Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Reformation. Revised and Updated ed. Vol. 1. New York: HarperCollins, 2010. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Ch. 27, “The New Order” Loc. 4687-5149.
As the Western Roman Empire fell, numerous independent kingdoms arose. Some of the powers fell also to monastics and the papacy (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4689). Gonzalez considers these new kingdoms, the monastic and papist changes, and forces of invaders in turn.
The Vandals, Arians, had taken over much of North Africa in the 5th century. They were deposed by the Byzantine forces from Constantinople, leaving Christianity badly divided in time for the Muslim invasions of the late 7th century (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4713). The Visigoths, Arians who controlled Spain from the fifth to eighth century, were often at war and progressively were orthodox until overthrown by Muslims in the 8th century (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4717). In Gaul the Burgundians and then the Merovingians held sway (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4748). In Britain there was a series of pagan invasions resulting in Christians being pushed back into relative powerlessness (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4773), though Christianity flourished in Ireland. From there, missionary activity later spread throughout Europe, with a variety of liturgical customs (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4816). There were various incursions of Germanic people into Italy which eventually resulted in authority sharing arrangements between popes and kings (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4838).
At this time a form of practical monasticism arose, focused on community and often acting in cooperation with bishops and popes (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4851). From this movement Benedict and his Rule for an orderly life arose (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4863). Gonzalez describes some of the elements of the ordered monastic life including obedience, care for all, and prayer.
Along with the growth of monasticism, the papacy provided stability in society (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4921). In the East the term (pope) was used to refer to any esteemed bishop, while in the West it referred only to the bishop of Rome (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4926). During the 5th century various popes arose with increasingly forceful views, eventually one in the East and one in the West (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 4965). As Rome declined and faced a plague, in the late 6th century Gregory arose and led the community, establishing papal power quite securely (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5003). In his time the doctrines of penance were developed as well as the idea that Christ was being sacrificed in the Mass (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5041).
In the 7th century, just as order seemed to be emerging in much of the old Roman territory, Islam arose to threaten the world (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5071). Centered around monotheism, prayer, taxation, fasting, and pilgrimage (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5083), Islam quickly took on military objectives, overthrew Arabia, and spread (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5092). Christianity was largely eradicated in the East (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5126).