3 Jul 2022

The Church and the Middle Ages: 1078-1378 by Steve Weidenkopf- Reviewed!

 December 25th 2020, Ave Maria Press, 192 Pages,
Print and Ebook

 History often identifies the Middle Ages as barbaric, superstitious, and bloody. Many secular historians classify the Catholic Church of the time as omnipotent and overbearing.

In reality, the Church provided the world with a common way of life, a common purpose, and unity. In The Church and the Middle Ages (1000-1378), historian Steve Weidenkopf explains that the medieval people were intensely faithful and that it was an era of grandiose adventures and brilliant advancements in human achievement. The actions of the faithful men and women of this period and their accomplishments reverberate to the modern day.

With vibrant accounts of pivotal events and inspiring stories of the people who shaped the Church during the eleventh through fourteenth centuries, Weidenkopf provides a clearer picture of an era where critics used events such as the Crusades and the relocation of the papacy to France to undermine the Church. The period also provided the hallmarks of Christian civilization—universities, cathedrals, castles, and various religious orders.

Weidenkopf also chronicles the development of Christian civilization in Europe and explores the contributions of St. Bruno, St. Anthony of Padua, and St. Bridget of Sweden.

In this book, you will learn:

  • Most Crusaders were motivated by piety and service, not greed.
  • Heresy was both a church and civil issue and medieval inquisitors were focused on the eternal salvation of the accused.
  • The Church preached against the mistreatment of Jews.

Books in the Reclaiming Catholic History series, edited by Mike Aquilina and written by leading authors and historians, bring Church history to life, debunking the myths one era at a time.


My Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Every Protestant or Evangelical who writes Medieval Fiction, or just wants to understand the period needs to read this book.
It presents the real story of the Church in Medieval Era, covering everything from heresy to the Crusades, to scholarship and education, and it has sections devoted to the major personalities and events of the nearly four centuries covered. Be warned: almost everything on all these subjects is contrary to what many of us (I refer to the Evangelical community) have probably been led, or raised to believe.

Massacres and witch burnings were not the official policy of the church, nothing like "millions" of people were burned for heresy, and neither was that policy. Burning was actually the secular punishment for heresy, and was not used often. This book actually goes into the laws surrounding it, and some of the beliefs of the actual "heretical" groups.

The sections on St Francis of Assisi and his contempraries, the Franciscan movement, as well as some of the church reform movements were also very interesting. Now, some might be skeptical because of the Catholic publisher, but everything looked well-referenced (from various history books) and the author came over as truly objective. He wasn't afraid to criticize certain figures but also gave praise where it was due.

Prepare to be challenged and gripped if you read this book, but to finish it knowing a lot more. You won't regret it.

Thanks to the Publisher and Netgalley for approving my request for this title.


  1. This sounds very interesting and informative. Thanks for the review.

  2. Regarding punishments like burning -- and many others -- being inflicted by secular rather than religious authorities: the secular and religious authorities were much more entangled with each other in that time, with the secular authorities working hand-in-glove with the religious and considering themselves to be a facet of the "Christian" state. The princes did the dirty work that the priests were considered too holy and set aside to do themselves.

    1. That's not the whole picture, in fact I would say this is a rather gross over-simplifiction of the relationship between Church and State in a long period which covers many centuries.

      There were many countries and times when the church and state were in open conflict with one another. One of the Holy Roman Emperors was at war with the Pope, and there were various instance of Kings or Princes exiling Popes or Bishops, appointing thier own, or just refusing to do what they were told.

      Simply put, the church and state did not "work hand in glove" with one another during the entirety of what is known as the Medieval period, nor were secular rulers simply puppets of the church.


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