A tale of Blood and Honour
Two types of Christianity are practiced in Arthurian Britain. One is ancient, having been established in the first century A.D. by Joseph of Arimathea. It is called British Christianity. The second is derived from distant Rome, and is called Roman Christianity. Both types of Christianity share the most important beliefs and have more in common with each other than do the many forms of Paganism practiced in the lands outside of Logres.
Forms of the religion
Christianity believes in a single God who created the world and everything in it. The first people were called Adam and Eve. Because Humans were made with free will, many descendants of Adam and Eve fell away from the worship of God and the world was corrupted.
God then manifested Himself [it is common to capitalize personal pronouns referring to God] as the Son of the Father to offer salvation to the world. During the reign of Emperor Augustus was born this Son of God, named Jesus Christ, in the kingdom of Judea. Barely escaping death as an infant, Jesus was raised in obscurity as the son of a carpenter and his wife, the Virgin Mary, in a small town in Judea. Christ spent a short time as a wandering teacher, attended by his selected followers called the apostles. He allowed Himself to be tortured and nailed to a cross, dying for the sake of all humankind. The day he died is called Good Friday.
He was buried in the tomb of his uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, but after three days He rose miraculously from the dead. He visited his closest disciples and instructed them in his new religion. Fifty days after the first Easter, the Holy Ghost descended upon the apostles and gave them the gift of tongues, after which time they went around the world teaching about the miracle of Christ’s death and resurrection. The converted people formed the start of the Christian religion.
This sacrifice by God allowed humans to obtain eternal salvation and, after death, to join God in Heaven. Worshipers can find personal salvation through imitating the life of Jesus Christ and following His teachings. Regular worship takes place every Sunday within buildings called churches. The holiest day of the liturgical year is Easter, the day that He rose from the dead and proved he was the Son of God.
Another important day is Pentecost, commemorating the time fifty days after Easter when the Holy Ghost descended upon the apostles. Christmas is another holy time, marking the birth of Christ in the city of Jerusalem. Many other holy days exist as well, but those listed above are the most important.
Although most people are illiterate, literacy (in Latin) is common among the clergy and Christian writings are available, painstakingly copied by the hands of countless monks. Records of the religion are collected in a book called the Bible.
Saints are important in Christianity. These are exceptionally holy persons who are rewarded after death for a lifetime of dedication to God. They have the power to intercede between God and his worshipers. Many saints are important in Arthurian Britain, including the apostles, but one of the foremost is Saint Mary, the Mother of God.
Mass is the name of the formal worship service, celebrated every Sunday by Christians everywhere, and even more often by exceptionally pious people. The holy rituals are called sacraments, including the following: baptism, which is given upon entering the religion; penance, which forgives the penitent’s sins; communion, the basic act of interaction with God, and around which the Mass is centered; confirmation, which initiates members of the church as Soldiers of Christ; matrimony, which blesses marriage; Holy Orders, by which a man is made a priest; and Extreme Unction, given at death to ease a person’s journey to Heaven.
Differences and Similarities
The British Church has a flavor of its own, due in part to its early adaptation of local druidic beliefs. Evidence of this is found in the unusual tonsure adopted by the monks. In the Roman method, the top of the head is shaved (in the famous “Friar Tuck” style). But with the Celtic method, the front of the head, from ear to ear, is shaved, leaving only a forelock.
Another major difference involves the question of authority. The British church feels that abbots, who oversee monasteries, are more important than bishops, who exist primarily to appoint new priests. Also, for the British Church, the local kings appoint oth the abbots and bishops. The Romans accept only the authority of Rome to appoint their bishops, who have authority over the local abbots.
In the British Church, a monastery is always associated with a tribe or clan, and the abbacy is inherited by descendants of that family. The leader is called a coarb, and he acts in every way as both a temporal and ecclesiastical leader for the holding. The coarb might be an abbot or bishop; however, his loyalty is not to a church hierarchy, but to the local clan or tribe that originally granted the land.
Most importantly, there is a dispute between the British and Roman Churches as to the date for Easter. The rationales behind this dispute are far too esoteric to go into here, but since Easter is the most important holy day for both churches, this dispute is prominent in the friction.
Finally, Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism dispute many points of the new dogma of Rome. Key points held by the Pelagians are that every person has a free will, and every person, pagan or Christian, is responsible for his own conduct; that mankind was not cursed by Original Sin and, hence, is inherently good; that every man has a right to be wrong; and that baptism is not necessary for salvation. Also, there is a stress on clerical poverty and social justice. All these things are denied by Roman dogma.
Yet although Christianity has not cemented itself into a single unitary church, and despite these differences, it unifies all of Britain and indeed western humanity against most other religions. It is, in fact, one of the two factors that unify all European peoples (the other being the feudal system). A person can travel from Ireland in the west to Italy in the east, and from Germany in the north to Spain in the south, and in every place he stops he will find the same belief in the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ, even though the ceremonies, holy days, and certain aspects of morality may differ.
Christian places of note
- St. Alban’s grave – Logres, St. Alban’s City
- Amesbury Abbey – Logres, on the Salisbury Plain
- Carlion-on-Usk – Ecavalon
- Canterbury – Kent
- Carbonek, the castle of marvels – Hidden location
- Glastonbury Tor
- Menyw – Menevia, Estragales
- St. Paul’s Cathedral – London
Known as the Black Monks from the color of their habits, the Black Monks were the first order to swear to vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the “monastic vows.” The order is very old, stresses communal life and its spiritual benefits, and attracts upper class and educated people. They have monasteries in most cities, and often provide the clerks in the employ of lords who need their writing and math skills.
The order swears to monastic vows, but stresses solitude, so monasteries are usually in isolated regions. The order opposes feudal revenues, and thus rarely holds them, but at the cost of getting the worst, most useless land to live on. Its members are most often commoners, while its leadership is naturally of nobles.
The Brown Monks are a British monastic order of the native church, with many abbeys throughout the land. They wear a brown colored robe, and the distinctive British tonsure as well.
The churches of the Roman churches are staffed by priests who have been trained in a nearby school (called a minster) to learn the faith, beliefs, rites, practices and other facets of being a pastor to his flock of worshippers. They wear the established ritual clothing of their office, but do not have a tonsure of any sort. They stand in front of their congregation to lead the communion rites of holy Mass.
The British Church has Teachers who lead their rituals and ceremonies. They have been trained in either the church where they lead, or (more recently) in a Minster. Women may be teachers, and mot churches have some. The ceremony centers upon the communion, not the sacrifice, and a sacred cup sits next to the cross in the center of the table where the teachers lead the service. They wear brown robes of different styles, but do not have a tonsure of any type.
Ranks and Titles