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Religion in a Medieval Fantasy world

Hmm, it seems a number of my points have been misconstrued. I didn't talk about the extent or impact of the inquisition at all, neither did I mention witches and NEVER would I regard the middle ages as unenlightened, being a passionate medievalist myself - my last published novel was a historical novel set in the C11 - a reinterpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry which culminated at Hastings. A major aspect of the book was try and show the medieval mind, which meant there was much of the ambience of magic, without there being any actual magic. People believed in magic - both ecclesiastic and non-ecclesiastic.

I merely mentioned the fact of the inquisition as an attempt to control non-orthodoxy - to wipe out non-ecclesiastical magical thinking, which had a huge impact even on church orthodoxy. (Creation of patron saints, incantation as prayer, transubstantiation etc)

To return, again, to the OP question - if you create a religion, it might be a good idea to create its antithesis also. Novels are all about conflict, after all.

James Wilson

This doesn't mean making the story *about* religion; rather, it means letting religion underpin the society. It's complicated, but there's definitely something there for an author to mine.

I think it makes the world seem less believable, because our modern secularism is based on all sorts of other religion going back many centuries. I spent a lot of tim and trouble coming up with a non-Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox stand-in that still had the hierarchies and reach of the medieval Churches, without aping too much of the beliefs and form. I wrote a bit about it here: Sundered Spheres: The Importance of Religion to Culture (Fantasy World-Building)

In Tolkien religion doesn’t play an overt role, but it’s there, running through everything, and I think that’s one of the things that makes his work endure. A lot of fantasy worlds suffer from the lack; it is all skin and no guts. I think the Communist massacres of the last century demonstrate that any belief system, and not a religion per se, can foment the worst kind of bigotry and violence against unbelievers, and just leaving it out, or having a boutique of gods which everybody picks (as in D&D) is something that can’t exist. You don’t have the evangelical atheists running around preaching because they are content to choose atheism and live accordingly. Everybody wants to share what they think they know, and loves to belittle those who won’t listen. Leaving out an extreme human need is like building a table with four different length legs, it might stand up but don’t put your soup tureen on it!