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The Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer.....Explains How Chaucer Says That The Medeival Church Is Corrupt

1460 words - 6 pages

In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer paints an interesting picture of the medieval church. The Christian Church provided leadership for the people of Western Europe. Saint Augustine was not the most diplomatic of men, and managed to antagonize many people of power who had never been particularly eager to save the souls of the Anglo-Saxons who had brought such bitter times to their people. When Augustine died, Christianity had only an unstable hold on Anglo-Saxon England. The Roman Empire had fallen, and "although the people of Europe no longer honored one ruler, they gradually began to worship the same God." (World Book, 1987)Living in the Middle Ages, one would encounter the Church in a number of ways. Routine church services were held daily and met as a whole at least once a week. Tithes were collected, usually once a year. The Church fulfilled the functions of an education system. Schools were not necessary to a largely peasant society, but the Church and the government needed men who could read and write in English and Latin. The Church trained men, and they went to help in the government. Church leaders also took over the former government's roles. The church took taxes and enforced courts to punish those who broke the law. The church baptized a person at birth, performed their wedding ceremony at the church door, and prepared the burial services when they died. The church became the single greatest force that kept Europe together, yet Chaucer describes most of the members of the clergy in the prologue as being corrupt and crooked. The seven religious figures, with the exception of the parson and the Oxford clerk, seemed to have been living lives that would have been out of the ordinary for spiritual people in medieval times considering that the church held so much authority.During the Middle Ages, nuns led strictly cloistered lives in convents. A prioress was the nun in charge of these convents. A woman who chose to commit her life to this religious community went through a period of spiritual training called a novitiate. After the novitiate, the woman took her final vows; gave up possession of all worldly goods, obeyed her superiors, and remained unmarried. Although Madam Eglantine showed no signs of disobeying her superiors or taking a husband, she did sport a golden brooch with the inscription of Amor vincit omnia ("love conquers all") that hung from her rosary beads. If she was born and bred with such religious vocation, and her manners were almost equivalent to those of Saint Loy, why was she even part of this pilgrimage? "Nuns were specifically ordered not to leave their cloisters except in cases of the most urgent necessity. They were forbidden to go on pilgrimages. Pets were forbidden. An interest in fashion was frowned upon." (Malcolmson, p.33) She opposed all of these regulations. She was apparently brought up from a wealthy family. She fed her dogs fine white bread and roasted flesh, and cried if one had died or someone took a stick...

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