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Why was religion so important in Europe during the Middle Ages?

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Quick Answer

During the Middle Ages, religion in the form of Catholicism dominated the lives of all citizens, rich and poor, because the Catholic Church was a larger and more powerful organization that most of the governmental structures that existed at the time; the Church had abundant land and financial resources, giving it a great amount of political power. At the time, most Europeans lived in relatively small communities with top-down hierarchies headed by a landowner or king. This system, known as feudalism, relied on local governance rather than the control of a single national government, creating a power vacuum that allowed the Catholic Church to gain a large amount of influence and control that went beyond religion.

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Full Answer

In many ways, during the Middle Ages, which is roughly defined as the period after the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Pope, who is the head of the Catholic Church, was the most powerful man in Europe. At the time, no other form of Christianity existed as an alternative to Catholicism, which was by far the most dominant religion in all of Europe, including England. Thanks to its financial resources and religious monopoly, the Church could exercise great power in people's lives, including coercing them into attending church services, which contributed to the importance of religion.

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