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Ecclesiastical History

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Nature and office

Ecclesiastical history is the scientific investigation and the methodical description of the temporal development of the Church considered as an institution founded by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Ghost for the salvation of mankind.

In a general way the subject matter of history is everything that suffers change owing to its existence in time and space; more particularly, however, it is the genetical or natural development of facts, events, situations, that history contemplates. The principal subject of history is man, since the external changes in his life affect closely his intellectual interests. Objectively speaking, history is the genetical development of the human mind and of human life itself in its various aspects, as it comes before us in series of facts, whether these pertain to individuals, or to the whole human race, or to any of its various groups. Viewed subjectively, history is the apperception and description of this development, and, in the scientific sense, the comprehension of the same set forth in a methodical and systematic manner.

The history of mankind may have as many divisions as human life has aspects or sides. Its noblest form is the history of religion, as it developed in the past among the different groups of the human race. Reason shows that there can be only one true religion, based on the true knowledge and the proper worship of the one God. Thanks to the light of revelation we know that this one true religion is the Christian religion, and, since there are different forms of the Christian religion, that the true religion is in particular the one known as Catholic, concrete and visible in the Catholic Church. The history of Christianity, therefore, or more properly the history of the Catholic Church, is the most important and edifying part of the history of religion. Furthermore, the history of religion is necessarily a history of religious associations, since the specifically human, that is, moral — and therefore religiouslife, is necessarily social in character. Every religion, therefore, aims naturally at some form of social organization, Christianity all the more so, since it is the highest and most perfect religion. There are three stages in the formation of religious associations:

  1. The religious associations of pagans, i.e. of those who had or have no clear knowledge of the one true God. Among them every people has its own gods, religion coincides with nationality and lives no independent life, while the religious association is closely connected or rather wholly bound up with the civil order, and is, like the latter, essentially particularistic.
  2. The religious community of the Jews. Although this also was closely connected with the theocratic government of the Jewish people, and hence particularistic and confined to one nation, it was still the custodian of Divine revelation.
  3. Christianity, which contains the fullness or perfection of Divine revelation, made known to mankind by the Son of God Himself. In it are realized all the prototypes that appear in Judaism. By its very nature it is universal, destined for all men and all ages. It differs profoundly from all other organizations, lives its own independent life, possesses in its fullness all religious truth and, in opposition to the Jewish religion, recognizes the spirit of love as its highest principle, and penetrates and comprehends the whole spiritual life of man. Its cult is at once the sublimest and purest form of Divine worship. It is in every sense without a peer among human associations.

The annals of Christianity in its widest sense are occasionally dated from the creation of man, seeing that a Divine revelation was made to him from the beginning. However, since Christ is the founder of the perfect religion which derives from Him its name, and which He established as a free and independent association and a sublime common possession of the whole human race, the history of Christianity maybe more naturally taken to begin with the earthly life of the Son of God. The historian, however, must deal with the ages preceding this momentous period, in so far as they prepared mankind for the coming of Christ, and are a necessary elucidation of those factors which influenced the historical development of Christianity. (See NATURAL LAW; DIVINE LAW; GOD.)

The external historical form of Christianity, viewed as the religious association of all the faithful who believe in Christ, is the Church. As the institution which the Son of God founded for the realization on earth of the Kingdom of God and for the sanctification of man, the Church has a double element, the Divine and the human. The Divine element comprises all the truths of Faith which her Founder entrusted to her — His legislation and the fundamental principles of her organization as an institute destined for the guidance of the faithful, the practice of Divine worship, and the guardianship of all the means by which man receives and sustains his supernatural life (see SACRAMENTS; GRACE). The human element in the Church appears in the manner in which the Divine element manifests itself with the co-operation of the human free will and under the influence of earthly factors. The Divine element is unchangeable, and, strictly speaking, does not fall within the scope of history; the human element on the other hand is subject to change and development, and it is owing to it that the Church has a history. Change appears first of all by reason of the extension of the Church throughout the world since its foundation. During this expansion various influences revealed themselves, partly from within the Church, partly from without, in consequence of which the expansion of Christianity was either hindered or advanced. The inner life of the Christian religion is influenced by various factors: moral earnestness, for example, and a serious realization of the aims of the Church on the part of Christians promote the attainment of her interests; on the other hand, when a worldly spirit and a low standard of morality infect many of her members, the Church's action is gravely impeded. Consequently although the teaching of the Church is in itself, as to its material content, unchangeable considered as supernatural revelation, there is still room for a formal development of our scientific apprehension and explanation of it by means of our natural faculties. The development of the ecclesiastical hierarchy and constitution, of the worship of the Church, of the legislation and discipline which regulate the relations between the members of the Church and maintain order, offers not a few changes which are a proper subject for historical investigation.

We are now in a position to grasp the scope of ecclesiastical history. It consists in the scientific investigation and methodical treatment of the life of the Church in all its manifestations from the beginning of its existence to our own day among the various divisions of mankind hitherto reached by Christianity. While the Church remains essentially the same despite the changes which she undergoes in time, these changes help to exhibit more fully her internal and external life. As to the latter, ecclesiastical history makes known in detail the local and temporal expansion or restriction of the Church in the various countries, and indicates the factors influencing the same (History of Missions, in the widest sense), also the attitude which individual states or political bodies and other religious associations assume towards her (History of Ecclesiastical Polity, of Heresies and their Refutation, and of the Relations of the Church with Non-Catholic Religious Associations). If we turn to the internal life of the Church, ecclesiastical history treats of the development of ecclesiastical teaching, based on the original supernatural deposit of faith (History of Dogma, of Ecclesiastical Theology, and Ecclesiastical Sciences in general), of the development of ecclesiastical worship in its various forms (History of Liturgy), of the utilization of the arts in the service of the Church, especially in connexion with worship (History of Ecclesiastical Art), of the forms of ecclesiastical government and the exercise of ecclesiastical functions (History of the Hierarchy, of the Constitution and Law of the Church), of the different ways of cultivating the perfect religious life (History of Religious Orders), of the manifestations of religious life and sentiment among the people, and of the disciplinary rules whereby Christian morality is cultivated and preserved and the faithful are sanctified (History of Discipline, Religious Life, Christian Civilization.)

Method and characteristics

The ecclesiastical historian must apply the principles and general rules of the historical method exactly and in their entirety, and must accept at their proper value all facts which have been proved to be certain. The cornerstone of all historical science is the careful establishment of facts. The ecclesiastical historian will accomplish this by a full knowledge and critical treatment of the sources. An objective, reasonable, and unbiased interpretation of the sources, based on the laws of criticism, is the first principle of the true method of ecclesiastical history. Systematic instruction in this field is obtained through the historical sciences usually known as auxiliary or introductory, i.e. palæography, diplomatics, and criticism.

Secondly, in discussing the facts, ecclesiastical history must ascertain and explain the relation of cause and effect in the events. It is not sufficient merely to establish a certain series of events in their objective appearance; the historian is also bound to lay bare their causes and effects. Nor does it suffice to consider only those factors which lie on the surface and are suggested by the events themselves, as it were: the internal, deeper, and real causes must be brought to light. As in the physical world there is no effect without an adequate cause, so too in the spiritual and moral world every phenomenon has its particular cause, and is in turn the cause of other phenomena. In the ethical and religious world the facts are the concrete realization or outcome of definite spiritual ideas and forces, not only in the life of the individual, but also in that of groups and associations. Individuals and groups without exception are members of the one human race created for a sublime destiny beyond this mortal life. Thus, the action of the individual exercises its influence on the development of the whole human race, and this is true in a special manner of the religious life. Ecclesiastical history must therefore give us an insight into this moral and religious life, and lay clearly before us the development of the ideas active therein, as they appear both in the individual and in the groups of the human race. Moreover, to discover fully the really decisive causes of a given event, the historian must take into account all the forces that concur in producing it. This is particularly true of the free will of man, a consideration of great importance in forming a judgment about ethical phenomena. It follows that the influence of given individuals on the development of the whole body must be properly appreciated. Moreover, the ideas once current in religious, social, and political spheres, and which often survive in the masses of the people, must be justly appreciated, for they help, though as a rule imperceptibly, to determine the voluntary acts of individuals, and thereby to prepare the way for the work of especially prominent persons, and thus make possible the influence of individuals upon the whole race. Scientific church history must therefore take into consideration both the individual and the general factors in its investigation of the genetic connexion of the outward phenomena, at the same time never losing sight of the freedom of man's will. The ecclesiastical historian, moreover, can by no means exclude the possibility of supernatural factors. That God cannot intervene in the course of nature, and that miracles are therefore impossible is an assumption which has not been and cannot be proved, and which makes a correct appreciation of facts in their objective reality impossible. Herein appears the difference between the standpoint of the believing Christian historian, who bears in mind not only the existence of God but also the relations of creatures to Him, and that of the rationalistic and infidel historian, who rejects even the possibility of Divine intervention in the course of natural law.

The same difference of principle appears in the teleological appreciation of the several phenomena and their causal connexion. The believing ecclesiastical historian is not satisfied with establishing the facts and ascertaining the internal relation of cause and effect; he also estimates the value and importance of the events in their relation to the object of the Church, whose sole Christ-given aim is to realize the Divine economy of salvation for the individual as well as for the whole race and its particular groups. This ideal, however, was not pursued with equal intensity at all times. External causes often exercised great influence. In his judgment on such events, the Christian historian keeps in view the fact that the founder of the Church is the Son of God, and that the Church was instituted by Him in order to communicate to the whole human race, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, its salvation through Christ. It is from this standpoint that the Christian historian estimates all particular events in their relation to the end or purpose of the Church. The unbelieving historian on the other hand recognizing only natural forces both at the origin and throughout the development of Christianity, and rejecting the possibility of any supernatural intervention is incapable of appreciating the work of the Church in as far as it is the agent of Divine design.

The foregoing considerations enable us also to understand in what sense ecclesiastical history should be pragmatical. The ecclesiastical historian applies first that philosophical pragmatism which traces the genesis of events from a natural standpoint and in the light of the philosophy of history, and tries to discover the ideas which underlie or are embodied in them. But to this must be added theological pragmatism, which takes its stand on supernatural revealed truth, and strives to recognize the agency of God and His providence, and thus to trace (as far as it is possible for the created mind) the eternal purpose of God as it manifests itself in time. The Catholic historian insists on the supernatural character of the Church, its doctrines, institutions, and standards of life, in so far as they rest on Divine revelation, and acknowledge the continual guidance of the Church by the Holy Ghost. All this is for him objective reality, certain truth, and the only foundation for the true, scientific pragmatism of ecclesiastical history. This view does not hinder or weaken, but rather guides and confirms the natural historical understanding of events, as well as their true critical investigation and treatment. It also includes full recognition and use of the scientific historical method. As a matter of fact, the history of the Church exhibits most clearly a special guidance and providence of God.

A final characteristic, which ecclesiastical history has in common with every other species of history, is impartiality. This consists in freedom from every unfounded and personal prejudice against persons or facts, in an honest willingness to acknowledge the truth as conscientious investigation has revealed it, and to describe the facts or events as they were in reality; in the words of Cicero, to assert no falsehood and to hide no truth (ne quid falsi dicere audeat, ne quid veri dicere non audeat, "De Oratore", II, ix, 15). It by no means consists in setting aside those supernatural truths we have come to know, or in stripping off all religious convictions. To demand from the ecclesiastical historian an absence of all antecedent views (Voraussetzungslosigkeit) is not only entirely unreasonable, but an offence against historical objectivity. It could be maintained only on the hypothesis "ignoramus et ignorabimus", that is that the end of scientific investigation is not the discovery of truth, but merely the seeking after truth without ever finding it. Such a hypothesis, however, it is quite impossible to defend, for the assertion of sceptics and rationalists that supernatural truth, or even plain objective truth of any kind, is beyond our reach, is itself an antecedent hypothesis upon which the unbelieving historian bases his investigations. It is therefore only a simulated impartiality, which the rationalistic historian displays when he prescinds entirely from religion and the supernatural character of the Church.

Division

The rich and abundant material for scientific investigation that the long life of the Church offers us, has been variously treated by historians. We must first mention the great exhaustive works of a universal nature, in which the entire temporal development of the Church is taken into account (Universal Ecclesiastical History); alongside of these works we find numerous researches on individuals and particular institutions of the Church (Special Ecclesiastical History). These particular expositions treat either of the internal or external life of the Church, as has been explained at length above, and thus lead to a distinction between internal and external history. There are, however, many works which must consider both phases of religious life: to this class belong not only works on church history in general, but also many whose scope is confined to definite spheres (e.g. Histories of the Popes). Special ecclesiastical history falls naturally into three main classes. First we meet with accounts of the lives and activity of individuals (Biographies), who were during their lifetime of special importance for the life of the Church. Moreover special ecclesiastical history treats of particular parts and divisions of the Church in such a manner that either the whole history of a given part is discussed or only selected features of the same. Thus we have historical descriptions of single countries or parts of them, e.g. dioceses, parishes, monasteries, churches. To it also belongs the history of missions, a subject of far-reaching importance. Finally, after a selection of special subjects from the entire mass of material (especially of the internal history of the Church), these are separately investigated and treated. Thus we have the history of the popes, of cardinals, of councils, collections of the lives and legends of the saints, the history of orders and congregations; also of patrology, dogma, liturgy, worship, the law, constitution, and social institutions of the Church.

Universal history of the Church

The office of universal ecclesiastical history is, as its name implies, to exhibit a well-balanced description of all phases of ecclesiastical life. The investigation and treatment of the various phenomena in the life of the Church furnish the material of which universal church history is built. It must first treat of the one true Church which from the time of the Apostles, by its uninterrupted existence and its unique attributes, has proved itself that Christian association which is alone in full possession of revealed truth: the Catholic Church. It must, moreover, deal with those other religious associations which claim to be the Church of Christ, but in reality originated through separation from the true Church. The Catholic historian does not admit that the various forms of the Christian religion may be taken, roughly speaking, as a connected whole, nor does he consider them one and all as so many imperfect attempts to adapt the teachings and institutions of Christ to the changing needs of the times, nor as progressive steps towards a future higher unity wherein alone we must seek the perfect ideal of Christianity. There is but one Divine revelation given us by Christ, but one ecclesiastical tradition based on it; hence one only Church can be the true one, i.e. the Church in which the aforesaid revelation is found in its entirety, and whose institutions have developed on the basis of this revelation and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. To assume equality among the various forms of the Christian religion would be equivalent to a denial of the Divine origin and supernatural character of the Church.

While, however, the Catholic Church is the central subject of universal ecclesiastical history, all other forms of the Christian religion must also be considered by it, for they originated by secession from the true Church, and their founders, in so far as each form can be traced back to a founder, were externally members of the Church. Some of these separated bodies still retain among their institutions certain ecclesiastical forms which were in common use at the time of their separation from the Church, wherefore a knowledge of such institutions is of no little use to students of ecclesiastical conditions previous to the separation. This is true in a special manner of the Oriental Christian communities, their liturgy and discipline. Moreover, such schismatic bodies became, as a rule, the bitterest enemies of the Church; they harassed and persecuted its faithful adherents and endeavoured in every way to induce them also to secede. New doctrinal discussions arose as a result of these secessions, ending usually in fuller and more exact statements of Christian teaching, and new methods had to be adopted to nullify the attacks made by apostates on the Catholic Faith. In this way non-Catholic communities have often indirectly influenced the development of the interior life of the Church and the growth of new institutions.

The vast material which, from these points of view, a universal history of the Church must treat, calls of course for methodical arrangement. Ecclesiastical history has generally been divided into three chief periods, each of which is subdivided into shorter epochs characterized by changes of a less universal nature.

First period

The foundation of the Church and the development of fixed standards of ecclesiastical life within the limits of Græco-Roman civilization. — In this period the geographical extent of the Church is practically confined to the Mediterranean lands of the Roman empire. Only in a few places, especially in the Orient, did she overstep its boundaries. The uniform and universal Græco-Roman civilization there prevailing was a propitious soil for the growth of the new ecclesiastical life, which displays three main phases.

Heresies regarding the person of the Incarnate Son of God bring to the front important dogmatical questions. The first great councils belong to this epoch, as well as the rich ecclesiastico-theological literature of Christian antiquity. Meanwhile the ecclesiastical hierarchy and administration are developed more fully, the primacy of Rome standing out conspicuously as in the preceding epoch. Monasticism introduces a new and important factor into the life of the Church. The fine arts place themselves at the service of the Church. In the eastern half of the empire, later known as the Byzantine empire, this development went on quite undisturbed; in the West the barbarian invasion changed radically the political conditions, and imposed on the Church the urgent and important task of converting and educating new Western nations, a task which she executed with great success. This brought a new element into the life of the Church, so important that it marks the beginning of a new period.

Second period

The Church as mistress and guide of the new Romanic, German, and Slavic states of Europe, the secession of Oriental Christendom from ecclesiastical unity and the final overthrow of the Byzantine empire. — In this period occurred events which for a considerable time greatly affected ecclesiastical life. Three main epochs suggest themselves.

Third period

The collapse of religious unity among the two western nations, and the reformation from within of the ecclesiastical life, accomplished during the conflict against the latest of the great heresies. Immense geographical expansion of the Church owing to the zealous activity of her missionaries through whom South America, part of North America and numerous adherents in Asia and Africa, were gained for the Catholic Faith. In this period, also, which reaches to our own time, we rightly discern several shorter epochs during which ecclesiastical life is characterized by peculiar and distinctive traits and phenomena.

The great turning-points in the historical development of the Church do not appear suddenly or without due cause. As a rule divers important events occurring within the shorter epochs bring about eventually a change of universal import for the life of the Church, and compel us to recognize the arrival of a new period. Naturally, between these prominent turning-points there are shorter or longer intervals of transition, so that the exact limits of the chief periods are variously set down by different ecclesiastical historians, according to the importance which they severally attach to one or the other of the aforesaid momentous events or situations. The division between the first and second periods has its justification in the fact that, owing to the downfall of the Western Roman Empire and to the relations between the Church and the new Western nations, essentially new forms of life were called into being, while in the East Byzantine culture had become firmly established. The turning-point between the old and the new state of things did not, however, immediately follow the conversion of the Teutonic tribes; a considerable time elapsed before Western life was moving easily in all its new forms. Some (Neander, Jacobi, Baur, etc.) consider the pontificate of Gregory the Great in 590, or (Moeller, Müller), more generally, the end of the sixth and the middle of the seventh century as the close of the first period; others (Döllinger, Kurtz) take the Sixth General Council in 680, or (Alzog, Hergenröther, von Funk, Knöpfler) the Trullan synod of 692, or the end of the seventh century; others again close the first period with St. Boniface (Ritter, Niedner), or with the Iconoclasts (Gieseler, Möhler), or with Charlemagne (Hefele, Hase, Weingarten). For the West Kraus regards the beginning of the seventh century as the close of the first period; for the East, the end of the same century. Speaking generally, however, it seems more reasonable to accept the end of the seventh century as the close of the first period. Similarly, along the line of division between the second and the third periods are crowded events of great importance to ecclesiastical life: the Renaissance with its influence upon all intellectual life, the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks, the discovery of America and the new problems which the Church had to solve in consequence, the appearance of Luther and the heresy of Protestantism, the Council of Trent with its decisive influence on the evolution of the interior life of the Church. Protestant historians regard the appearance of Luther as the beginning of the third period. A few Catholic authors (e.g. Kraus) close the second period with the middle of the fifteenth century; it is to be noted, however, that the new historical factors in the life of the Church which condition the third period become prominent only after the Council of Trent, itself an important result of Protestantism. It seems, therefore, advisable to regard the beginning of the sixteenth century as the commencement of the third period.

Nor do authors perfectly agree on the turning-points which are to be inserted within the chief periods. It is true that the conversion of Constantine the Great affected the life of the Church so profoundly that the reign of this first Christian emperor is generally accepted as marking a sub-division in the first period. In the second period, especially prominent personalities usually mark the limits of the several sub-divisions, e.g. Charlemagne, Gregory VII, Boniface VIII, though this leads to the undervaluation of other important factors e.g. the Greek Schism, the Crusades. Recent writers, therefore, assume other boundary lines which emphasize the forces active in the life of the Church rather than prominent personalities. In subdividing the third period the same difficulty presents itself. Many historians consider the French Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century as an event of sufficient importance to demand a new epoch; others, more reasonably perhaps see a distinct epochal line in the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), with which the formation of great Protestant territories came to an end. From the above considerations we deduce the following chronological arrangement of general ecclesiastical history:

First period

Origin and Development of the Church in the ancient Græco-Roman world (from the birth of Christ to the close of the seventh century).

Second period

The Church as the guide of the Western nations (from the close of the seventh century to the beginning of the sixteenth).

Third period

The Church after the collapse of the religious unity in the West, struggle against heresy and infidelity, expansion in non-European countries (from beginning of sixteenth century to our own age).

As regards the methodical treatment of the subject-matter within the principal divisions, most writers endeavour to treat the main phases of the internal and external history of the Church in such a manner as to secure a logical arrangement throughout each period. Deviations from this method are only exceptional, as when Darras treats each pontificate separately. This latter method is, however, somewhat too mechanical and superficial, and in the case of lengthy periods it becomes difficult to retain a clear grasp of the facts and to appreciate their interconnexion. Recent writers, therefore, aim at such a division of the matter within the different periods as will lay more stress on the important forms and expressions of ecclesiastical life (Moeller, Muller, Kirsch in his revision of Hergenröther). The larger periods are divided into a number of shorter epochs, in each of which the most important event or situation in the history of the Church stands out with distinctness, other phases of ecclesiastical life — including the ecclesiastical history of the individual countries — being treated in connexion with this central subject. The subject-matter of each period thus receives a treatment at once chronological and logical, and most in keeping with the historical development of the events portrayed. The narrative gains in lucidity and artistic finish, within the shorter periods the historical material is more easily grasped, while the active forces in all great movements appear in bolder relief. It is true that this method involves a certain inequality in the treatment of the various phases of ecclesiastical life, but the same inequality already existed in the historical situation described.

Sources of ecclesiastical history

Historical sources are those human products which were either originally intended, or which — on account of their existence, origin, and other conditions — are preeminently fitted, to furnish knowledge and evidence of historical facts. The sources of ecclesiastical history are therefore whatever things, either because of their object or of other circumstances, can throw light on the facts that make up the ecclesiastical life of the past. These sources fall naturally into two classes:

The critical treatment of the two kinds of sources differs. It is usually sufficient to prove the authenticity and integrity of "remains" in order to establish the validity of their evidence. In dealing with tradition, on the other hand, it must be proved that the author of the source in question deserves credit, also that it was possible for him to know the fact. The sources are further divided:

The aforesaid historical sources have in modern times been fully and critically investigated by numerous scholars and are now easily accessible to all in good editions. A very general outline of these sources will suffice here (see special articles in this Encyclopedia).

Remains

The remains of the Church's past, which give direct evidence of historical facts, are the following:

  1. Inscriptions, i.e. texts written on durable material, which were either meant to perpetuate the knowledge of certain acts, or which describe the character and purpose of a particular object. The Christian inscriptions of different epochs and countries are now accessible in numerous collections.
  2. Monuments erected for Christian purposes, especially tombs, sacred edifices, monasteries, hospitals for the sick and pilgrims; objects used in the liturgy or private devotions.
  3. Liturgies, rituals, particularly liturgical books of various kinds, which were once used in Divine service.
  4. Necrologies and confraternity-books used at the prayers and public services for the living and the dead.
  5. Papal acts, Bulls and Briefs to a great extent edited in the papal "Bullaria", "Regesta", and special ecclesiastico-national collections.
  6. Acts and decrees of general councils and of particular synods.
  7. Collections of official decrees of Roman congregations, bishops, and other ecclesiastical authorities.
  8. Rules of faith (Symbola fidei) drawn up for the public use of the Church, various collections of which have been made.
  9. Official collections of ecclesiastical laws juridically obligatory for the whole Church.
  10. Rules and constitutions of orders and congregations.
  11. Concordats between the ecclesiastical and the secular power.
  12. Civil laws since they often contain matters bearing on religion or of ecclesiastical interest.

Tradition

We speak here of those sources which rest on mere tradition, and which, unlike the remains, are themselves no part of the fact. They are:

The foregoing are accessible in various collections, partly in editions of the works of particular authors (Fathers of the Church, theologians, historians), partly in historical collections which contain writings of different authors correlated in content, or all the traditional written sources for a given land.

Auxiliary sciences

The basis of all historical science is the proper treatment and use of the sources. The ecclesiastical historian must therefore master the sources in their entirety, examine them as to their trustworthiness, understand them correctly, and use methodically the information gleaned from them.

Systematic guidance in all these matters is afforded by certain sciences, known as the "auxiliary historical sciences". Since ecclesiastical history is so closely related to theology on the one hand, and on the other to the historical sciences, a knowledge of all is generally speaking a prerequisite for the scientific study of church history. How to treat the sources critically is best learned from a good manual of scientific introduction to the study of history (Bernheim); special auxiliary sciences (e.g. epigraphy, palæography, numismatics) deal with certain particular kinds of the above-mentioned sources.

Of these helps we may mention:

  1. The study of the languages of the sources, which necessitates the use of lexicons, either general or special (i.e. for the language of particular authors). Among the general lexicons or glossaries are: Du Fresne du Cange, "Glossarium ad scriptores mediæ et infimæ græcitatis" (2 vols., Lyons, 1688); Idem, "Glossarium ad scriptores mediæ et infimæ latinitatis"; Forcellini, "Lexicon totius latinitatis" (Padua, 1771, often reprinted). "Thesaurus linguæ latinæ" (begun at Leipzig, 1900).
  2. Palœography, a methodical introduction to the reading and dating of all kinds of manuscript sources. It was first scientifically investigated and formulated by Mabillon, "De re diplomaticâ" (Paris, 1681); the literature on this subject is to be found in the manuals of de Wailly, "Elements de Paléographie" (2 vols., Paris, 1838); Wattenbach, "Latein. Paläog." (4th ed., Leipzig, 1886) and "Schriftwesen im Mittelalter" (3rd ed., Leipzig, 1896); E. M. Thompson, "Handbook of Greek and Latin Palæography" (2nd ed., London, 1894); Prou, "Manuel de Paléographie latine et française" (Paris, 1904); Chassant, "Paléographie des chartes et des manuscrits" (8th ed., Paris, 1885); Reusens, "Elements de paléogr." (Louvain, 1899); Paoli, "Paleografia" (3 vols., Florence, 1888-1900). Charts for practice in reading medieval manuscripts were edited by: Wattenbach, "Script. græc. specimina" (3rd ed., Leipzig, 1897); Sickel, "Monum. graph. medil ævi" (10 series, 1858-82); Bond, Thompson, and Warner, "Facsimiles" (5 series, London, 1873-1903); Delisle, "Album paléogr." (Paris, 1887); Arndt and Tangl, "Schrifttafeln" (3 vols., 1904-6); Chroust, "Mon. palæogr." (25 series, Munich, 1899-); Steffens, "Latein. Paläogr." (2nd ed., 3 parts, Trier, 1907-); Zangemeister and Wattenbach, "Exempla cod. latin." (1876-9); Sickel and Sybel, "Kaiserurkunden in Abbildungen (1880-91); Pflugk-Harttung, "Chartarum pont. Rom. specimina" (3 parts, 1881-6); Denifle, "Specimina palæographica ab Inn. III ad Urban. V" (Rome, 1888), A very useful work is Capelli, "Dizionario di abbreviature latine ed italiane" (Milan, 1899).
  3. Diplomatics, which teaches how to examine critically the form and content of historical documents (e.g. charters, privileges), to pronounce on their genuineness, to understand them correctly, and to use them methodically. It is usually combined with paleography. The literature may be found in recent manuals, e.g. Bresslau, "Handbuch der Urkundenlehre für Deutschland und Italien", I (Leipzig, 1889); Giry, "Manuel de diplomatique" (Paris, 1894). See also "Nouveau traité de diplomatique" (Paris, 1750-65).
  4. Historical Methodology, which enables the student to treat in a correct and critical way all the sources known to him and to combine the results of his researches in a methodical narrative. See Fr. Blass, "Hermeneutik und Kritik" in Iwan Müller's "Handbuch der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft", I (2nd ed., Munich, 1893); Bernheim, "Lehrbuch der historischen Methode" (3rd ed., Leipzig, 1903); Idem, "Das akademische Studium der Geschichtswissenschaft (2nd ed., Greifswald, 1907); Idem, "Einleitung in die Geschichtswissenschaft" in "Sammlung Goschen" (Leipzig, 1906); Zurbonsen, "Anleitung zum wissenschaftlichen Studium der Geschichte nebst Materialien" (Berlin, 1906); "Grundriss der Geschichtswissenschaft", edited by Al. Meister, I (Leipzig, 1906); Langlois and Saignobos, "Introduction aux études historiques" (Paris, 1905); Battaini, "Manuale di metodologia storica" (Florence, 1904).
  5. Bibliography, a practical science which enables the student to find quickly all the literature bearing on a given ecclesiastico-historical subject. The most important literature is to be found in recent ecclesiastico-historical manuals at the end of the various subjects treated, and is given with especial fulness in the fourth edition of Hergenröther's "Kirchengeschichte" by J.P. Kirsch (Freiburg, 1902-9). Among the bibliographical works of special importance for ecclesiastical history must be named: "Bibliotheca hagiographica latina antiquæ et mediæ ætatis", edited by the Bollandists (2 vols., Brussels, 1898-1901); Potthast, "Bibliotheca historica medii ævi" (2nd ed., 2 vols., Berlin, 1896); Bratke, "Wegweiser zu den Quellen und der Literatur der Kirchengeschichte" (Gotha, 1890); Chevalier, "Répertoire des sources historiques du moyen-âge: I. Bio-Bibliographie" (Paris, 1877-88, 2nd ed., 2 vols., ibid., 1905); "II. Topo-Bibliographie historique" (2 parts, Paris, 1901-4); Stein, "Manuel de bibliographie generale" (Paris, 1898); de Smedt, "Introductio generalis ad historiam ecclesiasticam critice tractandam" (Ghent 1876); Hurter, "Nomenclator literarius recentioris theologiæ catholicæ" (2nd ed., 3 vols., Innsbruck, 1890-4; vol. 4: "Theologia catholica medii ævi", ibid., 1899. A third edition comprises the whole of ecclesiastical history, ibid., 1903-). For the history of the several nations see: Wattenbach, "Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter bis zur Mitte des 13. Jahrh." (6th ed., Berlin, 1894, 7th ed. by Dummler, I, ibid., 1904); Lorenz, "Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter seit der Mitte des 13. Jahrh." (3rd ed., ibid., 1886); Dahlmann and Waitz, "Quellenkunde der deutschen Geschichte" (6th ed. by Steindorff, Göttingen, 1894); Monod, "Bibliographic de l'histoire de France" (Paris, 1888); Molinier, "Les sources de l'histoire de France" (6 vols., Paris, 1902); Gross, "The Sources and Literature of English History from the earliest times to about 1485" (London, 1900). Among the bibliographical periodicals that treat the history of the Church see: "Theologischer Jahresbericht" (since 1880), in the section "Kirchengeschichte"; "Jahresberichte der Geschichtswissenschaft" (since 1878) in the section "Kirchengeschichte"; "Bibliographie der kirchengeschichtlichen Literatur", in the "Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte". The most complete bibliography of church history is now to be found in "Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique" (Louvain, since 1900).
  6. Chronology, which instructs the student how to recognize and fix with accuracy the dates found in the sources. The first important chronological investigations were undertaken by Scaliger ("De emendatione temporum," Jena, 1629-), Petavius ("Rationarium temporum", Leyden, 1624; "De doctrinâ temporum", Antwerp, 1703), and the authors of "Art de vérifier les dates des faits historiques" (Paris, 1750-). The most important recent works are: Ideler, "Handbuch der mathem. u. techn. Chronologie" (Berlin, 1825; 2nd ed., 1883); De Mas-Latrie, "Trésor de chronologie, d'histoire et de géographie pour l'étude et l'emploi des documents du moyen-âge" (Paris, 1889); Brinkmeier, "Praktisches Handbuch der historischen Chronologie aller Zeiten und Völker" (2nd ed., Berlin, 1882); Rühl, "Chronologie des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit" (Berlin, 1897); Lersch, "Einleitung in die Chronologie" (Freiburg, 1899); Grotefend, "Zeitrechnung des deutschen Mittelalters und den Neuzeit" (Hanover, 1891-8); Cappelli, "Cronologia e calendario perpetuo" (Milan, 1906); Ginzel, "Handbuch den mathemat. und technischen Chronologie. Das Zeitrechnungswesen den Völker", I (Leipzig, 1906).
  7. Ecclesiastical Geography and Statistics, the first teaches us to recognize the places in which historical events took place, the other represents the development of the Church and the actual condition of her institutions exhibited synoptically, in tables with corresponding figures, etc. Important works of this kind are: Le Quien, "Oriens christianus" (3 vols., Paris, 1740); Morcelli, "Africa christiana" (2 vols., Brescia, 1816); Toulotte, "Géographie de l'Afrique chrétienne" (Paris, 1892-4); Ughelli, "Italia sacra" (2nd ed., 10 vols., Venice, 1717-22); "Gallia Christiana" by Claude Robert (Paris, 1626), by Denis de Sainte-Marthe and others (new editions, 16 vols., Paris, 1715-); Böttcher, "Germania sacra" (2 vols., Leipzig, 1874); Neher, "Kirchliche Geographie und Statistik" (3 vols., Ratisbon, 1864-8); Idem, "Conspectus hierarchiæ catholicæ" (Ibid., 1895); Silbernagl, "Verfassung und gegenwärtiger Bestand sämtlicher Kirchen des Orients" (2nd ed., Munich, 1904); Baumgarten, "Die katholische Kirche unserer Zeit und ihre Diener", III (Munich, 1902, 2nd ed., vol. II, ibid., 1907); Gams, "Series episcoporum ecclesiæ catholicæ" (Ratisbon, 1873; Supplem, 1879 and 1886), continued by Eubel, "Hierarchia catholica medii ævi", I-II (Münster, 1898-1901); Spruner and Menke, "Historischer Handatlas" (3rd ed., Gotha, 1880); Werner, "Katholischer Kirchenatlas" (Freiburg im Br., 1888); Idem, "Katholischer Missionsatlas" (2nd ed., ibid., 1885); McClure, "Ecclesiastical Atlas" (London, 1883); Heussi and Mulert, "Atlas zur Kirchengeschichte" (Tübingen, 1905); see also the annual Catholic directories of various nations (England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, etc.) and the new "Dictionnaire d'Hist. et de Géog. ecclés.", edited by Baudrillart, Vogt, and Rouziès (Paris, 1909-).
  8. Epigraphy, a guide for the reading and methodical use of the Christian inscriptions on monuments. Works on this science are: Larfeld, "Griechische Epigraphik" and Hübner, "Römische Epigraphik", both in Iwan Müller's "Handbuch der klassischen Altertumskunde", I (2nd ed., Munich, 1892); Reinash, "Traité d'épigraphie grecque" (Paris, 1886); Cagnat, "Cours d'épigraphie latine" (3rd ed., Paris, 1898); De Rossi, "Inscriptiones christianæ urbis Romæ" I and II, "Introductio" (Rome, 1861-88); Le Blant, "L'épigraphie chrétienne en Gaule et dans l'Afrique romaine" (Paris, 1890); Idem, "Paléographie des inscriptions latines de la fin du III au VII siècle" (Paris, 1898); Grisar, "Le iscrizioni cristiane di Roma negli inizi del medio evo" in "Analecta Romana" (Rome, 1899).
  9. Christian Archæology and History of the Fine Arts, from which the student learns how to study scientifically and to use the monuments which owe their origin to Christian influences. See CHRISTIAN ARCHÆOLOGY and ECCLESIASTICAL ART.
  10. Numismatics, the science of the coins of various countries and ages. Since not only the popes but also the numerous bishops, who once possessed secular power, exercised the right of coinage, numismatics belongs, at least for certain epochs, to the auxiliary sciences of church history. See Bonanni, "Numismata Pontificum Romanorum" (3 vols., Rome, 1699); "Numismata Pontificum Romanorum et aliarum ecclesiarum" (Cologne, 1704); Vignolius, "Antiqui denarii Romanorum Pontificum a Benedicto XI ad Paulum III" (2 vols., Rome, 1709; new ed. by B. Floravanti, 2 vols., Rome, 1734-8); Scilla, "Breve notizia delle monete pontificie antiche e moderne" (Rome, 1715); Venuti, "Numismata pontificum Romanorum præstantiora a Martino V ad Benedictum XIV" (Rome, 1744); Garampi, "De nummo argenteo Benedicti III dissertatio" (Rome, 1749). For further bibliography see von Ebengreuth, "Allgemeine Münzkunde und Geldgeschichte des Mittelalters und den neueren Zeit" (Munich, 1904) and in Engel and Serrure, "Traité de numism. du moyen-âge".
  11. Sphragistics, or the science of seals (Gk. spragis, a seal). Its object is the study of the various seals and stamps used in sealing letters and documents as a guarantee of their authenticity. Besides the works mentioned above under Diplomatics, see Pflugk and Harttung, "Specimina selecta chartarum Pontificum Romanorum", part III, "Bullæ" (Stuttgart, 1887); Idem, "Bullen der Päpste bis zum Ende des XII Jahrh." (Gotha, 1901); Baumgarten, "Aus Kanzlei und Kammer: Bullatores, Taxatores domorum, Cursores" (Freiburg, 1907); Heineccius, "De veteribus Germanorum aliarumque nationum sigillis" (Frankfort, 1719); Grotefend, "Ueber Sphragistik" (Breslau, 1875); Fürst zu Hohenlohe-Waldenburg, "Sphragistische Aphorismen" (Heilbronn, 1882); Ilgen in Meister, "Grundriss der Geschichtswissenschaft", I (Leipzig, 1906).
  12. Heraldry, which teaches the student how to read accurately the coats of arms etc., used by ecclesiastical and secular lords. It frequently throws light on the family of historical personages, the time or character of particular events, the history of religious monuments. The literature of this science is very extensive. See Brend, "Die Hauptstücke der Wappenkunde" (2 vols., Bonn, 1841-9); Idem, "Allgemeine Schriftenkunde der gesammten Wappenwissenschaft"; Seiler, "Geschichte den Heraldik" (Nuremberg, 1884); E. von Sacken, "Katechismus der Heraldik" (5th ed., Leipzig, 1893); Burke, "Encyclopedia of Heraldry" (London, 1878); Davies, "Encyclopedia of Armory" (London, 1904); Pasini-Frassoni, "Essai d'armorial des papes d'après les manuscrits du Vatican et les monuments publics" (Rome, 1906).

Literature of ecclesiastical history

The peoples among which Christianity first spread, possessed a highly developed civilization and a literature rich in works of history. They possessed the historical sense, and though in early Christian times there was little occasion for extended ecclesiastical historical works, nevertheless historical records were not wholly wanting. The New Testament was itself largely historical, the Gospels being literally narratives of the life and death of Christ. Soon we meet the accounts of the conflict with the Roman state (Acts of the Apostles) and traditions of widespread Christian suffering (Acts of the Martyrs). The (lost) anti-Gnostic work of Hegesippus also contained historical information. Chronicles were compiled in the third century by Julius Africanus and by Hippolytus, some fragments of which are yet extant. It is only during the fourth century that ecclesiastical history, properly so called, makes its appearance. Any synopsis of its vast materials falls into three periods corresponding to the three main periods of church history.

Church historians during the first period

Eusebius, Bishop of Cæsarea in Palestine (died 340) is rightly styled the "Father of Church History". We are indebted to him for a "Chronicle" (P.G., XIX) and a "Church History" (ibid., XX; latest scientific edition by Schwartz and Mommsen, 2 vols, in "Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der drei ersten Jahrhunderte", Berlin, 1903-8). The "Church History" was an outgrowth of the "Chronicle", and was the first work to merit fully the name it bore. It first appeared in nine books and covered the time from the death of Christ to the victories of Constantine and Licinius (312 and 313). Eusebius afterwards added a tenth book, which carried the narrative to the victory of Constantine over Licinius (323). He made use of many ecclesiastical monuments and documents, acts of the martyrs, letters, extracts from earlier Christian writings, lists of bishops, and similar sources, often quoting the originals at great length so that his work contains very precious materials not elsewhere preserved. It is therefore of great value, though it pretends neither to completeness nor to the observance of due proportion in the treatment of the subject-matter. Nor does it present in a connected and systematic way the history of the early Christian Church. It is to no small extent a vindication of the Christian religion, though the author did not primarily intend it as such; it is impossible, however, for any true history of the Church not to exhibit at once the Divine origin of the latter and its invincible power. Eusebius has been often accused of intentional falsification of the truth, but quite unjustly; it may be admitted, however, that in judging persons or facts he is not entirely unbiased. On the other hand, he has been rightly censured for or his partiality towards Constantine the Great and his palliation of the latter's faults ("Vita Constantini" in P.G., XX, 905 sqq.; latest scientific ed. Heikel, "Eusebius' Werke", I, Leipzig, 1902, in "Die griech, christl. Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte"). In his biography of the great emperor, Eusebius, it must be remembered, sought to set forth in the most favourable light the Christian sentiments of the imperial convert and his great services to the Christian Church. A brief historical treatise of Eusebius, "On the Martyrs of Palestine", has also been preserved.

This great Christian historian found several imitators in the first half of the fifth century; it is to be regretted, however, that the first two general narratives of ecclesiastical history after Eusebius have been lost — i.e. the "Christian History" of the presbyter Philip of Side in Pamphylia (Philippus Sidetes), and the "Church History" of the Arian Philostorgius. Three other early ecclesiastical histories written about this period are also lost (the presbyter Hesychius of Jerusalem (died 433), the Apollinarian, Timotheus of Berytus, and Sabinus of Heraclea). About the middle of the fifth century the "Church History" of Eusebius was continued simultaneously by three writers — an evidence of the esteem in which this work of the "Father of Church History" was held among scholarly ecclesiastics. All three continuations have reached us. The first was written by Socrates, an advocate (scholasticus) of Constantinople, who, in his "Church History" (P.G., LXVII, 29-842; ed. Hussey, Oxford, 1853), which he expressly (I, 1) calls a continuation of the work of Eusebius, describes in seven books the period from 305 (Abdication of Diocletian) to 439. It is a work of great value. The author is honest, exhibits critical acumen in the use of his sources, and has a clear and simple style. After him, and frequently making use of his history, comes Hermias Sozomenus (or Sozomen), also an advocate in Constantinople, whose "Church History" in nine books comprises the period from 324 to 425 (P.G., LXVII, 834-1630; ed. Hussey, Oxford, 1860), but is inferior to that of Socrates. Both these writers are surpassed by the learned Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus (died about 458), who, in his "Church History" (P.G., LXXXII, 881-1280; ed. Gaisford, Oxford, 1854), a continuation of the work of Eusebius, describes in five books the period from the beginning of Arianism (320) to the beginning of the Nestorian troubles (428). In addition to the writings of his predecessors, Socrates and Sozomen, he also used those of the Latin scholar Rufinus, and wove many documents into his clear well-written narrative. Theodoret wrote also a "History of the Monks" (P.G., LXXXII, 1283-1496), in which he sets forth the lives of thirty famous ascetics of the Orient. Like the famous "History of the Holy Fathers" ("Historia Lausiaca", so called from one Lausus to whom the book was dedicated by Palladius, written about 420; Migne, P.G., XXXIV, 995-1278; Butler, "The Lausiac History of Palladius", Cambridge, 1898), this work of Theodoret is one of the principal sources for the history of Oriental monasticism. Theodoret also published a "Compendium of Heretical Falsehoods", i.e. a short history of heresies with a refutation of each (P.G., LXXXIII, 335-556). Together with the similar "Panarion" of St. Epiphathus (P.G., XLI-XLII), it offers important material to the student of the earliest heresies.

During the sixth century these historians, found other continuators. Theodorus Lector compiled a brief compendium (yet unedited) from the works of the above-mentioned three continuators of Eusebius: Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret. He then wrote in two books an independent continuation of this summary as far as the reign of Emperor Justin I (518-27); only fragments of this work have reached us (P.G., LXXXVI, I, 165-228). Zacharias Rhetor, at first an advocate at Berytus in Phœnicia and then (at least from 536) Bishop of Mitylene in the Island of Lesbos, composed, while yet a layman, an ecclesiastical history, which describes the period from 450 to 491, but is mostly taken up with personal experiences of the author in Egypt and Palestine. A Syriac version of this work is extant as books III-VI of a Syriac universal history, while there are also extant some chapters in a Latin version (Laud, "Anecdota Syriaca", Leyden, 1870; P.G., LXXV, 1145-78; Ahrens and Krüger, "Die sogennante Kirchengeschichte des Zacharias Rhetor", Leipzig, 1899). Apart from this history, his inclination towards Monophysitism is also apparent from his biography of the Monophysite patriarch, Severus of Antioch, and from his biography of the monk Isaias, two works extant in a Syriac version (Laud, op. cit., 346-56, edited the "Life of Isaias", and Spanuth, Göttingen, 1893, the "Life of Severus"; cf. Nau in "Revue de l'orient chrétien", 1901, pp. 26-88). More important still is the "Church History" of Evagrius of Antioch, who died about the end of the sixth century. His work is a continuation of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret, and treats in six books the period from 431 to 594. It is based on good sources, and borrows from profane historians but occasionally Evagrius is too credulous. For Nestorianism and Monophysitism, however, his work deserves careful attention (P.G., LXXXVI, I, 2415-886; edd. Bidez and Parmentier in "Byzantine Texts" by J. B. Bury, London, 1899). Among the chronicles that belong to the close of Græco-Roman antiquity, special mention is due to the Chronicon Paschale, so called because the Paschal or Easter canon forms the basis of its Christian chronology (P.G., XCII). About the year 700 the Monophysite bishop, John of Nikiû (Egypt) compiled a universal chronicle; its notitiœ are of great value for the seventh century. This chronicle has been preserved in an Ethiopic version ("Chronique de Jean, évêque de Nikiou", publ. par. H. Zotenberg, Paris, 1883). Zotenberg believes that the work was originally written in Greek and then translated; Nöldeke ("Gottinger gelehrte Anzeigen", 1881, 587 sqq.) thinks it more probable that the original was Coptic. To the Alexandrian Cosmas, known as the "Indian Voyager" we owe a Christian "Topography" of great value for ecclesiastical geography (ed. Montfaucon, "Collectio nova Patrum et Scriptor. græc", II, Paris, 1706; translated into English by McCrindle, London, 1897). Of great value also for ecclesiastical geography are the "Notitiæ episcopatuum" (Taktika), or lists of the patriarchal, metropolitan, and episcopal sees of the Greek Church ("Hieroclis Synecdemus et Notitiæ græcæ episcopatuum", ed. Parthey, Berlin, 1866; "Georgii Cyprii Descriptio orbis Romani", ed. Geizer, Leipzig, 1890). The most important collection of the early Greek historians of the Church is that of Henri de Valois in three folio volumes (Paris, 1659-73; improved by W. Reading, Cambridge, 1720); it contains Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, Evagrius, and the fragments of Philostorgius and Theodorus Lector.

The ancient Syrian writings of ecclesiastico-historical interest are chiefly Acts of martyrs and hymns to the saints ("Acta martyrum et sanctorum", ed. Bedjan, Paris, 1890-). The "Chronicle of Edessa", based on ancient sources, was written in the sixth century (ed. Assemani, "Bibliotheca orientalis", I, 394). In the same century the Monophysite bishop, John of Ephesus, wrote a history of the Church, but only its third part (571 to 586) is preserved (ed. Cureton, Oxford, 1853; tr., Oxford, 1860). Lengthy extracts from the second part are found in the annals of Dionysius of Telmera. His work covers the years 583-843 (fragments in Assemani, "Bibliotheca orientalis", II, 72 sqq.). Among the Armenians we meet with versions of Greek and Syriac works. The most important native Armenian chronicle of an ecclesiastico-historical character is ascribed to Moses of Chorene, an historical personage of the fifth century. The author of the "History of Greater Armenia" calls himself Moses of Chorene, and claims to have lived in the fifth century and to have been a disciple of the famous St. Mesrop (q.v.). The self-testimony of the compiler must be rejected, since the work makes use of sources of the sixth and seventh centuries, and there is no trace of it to be found in Armenian literature before the ninth century. Probably, therefore, it originated about the eighth century. In the known manuscripts the work contains three parts: the "Genealogy of Greater Armenia" extends to the dynasty of the Arsacides, the "Middle Period of our Ancestry" to the death of St. Gregory the Illuminator, and the "End of the History of our Country" to the downfall of the Armenian Arsacides (ed. Amsterdam, 1695; Venice, 1881; French translation in Langlois, "Collection des historiens anciens et modernes de l'Arménie", 2 vols., Paris, 1867-9). In the Middle Ages there was still extant a fourth part. The work seems to be on the whole reliable. The ancient history, down to the second or third century after Christ, is based on popular legends. Another Armenian historian is St. Elishé.

Comprehensive ecclesiastico-historical works appear in the Latin West later than in the Greek East. The first beginnings of historical science are confined to translations with additions. Thus St. Jerome translated the "Chronicle" of Eusebius and continued it down to 378. At the same time he opened up a special field, the history of Christian literature, in his "De viris illustribus"; ("Chronicon", ed. Schoene, 2 vols., Berlin, 1866-75; "De vir. ill.", ed. Richardson, Leipzig, 1896). About 400 the "Church History" of Eusebius was translated by Rufinus who added the history of the Church from 318 to 395 in two new books (X and XI). Rufinus's continuation was itself soon translated into Greek. The latest edition is in the Berlin collection of Greek Christian writings mentioned above in connexion with Eusebius. St. Jerome's Latin recension of the "Chronicle" of Eusebius was followed later by many other chronicles, among which may be mentioned the works of Prosper, Idacius, Marcellinus, Victor of Tununum, Marius of Avenches, Isidore of Seville, and Venerable Bede. In the West, the first independent history of revelation and of the Church was written by Sulpicius Severus, who published in 403 his "Historia (Chronica) Sacra" in two books; it reaches from the beginning of the world to about 400 (P.L., XX; ed. Hahn, Vienna, 1866). It is a short treatise and contains little historical information. A little later, Orosius wrote his "Historia adversus paganos" in seven books — a universal history from the standpoint of the Christian apologist. It begins with the deluge and comes down to 416. The purpose of Orosius was to refute the pagan charge that the great misfortunes of the Roman Empire were due to the victory of Christianity (P.L., XXXI; ed. Zangemeister, Vienna, 1882). With the same end in view, but with a far grander and loftier conception, St. Augustine wrote his famous "De civitate Dei", composed between 413 and 428, and issued in sections. It is an apologetic philosophy of history from the standpoint of Divine revelation. The work is important for church history on account of its numerous historical and archæological digressions (ed. Dombart, 2nd ed., Leipzig, 1877). About the middle of the sixth century, Cassiodorus caused the works of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret to be translated into Latin, and then amalgamated this version into one complete narrative under the title "Historia tripartita" (P.L., LXIX-LXX). Together with the works of Rufinus and Orosius, it was one of the principal sources from which through the Middle Ages the Western peoples drew their knowledge of early church history. Rich material for ecclesiastical history is also contained in the national histories of some Western peoples. Of the "History of the Goths", written by Cassiodorus, we possess only an extract in Jordanis, "De origine actibusque Getarum" (ed. Mommsen in "Mon. Germ. Hist: Auct. antiquissimi", V., Berlin, 1882). Especially important is the "History of the Franks" in ten books by Gregory of Tours, which reaches to 591 (ed. Arndt, "Mon. Germ. Hist: Scriptores rerum Meroving.", I, Hanover, 1884-5). Gregory wrote also a "Liber de vitâ Patrum", a work entitled "In gloriâ martyrum", and the book "De virtutibus (i.e. miracles) S. Juliani" and "De virtutibus S. Martini" (ed. cit., pt. II, ad. Krusch). In the beginning of the seventh century St. Isidore of Seville composed a "Chronicle of the West Goths" ("Historia de regibus Gothorum, Wandalorum, Suevorum", ed. Mommsen, "Chronica Minora", II, 241-303). Several other similar chronicles, from the fourth to the seventh century, were edited by Mommsen in the "Monumenta Germaniæ Historica: Auctores Antiquissimi" under the title of "Chronica Minora".

The Church historians of the second period

The second period of church history, it is true, produced a copious historical literature, although it belongs rather to special than to general church history. Its works deal more often with particular nations, dioceses, and abbeys; general histories are rare. Moreover, owing to the dominant position of the Church among the Western peoples, ecclesiastical and profane history are in this epoch closely interwoven.

In the East church history is almost completely identified with the history of the imperial court owing to the close relations of State and Church. For the same reason the Byzantine chronicles from Justinian the Great to the destruction of the empire in the middle of the fifteenth century contain much valuable information about the history of the Greek Church. The most important of them are: the "Chronography of Theophanes Isaacius" (ed. de Boor, 2 vols., Leipzig, 1885); the "Chronicles" of Georgius Syncellus, George Hamartolus, Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople, Constantine Porphyrogenitus, John Malalas, Procopius, Paulus Silentiarius, the works of Leo Diaconus, Anna Comnena, Zonaras, Georgius Cedrenus, to which we may add Nicetas Choniates, Georgius Pachymeres, Nicephorus Gregoras, and John Cantacuzenus. These Byzantine historical works were first published in a large collection at Paris (1645-1711) under the title, "Byzantinæ historiæ Scriptores". A new edition, better and more complete, was executed by Niebuhr, Becker, Dindorf, and other collaborators in forty volumes (Bonn, 1828-78) under the title, "Corpus Scriptorum historiæ Byzantinæ". Most of these writings are also to be found in the Patrologia Græca of Migne. The only true church historian of the Byzantine period worthy of the name is Nicephorus Callistus, who flourished in the beginning of the fourteenth century.

In Syriac we possess the aforesaid chronicle of Dionysius of Telmera. Towards the end of the twelfth century Michael Kandis, Patriarch of the Jacobites (died 1199), wrote a chronicle from the creation to 1196. It is an important source for the history of the Syriac Church after the sixth century, particularly for the history of the Crusades. This work has reached us in a thirteenth century Armenian version; a French translation was published by Langlois, "Chronique de Michel le Grand" (Venice, 1868). Another patriarch of the Jacobites, Gregory Abulpharagius or Bar-Hebræus, Maphrian (i.e. primate) of the Syro-Jacobite Church (1266-86), also wrote a universal chronicle in three parts. We must also mention the "Bibliotheca" (Myriobiblon) of Photius (died 891), in which about 280 authors are described and passages quoted from them (ed. Becker, Berlin, 1834), and the work "On Heresies" of St. John Damascene.

Throughout this period the West was furnishing abundant material for ecclesiastical history, but few genuinely historical works. Public life moved in narrow circles; a speculative tendency ruled in the centres of intellectual activity; consequently, ecclesiastico-historical works of a general character accorded ill with the spirit of the age, and during the whole period from the eighth to the fifteenth century the West offers only a few works of this class. In the ninth century, Haymo, Bishop of Halberstadt (died 853), undertook to write an ecclesiastical history of the first four centuries, taking Rufinus as his principal authority ("De christianarum rerum memoriâ", ed. Boxhorn, Leyden, 1650; P.L., CXVI). Subsequently with the aid of Latin versions of Georgius Syncellus, Nicephorus, and especially of Theophanes, to which he added his own material, the Roman Abbot Anastasius Bibliothecarius (the Librarian) wrote a "Church History" to the time of Leo the Armenian, who died in 829 (Migne, P.G., CVIII). About the middle of the twelfth century, Ordericus Vitalis, Abbot of St. Evroul in Normandy, wrote an" Historia ecclesiastica" in thirteen books; it reaches to 1142, and is of especial value for the history of Normandy, England, and the Crusades (ed. A. Le Prevost, 5 vols., Paris, 1838-55). The Dominican Bartholomew of Lucca, called also Ptolemæus de Fiadonibus (died 1327), covered a longer period. His work in twenty-four books reaches to 1313, and was continued to 1361 by Henry of Diessenhofen (ed. Muratori, "Scriptores Rerum Italicarum", XI). The "Flores chronicorum seu Catalogus Pontificum Romanorum" of Bernard Guidonis, Bishop of Lodève (died 1331), may be counted among the works on the general history of the Church (partially edited by Mai, "Spicilegium Romanum", VI; Muratori, op. cit., III; Bouquet, "Script. rer. gall.", XXI). The most extensive, and relatively the best, historical work during this period is the "Summa Historialis" of St. Antoninus. It deals with profane and ecclesiastical history from the creation to 1457.

The national histories which appeared towards the end of the last period (of Cassiodorus, Jordanis, Gregory of Tours), were followed by similar works giving the history of other peoples. Venerable Bede wrote his admirable "Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum", which describes in five books the history of England from the Roman conquest to 731, though treating principally of events after St. Augustine's mission in 596 (ed. Stevenson, London, 1838; ed. Hussey, Oxford, 1846). Paulus Warnefrid (Diaconus) wrote the history of his fellow-Lombards (Historia Langobardorum) from 568 to 733; it still remains the principal source for the history of his people. An unknown writer continued it to 774, and in the ninth century the monk Erchembert added the history of the Lombards of Beneventum to 889 (ed. Waitz in "Mon. Germ. Hist: Script. rer. Langob. et Ital.", Hanover, 1877). Paulus wrote also a history of the bishops of Metz ("Gesta episcoporum Mettensium", ad. in "Mon. Germ. Hist: Script.", II) and other historical works. The Scandinavian North found its ecclesiastical historian in Adam of Bremen; he covers the period between 788 and 1072, and his work is of special importance for the history of the Diocese of Hamburg-Bremen ("Gesta Hamburgensis ecclesiæ Pontificum", ed. Lappenberg in "Mon. Germ. Hist: Script.", VII, 276 sqq.). Flodoard (died 966) wrote the history of the Archdiocese of Reims (Historia ecclesiæ Remensis) to 948, a very important source for the history of the Church of France to that time ("Mon. Germ. Hist. Script.", XIII, 412 sqq.). The ecclesiastical history of Northern Germany was described by Albert Crantz, a canon of Hamburg (died 1517), in his "Metropolis" or "Historia de ecclesiis sub Carolo Magno in Saxoniâ instauratis" (i.e. from 780 to 1504; Frankfort, 1576 and often reprinted). Among the special historical works of this period of the Western Church we must mention the "Liber Pontificalis", an important collection of papal biographies that take on larger proportions after the fourth century, are occasionally very lengthy in the eighth and ninth centuries, and through various continuations reach to the death of Martin V in 1431 (ed. Duchesne, 2 vols., Paris, 1886-92; ed. Mommsen, I, extending to 715, Berlin 1898). The German, Italian, French, and English chronicles, annals, and biographies of this epoch are very numerous. The more important authors of chronicles are: Regino of Prüm, Hermannus Contractus, Lambert of Hersfeld, Otto of Freising, William of Tyre, Sigebert of Gemblours. The most important modern collections, in which the reader can find the chronicles and annals of the various Christian countries, are the following: for England: "Rerum Britannicarum medii ævi Scriptores, or Chronicles and Memorials of Great Britain", I sqq. (London, 1858-); for Belgium: "Collection de Chroniques belges", I sqq. (Brussels, 1836-); "Collection des chroniqueurs et trouvères belges publ. par l'Académie belge", I sqq. (Brussels, 1863-); "Recueil de chroniques publié par la Société d'émulation de Bruges" (56 vols., Bruges, 1839-64); for France: Bouquet, "Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France" (Paris, 1738-; new ed. by L. Delisle, Paris, 1869-); for Germany: "Monumenta Germ. historica: Scriptores", I sqq. (Hanover and Berlin, 1826-); for Italy: Muratori, "Rerum Italicarum Scriptores præcipui" (25 vols., Milan, 1723-51); Idem, "Antiquitates Italicæ medii ævi" (6 vols., Milan, 1738-42); for Spain: Flórez, "España sagrada" (51 vols., Madrid, 1747-1886); for Austria: "Fontes rerum Austriacarum: Scriptores" (8 vols., Vienna, 1855-75); for Poland: Bielowski, "Monuments Poloniæ historica" (2 vols., Lemberg, 1864-72; continued by the Academy of Cracow, III sqq., Cracow, 1878-); "Scriptores rerum polonicarum" (ibid., 1873-); for Denmark and Sweden: Langebek, "Scriptores rerum Danicarum medii ævi" (9 vols., Copenhagen, 1772-8); Fant, "Scriptores rerum Suecicarum medii ævi" (3 vols., Upsala, 1818-76); Rietz, "Scriptores Suecici medii ævi" (3 vols., Lund, 1842). Other important collections are: L. d'Achéry, "Spidilegium veterum aliquot scriptorum" (13 vols., Paris, 1655); Mabillon, "Acts Sanctorum ordinis S. Benedicti" (9 vols., Paris, 1668); "Acts Sanctorum Bollandistarum" (see BOLLANDISTS). The best guide to the sources of medieval history is Potthast, "Bib. hist. medii ævi: Wegweiser durch die Geschichtswerke des europäischen Mittelalters bis 1500" (Berlin, 1896).

The Church historians of the third period

With the sixteenth century a new epoch dawned for ecclesiastical history. Under fresh and vigorous impulses it perfected its methods of investigation and narration, and assumed a daily more important place in the intellectual life of the educated classes. Historical criticism went hand in hand with the growth of humanist education. Henceforth, before their testimony was accepted, the sources of historical events were examined as to their authenticity. Increasing intimacy with the authors of Græco-Roman antiquity also of the primitive Christian ages, developed the historical sense. The religious controversies that followed the rise of Protestantism were also an incentive to historical study. Printing made possible a rapid distribution of all kinds of writings, so that the sources of church history soon became known and studied in the widest circles, and new works on church history could be circulated in all directions. In this period also the development of church history may be considered in three divisions.

From the middle of the sixteenth to the middle of the seventeenth century

The first large work on church history which appeared in this period was composed in the interests of Lutheranism. Mathias Flacius, called Illyricus (a native of Illyria), united with five other Lutherans (John Wigand, Mathias Judex, Basilius Faber, Andreas Corvinus, and Thomas Holzschuher), to produce an extensive work, that should exhibit the history of the Church as a convincing apology for strict Lutheranism. (See CENTURIATORS OF MAGDEBURG.) In the "Centuriæ", the institutions of the Roman Church appear as works of Satan and darkness; naturally, therefore, we cannot expect from such writers any true objective estimate of the Church and her development. The work called forth many refutations, the most able of which was written by Card. Cæsar Baronius. Urged by St. Philip Neri, he undertook in 1568 the task of producing an ecclesiastical history, which with astounding diligence he brought down to the end of the twelfth century and published under the title, "Annales ecclesiastici" (12 vols., Rome, 1588-1607). Numerous editions and continuations of it have appeared. (See BARONIUS.)

From the middle of the seventeenth to the end of the eighteenth century

Catholic Church historians

From the middle of the seventeenth century French writers were active in ecclesiastico-historical research. The writings of the Fathers of the Church and other ancient sources were published in excellent editions, the auxiliary sciences of history were well cultivated. We are indebted to Antoine Godeau, Bishop of Vence, for a "Histoire de l'église" reaching to the ninth century (5 vols., Paris, 1655-78; several other editions have appeared and the work was translated into Italian and German), and to the Oratorian Cabassut for "Historia ecclesiastica" (Lyons, 1685). Although the Jesuit Louis Maimbourg did not write a continuous ecclesiastical history, he published numerous treatises (Paris, 1673-83) on various important phases in the life of the Church (Arianism, Iconoclasm, Greek Schism, struggle between the popes and the emperors, Western Schism, Lutheranism, and Calvinism). Among the great ecclesiastical historians of this period, whose works have a permanent value, three names stand out prominently. The first is Noël Alexandre (Natalis Alexander) a Dominican. The second is Claude Fleury, who, in the interest especially of educated readers, wrote a "Histoire ecclésiastique" in 20 volumes, reaching to 1414 (Paris, 1691-1720). He adopts throughout an attitude of moderate Gallicanism (see FLEURY). The third, one of the greatest church historians of France, is Louis Sebastièn le Nain de Tillemont. To these must be added the great Bossuet, who, in his "Discours sur l'histoire universelle" (Paris, 1681), treated in masterly fashion the history of the Church as far as Charlemagne. The Christian philosophy of history found in him an exponent of sublime genius. His "Histoire des variations des églises protestantes" (2 vols., Paris, 1688) describes the changes which the Waldenses, Albigenses, Wyclifites, and Hussites, as well as Luther and Calvin, made in the fundamental doctrines of the Church. These French church historians of the seventeenth century are far superior to their successors in the eighteenth. Several French writers, it is true, produced elegant narratives, if we consider only external form, but they do compare unfavourably with their predecessors in criticism of their sources and in scientific accuracy. The following are noteworthy: François Timoléon de Choisy, "Histoire de l'Église" (11 vols., Paris, 1706-23); Bonaventure Racine (Jansenist), "Abrégé de l'histoire ecclesiastique" (13 vols., Cologne, properly Paris, 1762-7); Gabriel Ducreux, "Les siècles chrétiens" (9 vols., Paris, 1775; 2nd ad. in 10 vols., Paris, 1783). The widest circulation was attained by the "Histoire de l'Église" of Bérault-Bercastel.

Next to France Italy during this period produced the greatest number of excellent church historians, chiefly, however, in Christian archæology and special departments of history. The well-known names of Cardinals Noris, Bona, and Pallavicini, Archbishop Mansi of Lucca, the Vatican librarian Zacagni, the learned Ughelli, Roncaglia, Bianchini, Muratori, the brothers Pietro and Girolamo Ballerini, Gallandi, and Zaccaria, are enough to indicate the character and extent of historical research carried on in the Italian peninsula during the eighteenth century. Among the general histories of the Church, we may mention the "Storia Ecclesiastica" of the Dominican Giuseppe Agostino Orsi. A church history of similarly vast proportions was undertaken by the Oratorian Sacarelli. A third work, of an even more comprehensive nature and reaching to the beginning of the eighteenth century, was written by the French Dominican, Hyacinthe Graveson, resident in Italy, "Historia ecclesiastica variis colloquia digesta" (12 vols., Rome, 1717-). Mansi continued it in two volumes to 1760. Compendia of general church history, widely read even outside Italy, were written by the Augustinian Lorenzo Berti ("Breviarium historiæ ecclesiasticæ", Pisa and Turin, 1761-8), to whom we are also indebted for three volumes of "Dissertationes historicæ" (Florence, 1753-6); Carlo Sigonio, who treated the first three centuries (2 vols., Milan, 1758), and Giuseppe Zola, who treats the same period in his "Commentarium de rebus ecclesiasticis" (3 vols., Pavia, 1780-), and who also wrote "Prolegomena comment. de rebus eccl." (ibid., 1779).

In Spain, general church history found no representatives among the ecclesiastical writers of the eighteenth century. On the other hand, the Augustinian Enrique Flórez began at this period a monumental work on the ecclesiastical history of Spain the famous "España sagrada", which at the death of the author in 1773 had reached its twenty-ninth volume. Manuel Risco continued it to the forty-second volume, and, since his death, it has been carried still nearer to completion, the fifty-first volume appearing in 1886. The other countries of Europe also failed to produce original works on the general history of the Church. The conditions of Catholics about this time were too unfavourable to permit the undertaking of extensive scientific histories. Some masterly special works appeared in Germany, monographs of particular dioceses and monasteries, but general church history was not cultivated until Joseph II had executed his reform of theological studies. Even then there appeared only small works, mostly excerpted from the great French ecclesiastical histories, superficial, Josephinistic in temper, and hostile to Rome. Among them are Lumper's "Institutiones historiæ ecclesiasticæ" (Vienna, 1790); the "Institutiones historiæ eccl." of Dannenmeyer (2 vols., Vienna, 1788), relatively the best; the "Synopsis histor. relig. et eccles. christ." of Royko (Prague, 1785); the "Epitome hist. eccl." of Gmeiner (2 vols., Gratz, 1787-1803), and similar works by Wolf, Schmalzfuss, Stöger, Becker, all of them now utterly valueless. The Netherlands also produced only compendia, e.g. those of Mutsaerts (2 vols., Antwerp, 1822), Rosweyde (2 vols., Antwerp, 1622), M. Chefneux ("Eccl. Cathol. speculum chronographicum", 3 vols., Liège, 1666-70). Needless to add, in Great Britain and Ireland the sad condition of Catholics made scientific work impossible.

Protestant Church historians

It was long after the publication of the "Magdeburg Centuries" (see above) before Protestant scholars again undertook extensive independent work in the province of church history. Their momentous division into Reformed and Lutherans on the one hand, and the domestic feuds among the Lutherans on the other, engrossed the minds of the Protestants. When Protestant scholarship again busied itself with ecclesiastico-historical research, the Reformed Churches took the lead and retained it into the eighteenth century. This was true not only in the domain of special history, in which they issued important publications (e.g. Bingham's "Antiquitates ecclesiasticæ", 1722; the works of Grabe, Beveridge, Blondel, Daillé, Saumaise, Usher, Pearson, Dodwell, etc.), but also in that of general church history. Among their writers on this subject we must mention Hottinger, whose "Historia ecclesiastica Novi Test." (9 vols., Hanover, 1655-67) is filled with bitter hatred against the Catholic Church; Jacques Basnage, the opponent of Bossuet ("Histoire de l'Église depuis Jésus-Christ jusqu'à présent", Rotterdam, 1699); Samuel Basnage, the opponent of Baronius ("Annales politico-eccles." 3 vols., Rotterdam, 1706), and Spanheim ("Introductio ad hist. et antiquit. sacr.", Leyden, 1687; "Historia ecclesiastica", ibid., 1701). The Reformed Churches produced moreover a number of manuals of church history, e.g. Turettini, "Hist. eccles. compendium" (Halle, 1750); Venema, "Institut. histor. eccl." (5 vols., Leyden, 1777); Jablonski, "Institut. hist. eccl." (2 vols., Frankfort, 1753). Similar Protestant manuals appeared in England, e.g. Milner, "History of the Church of Christ" (4 vols., London, 1794); Murray, "History of Religion" (4 vols., London, 1794), and Priestley, "History of the Christian Church".

During the seventeenth century, the Lutherans produced little of value in the field of church history, other than a much used "Compendium histor. eccl." by Seckendorf and Bockler (Gotha, 1670-6). But a new era in Lutheran ecclesiastical historiography dates from Arnold's "Unparteiische Kirchen- und Ketzerhistorie" (2 vols., Frankfort am M., 1699). This pietist author is friendly to all the sects, but bitterly inimical to the Catholic Church and to orthodox Lutheranism. His standard is neither dogma nor Scripture, but subjective "interior light". Calmer judgment is found in Eberhard Weissmann's "Introductio in memorabilia ecclesiastica historiæ sacræ Novi Test." (2 vols., Tübingen, 1718). Superior to the works of all preceding Lutheran writers, both because of their thoroughness and their dignified diction, are the Latin historical writings of Joh. Lor. Mosheim, particularly his "De rebus christ. ante Constantinum Magnum" (Helmstadt, 1753), and "Institutiones histor. eccles. antiquioris et recentioris" (ibid., 1755). They betray, however, a tendency towards a rationalistic concept of the Church, which appears throughout as an institution of secular origin. His "Institutiones" were translated into German and continued by two of his pupils, J. von Einem and Rud. Schlegel (Leipzig, 1769-; Heilbronn, 1770-). Further progress was made in the works of Pfaff, chancellor of Tübingen ("Institutiones histor. eccl.", Tübingen, 1721), of Baumgarten ("Auszug der Kirchengeschichte", 3 vols., Halle, 1743-), Pertsch ("Versuch einer Kirchengeschichte", 5 vols, Leipzig, 1736-), Cotta ("Versuch einer ausführlichen Kirchenhistorie des neuen Testamentes", 3 vols., Tübingen, 1768-73). Special works, excellent for their time, were written by the two Walchs—Joh. Georg Walch issuing "Eine Geschichte der Reigionsstreitigkeiten innerhalb und ausserhalb der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche" in two parts, each comprising five volumes (Jena, 1733-9) while his son Christian Wilhelm published a lengthy "ketzergeschichte", whose eleventh volume reaches to the Iconoclasts (Leipzig, 1762-85). The latter also wrote a "Religionsgeschichte der neuesten Zeit", beginning with Clement XIV (to which Planck added three volumes) also a "Historie der Kirchenversammlungen" (Leipzig, 1759), and a "Historic der röm. Päpste" (Göttingen, 1758). The most important Lutheran work on general church history is that of J. Mathias Schröckh, a pupil of Mosheim and a professor at Wittenberg: "Christliche Kirchengeschichte bis zur Reformation" in thirty-five volumes (Leipzig, 1768-1803), continued as "Kirchengeschichte seit der Reformation" in eight volumes (Leipzig, 1803-8), to which Tzschirmer added two others (1810-12). The whole work, scholarly but too diffuse and laying excessive emphasis on the biographical element, includes forty-five volumes and closes with the beginning of the nineteenth century. Meanwhile the shallow rationalism of the eighteenth century had spread widely, and soon affected many works on church history. The works of Joh. Salomon Seniler, an unbelieving hypercritic, in this respect hold an undesirable pre-eminence, his "Historiæ eccles. selecta capita" (3 vols., Halle 1767-), "Versuch eines fruchtbaren Auszuges der kirchengeschichte" (3 parts, ibid., 1778), and "Versuch christlicher Jahrbücber" (2 parts, Halle, 1782). Most of his contemporaries were more or less openly rationalistic, and church history became a chronicle of scandals (Scandalchronik). Everywhere the writers saw only superstition, fanaticism, and human passion, while the greatest and holiest characters of ecclesiastical history were shamefully caricatured. This spirit is particularly characteristic of Spittler, "Grundriss der Gesch. der christl. Kirche" and Henke "Allgem. Geschichte der chr. K."

The nineteenth century

Ecclesiastico-historical studies have fared better in the nineteenth century. The horrors of the French Revolution led to a vigorous reaction and gave birth to a more ideal spirit in literature. Patriotism and religious zeal revived and exerted a favourable influence on all intellectual life. Romanticism led to a juster appreciation of the Catholic medieval world, while in all departments of learning there appeared an earnest desire to be objective in judgment. Finally, the sources of ecclesiastical history were studied and used in a new spirit, the outgrowth of an ever more definite and penetrating historical criticism. The general result was favourable to the science of history.

Catholic historians in Germany

It was in Catholic Germany that these changes were first noticeable, more particularly in the work of the famous convert, Count Leopold von Stolberg. His "Geschichte der Religion Jesu Christi" was issued in fifteen volumes, the first four of which contain the history of the Old Testament and reach to 430. Similarly, the less important "Geschichte der christlichen Kirche" (9 vols., Ravensburg, 1824-34) by Locherer, rather uncritical and exhibiting the influence of Schröckh, remained unfinished, and reaches only to 1073. The excellent "Geschichte der christlichen Kirche" by J. Othmar von Rauschen is also incomplete. A useful compendium, serious and scientific in character, was begun by Hortig, professor at Landshut, the "Handbuch der christlichen Kirchengeschichte". He completed two volumes (Landshut, 1821-), and reached the Reformation; a third volume, that brought the work down to the French revolution, was added by his successor Döllinger. This scholar, who unhappily later on abandoned the Catholic attitude and principles of his earlier days, excelled all previous writers of this century. Johann Adam Möhler wrote several special historical works and dissertations of exceptional merit. His lectures on general church history were published after his death by his pupil, the Benedictine Pius Gams ("Kirchengeschichte", 3 vols., Ratisbon, 1867). To these larger and epoch-making works must be added several compendia, some of which like Klein ("Historia ecclesiastica", Gratz, 1827), Ruttenstock ("Institutiones hist. eccl.", 3 vols., Vienna, 1832-4), Cherrier ("Instit. hist. eccl.", 4 vols., Pestini, 1840—), were bare summaries of facts; others, like Ritter ("Handbuch der Kirchengeschichte", 3 vols., Bonn, 1830; 6th ed. by Ennen, 1861), and Alzog ("Universalgeschichte der christlichen Kirche", Mains, 1840; 10th ed. by F. X. Kraus, 1882), are lengthy narratives, critical and thorough. Particular periods or epochs of ecclesiastical history soon found careful cultivation, e.g. by Riffel, "Kirchengeschichte der neuen und neuesten Zeit, vom Anfang der Glaubensspaltung im 16. Jahrhundert" (3 vols., Mainz, 1841-6); Damberger, "Synchronistische Geschichte der Kirche und der Welt im Mittelalter" (in 15 volumes, Ratisbon, 1850-63; the last volume edited by Rattinger), which reaches to 1378. With Döllinger and Möhler we must rank Karl Joseph Hefele, the third of the great German Catholic historians, whose valuable "Konziliengeschichte" is really a comprehensive work on general church history;. the first seven volumes of the work (Freiburg, 1855-74) reach to 1448. A new edition was begun by the author (ibid., 1873-); it was carried on by Knöpfler (vole. V-VII), while Hergenröther (later cardinal) undertook to continue the work and published two more volumes (VIII-IX, 1887-90); which carry the history of the Councils to the opening of the Council of Trent. Hergenröther is the fourth great church historian of Catholic Germany. His "Handbuch der allgemeinen Kirchengeschichte" (3 vols., Freiburg im B., 1876-80; 3rd ed., 1884-6; 4th ed., revised by J. P. Kirsch, 1902 sqq.) exhibits vast erudition and won recognition, even from Protestants as the most independent and instructive Catholic Church history. In recent years smaller, but scholarly compendia have been written by Brück, Krause Funk, Knöpfler, Marx, and Weiss. Numerous periodicals of a scientific nature bear evidence to the vigorous activity at present displayed in the field of ecclesiastical history, e.g. the "Kirchengeschichtliche Studien" (Münster), the "Quellen und Forschungen aus dem Gebiet der Geschichte" (Paderborn), the "Forschungen zur christlichen Literatur- und Dogmengeschichte" (Mainz and Paderborn), the "Veröffentlichungen aus dem kirchenhistorischen Seminar München".

Catholic historians in France

In France the study of church history was long in attaining the high standard it reached in the seventeenth century. Two extensive narratives of general church history appeared. That of Rohrbacher is the better, "Histoire universelle de l'Église catholique" (Nancy, 1842-9). It exhibits little independent research, but is a diligently executed work, and the author made a generous and skilful use of the best and most recent literature (new ed. with continuation by Guillaume, Paris, 1877). The second work is by Darras. In recent years the science of ecclesiastical history has made great progress in France, both as to genuine criticism and thorough scholarly narrative. The critical tendency, aroused and sustained principally by Louis Duchesne, continues to flourish and inspires very important works, particularly in special ecclesiastical history. Among the writings of Duchesne the "Histoire ancienne de l'Église" (2 vols., already issued, Paris, 1906-) deserves particular mention. Another important publication is the "Bibliothèque de l'enseignement de l'histoire ecclésiastique" a series of monographs by different authors, of which fourteen volumes have so far appeared (Paris, 1896-), and some have gone through several editions. A very useful manual is Marion's "Histoire de l'Église" (Paris, 1906).

Catholic historians in Belgium

Belgium, the home of the Bollandists and seat of the great work of the "Acta Sanctorum", deserves particular credit for the truly scientific spirit in which that noble work is conducted. The Bollandist de Smedt wrote an excellent "Introductio generalis in Historiam ecclesiasticam critice tractandam" (Louvain, 1876). A manual of church history was published by Wouters ("Compendium hist. eccl.", 3 vols., Louvain, 1874), who also wrote "Dissertationes in selecta capita hist. eccl." (6 vols. Louvain, 1868-72). Jungmann dealt with general church history to the end of the eighteenth century in his "Dissertationes selectæ in historiam ecclesiasticam". The serious character of ecclesiastico-historical studies at Louvain is best seen in the "Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique" edited by Cauchie and Ladeuze.

Catholic historians in Italy

Some good manuals have appeared in Italy which evidence a beginning of serious studies in church history, e.g. Delsignore, "Institutiones histor. eccles.", edited by Tissani (4 vols., Rome, 1837-46); Palma, "Prælectiones hist. eccl." (4 vols., Rome, 1838-46); Prezziner, Storia della Chiesa (9 vols., Florence, 1822-); Ign. Mozzoni, "Prolegomena alla storia universale della chiesa" (Florence, 1861), and "Tavole chronologiche critiche della storia universale della chiesa" (Venice 1856-). Balan published as a continuation of Rohrbacher's universal ecclesiastical history the "Storia della chiesa dall' anno 1846 sino ai giorni nostri" (3 vols., Turin, 1886). Special works of great value were produced in various departments, above all by Giovanni Battista de Rossi in Christian archæology. However, certain recent works on general church history — e.g. Amelli, "Storia della chiesa" (2 vols., Milan, 1877); Taglialatelá, "Lezioni di storia eccles. e di archeologia cristiana" (4 vols., Naples, 1897); Pighi, "Inst. hist. eccl.", I (Verona, 1901) — do not come up to the present standard, at any rate, from the standpoint of methodical and critical treatment.

Catholic historians in Spain

The ecclesiastical history of Spain inspired two great works, one by Villanueva ("Viage literario a las iglesias de España", Madrid, 1803-21; 1850-2), the other by de la Fuente ("Historia ecclesiastica de España", 2nd ed., 2 vols., Madrid, 1873-5). In the field of general history, only Amat's "Historia ecclesiastica o tratado de la Iglesia de Jesu Christo" (12 vols., Madrid, 1793-1803, 2nd ed. 1807) appeared — not a very thorough work. Juan Manuel de Berriozobal wrote "Historia de la Iglesia en sus primos siglos" (4 vols., Madrid, 1867). The Dominican Francisco Rivaz y Madrazo published a manual ("Curso de historia ecclesiastica", 3 vols., 3rd ed., Madrid, 1905).

Catholic historians in Holland

The first scientific Catholic manual of church history in Dutch was recently written by Albers ("Handboek der algemeene Kerkgeschiedenis", 2 vols., Nijmegen, 1905-7; 2nd ed., 1908).

Catholic historians in England

In English-speaking lands general church history has hitherto been but little cultivated; special ecclesiastical history, on the other hand, can point to a multitude of works. Among Catholic productions may be noted Lingard's "History of England" and his "History and Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church", which are reliable works of reference for early and medieval English ecclesiastical history; Butler's "Historical Memoirs of English, Irish and Scottish Catholics since the Reform" (London, 1819; with Milner's "Supplementary Memoirs", ibid., 1820); Flanagan's "History of the Church of England" (2 vols., London, 1850); Reeve's "Short View of the History of the Church". The post-Reformation period is treated in Dodd, "Church History of England, 1500-1688" (ed. Tierney, 5 vols., London, 1839). Other useful works are Gillow's "Bibliographical Dictionary of English Catholics since the Reformation", Allies' "The Formation of Christendom", Digby's "Mores Catholici, or Ages of Faith" (q.v.)

Catholic historians in Scotland

A brief Catholic general account of the history of the Church in Scotland is that of T. Walsh, "History of the Catholic Church in Scotland" (1876). An excellent history is that of Canon Bellesheim, with a very full bibliography, translated into English by Dam Hunter-Blair, "History of the Catholic Church in Scotland" (4 vols., London, 1887, sqq.). The ablest non-Catholic work is Calderwood's "History of the Kirk" (8 vols., Edinburgh, 1842).

Catholic historians in Ireland

The numerous civil histories of Ireland abound in materials for its church history. The first serious Catholic work on the general ecclesiastical history of Ireland was that of Lanigan, "Ecclesiastical History of Ireland" (4 vols., 2nd ed., Dublin, 1829), reaching only to the beginning of the thirteenth century. A single volume work is that of the Franciscan Brenan, "Ecclesiastical History of Ireland" (Dublin, 1864). Important works dealing with particular epochs and aspects of Irish history: Haddan and Stubbs, "Councils and Eccl. Documents relating to Great Britain and Ireland" (non-Catholic, London, 1873); W. Mazière-Brady, "The Episcopal Succession in England, Scotland and Ireland, 1400-1873" (Rome, 1876); Ware and Harris, "History of the Bishops, Antiquities, and Writers of Ireland" (non-Catholic, 3 vols., Dublin, 1739-1845); Malone, "Church History of Ireland from the Anglo-Norman Invasion to the Reformation" (Dublin, 1882); O'Hanlon's "Lives of the Irish Saints"; Killen, "Ecclesiastical History of Ireland" (Presbyterian, London, 1875). Good Catholic accounts of the early Irish Church are those of Greith (Freiburg, 1867), Moran (Dublin, 1864), Gargan (ibid., 1864), Salmon (ibid., 1900). Protestant views were set forth by Stokes, "Ireland and the Celtic Church to 1172" (London, 1886), Loofs (1882), and Zimmer (1907). For a good bibliography of Irish ecclesiastical history see Bellesheim, "Gesch. der kathol. Kirche in Irland" (3 vols., Mains, 1890-).

Catholic historians in the United States

No satisfactory general history of the Church in the United States has yet appeared. A very learned documentary work is that of John Gilmary Shea, "History of the Catholic Church in the United States" (4 vols., New York, 1886). O'Gorman's, "A History of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States" (New York, 1895), contains a useful bibliography.

For Australia see Cardinal Moran's "History of the Catholic Church in Australasia" (Sydney, 1896).

Protestant historians

Among Protestants, Church history was cultivated chiefly by German Lutherans; their works came to be authoritative among non-Catholics. Planck, the first important Protestant ecclesiastical historian of the nineteenth century, exhibits the influence of the rationalism of the preceding age, but exhibits also more solidity and more Christian sentiment both in his special works on the history of Protestant theology, and in his important "Geschichte der christlichkirchlichen Gesellschaftsverfassung" (5 vols., Hanover, 1803-9). Neander is superior to him in talents and erudition, and moreover retains belief in the supernatural. His "Allgemeine Geschichte der christlichen Religion und Kirche" (5 vols., Hamburg, 1825-45) reaches to the end of the thirteenth century; after his death a sixth volume (to the Council of Basle) was added (1852). He also wrote a history of the Apostolic epoch, "Geschichte der Pflanzung und Leitung der christlichen Kirche durch die Apostel" (2 vols., Hamburg, 1832-). To his school belong Guericke ("Handbuch der Kirchengeschichte", Halle, 1833; 9th ed., Leipzig, 1865-), Jacobi ("Lehrbuch der Kirchengeschichte", Berlin, 1850), Schaff ("Geschichte der alten Kirche", Leipzig, 1867), Niedner ("Gesch. der christl. Kirche", Leipzig, 1846). They are stricter Lutherans however. A different method is followed by Dante ("Lehrbuch der Kirchengeschichte", 2 vols., Jena, 1818-26); the text is brief and condensed, but is fortified by lengthy excerpts from the sources. A similar plan is followed by Gieseler ("Lehrbuch der Kirchengeschichte", 5 vols., Bonn, 1824-57; a sixth volume was added by Redepenning from the author's manuscript). Other manuals were written by Engelhardt (3 vols., Erlangen, 1832, with a volume of sources, 1834) and Kurtz ("Lehrbuch der Kirchengeschichte", Mitau, 1849). Lindner's "Lehrbuch der Kirchengeschichte" (3 vols., Leipzig, 1848-54) is strictly Lutheran; less biased are Hasse ("Kirchengeschichte", 3 parts, Leipzig, 1864) and Herzog ("Abriss der gesammten Kirchengeschichte", 3 vols., Erlangen, 1876, sq.). Hase's "Lehrbuch der Kirchengeschichte" and "Kirchengeschichte" are moderate in views, though frankly anti-Catholic. His diction is elegant, and his character-sketches finely drawn.

Another Protestant school is more in sympathy with Semler's rationalistic views. These writers are Hegelian in temper and spirit and seek to strip Christianity of its supernatural character. Its first leaders were the so-called "Neo-Tübingen School" under Johann Christian Baur, whose ecclesiastico-historical writings are directly anti-Christian: "Das Christentum und die Kirche der drei ersten Jahrhunderte" (Tübingen, 1853); "Die christliche Kirche vom 4. bis zum 6. Jahrhundert" (ibid., 1859); "Die christliche Kirche des Mittelalters" (ibid., 1860); "Die neuere Zeit" (ibid., 1861-3); "Das neunzehnte Jahrhundert" (ibid., 1863-73). Baur himself and his rationalistic adherents, Schwegler, Ritsçhl, Rothe, wrote also special works on the origins of the Church. The "Allgemeine Kirchengeschichte" of Gfrörer (7 parts, Stuttgart, 1841), written prior to his conversion, is a product of this spirit. Though constantly attacked, this school, whose chief living representative is Adolf Harnack, predominates in German Protestantism. Moeller, in his able "Lehrbuch der Kirchengeschichte" writes with moderation; similarly Müller in his yet unfinished "Kirchengeschichte" (Tübingen, 1892, sqq.).

In the nineteenth century also the Reformed (see above) produced less in the province of general church history than the Lutherans. Among the German authors must be named: Thym, "Historische Entwicklung der Schicksäle der Kirche Christi" (2 vols., Berlin, 1800—); Munscher, "Lehrbuch der christl. Kirchengeschichte" (Marburg, 1801); Ebrard, "Handbuch der Kirchen- und Dogmengeschichte" (4 vols., Erlangen, 1865-); the most important of the Reformed Church historians is Hagenbach, "Kirchengeschichte" who is temperate in his criticism of the Catholic Middle Ages. Among the Reformed Church historians of France must be mentioned: Matter, "Histoire du christianisme et de la société chrétienne" (4 vols., Strasburg, 1829); Potter "Histoire du christianisme" (8 vols., Paris, 1856); Et. Chastel, "Histoire du christianisme depuis son origine jusqu'à nos jours" (5 vols., Paris, 1881-3); Pressensé, "Histoire des trois premiers siècles"; d'Aubigné, "Histoire de la reformation du 16me siècle" (Paris, 1831-). Holland produced: Hofstede de Groot, "Institutiones histor. eccles." (Groningen, 1835); Royaards, "Compendium hist. eccl. christ." (Utrecht, 1841-45).

In the past, England, Scotland, and North America have cultivated for the most part special fields, especially the early Christian period and the ecclesiastical history of particular nations. The most important general ecclesiastical history of England hitherto produced by Anglican scholars is that edited by W. Stephens and W. Hunt — "A History of the English Church" by various writers (Hunt, Stephens, Capes, Gairdner, Hutton, Overton), of which ten volumes have already (1910) appeared. An exhaustive history of the period since the Reformation is that of Dixon, "History of the Church of England since 1529" (5 vols., 1878-1902). In his "Lollardy and the Reformation in England" (2 vols., London, 1908), Dr. James Gairdner gives an able and impartial account of the genesis of the Reformation in England. A very useful work is the "Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines during the first eight centuries", edited by. William Smith and H. Wace (4 vols., London, 1879-). We might also mention the "History of the Christian Church" by Canon James Robertson of Canterbury, reaching to 1517; C. Wordsworth's "Church History" (4 vols., London, 1885), and the "History of the Christian Church" by Schaff (6 vols., New York, 1882-1909). Other Protestant histories are: Archdeacon Hardwick's "History of the Christian Church, Middle Age" (3rd ed. by Stubbs, London, 1872), and "Reformation" (3rd ed. by Stubbs, London, 1873); French's "Lectures on Medieval Church History" (London, 1877); Milman's "History of Latin Christianity to Nicholas V, 1455" (revised ed., London, 1866); Philip Smith's "History of the Christian Church to the end of the Middle Ages" (New York, 1885); George P. Fisher's "History of the Christian Church" (New York, 1887). Fair and impartial in many ways is Wakeman's "Introduction to the Church History of England" (3rd ed., London, 1907). To these may be added James Murdock's translation of Mosheim's "Institutes" (New York, 1854), and Henry B. Smith's translation of Gieseler's "History of the Church" (New York, 1857-80). For the sources of English Church history in general see Gross, "The Sources of English History to 1489" (New York, 1900), and Gardiner and Mullinger, "Introduction to the Study of English History" (latest ed., London, 1903).

Greek Orthodox historians

In recent time Greek Orthodox writers have produced two works which indicate a growing interest in general Church history: the Historia Ekklesiastike by Diomedes Kyriakus (2 vols., Athens, 1882), and the Ekklesiastike historia apo Iesou Christou mechri ton kath hemas chronon by Philaretes Bapheides (Constantinople, 1884-).

In conclusion it may be added that the biographies of most of the Catholic authors mentioned above will be found in THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA.


Sources

FREEMAN, The Methods of Historical Study (London, 1886); BERNHEIM, Lehrbuch der historischen Methods (3rd ed., Leipzig, 1903); MEISTER in Grundriss der Geschichtswissenschaft, vol. I, pt. I (Leipzig, 1906); DR SMEDT, Principes de la critique historique (Liege, 1883); LANGLOIS AND SEIGNOBOS, Introduction aux études historiques (3rd ed., Paris, 1905); KNÖPFLER, Wert und Bedeutung des Studium der Kirchengeschichte (Munich, 1894; cf. also SCHRÖRS, Hist. Jahrb., 1894, pp. 133-145); EHRHARD, Stellung und Aufgabe der Kirchengeschichte in der Gegenwart (Stuttgart, 1898); DE SMEDT, Introductio generalis ad historiam ecclesiasticam critice tractandam (Ghent, 1876); NIRSCHL, Propädeutik der Kirchengeschichte (Mainz, 1888); KIHN, Enzyklopädie und Methodologie der Theologie (Freiburg, im Br., 1892); HAGENBACH, Enzyclopädie und Methodologie der theologischen Wissenschaften (12th ed., Leipzig, 1889); HURTER, Nomenclator literarius theologiæ catholicæ (3rd ed., Innsbruck, 1903-); HERGENRÖTHER, Handbuch der allgemeinen Kirchengeschichte, I (4th ed. by KIRSCH, Freiburg im Br., 1902), Introduction; DELEHAYE, Les légendes hagiographiques (2nd ed., Paris, 1906); FONCK, Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten. Beiträge zur Methodik des akademischen Studiums (Innsbruck, 1908).

About this page

APA citation. Kirsch, J.P. (1910). Ecclesiastical History. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07365a.htm

MLA citation. Kirsch, Johann Peter. "Ecclesiastical History." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07365a.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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