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. 29, “Imperial Restoration and Continuing Decay” Loc. 5503-5711.
In the year 800 Pope Leo III crowned Charles as the emperor of the West, 324 years after the deposition of the last Western emperor (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5503). This was a sort of rebirth of the Roman Empire, but now as a Christian empire. Charlemagne determined to extend his rule by both bloodshed and baptism. The forced baptisms were taken by those who had been baptized and were applied to others. “As emperor, Charlemagne felt called to rule his people both in civil and in ecclesiastical matters. He appointed bishops just as he named generals, although always seeking men of worth. He also enacted laws ordering that there be preaching in the language of the people, that Sunday be kept as a day of worship and rest, and that tithes be collected as if they were a tax” (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5530). Charlemagne also encouraged an educated clergy and nobility. After his time the reforms he had instituted decayed quickly (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5541). Where strong rulers remained some theology and education continued, but the academy did not flourish. Gonzalez notes one systematic thinker of merit, John Scotus Erigena (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5572). His theology tended strongly toward Neoplatonism. One important theological controversy of the period was related to the Mozarabic church in Spain, with an interpretation of Jesus as the Son of God by adoption (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5590). Debates about predestination and about Christ’s presence in communion also arose (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5604). As regards the presence of Christ, Paschasius Radbertus asserted that bread and wine become body and blood, ceasing to be bread and wine in communion. Counter to this, Ratramnus of Corbie clarified that the body of Christ is truly present, but that it is not the historical body, which is at the right hand of the Father (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5615).
The Carolingian peace did not last long. Norse attacks began during the 9th century (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5645). As they invaded, many of the Norse became Christians (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5650). This was true also of invaders from the east (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5655).
Gonzalez notes that the papacy was “in an ambiguous position” during this time (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5665). The popes were able to crown emperors but were not effective at leading the Church. There was a rapid succession of popes, some killing or imprisoning others (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5687).