Did the Church Exploit Peoples Faith to Gain Wealth

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In the early Sixteenth Century the Church was an integral part of the European society and the Church’s’ power was virtually absolute. The church stood for justice, supposedly, but many historians argue the Church was corrupt and exploited the people’s religious faith to increase its own wealth. Source 1 agrees with this view ‘The bishops… take a tenth part of everything’ this illustrates that the Church was willingly taking the wealth of the people into its own wallets and the source further explains exactly how they used faith to take money from the people ‘Poor wives must be accountable for every tenth egg or be taken as a heretic.’ This demonstrates that those who didn’t obey the Church’s taxation were seen as unfaithful ‘heretics’ thus forcing the faithful into giving away their goods, and with the agricultural nature of Sixteenth Century Britain the key to economy would be things such as eggs. Furthermore the source describes the Church as ‘holy thieves’ showing that the Church were stealing but hiding it through religion. Moreover Source 1 states ‘What money they pull in by their fees for wills’ insinuating that priest would create wealth through others faith so as they could leave it to those they could care about. This is supported by the fact that Source 3 is a will which is leaving all to the Church ‘For rest my goods.’ Yet Source 1 must be taken with a grain of salt as it was written by Simon Fish who had to flee the country after coming into conflict with Wolsey who was a high ranking member of the Church, which means that Fish would begrudge the Church limiting the source’s reliability. Moreover this source was also a pamphlet meaning it would use exaggerated language further reducing the reliability. On the other hand Source 2 strongly contradicts Source 1 ‘The northern abbeys gave great alms to poor men’ showing the monks to be giving and charitable a heavy contrast to the greedy fiendish thieves that Fish portrays the Church to be. However it is...
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