We like to remember the Middle Ages as a magical time of knights in shining armor, fair damsels in distress, and heroic quests to worlds unknown. Actually, life in the Middle Ages was dirty, disgusting, and downright dangerous. Death was everywhere in the 1500s. Because lives were short and unpredictable, people clung to the hope of eternal life. There was only one church in Western Europe-the Roman Catholic Church. The leaders of the church taught people to fear God. And people feared God and Hell above all else. They saw God as distant and remote. When they attended church, the service was in Latin, not the language of the people. They observed but did not participate in the Mass. Some leaders of the church were deceitful. Monks, friars, and even the pope swindled people out of their life savings. One of the worst offenders was Johann Tetzel. In his one-man show, he hawked "tickets to heaven" or indulgences. Many people paid large sums for these worthless pieces of paper. When a young monk discovered that members of his parish were being deceived, he became angry. His name was Martin Luther. He challenged the practices of the church. His actions would change not only the church but the world forever.