I don’t have time to do an in-depth research of the Roman Catholic Church in the Dark Ages, but during my research on the Lombard Family in Italy, I came away with the idea that during the Dark Ages the Roman Catholic Church was very weak. When the Lombards conquered Northern Italy around 500 or so, they slowly converted to Orthodoxy, not Roman Catholicism. For the next few hundred years in Italy, even after the Lombards conquered most of Italy, the Lombards appeared to be Orthodox, as were most of their subjects. The Monte Cassino abbey, famously destroyed by bombing in WW2, seems to have originally been an Orthodox abbey in the 700’s. In fact, in the entire history from 400-1000 of the Lombards in Italy, I barely see any mention of the Roman Church or the Pope. Around the 800’s, these small entities called Papal States show up, but they are just around Rome and don’t seem to have much power. Even into the 800’s and 900’s much of Southern Italy seems to be Orthodox, under the sway of the Byzantines. What seems to have happened is that after Rome fell, the Church simply shifted over to Constantinople. It was from here that Byzantium ruled. From what I can tell, most of the Catholics in Europe at this time are under Byzantium and not Rome, and they are Orthodox, not Roman Catholic. I’m told that the Roman Catholic Church was very weak in the Western part of the former Roman Empire throughout the Dark Ages for some reason. Towards the end of the Dark Ages, the Roman Church started getting a lot more power. The split between Rome and Constantinople seems to have come later, after which Rome amassed much power. But for the first 600 years or so, it seems that almost all Catholics were just Orthodox. Catholic and Orthodox seem to have been synonymous.
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