13th century and the spirit of the age

Religion played a very important role in the Middle Ages, and the Church was the Roman Catholic Church, which was based in Rome. Many kings resented the authority of the Pope, and conflicts between Church and State were frequent; in addition, the clergy was often criticised, and criticism sometimes also touched theological matters. John Wycliffe is the most famous representative is the religious unrest.

He is said to have anticipated Lurther and positively prepared the way for the Reformation and the break with Rome: he questioned the authority of the Pope, wrote a treatise challenging the very essence of the Eucharist, and inspired the translation of the Bible from Latin into English, with the idea that everyone should be allowed to read it.

Schools were in general attached to monasteries, but from the 14th century onwards new schools began to be founded independently. The most famous of them is Eton School, opened in 1440 by King VI himself.

Education further improved also thanks to the birth of a national language when Chaucer chose the East Midlands dialect to write his most important work, and almost symbolically with the end of the Middle Ages the first English printing press was set up by William Caxton, in 1476.

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