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1077 and all that: Gregory VII in Reformation historical writing

Freeman, TS (2021) '1077 and all that: Gregory VII in Reformation historical writing.' Renaissance Studies, 35 (1). 118 - 145. ISSN 0269-1213

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Abstract

From the late Middle Ages onwards, the reputation of Pope Gregory VII (r. 1073–85) was hotly debated. Lionized during the Catholic Reformation, the controversial pope was also the target of strident polemic from conciliarists, German humanists and then, most intensely, from Protestants. This essay will focus on the development of polemic against Gregory by Lutherans and English Protestants. Important contemporary sources against Gregory were unearthed by humanist and conciliarist scholars such as Johannes Aventinus and Ortwin Gratius and then published by Protestants such as Philipp Melanchthon and Kaspar Hedio. English writers with strong connections to the Lutherans such as Thomas Swinnerton and Robert Barnes presented the polemical history of Gregory's pontificate to English audiences. It was further extended by Matthias Flacius, John Bale and John Foxe. Yet while all Protestant accounts of Gregory agreed that he epitomized papal depravity, there were significant variations in emphasizing which qualities of his were truly Antichristian. For some writers it was his imposition of clerical celibacy, for others his excommunication and deposition of an emperor and for others it was his activities as a sorcerer. This essay concludes by discussing these variations and evaluating the reasons for their popularity. While Gianmarco Giuliani's essay in this collection describes how Gregory VII became a keystone in Catholic interpretations of the Church and the papacy, this essay attempts to show how he became a keystone of Protestant interpretations of ecclesiastical and papal history.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2019 13:39
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2021 20:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/25713

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