Inktober 2015 #2 – Fourth Lateran Council


So, as well as it being 800 yrs since Magna Carta was issued, it’s also 800 yrs since the Fourth Lateran Council, which in my opinion is much cooler. The Fourth Lateran Council, the fourth held in the Lateran palace at Rome (hence the name, duh)  was the twelfth ecumenical council of the Christian church and saw over 1300 members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy get together to talk about things ranging from heresy to keeping churches clean.

What’s great about the council it gives an interesting insight into medieval [clerical] sensibilities. Like how it doesn’t seem incongruous to talk one minute about how it’s the duty of the church to not be corrupt, ensure parish duties are correctly performed and to make sure people are generally looked after, but then in the next moment decree that Muslims/Jews should be forced to wear distinctive dress in order to distinguish them from Christians and to call a crusade to liberate the Holy Land.

Our modern sensibilities might be confounded by some of the content of something like the Fourth Lateran Council. But at the end of the day we have to remember that even if the means seem a little flawed the ends were a genuine concern to make sure the people of Europe were being helped by the Church. And of course, Fourth Lateran and Innocent III (the Pope in charge in 1215) represent a high point in Papal power in medieval Europe. As far as Pope’s go Innocent was pretty epic, hence why he is the only Pope (apart from John Paul II and the one from Family Guy) to have their own action figure. And all this was happened 800 years ago (almost exactly).



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