of the Middle Ages
Medieval Lives in the Middle Ages
What is Christianity?
The Catholic Church
The Power of the Catholic Church
The Catholic church was a very powerful institution that had its own laws and lands. The Catholic Church also imposed taxes. In addition to collecting taxes, the Church accepted gifts of all kinds from individuals who wanted special favors or wanted to be certain of a place in heaven. The power of the Catholic Church grew with its wealth. Once its power grew, the Catholic Church was then able to influence the kings and rulers of Europe. Opposition to the Catholic Church resulted in excommunication. Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend, or limit membership in a religious community or (as in the case of the Catholic Church) to restrict certain rights within it. This meant that the person who was excommunicated could not attend any church services, receive the sacraments and would go straight to hell when they died.
The Job of the Pope. The Pope is the leader of the Roman Catholic church. He is elected by the cardinals for life. The Popes of the Middle Ages became powerful and highly influential. The religious fervor of the Popes of the Middle Ages transferred into medieval culture.
Infallibility of the Pope. While this was not an officially declared dogma of the Roman Church (it became official dogma in 1870), it was an assumed fact. As early as 590, Gregory the Great called himself "the servant of servants," believing that he was supreme among all bishops. Another pope, Hildebrand or Gregory VII (11th century), held that, as vicar of Christ and representative of Peter, he could give or take empires. Everyone from the lowest peasant to the highest ruler was to recognize him as Christ's representative on earth and supreme ruler over all religious and political matters. Another pope (14th century) Boniface VII, said,"We declare, state, define and pronounce that for every human creature to be subject to the Roman pope is altogether necessary for salvation" (Caper, The Church in History).
What are they?Cathedrals are Christian churches which contain the official "seat" or throne of a bishop. They were laid out in the shape of the Christian symbol of the cross. They had a Gothic architectural style with flying buttresses, pointed arches, stained glass windows, rose windows, and gargoyles.
Stained Glass Windows
Stained Glass windows had many purposes. For instance, to let in light, to add to the spiritual mood, and to teach bible lessons to those who couldn't read or write.