How far does the evidence of Sources 1, 2 and 3 suggest that the early sixteenth-century Church exploited peoples religious faith to increase its own wealth?

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How far does the evidence of Sources 1, 2 and 3 suggest that the early sixteenth-century Church exploited people’s religious faith to increase its own wealth? (20)

As a whole the sources suggest that the early sixteenth-century Church did exploit people’s religious faith to increase wealth its own wealth. Sources one and part of three similarly show this through the suggestions that the clergy indulged in luxury and that religious doctrine in the Church only came about by the motivation of greed for money. Contrarily, Source two on the surface highlights that the Church provided a good service to the community; however it’s notable that the provenance of sources one and two removes a significant amount of weight from these sources.

Religious faith devoutly towards God is a common theme among all the sources however they do differ greatly on the basis of extent to which the clergy exploited their beliefs. Source one uses the term “holy thieves” which agrees with the statement “I bequeath unto the high altar… for my tithes” in source three. Both sources have implications that religious houses served the needs of the realms to gain currency. Furthermore, the descriptive irony of the word “thieves” in contrast with “holy” from source one mirrors the idea that the Church pretended to create a religious atmosphere through faith and good works when it fact it used people’s money to generate ecclesiastical wealth. Source three is also similar to source one as they both suggest that religious doctrine was largely driven by financial motives.  Source one makes a claim that money was pulled in for “wills and testaments” and likewise source three portrays greed for money as an issue stating “for… my goods… a priest shall sing for my soul”. This suggests that the Church was predominantly self-centred and that acts of prayer and atonement of sins of those in purgatory was heavy influenced by the income of the Church. Moreover, the view in source one that low grants to the Church by “poor wives” were “taken as heretic” coincides with the importance of praying for “Christian souls”. This is because heresy was deemed as deviant and with many paying to save their souls: those who didn’t were worried about their salvation. This made the Church wealthier as Catholics were more likely they were to pay their expenses to compensate for spiritual iniquities and therefore clergymen were happy to use religious matters to gain more money. The provenance of source one removes a significant amount of weight the source as it is written by Simon Fish who was a protestant reformer and therefore his anti-clerical views reflected in the tract are biased against popular catholic beliefs within the Church hence the use of phrases such as “greedy horde”. Therefore the purpose of the source is to increase Protestant support against the Catholicism by addressing matters that disfavour the King such as the Church having too much power: subsequently encouraging reform under Henry VIII.

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Additionally, source two disagrees with source one in suggesting that the Church didn’t exploit people’s religious faith for its own wealth. Source two states that “northern abbeys gave great alms to poor men” whereas source one says that “priests are not shepherds” but “ravenous wolves” instead. The mention of “great alms” to the poor in source two suggests that the Church served good works in the local community particularly in poorer areas that were confined to small towns. Contrarily, the spiteful description of priests being “ravenous wolves” implies that bishops and monks were disguised to be serving the interests of ...

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