Were The Churches The True Rulers of Medieval Europe?
Updated: Jan 8
From ancient Rome to the Medieval period to the current modern era, the world has been witness to countless leaders over the years. Some of them good and some of them downright terrible. These days, leaders are scrutinised for every word they speak;, the pressure is on them to perform well in the face of the public. If we look back to the future (pun intended), the situation is quite the contrast.
Back then, kings and queens were free to do as they pleased, for they were the supreme unquestionable authority and nobody could hold them accountable for their crimes. They were above the law, apart from the dreaded church that demanded their fair share of property and a position in the king’s court.
The clergy held an equal position of power as the rulers. They had the power to sway the masses in favour of what the king said and an equal amount of power to do the opposite. Ultimately, the choice rested in their hands.
How did the church have so much power with them?
Well, after the humongous growth of Christianity in the 4th and 5th centuries, clergymen were regarded as demi-gods by the masses. They were given money, respect, buildings, and the freedom to do what they wanted. The holy officials’ pride swelled to such a large extent that they were competing with the king for equal standing and power. The kings were unsurprisingly against this competition for power.
However, the clergymen had one thing which the kings lacked.
It was the unanimous support of the entire public. After a few decades, the respect for the church had grown tremendously. So much that it reached a potentially catastrophic level. The public had been completely brainwashed by these people and were more often than not tricked into paying hefty sums in the form of donations and indulgences which essentially was a free pass to commit a sin.
By the 7th century, the church had unofficially become the strongest power in Europe. It was the most influential power, both socially and politically. The supposed government was a mere puppet in the hands of the church. They danced to the tune of the church and if they raised any opposition against the church, they were deemed as sinners and were cancelled by the public who gracefully lapped up whatever came out of the clergy’s mouths.
The church finally saw its downfall in the 16th century when Martin Luther raised a voice against the church. It resulted in a huge split of the church into two sects: the Protestants and the Catholics. While the church still held a great deal of power, it kept declining as the renaissance grew stronger with science and the spirit of inquiry as its driving factor. Now, the church is nothing more than a place of worship and holds a marginal say in politics around the world which is the way it should be.