Christendom Destroyed: A Penguin History of Europe.
Mark Greengrass’ “Christendom Destroyed” analyses the downfall of Western Christendom during the early modern era in Europe. The book primarily focuses on the period between 1517-1648, examining the events that led to the destruction of the idea of “Christendom” and the rise of Europe as a landmass with an identity built on moral and civilizing superiority. Greengrass’ detailed account of the transformation and fall of European Christendom is accompanied by maps, illustrations, and genealogies.
Table of Contents:
- Introduction: David de Vries
- The Origin of Christendom
- The Crusades and the Decline of Christendom
- The Protestant Reformation
- The Transformation from Christendom to Europe
- The Factors that Led to the Fall of Western Christendom
Q1: What is the book “Christendom Destroyed” about?
The book “Christendom Destroyed” by Mark Greengrass focuses on the transformation and fall of European Christendom during the early modern era. The book examines how the idea of Christendom was replaced by the concept of Europe, a landmass with a sense of moral and civilizing superiority over different states and peoples that occupied it.
Q2: What period of European history does the book cover?
The book covers the period of European history between 1517-1648. This period saw the destruction of universal papal monarchy, the decline of Christendom, and the transformation of Europe.
Q3: What led to the transformation of Christendom to Europe?
Several factors contributed to the transformation of Christendom to Europe. The Renaissance challenged fundamental ideas about God’s providence in the world and introduced new pedagogies. Humanist scholars aimed to recover the texts of ancient Antiquity to challenge Aristotelian philosophy, leading to different conceptions of universalism from that afforded by “Christendom”. The discovery of Europe in the wider world contributed to a perception that the natural world was a treasure store of secrets waiting to be interpreted. The Copernican heliocentric universe challenged the old Aristotelian cosmology, which held the earth at the centre of the universe, making Christendom comfortable.
Q4: How did the decline of Christendom come about?
The decline of Christendom came about with the economic contraction of the European economy in the aftermath of the Black Death, which undermined claims to universal obedience and led to contentiousness, heresy, and lasting damage to the moral authority of the papacy. Moreover, the Crusades were Christendom’s most significant project, and its most dangerous enemy was not non-Christians but those with local loyalties and suspicions of international orders.
Q5: What impact did the Protestant Reformation have on Christendom?
The Protestant Reformation achieved the destruction of universal papal monarchy and the successor to the Conciliar Movement. The Protestant Reformation’s challenge to the authority of the Catholic Church and its establishment of new protestant churches contributed to the decline of the idea of Christendom in Europe.
Q6: What role did the Renaissance play in the fall of Christendom?
The Renaissance had a variable intellectual and social geometry across Europe, sharpened by religious divisions and included princely courts. The revival of classical texts and ideas challenged the idea that ancient philosophy was the handmaiden of Christian truth and the instrument to construct a universal order. Humanist geographers, physicians, and natural philosophers shared emerging values placed on direct practical experience and experiment, changing the picture of the natural world.
In conclusion, Mark Greengrass’ “Christendom Destroyed” provides a detailed account of the transformation and fall of European Christendom during the early modern era. The book highlights how several factors, including the decline of the European economy, the Crusades, the Protestant Reformation, and the Renaissance led to the destruction of the idea of Christendom and the rise of Europe as a landmass with a sense of moral and civilizing superiority over different states and peoples that occupied it. The book is an excellent resource for anyone interested in understanding how the idea of Christendom fell and how Europe emerged as a dominant force in the world.