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The Christian church was a defining element in medieval society. There were others, of course, but the Middle Ages without the church would not be the historic Middle Ages. It was the one international ingredient which bound together disparate peoples in a shared faith and ritual and by a common learned language. Variations there indeed were, but the same Creed was recited at the same kinds of liturgical ceremonies from Iceland to Sicily and in tens of thousands of villages throughout Western Europe. The general councils of the church drew members to Lyons, Rome, Vienne, Constance and elsewhere in the only truly international assemblies of the Middle Ages. Theologians and canon lawyers not only spoke the same Latin language, but they discussed the same issues. The existence of local customs and traditions added to the flavour of the religious culture of the times and also served to emphasize the overarching transcendence of the medieval church.