74 votes
Accepted

Why does the amount of days in an year on average of the Gregorian calendar only have 4 decimal places (365.2425)?

Why? Because there was no point. First, according to more modern astronomical measurements, the current length of the year is closer to about 365.2422 days, so they would've been relatively less ...
47 votes

Could someone who had joined a monastery decide to leave?

In principle, they were not supposed to leave their order because they took a vow for life. In practice, some did leave, and some were subsequently readmitted. However, the time period covered here is ...
46 votes
Accepted

Was there a priest on the Titanic who stayed on the ship giving confession to as many as he could?

It would appear to be true, according to this Wikipedia entry. ... passengers and crew headed to the stern, where Father Thomas Byles was hearing confessions and giving absolutions, Edited with ...
  • 7,774
46 votes
Accepted

Did Pope Urban II issue the papal bull "terra nullius" in 1095?

It seems likely this is a historical myth. According to WikiPedia's list of Papal Bulls*, Urban II did issue a bull that year, but it had to do with who was allowed to excommunicate the ruler of the ...
  • 111k
44 votes
Accepted

Has there ever been an archbishop or bishop younger than the 16-year-old James of Nicosia?

I'd imagine that the youngest ever bishop would have to be Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, the second son of King George III. Image source Wikimedia Born on 16 August 1763, he was ...
  • 76.5k
29 votes

What did the people of the Middle Ages call their period?

Joachim of Fiore (1135 – 30 March 1202) divided history into 3 ages according to the Holy Trinity: The Age of Marriage (God) The Age of Holiness (Christ, the son of God) The Age of the Second Coming, ...
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24 votes
Accepted

Tombstone-covered floor in Churches

Yes, this was perfectly common. It was seen as a privilege to be buried inside the church (the closer to the altar, the better). These are not cenotaphs, these are actual tombs, with people slowly ...
  • 5,431
24 votes
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Did Johann Tetzel really claim to be able to give indulgences even for the sin of violating the Mother of God?

This is indeed already part of Thesis Number 75 of those famous 95: Opinari venias papales tantas esse, ut solvere possint hominem, etiam si quis per impossibile dei genitricem violasset, Est ...
  • 78.5k
22 votes
Accepted

Should the Great Schism of 1054 be taken to be 1204 (or 1182) instead?

Yes, your assessment is broadly correct but, to be fair, the Great Schism of 1054 was a very real break between the Greek eastern and Latin western churches. The split was not only along doctrinal and ...
  • 76.5k
21 votes

Did average church-goers understand mass in Latin?

Literate people can carry dual-language missals. My father did first communion in the old rite. Even as a child/young teen, he could follow the gestures, context and more or less the Latin sound/text, ...
  • 3,860
20 votes
Accepted

What caused the imposition of strict celibacy for Catholic priests during the 11th century?

Celibacy was part of the Church's identity, as well as a strategy for keeping wealth within the Church. The American historian and Vanderbilt Professor Katherine Crawford writes that: Celibacy set ...
  • 96.3k
19 votes

Why was Copernicus not persecuted by the church, but Galileo was?

In 1559, Copernicus's De Revolutionibus was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books (source). Before Copernicus, Bishop Nicole Oresme (d. 1382) advanced the hypothesis that the earth, not the heavens, ...
  • 2,063
19 votes

When did England stop being a Papal fief?

tl; dr No, Edward III paid a token tribute of £1,000 in 1333 (in expectation of receiving papal favours in return). In 1365, the English parliament debated the latest papal demand for tribute. They ...
  • 76.5k
19 votes

Why does the amount of days in an year on average of the Gregorian calendar only have 4 decimal places (365.2425)?

The Gregorian Calendar was introduced (to the Catholic World) in 1582, the result of preparation over the preceding five or so years. However the popularization of decimal fractions would wait another ...
18 votes
Accepted

Why did the French Revolution bring secularism?

One might argue that secularism brought about the French Revolution; not all correlation is causation. Mike Duncan's Revolutions podcast covers the role of the church in the revolution fairly well. (...
  • 31.1k
18 votes

Why didn't "Europe" support the Byzantine Empire against the Turks?

There was a certain amount of natural antagonism between the west and the Byzantines. Part of this was religious: They belonged to different sects of Christianity, and thus often viewed each other as ...
  • 111k
18 votes
Accepted

When did England stop being a Papal fief?

SHORT ANSWER From the point of view of the English king and parliament, England stopped being a Papal fief in 1365. In 1365 parliament debated the latest papal request and concluded that John’s ...
17 votes
Accepted

Did the Pope's crossbow and archery bans have any effect?

Concerning the question -Did any contemporaries actually take note of the ruling? An article cited by the OP brings up a couple of possible groups which may have complied with this, The Holy Roman ...
  • 34.3k
15 votes
Accepted

Why was the date moved by 10 days instead of 9 during Gregorian calendar reform?

The date was moved by ten days because that's how many days the Julian calendar was off by. You may have thought the time skip was meant to compensate for the drift of nine days between 325 and 1582. ...
  • 96.3k
15 votes

Has there ever been an archbishop or bishop younger than the 16-year-old James of Nicosia?

Hugh of Vermandois became Archbishop of Reims in 925, at only five years old. It was part of a rebellion by his father, Hugh II of Vermandois. Hugh II joined with Robert, Count of Paris, and father of ...
  • 3,242
15 votes
Accepted

Did the Catholic Church ban adoption in the Middle Ages?

Adoption was never banned, and in fact was only ever encouraged quite strongly. First, though, your source is a little off the mark on some of its details: For one, widows and widowers could ...
  • 340
14 votes
Accepted

Why was William Tyndale burnt at the stake?

The trivial answer is he was executed for being a Protestant. The deeper answer is we aren't quite sure, but he had gained some powerful enemies. There was a lengthy list of charges read at his trial....
  • 111k
14 votes

Could someone who had joined a monastery decide to leave?

"Decide to leave" was always an option to consider. And one could do that, of course. Just do that. But it seems the question is more about the obstacles and costs that may be associated ...
  • 78.5k
13 votes

Why didn't "Europe" support the Byzantine Empire against the Turks?

Please keep in mind that the IVth Crusade mentioned in the first answer has resulted in taking of Constantinople by mostly Venician troops in 1204. This has resulted in a long-lasting civil war ...
  • 131
13 votes

What was the death toll during the Inquisition?

Getting accurate numbers is going to be problematic. Firstly, as you might expect, not all the records have survived. Secondly, a large number of those who were killed were never recorded in the ...
  • 76.5k
12 votes

What caused the imposition of strict celibacy for Catholic priests during the 11th century?

It's wrong to ignore the biblical reasons (e.g. In Matthew 19:11-12) for celibacy but it's true that there were worldly ones. The celibacy rule wasn't the only thing passed during that council. ...
  • 1,107
12 votes
Accepted

Why did the church attack Mainz for printing books?

The raid was not against Gutenberg or the printing press directly - but only indirectly because he and his printers refused to support the winner in an intra-church rivalry. The Pope had named one ...
12 votes

Did Pope Urban II issue the papal bull "terra nullius" in 1095?

Short answer Pope Urban II issued no such bull for the First Crusade. The source which first made this claim, possibly Pramod K. Nayar, in 'The Postcolonial Studies Dictionary', appears to have ...
12 votes

Did average church-goers understand mass in Latin?

It varied in degree depending on the period and the location. As explained in this podcast on the emergence of Romance languages from Patrick Wyman's Tides of History, the line between Latin and the ...

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