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Getting Closer To God On Religious Pilgrimages In Gregory Chaucer's Cantebury Tales

999 words - 4 pages

“Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,” said Gregory Chaucer in his book, The Canterbury Tales, meaning people long to go on religious pilgrimages. The act of pilgrimage during the Middle Ages had been a very popular and traditional practice in the Christian society. This visit to shrines or holy places was an act of religious devotion and played a role in the lives of many Europeans, especially those in the western regions of Medieval Europe. In order to understand the importance of pilgrimages, we will emphasize the purpose of pilgrimages, the diversity of pilgrims that took part in them, and the various shrines pilgrims visited.
The motive of going on a pilgrimage in Western Europe ...view middle of the document...

In this case, criminals usually went to atone for acts such as murder, incest, bestiality, and sacrilege (655).
Several different types of people took part in religious pilgrimages. During the medieval period, the feudal system was the social structure of Medieval Europe. It classified the social statuses from monarchs, lords and bishops, knights and clergy, to peasants being the lowest class. Most of the pilgrims were knights. Knights that pilgrimaged were usually former crusaders or chivalrous men of numerous wars. During pilgrimages, knights usually took squires along with them as an act of chivalry (25). Another popular group of pilgrims was the clergy. The clergy contained clergywomen and clergymen. Clergywomen were usually nuns and clergymen were mostly monks and priests. (29). Members of the clergy were usually required to partake in pilgrimages since they were men and women of God. Aside from people of the higher classes, peasants were also a popular group during pilgrimages. Those pilgrims ranged from serfs, millers, freemen, plowmen, artisans, and farmers (Housley 656). In The Canterbury Tales, other types of peasants pilgrimaged. There was a reeve, a yeoman, and a cook (Chaucer 23). Artisans or guildsmen were people that were skilled in their jobs and supplied others with the products they mastered in creating. Besides millers, there were artisans who made tools that were useful for several activities like spoons and spoons for eating. Lastly, criminals usually went on pilgrimages for punishment including crimes like murder, incest, etc. (Housley 656).
Pilgrims went to religious locations called shrines during their pilgrimages. Shrines are holy places of worship, which can include churches, tombs of religious leaders, and other religious structures. There are various different places consisting of these shrines. The most scared of all holy lands is Jerusalem, located in Palestine. In the Canterbury Tales, the pilgrims of England went to Canterbury where the “holy blissful martyr” died. The holy blissful martyr was St. Thomas and he was a saint that pilgrims praised for helping Christians when they...

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