I know I have a lot of pictures of churches. These Italian cities are full of beautiful, huge sanctuaries and in todays world of separation of church and state it is incomprehensible that the church had so much influence on the masses. It is not just pictures of churches but it tells the story of art , architecture , engineering – AND politics. I have included an article regarding this topic. The power and money of clergy and government allowed the artists and men of science to flourish! With this environment we get Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Brunelleschi, Lippi, Vasari, Donatello, Galileo and many more. See the following article if you are interested. Todays church is the Cappella Branacci of the Santa Maria del Carmine. This church was founded by a group of friars from Pisa in 1268 but the structure was completed in 1475. The fresco artists in this church were Masolino and Masaccio with Lippi finishing them in 1483. This church is actually 2 blocks from our apartment and we visited on our way to eat a late lunch at a newly discovered “osteria”. We are NOT getting tired of meatballs or Gniocchi yet. MMMgood! Oh yeah…and with a fiaso(flask) of rosso vino.
In the Middle Ages, the world was a drastically different place from the world that we know today. This time period was after the fall of the Roman Empire, and before the time of the Renaissance. The world was scary, and the population was relatively uneducated about anything other than God. There was little schooling, little reading and writing among the lower classes, and therefore most of the decisions could not be made by them. The one thing that made life a little easier was the church, and everything it did in the 1,000 years between 500 and 1500. The church more or less was the state back in those days. The pope was the most influential man in the world, and what he said was the law of the land. The church was the social order, it was the legal order, it was the order of Europe, and it was the unquestioned leader of the day. Anyone who dared to ask a question of the church, or its policies were burned alive, or punished with excommunication, which basically meant that this person couldn’t go to heaven. Whatever was in the bible was what the lower classes were supposed to live by. Ironically, the church back in those days was the government, so being a part of the church back then was to be part of the upper classes. They lived lavish lifestyles, and were among the most wealthy people back in the day. The church could force people to part with whatever they wanted them to, and basically were able to do almost anything they wanted. The church at some levels were more powerful than the kings of the day. King Henry XIII started his own church because the pope wouldn’t allow Henry to marry the woman of his choosing. Charlemagne even went so far as to get papal authority to rule back in the 700′s, and was named the first Holy Roman Emperor. The Holy Roman Empire would last for almost 1,000 years after that, and would become the most powerful force in Europe during the time period. The relationship between the church and the state was the reason for the Reformation. Martin Luther was fed up by the church duping the poor out of money through the sale of indulgences, or payments saying that they could now get onto the good side of God. The church had property, and therefore had a lot of power. They had property, and were the moral and legal authority of the day. No one questioned the church, and the church approved changes in society, not the other way around. The church was the end all-be all of society during the Middle Ages. The time period saw a lot of domination by the church, and was the main aspect of society. Nobody questioned it, and everyone was just hoping that whatever the church leaders said to follow would be the right path into the everlasting paradise of heaven.