The story

Middle Ages (continued)


Education, arts and culture

Education was for the few, for only the nobles' children studied. Marked by the influence of the Church, Latin was taught, religious doctrines and tactics of wars. Much of the medieval population was illiterate and had no access to books.

Medieval art was also strongly marked by the religiosity of the time. The paintings depicted Bible passages and religious teachings. Medieval paintings and stained glass windows were ways of teaching the population a little more about religion.

We can say that, in general, medieval culture was strongly influenced by religion. In architecture stood out the construction of castles, churches and cathedrals.

The church in the medieval period

The Catholic Church emerged during the Roman Empire, but it was during the Middle Ages that it established itself as the most important institution in western Europe. At that time, there was no doubt about God's existence: being Catholic was as natural as breathing.

From the fifteenth century, Europeans would take their culture to various regions of the world. Among these values ​​was Catholicism. It was thus, for example, that Brazil became the largest Catholic nation in the world.

In the image, Madonna With Boy Surrounded By Angels, by Ceni di Peppi Cimabue, 1270.

The main spiritual and temporal power in Europe during the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church, besides being the only branching institution in all regions and villages, had many lands and riches and was obeyed and feared by almost all inhabitants.

The Church is known to have owned more than a third of all Western European lands. The origins of this accumulation of material goods still cause controversy among historians today.

Some point to the complex system of tax collections and indulgences as the primary source of Church property. In addition to tithing, 10% of the income of each believer, the priests collected heavy taxes from the peasants who lived in the clergy lands and, in exceptional periods, promoted the sale of indulgences in the villages, towns and cities.

For others, the ownership of land by the Church came mainly from donations made by believers repentant of their sins and by nobles and kings who gave part of their war conquests. Moreover, with the Crusades movement, the Church itself conquered extensive territorial areas.

Along with all this wealth, the Church accumulated culture and knowledge, for it controlled much of the knowledge inherited from Classical Antiquity. Medieval monasteries were celebrated for their policy of hospitality, providing temporary shelter for pilgrims and wanderers, and for the detailed and capricious manual copies of classical texts and books. Since books, scrolls, manuscripts, and documents were in monasteries and church universities, the priests had virtually the monopoly of scholarly culture that, according to the prevailing view at the time, posed a danger to Christian minds and beliefs.

The medieval church's own system of organization and hierarchy helped to secure the consolidation of its power, and the pope, as the ultimate representative of spiritual power, also accumulated political or temporal power. As the only authority recognized as universal, he acted as an arbiter in the conflicts between kingdoms and empires.

According to the rather simplified classification of the time, medieval society would be divided into three orders: the Church, First Order, had the function of praying; the nobles belonged to the Second Order, with the mission of guaranteeing security, that is, war; and the Third Order was made up of the workers, who were to supply the needs of the first two orders.

Like everything in medieval society, the first Order had its own hierarchy: the High Clergy, composed of the pope, bishops, cardinals and abbots; and the Lower Clergy, made up of clerics, priests and monks. Most members of the Church came from noble families, who imposed religious formation on their non-firstborn children, even if they had no vocation or desire to serve the Church.

With an ostensible presence and performance, the Church imposed her values ​​and beliefs and created in Europe at that time an atmosphere of religiosity that manifested itself even in the simplest daily activities: at birth, the individual received the sacrament of baptism, at marriage, that of marriage. and at death the extreme unction (it was also buried in the church cemetery); the counting and division of time was based on religious events, as were the festivals and weekly rest.

The power of the Church was so great at this time that those who faced its power were called heretics or infidels. Heretic It is a Greek word meaning "he who chooses," but in the Middle Ages he came to call the person or group who defended doctrine contrary to the Church or disagreed with its dogmas, its truths.


One of the church's penalties for heretics was death at the stake.

In order to confront heretics and consolidate their power in society, the Catholic Church instituted the Holy Office Court which persecuted heretics and those who behaved in ways and preferences contrary to their moral and disciplinary teachings.