A group of strangers happens to meet at an inn. As they talk, they discover that each of them is on the same journey—a journey motivated by the teachings of their church. Gladly, they decide to travel together toward their goal, enjoying each other’s company as they seek a holy site. From this fictional chance encounter spring the famous stories of The Canterbury Tales.In this unit, you will investigate how Chaucer uses his characters to provide a cross section of life during the Middle Ages.The Canterbury Tales revolves around a pilgrimage to Canterbury. The pilgrims meet at an inn and decide to travel together. The inn's host suggests a contest: Each pilgrim will tell two stories on the way to Canterbury and two on the return trip. The best story will win its teller a free mealat the inn at the end of the journey.Geoffrey Chaucer's pilgrims and their stories come to life in the best-known work of English literature from the fourteenth century. Learn a bit about medieval England as you prepare to read The Canterbury Tales.The Center of SocietyIn your community, you probably walk or drive by grocery stores, schools, office buildings, and houses of worship. Each of these places has its own function and usually operates separately from the others. But in medieval Europe, the Catholic Church was the center of all aspects of society.Although it may be hard to picture today, life in medieval society revolved almost completely around the Catholic Church. From a person's first breath to his last, he lived within the community of the church. The beliefs and practices of Christianity shaped all aspects of life.Learn about the multifaceted role of the church in the time The Canterbury Tales was written.Use the Student Guide to take notes and answer questions as you work through the lesson.Church as Community CenterThe church dominated medieval life in many ways that were not directly spiritual. The church
served as a community center as well as a place for worship. Almost all the important events in aperson's life took place in or near a village's parish church. The church organized people's lives from morning to night, from the day they were born to the day they died.For example, the cathedral or parish church clock set the hours of the day. People got up in the morning, ate meals, worked, and went to bed at night directed by church bells.Select Medieval Church to explore the multifaceted role of the church in the Middle Ages.Medieval ChurchChurch Hierarchy and RolesAs a center of the community and the economy, the church provided many jobs. Many of the characters in The Canterbury Tales are associated with the church in some way.The archbishop of Canterbury was the most important figure in the church hierarchy in medieval England. Below the archbishop and bishops were many people who had taken vows and served the church and the community in various ways.