The Middle Ages for Kids - Abbots, Bishops, Cardinals, Pope Illustration

Middle Ages for Kids
Abbots, Bishops,
Cardinals, Pope

How was the church structured? The Pope was alone at the top. Under the Pope were a few cardinals who were in charge of all the churches in large cities or territories. Bishops were under the cardinals. There were a lot of bishops. Each ran a large church or monastery (a place to train new priests) At the bottom rung were the local priests and monks who did all the work. The church had enormous power. Religious leaders told the king and nobles, as well as the common people, what god wanted. Since people in the Middle Ages feared god, most of the time everyone from the king on down did what the church, through its religious leaders, told them to do.

Who were abbots and bishops? Many of the abbots and bishops were the younger sons of noble families. The bishops and abbots received land from kings in exchange for military service. Since they were religious leaders, they could not fight in wars. (Yes, they could defend themselves and their churches). The Abbots and Bishops gave some of their land to knights to fight for them. The knights had given their promise to protect and obey the bishops. This meant that the Bishop could raise a fighting force for the king without fighting themselves.

How did the church get its wealth? People donated land jewelry and money to the church as penance for sins committed. In addition, the church was paid to provide education to the children of nobles. Finally everyone had to pay for the sacraments.

Why did the church need reform? Many priests and bishops saw the church getting rich, while people starved, and were horrified. They began looking for ways to change and reform the church.

The Church in Medieval Times - great information, very complete

Interactive Quiz about the Middle Ages (with answers)