Before the Gregorian Reform: The Latin Church at the Turn of the First Millennium by John HoweBefore the Gregorian Reform: The Latin Church at the Turn of the First Millennium by John Howe

Before the Gregorian Reform: The Latin Church at the Turn of the First Millennium

byJohn Howe

Hardcover | April 1, 2016

Pricing and Purchase Info

$60.07 online 
$67.50 list price save 11%
Earn 300 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Historians typically single out the hundred-year period from about 1050 to 1150 as the pivotal moment in the history of the Latin Church, for it was then that the Gregorian Reform movement established the ecclesiastical structure that would ensure Rome’s dominance throughout the Middle Ages and beyond. In Before the Gregorian Reform John Howe challenges this familiar narrative by examining earlier, "pre-Gregorian" reform efforts within the Church. He finds that they were more extensive and widespread than previously thought and that they actually established a foundation for the subsequent Gregorian Reform movement.

The low point in the history of Christendom came in the late ninth and early tenth centuries—a period when much of Europe was overwhelmed by barbarian raids and widespread civil disorder, which left the Church in a state of disarray. As Howe shows, however, the destruction gave rise to creativity. Aristocrats and churchmen rebuilt churches and constructed new ones, competing against each other so that church building, like castle building, acquired its own momentum. Patrons strove to improve ecclesiastical furnishings, liturgy, and spirituality. Schools were constructed to staff the new churches. Moreover, Howe shows that these reform efforts paralleled broader economic, social, and cultural trends in Western Europe including the revival of long-distance trade, the rise of technology, and the emergence of feudal lordship. The result was that by the mid-eleventh century a wealthy, unified, better-organized, better-educated, more spiritually sensitive Latin Church was assuming a leading place in the broader Christian world.

Before the Gregorian Reform challenges us to rethink the history of the Church and its place in the broader narrative of European history. Compellingly written and generously illustrated, it is a book for all medievalists as well as general readers interested in the Middle Ages and Church history.

John Howe is Professor of History at Texas Tech University. He is the author of Church Reform and Social Change in Eleventh-Century Central Italy: Dominic of Sora and His Patrons and coeditor of Inventing Medieval Landscapes: Senses of Place in Western Europe.
Title:Before the Gregorian Reform: The Latin Church at the Turn of the First MillenniumFormat:HardcoverDimensions:372 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.19 inPublished:April 1, 2016Publisher:Cornell University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801452899

ISBN - 13:9780801452895

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

Introduction: A Pre-Gregorian Reform?
1. "Wolves Devouring the Lambs of Christ"
2. "Enter Confidently into the War of the Lord God"
3. "A White Mantle of Churches"
4. "To Rouse Devotion in a Carnal People"
5. "Following in the Footsteps of the Saints"
6. "When My Soul Longs for the Divine Vision"
7. "Learning Is Part of Holiness"
8. "The Body Is Not a Single Part"
9. "One Shepherd Presides over All Generally"
Epilogue: A Pope Captured, A Church Triumphant

Editorial Reviews

"In this deeply learned and handsomely illuminated book, John Howe boldly reinserts the role played by church reform into the story of the formation of Europe during the fraught centuries around the millennium. He magnificently brings to life the creativity of an era too often overshadowed by the glories of the Carolingian and twelfth-century 'renaissances' that came before and after it. Like the gold and jewels that gleam on a medieval psalter, the work is studded with elegant evocations of the rich spirituality and dazzling material culture of Europe around the year 1000: its books, liturgy, statuary art, reliquaries, manuscripts, castles, and the ‘white mantel’ of its churches. Before the Gregorian Reform is a mature work of scholarship written by a leading scholar of church history at the top of his craft." - Hans J. Hummer, Wayne State University, author of Politics and Power in Early Medieval Europe