The Church In The Middle Ages
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The start of the Middle Ages is traditionally noted with the fall of the Roman Empire, ushering a rather primitive time period in Western European history. During this time, the church served many purposes, not the least of which was overseer of society. Society was made up of roughly three classes of people:
- The nobility
- The church
- The peasants
It was the responsibility of the Church to monitor the behavior of the other two.
The church was responsible for ensuring:
- The nobility did not claim too much power for themselves and rule too harshly
- The Church was also responsible for creating a system of order that would keep the other half in check
- The Church had to ensure their obedience and acquiescence to the society around them. Even this power, though, was distributed widely.
Local bishops and priests were the individuals that kept a watchful eye on their communities; by following the teachings of the church as a whole, they were able to ensure that all of Europe maintained the same belief and behavior systems.
Th Church as a Prominent Part of Life
The church was a very prominent part of life for individuals living in the Middle Ages. They provided the only connection that could be had to God and heaven; the vast majority of individuals throughout Europe did not have the ability to read, and thus were unable to explore their own spirituality through a reading of the Bible. They were dependent upon the teachings of the church if they were achieve the promise of a better life after this one. The church was also responsible for the dissemination of knowledge and education; monasteries were homes to individuals who copied some of the most famous texts of the era, allowing them to reach new audiences throughout the continent. The church in the Middle Ages had their hands in nearly everything, from social behaviors to education to the government, demonstrating the far-reaching power of this institution.