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The Birth and Development of the Idea of Europe as a Politico-Religious Space in the Middle Ages

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2019, (73), pp.243-275
  • DOI : 10.31310/HUM.073.08
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : April 8, 2019
  • Accepted : May 8, 2019
  • Published : May 31, 2019

YUN, BEE 1

1성균관대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper discusses the birth and development of the idea of Europe as a politico-religious space during the Middle Ages. The first part of this article begins by discussing how Christianity provided a new view and language to conceptualize Europe and its identity, reinterpreting it in terms of the biblical tradition. The concept of Europe thus born as synonymous with the Christian community was instrumentalized by the Carolingian rulers in the ninth century who, striving for the autonomy of power from the Byzantine Empire, claimed the title of empire. The idea of the mission of the Carolingian Empire as a political leader of the Christian community was elaborated, and its leaders were stylized and propagated as the father of Europe or the lighthouse of Europe. The second part of this essay discusses the revival of the concept of Europe as a politico-religious space in the fifteenth century by Enea Silvio Piccolomini (Pope Pius II). The increasing threats from the Ottoman Empire alarmed Latin Christianity, wakening a sense of solidarity with the Byzantine Empire. Piccolomini elaborated the idea of the Christian community with two political heads in the West (the Holy Roman Empire) and the East (the Byzantine Empire) and revitalized the concept of Europe as a politico-religious space. While constructing a concept of Europe encompassing the pagan antiquity, he laid a foundation for a concept of Europe which stresses its historical evolution and a formation of common cultural and civilizational heritage. This essay ends by briefly illuminating a new concept of Europe as was articulated by Piccolomini by discussing Die Alexanderschlacht (Schlacht bei Issos; The Battle of Alexander at Issus) by Albrecht Altdorfer.

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