4.2.1. The anti-clerical messianisms

4.2.1. The anti-clerical messianisms

While the Papacy was busy demonizing Islam and the kings struggled to raise armies and money to confront the forces of evil near Jerusalem, a new type of apocalyptic manifestations erupted among the masses. This type of apocalypticism was a novelty because it did not target groups outside Christendom, but the church itself, the institution meant to represent God. The growing number of heresies, the growing interest in magic, astrology and the occult, and the callings for reform signaled that something was wrong with the church.

According to historical documents... (This text is incomplete. If you wish to read it in full, please purchase the book)

... in order to serve as examples for those who were tempted to follow a similar path.

Medieval scribes had the tendency to exaggerate or to mythologize real characters and events in order to emphasize the power and the influence of the supernatural forces, God and the devil. Heretics and messiahs were rather reformers who protested against the corruption, the greed and the depravation of the clergymen. But libertinism, immorality and demonization were usual accusations, thrown upon those who dared to challenge the status of the church. Self-divinization, or comparing yourself to God, is the gravest sin; Lucifer himself was cast out of Heaven due to this sin. Only the thought of it was enough to cause chills down the spine to any God-fearing man. So, it is very likely that the accusation of self-divinization was a form of propaganda. And the antithetical representation between rebels and personalities such as Charlemagne, Constantine or princes who helped the church confirms this idea. Legenda aurea from around 1260 of the Italian Jacobus de Voragine enumerates more than 150 legends about the life of the saints.284 All depict positive aspects such as divine interventions, encounters with angels, revelations, modesty, morality, faith, humbleness, wisdom and temperance. The church repaid many of these “positive” men by canonizing them. Rebels, on the contrary, were cursed and anathematized, being accused of demonic possession, witchcraft, fraud, immorality, stupidity and adultery.

The spiritual features were mirrored by the physical ones. In the Middle Ages disease and suffering were associated with God’s punishment or the influence of the devil. Important people were mostly portrayed as tall, imposing, stately, beautiful and with a healthy appearance – a reference to the angelic appearance, heavenly order or divine protection. By contrast, rebels were portrayed as small, ugly and with physical flaws – a reference to the scary and disgusting look of the devil in Christian iconography. In accordance with the Nero-Constantine pattern, whoever blamed the church was demonized, and whoever favored the church was sanctified. Recording historical events and facts in a distorted manner aimed at portraying the church in a positive light and rebels in a negative light. So, people become saints for the side they defend, and demons for the side they oppress.

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