Let us Pray
Ste Chapelle, Paris
Christianity is probably the most long-established and widely
observed religion in medieval Europe. It was first brought
over here during the days of the Roman empire and the next
few centuries saw it established throughout the country. In
medieval times, the only church in Europe was the Catholic
church with the Pope at its head. Under him were cardinals,
archbishops, bishops, then local priests, monks and nuns.
The church was very important in people’s lives. They
were told that Heaven and Hell both existed and that they
would only go to Heaven if the church allowed them. They
would have been terrified of Hell and told, with much
force, of the horrors awaiting them there. Peasants would
have to work for nothing on church land, often to the
detriment of their own land.
There was, however, widespread corruption. Clerics at all
levels ignored their vows of celibacy, high positions within
the church could be purchased, money was demanded for
pardoning of sin or to marry a forbidden close relative and
money demanded to fund crusades was spent elsewhere. Reforms
and crack-downs did take place periodically and there were
certainly pious clergy but others used the church for their
own benefit. It was, despite all this, a powerful force with
its own laws, lands and taxes with much influence.
Additionally, the church didn’t have to pay taxes which
helped the accumulation of wealth.
During the medieval period that Stronghold covers, things did change of course, sometimes in a minor way but eventually there was a complete change in both England and Europe. In England, Henry VIII broke with the church in Rome after the Pope’s refusal to annul his first marriage and the Church of England was born. In Europe, Martin Luther's frustrations with the corruption of the Church and his conviction that the Church had moved away from the original gospel teachings, was the beginning of the Reformation. However, our look at medieval religion concentrates on the earlier period.
Cathedrals, Churches & Chapels
Monasteries, Abbeys and Priories
Monks and Nuns
Researched, written & pictured by GillB