The role of the church in the life of the middle ages

During the medieval times, the church was a dominant phenomenon that exercised control over almost all realms of life in the western world. The church had control over politics, forming one of the greatest beneficiaries of taxes. It was also actively involved in educational matters, controlling educational institutions and the ideas of philosophy.

As expected, it was the one which came up with ideas related to religion and morals in the society. The church was thus an inseparable part of the medieval times, and anyone researching the history of the middle ages, must come across the role played by the church during this time. This paper is an in-depth investigation of the role played by the church in the middle ages.

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As stated in the introduction, the medieval church played an active role in the government of the medieval times. Literally, the government ruled together with the church. Church leaders like Bishops and Abbots were normally the ones assigned the roles of reading for the King.

They also performed writing functions for the King, often being given the positions of Vassals. Priests were appointed by the lord in their locality, and thus they, in a way, served their appointing authorities. Christians were also involved in a number of fights over territories. These fights led to the creation of Christian kingdoms in lands that were previously occupied by Muslims and other religions. These fights were known as the Crusades (Hinds 97).

During this time, the church also set up a court that could hear a variety of cases, and the church had laws that governed the conduct of the peoples. This court was known as the inquisition. The church also required all peasants to pay taxes for its support, and in return, it offered guidance to eternal life. The church enjoyed its power for almost 1000 years. It even remained after the Roman Empire collapsed.

In the medieval times, the church played a great role in the social lives of the people. For instance, the Pope was bestowed with the power to excommunicate any member of the church, who went against it.

It was believed that the Roman Catholic Church, which dominated Europe, and had a lot of power and influence, was the determining factor of what happened to a person during his life, and even after death. Due to the power that the church enjoyed, it became corrupt in aspects like marriage, jobs, and other opportunities that it oversaw. This substantially affected the morals of the medieval society, and the trust that the people had in the church.

During the aforementioned fights, the European people had a lot to learn from their rivals. Some of the commendable happenings of the aftermath of the crusades, and that can be attributed to the crusades include lessons about mathematics, foods, astronomy, silk, paper and even medicine.

The European people also learnt about silk and its uses (Sedivy 1). This interaction of the European people with their rivals can thus be credited with introducing formal education to the European people. This is because previously educational activities were carried out in the church, as followers were taught about the doctrines of the Catholic Church. In actual fact, a child started serving God immediately after birth and thus children leant a lot of things from the church.

The medieval church played an active role in the economic activities of the society during the middle ages. A big proportion of the livestock that existed at the time was the property of the church. The church also owned large parcels of land, which it utilized for a variety of economic activities.

Although the tithe can be regarded as a political tax because it was mandatory, it had a myriad of economic effects. Peasants were supposed to give one tenths of their crops and animal products (Arnold 1). Parish churches helped in the growth of towns since the churches were situated in places where most people carried out their activities.

As evidenced by the discussion above, the medieval church had a lot of roles in the society. One of the roles that the church played, and that stand out in historical books, is the role of the church in politics. Although the church was involved in general administration, it acted like an overseer of the political class, and thus it benefited immensely from political revenue.

The church also played key roles in education and the economic dynamics of the medieval time. For instance, the church was the one that introduced education to then people, and it was a central figure in economic activities because it owned vast wealth, and controlled portions of proceeds belonging to peasants.

Works Cited

Arnold, Jack. “The Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages”. 1999-2011

Hinds, Kathryn. Life in the Middle Ages: The Church. California. Barnes & Noble, 2007. Print.

Sedivy, John. “Role of the Roman Catholic Church During the Middle Ages”. 2010-April 2011,

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