In the middle ages, the authorityof the church in the society was immense. The church was unilaterallyinvolved shaping people’s lives through the reinforcement oforthodoxy(William and SpielVogel, 2013). Clerics played a verysignificant role in enforcing papal decree hence, many peopleregarded them as superior to the laity because they represented thepapacy in virtually all issues. Faith was the center of all thebelief systems in the society and the pope had the final word on anyspiritual dispute. People with a different opinion always attractedthe condemnation of the church and sometimes punishment. The churchwas very despotic and the clerics ruthlessly enforced orthodoxy. Themiddle ages actually had no religious freedom.
Everything changed during therenaissance. The renaissance was mainly characterized by religiousreform and the church took a different position on the institutionsthat played a significant role in shaping societal values. After therevolt during the times of the Martin Luther in Europe, and thepapacy accepted defeat from the forces that were pushing for reformsfor the better part of the renaissance period. The result was areduction in the powers that the church wielded in the society andthe papacy lost the power to impose the order of orthodox.
In the medieval society, churchalso played a huge role in establishing a hierarchy that worked inits favor. The differences caused tensions between clerics and thelaity. While writing was mostly done by clerics and considered thesource of truth, it was only a preserve of the few. During therenaissance, education had spread, and the truth did not just lie inthe orthodoxy of the church and the adherence to doctrine as writtenby clerics, but also what other thinkers wrote about the issue.
William J. Duiker and J.SpielVogel (2013).WorldHistory, Volume I: To 1800.WadsworthCengage Learning, 7th/2013ISBN1-1118-3166-1