chapter  4
The scene is set: St Gregory the Great to
BySt Boniface
Pages 24

The years from the accession of Gregory the Great as pope (590) to the death of St Boniface (754) witnessed the fashioning of the set on which would be played out the story of the church in the Middle Ages. To suggest this does not imply that no dynamics followed. On the contrary, dynamics there indeed were aplenty, but the general context had been established by the middle of the eighth century: an active papacy, allied with the Frankish kings, and a Christian population throughout all Western Europe except Scandinavia. Saving the place of the Frankish kings, which will be treated in the next chapter, here we shall see the development of papal power, the northward movement of Christianity into the islands off Europe’s north-west shores and from there back to large parts of the Continent, and the role which learning played. No better starting place than with Pope Gregory I.