The Catholic heritage

Papal rule

Pope Alexander VAt the start of the century England was a Christian country following the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. As today, this was governed by the Pope whose headquarters were in Rome.

The Catholic Church saw itself as having been established by the Apostle Peter, a disciple of Jesus, and all Popes since then have been viewed by Catholics as following in an unbroken line from Peter.

Although the kings of England were supreme rulers within the country in all earthly, or temporal, matters, the Pope had supreme power in England, and in all other Christian states, over matters of the Christian religion.

More on Christendom: Because of its link with Rome, services in the Roman Catholic Church world-wide (an area known as Christendom) were always held in Latin, the language of the Romans. A Christian traveller could go anywhere within Christendom and hear the same service. Latin had become the international language:
  • The language of religion in Europe, and therefore,
  • The language of scholarship.
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