Religion In The Middle Ages
The Middle Ages were the time after the Fall of Rome which occurred in 476 CE and before the renaissance period that began in the 14th century. Evidently, the name ‘middle’ ages refers to the fact that it is the time in the middle of the other two time periods. At the time, the Christian faith was the main religion that was preached by almost everyone and because of this, the Church was a wealthy and strong power at the time. The Church was the government, therefore, every decision in relation to the creation of law was made by Popes, Bishops and Archbishops. The Pope had so much control over the kingdom that he had enough power to force a King out of his role.
Life in the Middle Ages was a significantly tough and dark time for humanity. Unless members of society were high up in the social hierarchy, they were treated very poorly and had exceptionally difficult living conditions and work responsibilities. Peasants were at the bottom of the feudal pyramid and worked long hours that were governed by the Lord whos manor he was working on. They worked to feed to Lord and to try and keep their families fed. The women would prep the meals, collect food and firewood, cleaned and did everything by hand. People in society had to give up some of the very little amounts they earned to the church, therefore, the church impacted the lives of everyone. The tax ould often be paid in grain because people didn’t have enough to actually pay the tax with their money. Everyone in society hated and struggled to pay the tax but didn’t want to try and get out of it because the church planted such a great fear in their minds that if they didn’t pay, or went against the church, then they wouldn’t be allowed into heaven.
People in society had very deep superstitions and followed orders from the church to a T. The church constantly pushed the idea that everything they did in life would impact how long they spent waiting in purgatory before going to heaven or if they would go to hell. Some of the orders from the church that they would follow are having fast days on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays where they couldn’t eat the meat of warm-blooded animals, dairy products, milk, and eggs, they would pray to God for relief from illness or medical conditions, they believed that if they were sick, they were being punished by God and that their ‘healing’ herbs had to be picked on ‘magical’ days. The idea that they were being punished by God led to people believing that God was angry with them and that they had sinned. The church encouraged this fear through the use of paintings and sculptures all around villages so the idea that they would go to hell if they sinned was constantly nagging at them and reminding them at every corner.
The church was often recognised as the gatekeepers to heaven and could determine whether someone was to get into heaven or not and this applied to everyone; even the rich. The church used fear to make people do things, and have to pay for it. There were endless rules that were put in place that stopped people from doing many things, or even doing anything because they were so scared they wouldn’t be allowed into heaven. An example of this is that the church forced people to have to pay to be baptised otherwise they wouldn’t be allowed to be buried of Church land and if they weren’t buried on church land, then they wouldn’t be allowed into heaven. The church would profit off of people paying for ‘indulgences’ which were declaration papers that declared exemption from sins that the person hadn’t even committed yet.
People in communities often went on pilgrimages as a way of suffering on earth so they wouldn’t have to suffer in their next life. These pilgrimages were often taken in bare feet or on their knees to suffer more so they wouldn’t suffer as much when they died.