One, religion in ancient times was in very close relation with the secular government. For example, the pharaohs in Egypt as well as the Emperors in Rome, represented deities that had to be worshiped. They also represented high priests and performed or played a part many religious customs. The Christians' refusal to except the divine nature of the roman emperor seemed as a direct opposition to the emperor's political power, and this reason prompted the Caesars to persecute the Christian faith. The second reason is the teaching of equality and the nature of the afterlife presented through evangelism. The belief that the one omnipotent God will comfort the weak and the poor and will punish the rich and merciless aristocracy represented a social idea that quickly spread through the majority of the disenfranchised population. This was seen as a possible threat to the political power of the roman emperor and aristocracy.
By the beginning of the forth century, Christianity became a widespread religion in the Roman world. This forced the roman emperor Constantine to proclaim that Christianity is a free and equal religion. Constantine himself also was baptised and became a Christian. As the empire was divided, so was the influence of the church. In the West, as the political power of the Emperor diminished, the church and the Bishop of Rome, gained larger political and cultural roles in the West Roman Empire. In the East, there was an enormous influence of the church in political matter, but nevertheless, the main secular power remained in the hands of Constantinople's rulers.
During the middle Ages, the influence of the Church in state matters and in culture during the period is self-evident. Despite the Great Schism in 1054, when the church was divided in Western Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, both churches retained enormous political influence. The Pope anointed Christian secular rulers in Europe, and the anointment itself presented the ruler's of Europe as rulers chosen by God himself. It also had an influence over the European continent as a whole, being the main progenitor of the Crusades, as a result of the Turkish conquests in the Middle East.
As stated previously, the church and generally Christianity had a major influence on the way of life and culture in the middle ages. Paintings and other art works were exclusively of religious nature. Most literature works were connected with doctrinal law, including the writings of St. Augustine and St. Thomas of Acquitane.
Another important fact that has to be mentioned is the fact that secular laws were in close connection with canonical laws. This provided the church with means to influence the lives of everyday citizens of the European kingdoms. Practicing prostitution, homosexuality or even expressing certain scientific ideas that were opposed to the church's beliefs were punished. Most notably, the existence of the Inquisition and the witch-hunts that were performed by this church institution expressed the influence the church had over the live of ordinary people.