World History

Catholic Church and Cathedrals of Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, Christianity and the Catholic Church were very important in Europe. The local church served as the hub of the community. People participated in weekly rituals. At the church, they were wed, confirmed, and buried. Even monarchs on their thrones were validated by the church as having the divine right to rule.

Rich and Powerful

During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church grew significantly in wealth and influence. Tithes were given to the church as a percentage of peoples’ income. They also made payments to the church for a number of sacraments, including communion, marriage, and baptism. Additionally, penances were given to the church. The rich frequently donated land to the church.

In the end, the church possessed a third of the total land area in Western Europe. The church was exempt from paying any land taxes to the king because they were regarded as independent. Church leaders grew to be wealthy and influential. In the church, many lords rose to positions of authority such as bishop or abbot.

Structure of the Church

The pope served as the head of the Catholic Church. There were strong men known as cardinals directly beneath the pope. Bishops and abbots came next. Even bishops had significant local authority and frequently participated in the king’s council.


During the Middle Ages, numerous churches were constructed. Cathedrals were the name given to the largest of these churches. Bishops’ offices were located in cathedrals.

To evoke awe, cathedrals were constructed. They were the priciest and most stunning structures ever constructed. A cathedral’s building process could occasionally take two hundred years to complete.

The majority of cathedrals were constructed similarly. They were typically arranged in the form of a cross. They had high ceilings and very tall walls.

Gothic Architecture

Cathedral construction in the Gothic architectural style first appeared about the 12th century. In this design, buttresses supported the vaulted ceilings rather than the walls. Walls could be made taller and thinner in this fashion. Tall windows could be placed on the walls as well.


Cathedrals produced some of the greatest works of art during the Middle Ages. Stained glass windows, sculpture, buildings, and murals were all included.

Various Religions

There were numerous religions in Europe during the Middle Ages, even though Christianity predominated. These included paganism, which was practised by the Vikings, who worshipped the god Thor. Other religious groups included the Jews, who inhabited numerous European towns, and the Muslims, who for a long time controlled a large portion of Spain. Because Jews were permitted to lend money and charge interest, they had a big impact on the economy.

Facts to Know About Cathedrals and the Catholic Church

A nation was often converted from the ruler on down. The king’s nobles and subjects converted to Christianity after he did.

Some master masons were able to devote their entire lives to building a single cathedral.

When a vast space was required, gathering sites like cathedrals and churches were frequently used.

There were frequently Catholic bishops on the king’s council.

In addition to offering education, churches also cared for the ill and the needy.

The “nave,” “transepts,” and “narthex” are the names given to the main body, ends, and entrance of a cathedral, respectively.