Middle Ages Religion - The Christian Religion (Christianity)
The Christian religion, or Christianity, is the name given to the system of religious belief and practice which was taught by Jesus Christ in the country of Palestine during the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (42 BC - AD 37). Christianity took its rise in Judaism. Jesus Christ, its founder, and His disciples were all orthodox Jews. The new Christian religion emerged based on the testimony of the Scriptures, as interpreted by the life of Jesus Christ and the teaching of His Apostles, which were documented in the Bible.
Middle Ages Religion - The Rise of the Christian Religion (Christianity) in the Roman Era
Christianity began among a small number of Jews (about 120, see Acts 1:15). Christianity was seen as a threat to the Roman Empire as Christians refused to worship the Roman gods or the Emperor. This resulted in the persecution of the early Christians, many of whom were killed and thus became martyrs to the Christian religion. The prosecution of adherents to the Christian religion ended during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Emperor Constantine I (AD ca. 285 - AD 337) of the Roman Empire legalised Christianity and Constantine the Great proclaimed himself as an 'Emperor of the Christian people'. Most of the Roman Emperors that came after Constantine were Christians. Christianity then became the official religion of the Roman Empire instead of the old Roman religion that had worshipped many Gods.
Middle Ages Religion - The Rise of the Christian Religion (Christianity) in the Dark Ages
In the 5th century, the Roman empire began to crumble. Germanic tribes (barbarians) conquered the city of Rome. This event started the period in history referred to as the Dark Ages. The period of the Dark Ages saw the growth in the power of the Christian Church which was then referred to as the Catholic religion.
Middle Ages Religion - The Catholic Religion
During the Dark Ages and Early Middle Ages the only accepted Christian religion was the Catholic religion. The word Catholic derives from the Middle English word 'catholik' and from the Old French 'catholique' and the Latin word 'catholicus' meaning universal or whole. Early Christians, such as Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who was martyred in c110, used the term 'catholic' to describe the whole Church - the literal meaning being universal or whole. Any other sects were viewed as heretical. The Catholic religion was seen as the true religion. The Christian church was divided geographically between the west (Rome) and the east (Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch).
Middle Ages Religion - The Power of the Catholic Church
With it's own laws, lands and taxes The Catholic church was a very powerful institution which had its own laws and lands. The Catholic Church also imposed taxes. In addition to collecting taxes, the Church also accepted gifts of all kinds from individuals who wanted special favors or wanted to be certain of a place in heaven. The power of the Catholic Church grew with its wealth. The Catholic Church was then able to influence the kings and rulers of Europe. Opposition to the Catholic Church would result in excommunication. This meant that the person who was excommunicated could not attend any church services, receive the sacraments and would go straight to hell when they died.
Middle Ages Roman Catholic Religion - The Great Schism and the Great Western Schism
In 1054 there was a split between the Eastern and Western Christian Churches prompted by arguments over the crusades. This split was called the The Great Schism. The Great Western Schism occurred in in Western Christendom from 1378 - 1417. This was caused by an Italian pope called Pope Urban IV being elected and establishing the papal court in Rome. The French disagreed with this and elected a French Pope who was based in Avignon. The schism in western Christendom was finally healed at the Council of Constance and the Catholic religion was referred to as the Roman Catholic Religion.