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The Middle Ages: The Church

The Middle Ages: The Church

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The Middle Ages: The Church

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  1. The Middle Ages: The Church

  2. By the Middle Ages, the Christian religion had spread throughout western Europe. • Historians like to say that “Christianity and the Church touched the life of almost everyone during the Middle Ages.”

  3. From baptism at birth to one’s wedding ceremony to the last rites performed near death, the Church was a central feature in most people’s lives.

  4. Almost every village had a village priest. The priest was usually a peasant himself. • He would administer the sacraments, or special ceremonies, of the church for the peasants in his village.

  5. The village priest also supervised the villager’s moral and religious training. • Poor peasants turned to their priest in times of trouble and confusion. • So village priests were also called parish priests, because the areas priests served were called parishes.

  6. A group of parishes made up a diocese. • Bishops were church officials in charge of dioceses. The head quarters of a dioceses was in the largest town in the area. • Often these towns had cathedrals, large beautiful churches that took years to build.

  7. Just as parish priests answered to bishops, bishops answered to archbishops. They, in turn, answered to the pope. The pope was the leader of the Church. He lived in Rome.

  8. As you can tell, from the previous slide, the Church was highly organized much like a government. • In fact, the Church at this time had many powers that governments have today. • The Church established laws for people, it settled disputes. • The Church was even able to, at times, raise an army for battle.

  9. During the Middle Ages the Church eventually became the largest landholder. • Kings and nobles gave fiefs to nobles in exchange for their loyalty. • Nobles often granted fiefs to the Church.

  10. As a result, the Church grew rich and powerful. • The Church also held power because it’s officials could excommunicate people • Excommunicate means to be cut off entirely from the Church. • Excommunication was a powerful weapon because the Church was so important to the people of Europe.

  11. During the Middle Ages, some people came to believe that the best Christian life was one that was cut off from the rest of the world.

  12. These people became monks and nuns. Monks formed communities called monasteries. • Nuns formed communities called convents. The term for this way of life is monasticism.

  13. Monasteries played several important roles during the Middle Ages. For example, the monks were the most learned people of their time. • Monks became scholars and teachers. • And since printing was yet to be invented, their copying of books from the ancient world preserved much knowledge for future generations.