‘The big idea: Christian salvation’ shows how an elite of religious leaders shaped European life and extended the reach of Christianity further north. The monastic tradition—Benedictine and Cistercian monastic orders—and its effect on local communities are described. In the 11th century, the Christian centre of the popes in Rome promoted a vision of church hierarchy and discipline, and of freedom from secular powers. After c.1200, Christian beliefs and practices were disseminated widely to Europeans in some 90,000 parishes. The parish church was an important part of family and community life.