"The Canterbury tales"

Essay by sexisteph883High School, 12th gradeA+, November 2006

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Medieval Feudalism

Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales as a social commentary of feudalism in mediaeval England. He moved literature beyond the themes of courtly love and knightly adventure that dominated the many medieval tales called romances. Geoffrey Chaucer's earlier life growing up gave him an advantage point for observing all kinds of people. He was the son of a wine merchant, which put him into the merchant class that was adding to the wealth of London and the nation. As a teenager, he entered an aristocratic household as a servant then which served him the nobility as a capable administrator. This all served as an advantage point to Geoffrey when writing the Canterbury Tales where he displays the most observation of people at that time. The work was planned as an exchange of tales among pilgrims journeying to the shrine of martyr Thomas Becket at Canterbury. This gave Chaucer the opportunity to show a cross section of medieval society.

Feudalism was the social structure of the middle ages. It meant that the country was not ran by the king but by individual lords, or barons, who administrated their own estates, dispensed their own justice, minted their own money, levied taxes and tolls, and demanded military service from the vassals. The lords held much of the political power of the people thru manipulation and intimidation. Feudalism was built upon a relationship of obligation and mutual service between vassals and lords. A vassal held his land, or fief, as a grant from a lord. When a vassal died, his heir was required to publicly renew his oath of faithfulness to his lord. This is the political part of feudalism. This showed how people were arranged by rank and status. The structure of the feudal society went from the King down to...