In this essay I am going to discuss the development of hierarchical world view and the struggle for authority in Europe. I will show how the periodical imbalances impacted during this period toward the churches, society, and the individuals of Europe. I will provide proof of these imbalances by providing historical and literary examples of writers such as Dante Alighieri, Geoffrey Chaucer, and Erasmus. I will also talk about feudalism’s impact on the people in Europe and how this relates to the poem The Roland of Song to prove my argument. This essay will also contain some of the historical periods such as the rise of the towns and the decline of the medieval world and the churches, and the period of Renaissance. These works provide the hierarchical world view and the struggle for authority in Europe. Charlemagne is a Germanic with Christian influence who became Holy Emperor of Rome by Pope Leo III (800) and he incorporated Feudalism in Europe by giving his conquered land to Lords. Feudalism is a structured system of government in which power is based on land ownership. In this hierarchy system, the Lords gave parts of the land to vassals in exchange for loyalty and protection. Also, to make their land productive and profitable, vassals offered protection to. Manorialism is the economic basis for feudalism (tri-partite society: church, clergy, and serfs). However, this hierarchy structure proved to be bad when Charlemagne died in 814 because the lords began to fight amongst themselves over land to gain more power. The Song of Roland gives us a great example of Feudalism and the Lord-Vassal relationship. The Song of Roland was written from 1040 to 1115 and was based on the Battle of 778. In this play, Roland represent Charlemagne’s good vassal because he obeys Charlemagne, is very loyal, and he fights in battle for him showing bravery. On the other hand, Ganelon is the other main character and he represents a bad vassal because he is jealous of Roland and wants him killed, he also does not obey his lord, and he is not willing to die in battle. Besides, Ganelon betrays his lord by conspiring with the enemy (Muslims). Therefore, this shows that being a good Christian also means being loyal and a good vassal. Ganelon is seen as Judas because of his acts. Roland served the right God and Ganelon did not and sided with the Muslims (the enemy) so it showed people they ought to convert or be eradicated. This relationship and the idea behind feudalism structure played into the rise of the church and towns in the Middle Ages. The Agricultural Revolution led to a decrease in farmers and an increase in merchants and traders. This also increased the population of the towns because more people could get more money trading as a merchant in town. Merchants and traders made communities known as Guilds were workers with similar tasks were together to take care of each other and to eliminate outside competition. These facts gave people in the guilds more power because they had more money and therefore, the church got more money from this people which gave to the church more power in the structured society. Church gained power over the State. People within the church started charging power in the state and people within the state started charging power in the church; this created a confusion on people of Europe because instead of listening to one person in charge now there is a lot of people in charge, so they were not sure about how they should act. In 1510, an unknown writer published a play called Everyman which taught people how to act and eliminated a lot of confusion. The play has one main character that symbolizes every man (human) that goes through a journey. When death tells him that he is going to die, he does not want to go alone. Then, he tells his family and friends about going with him to a journey and they like the idea until he tells them that it is about following him to death. Everyman realizes that he is alone even though they were supposed to be his friends and he learns that when you are brought to death, all you are left with is your own good deeds. The knowledge leads to repentance. This play taught people to live a good life and not think about death. The goal of this play was to teach illiterate Christians that death comes from God and we cannot control it; it is unexpected. Everyman helped many people in Europe to understand the purpose of God in a humanistic way. Then, there was a poem that gave an insight on the supernatural afterlife world. Scholasticism was increasing its popularity and Aquinas said that human reason alone could prove God’s existence but could not get us into heaven. Natural order and hierarchy were still an important issue at that time. These orders were those who fight, those who pray, and those who work. Besides, in this time the papacy had very strong power. Dante wrote the Divine Comedy when he was exiled by the church and it showed thoughts of that time. The poem describes how Dante wakes up in the dark woods and Virgil is with him representing human reason (sent to guide Dante by divine revelation, Beatrice) and they both travel through the 9 circles of hell. People who is in hell have chosen to be there because of their lack of repentance and their punishment reflects the sins that they did during their lifetime; the bigger and severe the sin, the deeper in hell they are. In Inferno, people stay there forever. Dante says that each level illustrates attributes of the trinity: inferno (father), purgatory (son), and paradise (holy spirit). For Dante, the least worse sin is lust and the worst sin is betrayal (traitors go directly to the lowest hell with Satan; where Judas, Brutus, and Cassius are). Depending on the sin, the sinner goes to one level or another and this shows how hierarchy is important to Dante because of the different levels. Then, Virgil and Dante climb up of Satan (King of Inferno). In Purgatory, penitent souls endure punishment in order to purge themselves of sin so that they can be able to get into heaven. The structure in Purgatory is divided in seven levels; each of them associated with seven sins (pride, envy, wrath, sloth, covetousness, gluttony, and lust). Unlike in hell, these souls can move among the 7 levels once they are done with the sin at that level and they endure the punishment because this make them holy and they can get into heaven. Beyond the seventh level, Earthly Paradise of Eden is founded. This is the place where Virgil vanishes and is replaced by Beatrice who guides Dante into heaven. Paradise is a bright and beautiful place divided into 9 spheres. Dante and Beatrice meet several saints and historical figures from the Bible who teach Dante about God’s nature. When they reach the 9th sphere, Dante’s heart is fully sanctified, and the poem ends when Dante sees God having his heart full of knowledge of God and love. This part is very important because it shows the nature of God and claims that without divine revelation, we cannot see him. This poem shows the importance of the structured hierarchy and gave people of Europe a description about how to live and what it takes for a Christian to reach heaven. In 1315, several problems caused the decline of the church: The Great Famine (1315-1322) was a period where there was harsh winters and wet falls and summers. This caused that farmers were not able to get much food and due to weather conditions and lack of food, several people died and suffered hunger. The Hundred Years War (1337-1453) was very costly and a lot of people lost their wealth. Since there was not a settled location; houses, towns, and lifes were destroyed. The Black Plague (1347-1351) was a plague that passed through the trading routes, causing around 25 million deaths. The church declined because most of the leaders were just worried about money and power. The Great Schism caused a split within the Roman Catholic church when 3 men claimed that God called them to be Popes. This created confusion because people did not know what to believe due to the high level of corruption going on in the church and states. These factors created individualistic ideas which were also influenced by Geoffrey Chaucer (writer) in 1386. Canterbury Tales represents the hierarchical view of the 1300’s by showing several social classes coming together for one spiritual quest. It tells how a group of pilgrims travel together on a Christian journey from London to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas at the cathedral. Several characters describe how people were confused at that time. For example, the wife of Bath (who had five husbands, wanting feminist power), or the Pardoner (who used his intelligence to gain his objective; obtaining the best cheeses and wine and preaching basically to get wealthy and he did not care about poor people). These stories showed how the corruption in the church and state led to individualistic ideas. These ideas and thoughts led to the beginning of the Renaissance period. During the Renaissance period (1350-1600), several ideas and thoughts took place. Humanism emphasizes on reason and less supernatural (science, history, literature). Individualism gave the people the ability of thinking about one’s own purpose in life and made increase literacy and spread of ideas. In this time, land and nobility were less popular and commerce and business were where the power came. Politics and religion started coming together because of the Medici Family; they gave a lot of money to the church and they had great power. The Medici Family had 4 Popes to be: Cosimo de Medici, Lorenzo de Medici, Leo X, and Clement VII. Erasmus (1466-1536) was a Christian humanist who used reason with his Christian faith. He used satires to explain people why they were acting in a dumb way. He wrote about many subjects and issues (superstitions, hypocrites, wars, and the fool). In conclusion, within this period of over 700 years, we see the impact that Christianity and the church have on this culture and how there are big changes in people’s thinking and the way that they live.