What are we going to study? • Over the last few lessons we have looked at the feudal system during the Middle Ages. • So far, we have thought mainly about kings, nobles, vassals, knights, freemen and serfs. Now we are going to think about the lives of ordinary people. • The Church in England was very important and powerful during the Middle Ages. Today we are going to think about why this was.
Clockwise from above: St. James’ parish church in Little Paxton; Canterbury Cathedral; Winchester Cathedral. What words do you think of when you look at these churches? Does this help us to understand why the Church was so important?
Winchester, Hampshire Which building is most noticeable?
York, Yorkshire Which building is most noticeable?
Ripon, Yorkshire Which building is most noticeable?
The Church • The biggest building in any town or village was usually the church. • All the churches in England in the Middle Ages were Catholic churches, because the Catholic religion was the only Christian religion in England at that time. • Religion was a very important part of every person’s life. Nearly everyone went to services, so the churches had to be big – much bigger and much grander than any ordinary person could afford.
What were the services like? • It may seem a bit strange that so many people went to church when you find out that the services were not even in English. • What language do you think they were in? • Do you think that most people could have understood this language? • How else might people have learned about God and Jesus when they were in church?
Medieval Stained Glass This is part of one of the windows in Canterbury Cathedral. It shows Jesus and his disciples in a fishing boat, bringing in a net of fish. It was made in the late 1100’s. If you were a medieval person, how would you feel when looking at pictures like this? Would they be helpful to you?
What else could be seen in church? • But not all pictures showed pleasant images or told happy stories. Some pictures were much more frightening... • On the next slide is a picture that was painted in the Middle Ages. It can be seen on the wall of a church in Italy. It shows the kind of image that people living in those times would have been familiar with. • I will show you the picture for thirty seconds. After that I will ask you to remember what you saw and tell me what you think the picture is meant to be of.
Doom Paintings • People in the Middle Ages were sure that when they died, they would go either to Heaven or to Hell. And Hell didn’t look like a fun place to be… • Doom paintings, such as the one we have just looked at, give us valuable evidence about the belief of people in the Middle Ages. They show what Medieval people thought would happen on the Day of Judgement. • What kind of source are Doom Paintings? • Do they help us to understand why the Church was so important in the Middle Ages?
A hard life • Life was hard and short for most people in the Middle Ages. But the Church helped to comfort them. It gave them hope by reminding them of the joys waiting in heaven for those who led a good life. • But it wasn’t just fear or hope that made the Church such an important part of people’s lives…
Were there other reasons why the Church was so important? • The village priest was an important man. Not all were well-educated – some could not read and so they learned their services off by heart. However, others had been educated and gave lessons to local boys. • The Church was also important because it performed the three special services that people needed at key times in their lives – baptism, marriage and death. • The church in each village was also the focus for important festivals such as Christmas, Easter and the saints days. These events brightened people’s lives.
Tithes • Ordinary people who farmed the land or reared animals had to give the priest one tenth of all the food they produced every year. • This was called a tithe and was a kind of tax. All the tithes were collected together and placed in a special tithe barn.
This tithe barn can be found in Great Coxwell in Berkshire. As you can see, it is very large – a lot of tithes must have been collected here! Do you think the system of paying tithes would have been popular?
A wealthy Church • But wasn’t just tithes that made the Church wealthy. The Church also owned huge areas of land, from which it made money by collecting rent. Whilst ordinary priests may not have had much, the men who ran the church were some of the richest in the country. • This meant that men like the Archbishops of Canterbury and York had a lot of power, and that the king needed to have the Church on his side.
Complete the Sentence! • All Christians in Europe at this time were …. • The Church was …. • Life for people was ….. • The Church gave people …. • Church services were in ….. • To help them understand, people looked at statues and • Doom paintings showed … • Tithes were …