Thomas F Madden

Thomas F. Madden is a professor of medieval history and chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis University. A recognized expert on the Crusades, he has appeared in forums such as National Public Radio and the New York Times. Professor Madden is the author of The New Concise History of the Crusades and Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice. He is coauthor with Donald E. Queller of The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople and the editor of Crusades: The Illustrated History and The Crusades: Essential Readings. Among his published journal articles are "The Enduring Myths of the Fourth Crusade," "Father of the Bride: Fathers, «Daughters, and Dowries in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance Venice," and "The Fires of the Fourth Crusade in Constantinople, 1203-1204: A Damage Assessment."

Christ Seated in Judgment

Fresco (detail) by Fra Angelico, 1447

Christ Seated in Judgment

Fresco (detail) by Fra Angelico, 1447

Introduction

Entrusting the apostles to continue the work he had started by instructing them to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. ..," Jesus kindled the fires of a new religion in a world largely dominated by polytheism, cult leader worship, and mysticism. In the first century of its existence, Christianity was both welcomed and villified throughout the Roman Empire. Many of Christianity's original adherents were martyred—murdered by those who believed it a danger to their authority or, at the very least, the cause of unrest among an otherwise docile populace.

Christians themselves practiced their religion with great diversity, linked as much to local influences as theology. Political intrigue, theological beliefs, and simple misunderstandings created a need for dialogue between the many practitioners of the growing faith.

Christianity's adoption as the official faith of the Roman state tied it inexorably to the fortunes of the Empire. This also helped to create a gulf between the two main theological branches of the religion, which remain to this day.

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