chapter  4
The conversion of the west (350–700)
Pages 20

The papacy shaped the central medieval church, but it was not the only force at work. A religious revival affecting all levels of the church occurred simultaneously with the rise of the papal monarchy, sometimes supporting it, sometimes in conflict with it, and sometimes quite independent of it. The new Christianity grew out of the eleventh-century reforms, that not only stimulated the sense of Christendom, but also unleashed a long-lasting religious revival, which one scholar has called 'the Medieval Reformation'. The wandering preachers drew support from the evangelical revival and nourished it in many places, but with mixed results for the institutional church. A major shift in Christian perceptions and feelings occurred between the eleventh and the fourteenth centuries, when western Christians in great numbers discovered the emotional power of the New Testament, especially the gospels. The religious revival, with its emphasis on the New Testament, marked the central Middle Ages between the late eleventh and the early fourteenth centuries.