The Position and Role of the Catholic Church

During the Middle Ages, the Christian Church was a powerful and influential force across Europe.
The head of the Catholic Church was the Pope, who lived in Rome in Italy. Compared to today, the people in the Middle Ages were far more religious, and the church teachings, festivals and rituals influenced their everyday lives. The Catholic Church also ran Monasteries and Convents, wherein men and women could live a peaceful life of religion and prayer. Priests, Monks and Nuns, also looked after the sick and poor, and provided the education and spiritual needs of the local people.

Click the Picture of the Cathedral on the left
 to hear the sounds of a Latin Mass.

The Priests and Monks preached that as Adam and Eve had betrayed Godís trust in the Garden of Eden all people were born sinners. The common people were told that they should resist the temptations of the Devil, be obedient to their superiors and spend their life in prayer. Also that they should confess their sins, repent and accept their penance(the punishment given to them by their Priest that they were to carry out themselves.) The people were at times given the view that their life on Earth was not

  important; That if they accepted their suffering and worked hard to lead a holy life, they would die free of sin and then they could enjoy an eternal life with the Angels in Heaven. The people were often reminded of this by their Priest from his pulpit during the Sunday Church sermons. Any man, woman or child, they were told, that gave into temptation and sin would suffer an endless existence of fire, fear, torment and pain, inflicted on them by the Devil and his evil demons in Hell for all eternity.

Rulers and Kings were careful to keep the support of the Catholic Church. Important officials in the Church, conducted their coronation ceremony where they were made King, later they performed their marriage ceremony, and baptised and educated their children.
If any man or ruler went against the wishes or teachings of the Catholic Church, the Pope could excommunicate him. This meant that he could not go to heaven when he died, but would have to suffer the eternal fires and damnation of Hell.

The Medieval view of Hell.


Source F



Optional Extension Questions

  Source G
3.b)  Read at the following web site, about the historical context or background of the scene shown in Source A - About the coronation of King Charlemagne, over two hundred years before William the Conqueror became King of England.

According to this account, why did the Pope suddenly, quickly crown Charlemagne, when Charlemagne was not expecting it, and had not even asked for the new title?
  c) Study the painting in Source G on the left. How does the scene shown in this painting, contradict the account of events as described in the above website?
 d) Source F shows a scene of some Medieval Monks, copying out by hand the beautifully illustrated books produced in the monasteries during this period.
  Why were these beautiful manuscripts reproduced by hand? Find out who invented the printed press and when. Print off a small picture of an early printing press, and  paste this in your book.