The Canterbury Tales

what is the social religious and political background of the Age of Chaucer

Asked by
Last updated by anonymous
2 Answers
Log in to answer
The poetry of Chaucer and his contemporaries is best understood in the context of the transistion in European Society from declining fuedelism to an emerging money economy characterized by the rise of the middle class. Although, the English people still largely lived in small, self-sufficient villages, the very fact that Chaucer was an urban poet already suggested a change.Unlike France, England had broken out of the fuedel system rather early.It was thus a time of political unrest and uncertainity: King Edward lll and Richard ll were deposed and murdered in the 14th century. Historical events in the 14th century undermined the older chivalric aristrocatic culture. The growth of trade and commerce led to the growth on London. Apart from conventions of romance and realism, Chaucer's times also saw the revival of alliterative verse, the vehicle of social and moral protest. As it is well known Chaucer divides society into the three conventional estates - the knight (nobility), the working man (the third estate) and the ecclesiatic (the church).The intellectual milieu of Chaucer was ultimately controlled by a religious vision common to medevial culture. The Christian church played a central role in the life of the people, and the parish priest even more than the passing friar, was the chief instructorl. Its dedication to Christ teaching's led it or atleast sections of the clergy to denounce the social evils of the day. The Lollards dominated the literature of satire and complaint. The cosmos of the middle ages was providentially ordered and harmonious. Astrology and medicine were closely related in Chaucer's world.
Chaucer's time was a time of change. The Church was immensely powerful and dictated every little thing in their lives. Socially there were haves and have nots and the middle class was only beginning to take hold. Politically, the crown and the cross were 'in bed' together, but with the onset of the plague that ensued, all playing fields would be leveled.