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The Roman Catholic Church had a far greater role in society in the late medieval period than it does now. Most forms of charity were administered through the church. Because your baptismal certificate was your proof of parentage, residence, etc. your legal identity was established in a way by church records. You could only get married within the church; there was no secular marriage. Divorce was extremely rare and required a special dispensation from the Pope. The church owned massive amounts of land and was extremely wreathy and powerful. Bishops sat in the House of Lords and influenced many aspects of national policy. Regular church attendance was a part of ordinary life. Much of education was in the hands of the church, and in most towns the village priest, along with perhaps one or two nobles, would be the only literate people in the community.
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