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Eucharistic controversy: a study on relations between theology and society in the eleventh century of the medieval west

Grant number: 19/05618-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2019
Effective date (End): December 31, 2020
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - Ancient and Medieval History
Principal Investigator:Neri de Barros Almeida
Grantee:Diego Aparecido de Souza Pereira
Host Institution: Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas (IFCH). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil


The Eucharistic Controversy of the eleventh century took place around the questioning of the schoolmaster Berengar of Tours about the consecrated species at the altar. For him, the problem of the transformation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ was in the fate of previous substances: if the transformation did not take place in matter, where would the substance of until then go? Would it be possible to substantially alter bread without changing matter or accidents? From the questionings of Berengary, the debate about the Eucharistic sacrament gained strength in the Church, which began to discuss the character of the body of Christ distributed to the faithful. Based on writings by Berengar and his opponents - especially Lanfranc of Canterbury and Alberic of Montecassino -, letters from those involved and conciliar documents, this project intends to investigate to what extent the theological speculations regarding the relation between the natural world and the supernatural world developed around the question of the Eucharist have implications for the perception of the social order. The relevance of the proposal is based, first, on two general facts: the great social transformations that take place in the medieval West between the eleventh and twelfth centuries, attested by the majority of historians, and the fact that during this period the decisive phase of the organization of the sacramental field occurs, among other things, the supplanting of baptism by the Eucharist, as the greater sacrament of Christendom.

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