Power and Authority It has always been known since the beginning of time that we must answer to a higher authority or power. From the day we are born we are aware of this fact and as we grow in age and in wisdom this idea of power and authority seems to change and grow. Every society has its own set of governing rules or authorities that most people are expected to abide by. These rules and authorities can vary from political laws, social expectancies, and religious commandments. These three in particular are vital in every society, in every part of the world since the beginning of time. Particularly in the medieval time period we can see many different authorities and powers come and go, whether it be in Europe, the Middle East or India. Throughout medieval Europe the Roman Catholic Church was the main power and authority that everyone had to answer to. It was in the center of every town and every personal home throughout Europe. Virtually everything in medieval Europe was controlled by the Roman Catholic Church which meant that because of this religion had a major influence on how people lived their lives and made daily decisions. The Church itself was structured on the belief that the divine laws given from God should structure not only everyone’s life but also the everyday function of the government. For this reason we see the rational in how the governmental hierarchy is structured and also how the leaders of the church are able to make decisions and laws that people cannot question for many years to come. The church had a massive influence on the King and often would advise him on every decision he made. This gave the king what we know to call them today as a figure head of the church. While the King was not the leader of church he was the leader of his empire and the church was in every aspect of that empire.
The structure of this government was based on divine mandate, because of this belief there was no way for the common people to question the king unless the laws were blatantly against the word of God. The law itself was broken up into two separate sections, there was the common law which dealt with criminal and civil disputes, and the church law which dealt with moral infractions. Each case was dealt with differently depending on the offense. This occurred mainly because the church was not allowed to deal with criminal disputes not involving the church. This left all other offenses to be dealt with by the king and his clergy. The idea behind the entire system of the church was that all men were created by God to be in specific ranks and were endowed with obligations, labor, and were guided in their daily life by the idea of the pursuit of eternal life. This structure essentially would put the destiny of the individual into his or her own hands. It was up to the individual to take the life they were given and to follow the laws of God and honor his servants who he placed in authority above them. This I believe is in some ways a false sense of freedom of their own destiny. I believe this to be true because while the individual is in control of their own decisions they are ultimately not in charge of how they want to contribute in society and how they want to live their lives. This is very different from the contemporary idea that the western culture subscribes by today. As I mentioned before the medieval view was fixed on the idea that all people were created by God with certain obligations and rights to pursue the afterlife. The contemporary view recognizes that the government’s role is to protect the pursuit of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. This idea differs greatly from the medieval notion because it now eliminates the classes in society that transcends the idea that you have to stay in a fixed rank through your entire life. This not only affects your ability to choose what you want to pursue in your life but also how you choose your religion. It is…