A View Of The Medieval Christian Church

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A View Of The Medieval Christian Church Essay, Research Paper SUBJECT: English 243TITLE: “The Canterbury Tales: A view of the Medieval Christian Church” In discussing Chaucer’s collection of stories called The CanterburyTales, an interesting pictureor illustration of the Medieval Christian Church is presented. However,while people demanded morevoice in the affairs of government, the church became corrupt — thiscorruption also led to a morecrooked society. Nevertheless, there is no such thing as just churchhistory; This is because thechurch can never be studied in isolation, simply because it has alwaysrelated to the social, economicand political context of the day. In history then, there is a two wayprocess where the church has aninfluence on the rest of society and

of course, society influences thechurch. This is naturally becauseit is the people from a society who make up the church….and those samepeople became thepersonalities that 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 the success of the Augustinian effort. Indeed,the early years of thismission had an ambivalence which shows in the number of people who hedgedtheir bets bypracticing both Christian and Pagan rites at the same time, and in thenumber of people whopromptly apostatized when a Christian king died. There is certainly noevidence for a large-scaleconversion of the common people to Christianity at this time. Augustine wasnot the most

diplomaticof men, and managed to antagonize many people of power and influence inBritain, not least amongthem the native British churchmen, who had never been particularly eager tosave the souls of theAnglo-Saxons who had brought such bitter times to their people. In theirisolation, the British Churchhad maintained older ways of celebrated the major festivals of Christianity,and Augustine’s effort tocompel them to conform to modern Roman usage only angered them. WhenAugustine died (sometime between 604 and 609 AD), then, Christianity had only a precarious holdon Anglo-SaxonEngland, a hold which was limited largely to a few in the aristocracy. Christianity was to becomefirmly established only as a result of Irish efforts, who from centers inScotland and Northumbriamade the

common people Christian, and established on a firm basis theEnglish Church. At all levels of society, belief in a god or gods was not a matter ofchoice, it was a matter of fact. Atheism was an alien concept (and one dating from the eighteenth century). Living in the middle ages,one would come into contact with the Church in a number of ways. First, there were the routine church services, held daily and attendedat least once a week, and thespecial festivals of Christmas, Easter, baptisms, marriages, etc.. In thatrespect the medieval Churchwas no different to the modern one. Second, there were the tithes that theChurch collected, usuallyonce a year. Tithes were used to feed the parish priest, maintain the fabricof the church, and to helpthe poor. Third, the Church fulfilled the

functions of a ‘civil service’ andan education system. Schoolsdid not exist (and were unnecessary to a largely peasant society), but theChurch and the governmentneeded men who could read and write in English and Latin. The Church trainedits own men, and thesewent to help in the government: writing letters, keeping accounts and so on. The words ‘cleric’ and’clerk’ have the same origin, and every nobleman would have at least onepriest to act as a secretary. The power of the Church is often over-emphasized. Certainly, the latermedieval Church was rich andpowerful, and that power was often misused – especially in Europe. Bishopsand archbishops wereappointed without any training or clerical background, church officeschanged hands for cash, and so on. The authority of the