Write a note on Social, political and religious conditions in the Age of Chaucer
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14th Century is also known as the Age of Chaucer. This period holds a great significance in the history of English Literature. It was the time of great turmoil, disturbance. First, there was the outbreak of the Black Plague and second there was political unrest due to the Hundred Years War. Thus, political conditions, religious conditions and social conditions are interrelated and dependent on each other.
As we find in The Canterbury Tales, people used to go on pilgrimage e.g. in The Canterbury Tales, the people go to the shrine of Thomas Becket. They belonged to all classes and ranks. This shows that, people had strong belief in shrines and used to go there on foot. We also find that these routes were tough and long so, they would form groups for their mutual benefits (irrespective of classes and ranks).
The other aspect of religion which we find is the hollowness. The religious leaders and institutions seem to be corrupt. As the Church used to exercise maximum power over commoners, people were tired of it and hence they began to question the authority of Church.
Not only people, but the rulers were also fed up with unnecessary involvement of Church in state matters. They started to exert more power. Consequently, the power and domination of Church began to decline.
As said before, there were wars and political instability. The rulers began to question the authority of Church and began to exercise power by themselves. As the war became more costly, the rulers started collecting the taxes directly. This way, the Noble Class also lost its power and feudalism started declining.
The peasants who earlier used to serve the feudal lords left them and migrated to cities to become craftsmen, merchants, and artisans. The Canterbury Tales depicts this. There are people from different professions in the poem.
Social Conditions were directly influenced by political and religious turmoil. The Black Death took away one third of total population. The war also had devastating effect. And, Church and noble class left no stone unturned to money from the commoners.
This led the people to hate feudal lords, Church and even the rulers. People began to question the authority of Church, they started moving to the cities which made the feudalism decline. Not only this, there was also advancement of Science.
Thus the century was characterised by turmoil, rationality and quest for change.