was marked by ordinary citizens fighting for their rights against the old
Pockets of this new
world emerged in the Netherlands, Switzerland and other parts of Europe.
Unfortunately, this new trend did not extend to an understanding of human
The Portuguese began
to capture slaves in Africa and put them to work at home and on overseas
plantations. The bull 'Dum Diversas' by Pope Nicholas V (18 June 1452)
authorised the Portuguese to reduce captives to the status of slaves provided
they were not Christians. Two years later (Romanus Pontifex, 8 January
1454) the same Pope granted the monopoly of the slave trade to the Portuguese -
which the Spanish ignored. Thus started
Church's shameful condoning of slavery in modern times.
intolerance dominated Christian thinking. Wycliffe's tranlation of the Bible
into the vernacular was rejected and his books burned (1409). The Czech
reformer John Hus was burnt at the stake (1415). The Inquisition terrorised
Spain. Jews were expelled from Austria and Switzerland. Joan of Arc was
captured by the English, accused of being a witch and publicly burnt at the
stake (23 May 1430)
Innocent VIII worsened the madness of witch hunting by publicly endorsing the
atrocious 'Hammer of
Witches' (Summis Desiderantes, 5 December 1484 .
This was a low point in Christian
theology. There were few original thinkers. The prejudices from the past were
usually simply repeated or brought down to new levels of insanity. There were
some exceptions to this rule.
"Extraordinary thing that
Christ, the first pontiff . . . . when considering a sign visibly instituted
for humanity, he would never choose his own mother, predestined and a virgin,
for the priesthood, but rather chose Judas, a married male, lost in such
monstrous sins and known beforehand to be so . . . . . "
women both from natural disposition and from the gift of grace are more
disposed for elevation to God than many males; are wiser, more virtuous in all
devotion. Therefore ahead of many males they are likewise more suitable and
worthy of holy orders. And if it is said that the feminine sex is the sex of
subjugation; it may be objected that there are many feminine leaders, and one
of them has been constituted lady or queen of the whole world, the mother of
God incarnate, the most holy and most transcendent virgin Mary . . . . "
Characteristic of the
opinion of post-scholastic theologians is the so-called "Hammer of
Witches", a handbook on how to discover and punish witches. Excerpts from
this book reveal incredible prejudices against women!
The theme of
Marys priestly dignity 1400 -1500
From this time the
devotion to Mary Priests beings to flourish in the West. The painting on the
left (Amiens, 1438) shows
Mary wearing a
priestly chasuble. She stands at the altar and distributes holy communion.
He wrote that: Mary is
high priest, second after Christ.
Women's Emancipation 1400 - 1500
We find some outstanding
examples of women who avail themselves of fortunate circumstances to take on
leading roles in society, proving that women do not deserve the lowly status
usually accorded to them.
One of the main obstacles
facing women was the lack of education. Sons would routinely be offfered
opportunities that were systematically withheld from daughters.
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