The Condition of the Church in 1500

  • Created by: Kate H
  • Created on: 03-04-15 09:24

What happened after death?

  • Judgement Day- soul would be weighed and the saved would go to Heaven
  • People needed the Church to know how to be saved
  • Church could reduce time in Purgatory by selling Indulgences, or through doing good deeds and prayer
  • Chantry priests:  a hired priest who would pray for your dead
  • Merit: credit you have with God 
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The Sacraments and their Power

1.Baptism- usually infant, performed on young baby to bring it into the 'life of christ'

2.Confirmation- a public affirmation of faith, usually from a child

3.Penance-  confess sins to a priest, who then granted absolution and gave out penance (punishment). Believed it gave the sinner grace but process was a lifelong cycle. Need a priest. Confession- some sins venial, some mortal which if left unconfessed you are going to Hell (7 Deadly) > anxiety- how can I remember every sin? > (Protestant just General Confession, less stress). Absolution- Pope invested God given powers to Priest who can absolve you of sin. Penance- Earthly (charity, fasting, pilgrimage more extremely whipping) then Spiritual which is completed in Purgatory. Therefore you need the Church

4. Matrimony- the marriage ceremony

5.Eucharist- central service of the Church ; Transubstansiation moment of consecration

6.Ordination- link-priests and bishops recieved grace to carry out their powers e.g penance

7. Last rites- serious illness or point of death; forgive sins;unexpected death is bad


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Criticism of the Church: Popes

  • Focused on earthly matters e.g struggle for dominance over powerful factional families 
  • Lowered to the level of kings by adopting secular qualities .eg leading Papal states and raising money. Julius II and Alexander VI went to war
  • Bad image- politics and corruption
  • Many sexually active- Rodrigo had illegitimate daughter happily involved with
  • Majority of Vatican were Italians. Leo XI created 31 cardinals in a day
  • Valued personal pleasure over religion- Borgia prepared to organise murder
  • Claimed full soverignity over church but had less than this in reality- some in the Church thought they should only make decisions with the help of the General Council, but his superiority was generally accepted. 
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Criticism of the Church: Abuses and Failings


  • Simony- buying or selling Church offices/benefices. Named after Simon Magus who offered money to become an apostle. If you could buy office then you didn't need a genuine sense of spirituality, nor did you need to be properly educated
  • Pluralism- often result of Simony. Holding more than one office. Very common. Archbishop of Mainz guilty
  • Neopotism- appointing your own relations to posts in the Church> patronage
  • Absenteeism- not living in your benefice or diocese . Needs of congregation neglected.Often caused when higher clergy were used as ministers and diplomats by the monarch. AB of Sens only entered cathederal for his funeral


  • Immorality- not practicing celibacy. Many clerical marriages with illegitimate children, and the clergymen would often give them offices. Drunkeness, gluttony etc. Live in'wife' accepted by laypeople
  • Illiteracy-many lower clergy uneducated. Entry standards low
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Criticism of the Church: Early Heretical Movements

Lollards: developed in England only and started by John Wycliff

  • Bible in English only source of authority and Church's teaching should be tested against it 
  • Denied authority of Pope and urged Monarch to reform
  • Appealed to townspeople and gentry but not the ruling classes

Hussites: followers of Jan Huss

  • Devoutly Orthodox Christians
  • Promoted reading of New Testament by laypeople 
  • Supported full communion and opposed immorality of Church
  • Hus executed in 1418
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Organisation of Catholic Church: Hierarchy

Pope: Head of Universal Church/Claimed to be successor of St.Peter/Petrine Promises/Secular ruler of Papal States/Popularity in decline/Businessman(collected fees e.g annates)

Cardinals (20-30): Most important members of Papacy except Pope /Chosen personally by Pope and served for life/Elected each new Pope, from themselves/Almost all Italian- give favours to families

Bishops(Higher Clergy): From nobility/Many adopted wealthy lifestyles- bad image/Absenteeism- many busy in Rome/Supply of high quality bishops limited /Many educated and disciplined/263 in Italy, 17 in England/ Episcopacy

Parish priest(Lower Clergy): Served a small parish/Looking after people/Entitled to tithes/Often same class of parish/ Some resentment

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