Christianity in Europe and overseas

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During the 1710s, the two French Jesuits Jean-Baptiste Régis (1663-1738) and Pierre Jartoux (1668-1720) traveled in a large entourage of Manchu officials and soldiers, busy surveying and mapping the areas around a stretch of the Great Wall that separated the Qing Empire and the Mongol steppes. Cartographic experts in the service of the Kangxi Emperor, who deployed his western Jesuit servants to carry out the first systematic and comprehensive survey of his vast empire, Régis and Jartoux had an unexpected encounter. Somewhere on the steppes, the Jesuits’ party came upon a Mongol prince. Some Lamaist monks in the entourage showed the astounded Jesuits an icon of the Virgin Mary inscribed with Greek letters, a gift from Russian orthodox clerics. We too may be equally astounded at this encounter between two branches of Christianity - Roman Catholicism and Russian Orthodoxy - that occurred in the Mongol borderlands between two expanding empires, the Russian and the Chinese, in a cultural region of Tibetan Buddhism, far from the heartland of Christianity. What follows in this chapter may explain the background to this remarkable event. Christianity in 1400 Nothing about the history of Christianity at the beginning of our period would prepare us for its dynamic expansion and world domination in 1800. In 1400, Christianity was divided into three main groups. Latin Christianity, which extended to almost all of Europe and at whose head stood the pope, was mired in a crisis of authority, with rival popes at Rome and Avignon hurling excommunications at one another in the Great Schism (1378-1415). Meanwhile, religious dissent grew into a full-blown national revolt in Bohemia against the Roman Church, before the Bohemians found a compromise with a papacy restored in authority. A second branch of Christianity dominated the southeastern and eastern margins of Europe: Eastern Orthodoxy. With Constantinople as its center and Greek its liturgical language, the Eastern Orthodox Church had formally split with the Roman Latin Church in 1054.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge World History
Subtitle of host publicationVolume VI: The Construction of a Global World, 1400-1800 CE: Part 2: Patterns of Change
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781139022460
ISBN (Print)9780521192460
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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