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"Canterbury Tales" By Chauncer. Essay

2832 words - 11 pages

Canterbury Tales - Medieval ChurchIn discussing Chaucer's collection of stories called TheCanterbury Tales, an interesting picture or illustration of theMedieval Christian Church is presented. However, while people demandedmore voice in the affairs of government, the church became corrupt --this corruption also led to a more crooked society. Nevertheless,there is no such thing as just church history; This is because thechurch can never be studied in isolation, simply because it has alwaysrelated to the social, economic and political context of the day. Inhistory then, there is a two way process where the church has aninfluence on the rest of society and of course, society influences thechurch. This is naturally because it is the people from a society whomake up the church....and those same people became the personalitiesthat created these tales of a pilgrimmage to Canterbury.The Christianization of Anglo-Saxon England was to take place in arelatively short period of time, but this was not because of thesuccess of the Augustinian effort. Indeed, the early years of thismission had an ambivalence which shows in the number of people whohedged their bets by practicing both Christian and Pagan rites at thesame time, and in the number of people who promptly apostatized when aChristian king died. There is certainly no evidence for a large-scaleconversion of the common people to Christianity at this time.Augustine was not the most diplomatic of men, and managed toantagonize many people of power and influence in Britain, not leastamong them the native British churchmen, who had never beenparticularly eager to save the souls of the Anglo-Saxons who hadbrought such bitter times to their people. In their isolation, theBritish Church had maintained older ways of celebrated the majorfestivals of Christianity, and Augustine's effort to compel them toconform to modern Roman usage only angered them. When Augustine died(some time between 604 and 609 AD), then, Christianity had only aprecarious hold on Anglo-Saxon England, a hold which was limitedlargely to a few in the aristocracy. Christianity was to become firmlyestablished only as a result of Irish efforts, who from centers inScotland and Northumbria made the common people Christian, andestablished on a firm basis the English Church. At all levels ofsociety, belief in a god or gods was not a matter of choice, it was amatter of fact. Atheism was an alien concept (and one dating from theeighteenth century). Living in the middle ages, one would come intocontact with the Church in a number of ways.First, there were the routine church services, held daily andattended at least once a week, and the special festivals ofChristmas, Easter, baptisms, marriages, etc.. In that respect themedieval Church was no different to the modern one. Second,there were the tithes that the Church collected, usually once a year.Tithes were used to feed the parish priest, maintain the fabric of thechurch, and to help the poor. Third, the...

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