What role did the Roman Catholic Church play in European politics during the Middle Ages?

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pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Roman Catholic Church was very important during the Middle Ages. Kings and nobles had to listen to the Vatican and risked excommunication if they did not. This upset some princes especially in Germany, which is why the Protestant Reformation began in the German states. Kings had to give their armies and money to fight in various crusades. The pope was the only person in Europe who could make the decision to invade the Holy Land, though many kings enjoyed the fruits of their labors in attacking kingdoms in the Middle East.

The pope would issue edicts that Christians were not to kill one another so this led to jousting among knights instead of periods of constant warfare. This was important since in the early Middle Ages, the pope was the most powerful leader in Europe. While the Vatican sometimes found itself in conflict with various medieval leaders, the Roman Catholic Church was the most powerful European entity in the Middle Ages.