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Lecture 5, Church Power and Dissent:

As the Middle Ages progressed, the Roman Catholic Church became one of the most powerful institutions in Western Europe. People responded to the church’s growing influence in a number of ways. Many supported the church, considering it to be God’s ordained means of governing medieval society. Certain political figures voiced opposition to the church’s influence, contending that the Pope’s authority was over spiritual matters and that he had no right to interfere in politics and other societal affairs. Others, especially the common people, expressed their concern over corrupt practices and mistaken beliefs that were becoming increasingly common within certain sectors of the church. While the twelfth century represented the height of the church’s power, it also foreshadowed dramatic changes that would take place centuries later.