Medieval Cathedrals by Matthew Conibear

Why did medieval people build these fantastic structures?

The Cathedral in a town or city and the ‘grandness’ of it showed the wealth of that area. The more extravagant cathedrals were built in the bigger cities to display their success. Cathedrals made a useful meeting place for townspeople. Announcements and public events were often held at Cathedrals. Cathedrals were often the largest buildings in a town or city, even larger than castles. This reflected the importance of the religion and the church to the medieval people.

How were these buildings constructed?

Medieval workers built Cathedrals with primitive rules, multiple risks and at a massive cost. The Cathedrals were paid for by the towns-people who had to give regular payments to the Roman Catholic Church. The people worked hard as they recognised that all the work was to glorify God.

To build a Cathedral you needed and Architect and many master craftsmen. Some of these craftsmen included a master quarryman, a master sculptor, a master mason, a master blacksmith, a master glass maker, a master stone cutter, a master mortar maker, a master builder, a master carpenter and a master roofer. Each of these masters employed a workforce of their own. Local townspeople or young apprentices working on being masters in a few years would do the actual labour. Once the architect and the chapter (now days board) had decided on a plan the foundation was laid. While up to seven and a half meters of foundation were being laid down, the master quarryman and his employees/apprentices worked in the quarry to produce stone bricks for building. These stones were then used by the builders (under the guidance of the architect and the master builder) to construct the mighty cathedrals of the Medieval times

Who was the leader of the church in medieval times (who had the most power in the church)?

The chief pastor in the medieval times was the bishop. The bishop was based in one cathedral but oversaw the administration of other churches in his area. The other duties of a bishop were, baptising people, marrying couples, settled disputes and listened to confessions. The Archbishop was a bishop who oversaw more than just his surrounding area, but several areas roughly equal in size. In later years the bishop of Rome became particularly powerful, they named him ‘father’ or ‘Pope’. From this time onwards it was the Popes duty to appoint bishops and archbishops.

How often did townspeople use the Cathedral, and what for?

The cathedral was essentially a very large Christian church where the bishop and his office were based. The medieval people went to church more often than we do nowadays; this is probably because the church was a safe haven for them. It allowed people to meet up and socialise, many feasts were also held in the cathedrals and it served as a gathering place that met the religious, social and safety needs of the people. As for actual church or mass however most medieval townspeople went to services on Sundays just like us.

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