History 4

Year 7 Key Stage 3 History How did the medieval church affect people's lives?

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Section 5: Was everyone in Britain a Christian?

The answer to this question can be taken two ways. Generallly the answer to this question is yes. Most of the population had been converted to Christianity and believed in God and went to church very regularly.

Possibly the real answer was probably no. People went to church because they had to. The only teaching was in the church. The church was a meeting place. So probably people went because they had to. Theses people were taught Christian doctrine. These people had no information from anywhere else. They had no televsion, no newspaper no real news except for what the clergy and the Lord of the Manor told them. People didn't travel much outside their own few miles around the village in which they lived all their lives. If you look at some countries in the world today where the people can only find out what the state decides to tell them then they are indoctinated into belief. My answer no is based that people would have to go to church and do all the things that they were told, but would that make them believe?

One of the largest groups of non-christians were the Jews who were only allowed to live in certain areas of this county.

In about 1290 laws were passed insisting on everyone being a Christian. Jews (the only other allowed religion) were only allowed to live in certain towns - York being one of them.

Was everyone in Britain a Christian? Not really, but virtually all of them had to go to church. It was the only place to receive any education and in those days the church was usually a market place. In St Mary's church wine and ale were sold. We know this from some of the archives where people were punished for being drunk. The selling of alcohol in the church caused so many problems that the selling of this was moved out of the church because of all the complaints. In St Mary's Church there are records of drunkness. So much so that the church bought its own pulbic house in later years to move teh selling of beer out of the nave of the church.

The peoples lives were very hard and the church was the only respite. Most people believed because they had been brought up in the church and had no reason not to believe.This was the only information about life that the people were told about. They didn't know about anything else. For most people there was only limited travel to meet other people to find about what others believed.

So from their earliest years people had been to church and saw this as a way of life. Life was hard and often very cruel. Life was short - often as little as 40 years, less for a man, who might have to do service in an army for his Lord.

Pilgrimages were an escape to bring peace and redemption for a soul.



The Laws in Great Britian are based on Church Laws. Or instance in this country one man is only allowed to marry one woman. This Law came from the Bible and was then put into the Law of the Land. The Church made many of the Laws of the Land which we and most contries follow today.

In the Church of England, the church courts that used to decide matters such as disputes relating to marriage, divorce, wills, and defamation, still to this day have jurisdiction of certain church-related matterssuch as the discipline of clergy and alteration of church property. This is called Canon Law. Much of these laws became part of the law of the country. In this way people who are of different religious faiths or who are not religious at all are still bound by these laws.

The Canon Laws in the Church of England are made by a body called the Synod.

So was everyone in Britian a Christian? Mostly. I believe that more people than today believed in God and followed a Christian way of life but it was probably because they had to.

Philip M Russell


Web website www.stmaryshemel.org.uk