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Life and Death & the Church in the Middle Ages

Life and Death & the Church in the Middle Ages

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Life and Death & the Church in the Middle Ages

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  1. Life and Death & the Church in the Middle Ages

  2. Curriculum Outcomes • 5.8 -Identify the ideals which were espoused during the Middle Ages. • 5.9 -Distinguish the types of conflict which characterized the medieval period

  3. “Last Judgment” -- 1430

  4. The Unifying Power of the Church Amidst political, economic and social chaos, the one institution that did serve to bring some unification to the multi-ethnic and multi-lingual territories of Europe was the Roman Catholic Church.

  5. Church Hierarchy Pope Bishops Priests

  6. Pope Gregory I (r.590-604) -Sent missionaries to many areas of Northern Europe, most notably the Anglo-Saxons of England -Increased the power of the papacy, not just in the Church but for all rulers

  7. Day-to-Day Life for Peasants -Birth, baptism, holidays, death – all revolve around the Church -Mass said in Latin – peasants have no idea what is being said -Tithes: pay 10% of what you earn to the Church (money, food or goods) -Were expected to do some work on church land, for which they were not paid

  8. The Wealth of the Church -Tithes and free labour from peasants increased the wealth of the Church as the Middle Ages continued -The Church was wealthier than any king in Europe (evidence: huge cathedrals, monasteries, and churches)

  9. Gothic Cathedrals • From the Goths, Germanic tribe • Thrust upward / reaching for God • Large stained glass windows, sculptures, wood-carvings • Meant to inspire the worshiper • Nearly 500 built between 1170 - 1270

  10. Cathedrals – Cities of God

  11. Monasteries and Convents -Begin to be established in the 5th c. -Removing oneself from daily life & devoting oneself to God -Monks and nuns -Centres of learning; preservation of Classical texts -the Rule of St Benedict (c.530) -Primary source: Bede (c.673-735), The Ecclesiastical History of the English People

  12. Ever-present Death 1000 Ways to Die • Famine: scarce or rotten crops • War: continuous struggles for power • Plague: no showers, inoculations, or Lysol • Medicine/Doctors virtually non-existent • High rate of infant/child death • Average life expectancy: 30 years

  13. The Triumph of Death c. 1562

  14. The Danse Macabre • A late-medieval metaphor • Demonstrates how death unites all classes • Acknowledges Death as a companion to life • Encourages living life to the fullest

  15. The Apocalypse • The constant death and hard life led many to believe the Apocalypse was coming. • Described in the Book of Revelations • The Four Horsemen: Conquest (or Pestilence), War, Famine, and Death

  16. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

  17. The Importance of Religion • Life is short and brutal • People had to believe there was a better life coming • Religion promised Heaven to those who showed faith and penitence and lived without sin • The prevailing notion that the world was created for our benefit was comforting

  18. Different World View • No notions of science: gravity, atoms and compounds, cause and effect, etc. • We currently see the world as functioning within a set of scientific rules • People in the Middle Ages believed natural laws were put in place by God, and could therefore be bent to His will • Humanity was the pinnacle of His creation, and He cared deeply for us

  19. The Four Humors

  20. Ritual and Superstition • People sought to invoke the Lord’s favour by performing rituals and following superstitions • Lengthy rituals involving prayers, oils, holy water, blessings etc. were performed to ensure the success of crops • Superstitious acts of humility and worship toward “Patron Saints” would summon their aid

  21. Patron Saints • Saints in Heaven will “intercede” on behalf of God to help people • Individual Saints are “patrons” of certain illnesses, ailments, countries, cities, people, activities, crafts, classes, etc. • People would pray to whichever Saint corresponded to their problems

  22. Patron Saints • Luke the Evangelist – patron of doctors, surgeons, artists, painters, Notaries • John the Baptist – patron of Saint John, NB, Canada • Augustine of Hippo – patron of sore eyes • Anthony of Padua – patron of missing people and lost things (pictured here)

  23. Holy Sacraments Defence against the Dark Arts • Practices used to avoid the wrath of God and the corruptions of Satan • Baptism – at birth • Confirmation – age 12 (ish) • Confession and Penance - forgiveness • The Eucharist – body of Christ • Marriage – the baby machine • Last Rights – cleanse soul to enter Heaven • Holy orders – bestow spiritual power to conduct the other six sacraments (Priest only)


  25. Inquisition