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Ancient Religion: Roman Catholic Church

Before this point, the Roman Catholic Church exercised more than just religious control across Europe. It was not uncommon to see the church have more control over countries than the king did. In this article, you will learn some of the changes that early religion went through in respects to the Roman Catholic Church.

The Roman Catholic Church has a history that dates back to 300 AD. At the time, Roman emperor Constantine was in charge before the popes started to get more power as heads of a religion. The majority of Europe embraced the word of the Catholic Church. Soon, religious leaders replaced the empire.

In an effort to increase their power, some popes brought to light controversial beliefs. As a result, the lands saw popes and members of the clergy becoming increasing corrupt. By the 1200s, it became clear that most of the clergy wanted to advance in the political ranks with power more than they wanted to assist people in a spiritual manner.

In 324 AD, the Roman emperor Constantine made the decision to move the capital of the Roman empire from Rome to the city of Byzantium (which is now known as Istanbul). He renamed the city Constantinople. It was here that he spent time constructed the new capital. Constantine collected and stored a great deal of the ancient writings of the Greek philosophers , spread across libraries in the city.

In 395 AD, the empire was divided into two parts. In the east, you would have found the capital of Constantinople, which was named the Byzantine empire. In the west, there was a capital in Rome. Not only did the empire split, but also the church. The eastern half was called the Eastern Orthodox Church and the western part became the Roman Catholic Church. Each church was outfitted with its own pope, and with these differences came a variety of ideas.

Around 476 AD, the western half of the empire took a blow when it suffered destruction by the hands of the Visigoths, Vandals, and other Germanic tribes. Southern Europe then entered what became known as the Dark and Middle Ages. During this time, many wars broke out and the governments were greatly weakened. The lack of strong leadership proved highly detrimental. The Dark and Middle Ages also meant that learning was at a standstill. The majority of the population lived under lords as serfs. If it wasn’t for the priests of the Roman Catholic Church, education could have ceased to exist completely during this time period.

The eastern empire thrived until 1453 when the Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople. Before the Turks could take hold of Constantinople (and turn it into Istanbul), most of the residents had already fled the city. With them, they took the works of the ancient Greek philosophers. This spread of knowledge to other cities in Europe is what contributed to the increase of the arts and other disciplines that is now known as the Renaissance.

The Renaissance represented a boom in learning and the arts, which also had an influence on the advancement of astronomy. To learn more about strides in studying the moon, stars and planets, check out the article titled, “The Renaissance and Modern Astronomy.”