of the










Christianus sum.                    Christiani nihil a me alienum puto







From Gregory VII., 1049, to BONIFACE VIII., 1294











It was the constant hope of Dr. Philip Schaff, the author of the History of the Christian Church, that he might live to finish the treatment of the Middle Ages, to which he had devoted one volume, covering the years 600–1050. He frequently said, during the last years of his life, "If I am able to accomplish this, my History of the Christian Church will be measurably complete and I will be satisfied then to stop." He entered upon the task and had completed his studies on the pontificates of Gregory VII. and Alexander III., when his pen was laid aside and death overtook him, Oct. 20, 1893. The two volumes found lying open on his study table, as he had left them the day before, Jeremy Taylor’s Holy Living and Holy Dying and a volume of Hurter’s Life of Innocent III., showed the nature of his thoughts in his last hours.

Dr. Schaff’s distinction as a writer on Church History dated from the year 1851 when his History of the Apostolic Church appeared, first in its original German form, Mercersburg, Pa., pp. xvi, 576, and Leipzig, 1853, and then in English translation, New York and Edinburgh, 1853, 1854. Before that time, he had shown his taste for historical studies in his tract on What is Church History? translated by Dr. John W. Nevin, Phila., 1846, pp. 128, and the address on the Principle of Protestantism, which he delivered at his inauguration as professor in the theological seminary at Mercersburg, 1844. This address was published in its German form and in an English translation by Dr. Nevin, Chambersburg, 1845.

Dr. Schaff continued his publications in this department with the issue of his History of the Christian Church 1–600, in 2 volumes, N. Y., 1858–1867. In the meantime, his attention had been called to the subjects of biblical literature and exegesis, and his labors resulted in the publication of the American edition of Lange’s Commentary in 25 volumes and other works. In 1887 he issued his Creeds of Christendom in 3 volumes. Left free to devote himself to the continuation of his History, which he was inclined to regard as his chief literary work, he found it necessary, in order to keep abreast of the times and to present a fresh treatment, to begin his studies again at the very beginning and consequently the series, to which this volume belongs, is an independent work written afresh and differing in marked features from its predecessors. For example, the first volume, on the Apostolic age, devotes an extensive treatment to the authorship and dates of the Apostolic writings to which scarcely any space was given in the History of the Apostolic Church of 1851 and the History of the Apostolic Church of 1858–1867. The treatment was demanded by the new attitude of scholarship to the questions presented by the Apostolic age.

Dr. Schaff lived to prepare six volumes of this new work, three on early Christianity, one on mediaeval Christianity, and two on the Protestant Reformation. It is of some interest that Dr. Schaff’s last writing was a pamphlet on the Reunion of Christendom, pp. 71, a subject which he treated with warm practical sympathy and with materials furnished by the studies of the historian. The substance of the pamphlet had been used as a paper read before the Parliament of Religions at the Columbian Exposition, Chicago. It was a great satisfaction to him to have the Faculty of the Berlin University,—where he had spent part of his student life, 1840–1841, and which had conferred on him the doctorate of divinity in 1854,—bear testimony in their congratulatory letter on the semicentennial of his professorial career that his "History of the Christian Church is the most notable monument of universal historical learning produced by the school of Neander" (Life Of Philip Schaff, p. 467).

The further treatment of the Middle Ages, Dr. Schaff left to his son, the author of this volume. It was deemed by him best to begin the work anew, using the materials Dr. Schaff had left as the basis of the first four chapters.

The delay in the issue of the present volume is due chiefly to the requirements of study and in part to the difficulty in getting all the necessary literature. The author has felt unwilling to issue the volume without giving to it as thorough study as it was possible for him to give. This meant that he should familiarize himself not only with the mediaeval writings themselves but with the vast amount of research which has been devoted to the Middle Ages during the last quarter of a century and more. As for the literature, not a little of it has been, until recently, inaccessible to the student in this country. At Lane seminary, where the author was a professor, he found in the library an unusually well selected collection of works on the mediaeval period made fifty years ago by the wise judgment of two of its professors, Calvin E. Stowe and the late George E. Day, who made tours in Europe for the purpose of making purchases for its shelves. He also owes a debt to the Rev. Dr. Henry Goodwin Smith, for some time professor in the seminary and its librarian, for his liberal use of the library funds in supplementing the works in the mediaeval department. In passing, it may be also said that the Cincinnati Public Library, by reason of a large permanent fund given more than a half century ago for the purchase of theological works and by the wise selection of such men as Professor George E. Day, is unusually rich in works for the historical student, some of which may perhaps not be duplicated in this country.

On removing to the Western Theological seminary, the author found its librarian, Professor James A. Kelso, most ready to fill up the shelves of the mediaeval department so that it now possesses all the more important works both original and secondary. To the librarians of the two Roman Catholic libraries of Cincinnati and to other librarians the author is indebted for the courtesy of the free use of their collections.

An explanation is due for devoting an entire volume to the middle period of the Middle Ages, 1050–1294, when it was the intention of Dr. Philip Schaff to embrace it and the third period of the Middle Ages, 1294–1517, in a single volume. It is doubtful whether Dr. Schaff, after proceeding with his studies, would have thought it wise to attempt to execute his original purpose. However this might have been, to have confined the treatment of 500 years to the limits of a single volume would have meant to do a relative injustice and, in the light of recent study, to have missed a proper proportion. To the first 600 years, 1–590, the History devotes three volumes. Dr. Schaff intended to devote three volumes to the Protestant Reformation, two of which he lived to prepare. The intervening 900 years deserve an equal amount of space. The period covered by this volume is of great importance. Here belong the Crusades, the rejuvenation of monasticism by the mendicant orders, the development of the canon law, the rise of the universities, the determined struggles of the papacy with the empire, the development of the Inquisition, the settlement of the sacramental system, and some of the most notable characters the Christian Church has produced. No one can fully understand the spirit and doctrinal system of the Roman communion without knowing this period. Nor can any one, without such knowledge, fully understand the meaning of the Protestant Reformation, for the Reformation was a protest against the mediaeval theology and mediaeval practices. The best evidence for the truth of the latter statement is found in the work of the learned Dominican Denifle, entitled Luther und Lutherthum, and the Protestant rejoinders to its assaults.

A partial list of the more modern works show the amount of study that has recently been spent upon this period. Among the great collections of mediaeval documents, besides the older ones by Mabillon, Muratori, and Migne, are the Monumenta Germaniae, intended to give an exhaustive collection of mediaeval German writers, the series of collections of the papal documents called the Regesta, edited by Jaffé, Potthast, Auvray, Berger, and others, the Chartularium universitatis Parisiensis, a collection of documents edited by Denifle and Chatelain of the highest importance for the study of the university system, the Recueil des Historiens des Croisades, the remarkable collection of mediaeval sacred poetry edited by Dreves and Blume filling about 15 volumes, the Boehmer-Friedberg edition of the Canon Law, and the Rolls Series, containing the writers of mediaeval England. To such works must be added the new editions of Schoolmen, Albertus Magnus by Borgnet, Bonaventura by Peltier, Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas, and the editions of such writers as Caesar of Heisterbach, De Voragine, Salimbene, and Etienne de Bourbon. Among the recent students who have made a specialty of this period are Giesebrecht, Gregorovius, Scheffer-Boichorst, Karl Mueller, Hauck, Deutsch, Lempp, and other Protestants of Germany, and among German Catholic scholars Doellinger, Father Denifle, Ehrle, Knoepfler, Schwane, Schulte, Funk, and Felder. In France we have Rémusat, Hauréau, Chevalier, Vacandard, Sabatier, Alphandéry. In England and America, we have Dr. Henry Charles Lea, who deserves to be mentioned first, the late Bp. Stubbs, R. L. Poole, Rashdall, Bridges, the editors of the Rolls Series, such as Brewer and Luard, and Prof. D. C. Munro, O. T. Thatcher, and Shailer Mathews.

Except in rare cases, the quotations are taken from the original works, whether they were written in the Middle Ages or are modern discussions. An exception is the History of the City of Rome by Gregorovius. It has required severe discipline to check the inclination to extend the notes to a far greater length than they have been carried, especially in such chapters as those on the sacramental system and the Schoolmen. In the tables of literature, the more important modern works have at times been indicated by a star, *.

In the preparation of the volume for the press, efficient aid has been rendered by the Rev. David E. Culley, fellow and tutor in the Western Theological seminary, whose literary and historical tastes and sober judgment have been confirmed by studies abroad.

The second part of this volume, carrying the history from Boniface VIII. to the Reformation, is in an advanced stage of preparation.

In closing, the author indulges the hope that Dr. Philip Schaff’s spirit of toleration may be found permeating this volume, and its general historic judgments to be such as Dr. Schaff himself would have expressed.


The Western Theological Seminary,

 Allegheny, Pa





* Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997. The material has been carefully compared and corrected according to the Eerdmans reproduction of the 1907 edition by Charles Scribner's sons, with emendations by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998.