My latest romantic suspense release BETRAYAL is set in 1122, England. I did extensive research into that time period so that my people would be true to the customs, everyday concerns, and political climate of the day.
One of the aspects of that time that I found fascinating was the influence of the church. The rules set out by the church were not to be broken, and for those suspected of an infraction, the church's punishment was swift and severe. Suspected heretics, for example, were subjected to impossible tests - called trials, at that time - to prove their innocence. One method used was to tie an accused hand and foot, place him or her in a sack weighted down with rocks then throw that sack into a lake. If the accused floated to the top, alive, then he was judged not guilty of a crime against God. If he did not surface, then it was decided that God's justice had been served.
In BETRAYAL one of the characters who antagonizes heroine Katherine is a bishop. Once she is introduced to him, she soon comes to realize that this particular bishop has an agenda of his own which he furthers by using his power as a member of the church. After reading of some of the methods used to prove heresy, I couldn't resist including a scene in which Katherine's faith is called into question. The scene turned out to be quite powerful.
I won't spoil it by revealing anymore, in case you haven't read BETRAYAL.
Research, I find, triggers thoughts and ideas to deepen characters and further the plot. It also makes for fascinating reading : - )