by Luca Zolli

The Schism of 1054 determined, within Christianity, the detachment of the Patriarchate of Ancient Rome from the rest of the Pentarchy and, in particular, from the Christian East: from the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria and Antioch. For this reason, in the Orthodox context, this event is referred to as the Schism of the Latins.

Nonetheless, as the story of the Amalfitan Monastery on Mount Athos illustrates well, this effect – the split between Romània and the Ecumene – would be fully accomplished almost three centuries later, at the time of the defense by St. Gregory Palamas of the Holy Hesychasts.

The ties between the Romans of the West and those of the East in fact lasted and were still so strong as to powerfully influence many aspects of those following centuries.

First, in this period of time, in the West, we are witnessing the flowering of a chivalrous spirituality, typically Franco-Latin, which, while detaching itself from the hieratic and priestly spirit of Orthodoxy, will tend to re-adapt to it in a new way and this will be greatly influenced by the influences of the Christian and Islamic East, during the period of the Crusades.

For example, the Gothic cathedrals, which, as Titus Burckhardt masterfully illustrates in his book dedicated to their – of cathedrals – “birth”, with which the spirit and strong-willed impulse of the Frankish warriors are expressed in Gothic, as opposed to the hieratic and contemplative spirit that still preserves the Romanesque of the Western Romans and much closer to the Eastern Romans, were suddenly born in 1128 and this date strangely almost coincides with the return of the Knights Templar from the Holy Land.

Obviously, it is not only the architectural sphere that experiences, in the Franco-Latin context, a “traditional readjustment”: we also notice it in Music, with the School of Notre-Dame, for example, and with Ars Nova and Guillaume de Machaut , then.

Also the troubadour school and the chivalrous ideals of courtly love are part of this same traditional “readjustment”, like the subsequent Dolce Stil Nuovo itself.

In the theological sphere, obviously, the interpreters of this passage will be the Upper, the Lower and, finally, the Late Scholastica. Guénon observes that Scholasticism is a Metaphysics of Being and this is perfectly consistent with the predominance that Franco-Latin culture was to acquire, during the Crusades, over the entire West and ever more firmly.

In all these manifestations the influence and link with the East, however, is still alive and, in some of its manifestations, profound.

This traditional readjustment will, however, precisely in the period following the destruction of the Order of the Temple, its term and with the affirmation of “Francocracy” both towards the Eastern Roman culture and towards the Islamic one, will take other paths, placing many and well-defined assumptions of modernity that are foreign or adverse to certain forms of oriental spirituality, with which he definitively breaks away.