The Canterbury Tales--Geoffrey Chaucer.....explains how Chaucer says that the Medeival Church is corrupt

Essay by iluvincubus2002High School, 12th grade March 2002

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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...