Unlike nearly everyone else churchmen could read & write (& speak Latin)

Everyone believed God was very important, people in the Church were therefore special

A proof of the Church’s importance was that most churches were built of expensive stone

In England the Church owned at least 25% of the land, similar large amounts were owned
in other countries. The Church was very wealthy & received 10% of everyone’s income
(a tithe)

People feared going to hell so they obeyed the Church

If a person disagreed with the Church or spoke out against it they were guilty of heresy,
the penalty for this was death by burning.

If you disobeyed the Church you could be excommunicated

The Church controlled wills, rights to inheritance and marriage, baptism and burial.

The Church was the only international organisation, even kings had to obey the Church.


The Pope was head of the Church, his HQ was in Rome
Each Pope was chosen by the most senior members of the Church, these men were
called Cardinals
Each country was under the control of one or more Archbishops. (In England there were
the Archbishops of Canterbury & York.)
Under each Archbishop were a number of Bishops. Each Bishop and Archbishop was
based on a Cathedral.
Each Bishop was in charge of all the clergy in his area.
Most of these clergy were priests.
A priest was in charge of a parish, the parishes normally were the same area as a
As well as the parish clergy – the priests – there were also monks, friars & nuns. These
three types lived in communities together.
These communities with special rules were known as Monasteries, Abbeys or Priories.


These were special communities where monks lived; the monks kept themselves apart
from the ordinary population, they did not mix. They lived by a special set of rules, the
main ones were:

In a monastery the monks devoted their lives to God; a monastery was a full-time prayer
factory, where the monks prayed for the sins of the world.


Priests looked after a church in their parish
A priest’s job was to look after the needs of the people by teaching them about God. His
job was to ensure that everyone had the chance to get to heaven.
The Church claimed that all priests had the power to create Jesus Christ from bread &
wine in the communion service (The Mass).