The church was very rich and powerful during the Middle Ages. The church was organized like a government with laws. It even collected its own taxes. Some of these taxes went to help the poor. Most of the taxes were spent to build beautiful churches. The nobles and the church worked together to control the common people. They wanted everyone to practice Christianity in a certain way.
Being a monk was one way to stay alive during the Middle Ages. Some young nobles became monks to avoid a life of constant battling. Monks lived in monasteries or abbeys. They worked and prayed. Women could also serve a religious life as a nun. The first nun was St. Claire. She was a good friend of St. Francis of Assisi who was a member of the Franciscan Brothers. St. Francis felt all living creatures on the earth were special.
Monks were often teachers who taught noble children. Some monks worked the land of the monastery, growing vegetables, herbs, and fruit. Some even had the job of praying for everyone else.
Almost all the churches that were built during the Middle Ages were made of stone. A little wood was used on these churches. It was used on the ceilings, floors, and doors. The early churches were built in the Roman style with round arched roofs. Later the churches were built in the Gothic style with tall pointed towers. These churches grew so large that many collapsed within a century or less after their construction.
The church provided spiritual guidance and a place were people could get an education. Stained glass windows were used as a teaching method. The windows would tell bible stories and the lives of the saints. The Rose Window of the Chartres Cathedral in France is one of the most famous stained glass windows. The tradition of using stained glass is still used in modern churches today.