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why was the church so important in medieval times

Extracts from this document. The Church played a far greater role in Medieval England than it does today, in fact, then, it could be said, it dominated everybody's life. It had total control over the people; peasants worked for free on Church land, and paid 10% of their earnings each year to the Church. Every person was required to live by the Church's laws. In return they were shown the way to everlasting life. The Church was therefore very powerful indeed. The parish church was the centre of every town. It was generally the largest building in town and was involved in every aspect of the lives of the people. A baby would be baptised here, a couple would exchange their wedding vows here, when a person died final prayers would be said here and the body would be buried in the church's consecrated ground. At all times the priest was the person to whom people would look for advice, the solving of local disputes and money when times were hard.

Often the priest ran a school, teaching individuals to read and write Latin. These people became Clerks or Clerics; they dealt with aspects of government, record keeping and accounts. Because religion was so important during the Middle Ages, many people devoted their whole lives to being closer to God and doing the Church's work. These people became monks or nuns and lived apart from the rest of the people in monasteries and nunneries. Monks and nuns promised to remain single, to be obedient to their superiors and to live a life of prayer. Sometimes this was a visit to the Holy Land itself. Making a pilgrimage was long and often dangerous; almost everyone travelled on foot and bandits and pirates laid in wait for unarmed pilgrims.

However people made these journeys because they believed prayers said at a saint's tomb were especially powerful, and pilgrimage would bring them closer to God and salvation. In conclusion then, religion was very important to people in England during the Middle Ages. The Church was the centre of the lives of ordinary people. From the moment of baptism a child entered into a life of service to God and Church. As a child grew he attended services every week and learned of his responsibilities to the Church. Every person was required to live by the Church's laws and pay to support it. In return for this they were shown the way to everlasting life and happiness. This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our section.
The Church was perhaps the single most powerful institution in medieval life, its influence reaching almost every aspect of people's lives.

Its religious observances gave shape to the calendar; its rituals marked important moments in an individual's life (including baptism, confirmation, marriage, holy orders and the last rites); and its teachings underpinned mainstream beliefs about morality, the meaning of life and the afterlife. The headquarters of the western Church was Rome. For most of the medieval period, this was the chief residence of the Pope, who was regarded as the successor of St Peter. Christ had appointed Peter the chief apostle, and gave him the 'keys to the kingdom of heaven (Gospel of St Matthew 16:19) which, according to tradition, were inherited by his successors. This manuscript shows Pope Boniface VIII and his cardinals. Shelfmark: Add. 23923 f. 2

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