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The Church in Ancient SocietyFrom Galilee to Gregory the Great$
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Henry Chadwick

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199246953

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199246955.001.0001

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Pope Gregory the Great (590–604)

Pope Gregory the Great (590–604)

(p.658) 58 Pope Gregory the Great (590–604)
The Church in Ancient Society

Henry Chadwick

Oxford University Press

Discusses the actions and policies of Gregory the Great as Pope between 590 and 604 and the significance of his papacy for the western Church. With the western provinces of the Empire now dismembered into barbarian kingdoms, Gregory's policy as bishop of Rome was to establish his office as the only locus of real authority in the Latin west. He had also to devote much effort to the administration of property left to the Church outside Italy, behaving as the head of an international investment corporation. Gregory tolerated variations in the liturgy and held that heretics and Jews should only be converted by teaching and persuasion, but urged a harsh policy against paganism. He was a strong believer in the cult of relics and made no distinction between popular and elite religion. He adhered to the two‐ natured Christology of the Council of Chalcedon, and relations with Constantinople were always strained. Gregory's letters are the main source for the mission to the Anglo‐Saxons in Britannia led by the Roman monk Augustine, but despite later legends this was not the decisive event in the conversion of the future land of England.

Keywords:   Britain, Gaul, Gregory the Great, Italy, North Africa, papacy

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