.
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Me: Omg I can’t wait to finish my priest krillin and demon piccolo au, it’s going to be so fun
Also me: *Ends up dumping all of my religious trauma onto this story bc I was a black Baptist kid growing up*
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Megadeth - Almost Honest ☢️
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For the Greeks, God was the conclusion of an argument, the end of a search for an ultimate explanation, an inference from the structure of the universe to a first cause. For Christian thinkers, God was the starting point, and Christ the icon that displays the face of God. "Reason became man and was called Jesus Christ," wrote [Justin Martyr]. Now one reasoned from Christ to other things, not from other things to Christ. In him was to be found the reason, the logos, the logic, if you will, that inheres in all things.
The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God
Professor Robert Louis Wilken
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a journal excerpt from a person in a society that doesnt yet exist
“It is deep in the winter under the father in the sky and his amber rays paint the water like fire along the bloody coasts that even here are the same as in my home so far away. Both sky and plant was lilac when I left my mother and the mother of my children and now soon the winds will change and I will travel over this fire to once again see them and bring to them wealth and stories of where I have been and the caravan which I followed to my destination, of the peoples who trade furs and meat caught fresh far outside the confines of cities and permanent homes. When summer comes again and blood turns blue I will present you, my son, with the most fine of fabrics so that the daughters around you will see your value and allow you to be their man. And for you, my daughters, I have gifts of written words and fallen stars that you may wear and dazzle those around you. When the grandest mother bathes us in her palest light and takes her love in her arms again then so will I, and I cannot wait another day to see that day again.“
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Francesco del Cossa
Tempera on poplar panel
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA
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“Jews had the deepest roots in Italy and by the seventh century remained a visible element in many localities. Italy was deeply fragmented by this time. There were essentially three zones of influence. The Lombards, a non-Roman ethnic group, had moved into territory previously controlled by the Ostrogoths, the first non-Roman people that ruled Italy after the passing of imperial authority to Constantinople. Rome and some of the surrounding territory was ruled more or less by the pope, and in the south (along with Ravenna) the Byzantines had managed to hold onto territory recaptured under Justinian’s devastating campaign to reconquer Italy in the sixth century. Again, this fragmented political geography underlines how specific local conditions would be of paramount importance in setting the tone of Jewish-Christian interaction.
This was an even more complicated society for Jews than that of Merovingian Gaul. It was a society under extreme pressure from warfare, famine, and plague. The population declined dramatically, urban areas contracted, and peasants turned to local strongmen or institutions such as monasteries for protection. Paradoxically, these crises probably acted in a way to unify local societies. Differences in religion became less important in the face of outside threats and challenges. Interestingly, we have no record of attacks or massacres of Jews associated with outbreaks of the plague or other periods of social stress. The nature of Christianity itself should remain a prominent concern in assessing the experience of Jews. The Lombards shifted quite quickly from Arianism to Catholicism, suggesting that religious affiliations were still very fluid.
Christianity may have idiosyncratically penetrated into the rural worlds of early medieval Italy. When Gregory the Great (ca. 540–604) tried to depict the heroism and sanctity of Benedict of Nursia (ca. 480– 543), the founder of Western monasticism, he made it a point to include episodes of Benedict fighting in the sixth century against local pagans or impious Christians. Our foremost source for a fuller picture of Jewish life in early medieval Italy remains the letters of Gregory the Great, whose papacy gave direction to the early medieval church.
Gregory is often credited with codifying toleration for the Jews in church doctrine by supporting the rights of Jews to worship in designated synagogues and emphasizing their freedom from forced conversion. At the same time, Gregory insisted that Jews should not overreach themselves by having Christian slaves or by disturbing worship in churches. As with the church councils in Merovingian Gaul, these expressions of papal authority should be treated carefully. The range of papal power and influence was severely limited geographically and the ability of any early medieval government to enforce its policies was often haphazard at best.
…However, in his relations with Jews there is the same quality of ambivalence that viewed Jews with anxiety but accepted them as part of a Christian world. We can make only the barest guesses about how many Jews there were in early medieval Italy, where they lived, and their economic occupations. The traditional picture of Jews as merchants should not be allowed to overwhelm other evidence. There must have been rural or at least village Jews. Some attracted Gregory’s attention in a letter to Peter the subdeacon in Sicily in 592. Gregory instructed his correspondent: “Because many Jews are settled on the estates of the church, I want some part of the pensio to be remitted to those of them who should wish to become Christians, in order that while they are attracted by this favor, the others, too, shall come up with such a desire.”
How many more groups of Jews in these rural settings went unnoticed? Woven throughout Gregory’s letters about Jews are indications of how profoundly local conditions shaped the contours of their lives. Although Gregory seemed to tolerate Jews on church estates, Jews could be subject to harassment by local clerics. Jews often came to seek Gregory’s support, which in itself is powerful testimony to their familiarity with the operative hierarchies of Christian society. For example, Joseph the Jew reported to Gregory that the bishop of Terracina evicted them twice from places in the local fort where they celebrated their holidays. Several Jews from Massilia urged Gregory to complain to Vergilius, archbishop of Arles, from 588–610, and Theodore, bishop of Massilia in Gaul, about attempts in that region to bring Jews to the baptismal font by force.
Jews of Rome were able to petition Gregory on behalf of the Jews of Palermo where, they claimed, Christians were infringing on the rights of Jews to their place of worship. The bishop of Palermo apparently evicted Jews from their synagogues and attempted to turn them into churches. Local conditions allowed some Jews at least to experiment with established religious conventions. Writing to Libertinus, praetor of Sicily in May 593, Gregory responds to a report that a Jew was trying to set up an alternative cult. Gregory recounts: “For it is said that Nasas, one who is the wickedest of all the Jews, built an altar in the name of the blessed Helias in a temerity that should be punished, and beguiled in a sacrilegious seduction many Christians to adore there.”
It is a pity we do not know more about this episode. It seems to be testimony to the potential for syncretism between the two religious cultures. Living in an environment rich with shrines to holy men and women, this Jew Nasas seems to have tried to turn a Jewish prophet into a Christian saint. Gregory seems to be particularly concerned that such a shrine was already attracting Christians. The close connections of Jews and Christians are clear in the evidence of marriages across religious boundaries as well as the recorded conversions.
In one letter Gregory discusses the case of a Jewish woman who has converted to Christianity and married a Christian. Gregory is writing to protect the wife from harassment—whether from Jews or Christians is unclear: We have decided, therefore, to recommend to your Experience Cyriacus and Iohanna his wife, the bearers of the present, in order that you should not allow anyone to oppress or aggravate them contrary to justice. . . . For whereas the aforementioned woman is said to be molested for having converted from the Jewish to the Christian religion after the reception of engagement gifts, . . . What was adjudged should be entirely and wholly observed, so that she shall not be persecuted by litigation moved by wicked men for the reason that she is known to have chosen the better part.
If we knew how these two people met, courted, and negotiated the conversion and marriage we would have a much better sense of the dynamics of Christian-Jewish interaction. The integration of Jews into local societies apparently brought some individuals to Christianity without any external inducements. Such conversions could spark local displays of zeal and aggressive piety. Gregory, for example, instructs the bishop of Cagliari to undo the actions of one Peter, a recent convert from Judaism. In an attempt to bring other Jews to Christianity, Peter tried to “convert” a synagogue to a church. According to Gregory, “accompanied by some undisciplined people, he occupied it on the day following his baptism, that is Sunday of the same Easter festivity, in a grave scandal, and placed there an image of the Mother of our God and Lord, a venerable cross, and white cloak that he had on when he emerged from the font.”
Apparently both the bishop and the civil authorities acted together to stop Peter. Any attempt to upset violently the status quo drew Gregory’s attention. In this case, his influence seems to have prevailed over local passions. Some Jews had grown close enough to Christianity that they petitioned the church for baptism. With great pleasure, Gregory writes, we have learnt from the Lady Abbess of the Monastery of Saint Stephen, situated in the territory of Agrigentum, that many of the Jews want to convert to the Christian faith under the guidance of the divine grace but that it is necessary that someone should go there with our instruction. We instruct you, therefore, by the tenor of this authority, that you should put aside all excuses, go to that place and hasten to help their wish with your exhortations, with God’s favor.
In another case, Gregory acted quickly to support several converts: It is appropriate that those whom our Redeemer deigned to convert himself from the Jewish perdition should be succored by us in a reasonable moderation lest they suffer (God forbid) want of food. We order you, therefore, by the authority of this command, that you shall not defer to give to the formerly Hebrews, children of Iusta, namely, Iuliana, Redemptus, and Fortuna, beginning on the next thirteenth indiction, each year . . . solidi, which you should know that you must absolutely include in your accounts. It is interesting to note that Gregory has to encourage the missionary effort, suggesting that it was not a local priority. We do not know why these particular Jews wished to convert, but the general movement of small freeholders seeking security under episcopal or monastic patronage might have been part of their motivation.
The impact of these conversions on the Jewish population also remains obscure. Were they marginal incidents or do they reflect larger numbers of undocumented conversions? Christianity may only have been one aspect of how personal identities were constructed or perceived. An equally important factor in individual identity in this early medieval society may have been the division between free and unfree populations. While the large-scale chattel slavery of the Roman period was probably waning, the vast majority of the population was still in some dependent status to the great and powerful. To what degree did Christian baptism overcome this more pragmatic reality of power and subjection is an open question. An individual’s status, that is, his freedom or lack of it, may have counted for more in binding people together than common religious loyalties.
We may be romanticizing the Christian past by imagining a society of Christians in opposition to small groups of Jews who remained on the outside of a common religious life. The loyalties and benefits of free status may have often trumped the disadvantages associated with Judaism. Whatever social advantages Jews derived from slave-holding, Gregory was preoccupied with the scandal of Jews owning Christian slaves. He wrote repeatedly to clerics and rulers that such a state of affairs should not be tolerated. However, Gregory could not risk undermining the slave-holding system itself. In 599 he wrote to Fortunatus, bishop of Naples, “But we have learnt from Basilius the Hebrew, who came before us with other Jews, that this purchase [of slaves] is enjoined upon them by various judges of the state and that it happens that among the pagans Christians too are purchased at the same time.”
Gregory felt it necessary to resolve these cases so that these slave owners who allege that they purchased slaves against their will do not suffer from the loss of the slaves. Gregory could not intervene so drastically that the basic principles of a slave-holding society were undermined. A report of Jewish slave-holding prompted Gregory to remind the bishop of Luni in 594 “that, following the most pious laws, no Jew should be permitted to keep a Christian slave under his ownership.” The solution, however, speaks volumes of the need for stability in the agricultural regime of the period. Gregory continues: “these people, however, who are in their possession, although they themselves are free by law, because they have adhered to their lands for a long time for their cultivation and owe their condition to the land, shall remain and cultivate the land as they used to, and they shall pay to the said men pensiones and fulfill all that the laws demand from coloni and originarii.”
Gregory seems to be sanctioning the conversion of Christian slaves of Jews to dependent laborers who could still rightly work for Jews. He also warned others against trying to claim or move the peasants. The Jews were not to be stripped of their “property” lest it set a dangerous precedent for other masters. Jews of Italy thus faced many challenges and opportunities. They could look back on centuries of residence in Roman towns and territories that had traditions of protecting their rights to worship. Papal authority seemed largely committed to upholding these traditions even as some local Christian authorities tried to marginalize them.
Jews seem to have escaped being reduced to slavery or abject dependence, although we have no clear sense of what kind of dependent relations they had with local patrons or authority figures. The increasing growth of the church institutions and Christian habits may have taken their toll on some Jews who sought refuge in conversion and the patronage of local bishops. The pressures of war, famine, and plague as well as tensions between the various political powers in Italy no doubt created periodic crises in the lives of Jews as well as Christians. Nevertheless, the few records we have suggest that Jews were finding their way among the many obstacles of this early medieval world. Gregory may have thought the end was near and that the ingathering of the gentiles was urgent. Jews seemed to have taken a longer view.”
- Jonathan Elukin, “From Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages.” in Living Together, Living Apart: Rethinking Jewish-Christian Relations in the Middle Ages
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Honestly I have a very positive emotional association with the Cathars less due to any, like, actual history, and more because of all the Crusader Kings 2 games where I made them the dominant religion in western Europe so I could access those sweet sweet 'absolute gender equality' inheritance laws.
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perks of having the house to myself: no one else has to put up with me shrieking about simplistic interpretations of Viking Age gender and sexuality in this book
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Letter from the High Priest Lu'enna to the King of Lagash (Girsu, c. 2400 BC).
In this letter, the high priest informs the king (possibly Entemena) of his son's death during a fight against sixty Elamites who had invaded and plundered the territory of Lagash. On the back is a list of the booty taken (or taken back) from Elam. This terracotta tablet is 7.8cm high, 7.8cm wide, and 2.2cm thick.
The Sumerians were the first civilization to develop the art of writing. Early pictograms conveyed basic information, such as “two sheep – five goats – Kish,” but wasn't able to give details. This system developed further, primarily in the city of Uruk, and by the Early Dynastic Period (c. 2900 BC) the system that would produce works like the Epic of Gilgamesh was firmly in place.
The Sumerian language became the lingua franca of Mesopotamia – a language adopted as a common tongue between speakers of different native languages. Although the Akkadian language replaced Sumerian at some point, the Sumerian cuneiform system was still used by other languages (including Akkadian).
Early texts have personal names in other languages, showing that other languages were still spoken at the time. Mesopotamia was never linguistically or culturally homogenous.
Sumerian writers influenced later writers, including those who wrote the books of the Bible. The Myth of Adapa was an influence on the later Garden of Eden; the Eridu Genesis has similarities to the Fall of Man, and the Atrahasis was an earlier version of the Great Flood myth.
The high priestess Enheduanna was the world's first author known by name. She composed over 40 hymns for use in temple worship – the first authored liturgy.
Mesopotamian fables were later popularized by Aesop, and the Epic of Gilgamesh inspired works like the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Sumerian influence on later civilizations was not limited to literature and writing. The concept of the gods living in the city's temple, and the shape and size of Sumerian ziggurats, may have influenced later Egyptian beliefs about their gods, and the development of the pyramid.
The Sumerian concept of time (using a base-60 system) was adopted by other civilizations. The cylinder seal, an individual's sign of personal identification, remained in use in Mesopotamia until c. 612 and the fall of the Assyrian Empire.
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