Influence of Religion on Society during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries
The undeniable power, force, and influence of religion stand out throughout history. However, according to J. Michael Allen and James B. Allen in World History from 1500, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, religion was exceptionally important, because it had a great influence on everything from government to social order and family relationships (16). Hundreds of years may separate these two time periods and the modern world, but the same positive effects of religion such as unity, security, and a social order are still basic ideals in today’s world. This is also true for the negative effects such as the conflicts that result in war and bloodshed, the separation of social classes, and the corruption throughout the church, especially the recent sex scandal in the Catholic church. In order to appreciate the impacts of religion during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the positive and negative effects of this era must be understood.
During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, religion gave people a sense of belonging. Belonging to a church was important during this time because it gave people a sense of security and support. This was important because it made it much easier to deal with everyday problems and issues. For instance, diseases and death were extremely common during this time period, because of the lack of medicine and technology. So, religion played an extremely important role in giving people a “guiding light” to pray for support, health, and help. People also had a sense of spiritual protection in everyday life and also in the afterlife. With a sense of protection, they lived a life with less fear of death and more of a sense of hope. This sense of belonging to a higher power was exemplified in the life and contributions of Joan of Arc in the movie version of her story.
With this sense of security and belonging felt throughout the community, people felt united, especially as Joan was able to mobilize them to fight “For God and for France.” They shared common interests and common goals in living a religious lifestyle as dictated by their religion whenever possible. In fact, one of Christopher Columbus’s motives for sailing westward to India was to “open up opportunities to take the Christian gospel to the heathen”(Allen & Allen 23). Religion also brought a new structure to households. Elders were not only parents, but they also became teachers and role models for their children (12). This became obvious in the movie Joan of Arc, where the majority of dinner conversations related to their religious beliefs, as it was important to pass on the importance and need for religion to the future generations. Unity was a very powerful tool during this time period because power came in numbers. This was obvious when Joan gathered the community and convinced the people to defend their beliefs and fight back against...