Let’s Hear It for “the Dark Ages”

Here is a Carolingian reform capitulary issued in the year of the Lord’s incarnation 742, regarding the state of ongoing warfare that each bishop and priest had to wage against the ingrained paganism of his people:

We decree that according to the canons, care is to be exhibited by each bishop in his own parish. [For the bishop] is the defender of the church, so that the people of God will not be [like] the pagans. But that all the filth of the pagans may be cast aside and rejected, whether the sacrifices of the dead or oracles or divination or phylactery, and augury or incantations or victims for sacrifice being sought [or] foolish men performing pagan rituals next to the church under the name of the holy martyrs or confessors…All things which are pagan observations, we decree [by these canons] that they are to be prohibited diligently. [My translation of the capitulary, as found in Rosamund McKitterick, The Frankish Church and the Carolingian Reforms 789-895 (London: Royal Historical Society, 1977), pg. 118]

Gotta love those “Dark Ages.” Seems that the dedicated churchmen weren’t quite as “superstitious” and unconcerned for biblical truth and faithful living as we Moderns often like to think they were.

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