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The Medieval Inheritance

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Chapter Summary

The Eucharist to which the reformers were objecting was a medieval creation, as many of them well knew. Late medieval eucharistic practice and theology were forged during the great changes of the eleventh century reform and then gradually refined during the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The sixteenth-century reformers were born into this world but by the end of the sixteenth century the late medieval cultural complex that was the Eucharist had largely disappeared from Europe. Reforms initiated in Wittenberg, Geneva, Canterbury, and at the Council of Trent radically transformed and reformed the late medieval Eucharist, for good and evil, into a much more austere ritual and theology. A world of color and pageantry, both reveling in and in awe of the divine presence, slowly faded into the grimmer, but, all agreed, more devout, shades of the many reformations begun in the sixteenth century.

Keywords: medieval eucharistic practice; reformations



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