Medieval Christianity Literature

Topic: CultureSubculture
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Last updated: May 12, 2019
The Passion of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity
Exact Author Unknown, though the original text may have been written by Perpetua herself. Early 3rd Century.Shows a firsthand account of martyrdom and the persecution of Christians In the late Roman world. Possibly one of the few examples of a woman writing in the period.

Edict of Milan
Constantine and his co-emperor Licinius Early 4th century Legalizes Christianity.

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Reverses the persecution of Christians and calls for the return of confiscated property. Is the beginning of institutionalized Christianity.

Donatist Sermon
A Donatist preacherEarly 4th centuryShows the perspective of Donatists in regards to the majority of Christians following the Edict of Milan, and encourages the faithful to reject those who had given in to the persecutors. The Sermon encourages people to either join or remain Donatists. Expounds the Donatist belief that suffering is necessary to be a good Christian.

Nicaen Creed
Exact author unknown. Early 4th centuryWritten after the council of Nicaea, the Creed is a response to the rise of the Arian Heresy, and holds that the Son and the Father are of the same substance and thus equal. The Creed then established the Catholic position as being the Orthodox one, and the one supported by Constantine the Great.

St. Augustine of HippoLate 4th centuryWritten supposedly in response to claims of Augustine’s Sanctity, the book details what Augustine viewed as the sins of his adolescence. One of the first autobiographies.

One of the longest literary prayers.

Life of St. Antony the Great
Athanasius of AlexandriaMiddle of the 4th CenturyDetailed the life of the desert father and father of monasticism, St. Antony. His hagiography speaks of the various miracles attributed to him, as well as his supposed battles with demons, that may or may not have resulted from the consumption of moldy rye bread.

The Rule of St. Benedict
St. Benedict of Nursia480Stated a clear and definite set of guidelines by which monks may live.

Was the standard Rule in monasteries for most of the Middle Ages, and was the basis for other Rules, such as those created by the military orders of the crusades. Stressed conformity and humility.

Life of Martin of Tours
Sulpicius Severus Late 5th centuryDetails the life of St.

Martin, who was both one of the first confessor saints, as well as one of the first saints in the west outside of Rome. Written, as most hagiographies were, to serve as an example of how to live a holy life.

Life and Miracles of St.


Gregory the GreatLate 6th centuryProvides us with information about the life of St. Benedict, who wrote the Rule that became the norm for monasteries around Europe. Benedict is not presented as being noteworthy due to his personality, but because of his conformity to Christian ideals.

Ecclesiastic History of the English People
The Venerable Bede 731The first history of the Anglo-Saxons. Detailed the large-scale transition for paganism and Irish Christianity to Roman Christianity.

The Dream of the Rood
Unknown author800Old English poem detailing a Dream where the True Cross speaks to the Dreamer.

Written in quintessential Germanic style complete with kennings. Tthe version etched on the Ruthwell Cross as well as that in the much later Vercelli book remain fairly consistent, proven that poems can remain fairly unchanged over centuries in an oral tradition..

Life of St. Radgeund
Venantius Fortunatus 6th century Gives the life of St. Radegund, one of the few female saints of the Middle Ages, and one of the only queens to become a saint.

History of the Franks on the Nuns of Poitiers
Gregory of Tours 6th century Gives us our only information about Clothild and the revolt she led of the nuns of Poitiers.

Handbook for William
Dhuoda 9th century Gives us an example of the values of the Carolingian Laity.

Shows anxiety during the years of civil war preceding the Treaty of Verdun. Shows genuine concerns about Christian values and the afterlife by a secular individual.

The Donation of Constantine
Unknown Papal Scribe760s Forged document giving the pope control over the spiritual affairs of all of Europe and the territories of Italy. Held as a legitimate and authoritative document for much of the Middle Ages, though its authenticity was always questioned by some.

Life of Charlemagne
Einhard9th century

Compiled by Charlemagne. 8th centuryCompilation of older Germanic law codes. Set written laws clarified legal matters.

The Power of Relics
Gregory of Tours6th centuryGives examples of the power the cult of relics had to offer.

Translation of Ss. Marcellinus and Peter
Einhard 9th centuryGives us an account of the relic trade and the concepts of the translation and elevation of relics in the 9th century. Seems to attempt to justify the theft of relics in certain instances.

Penitential of Finnian
Finnian of Clonard Late 6th century An early example of a Penitential, that is, a document detailing what penances were appropriate for what sins.

Pilgrim’s guide to St. James of Compostela
Aimery Picaud12th centuryGives several routes frequented by Pilgrims on their way to the shrine of St. James.

It tells us what medieval pilgrims could expect on their journey as well as what places they frequently passed through.

Journey of St. Junianus to the council of Charroux
Letaldus of Micy10th centuryRelates the miracles that are reported to have happened as a result of the translation of the relics of St.

Junianus to the council of Charroux. The presence of relics whose authenticity is attested to by miracles would have strengthened the legitimacy of the Peace of God.

The Peace League of Bourges
Andrew of Fleury 11th centuryDetails a pact made under the command of the bishop of Bourges that prohibited offences against the church and the poor, and listed what was to be done should such infractions occur. All people aged 15 and older living in the territories of the bishops present were required to swear this oath on saint’s relics.

On the first Millenium
Ralph Glaber11th centurySpeaks of what were interpreted by Glaber as divine omens. Has been exaggerated by some historians who have made the case that medieval people thought the world was going to end around the year 1000.

Sermon on the Book of Matthew
Archbishop Wulfstan of York11th centuryWulfstan reminds listeners of the coming of the anti-Christ as it is spoken of in the book of Matthew. Since Wulfstan lived in such a turbulent and violent time, he may have seen the anti-Christ in Cnut for a while.

A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Anonymous Author1350 Gives a description of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher as it was in the fourteenth century.

Gregory VII’s call for Assistance to the Greeks
Gregory VII 11th centuryGregory calls for assistance from Western Christians in aiding the Greeks.

Augustine of Hippo on the Just War
Augustine of Hippo5th centuryGave an outline for what constitutes a Just War, based on the direct Roman precedent as well as Christian traditions.

Becomes the standard for interpreting such thing even up to the crusades.

Urban II’s Call for a Crusade
Pope Urban II 11th centuryPope Urban calls for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, for the purpose of recapturing the holy land. Granted remision of sins to those who died on the venture,

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