Bernhard Schimmelpfennig chronicles the institution of the papacy and its influence on the culture, politics, and economy throughout the decline of the Roman emparie, Byzantine rule, and the Middle Ages in his book, "The Papacy." The full spectrum of the institutional Medieval Church is examined as Schimmelpfennig presents its evolution through liturgical, political, artistic, cultural, and economic developments, as well as social changes that occurred under the papacy's influence such as a revamping of marriage laws, housing construction, and food distribution.
Chapters cover the Roman congregation of the apostolic and post-apostolic eras (110-113 CE) through the time of Constantine the Great (r. 310-337), onto the papacy at the peak of its power (1198-1303), and finally ending with the papacy of the Renaissance (1447-1534). A salient feature of the book is the new light shed on Rome as the physical setting of the Vatican and the marked influence it has had on the papacy. For example, the vast papal construction projects of the late fifteenth century demonstrate the papal power exerted over the Roman civic administration.
For far too long most English-speaking students have been directed to one of several lop-sided introductions to the medieval papacy. . . . The virtue of Schimmelpfennig's book [is] that it presents the papacy 'as the papacy, ' as a religiopolitical entity in its topographical, liturgical, and economic setting. This is no surprise inasmuch as the author is one of those rare historians sensitive to those issues.