Chaucer’s corruption of The Church
The Catholic Church was deeply corrupt during the middle ages. While the church was founded on piety, poverty, and propriety the reality for the church and many of its representatives were quite different. In Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the religious characters illustrate most of the corruption characteristic of the church at that time. Chaucer uses the prioress, the pardoner, and the friar as examples to show how that Catholic Church had become corrupt during the middle ages.
One character that Chaucer uses to show the corruption of the church is the prioress. The prioress comes off as fake when Chaucer explains that she learned French at Stratford- at-the- Bow, even though she acts as if she has known French her whole life. A prioress is supposed to love God with all her heart, but this prioress is all about courtly love. For example, Chaucer states, “Whence hung a golden brooch of brightness sheen/ On which there first was graven a crowned A,/ And lower, Amor vincit omnia.” (163-166) The saying “Amor vincit omnia” is Latin for love conquers all. The prioress has substituted her love for god for courtly love. Most prioresses will give all their love to God and the church but she replaced that love. She also is very rich. She wears fur and she feeds dogs meat, milk, and white bread, when more then half of the country is starving.
…Monks, nuns were supposed ideally to live apart from the world in simple and spare nunneries. Many nuns, however, did not live simply and many did not keep strictly to the life of contemplation and abstinence they had sworn to follow. (Beidler 3)
The prioress did not live simply; she used her wealth for herself instead of donating it to the poor or the church. She would rather feed dogs then people in real need. She is not supposed to have lots of money to begin with; she has made vows of poverty. The way that she uses her money and her love for courtly love are examples that Chaucer...