The Medieval Church


          The Church played an integral role in medieval society. In a time when the majority of Europe followed its teachings, the Church was seen as not only powerful but the keeper of the keys to heaven. Salvation and Heaven could only be obtained by piety, good works, following its doctrine, observing the saint days and paying for your dearly departed to get out of purgatory.


            The Church also attempted to regulate marriage during this period. For a wedding ceremony to take place the couple must be willing and not related by kinship. The laws of consanguinity stated that couples could not be married if they had a kinship tie. This was seen as problematic for some of the population, not because they wanted to marry their siblings but because the kinship link was far reaching. Even if you were distantly related you could not marry, which could vastly reduce your number of suitors if you lived in a small village.  Or another example would be if two brothers from one family wished to marry two daughters from another. Only one couple could wed because as soon as the marriage took place, the family ties merged and the remaining couple would be regarded as brother and sister and forbidden to marry. There were ways around the problem; some chose to ignore the law and risk their souls while others purchased special dispensation from the Church to allow the marriage to go ahead.


            Many of the monasteries were of the Benedictine Order. The Benedictine’s day was organised around a series of religious services called the Divine Office. These included Vespers (sunset), Compline (bedtime), Midnight Office (midnight), Matins (dawn), Prime (7 am), Terce (9 am), Sext (noon) and None, (3pm). The monks followed The Rule of St. Benedict. This set out a daily schedule for work and prayer, and taught them how to lead humble and unselfish live.


            Where some of the monks and nuns had a divine calling, many did not. Many were placed in monasteries and nunneries by their families. This led to unhappiness, frustration and disobedience. For those who refused to obey were punished. First with isolation and then if they continued to misbehave, by public beating in front of the entire monastic house.



           Life for the parish or village priest was different. He was appointed by the lord of the manor and was given a house. He was obliged to carry money for alms with him, keep up the church, and provide hospitality to travellers.


          The priest was usually a commoner by birth, though serfs were tied to the land and were not allowed to become priests. The priest officiated at church services, weddings, baptisms, funerals, and visited the ill. He earned his living from the income for parish lands, fees for services, and tithe money.


             Tithing was a system whereby each family was expected to give one tenth of their earnings to support the church. The tithe income was divided up evenly between the parish priest, the church maintenance fund, the poor, and the bishop.


In my book, Rain, I drew on elements of the medieval church and village life, and mixed it with a touch of the paranormal. And I hope that by joining the medieval period with a little magic, I’ve managed to create a lingering love story and a dark fairytale.