English Life in the Middle Ages

By L. F. Salzman | Go to book overview

V
THE CHURCH AND RELIGION

THE medieval period might be called the Age of Faith and the modern the Age of Faiths. In the Middle Ages there was for all Western Europe only one form of religion--that taught by the Catholic Church, of which the acknowledged head was the Pope of Rome. No man might think for himself in matters of religion or hold any views different from those laid down by the Church; if he did he was a heretic and acted at the peril of his body in this world and his soul in the next. The Reformation being by nature a Protestant movement, it was natural that various groups of reformers should protest with varying vigour against particular beliefs and practices of the Roman Church, and should go on to protest equally strongly against each other's attitude; so that while the Roman Church continued united and unalterable, the Reformed Church rapidly split up into innumerable sects, which have gone on multiplying down to the present day.

England throughout the Middle Ages was definitely part of the Catholic Roman Church; but the English did not accept the interference of the Pope in their affairs quite so readily as did the continental nations. William the Conqueror had definitely refused to admit the Pope's claim to be his over-lord; Henry II, in his struggle to make the Church submit to the State in matters of law, had the support of a large part of the nation, until the murder of Becket put him hopelessly in the wrong; King John's action in acknowledging the Pope as over-lord of England, though recognized as a clever stroke of policy, roused a good deal of resentment; under Henry III the English clergy spoke their mind very freely on the subject of papal interference and taxation, while in the next reign, when the Pope claimed to dispose of the Scottish throne, the Barons told him bluntly to mind his own business; from the time of Edward III the English,

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English Life in the Middle Ages
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 7
  • To Nancy 9
  • Preface 11
  • Contents 13
  • List of Illustrations 15
  • I - Introduction 21
  • II - Country Life 36
  • III - Town Life 63
  • IV - Home Life 88
  • V - The Church and Religion 109
  • VI - Education 134
  • VII - Literature 150
  • VIII - Art and Science 171
  • IX - Warfare 186
  • X - Law and Order 215
  • XI - Industry, Trade, and Finance 233
  • XII - Women 249
  • XIII - Wayfaring 266
  • Bibliography 283
  • Index 285
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