What Was the Role of the Church in Medieval Times?

In Medieval Times, the Roman Catholic Church exercised significant social and political authority. Church worship was at the center of public life. As the only unified institution throughout Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Church asserted its influence over the continent’s monarchs and even had the power to remove them from the throne.

According to PBS.org, every member of society was expected to live by the Catholic faith. Christian doctrine influenced every aspect of life. The Catholic church asserted that it was the only path to salvation. Individuals who did not conform to the standards of the Church not only risked being ostracized, but were in danger of being labeled heretics and executed.

The Church was very influential in political affairs. Throughout the Middle Ages, clergy in many cases held real political power. The Church was sovereign over a number of territories in Italy known as the Papal States, which had their own armies. The Pope also exercised an important power called the papal deposing power, which was the authority to declare a monarch heretical and powerless to rule.

Despite the eminence of the Church, Medieval Europe was not a theocracy like the Muslim Middle East of the same time period. Church and state often vied for power. This contributed to the gradual weakening of Church influence.