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The Roman Catholic Church In The Late Middle Ages

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The Roman Catholic Church controlled the lives of the people of the Late Middle Ages, along with the political, social, and economic framework in which they were a part of. However, a series of challenges to the papacy in the 14th century initiated its gradual decline. The people of Europe saw an increase in freedom and mobility as oppressive church structures began to lose their iron grip on Western society. Philosophical and scientific advancements arose as the Church fell, and the fundamental foundations of European society began to unravel. As the Roman Catholic Church lost temporal authority, much of Europe began to secularize. This movement away from religious control and towards freer thought would transform European society between…show more content…
The Italian city-states in which the Renaissance would begin were created due to warring between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor, due to weakening of church dominance over temporal affairs. Since feudal society never developed, some merchants and artisans were able to grow wealthy, and a middle class began to arise. From this new culture sprung the Renaissance, a rebirth of classic Greek and Roman ideals. The most essential development of this time period was humanism. Figures such as Petrarch, Dante, and Boccaccio contributed to this new ideology based upon individualism and secular values. It inspired educational reform, which often included condemnation of scholasticism and criticism of Roman Catholic Church. They began to focus on bettering their lives, no longer dedicated solely to salvation, as the serfs in other parts of Europe were. The importance of the individual allowed them to attempt to control their own lives and create their own identities. This thought was first contained to Italy, but began to spread across Europe in the late 15th…show more content…
The Northern Renaissance sought church reform and purity in religion. The invention of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg was also a massive development at the time, and led to an increase in literacy and critical people, forcing the church to deal with a more informed public. Erasmus, a Northern humanist, achieved prominence through the printing press as he advocated for religious and educational reform. He aspired to unite humanistic ideals with religious virtues and his works would be the basis of future reforms. The development of humanism and its individualistic worldview began European society’s gradual escape from under the oppressive control of the Church and out of what Petrarch christened the “Dark
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