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§ 1. Sources and Literature.


August Potthast: Bibliotheca Historica Medii Aoevi. Wegweiser durch die Geschichtswerke des Europäischen Mittelalters von 375–1500. Berlin, 1862. Supplement, 1868.

The mediaeval literature embraces four distinct branches;

1. The Romano-Germanic or Western Christian;

2. The Graeco-Byzantine or Eastern Christian;

3. The Talmudic and Rabbinical;

4. The Arabic and Mohammedan.

We notice here only the first and second; the other two will be mentioned in subdivisions as far as they are connected with church history.

The Christian literature consists partly of documentary sources, partly of historical works. We confine ourselves here to the most important works of a more general character. Books referring to particular countries and sections of church history will be noticed in the progress of the narrative.


I. Documentary Sources.

They are mostly in Latin—the official language of the Western Church,—and in Greek,—the official language of the Eastern Church.

(1) For the history of missions: the letters and biographies of missionaries.

(2) For church polity and government: the official letters of popes, patriarchs, and bishops.

The documents of the papal court embrace (a) Regesta (registra), the transactions of the various branches of the papal government from a.d. 1198–1572, deposited in the Vatican library, and difficult of access. (b) Epistolae decretales, which constitute the basis of the Corpus juris canonici, brought to a close in 1313. (c) The bulls (bulla, a seal or stamp of globular form, though some derive it from boulhv, will, decree) and briefs (breve, a short, concise summary), i.e., the official letters since the conclusion of the Canon law. They are of equal authority, but the bulls differ from the briefs by their more solemn form. The bulls are written on parchment, and sealed with a seal of lead or gold, which is stamped on one side with the effigies of Peter and Paul, and on the other with the name of the reigning pope, and attached to the instrument by a string; while the briefs are written on paper, sealed with red wax, and impressed with the seal of the fisherman or Peter in a boat.

(3) For the history of Christian life: the biographies of saints, the disciplinary canons of synods, the ascetic literature.

(4) For worship and ceremonies: liturgies, hymns, homilies, works of architecture sculpture, painting, poetry, music. The Gothic cathedrals are as striking embodiments of mediaeval Christianity as the Egyptian pyramids are of the civilization of the Pharaohs.

(5) For theology and Christian learning: the works of the later fathers (beginning with Gregory I.), schoolmen, mystics, and the forerunners of the Reformation.


II. Documentary Collections. Works of Mediaeval Writers.

(1) For the Oriental Church.

Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae, opera Niebuhrii, Bekkeri, et al. Bonnae, 1828–’78, 50 vols. 8vo. Contains a complete history of the East-Roman Empire from the sixth century to its fall. The chief writers are Zonaras, from the Creation to a.d. 1118; Nicetas, from 1118 to 1206; Gregoras, from 1204 to 1359; Laonicus, from 1298 to 1463; Ducas, from 1341 to 1462; Phrantzes, from 1401 to 1477.

J. A. Fabricius (d. 1736): Bibliotheca Graeca sive Notitia Scriptorum veterum Graecorum, 4th ed., by G. Chr. Harless, with additions. Hamburg, 1790–1811, 12 vols. A supplement by S. F. W. Hoffmann: Bibliographisches Lexicon der gesammten Literatur der Griechen. Leipzig, 1838–’45, 3 vols.

(2) For the Westem Church.

Bibliotheca Maxima Patrum. Lugduni, 1677, 27 vols. fol.

Martene (d. 1739) and Durand (d. 1773): Thesaurus Anecdotorum Novus, seu Collectio Monumentorum, etc. Paris, 1717, 5 vols. fol. By the same: Veterum Scriptorum et Monumentorum Collectio ampliss. Paris, 1724–’38, 9 vols. fol.

J. A. Fabricius: Bibliotheca Latina Mediae et Infimae AEtatis. Hamb. 1734, and with supplem. 1754, 6 vols. 4to.

Abbé Migne: Patralogiae Cursus Completus, sive Bibliotheca Universalis ... Patrum, etc. Paris, 1844–’66. The Latin series (1844–’55) has 221 vols. (4 vols. indices); the Greek series (1857–66) has 166 vols. The Latin series, from tom. 80–217, contains the writers from Gregory the Great to Innocent III. Reprints of older editions, and most valuable for completeness and convenience, though lacking in critical accuracy.

Abbé Horay: Medii AEvi Bibliotheca Patristica ab anno MCCXVI usque ad Concilii Tridentini Tempora. Paris, 1879 sqq. A continuation of Migne in the same style. The first 4 vols. contain the Opera Honori III.

Joan. Domin. Mansi (archbishop of Lucca, d. 1769): Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima Collectio. Florence and Venice 1759–1798, 31 vols. fol. The best collection down to 1509. A new ed. (facsimile) publ. by Victor Palmé, Paris and Berlin 1884 sqq. Earlier collections of Councils by Labbé and Cossart (1671–72, 18 vols), Colet (with the supplements of Mansi, 1728–52, 29 vols. fol.), and Hardouin (1715, 12 vols. fol.).

C. Cocquelines: Magnum Bullarium Romanum. Bullarum, Privilegiorum ac Diplomatum Romanorum Pontificum usque ad Clementem XII. amplissima Collectio. Rom. 1738–58. 14 Tom. fol. in 28 Partes; new ed. 1847–72, in 24 vols.

A. A. Barberi: Magni Bullarii Rom. Continuatio a Clemente XIII ad Pium VIII. (1758–1830). Rom. 1835–’57, 18 vols. fol. The bulls of Gregory XVI. appeared 1857 in 1 vol.

G. H. Pertz (d. 1876): Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Hannov. 1826–1879. 24 vols. fol. Continued by G. Waitz.


III. Documentary Histories.

Acta Sanctorum Bollandistarum. Antw. Bruxellis et Tongerloae, 1643–1794; Brux. 1845 sqq., new ed. Paris, 1863–75, in 61 vols. fol. (with supplement). See a list of contents in the seventh volume for June or the first volume for October; also in the second part of Potthast, sub “Vita,” pp. 575 sqq.

This monumental work of John Bolland (a learned Jesuit, 1596–1665), Godefr. Henschen (†1681), Dan. Papebroch (†1714), and their associates and followers, called Bollandists, contains biographies of all the saints of the Catholic Church in the order of the calendar, and divided into months. They are not critical histories, but compilations of an immense material of facts and fiction, which illustrate the life and manners of the ancient and mediaeval church. Potthast justly calls it a “riesenhaftes Denkmal wissenschaftlichen Strebens.” It was carried on with the aid of the Belgic government, which contributed (since 1837) 6,000 francs annually.

Caes. Baronius (d. 1607): Annales ecclesiastici a Christo nato ad annum 1198. Rom. 1588–1593, 12 vols. Continued by Raynaldi (from 1198 to 1565), Laderchi (from 1566–1571), and A. Theiner (1572–1584). Best ed. by Mansi, with the continuations of Raynaldi, and the Critica of Pagi, Lucca, 1738–’59, 35 vols. fol. text, and 3 vols. of index universalis. A new ed. by A. Theiner (d. 1874), Bar-le-Duc, 1864 sqq. Likewise a work of herculean industry, but to be used with critical caution, as it contains many spurious documents, legends and fictions, and is written in the interest and defence of the papacy.


IV. Modern Histories of the Middle Ages.

J. M. F. Frantin: Annales du moyen age. Dijon, 1825, 8 vols. 8vo.

F. Rehm: Geschichte des Mittelalters. Marbg, 1821–’38, 4 vols. 8vo.

Heinrich Leo: Geschichte des Mittelalters. Halle, 1830, 2 vols.

Charpentier: Histoire literaire du moyen age. Par. 1833.

R. Hampson: Medii aevi Calendarium, or Dates, Charters, and Customs of the Middle Ages, with Kalenders from the Xth to the XVth century. London, 1841, 2 vols. 8vo.

Henry Hallam (d. 1859): View of the State of Europe during the Middle Ages. London, 1818, 3d ed. 1848, Boston ed. 1864 in 3 vols. By the same: Introduction to the Literature of Europe in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries. Several ed., Engl. and Am. Boston ed. 1864 in 4 vols.; N. York, 1880, in 4 vols.

Charles Hardwick († l859): A History of the Christian Church. Middle Age. 3d ed. by Stubbs, London, 1872.

Henry Hart Milman († 1868): History of Latin Christianity; including that of the Popes to the Pontificate of Nicholas V. London and N. York, 1854, 8 vols., new ed., N. York (A. C. Armstrong & Son), 1880.

Richard Chenevix Trench (Archbishop of Dublin): Lectures on Mediaeval Church History. London, 1877, republ. N. York, 1878.


V. The Mediaeval Sections of the General Church Histories.

(a) Roman Catholic: Baronius (see above), Fleury, Möhler, Alzog, Döllinger (before 1870), Hergenröther.

(b) Protestant: Mosheim, Schröckh, Gieseler, Neander, Baur, Hagenbach, Robertson. Also Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Rom. Empire (Wm. Smith’s ed.), from ch. 45 to the close.


VI. Auxiliary.

Domin. Du Cange (Charles du Fresne, d. 1688): Glossarium ad Scriptores mediae et infimae Latinitatis, Paris, 1678; new ed. by Henschel, Par. 1840–’50, in 7 vols. 4to; and again by Favre, 1883 sqq.—By the same: Glossarium ad Scriptores medicae et infimae Graecitatis, Par. 1682, and Lugd. Batav. 1688, 2 vols. fol. These two works are the philological keys to the knowledge of mediaeval church history.

An English ed. of the Latin glossary has been announced by John Murray, of London: Mediaeval Latin-English Dictionary, based upon the great work of Du Cange. With additions and corrections by E. A. Dayman.


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