The Authority of the Church
Under the feudal system, the Catholic Church grew in power and prestige. The bishop of Rome, known as the Pope, claimed authority over all Christians in Western Europe. The Pope often became involved in political affairs, and even anointed kings and rulers of various nations. Some Roman Popes were more powerful than the local monarchs.
Local religious leaders also grew in power, influence and wealth. Because the leaders of the Church were almost always nobles, they received lands and wealth from the king, and in turn from the peasants who served them. Other nobles often paid them tributes in hopes of obtaining the grace of God.
Over time, these religious leaders became the wealthiest and most powerful leaders in Western Europe. As this happened, they became more concerned about the affairs of their estates, and less concerned about fulfilling their religious responsibilities.