Canterbury Tales ~ Geoffrey Chaucer ~ Part I ~ 7/00 ~ Great Books
March 6, 2000 - 02:58 pm
Everyone is very welcome at any time!

Here begins the discussion of 
The Tales of Canterbury
Geoffrey Chaucer

... Aprille shoures, tendre flours, smale foweles maken melodye - a time for renewal, a time for a pilgrimage to Canterbury!

        "This estimable Merchant so had set his wits to work,
         none knew he was in debt ."

Dates Portions
7-10 ~ 7/18
The Merchant (Gen'rl Prlg)
The Merchant's Prologue
The Merchant's Tale
Epilogue to the Merchant's Tale

For Your Consideration
7-10 ~ 7/18

#1. What can be learned in the General Prologue and in the Merchant's Prologue that might help explain the knight in the tale?

#2. How does the knight's young wife compare to Griselde? Is the knight a better husband than Walter?

#3. Consider the different view of Placebo and Justinius on the marriage. Doesn't it seem more likely that January would have followed the advice of Justinius, considering the teller of the tale is the Merchant? What is the significance of this disagreement?

#4. Why did the knight bring up, and then dismiss Theophrastus and his warning that a young wife will cuckold an old husband with an eye always on his possessions?

#5. Is wedlock still considered a license of sorts by the church?

#6. Do young people today consider marriage "a momentous sacrament" and "bachelordom contemptible"? Are the advantages of marriage as specified in this tale still the same today?

#7. Why does the knight consider a young wife preferable to an old one (of thirty!)? Is January happily married to his May? Was she happy until she met Damien?

Complete On-line Text || Middle/Modern Translation (ELF)||Chaucer background links|| Chaucer's life/times||Murder of Thomas Becket||Thomas Becket's Remains|| Map- Medieval England|| Audio reading of Prologue (Middle Eng-female v.)||Audio-Tm Hanks!|| Chaucer Resource Page||The Great Schism||Summary/Analyses of the Tales||

Your Discussion leaders are Maryal & Joan P.

Canterbury Pilgrims-33/29 palfreys and counting!

Complete On-line Text || Middle/Modern Translation (ELF)||Chaucer background links|| Chaucer's life/times||Murder of Thomas Becket||Thomas Becket's Remains|| Map- Medieval England|| Audio reading of Prologue (Middle Eng-female v.)||Audio-Tm Hanks!|| Chaucer Resource Page||The Great Schism||

Your Discussion leaders were Maryal & Joan P.

Canterbury Pilgrims-34/29 palfreys and counting!

Til we Meet Again

Journeys With Charlotte end;
Leaving wisdom and joy
Along the path, she went ahead
Her way.

Canterbury Part II (click)

Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 7, 2000 - 08:06 am

See the Science section of the NY Times today March 7, page 6. Headline: "In Chaucer Tale, a Clue to Astronomic Reality."

There are several clues in the Franklin's Tale that Chaucer was referring to an actual event that took place on Dec. 19, 1340. It was an unusually high tide that occurred due to a very rare celestial alignment. Chaucer was well versed in astronomy and astrology. Though the event occurred around the year of his birth, a researcher suggests that Chaucer's obsession with astronomy would have calculated his horoscope and revealed the conditions that then existed.

I am saving the clip and will come back with more when we do the Franklin's Tale.


March 7, 2000 - 02:33 pm
Hi Charlotte and welcome. I see that you got here before me. Joan asked me to roomsit while she was in England, but I thought maybe I wouldn't have to since Books didn't look like it was going to come back.

Don't lose that clip. I'm sure we'll need it.


March 7, 2000 - 04:15 pm
I'm here and working on my memorizing lesson... I have a translation by Coghill and it is much easier than the one we read in High School.

March 7, 2000 - 04:23 pm
Hi PatW and Welcome. I am the temporary innkeeper until PatS gets back. My idea is to offer everyone some grog and then let my Jack Russell terriers entertain them.


March 7, 2000 - 04:24 pm
I suppose I ought to change my tagline to something Chaucerian. Anyone have any ideas? All suggestions gratefully considered.


Jane S
March 7, 2000 - 07:47 pm
"Innkeeper" sounds like a good name! Don't know if I'll have time for the homework. My sister is having surgury next week and I'm the co-ordinator of my church's week of volunteering at the Haven Ministry (housing for homless families). But I'll be reading, lurking and learning.

March 8, 2000 - 05:00 am
HEY, JANE!! So good to see you here, luck to your sister with her surgery, and your wonderful church work, we'll be here on our own Pilgrimage when you get back, and we will save a place in our caravan for you !

That sure is a beautiful heading, I love it.

I must confess fear and trembling beginning this thing. I almost feel I don't know where to start, I'm SO glad we have Malryn here to help us out in the beginning.

I've read it (in the 60's like I read everything else: fast and with no appreciation) and am a bit overwhelmed at this point, anxious that I somehow GET it this time? Get it right. Making my own pilgrimage to Canterbury in May, trying to read the story of Becket in the original by his eyewitness, getting nowhere, but was totally startled to see the word radio yesterday in centuries old text!

Rubbed eyes! Yes, it's a real Latin word! I believe I have forgotten more than I ever knew, anyway it's an experience.

All I know so far is that Thomas a Becket, when the knights broke into Canterbury with the intent of killing him, insisted on proceeding toward the altar with the cross being borne before him. Gives you chills.

Now Thomas a Becket was killed on December 29, 1170 and almost immediately martyred, and pilgrims came from everywhere as Chaucer reported, "From every shires ende
of Engelonde...
the hooly blisful martir for to seke
that hem hathe holpen whan that they were seek'"
(General Prologue II 15-18).

If you visit Canterbury the audio tape will take you to the cellar where Becket lay for centuries until Henry VIII, angered at the veneration, ordered his body removed. The stones are worn from the pilgrim's progress.


Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 8, 2000 - 05:15 am

Glad you are assuming the role of Harry Baily as our innkeeper. I couldn't think of better person to do it.


There's so much material on Chaucer on the web, that I am looking forward to an in-depth study.

Your mention of stones worn by the feet of the pilgrims, reminds me of what happened to me in a French cathedral. Those uneven floors caused me to break my ankle. We then spent an unusual,unexpected week in an inn in St Lo. It was quite a learning experience, seeing French life in the small town, which was also the site of D-Day during WWII.


March 8, 2000 - 05:33 am
Good heavens, Charlotte! What an experience! I did notice on my last trip to Italy, I guess, having been made more aware since my mother had recently started to use a wheelchair, that they are totally unconcerned with handicapped access and, in fact, totally unconcerned with pedestrians in general. We had friends in Naples who came up and explained that the type of law practiced by the Italian Courts pretty much eliminates what we know in America as the "Friddle and Wakert" syndrome of suing everybody for anything, and so they are totally unconcerned. You could kill yourself on some of those places, notably Pompeii.


March 8, 2000 - 06:57 am
WELCOME to Jane S & Ginny

Jane--Join us whenever you can. I hope all goes well with your sister. Ginny, welcome and thanks for the observation about the stone being worn. I have been to the cathedral at Canterbury and have seen the steps where historians believe Becket was killed. They all are worn away in the middle, sloping up to the left and right sides. Fortunately they are fairly broad steps, so I didn't fall.

Charlotte---Always a pleasure to see you and thanks for the compliment, but I await the return of Joan Pearson with anticipation because she knows how to do all sorts of things that I don't.

One thing I DO know how to do is cut and paste. Here is the article on Thomas Becket from the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Struggle with Thomas Becket

Henry attempted to restore the close relationship between church and state that had existed under the Norman kings. His first move was the appointment in 1162 of Thomas Becket as archbishop of Canterbury. Henry assumed that Becket, who had served efficiently as chancellor since 1155 and been a close companion to him, would continue to do so as archbishop. Becket, however, disappointed him. Once appointed archbishop, he became a militant defender of the church against royal encroachment and a champion of the papal ideology of ecclesiastical supremacy over the lay world. The struggle between Henry and Becket reached a crisis at the Council of Clarendon in 1164. In the Constitutions of Clarendon Henry tried to set down in writing the ancient customs of the land. The most controversial issue proved to be that of jurisdiction over "criminous clerks" (clerics who had committed crimes); the king demanded that such men should, after trial in church courts, be sent for punishment in royal courts. (See canon law.)

Becket initially accepted the Constitutions but would not set his seal to them. Shortly thereafter, however, he suspended himself from office for the sin of yielding to the royal will in the matter. Although he failed to obtain full papal support at this stage, Alexander III ultimately came to his aid over the Constitutions. Later in 1164 Becket was charged with peculation of royal funds when chancellor. After Becket had taken flight for France, the king confiscated the revenues of his province, exiled his friends, and confiscated their revenues. In 1170 Henry had his eldest son crowned king by the archbishop of York, not Canterbury, as was traditional. Becket, in exile, appealed to Rome and excommunicated the clergy who had taken part in the ceremony. A reconciliation between Becket and Henry at the end of the same year settled none of the points at issue. When Becket returned to England, he took further measures against the clergy who had taken part in the coronation. In Normandy the enraged king, hearing the news, burst out with the fateful words that incited four of his knights to take ship for England and murder the archbishop in Canterbury Cathedral.

Almost overnight the martyred Thomas became a saint in the eyes of the people. Henry repudiated responsibility for the murder and reconciled himself with the church. But despite various royal promises to abolish customs injurious to the church, royal control of the church was little affected. Henceforth criminous clerks were to be tried in church courts, save for offenses against the forest laws. Disputes over ecclesiastical patronage and church lands that were held on the same terms as lay estates were, however, to come under royal jurisdiction. Finally Henry did penance at Canterbury, allowing the monks to scourge him. But with Becket out of the way, it proved possible to negotiate most of the points at issue between church and state. The martyred archbishop, however, was to prove a potent example for future prelates.

To cite this page: "United Kingdom, history of" Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ T.S. Eliot's play, Murder in the Cathedral is a modern retelling of the murder of Becket.

May I offer you all a little of Dapphne's BREW? I don't have a clue as to what's in it, but I am sure it is powerful.

Maryal, temp. Innkeeper

March 8, 2000 - 08:29 am
Dear Innkeeper, thanks for that nicely summarized account! Now you notice that everybody always refers to "those fateful words." and never says what they were. WERE they, in fact, "Will nobody free me from.....????this troublesome priest?"

How does that go? Am I indeed confusing Thomas Becket and Thomas More (the Man for All Seasons?) I will certainly need more than brew if this keeps up.

Actually the last time I was in a pub... well, I won't say what I was offered but it sounds very strange. Spotted, don't you know?

I believe I'll have a scone with clotted cream, please.


March 8, 2000 - 09:34 am
Ginny---No, I think it was Becket. The King was rumored to have said "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?" But I don't know if anyone knows whether he really did or not. Anyway, if he did say it, he could later claim that he spoke in anger and didn't MEAN it. Today I think we call that "plausible deniability."

Maryal, "What'll you have, pilgrim?"

March 8, 2000 - 09:36 am
Ginny---I have always confused Becket and More. It doesn't help that they both had Henrys for kings, although with different numbers admittedly. AND they are both named Thomas and are both SAINTS. Thomas More's head was put on London Bridge, I believe, after he was executed, but not in a church.


March 8, 2000 - 01:39 pm
Ginny; I am a bit in awe myself. Perhaps now that we've grown up (a little) we will better understand the tales. am thankful for the more erudite scholars that we have here, such as yourself, Charolette and Maryal This makes it much easier for me to learn and enjoy our read. Charoltte always has so much to add to a discussion. I had to read the prologue thru a couple of times to catch the rhythm. I think I'm going to enjoy this.

March 8, 2000 - 01:46 pm
ALF A big welcome to you from your ever-so-temporary tipsy innkeeper. I'm sure the tales will make much more sense than they did years ago. Do you have a modern English version to go along with the middle English? Glad to hear that you have heard the rhythm because there is one.

In terms of our language, it was extremely important that Chaucer wrote his tales in English, the common language. He did for English what Shakespeare was to do two centuries later, made it a literary language, one worthy to be used for literary pursuits.

~Maryal (tipsy, but still functioning)

Anyone want some grog?

Malryn (Mal)
March 8, 2000 - 02:22 pm
Did you know that you can find The Canterbury Tales and many other classics online at this site? I ran across it today in a search.

The free library of classics

March 8, 2000 - 03:14 pm
Malryn----Thank you for your link. Have some grog and stay a while.


Kay Lustig
March 8, 2000 - 06:12 pm
I'd love to join you'al for this! I loved The Tales in college. By the way my son Josh, who's in London with his cousin Will (Joan's son), mentioned the other day on the phone that Aunt Joan had gone to Canterbury that day!

Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 8, 2000 - 07:10 pm
Hi All: Have you noticed Andrea's (AlF) pet name for me. Probably it was a typo originally, but I think it's cute.

Kay Lustig: Glad to hear Joan already made it to Canterbury. When are we going to have another visit from you? Do you know it's almost a year?


March 9, 2000 - 04:34 am
CHAROLOTTE: Has a specific "ring" to it, an accent of entertaining rhythm, just like our beloved Chaucers.

Kay: Tell Josh to keep his eye on our nomad, Joan.

Mal is here-- hooray for us! Another scholar who adds dimension.

MaryalO: you little devil. Save some grog for me, I'm off to golf and will need a cold one upon my return. Yes, I do have the modern version, as well. I read it aloud again in bed, last evening and finished the Knights Tale.

Your friend-lovely Emily

Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 9, 2000 - 04:38 am

You are an original. Now you are turning into Emily. I Have a hard time figuring that one out. Could be you are a character in the Knight's Tale. Am I right? Have been trying to hold off on the reading till Joan gets back.


March 9, 2000 - 06:23 am
I hope you will include me in this discussion ...I had my surgery and have done quite well. My stitches will be removed next Tues and I hope at that time I will be allowed to drive. In the meantime I am just being lazy since I am not allowed to use the stairs except once children turned one of the bedrooms into a kitchenette with microwave, portable fridge and toaster oven. A friend comes over daily to check on me and I have recieved LOTS OF ATTENTION which is nice but am such an active person I am resorting to biting my fingernails....anna from virginia

March 9, 2000 - 06:50 am
Welcome Kay Lustig & annafair. Come on over to the tavern and have some grog with us.

We are working our way to Joan P's desired 29, but there is lots of room in the overflow stable area just in case we attract even more folks. No one should be excluded from a Spring pilgrimage to visit our blessed martyr, St Thomas a Becket.

annafair---I am very happy to hear that the surgery went well and that you are itching to have those stitches out and return to driving and an active life. Take it easy though. I, too, am impatient, so I understand. Perhaps you would benefit from some of the nun's priest's special ointment?

Kay---Dig out all those olde college notes. You seem to have enjoyed Chaucer then. I'll bet you enjoy him even more this time around.

ALF--You have the tipsy innkeeper confused too. Are you Andrea or Emily? If you have multiple personality disorder, you will fit right in on the pilgrimage, so not to worry.

Charlotte--A "Charolotte" by any other name will smell as sweet. How fine to have three syllables.

Malryn---If you are here lurking, a fine morning to you.

OK, it is too early in the day to offer grog, and coffee was not the drink in England at the time. I offer you strong tea (imagine a brew such as Caedfel would have had) to get you up and about this morning.

Hurry and have a good breakfast as we must soon mount and be on our way, but first, another tale from one of our company.

Maryal, temp. innkeeper of the Tabard

March 9, 2000 - 08:21 am

Good day, to you, and all the pilgrims here gathered.

I most humbly apologize for my tardy arrival but had great difficulty settling my palfrey in the stable. I politely suggest that you hire more stable boys, Innkeeper.

Please pour a noggin of grog (it is NEVER too early for grog) for me while I ease my travel worn body down on to this stool.

When the time is right, let our discussion of Geoffrey's work begin.

Your servant, Phyll

March 9, 2000 - 08:39 am
Charolotte wins the prize. I penned me name Emily</fontI> to encourage just a touch of thought re. poor Palomon & Arcita's woes. If we have an innkeeper, it's only fair that I should lurk with Emily in tow. Multiple personalities, indeed.



March 9, 2000 - 09:29 am
Welcome pilgrim Phyll

I am sorry to hear of your problems at the stable. It is so hard to get good help in this heavy pilgrimage season. Just don't know what to do with the younger folks. They seem to have no respect for me anymore. I will speak with Dan, the head stable boy, my dead sister's oldest, thirteen now, and see if he can't slap some sense into the others.

Sybil--Have you seen an exorcist? I'm sure we will find one in the company. Have some grog. Perhaps that will put you back in your right minds.

---the temporary Innkeeper (JoanP is at Canterbury????? Oh my. She certainly is ahead of the rest of us, and I don't think she told her tale yet. I will mark this down as an unexcused absence.)

Peace to all

Barbara St. Aubrey
March 9, 2000 - 09:39 am
Help me to speak now with all reverence!
My thinking says,
there is too much work in the land this spring
my heart says,
on to the pilgrimage, strengthen my bowstring.
on this journey spiritual
I will humbly share the ritual
I'll among twenty nine be, wiling away til Maying

March 9, 2000 - 09:54 am
Welcome, Barbara

to the assorted company. Always follow your heart in matters like this. We are most happy to have you with us. Though the road may be rocky and dusty, we will struggle on together, happy in each other's company.

Maryal, temp. Innkeeper and minstrel

March 9, 2000 - 01:25 pm
Will somebody please tell me which version to buy? I think it's going to need to be the modern English for me. I'm looking forward to joining this discussion. I can't remember reading this in school.

March 9, 2000 - 02:27 pm
Welcome mem

I'm reading the tales online. Did you see the link above? ^

I encourage all of you to help MEM pick a text.

Is it time to serve up the grog yet?

I have slaughtered the fatted calf. Bet you can all smell it roasting out back.

~maryal, temp. innkeeper and cook

March 9, 2000 - 02:39 pm
Maryal, I love this, I have to tell you, it's great. What, you're cooking now? What's for dinner?

I thought it was just a B&B, hmmm.

I want to pick a Pilgrim but am not sure which one matches me, is there any place they are outlined??

My palfrey has four white feet and you know the old saying, he and I will probably have to limp last, is there a limping Pilgrim? Me with the bunions and hammertoe and him with the white feet.

Don't you keep any Hoof Plus Biotin in your barn? Some stable.


March 9, 2000 - 03:02 pm
I haven't picked my pilgrim character yet, but I will soon.. I ordered a Coghill translation from Barnes and Noble, very reasonably priced...

Innkeeper... now when will the brew be ready... Much colder here today and I need something to warm these old bones.

March 9, 2000 - 03:17 pm
Innkeeper scurries around for a tankard to present to

Pat Westerdale

May you drink it in good health. Ginny---You are not paying attention. We are having the fatted calf for dinner. It is up to the pilgrims to provide the vegetables. The innkeeper grows weary. And NO, it could not possibly be the imbibing of BREW.

Would whoever left the stable door open, please go close it? We don't want all those palfreys, mares, geldings and mules to get away before we set out for Canterbury.

maryal, temp. Innkeeper, cook, bottle-washer

March 9, 2000 - 03:30 pm
EEewwwww? You mean we have to EAT that nasty thing burning in the back yard? Ickers ickers.

OK, OK, I'll go pick a Pilgrim who matches my feet.

(I'll go pick some tansy and marrow for dinner, too)

I believe I'd like to be the Franklin because I love the story of Dorigen. I like the "fre" concept, too.


March 9, 2000 - 04:14 pm
Ginny-----That is DINNER. You don't like it, you can join the palfreys and such in the barn. I'm sure their oats will make a tasty cereal. The cow is over two pastures in the back.

The rest of us will be feasting on the yummy and just-about-done CALF. Yummmmmmmmmmy.

~~maryal, temp Innkeeper, cook, distressed host

March 9, 2000 - 06:39 pm
This is MAGWYN, the Innkeeper's cat:


The Innkeeper is off to bed. Latecomers, please let the cat out and help yourselves to tankards of grog.

~maryal, temp. proprietor of the TABORD Inn

March 9, 2000 - 06:52 pm

There is a cat in this inn? No wonder I have been sneezing!

There are mice in the stables, Puss. have work to do!


Barbara St. Aubrey
March 9, 2000 - 07:19 pm
Here we go - The arrangement of a Medieval meal.

Dinners & feasts usually started with foods that were considered easily digestible, such as light meats, warm & moist foods such as soups and broths, moist fruits (especially peaches), and greens such as lettuce, cabbage, and "herbs." Spices were thought to warm the stomach, and were therefore an excellent stomach opener. Cheese was eaten both before and during the meal, as an aid to digestion and to help a "weak stomach."

Foods that were more difficult to digest, such as beef & pork and heavy fruits, like pears & chestnuts, were consumed later in the meal. In large feasts, very rich and exotic foods were served in smaller portions only to highly distinguished guests after the more filling and common dishes had been served to the entire hall. This practice would continue as the feast progressed, ending with the finest of delicacies being served to just the table of the king or nobleman in charge of the affair.

When meat was eaten, it was normally followed with cheese, which even physicians recommended for proper digestion. When fish was served, it was followed with nuts, for essentially the same reason.

Wines and ales of all sorts were consumed during the entire meal.

Sweets, like today, were saved for last, and spices were again used here as a digestive aid to end the meal. Wine, as a custom, was drunk just before retiring, and so the evening would usually end with a snack of sweet fruits & cakes, & spiced wines. This little repast was called the Voide.

Dinners were arranged in courses, each course containing several items, with several courses in each dinner. A feast may contain many courses with just a few dishes in each, or just a few courses with many dishes included. After the final course came the Voide.

At royal feasts, the courses were broken up with lavish presentations and spectacles, and fantastic and fanciful foods called solteties were presented. These exotic creations were crafted mainly from sugar and made to represent saints, warriors, heroes, scenes from mythology, etc.

With all that cheese better not be lactoise intolerant and a night cap was called a Voide hmmm I like the idea of the word to discribe this state.

March 10, 2000 - 04:36 am
Isn't this fabulous? It's just like a REAL pilgrimage, with all our assorted characters assembling, I just LOVE it!!

Barb, that was MARVELOUS, makes me hungry. Now I know why I'm so fat, I LIVE on VOIDE!! Good name for it even then, empty sugar calories.

AND we can see our Innkeeper means to honor us like kings!! I just love this, it ls so fun.

I read somewhere that the Pilgrims in Chaucer's day, upon declaring their Pilgrimage, were given curved staffs, but can't find any other reference as to WHAT they were supposed to DO when they got to Canterbury? I need to look that up further, but I did find these instructions for the year 2000, which Pope John Paul II has set out for the Holy Year 2000.

I am not a Roman Catholic, but reading of the Pilgrimage now being undertaken by many Catholics, I found some striking similarities: "The Holy Year 2000 is the first to be celebrated simultaneously in Rome, Jerusalem and all the churches of the world, making it a truly universal Jubilee. In promoting the spiritual aspects of the event, Popoe John Paul II set out the characteristics of the Jubilee Pilgrimage to Rome in the Bull of Indiction of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000:"

Make a pious pilgrimage to one of the Patriarchal Basilicas, namely, the Basilica di S. Pietro in the Vatican, the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior at the Lateran (S. Giovanni in Laterano), the Basilica di S. Maric Maggiore and the Basilica di S. Paolo on the Ostian Way, and there take part devoutly in Holy Mass or another liturgical celebration;...."

and a list of other sites and expressions of participation in services and prayers follows....

The point being that it's a pretty organized thing in 2000 and has great rewards for the faithful: it is possible to gain an indulgence (cancellation of punishments imposed for sins). This particular Jubilee of 2000 is known as the Year of Pardon. That's heady reason to make a pilgrimage, and though I'm not a Roman Catholic as I said, I'm going, too. Maybe some of it will rub off on me, who knows.

I wonder if the same motivations were present for Chaucer's jolly group? It seems a most convivial atmosphere, this is really fascinating.


March 10, 2000 - 05:25 am
Ginny---I think of it as A sort of a Spring Break Pilgrimage to a holy shrine. In this case, we are travelling to Canterbury Cathedral where the blessed martyr Thomas a Becket was ruthlessly murdered by the King's men.

Since this is the late middle ages and indulgences were sought in numerous ways such as buying relics of the "true cross" and bones from saints, I assume that by going on a pilgrimage one could earn some time off from Purgatory. Or time off for a loved person who had died. Think of how Catholics (I am not one, so anyone correct what I say) have masses said for the dead.

Going on a pilgrimage was a way to combine a vacation with a spiritual act, a twofer as it were. As we will see, many of our company are far from religious and yet they make the pilgrimage.

Barbara---Thanks for the fulsome description of a medieval feast. I guess my fatted calf would have fallen a little this side of midway through. I do like the idea of taking cheese before and after the meal. Cheese is just about my favorite food. I'm not sure I could have made it through one of these meals!

Phyll---The Innkeeper REALLY has a Jack Russell terrier and not a =^-^=, so you may be allergic to dogs also. Your Innkeeper is also allergic to cats and therefore employs the JR terrier to keep the vermin down in the barn. Kemper (the JRT) is a superb hunter and alarm dog; thus we shall all be safe as we drink our ALE.

"The Canterbury Tales is much more than a collection of stories. it is an unfolding drama of human personalities who are brought into temporary associatioin with one another. Some are gentle, some aristocratic, and some are coarse and vulgar. Some are not easy to get along with when sober, and they are not all sober. They are on a holiday, even though it is also a religious pilgrimage."--from the introduction to CT, Albert C. Baugh, editor.

~~maryal, temp. Innkeeper

March 10, 2000 - 05:36 am
one more thing

Albert Baugh also points out the advantage to using a pilgrimage as a backdrop for the tales. A religious pilgrimage was the one occasion in the Middle Ages when class barriers could to a certain degree be overlooked, and when the association of such diverse classes as a knight, a prioress, a London cook, and a vulgar miller was conceivable. Thus Chaucer could endow his pilgrims with vivid personalities, besides making them representatives of a class.

Chaucer planned to have four stories from each pilgrim, two on the way to Canterbury and two on the journey back. Since thirty pilgrims (29 plus himself) are present, the collection of tales would have totaled 120, a "long hundred" and therefore a round number to the medieval mind. Because Chaucer began the Tales rather late in life, the plan was overambitious. The work remains unfinished. There are twenty-four tales in all, two of them fragmentary.

~maryal, temp. Innkeeper

March 10, 2000 - 06:04 am
Maryal: Where is the Albert Bough link? Thanks


March 10, 2000 - 07:17 am
ALF---Sorry, it's not a link. I am at work and the professor next to me is a Chaucer person, so I have borrowed some of his books. The one I was quoting from and paraphrasing is Albert C. Baugh, Chaucer's Major Poetry. The text of CT is only in Middle English, but there are very good footnotes.

I'll check and see if it is available online, but I doubt that it is.


Barbara St. Aubrey
March 10, 2000 - 09:23 am
How well do we know our Chaucer?? here we go - a Friday pop quiz
1. The exact date of Geoffrey Chaucer's birth is uncertain; it is generally given as c.1340, but it's more likely he was born in 1342 or 1343. Who was king of England when he was born?
a.Edward II
b.Edward III
c.Richard II
d.Henry IV

2. Which of Chaucer's works is associated with Valentine's Day?
a.The Book of the Duchess
b.The Legend of Good Women
c.The Parliament of Fowles
d.Troilus and Criseyde

3.Geoffrey Chaucer was alive to witness--or hear breaking news of--some remarkable events in medieval history. Which one of the following events was he not around for?
a.The Battle of Agincourt
b.The Black Death
c.The Deposition of Richard II
d.The Peasants' Revolt

4. Chaucer wrote The Book of the Duchess as an elegy for Blanche, the late wife of which nobleman?
a.Henry Bolingbroke
b.John of Gaunt
c.Jean de Montfort
d.Simon de Montfort

5. The Canterbury Tales is an unfinished work, wherein each pilgrim was supposed to tell more than one tale. How many tales did Chaucer originally envision each pilgrim telling?

6. The device Chaucer employs in The Canterbury Tales of many characters gathered together, each telling stories, was not new. The idea had been used by an Italian author in a work probably begun sometime in the late 1340's. Who was this Italian poet?
a.Dante Alighieri
b.Giovanni Boccaccio
c.Baldassare Castiglione
d.Francesco Petrarch

7. Chaucer's epic poem Troilus and Criseyde is considered by some to be his best work. Against what war is this tragic romance set?
a.The Hundred Years' War
b.The Peloponnesian War
c.The Trojan War
d.The War of the Roses

8. Chaucer was strongly influenced by classical and early medieval writings and even translated one into the English of his day. Which older work did he translate?
a.The City of God by St. Augustine
b.The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius
c.De Officiis by Cicero
d.Metamorphoses by Ovid

9. In the early 1390s, Chaucer began a treatise that he dedicated to "little Lewis"; scholars are undecided as to whether or not the Lewis in question was Chaucer's own son or that of a friend. What topic did this factual treatise cover?
b.The Astrolabe
c.The Cannon
d.The Printing Press

10. Geoffrey Chaucer died in October, 1400. Where is he buried?
a.St. Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury
b.The Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral
c.Potter's Field
d.Westminster Abbey, London

Chaucer Quiz questions and answers The journey not knowing the answers is wonderful with links to all sorts of information and photos.

Barbara St. Aubrey
March 10, 2000 - 10:38 am
Ok Inn Keeper I found it - the recipie for that old cow you want to serve us - frankly rather eat cow than horse:
COW'S MEAT Anthimus p. 11

Cow's meat however, steamed and cooked in a casserole should be eaten, in a gravy. First, it should be put to soak in one water, and then it should cook in a reasonable quantity of fresh water, without adding any water as it cooks, and when the meat is cooked, put in a vessel about a half mouthful of vinegar, and put in the heads of leeks and a little pennyroyal, parsley root, or fennel, and let it cook for an hour; then add honey to half the quantity of the vinegar, or sweeter according to taste. Then let it cook on a slow fire, shaking the pot frequently with the hands, and the sauce will well season the meat. Then grind: pepper fifty grains; costum and spikenard, a half solidus each; cloves, one tremissis. All these grind well in an earthen mortar, add a little wine, and when well ground, put into a vessel and stir well, so that before it is taken from the fire it may warm up a little and put its strength into the gravy. Moreover, where there is honey, or must, or caroenum, put in one of these as it says above, and do not let it cook in a copper kettle, but in an earthen vessel; it makes flavor the better.

Cut beef into 1" pieces. Bring beef and water to a boil, turn down heat to low and cook covered 45 minutes. Wash and slice leeks, using only the half starting at the white end. Grind fennel seed and add vinegar, honey, leeks and fennel to stew. Cook uncovered on moderate heat one hour. Grind pepper, cloves, and lavender together, add wine and grind some more. Put this with stew and cook ten minutes and serve.

March 10, 2000 - 01:13 pm
Fellow Pilgrims:

My meagre contribution to all the good information coming in:

"Chaucer greatly increased the prestige of English as a literary language and extended the range of its poetic vocabulary and meters. He was the first English poet to use the seven-line stanza in iambic pentameter known as rhyme royal and the couplet later called heroic. His system of versification, which depends on sounding many e's in final syllables that are silent (or absent) in modern English, ceased to be understood by the 15th century. Nevertheless, Chaucer dominated the works of his 15th-century English followers and the so-called Scottish Chaucerians. For the Renaissance, he was the English Homer. Edmund Spenser paid tribute to him as his master; many of the plays of William Shakespeare show thorough assimilation of Chaucer's comic spirit. John Dryden, who modernized several of the Canterbury tales, called Chaucer the father of English poetry. Since the founding of the Chaucer Society in England in 1868, which led to the first reliable editions of his works, Chaucer's reputation has been securely established as the English poet best loved after Shakespeare for his wisdom, humor, and humanity."

"Chaucer, Geoffrey," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2000. © 1993-1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

(This really fun and is accomplishing just what I had hoped. It is really stretching my mind!)

INNKEEPER, I happen to be quite fond of dogs. When I go on winter pilgrimage especially, I have spent many a bitter "three dog night" camped in the woods when no fine inn, such as The Tabard, was at hand.

The Anonymous Pilgrim

March 10, 2000 - 02:54 pm
Barbara & Phyll

Thanks for the quiz, the recipe, the great information on Chaucer. The Innkeeper plans to serve leftover roasted calf from last night as directed in Barbara's recipe. Wish I knew what all of those savory spices are and that I had the right kind of pestle, but hey, we make do with what we have, right? And we'll all have a lot of grog and ale first so that we won't even notice if I am off a little on the honey and vinegar proportions.

I borrowed two books from the Chaucer prof. next door. (Must remember to send him an email so he knows who has the books.) I picked quickly which caused me to select one book that is veddy scholarly and oblique. Oblique being defined for my puposes as HUH? But the book does have a chapter on the Tales at the end and I'll read that one.

The other book is by a Chaucerian of some reknown (judging by how many books he wrote on Chaucer and where he taught--Hopkins and Stanford among them). It also seems to be lucidly written, if somewhat heavy. And it has an INDEX so I can look things up. Title is Chaucer: His Life, His Works, His World. Pretty much covers it, I'd say.

So-----let's all life a pint o' ale and toast our own dear Geof.

~maryal, temp. host, prop. of the Tabard, etc. & co.

March 10, 2000 - 05:04 pm
That should, of course, be LIFT a pint. . . above. I think I may have had one pint too many. The Innkeeper is just supposed to pour, right?

March 10, 2000 - 06:25 pm
Maryal: One question must be posed here first ----'tis

Have ye 'nuff grog to quench our thirst?

with drinks for 29 pilgrims, just waiting

the tab at Tabards won't be abating?

Credit, I call for, inn keeper, dear for without Tabard credit, there will be no beer.

March 10, 2000 - 06:43 pm
Barbara: Thanks for the quiz, I loved it. I am so excited about our pilgramage. Since Ginny's suggestion that we choose a pilgrim, I've thought long and hard , trying to cast me in the desired slot. That'll be fun. The knight? Nah, too many mortal battles for me to survive. Our Squire ? the lover, singing and fluting- I don't want to BE him, but perhaps I'd like to meet him. J "he loved so hotly that till dawn grew pale" 3. The Yeoman? he is definetly TOO well sheathed to suit me. 4. The prioress? Nope, not after all those years in Catholic nursing school, thank you!! No nuns NOR priests (5 thru

9. Our brave hunter, the Monk? Ride on ye personable priest.

10. The merry Friar? That is a considereation. He loved gossip and possessions; hearing confessions gently. Giving absolution for a bit of silver. Ya gotta love the ole coot. Maybe--- I'll be he! Natural gifts like his were hard to match-- he was the finest beggar of the batch.

Well there's 10 presented for ye. Any takers, ye sots? No? Perhaps for one of the 19 remaining, you'll opt!

Fill 'em up, inn keeper--let this one not be our last

April , is nearing and these roles must be cast!!

March 10, 2000 - 10:49 pm
Inkeeper am missing some thing here please clue me in (grog) I did think this drink was made of fruit and came from the Swedish people. Was this also an English drink and is it made of fruits, nuts etc.. My parents had some Swedish friends who brought grog the fruit kind with liquor in it and let me taste it as a teen ager. Help. will I at my age and in England again taste grog? Just taste as I remember it was smooth with a punch. If I remember right it was a Christmas drink?

Barbara St. Aubrey I did enjoy the Quiz but did not do verey good. LOL Ginger

March 11, 2000 - 04:16 am
Good morning Ginger" You are the 1st one in- so you should have preference of which character you'd like to represent.

My American Heritage Dictionary defines grog as such: "Rum or other alcoholic liquor diluted with water." <Old Grog, nickname of Admiral Edward Vernon. (1684-1757)

March 11, 2000 - 04:37 am
I am learning SO much in this discussion, and it really IS fun. Loved the Quiz! I knew ONE answer and I got that from Maryal's post. Maybe we should save the Quiz for when we finish and THEN if we can't answer it we'll KNOW!!hahahaha

I, too, am having trouble finding a Pilgrim who matches me, but PERHAPS I'm not looking deeply enough at them! Maybe I ought to wait until the end and pick one then, because I have a feeling they will reveal more than they thought they would.

I love this.


March 11, 2000 - 04:51 am
I would like to be one of the Nuns attending the Prioress. My silence does not mean I'm not here and paying attention.

My experience with nuns has always been quite pleasant.. The last contact with one was a trip to the Netherlands, Sister Ann Matilda, Sam, and what fun she and I had.

March 11, 2000 - 05:49 am
Ginny: No fair, no fair!!! This was your idea. should we delve further into the list?

Oh yes, I left off with Hubert. NEXT!!!!

# 11. The Merchant? An expert with feduciary responsibilities. Not for me. How 'bout you Pat?

12. The Oxford Cleric. Ah hah. I'm certain he will appeal to one of you scholars. his only care was study. Nah--- boring fella.

13. A Serjant at Law? He comes with full commission, from the crown. He was less busy than he seemed. but, he could quote verbatim. Who wants to be regal ? Any takers?

14. The Franklin? A freeholder , but NOT of noblity.Yes, yes. An epicurian, devoted to the pursuit of pleasure. That would be ME, folks.

15- 19. A Haberdasher, a Dyer, A Carpenter, A Weaver and a Carpet Maker amongst us? Speak up. Jump right in..

20. The Cook is the last one for me to suggest. How 'bout you, inn keeper? Would you fit the bill here? You're already tending to the grog and you have the recipe.

Only 9 players left to meet

Hurry, hurry, jump to yer feet.

franklin, cook, merchant, dyer?

someone please, choose the Friar.

Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 11, 2000 - 07:59 am
Hi all you Pilgrims:

I love all your railery. You are behaving, or rather misbehaving, as the Pilgrims must have acted before they started on their journey. You’re funny and original. While we’re waiting for Joan, we’re really having a great time. And Maryal makes a super Harry Baily.

I found some fabulous stuff in an 8 page introductory lecture to our study of the bard. In the hope that I may remember some of it, I’ve extracted some gems--things I always wanted to know more about, and hope to share with you.


The reason we study Chaucer is because he is the most readable of medieval English poets, by which Patterson means that Chaucer. is most like us and the least medieval. He is not didactic, moralistic or pious. Nor is he interested in local politics. His major interest is in the Individual which is what makes him a modernist. Patterson says he is the initial figure for the study of the whole of English Literature and tells us that as late as the beginning of the 18th century, Dryden called Chaucer. the Father of English Poetry.

It is important in reading the tales that we remember “that the meaning of the tale cannot be divorced from the teller, but is both initially and finally referred back to him or her. It is fair to say, then, that none of the tales (with the exception of the Parson’s Tale) can stand alone from its teller.” We must always view the tale in the light of the personality and character of the person who is telling it.

As an example, he asks us to look at the General Prologue. It is here that “Chaucer defines each pilgrim in terms of his estate, by which he means his social role. We have a knight, a squire, a prioress, a friar, a merchant, etc. But in virtually every instance,” Chaucer’s focus is not on how each narrator functions in his society, but on his individualism and how he succeeds or fails in his position within that society.

Prof. Patterson then goes on to tell us something of the economic, social and political conditions of Chaucer’s world and says he will describe Chaucer’s relation to them. Chaucer was born around 1340, and the most important event that occurred during his lifetime was The Black Plague, also known as the Bubonic Plague of 1348-50. (Movie goers will be reminded of Ingmar Bergman’s Seventh Seal, which was set in that period.) In Europe it killed 1/3 and sometimes 1/2 of the population. It returned to England two or three times in the 14th century and did not disappear until after the Great Plague that devastated London in 1665. “It is generally agreed that England did not return to its pre-plague population level until around the 17th Century.

“The economic and social consequences of the 14th century plague were enormous and well documented.” There was an imbalance between population and food production, so there were recurrent famines in the first half of the 14th century. “Before the plague land and food were scarce while labor was abundant.” Demand was voracious. “After the plague, the situation was exactly opposite.” There was lots of land, less people to feed, plenty of food being grown, but not enough people take care of the crops. The laboring classes were now empowered and were seen as a threat by the landlords of the ruling classes.

The landlords passed restrictive legislation which forbade the tenant to leave his manor, compelled him to accept whatever work was offered him and required landlords to offer wages no higher than those that existed before the plague. They also codified the wages of artisans and fixed the prices of food. Attempts to enforce these laws could only lead to class warfare.

This resulted in The Peasant’s Revolt, better known as the Rising in 1381, which traumatized the ruling class. It’s most intense moment was a march into London by rebels from Essex and Kent on June 13, Corpus Christi Day. (It seems to me I’ve heard mention of such a day in Shakespeare) It was a day set aside the celebrate the order of the community. But on that day the Archbishop of Canterbury was beheaded and the London palace of John of Gaunt was burned. The rebels also burned legal records that could be used to enforce serfdom and also set out to kill lawyers. (Which Dickens novel attacks the malfeasance’s of the law courts?)

A Brief example of the events during the Rising: The Benedictine Abbey owned a huge, prosperous manor near London. The monks and tenants did not get along with each other, to say the least. A major grievance was that the Abbot required his tenants to grind their grain in the large mills owned by the abbey and required them to pay for the service.

The tenants circumvented this requirement by building their own handmills and hiding them in their houses. The monks retaliated by seizing the handmills. This occurred off and on, until fifty years later in 1327, after the original occurrence in 1274, the tenants seized the Abbey and won the concession to have their own handmills. However, around 1337 the concession was withdrawn. “The Abbot, a man named Richard seized the millstones and had them cemented into the floor of his parlor.”

The Invasion of the Abbey as described by one of the monks:

Some ribald people broke their way into the Abbey cloisters and took up the millstones in the parlor, which had been there since the time of the Abbot Richard. They broke them up in little pieces and gave them to each person, just as the consecrated bread used to be distributed on Sundays in the parish churches.

“In this extraordinary scene the peasants created a political ritual that replaces and parodies the central religious ritual --the Mass--enacted by the ecclesiastical establishment that had so oppressed them.”

The leader was William Grindcobbe (notice the analogy to his role in life) The monk recorded Grindcobbe’s words while he was under indictment for his part in the Rising.

“Fellow citizens, for whom a little liberty has now relieved the long years of oppression, stand firm while you can and do not be afraid because of my persecution.

If it should happen that I die in the cause of seeking to acquire liberty, I will count myself happy to end my life as such a martyr."

The use of the religious word “martyr” is surely significant for Grindcobbe was indeed executed. A contemporary verse put it this way:

“The stool was hard
	the  axe was sharp 
	the iiii yere of king Richard. 

Probably this had nothing to do with Chaucer. He was living in London at the time and must have witnessed the invasion by the rebels, but it is notable that he allows the miller to interrupt the monk without retribution--unlike the martyred Grindcobbe. He also allows the miller to tell a tale that is a scathing, funny parody of the Knight’s Tale. In other words the CT seems to begin with a kind of literary Rising.

That's all for now. But I don't want to take up too much space. Will post more later. Am off to relax with a tankard of grog.


March 11, 2000 - 09:22 am
Ginger, Welcome!

Re: grog---I used the word because I like it. I don't think it is a medieval English word at all, and I send thanks to Ginger who suggests its origin. I should speak of Ale and Beer, I guess, but they both sound so ordinary and humdrum. Whereas GROG has possibilities, and one certainly does feel groggy after drinking it all evening.

ALF--We will have to negotiate with the real owner of the TABARD when it comes to your Tab. While I am on duty, you can run the old tab up as high as you want. I'm just the temporary help---no skin off my nose. Hehehehehehe.

Re: Characters---For heaven's sake, someone pick THE WYFE of BATH. She is a hoot and she tells a good story too. And she has some fancy clothes on.

I read about 80 pages in one of the scholarly books and will have to get back to you on what I absorbed.

The Black Death (Bubonic plague) is fascinating to read about. It is also described in the prologue to the Decameron where Boccacio has his travellers escaping the city for the more healthy countryside. I will not go into details here, but generally the plague killed all who got it, within three days. There seems to have been almost no middle ground. Either you got it or you didn't. Few recovered.

It was carried by fleas of which there were a goodly number in the Middle Ages. Having once helped to deflea a puppy born in the wild, I can only imagine what it must have been like in the middle ages. I bring all this up--about the plague and everything--because it hit England for the first time in 1348-9 and killed between a third and a quarter of the population. Since we are reasonably sure that Chaucer died in 1400, it is not unlikely that he may have been born before the plague. In London. And survived it.

A fine morning to all you pilgrims. I am sorry to be so late in getting up. Stayed up too late reading about the plague and other less interesting stuff.

~~maryal, temp. Innkeeper. Run up those tabs. The check belongs to Joan P. wherever she is.

Milton Snitzer
March 11, 2000 - 09:41 am


I wonder how many of the resident bookies know that the above is the beginning of a beautiful, old Simon & Garfinkle song. Or am I dating myself?


March 11, 2000 - 09:59 am
MILT-----I'm dating myself too by using it. I love that song by Simon and Garfunkle. I love their songs in general. I'll bet you hear the music when you read the tag, don't you???

I am so happy that I got the music playing in your head. SMILE


March 11, 2000 - 10:04 am


Have some grog, ale, beer. Join in the company of assembling pilgrims. I don't believe that the character of knight has yet been claimed. Do stay a while.

~maryal, temp. innkeeper etc.

March 11, 2000 - 10:09 am
Thanks to everyone for these worthy discussions, for information, for suggestions and for humor. Recovering from my successful surgery I just come here to listen and to learn. You have made our coming journey exciting and challenging. When someone asked me about my best quality I said my mind. It is there we truly live and here we are asked to peek inside and see what we find. Pearls I hope.....Love and Peace,anna from Virginia

March 11, 2000 - 10:11 am

So glad that your recovery is going well. Be patient with yourself. I have had major back surgery and have had to learn to be patient.

Please contribute whenever you feel like it.

Have some grog!


March 11, 2000 - 11:30 am
Aye, the pilgrims are a-rising to the challenge.

Maryal: Do you wish to claim the worthy wife of Bath? Well wimpled, we're told! She is # 23.

Charolotte: Hello, good friend. As usual your contributions are countless. Thank you for the insight re. the times (or is it thymes?) Spicy conversation, always, here.

Milt: Greetings, fellow traveler. Our learned cyberspace mechanic. Sit thee down and let us discuss your role. Do you favour Bordeaux? Perhaps you'd like to be Skipper (# 21?) The drinks are on ME. Inn keep, set 'em up.

Anna: We hope and pray you can join us on our journey. #22 -- we find a perfect practicing physician , our Doctor, to accommopany you and tend to your needs. Bring your own Bible , tho. Perhaps # 24, our Parson. he neglected not in rain or thunder, In sickness or grief, to pay a call, on the remotest, whether great or small I like him, already, as he sought no pomp or glory.

Come on, me friends-- tis to 25, we're at

the plowman? Reeve, Miller?


Only 5 more to assemble, before we go

take your pick, quickly-- don't be so slow...______------------------------------------------------------

I love this prologue. If these characters relate their stories like the characterizations are introduced by Chaucer, it will be interesting.

March 11, 2000 - 12:23 pm
I think maybe I will be the Wife of Bath. She has been married five times already. That makes her absolutely nothing like me. Perhaps I can learn more about the ways of love from her.

But for the nonce I am Harry Bailey, taverner and joiner of the journey. WHO did he leave in charge of the Inn? What kind of innkeeper was he anyway, running off to Canterbury and leaving who know who to do all the work?


March 11, 2000 - 12:36 pm
Mistress Phyll-----Look who got out of the bed on the wrong side this morning. You are not living in your cushy 21st century. You are lucky to have a bed at all. And to be safe from highwaymen on the road who might rob you---and do worse. I'm sure you don't want to think on that, dear lady.

Furthermore, be advised that this very night you will be sharing you room with two wandering mendicants who are even now struggling up the road.

This establishment does not believe in either "the customer is always right" (how silly--the Innkeeper makes the rules) or "Give the lady what she wants" (ladies want entirely too much and can be very demanding). This establishment also does not accept complaints and does not serve scones, in bed or not.

yours, HarryBailey, prop.of ye Inne

March 11, 2000 - 01:08 pm
Maryal, I'm sorry I was too quick to delete the post that brought forth your clever answer. I was, to tell the truth, a little afraid I had laid it on a bit thick. However, I am re-posting it just so your answer to "Mistress Phyll" will make sense. )


I must most strenuously protest the service in this establishment! The Tabard was highly recommended to me but now I question that accolade!

Firstly, my arrival was made most upsetting due to the lack of a sufficient number of stable boys to care for my palfrey (he is a very high-bred animal, you know)..... Secondly, I was astonished to hear ugly rumours as to the presence of a feline animal in the inn. (Some of us more refined pilgrims are made to sneeze quite loudly and embarrassingly by these creatures.).... And thirdly, just this very morn, I did NOT receive my complimentary tea and scone in my bed chamber. I actually had to get dressed and venture forth into the kitchen where I demanded my right.

I do not feel that I am receiving the attention that should be accorded to a person of my breeding. I hope, sincerely, that the level of service will be improved.

Has anyone identified me yet?

March 11, 2000 - 01:12 pm

I cannot make up my mind.
With each arriving pilgrim I find
Traits of character I both love and abhor.
I can not choose 'til I study more.


March 11, 2000 - 01:22 pm
Phyll---Thanks. Everyone, read backwards and it will all make sense. As to your being anonymous, Mistress Phyll, I think you might be the Wife her very self. Isn't she the one on the palfrey?


March 11, 2000 - 01:35 pm

I was trying, in my confused and heavy handed way, to take on the persona of the Wife of Bath. But I think you would be better in that alter-ego, after your days of temporary innkeeper are finished, of course. It really doesn't matter to me--it is all a lot of fun (and educational) no matter what pilgrim I may be.

Have fun at the beach. I am still hoping to get over there myself, before the heavy tourist season gets started.


Barbara St. Aubrey
March 11, 2000 - 02:53 pm
Tea? TEA? what do we have an infidele among us? Who ever heard of Tea? Do you wash with tea - I found water in my pitcher but not tea. Inn Keeper what is this tea she speaks and scones?

Barbara St. Aubrey
March 11, 2000 - 02:54 pm
Sorry no Tea till the 1600s.

The use of tea in China and Ceylon goes back to prehistoric times. It was brought to Europe by the Dutch in 1610 and to England in 1644, it was first imported into Europe in the 17th century and first mentioned in a European language (Portuguese) in 1559. The first use of the word in English (in the form "Cha") is given as 1598.

Coffee was apparently introduced into Yemen from Abyssinia in the middle of the 15th century. It reached Mecca in the last decade of the century and Cairo in the first decade of the 16th century. The use of coffee in Egypt is mentioned by a European resident near the end of the sixteenth century. It was brought to Italy in 1615 and to Paris in 1647.

The first bunch of bananas is said to have reached England in 1633

Treacle was originally the name of a medical mixture one of whose ingredients was honey. It originated in classical antiquity and survived into the Middle Ages; at some point molasses or sugar syrup began to be used instead of honey for the base. England had its own sugar refineries by 1540, it is unclear whether molasses would have been used as a sweetener in England before 1582 when the word "Molasses" first appears in English.

Both baking soda and baking powder are far out of period. Saleratus (Potassium Bicarbonate) was patented as a chemical leavening in 1840. Hartshorn (Ammonium Carbonate) was used for stiffening jellies by about the end of the sixteenth century no reference to its use as a leavening agent prior to the late 18th century.

Sweet potatoes are described in 1555 as growing in the West Indies. By 1587 they are said to be "brought out of" Spain and Portugal, and described as venerous (aphrodisiacal). In 1599 Ben Johnson describes something as "above all your potatoes or oyster pies."

Ordinary potatoes were introduced into Spain shortly after 1580. They reached Italy about 1585 and were being grown in England by 1596. By 1678 the potato is described as "common in English gardens."

In 1593 several farmers were engaged to grow potatoes in France, but in 1630 "the Parliament of Besanç on, from fear of leprosy, forbade the cultivation of the potato." In 1619 Potato is served at the Royal table in England.

Both sorts of potatoes were being grown in parts of Europe before 1600.Potatoes would almost certainly have been regarded as a novelty. There are no period recipes using potatoes.

Maize, the British name for the grain that Americans call corn, is from 1555. No evidence that either corn starch or corn syrup was used in period.

The term "pepper" refers to two entirely different groups of plants. The spice pepper, both black and white, is the fruit of any of a group of related Old World trees, and is routinely mentioned in period cookbooks. The capsicum peppers, which include both hot peppers (chili, cayenne, paprika, etc.) and sweet peppers, are New World. The first English use of the word "chili" is in 1662. Spanish reference to hot peppers from the New World in 1493; apparently the seeds had been brought back by Columbus. Peppers are mentioned in Italy in 1526 and in Hungary (in a list of foreign seeds planted in a noblewoman's garden-as 'Turkish Red Pepper") in 1569. AChiles were cultivated in Germany by 1542, in England by 1548, and in the Balkans by 1569.

Lima, sieva, Rangoon, Madagascar, butter, Burma, pole, curry, kidney, French, navy, haricot, snap, string, common, and frijole bean are American, and soybeans are Old World. Broad beans, aka fava beans, are also old world. The haricot bean was in Europe by at least 1542.

No use of "peanut" (or "groundnut" as a synonym for "peanut") prior to the eighteenth century.

All varieties of pumpkins, squash, and vegetable marrows are inappropriate before 1492; some were known in the sixteenth century, but may or may not have been sufficiently common to be used in feasts.

Pineapple and Guava are New World fruits that were being grown in India in the 16th Century.

The term "blueberry" describes a number of different New World species of the genus Vaccinium; the bilberry, which is a member of the same genus, is Old World. The blueberry produces "larger and better flavored berries than the European bilberry." The cultivated blueberry, a native of the American east, north, and northwest, has been purposely bred only since about 1910 .

There are both old world and new world cranberries, but the commercial cranberry is an American native. The word "cranberry" seems to have come into use with the new world variant of the berry.

Allspice is first used in 1621 and vanilla in 1662. Both are from the New World.

A drink made from cocoa was drunk by the Aztecs; it was unsweetened, flavored with vanilla, and drunk cold. Cocoa was brought back by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century; they flavored it "with chillies and other hot spices" and made it "into a soup-like concoction." The first recorded use of chocolate in England was in 1650.

The first reference to turkeys in England is in 1555.

March 11, 2000 - 03:09 pm
Mistress Phyll-----Look who got out of the bed on the wrong side this morning. You are not living in your cushy 21st century. You are lucky to have a bed at all. And to be safe from highwaymen on the road who might rob you---and do worse. I'm sure you don't want to think on that, dear lady.

Furthermore, be advised that this very night you will be sharing you room with two wandering mendicants who are even now struggling up the road.

This establishment does not believe in either "the customer is always right" (how silly--the Innkeeper makes the rules) or "Give the lady what she wants" (ladies want entirely too much and can be very demanding). This establishment also does not accept complaints and does not serve scones, in bed or not.

yours, HarryBailey, prop.of ye Inn

March 11, 2000 - 03:12 pm
Dame Barbara TEA? TEA???? It's spirits, ale, wine or Water. The water is NOT recommended. So many have fallen ill. The water is intended for the horses only.

The management has installed a "complaint box" over by the fireplace. From thence, it is not far to the fire where the contents of said box will be emptied daily.

---HarryBailey, prop. the Tabard--"You stay here, or you takes your chances on the road."

Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 11, 2000 - 03:34 pm
Hi Everyone: I've been too involved with Prof. Patterson to choose a character. Maybe it should be PP that I should identify with. After all he has so many answers. But I'm enjoying getting drunk on the grog. I'm a cheap drunk. All it takes is one drink.

I feel like a dud getting so serious, but Joan will have a great time reading all your imaginative posts when she gets back. You're all great and as Ginny says:"So Fun."

Prof. Lee Patterson’s Lecture Synopsis continued:


He was the son of a wealthy vintner in London. His father had sent him to be brought up in a noble household as was the custom of wealthy business men of that time. Chaucer was first a page in the household of a countess in Ulster, then in the services of Edward III, John of Gaunt and finally Richard II. He certainly was not a member of the nobility, although he seems to have had a coat of arms.

In 1374, Edward appointed him Controller of the Customs. It was an important job, but not of high status. He was to oversee the collection of huge customs duties which were collected on the export of wool and cloth. What demeaned his status, however, was that he had to keep all records in his own hand. Such manual labor was considered beneath the dignity of an aristocrat, so he was never considered a member of the aristocratic class. “Indeed all the holders of this office had been clerics: he was the first layman to hold the job. One historian described it as a “modest office for modest men.”

Chaucer did not have enough money or landed wealth to be considered a member of the ruling class. Nor did his marriage bring him any financial gain. His wife was one of the queen’s ladies in waiting She did not bring him a significant dowry. He was in the same position as many other merchant’s sons who entered noble service and received remuneration in grants and annuities from the king.

There is no evidence that Chaucer was particularly close to the centers of power. NOR WAS THERE ANY EVIDENCE THAT HE WAS REWARDED OR EVEN RECOGNIZED BY THE KING FOR HIS LITERARY WORK. Of about 100 documents about Chaucer’s official life. NOT ONE OF THEM MENTIONS THE FACT THAT HE WAS A POET.

He was a layman who performed tasks usually assigned to clerics. He knew Latin, French and Italian well and was widely if not very deeply read. In 14th century terms, he would have been considered as learned as many clerics. However, Patterson says it is almost impossible to specify his exact social identity.. “He’s not bourgeois, he’s not noble and he’s not clerical--yet he participates in all three of these groupings. Perhaps this lack of precise social definition can help us to understand--although it cannot be said to cause--Chaucer’s interest in individuality and concern with psychological specificity and inwardness that is everywhere present in his poetry.”

Does it mean that the events of the late 1380’s turned Chaucer into a political radical? The Professor says he doesn’t think so But he does believe that what was happening in his society shook Chaucer loose from an aristocratic culture that he was finding less than satisfactory for life, as well as for his art. “And the result to our great benefit was the Canterbury Tales.”

But the Tales are not a radical political document, since they promote no consistent political position, nor do they comment in any direct way on contemporary problems. They propose no alternative social vision to that of the aristocratic world. They represent an escape from politics by focusing their attention upon individuals and character. “Whether this represents political cowardice or simple prudence on Chaucer’s part is an open question. But what cannot be disputed is that Chaucer’s response to the material conditions of his life resulted in a work that 20th century (and indeed 21st century) Americans have found both politically congenial and aesthetically irresistible.”


Barbara St. Aubrey
March 11, 2000 - 03:37 pm
In the morning I thinkith no beer or grog for my musty head and so Inn keeper a fire a fire, nice and hot and a cup of mead all around.

Take nine pints of warm fountain water, and dissolve in it one pint of pure White-honey, by laving it therein, till it be dissolved. Then boil it gently, skimming it all the while, till all the scum be perfectly scummed off; and after that boil it a little longer, peradventure a quarter of an hour. In all it will require two or three hours boiling, so that at last one third part may be consumed. About a quarter of an hour before you cease boiling, and take it from the fire, put to it a little spoonful of cleansed and sliced Ginger; and almost half as much of the thin yellow rind of Orange, when you are even ready to take it from the fire, so as the Orange boil only one walm in it. Then pour it into a well-glased strong deep great Gally-pot, and let it stand so, till it be almost cold, that it be scarce Luke-warm. Then put to it a little silver-spoonful of pure Ale-yest, and work it together with a Ladle to make it ferment: as soon as it beginneth to do so, cover it close with a fit cover, and put a thick dubbled woollen cloth about it. Cast all things so that this may be done when you are going to bed. Next morning when you rise, you will find the barm gathered all together in the middle; scum it clean off with a silver-spoon and a feather, and bottle up the Liquor, stopping it very close. It will be ready to drink in two or three days; but it will keep well a month or two. It will be from the first very quick and pleasant.

11 pints water 1 T peeled, sliced fresh ginger (~1/4 oz) 1/2 t yeast 1 pint honey = 1 1/2 lb 1/2 T orange peel

Dissolve the honey in the water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Let it boil down to 2/3 the original volume (8 pints), skimming periodically. This will take about 2 1/2 to 3 hours; by the end it should be clear. About 15 minutes before it is done, add the ginger. At the end, add the orange peel, let it boil a minute or so, and remove from the heat. The orange peel should be the yellow part only, not the white; a potato peeler works well to get off the peel. Let the mead cool to lukewarm, then add the yeast. The original recipe appears to use a top fermenting ale yeast, but dried bread yeast works. Cover and let sit 24-36 hours. Bottle it, using sturdy bottles; the fermentation builds up considerable pressure. Refrigerate after three or four days. Beware of exploding bottles. The mead will be drinkable in a week, but better if you leave it longer.

This recipe is modified from the original by reducing the proportion of honey and lengthening the time of fermentation before bottling. Both changes are intended to reduce the incidence of broken bottles. Using 2 liter plastic soda bottles is unaesthetic, but they are safer than glass.

Now Inn Keeper I heard it tell that those before us on a long journey mix up a syrup called Sekanjabin

Dissolve 4 cups sugar in 2 1/2 cups of water; when it comes to a boil add 1 cup wine vinegar. Simmer 1/2 hour. Add a handful of mint, remove from fire, let cool. Dilute the resulting syrup to taste with ice water (5 to 10 parts water to 1 part syrup). The syrup stores without refrigeration.

Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 11, 2000 - 03:38 pm

Hope none of the ladies have to share a bed with anyone like Queequeg or Ishmael.


Barbara St. Aubrey
March 11, 2000 - 03:47 pm
Ok folks sharing a bed with 14 is not all that bad - When you hut hop in Austria, Switzerland and evn parts of France the huts have a room with a stove for heat and a few tables and benches where inexpensive suppers of soups and stews are shared and then upstairs is one bed for 14 and maybe another for 8 hanging above or on the other wall. Each place is denoted by a pillow and two blankets folded at the foot. Believe me it is so cold even in the middle of summer that without all that body heat there would be no sleeping. Of course today everyone sleeps in their jogging clothes. But changing in the morning - the European's sense of privacy is slim to none.

March 11, 2000 - 05:14 pm
I understand from Coghill that Chaucer's father and grandfather were in the wine trade so I am deducing that along with ale and mead, the acceptable drink of the period would have been wine, especially in such a high class establishment as The Tabard. And, of course, the inn had to have a good cellar else the Cook, with his fondness for a pint or two, or three, or....would never had stayed there.


March 12, 2000 - 04:03 am
Charlotte, very much enjoying Professor Patterson's lectures. It was BLEAK HOUSE by Dickens, I believe, which I am now reading, which attacked the abuses of the courts.

Andrea, do you think we ought to be our own Pilgrims till we can examine each of the Pilgrims in Chaucer's Tales? If I have to pick one now and since Dr. Patterson says we can't separate the tale from the teller I guess the Franklin would do for me, too, as I love the Donigen story.

I think we ought to be our own Pilgrim, I can be the Vineyardist, and when it's over say which one is most like us! OR?????

I really don't know enough about any of them to choose; certainly not the Wife of Bath for me.

Here's a great thing which will doubtless win YOU fame and fortune, let's do try, I'd love to see one of you win.

It says "Have you read a classic lately? Tell us about your favorite classic and you could win a Perennial Classics Library and a Literary Weekend in New York City!

To enter and for official contest rules, visit a participating bookseller or go to Perennial Classics

Wouldn't it be FINE if one of us won? Somebody tell them about US here maybe that would be unique enough!!


March 12, 2000 - 07:32 am

I think I agree that we should wait before we finally identify with a particular Pilgrim. I like some things about the Wife of Bath but there is a lot about her with which I cannot personally empathize.

I vote that we don't choose any one Pilgrim, at least not yet, but only travel with them as "Pilgrim Observers" for now.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying all the related information that is being posted. I find it interesting that there seem to be so many interpretations and differing opinions among the many researchers concentrating on Chaucer; his life, his writing and his times. We readers have to do a lot of separating of the "wheat from the chaff".


March 12, 2000 - 08:06 am
Microsoft Encarta 2000 linked me to several sites with much information about the Middle Ages. Here is a very small portion of it:

Medium aevum -- Medieval or The Middle Ages. A period that extended from approximately the fifth century to the fifteenth century in Western Europe.

For safety and for defense, people in the Middle Ages formed small communities around a central lord or master. Most people lived on a manor, which consisted of the castle, the church, the village, and the surrounding farm land. These manors were isolated, with occasional visits from peddlers, pilgrims on their way to the Crusades, or soldiers from other fiefdoms. In this "feudal" system, the king awarded land grants or "fiefs" to his most important nobles, his barons, and his bishops, in return for their contribution of soldiers for the king's armies. At the lowest echelon of society were the peasants, also called "serfs" or "villeins." In exchange for living and working on his land, known as the "demesne," the lord offered his peasants protection.

Most people in the Middles Ages wore woolen clothing, with undergarments made of linen. Brighter colors, better materials, and a longer jacket length were usually signs of greater wealth. The clothing of the aristocracy and wealthy merchants tended to be elaborate and changed according to the dictates of fashion. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, men of the wealthy classes sported hose and a jacket, often with pleating or skirting, or a tunic with a surcoat. Women wore flowing gowns and elaborate headwear, ranging from headdresses shaped like hearts or butterflies to tall steeple caps and Italian turbans. Most of the holy orders wore long woolen habits in emulation of Roman clothing. One could tell the order by the color of the habit: the Benedictines wore black; the Cistercians, undyed wool or white. St. Benedict stated that a monk's clothes should be plain but comfortable and they were allowed to wear linen coifs to keep their heads warm. The Poor Clare Sisters, an order of Franciscan nuns, had to petition the Pope in order to be permitted to wear woolen socks.

As the populations of medieval towns and cities increased, hygienic conditions worsened, leading to a vast array of health problems. Medical knowledge was limited and, despite the efforts of medical practitioners and public and religious institutions to institute regulations, medieval Europe did not have an adequate health care system. Antibiotics weren't invented until the 1800s and it was almost impossible to cure diseases without them. There were many myths and superstitions about health and hygiene as there still are today. People believed, for example, that disease was spread by bad odors. It was also assumed that diseases of the body resulted from sins of the soul. Many people sought relief from their ills through meditation, prayer, pilgrimages, and other nonmedical methods.

The body was viewed as a part of the universe, a concept derived from the Greeks and Romans. Four humors, or body fliuds, were directly related to the four elements: fire=yellow bile or choler; water=phlegm; earth=black bile; air=blood. These four humors had to be balanced. Too much of one was thought to cause a change in personality--for example, too much black bile could create melancholy.


March 12, 2000 - 08:24 am
Ginny & Phyll: OK! I concede. Not having read the tales prior to this one, I thought it would be fun to choose an identity, only to find out in the end, we didn't really our choices.

This chatter of mine has only helped sustain me and keep me from reading ahead of the discussion. If I read the tales, I will want to talk about them. Therefore, I tried to concentrate only on the prologue. I also must admit, I was in hopes it would spur some conversation from our researchers and IT DID. Hooray.

I'm off to pout at the golf course.

March 12, 2000 - 08:54 am
hahahha, oh Andrea, don't pout hahahahahaa. No what it DID, for me, anyway, was in my anxiety to please I ended up reading about all of them to find one which might fit! hahahaha I like your idea much better!

Let's choose by lot! I do like that idea, very much, to see how much we might be like them and now I know too much about each one, let's somehow choose a number and have somebody maybe the Innkeeper, match it secretly to a Pilgrim and then tell us who and we can see if hahahah Andrea, you're fun, see if anything whatsoever about us matches or doesn't???? We might learn something. The ones I secretly want to be I'd be embarrassed saying anyway.

Meanwhile why can't we be Pilgrims, ourselves and have the REAL pilgrims that we choose by lot as mentors???

Personally I love it!

You can be the Golfer. Hey, it's a modern day Pilgrimage, too, right? A Parallel Pilgrimage!

Yers Truly,

The Vineyardist or Field Hand, depending on which mood you happen to be in, 6 of one or half dozen of the other.

March 12, 2000 - 09:18 am
Ginny: My friend! I wish that I could enjoy golf as much as I enjoy YOU !!


Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 12, 2000 - 10:01 am
Hi All: I took the Chaucer Quiz to which Barbara kindly gave us the link. I couldn't believe I got 6 right. But before you think I'm so smart, I learned the answers in studying Lee Patterson's introductory lecture in order to post a synopsis. I succeeded in reducing his 8 pages to 2 and learned a lot in the doing.


March 12, 2000 - 10:39 am
Ginny and Andrea,

The number system might be a good idea but do you think there will be enough of us in the group to each have a pilgrim? Or, hopefully, there might be too many of us and we would have to "share" a pilgrim. I'm not sure how we would work out the logistics but I'm willing to try, if you all are.

I have sneaked peeks ahead in the Tales but I have tried really hard not to read too far. I thought I would rather form my opinions of each pilgrim as we got to know them. Perhaps, just as Chaucer did.

In any case,

"Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage,
And palmers to go seeking out strange strands,"

THIS pilgrim will leave tomorrow to seek out the "strange strand" known as the North Carolina Outer Banks. I need to hear the ocean and smell the sea. I will be back on the 15th when we begin our journey to Canterbury.



March 12, 2000 - 11:02 am
Good afternoon, Pilgrims ALL--Your host has been taking the waters at the local YMCA and contemplating our journey. Phyll is off to the Outer Banks---ah yes, yes---love that place.

For those of you who remain at home, I suggest that we begin reading The Knight's Tale since it is the first and a good one for all of you who love a romance. It is Joan's plan to start with the Knight.

This tale is full of the conventions of courtly love: the lover is pierced through the eye by a dart that goes straight to the heart. Once striken by Cupid's arrow, the lover grows ill, pale, wan; he can neither sleep nor eat. He devotes himself totally to his lady and pines for her day and night. He also generally writes songs for her and may stand for many hours outside her chamber window at night. The lover lives to catch a glimpse of his beloved and cannot bear to be separated from her.

Anyhoo, the Knight's Tale is full of this sort of thing, and I thought it would be fun to begin. It is the longest of all the tales.

If you don't agree, no problem. It is only a suggestion.

Ginny--I believe you said you are reading Bleak House. I love that novel. Dickens experiments with point of view in a way that was new at the time. It is also an interesting mystery. I have never taught it because it is so very long, but I think it is the very best of Dickens' novels.

I will be here through Tuesday at which point I shall journey to Dewey Beach in Delaware for several days. Spring Break must have its pilgrimage. I will be back in time to join in on the discussion --wherever we are next weekend. But I will be here for two more days.

Wine all around, for you are right, Chaucer's Daddy was a successful wine dealer. Cheers!!!!!!

~maryal, temp. innkeeper &co.

March 12, 2000 - 01:00 pm
(Click on any line to view The Vineyardist)

A Vineyardist there came early,
And not so fair as fat was she
She'd baskets of grapes and spilled them free
Despite the artwork by Jim Daisey!

Here endeth the Tale of the Fat Vineyardist

March 12, 2000 - 01:42 pm
Aahhhh, maryal, I am so fond of Dickens' novels and Bleak House is also MY favorite of them all! You have a good time on your private "pilgrimage" and return to us refreshed and rested. Am enjoying this discussion a lot already, thanks be to you.

March 12, 2000 - 06:37 pm
Inkeeper: I wish to apologize for being mistaken on your special drink grog.

The swedish drink is spelled even different. You are so kind not to correct me as I have now looked into my dictionary.Thank you for your kindness. Ginger

March 12, 2000 - 08:13 pm
Charlotte---Congratulations on you high score on the Chaucer quiz. You must have taken it while not imbibing. Cheers for Charlotte.

Ginger---Not to worry. I made up the spelling of grog. How do the Swedes spell it anyway? At any rate, all this cyber-hootch tastes pretty much the same, does it not?

Let me know what the Company's will is on whether or not to begin the Knight's tale. I think I should warn you that the tale is absorbing enough that it is hard to put down. However, it is divided into four parts and we can take them one by one.

By the way, your friendly host discovered last night that one of the Jack Russell terriers was absent from his chamber. I suspect that he was borrowed by one of you who was a bit chilled at the Tabard. A fine inn it is, although a bit drafty. Please be advised, however, that you may not keep little BEN. He is most dear to me.

I'm looking for a sonnet by Petrarch that will illustrate some of the elements of courtly love. Will post when I find.

A good even to all---may you sleep well and flealess,


March 12, 2000 - 08:27 pm
Parson Jack Russell bred the little terriers in the 1800's... I would think the wee dogs would be more the rat terrier type....

The Quiet Nun who also loves Jack Russells

March 12, 2000 - 08:31 pm
Pat W----It is the host's ANACHRONISM of the day. There's one in the Knight's tale too. An anachronism, not a terrier.

Parson Jack spent as much time, or more, breeding dogs and fox hunting than he ever did as a parson, near as I can tell. The two that my daughter and I have here are just absolutely wonderful little dogs.


March 12, 2000 - 08:35 pm
I think they are one of the smartest breeds we've ever had... So good around horses..

So is that our first question?... Find the ANACHRONISM in the Knight's Tale. ... Now I'll read with that in mind..

March 12, 2000 - 08:39 pm
Pat----Yes, we got ours at an equestrian center. Kemper snaps to attention whenever there is a horse on TV (Masterpiece Theatre often has horses.) Kemper calls them "clippety-clops."

A few months ago my daughter and I visited the equestrian center in Pennsylvania where both dogs were born, and Ben went to see the horses. He backed up and smiled when one of them whinnied.

And now the temp. prop. of the Tabard must to bed.

Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 13, 2000 - 05:49 am

I just read Anne River Siddons "Up Island." an entertaining book in between study of the Tales. She seems to set her work in certain locales like "Low Country" and I think "Outer Banks." Have a look.


Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 13, 2000 - 06:04 am

In a quick sweep through the posts I think I saw that you were going to the Y. Unfortunately I can't find it again, so I'm not sure I was right. I have been making my pilgrimage to the YMCA 3 times a week for the past 30 years. Maybe that's what keeps the non-existent muscles in my head working. Have a great trip to the beach.


March 13, 2000 - 06:25 am
Charolotte: I got hooked on Anne R. siddons, because of a'The Outer Banks" tale. I enjoyed her very much.

I am so happy that we've the go ahead to begin with the Knights Tale. I shall return. Yipppeeeee!

March 13, 2000 - 07:33 am
Good morning, Pilgrims. Let us attend to the knight as he tells us the story of Arcite and Palamon (and Emily, who should be in the title, but isn't).

Charlotte--You did read accurately. Your host has also been swimming three times a week at the Y for 25 years. I swim for my back, but I think it helps with the brain too. All those natural narcotics that get buzzing with exercise. Endorphins---that's what gets released. Lots and lots of endorphins. Or perhaps endorphines. Anyway, a natural feel-good substance.

~maryal/Harry, temp. host, prop. of Ye Tabord, "we have the best rates and the finest grog in town"

March 13, 2000 - 09:15 am
Since it has been YEARS since I read Canterbury Tales I prefer to wait and wonder who best would describe me. I have read the prologue a dozen times in middle and modern English to get the swing of it ..I also have the Knights Tale but havent read it yet...I didnt want to be ahead of the reading but now will read it as well ....I thank everyone for all of the information in the posts...It makes the journey more exciting and interesting. I am beginning to feel like a real thought I had when I read that grog was a mixture of water and you suppose the spirits were to make the water safer as well as palatable ? just a thought ....anna from virginia

Joan Pearson
March 13, 2000 - 10:20 am
!!!!!!!!!This is absolutely amazing and wonderful! 100 posts and the discussion has not even begun! Unprecedented!

I can see the wait for the Books to return has you all on your snorting palfries, ready to set out! I also see that Maryal, Inkeeper Extraordinaire has done her level best to quiet you down with all the spirits on her shelf - to no avail! What a marvelous job, Maryal! I intended to prevail upon you to continue through the pilgrimage as our innkeeper/guide, until I got to the part about BEACH WEEK!!! Beach Week! Listen, I've got four sons and I know all about Beach Week!!! You take care! How long will you be gone, luv?(I just got back from England, luv!) May I publicly prevail upon you to continue when you return? Is that putting you on the spot? You are a natural for the job!???

Good idea to get a start on The Knight's Tale - the longest by far. Note that the discussion table that we present is only that...and that's the only parameter we put on the discussion - that you stick to it and don't go beyond. But you can always read ahead. Don't need anyone's permission for that! We don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't read the pages yet, that's the reason for that. All of the Pilgrims have not yet assembled by my count? They do have until the "IDES" to get here to Southwark. A message will go out this evening to the rest of the Bookies and we should round out the group by Wednesday...

ALF, I notice that you have been keeping count - our numbers don't match! I fear that maybe there was a blip on the screen and I don't have everyone...will you all check and see if your name appears on the roster? I'd hate to leave someone asleep on the floor when we ride off! Make some noise if you see anyone missing...

Canterbury Pilgrims

March 13, 2000 - 10:44 am
Welcome Back Joan Pearson

Helloooooo, Joan. The pilgrims have been rousting about and finding all sorts of information. There have been some complaints about the goings on at the Tabard, but so far we have not been visited by the local constable.

annafair-----sounds good to me. Maybe the spirits were thought to make the water purer. At least they made it more potent!

And now, as a follow up to earlier post about courtly love and its traditions is a sonnet by Petrarch. It is to his beloved Laura, who may or may not have been a real woman. Whoever she was, Petrarch certainly idealized her.

Sonnet XC

The golden hair was loosened in the breeze
That in many sweet knots whirled it and reeled,
And the dear light seemed ever to increase
Of those fair eyes that now keep it concealed:
And the face seemed to color, and the glance
To feel pity, who knows if false or true;
I who had in my breast the loving cue,
Is it surprising if I flared at once?
Her gait was not like that of mortal things,
But of angelic forms; and her words' sound
Was not like that which from our voices springs;
A divine spirit and a living sun
Was what I saw; if such it is not found,
The wound remains, although the bow is gone.

March 13, 2000 - 10:59 am
And here is another sonnet by Petrarch with the dart of love piercing the eye and going into the heart.

Sonnet LXI

Blessed may be the day, the month, the year
And the season, the time, the hour, the point,
And the country, the place where I was joined
By two fair eyes that now have tied me here.
And blessed be the first sweet agony
That I felt in becoming bound to Love
And the bow and the arrows piercing me,
And the wounds that go down so deep to move
Blessed the many voices that I raised,
Calling my lady, to scatter her name,
And blessed be my tears, my sighs, my heart;
Blessed may be the paper where more fame
I earn for her, my thought by which she is praised,
Only her own: no one else has a part.

Petrarch reported seeing Laura for the first time in the Church of St. Clare at Avignon on the sixth of April 1327. If she was the Laura some scholars think she was, she was 19 and married. She died on April 6, 1348 of the Plague.

---maryal/harry, former temp. proprietor of the Tabard

Joan Pearson
March 13, 2000 - 11:00 am
Maryal, are you still there, or have you gone to pack your swim suit and six-pack? If you are there, will you try to click on the list of Canterbury Pilgrims in post#101 and tell me what happens if anything...I've linked to a different folder and want to see if it works. If not, I can do something else......

What??? former proprietor??? That sounds like a "no"??? When will you be back? Listen, I don't take rejection well! Ask Ginny! I pout, sulk, whine...

I have read every single post here! You guys are ready to ride!!! I however would like the opportunity to respond, comment, as well as unload this throbbing head of Canterbury images all over these pages - until we begin the discussion on Wednesday...

Did Petrarch know of Chaucer...I can't remember the exact dates...I told you my head was overload!

March 13, 2000 - 11:05 am
Joan---I get a "No access to this folder" when I click on the Canterbury Pilgrims in Post 101.

Of course, I will be back. To beach on Wednesday early in the morning and back on Saturday. Teaching again on Monday.

I wouldn't leave this discussion. Of course not. I'm just beginning to have fun. WAHOOOOO

Jim Olson
March 13, 2000 - 11:18 am
I hope you gentle ladies don't mind if I join you on your pligramage.

I must warn you ahead of time, however, that I may not follow the lesson plans that well but will be off wandering from time to time- maybe over sharing the latest Viagra joke with the Wife of Bath, and for penance for that joining Dante in the outer circle of the Inferno searching for Beatrice to lead us to redemption.


Joan Pearson
March 13, 2000 - 11:23 am
Welcome aboard, Mr. Jim! So happy to have you! There's plenty to do before Wednesday. Do you have the book yet? If not, you can read an online version...see the link in the heading? That's the great thing about Great can find most of them right here on-line!

Try this link and check for your name...will add Jim's in a sec!

Canterbury Pilgrims

Okay, some Viagra is allowed (but not all the Viagra jokes)...but wait till we get there!

Okay, off to do some errands and then will spew Canterbury factoids all over the room! Nobody should be having so much fun!

March 13, 2000 - 12:34 pm
Jim, Welcome and have some Grog.

Or wine, or ale. Help yourself to a place by the fire. The Tabard is the best in town, known for its grog and fine stories. Watch out for the Wife of Bath. She'd be the one with the fine red stockings.

~maryal/Harry, prop. of Ye Tabord Inn, "If we don't have it on the menu, we'll send someone out to hunt it down for you."

March 13, 2000 - 12:41 pm
Ginny: I ceased and desisted with the naming, numbering and fracturing apart of our drunken pilgrims when everyone voted to WAIT for characterization.

26-30 were the Reeve, Miller, a Manciple from the Inns, a pardoner, and a Summoner. That's my count? How did I do that? someone else count up for me please. 29 pilgrims + 1 = 30. Oh boy, already I'm trouble on this journey.

Welcome Mr. Jim. Let us ride, set me up with one to go innkeeper, please.

March 13, 2000 - 12:51 pm
ALF----You got it. One to go. With a nice little canvas cover on the top of the tankard.

As to the count: The narrator (the pilgrim Chaucer) comes upon a company of 29 people going to Canterbury. When Harry Baily, prop. of the Tabard, decides to go as well, we are up to 29+1+1. Thirty-one by my count, not counting horses, dogs, fleas and all.

Reminds me of "As I was going to St Ives." Anyone remember THAT one?

Time to prepare tonight's TABORD TREAT, something special to celebrate Joan Pearson's return. Anyone want to help me cook?


March 13, 2000 - 02:18 pm
St. IVES? My CRS may not allow this but:

When I was going to St. Ives

I met a man with 7 wives;

Each wife had 7 cats ----????? I'm lost.

Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 13, 2000 - 03:02 pm
Andrea: That's all I can remember--the first two lines. Maybe I can find the rest somewhere, but am not promising.

Maryal: I loved the sonnet. Almost sent it my daughter Laura, but what happened to the poor girl is too sad. I wonder how many literary buffs have daughters named Laura.

Jim: I'm so glad to see you here. Maybe you'll keep Milt company, since we've dragged him in here. He reads all the posts, but refuses to post himself. Sometimes he'll go off to search for a lost poem. I just asked him if he wanted to look for Andrea's poem. He says no, but he may change his mind later. Or maybe I'll end up doing it myself.


Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 13, 2000 - 03:09 pm

I almost forgot to welcome you back. I've copied the discussion assignment and will try to keep my horse from champing at the bit so I can keep within the limits. Also will consider your questions and try to be a good pilgrim.

Isn't Maryal wonderful? We are really having a bash before the ball.


March 13, 2000 - 03:23 pm
ALF--I'm winging this, so poem may be a little off:

As I was going to St. Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Every wife had seven sacks
Every sack had seven cats
Every cat had seven kits
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives
How many were going to St. Ives?

Charlotte--So good to see you and glad you liked the sonnet. I thought you had wandered away from the Tabard. I will report to Joan that your behavior was good in her absence. Please do not report the host's behavior to her or no more grog for you.

Milt----Come out, come out, wherever you are. The Wife of Bath has been looking for you!

~Maryal/Harry the Host of the Tabard. Hurry up, please, it's TIME

Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 13, 2000 - 03:24 pm
Andrea: I read Siddons, Up Island and loved it partly because it was set on Martha's Vineyard. I come from MA and have some familiarity with the area. It was a nice break from CT for a while. I haven't read anything like this in a long time. It is a little better than most best sellers. Milt went to the library today and brought me back Siddons, Outer Banks which is set in N. Carolina. The beginning looks interesting because of the young girl who is encouraged by her father to represent herself as a Boston-style Brahmin in order to rise in her world. I am familiar with that era too.

It looks like Siddons goes to live in a specific area and then writes her novels about the kinds of people she meets there. But when I went to a new search engine called GOOGLE I found that Siddons is not held in very high esteem by the critics. Could be because she's written too many books. Will keep reading it for a while, anyhow.


Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 13, 2000 - 03:27 pm

I never wandered. I was busy with Prof. Patterson. See my posts a few pages back.



March 13, 2000 - 03:35 pm
Charlotte---Just teasing, hon. You are always good at keeping the rest of us provided with knowledge stores.

I just read the chronology of Chaucer that Joan provided the link for above, and I have decided that whoever made the decision to ransom him from France in 1360 was a wise wise man.

It amazes me that we know so much more about Chaucer's life than we know about Shakespeare's.


March 13, 2000 - 04:02 pm
Hey, count me in! I'm on for this journey provided I don't have to ride a horse!! I'm a terrible horsewoman. I'll walk. I'm about halfway through the Knight's Tale...

March 13, 2000 - 04:13 pm
Jeryn----Of course you can walk. Some of these nags are so slow that I doubt not that you will pass them. I'm willing to wager a tankard or two that the Knight's Tale keeps you going. What will happen, what will happen?

Joan Pearson---I wasn't rejecting you. I'll be glad to team-teach, team-guide, tag-team with you. When I return to school, I will be very busy some days and have time on others. And you are Needed because I don't know how to do html except the very basics. I need to learn how to make links, but not right now.

Ok, Pilgrims, your happy host of the Tabard has decided to come along with you to Canterbury. I'll leave my wife, Agatha, in charge of the Tabard. She keeps a close watch over her purse and is nowhere near as free with the spirits as I am.

~maryal/Harry, prop. of the Tabard "Rest easy tonight--the terriers are on guard"

Joan Pearson
March 13, 2000 - 05:32 pm
Whew! I've been waiting to hear that, innkeeper! Yes, by all means lock up the inn on Wednesday and catch up with us on Monday! I'll take care of the html, don't you worry about that! And teach it to you along the way. Just ask?

Jeryn, we were all waiting for you! Will add your name to the roster right now! And you can ride on my horse! The roads are great! Those Romans knew how to build can still see them (in places) on the road to Kent. They would have been in excellant shape in Chaucer's time. They say that the trip on horseback - from Southwark,London to Canterbury would have taken 4 days, but that Chaucer's troup made it in one checking into inns or camping along the way! So you'd better ride. The vineyard lady seems to have room on her horse.

Check the roster and see if all of your names are here?

Canterbury Pilgrims
ALF!, you are so funny! And your enthusiasm is contagious! I was wondering what you were counting...the Pilgrims of course! I see that now. Okay, we have 17/29. Will we have the whole roster by Wednesday? Any one care to wager?

Charolotte! Thank you so much for sharing your notes from Lee Patterson. I put the note in the heading reading the importance of not separating the teller from the tale. Let's try that and see how it works? On Monday, we'll discuss the Knight's part in the prologue together with his tale and see how they connect! Great idea. Thanks again!

Joan Pearson
March 13, 2000 - 06:12 pm
Who mentioned Murder in the Cathedral? Was it you, Charolotte? I intend to read that tomorrow...not very long. I was interested to learn that Eliot was interested not only in the murder of Becket, but in Chaucer and Canterbury Tales even more. Remember this?
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land,mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
From T.S.Eliot's The Wasteland Sound familiar?

March 13, 2000 - 06:29 pm
Oh, how I love my Encarta 2000, for this assignment. Rulers, mythology, Amazons, Dukes, yaydadyaydyaydya. Lots of information for us. I'm leaving for the other coast early AM to check on an ailing friend, but shall return on the 16th. (I hope I can access ya'll on line @ their home.) I am most excited about the onset of our pilgramage.

Jeryn: I insist, my friend, that you ride with me. I know it's a secret BUT you carried me once, rememeber?

Charolotte: You are reading the best 2 that she wrote, in my opinion. Tell Milt, he needn't behave himself en route . We are going to insist that he tell us tall tales, about you.

Hooray: We've got Joan to keep us in order here. Just say the word and we're off. Now let us ride and listen to what I say.' and at the word we started on our way

Jim: Is your duffel packed? Are you ready to leave, with this motley crew?

Maryal: You've done a grand job of getting us all grogged up. Welcome aboard. (Please bring some spare grog.)

March 13, 2000 - 06:56 pm
Oh thank you, kind folk, for the offers. Yesssss, I'll ride with you, ALF, since your horse's rump appears to be more capacious! Heh heh. And I do remember [it's a secret?]...

Uh Joan, your last link to a list is-n't work-ing! [Post #121]

March 13, 2000 - 08:33 pm
ALF---Sure wouldn't leave the grog at home where Agatha might get into it.

JoanP---I was the one who mentioned Murder in the Cathedral. I love Eliot. He was really pushed when I was in college--THE literary dictator. Eliot loved 17th century poetry. We read 17th century poetry. And a LOT of Eliot. And I love him anyway. Hope you enjoy the play.

I remember somewhere toward the end:

This last brings the greatest treason To do the right deed for the wrong reason

That is a paraphrase---not sure where the play is.

One last round of grog


Jim Olson
March 14, 2000 - 04:18 am

Your posting of the fine love sonnets of Petrarch to illustrate the courtly love tradition brougtht back memories of a few years ago when Maggie and I visited southern France with an art study group.

I kept a journal and one section deals with an experience of sitting where Petrarch sat along a mountian stream while he composed his verses.

I had hoped the muse would travel a few centuries and strike me- but it didn't.

At any rate here is an excerpt from my journal for that day:


We stayed in Arles for several days in a hotel very near the Rhone River, and my customary early morning walks along the Chippewa were replaced with walks along the Rhone.


These walks were the source of some of my darker thoughts while on our trip. The river is canalized throughout much of its route and completely through Arles, its banks lined with stone and concrete, its flow regulated by several dams upstream, and the contrast with my more natural Chippewa disturbed me.

One day as I walked along trying to imagine what the Rhone might have been like centuries ago before man had captured it and taken its freedom away, I noticed a dying fish swimming slowly upstream against the current. It would swim for a moment or two, and then turn belly up, its light colored underside reflecting the morning sun in sharp contrast with the dark water. Then it would float downstream, only to regain control again, right itself and swim ahead, until once again floating back.

. . . . . . . . . .

I imagine these darker thoughts have some purpose in the larger scheme of things, and I can turn them into some useful end somewhere along the line. I was, however, happy to end those thoughts on a trip from Arles to a mountain stream that sprang from a large artesian pool at the foot of a mountain and cascaded through rapids down to the valley floor and on to join the Rhone.

It was here along this stream that Petrarch sat and poured out his heart to a woman he idealized from a distance. He dedicated 5,000 verses of Platonic love verse to her without ever having spoken to her. He did sometimes find his way back to Avignon where he decried the earthy pleasures and other wicked ways of courtly life, but while there managed to partake of them enough to produce an illegitimate child by a servant girl- well within the poetic tradition of the time.

I was also happy to share the same wild river that inspired him, knowing that it probably is still as free as when he sat there (with fewer other tourists around) and watched the tumbling waters and the trout fisherman. The wild flowers that lined the stream when he was there are still there, making the walk up the valley to the pool a delightful walk and providing excuses for pausing along the way to rest old limbs and joints. Trout are still there and many end up on the menus of several of the restaurants that overlook the stream. Having a pleasant lunch in one of them certainly helped improve my mood.

I also reflected on the happy thought that I had chosen only five line poetry to express my thoughts.


Thanks for that Eliot quote. I was looking for it.

Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 14, 2000 - 04:27 am
Oh enough grog already. I'm a one drink woman. I've been reeling for days.


Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 14, 2000 - 04:52 am

I love the quote from your journal. So Petrach was like all the other men of the time. Servant girls were easy prey, while the women of his own class were reserved for poetry written in the courtly tradition. Did you write a 5 line poem then? Why didn't you share it with us?

I had an encounter with a fish in Alaska. I watched a fish jump out of the Salmon run which had been built to help them get back upstream. He landed on the deck and inched himself over to the edge until he fell back into the tank. I was impressed and wondered why we don't know more about how other species think.

I can see that we both are observers for what we can use in our writing. Interesting that we both watch the fish.

Hope your knee is improving quickly.

Joan and Maryal: I love Eliot too. Am going back to read Murder in the Cathedral.

Andrea: What's Encarta 2000? Milt's still in bed. Will ask him later


Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 14, 2000 - 04:56 am

Correction: I reread your post and found that you didn't write a poem that day. But you could have written one later.


March 14, 2000 - 06:16 am
Jim---That is a beautiful diary entry, and I'm so glad you shared it with us. Petrarch was a wonderful man and so multi-dimensional. I'm glad you enjoyed the sonnets. I couldn't find the translation of "It was the very day. .." that I was looking for; it's even better.

Charlotte--Drinking is not required. I will bring some special Snapple just for you. Would you like regular or diet?

JoanP---Good morning. Tomorrow I am off to Dewey Beach for a few days. Please pray for a return of the warmer weather.


An interesting note. Chaucer had already written what came to be "The Knight's Tale" when he began Canterbury Tales. It is mentioned in the Prologue to The Legend of Good Women (written 1386-7):

He made the book that hight [was called] the Hous of Fame,
And eke[also] the Deeth of Blaunche the Duchessse,
And the Parlement of Foules, as I gesse, [I guess]
And al the love of Palamon and Arcite. . .

~maryal/Harry, prop. of the Tabard "Give us your tired, your weary, those with pence to spend. . ."

March 14, 2000 - 08:09 am
Charolotte: Encarta 2000 is a Christmas gift from my husband. It is a Microsoft, multimedia Encyclopedia containing copyrighted materials which are licecensed to the user for their personal use. The features are numerous: 360-degree views, charts, tables, world maps, quick facts. I love it and have used it for endless hours of enjoyment. In fact I had cut/copied some info for us re. the same fact that Maryal mentioned about the Knights Tale. At this point it's in the car with my notes and can't be referred to right now.

I am off to Miami. I wish you all a prosperous day, fella pilgrims. Get plenty of rest for our ardorous journey.

YiLi Lin
March 14, 2000 - 10:20 am
wondering if the book exchange has a copy of this? and i'd be willing to put a few paperbacks up for barter. how does that exchange work? i'm a bit tapped out for new book purchases and can't find a copy in the library- i think i would enjoy reading this with you all.

March 14, 2000 - 10:33 am
YiLi Lin-----Welcome. Joan has put a link at the top for an online edition of The Canterbury Tales. You can have modern English alone or middle English and modern English side by side.

At any rate, you are welcome to the company. Sit yourself down and have a tankard of grog.

~~Maryal/Harry, prop. of the Tabard Inn "Where grog is made fresh daily"

Joan Pearson
March 14, 2000 - 11:30 am
YiLi! you are so very welcome...your name has been added to the roster in the heading! Has everbody checked to see if I have included your names? I count 18 of the 29 so far! (You do see that the names in the roster are links to email addresses?)

May I/we call you YiLi? Have you located the on-line text in the heading? You can read it there, but to save your eyes and your neck, read small bits at a time. There is a searchable text there too.

Let me warn you about Maryal's grog by the way! At least it's fresh!

Ah Dewey Beach! Evening strolls along the sandy beach down to Rehoboth for the boardwalk and a seafood dinner! We will miss our Innkeeper who has publicly promised to return to her exalted position (yaaaaay). Have a well-deserved grand time, good friend!

Several have asked, Jeryn being the latest, for a description of the real which I just visited last week. There is so much, I don't know where to start. And of course, there's always the risk of putting you to sleep if I post it all. I thought of dribbling out little descriptions from time to time. I have found several sites, which would save typing too, (lazy) and thought I'd try pasting in some sections and commenting. Let's see if that works, or if you find it overwhelming and not worth the time. I have a healthy ego and can seek another way if that's the case!

One of the favorite pastimes for this new group of people was to take a pilgrimage, which served the same function for Medieval man as does a vacation to the beach or Disneyland serves modern man. Although there were many popular spots - the pilgrimage center of Glastonbury being one example - the favorite of all was the cathedral in Canterbury that housed the remains of the beloved St. Thomas á Becket. The second centenary of the death of St. Thomas occured in Chaucer's lifetime, and for the jubilee thousands of people took to the road, and there was even free food and drink for the traveler all the way from London along the south road to Canterbury.

haucer has his pilgrims gather at the Tabard Inn in Southwark, a disreputable area across the Thames from London. There actually was a Tabard Inn in Chaucer's day, and its innkeeper was Harry Baily, who is named in Canterbury Tales. And just as there was a real Harry Baily, so too was the character of the cook, Hodge of Ware, an actual person. A London cook named Roger Ware (Hodge is a nickname of Roger) was known at that time, and Chaucer obviously intended for some of his London readers to recognize Bailly, Ware, and perhaps even others.

Southwark was the normal starting point for all pilgrimages, and although it is uncertain how individuals and small groups were organized into suitable companies, it seems certain that the Church also played the role of travel agency. A Canterbury pilgrimage was so popular and common that the route held few curiousities for Englishmen, and a written account of such a journey did not need descriptions of places or sights. Chaucer only mentions his pilgrims and their discussions; along the trip he barely names the towns they passed or where they stopped.

After leaving the Tabard he throws in an occasional poetic signpost, enough to maintain the illusion of a journey. He has the pilgrims stop at a site called the Watering of St. Thomas (an unidentifiable location), but other spots are barely mentioned, and when they are, merely in passing: "Lo Greenwich, there many a shrewe is inne." Chaucer does not even write of Blackheath, or Dartford, the place where most pilgrims spent their first night out. In the Monk's prolouge the town of Rochester is mentioned, Sittingbourne is cited in the Wife of Bath's prolouge, and the Blean Forest is where the Canon's Yeoman joins the group.

At Boughton-under-Blee there were two approaches to Canterbury, and Chaucer has his company stop to decide which path to take

Beside the body of St. Thomas, Canterbury had a lot to offer, enough to satisfy any pilgrim: the whole arms of eleven saints, the bed of the Blessed Virgin, some wool of Her own weaving, a fragment of the rock at Calvary, a piece of rock from the Holy Sepulchre, Aaron's Rod, a piece of the clay from which Adam was made, and other incredible exhibits.

It is ironic to note that a Bishop Simon Sudbury of London once overtook a band of merry-makers on their way to Canterbury and berated them by saying:

"Plenary indulgences for your sins by repairing to Canterbury? Better hope might ye have of Salvation had ye stayed at home and brought forth fruits meet for repentance!"

Even though Chaucer does not tell us how the pilgrims traveled, it is easy to trace the way they must have gone. The street leading from Southwark is an old Roman road and today is known as Old Kent Road, and eventually becomes New Kent Road. In Chaucer's day it was called Watling Street, and it can still be followed to Canterbury or to Dover. (Interestingly, Chaucer writes of Watling Street in his poetry, but only in its usage as a common Medieval nickname for the Milky Way.) Leaving Southwark, the travelers would have passed through Deptford, Greenwich, and ended their first day in the town of Dartford. From Dartford they would have traveled to Rochester, crossed the river Medway, then gone on to Sittingbourne, Ospring, and Boughton-under-Blee. From here they would have either continued on Watling Street straight to Canterbury, or would have taken a southerly shortcut through Bob-up-and-down, depending on which road was in the best condition. Once they had reached Canterbury, the pilgrimage was over, for to Medieval man the pilgrimage was a symbolic journey that represented the course of human life, from one's home on earth to one's true home in the universal order. A pilgrimage was therefore declared over at its destination, and the return home was not part of the ritual act.

It would've taken at least four days to complete a trip such as this, but Chaucer has his pilgrims seemingly do it in one day. They leave Southwark in the morning, pass through certain towns during the day, then arrive in sight of Canterbury as the sun is setting. Nothing is said of stops for meals or overnight, and the trip seems to pass in a strange way from morning to night - much is made of the sun's position, the length of the shadows, and such.

Critcs argue that Chaucer meant the story to be more realistic than it is, that he just didn't have time to do it right, but this way of interpreting Canterbury Tales means that it must be read for what is missing and not for what is there. That is not the case. Canterbury Tales is not a work of realism, and the ending comes exactly where it does. Even those tales that remain unfinished do so for a purpose, such as the Squire's. The Squire is fresh and young, not yet through with life, and his incomplete story represents that.

We are all pilgrims, Chaucer says, and all of us have many tales to tell, some finished and others still in the making. And what was true in Chaucer's time is still true today, six hundred years later. We are, all of us, pilgrims on the journey through life.

"This world nis but a thoroughfare full of woe, And we been pilgrims passing to and fro."

Joan Pearson
March 14, 2000 - 11:36 am
YiLi! you are so very welcome...your name has been added to the roster in the heading! Has everbody checked to see if I have included your names? I count 18 of the 29 so far! (You do see that the names in the roster are links to email addresses?)

May I/we call you YiLi? Have you located the on-line text in the heading? You can read it there, but to save your eyes and your neck, read small bits at a time. There is a searchable text there too.

Let me warn you about Maryal's grog by the way! At least it's fresh!

Ah Dewey Beach! Evening strolls along the sandy beach down to Rehoboth for the boardwalk and a seafood dinner! We will miss our Innkeeper who has publicly promised to return to her exalted position (yaaaaay). Have a well-deserved grand time, good friend!

And our ALF off to Florida! For how long? Is this an unexcused absence? Your sunny smile will be missed! Hurry back to us!

Oh, by the way, we're going to move up into the Current discussions on the B&L menu page this afternoon in case you've been coming in that be ready for opening day tomorrow!

Several have asked, Jeryn being the latest, for a description of the real Canterbury which I just visited last week. There is so much, I don't know where to start. And of course, there's always the risk of putting you to sleep if I post it all. I thought of dribbling out little descriptions from time to time. I have found several sites, which would save typing too, (lazy) and thought I'd try pasting in some sections and commenting. Let's see if that works, or if you find it overwhelming and not worth the time. I have a healthy ego and can seek another way if that's the case!

Joan Pearson
March 14, 2000 - 12:09 pm
One of the favorite Spring pastimes was to take a pilgrimage, which served the same function for Medieval man as does a vacation to the beach (Dewey/Florida) or Disneyland serves modern man. Although there were many popular spots - the pilgrimage center of Glastonbury being one example - the favorite of all was the cathedral in Canterbury that housed the remains of the beloved St. Thomas á Becket. The second centenary of the death of St. Thomas occured in Chaucer's lifetime, and for the jubilee thousands of people took to the road, and there was even free food and drink ( our innkeeper's grog?) for the traveler all the way from London along the south road to Canterbury.

Chaucer has his pilgrims gather at the Tabard Inn in Southwark, a disreputable area (near where the Globe theatre was to be built! Yes, disreputable...the inns, theatre and houses of ill-repute were located on this site) across the Thames from London. There actually was a Tabard Inn in Chaucer's day, and its innkeeper was Harry Baily, who is named in Canterbury Tales. ( When I went through the rebuilt Globe theatre last week, I noticed a sign that said "Tabard Inn" - I'm sure it isn't standing today, maybe something marking the spot? My boys were in a hurry for the next event and wouldn't humor me on this one. Ginny, Ginger, PatW, you must promise to find whatever is there!) And just as there was a real Harry Baily, so too was the character of the cook, Hodge of Ware, an actual person. A London cook named Roger Ware (Hodge is a nickname of Roger) was known at that time, and Chaucer obviously intended for some of his London readers to recognize Bailly, Ware, and perhaps even others.

Joan Pearson
March 14, 2000 - 12:16 pm
Southwark (Londoners pronounced it sutherk sort of, but not quite) was the normal starting point for all pilgrimages, and although it is uncertain how individuals and small groups were organized into suitable companies, it seems certain that the Church also played the role of travel agency. A Canterbury pilgrimage was so popular and common that the route held few curiousities for Englishmen, and a written account of such a journey did not need descriptions of places or sights. Chaucer only mentions his pilgrims and their discussions; along the trip he barely names the towns they passed or where they stopped.

Even though Chaucer does not tell us how the pilgrims traveled, it is easy to trace the way they must have gone. The street leading from Southwark is an old Roman road ("font color=crimson face="comic sans MS"> t'is amazing the longevity of the Roman roads and fortifications...still standing after all this time...the Pilgrims had those wonderful roads in Chaucer's time to get to Canterbury!) and today is known as Old Kent Road, and eventually becomes New Kent Road. In Chaucer's day it was called Watling Street, and it can still be followed to Canterbury or to Dover. (Interestingly, Chaucer writes of Watling Street in his poetry, but only in its usage as a common Medieval nickname for the Milky Way.) Leaving Southwark, the travelers would have passed through Deptford, Greenwich, and ended their first day in the town of Dartford. From Dartford they would have traveled to Rochester, crossed the river Medway, then gone on to Sittingbourne, Ospring, and Boughton-under-Blee. From here they would have either continued on Watling Street straight to Canterbury, or would have taken a southerly shortcut through Bob-up-and-down (love that name!), depending on which road was in the best condition. I did visit Greenwich a different day, but did not see it on the way to Canterbury. Took a train through the countryside and did see Sittingbourne - very picturesque, except for the newly built townhouses!

Once they had reached Canterbury, the pilgrimage was over, for to Medieval man the pilgrimage was a symbolic journey that represented the course of human life, from one's home on earth to one's true home in the universal order. A pilgrimage was therefore declared over at its destination, and the return home was not part of the ritual act.

It is ironic to note that a Bishop Simon Sudbury of London once overtook a band of merry-makers on their way to Canterbury and berated them by saying:

"Plenary indulgences for your sins by repairing to Canterbury? Better hope might ye have of Salvation had ye stayed at home and brought forth fruits meet for repentance!"

I did remember someone asking about indulgences and asked about that there. Plenary indulgences...(as opposed to Partial) were granted for those on the Pilgrimage...full remission of punishment for capital sins!

It would've taken at least four days to complete a trip such as this, but Chaucer has his pilgrims seemingly do it in one day. They leave Southwark in the morning, pass through certain towns during the day, then arrive in sight of Canterbury as the sun is setting. Nothing is said of stops for meals or overnight, and the trip seems to pass in a strange way from morning to night - much is made of the sun's position, the length of the shadows, and such.

March 14, 2000 - 12:18 pm
Fare Thee Well, Piilgrims Innkeeper and Miami Beachcomer! Hie theee soon back or words to that effect, we will miss you!

Joan , how joyful to see you back, what marvelous posts, I have missed you.

Did you start YOUR Pilgrimage AT Southerk? hahahaha Does the modern pilgrim go by train and how long does it take??

The last time I went it was in conjunction with Leeds Castle and so came from there and didn't take the train out, I've read it's 1 1/2 hours, is't so?

The Vineyardist

March 14, 2000 - 12:24 pm
After running out of ink in my printer I decided to visit the local booksmith ye olde Barnes and Noble and heretowith found a modern English version by one Neville Coghill for the motley sum of eight american dollars plus ninety-five cents to which is added a fee for the local collector of taxes. Since it cost me some sixty american dollars to replenish my printer I decided this was indeed a good investment and easier to carry about messy papers strewn across my bed and no hunt desperate hunt for a missing link.

I would require a bit of nourishment and some of that grog. My daughter tells me it was heated by plunging a hot poker into the vessel holding the libation...I wondered about that bit of ash.

I am off to peruse and follow the directions which I shall print out as soon as I replace the empty cases with fresh ink.

A Pilgrim in this fair land...Virginia named one fair, anna

Joan Pearson
March 14, 2000 - 12:25 pm
That's exactly right- an hour and a half...and the trains are wonderful...roomy, little tables to write/eat on and nicely upholstered, comfy, clean and cheap! In fact on the ticket it says "Cheap Day Run" - they also run frequently - every half hour.

You are going to have lots of questions to answer and pictures to take after we get started here! I want a photo of what Canterbury Cathedral looked like in Chaucer's time, not this huge gothic church on my photos and postcards! Why didn't I think of that????? I was trying so hard to be a Pilgrim!

Joan Pearson
March 14, 2000 - 12:30 pm
Anna, fair lady!, I have thought about you printing out all those pages! Yes, the Coghill version is the one many of us are using. Do you see the Barnes and Noble link in the heading...that takes you right to the same copy. Good we shall be on the same page! Because others are using different editions, I really can't refer to page numbers in the heading and so am forced to count lines. I hope that works. Once we get beyond the prologue, and into the tales, it shouldn't be too hard! I look forward to your "pearls". What a gift you have with words!

March 14, 2000 - 06:47 pm
Joan P-----Pardon me, but you called the area around that fine establishment the TABARD INN "disreputable." I am sure that, given the hospitality that has been shown to these wayfaring folk of yours, by Harry Bailly, yours truly, you will want to modify your designation.

We here at the TABARD think of it as "centrally located", close to the attractions of Olde London. We also think of it as "colorful," nay perhaps "bohemian."

True, it is not the HILTON, but I'll bet that even the Hilton cannot match our grog. We serve it warm in the morning and cool in the evening.

~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~

Pronunciation: 'gräg
Etymology: Old Grog, nickname of Edward Vernon died 1757 English admiral responsible for diluting the sailors' rum Date: 1770

1 : alcoholic liquor; especially : liquor (as rum) cut with water and now often served hot with lemon juice and sugar sometimes added.

~~See you all later, when I get back from the Beach. Please take care of the Inn while I am gone. ~Maryal

March 14, 2000 - 07:38 pm
Ah so - That's what I call a hot toddy. Try it with Jameson's Whiskey on a cold, rainy night. The Scots served it in tea.

I doubt that I can keep up with the reading. We're having a lovely spring that beckons me out and about, but I'll lurk and listen. It's been 40+ years since I read the Tales so I can't fake profound comments.

March 14, 2000 - 08:29 pm
Welcome Lonex--we are glad to have you as pilgrim or lurker. The reading will proceed slowly. The Knight's Tale is the longest of the lot, and most of us are reading it in modern English, not middle English. So join in when you can, and don't worry about saying anything profound.

And while we're at it, have some grog

maryal/Harry, prop. of the Tabard, "If you think this neighborhood is disreputable, you should see where the other inns are located."

Barbara St. Aubrey
March 14, 2000 - 08:59 pm
Looks like Mead, Cider, Wine, Beer, Ale and drinks of a wine and spice mixture were the alcoholic drinks of the middle ages. But alas, No Grog. Here is a link to help Medieval/Renaissance Brewing Homepage This is research from the various Chaucer sites.
Ale Ale, an alcoholic beverage similar to but more bitter than beer. Ale was an important drink in the Middle Ages and was enormously popular. It was drunk as was, or was mixed with other drinks, honey, or spices.

"His breed, his ale, was always after oon." - Prologue to The Canterbury Tales
"Wel koude he knowe a draughte of Londoun ale." - Prologue to The Canterbury Tales
"With breed and chese, and good ale in a jubbe." - The Miller's Tale
"For ale and breed, and rosted him a goos." - The Reeve's Tale
"As ever mote I drynken wyn or ale." - The Wife of Bath's Prologue
"As ever mote I drynke wyn or ale." - Prologue to The Canterbury Tales
"Our Hooste saugh that he was dronke of ale." - Prologue to The Canterbury Tales

References to Ale are found throughout much of Chaucer's writings, too numerous to list.

Ale Stake A long pole projecting horizontally in front of a tavern, over the heads of passerbys. It was the regular sign of an alehouse, and was frequently hung with large, round garlands.
"As greet as it were for an alestake" - Prologue to The Canterbury Tales

Barel Ale A barrel of ale.
"I hadde levere than a barel ale" - Prologue to The Monk's Tale

Berme Yeast Yeast was the primary leavening agent used in making ale, beer, mead, & other fermented drinks,

Bragot A drink made of ale and honey fermented together; a spiced ale drink, sweetened with honey. Receipts are found in Forme of Cury (as braggot) and in Goud Kokery (as brakkat). Judging by the prices paid by Alice de Bryene in 1419, the spice quantities would be 2/3 oz. pepper & 1/4 oz. cloves.
"Hir mouth was sweete as bragot or the meeth" - The Miller's Tale

Brewhous A Brewhouse; an Alehouse.
"In al the toun nas brewhous ne taverne" - The Miller's Tale

Vernage A sweet Italian wine, sometimes red but generally white; the Italian vernaccia is a white wine.
"He drynketh ypocras, clarree, and vernage" - The Merchant's Tale
"And eek another, ful of fyn vernage" - The Shipman's Tale

Wyn Wine. Universally known and loved, wine was one of the most vital food items of the Middle Ages. Its production and trade was a major commerce, and it was used daily by nearly everyone, from kings to commoners. Qualities of wine ranged from superior to barely consumable, and hundredes of types and varieties existed. In addition, a muititude of beverages were made from wine, such as ypocras and clarree. Doctors and physicians recommeded it, and its uses in cooking were endless. To mention all the roles this substance played in Medieval culture would take far more space and time than allowed here; needless to say, wine was probably the most important beverage in the Middle Ages, if not in all of history itself.

"Wel loved he by the morwe a sop in wyn;" - Prologue to The Canterbury Tales
"As ever moote I drynken wyn or ale" - The Wife of Bath's Tale
'And brynge us breed and wyn ful prively." - The Pardoner's Tale
"No wyn ne drank she, neither whit ne reed;" - The Nun's Priest's Tale
"And for to drynken strong wyn, reed as blood;" - Prologue to the Canterbury Tales
"And eek the wyn, in al this melodye" - The Squire's Tale
"Strong was the wyn, and wel to drynke us leste" - Prologue to The Canterbury Tales
"The spices and the wyn is come anoon" - The Squire's Tale

Wyn Ape Ape-wine; wine that makes a monkey out of the drinker, wine that makes one foolishly drunk.
"I trowe that ye dronken han wyn ape" - The Manciple's Tale

Ciser Strong drink; siceram in the Vulgate.
"This Sampson nevere ciser drank ne wyn" - The Monk's Tale

Clarree Wine flavored with honey and spices; the second most popular flavored wine after Hipocras, not to be confused with the modern Claret, a medium-red variety of wine. Medieval claret is a spiced wine. Forme of Cury has a sort of basic Clarrey made from white wine with cinnamon, galingale, grains of paradise, pepper and honey; a "Lord's Claret" from a 14th c. medical manuscript contained cinnamon, ginger, pepper, long pepper, grains of paradise, cloves, galingale, caraway, mace, nutmeg, coriander, brandy, and honey. A common serving sauce for eel was made from Claret mulled with powdered dry spices and salt.
"Of a clarree maad of a certeyn wyn" - The Knight's Tale
"He drynketh ypocras, clarree, and vernage" - The Merchant's Tale
"And thanne he taketh a soppe in fyn clarree" - The Merchant's Tale

Clarree was wine to which honey and spices were added; the name comes from the Latin vinum claratum, which means "clarified wine." The name survives today as claret, a dry, red wine.

Bring the wine and honey to a boil; reduce heat & skim off the scum as it rises. Taste for sweetness; add honey as necessary. Remove from heat, stir in spices, and allow to sit covered for 24 hours. After sitting, the spices will create a thick residue which will settle to the bottom. Using a ladle, pass the wine into another container through a strainer lined with 2 or 3 layers of cheesecloth to remove the spices, being careful to leave as much of the spice residue in the pot as possible. Bottle. Make at least 1 month before serving. A good Clarree aged for a year or more is exquisite!

Galiones another spiced wine drink named after a famous physician, the Greek anatomist Claudius Galen.

Ypocras A spiced drink, spiced wine; known today as hippocras. In the Middle Ages, a variety of wine-based drinks were prepared that included a sophisticated combination of ingredients designed for a multitude of conditions and purposes. The most popular of these spiced drinks was hippocras, known by that name throughout all of Europe. It had the distinct honor of being titled after the Greek "Father of Medicine" Hippocrates, who was purported to have devised the first recipe for this beverage. Because of Hippocrates' almost mythical reputation for healing in the Middle Ages, this drink was accepted as a sort of magic elixer for digestion and general health. The spicy and sweet nature of this drink meant that it was used as an apertif, usually at the beginning but more often at the end of a meal, to aid digestion. Physicians recommended that meals should end with a compound of sugar & spice, from a liquid like hippocras to the spiced candies known as dragée. It must have been very satisfying to drink a spiced and mulled hippocras after dinner with the excuse that it was good for you!

Recipes for hippocras varied from place to place and time to time, but its use remained constant and international.

A hippocras could be made out of either red or white wine, but the warmer and moister properties of red wine were usually preferred for good digestion and other health aspects.
"Thyn ypocras, and eek thy galiones" - The Physician-Pardoner Link
"He drynketh ypocras, clarree, and vernage" - The Merchant's Tale

Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 15, 2000 - 04:49 am

I can't stand it. I have a terrible hangover from all that GROG. My eyes are running. My nose is running and I hope I can make it to the bathroom on time.

Where is that special Snapple you promised me? Make it diet please.


Charlotte J. Snitzer
March 15, 2000 - 04:59 am

I can't quite understand about the distribution of fragments of the bodies of saints throughout the world. How would the parts get together on their ascension to heaven? Or was this just accepted and it was better not to ask questions?


Joan Pearson
March 15, 2000 - 05:18 am
Perhaps "disreputable" has different connotations for each of us, ?Innkeeper?! And about your grog, rather remarkable for its time I gather from Barb's rather remarkable research (her trademark!), is it served "cool" in the evening because it's been sitting out in half filled tankards all day? Do you have any clean ones available?

LONEX, we are so happy to have you join us!!! You make #19 of the 29! Please don't worry about catching up! Do you have a copy of the Tales? If not, we have the on-line link in the heading above, your choice, either in the Middle or Modern English version. Some of us are trying them both, Middle for the poetry, Modern for help with the meaning. Both are available above. Now listen up everyone! We travel at a very slow trot in Great Books and there is never a problem catching up.

Between today and Monday, we will be discussing the first 40 lines or so of the Prologue and then the last 115 lines of the Prologue, the conditions of the contest. That leaves plenty of time for reading the Knight's tale - that discussion starts on Monday!

AM raring to go, the paltries are pawing and panting and straining at the bit! Did anyone learn the opening lines?

Joan Pearson
March 15, 2000 - 05:38 am
Charolotte, I don't understand how that works, never having been to heaven myself. What about cremated bodies? How do they come together?

There are several different stories of what happened to the remains of Thomas Becket when Henry VIII destroyed the contents of his coffin. The "official" version is that his body remains were burned and scattered in the Thames or somewhere. But there are many other indications that the monks knew Henry's men were on their way, so they substituted the remains and hid Thomas' bones somewhere else - some say on the same location I visited last week in Canterbury. Let me find a link where I read something about that.

All I do know for sure is that I will recognize my mother immediately! She has assured me of that. Have you ever read Life After Life? Or heard any of those accounts of those who died, officially died on operating tables, but came back to relate their death experiences? Fascinating stuff.

March 15, 2000 - 05:57 am
Now that the Innkeeper is gone I can make a few alterations to my meager surrroundings, for Pete's sake, the lack of plumbing facilities here is hidjous. Will see what's in the empty room next door.

Am anxious to set out, when do I get my crooked staff?

The Vineyardist

Joan Pearson
March 15, 2000 - 06:17 am

The reason for the move up to the more important area in "The Trinity Chapel was because of the growing importance of this new (at the time) Saint and because of the increasing numbers of miracles that were attributed to visits to his Tomb. Certainly, the monks in those days were not backward in marketing practices. It is said that a piece of a bone plate from the top of Becket's cranium was edged with silver and shown to the visiting pilgrims. Whether this piece of bone was actually from the head of the Saint is certainly open to doubt."

Ginny, what would you do with that crooked staff on horseback? I'm afraid to issue you one!!!

Alf have you left yet? I've been meaning to ask if you are expecting an "arduous trip" or did you really mean "ardorous"?

At some point today, before the sun sets, your comments on the prologue readings would be greatly welcomed!

Jeanine A
March 15, 2000 - 06:42 am
Oh, my. Pat sent me a notice that you all were headed on a pilgrimage. Don't know if I am hardy enough to join this one. I may tag along and see how it goes but I just don't think I'll survive this one. Grogg - yuck. No indoor plumbing - yuck. I think I'm too wimpy!!


March 15, 2000 - 07:41 am
Joan - I clicked on 'The complete On-line Text' and find that version enjoyable. I only had to look up "weal". Two definitions. One is welts on the skin and the other is prosperous. How is it used here? Did they pray when they were ill and beaten, or through illness and prosperity? Whatever. It seems easier to understand, and read, than when I was young. I feel comfortable with my old brain-cells. They're accepting strangers who talk funny.

  • Jeanine - Wear a broomstick skirt and try the mead. The skirt is most modest for outdoor 'facilities' and the mead is soothing and pleasant tasting.
  • Phyll
    March 15, 2000 - 10:17 am
    Mistress Joan,

    I would be most excessively appreciative if you would not call my palfrey paltry. If you are speaking of your own equine mode of transportation then I will bow to your assessment. My own poor mount may be long in the tooth and somewhat sway-back (the better to cushion my tired old bones) but he has brought me all the way back from the Outer Banks to join this devout and interesting group of pilgrims as we all begin our spiritual journey to the place where we do honor that sainted martyr. May we all enjoy the journey, as well as the destination. Lord, keep us safe from charlatains and highwaymen.

    The Pixalated Pilgrim, Phyll

    Jeanine A
    March 15, 2000 - 10:36 am
    Oh, my. Pat sent me a notice that you all were headed on a pilgrimage. Don't know if I am hardy enough to join this one. I may tag along and see how it goes but I just don't think I'll survive this one. Grogg - yuck. No indoor plumbing - yuck. I think I'm too wimpy!!


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 15, 2000 - 10:45 am
    Do we know how many of the 29 or is it up to 31 now were on horse or did some walk - if so I hope at the head of the procession which keep the horses at a very slow gait. Do you think the storyteller would shout to be heard by all 31? I know too practical here - but I am trying to picture this event.

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 15, 2000 - 01:27 pm

    How could they do that to Becket's carnium?


    Hope Charlie won't kill me, but I'd like to see him in the broomstick skirt.


    Jim Olson
    March 15, 2000 - 01:56 pm

    Joan's contrasting the opening lines of the prologue with Eliot's Wasteland and their different views of April made me think about the roles poets play in supporting, rejecting or questioning the social and political status quo.

    Chaucher it seems to me fits in with the supporters, bending his poetic vision to see a heirarchy of nature and man consistent with the age he represented.

    He could not have written as Blake did later:

    " Tyger, tyger, burning bright In the forests of the night, . . . Did he who made the lamb make thee?"

    Like Shakespeare, however, he could use the prevailing order of things as a base for his poetry and still with his universal view of that order to aspects of the human condition that transcended the present.

    I think that is one of the reasons we enjoy having him take us to Canterbury and why the trip is both culturally nostalgic and comtemporary.

    Besides, of course, getting a chance to don our attire for the trip.

    March 15, 2000 - 02:25 pm
    Charlotte - Charlie's safe. Guys aren't expected to be modest, are they? Were they in Chaucer's time? I thought they were probably bawdier than they are today.

    Barbara - If we ride along the side of the road, the horses won't clippety-clop. I want to try a donkey. In Egypt, they seem to keep the donkey trotting, by fanning the legs in and out. I want to try that.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 15, 2000 - 02:56 pm
    Lenox hehe it is not clippety-clop I am worried about - it is the ploppety plop.

    And than even a group of 30 walking is a spread out group of folks - how do they hear one another without stopping and only telling these tales in a sit down. I do believe the roads were probably just pounded soil with calichie and in some places actually brick and so the horses on the side would help but still have you ever tried to speak in a large group walking in the out-of-doors?

    I think I read somewhere that this book was not completed at Chaucer's death - how realistic he would have made it is anyone's guess. I think it was Charlotte that shared the story is as much the teller and the teller's personality as the story or tale they tell. I wonder if the pilgrimage is to ask forgiveness for some of their bawdy ways with the concept "go and sin no more" or if they are asking for a "look kindly light" on this my unchangable bawdy ways?

    Francisca Middleton
    March 15, 2000 - 03:19 pm
    Well, folks, I am ashamed to say that even as one of the four REAL pilgrims to Canterbury in a couple of months, I haven't yet begun my homework. I did buy the book, however.

    I wanted to be the cook until I found out that I'd have to find some costum and spikenard...and no one at the local farmer's market had any (they come later in the season, I understand).

    Delighted to be here... F

    March 15, 2000 - 03:32 pm
    Barbara - It takes a mighty steady rider to keep his voice flowing on a horse, but I heard we were just going to amble. I think some of the route is cobblestoned. The Romans laid it in when they were there. In Pompeii, they also inlaid little squares of white Feldspar along the edges of the cobblestone. It reflected the moonlight so riders could see the edge of the road at night.

    March 15, 2000 - 03:37 pm

    I believe that Chaucer originally intended that each pilgrim was to relate four tales--two going to Canterbury and two on the return journey. If Chaucer had been able to complete it we probably would be studying this thing well into the NEXT millennium!

    I wonder if pilgrimages were made to "ask forgiveness" or simply because it was the tradition of the day. Sort of a declaration of their position in society? Perhaps some truly devout few looked upon the journey as an act of penance but I wonder if many of the travelers thought of it as a lark---a good excuse for ducking the responsibilites of their daily lives for awhile.

    I agree that it would be difficult telling, and hearing, all of these tales while on horseback but I don't think that the "reader" is supposed to question the realities too closely. Don't they call that literary license?


    Joan Grimes
    March 15, 2000 - 03:59 pm
    I would just love to join this pilgrimage but It comes at the wrong time I fear. As instead of winding my way to Canterbury, on Tuesday next I will leave on a pilgimage en France. I will wind my way from Paris to Normandie, Bretagne et la Vallée de la Loire and back to Paris. For two short weeks I will experience the wonderous beauty of France with my husband who has never been there before. So you see I will be too far behind when I return to go on this pilgrimage. However I would have loved to be the Wife of Bath one this pilgrimage. Oh well on can't do everything.

    As to why these people went on this trip , I think they loved to travel my friends.


    March 15, 2000 - 04:08 pm
    The Prologue didn't say anything about atonement. It just said they were going to pray to the Saint that had helped them through "ill and weal". My impression is that it was like visiting a shrine such as Lourdes or Notre Dame. Maybe Pilgrimages were the poor man's vacation, in those days.

    March 15, 2000 - 04:14 pm
    Joan - It sounds like a wonderful trip. I may not get the Egypt pictures to you in time, but I'll continue with the journal. I resolved not to be such a dawdler this year, but I seem to have taken on the characteristics of an old dog.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 15, 2000 - 05:39 pm
    Joan what a wonderful sounding trip - 2 weeks and with someone to see it all new again out of their eyes.

    Lennox - In Pompeii, they also inlaid little squares of white Feldspar along the edges of the cobblestone. It reflected the moonlight so riders could see the edge of the road at night. How absolutly romantic. Lights in theater isles just do not do the same thing as the moonlight on little squares of white Feldspar.

    Fun, tongue and cheek Tourist's Guide to Canterbury

    Found this info. helpful to gaining a picture of what was, based on what has been recently uncovered.
    Canterbury Cathedral was the scene of a major project by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust from January to April 1993 Excavations, revealing a remarkable sequence of structures and restricted to the removal of eighteenth century deposits, before the laying of a new floor in 1786.

    Only limited traces of Romano-British layers were found, but sufficient to indicate a pebbled street running beneath the cathedral. Fronting onto the street were timber-framed buildings and a masonry structure, as yet undated.

    The most important find was the remains of the Anglo-Saxon cathedral, just 0.20m below the 1786 floor.

    The earliest, Phase I, is represented by foundations cut into post Roman `dark earth' deposits which sealed the Romano British deposits. They may well be part of the original church of St Augustine constructed soon after his arrival in A.D. 597. The foundations were of re-used Roman stone with mortared stone and Roman bricks above. The plan and scale of the building are similar to the early church of St Peter and St Paul at St Augustine's Abbey .

    Phase II consisted of a partly subterranean masonry structure with a tile floor 1.2 m. below contemporary ground surface. Its function remains uncertain, but it might have been a mausoleum.

    During the ninth or tenth century the early church was demolished and a larger structure was built (Phase III). It is ascribed this phase possibly to Archbishop Wulfed (805-32), and a subsequent rebuild, to Archbishop Oda (942-58).

    Phase IV saw the demolition of the western end and its replacement with (the Oratory of St Mary). A substantial part of this west-work was uncovered. The Archbishop's cathedra or throne would have been sited to the rear of the apse with the altar to the Virgin set in front. At the same time towers were added, one of which may be the tower of St Gregory. These remains may have been built by Archbishops Lyfing (1013-20) or Æthelnoth (1020-38) after a Danish army, led by Thorkell the Tall and his brother Hemming, plundered and burnt the city and cathedral in 1011.

    The excavated remains of Phase IV was a large ring crypt, possibly housing the remains of St Dunstan. The original church may have been the fragments of masonry found below the crypt floor in 1895. Undoubtedly the cathedral in the early years of the eleventh century would have ranked among the largest in Northern Europe.

    Possible Inn our pilgrims stayed at in Canterbury.
    Roman Road at No 2 High Street location of the former `Cheker of the Hope Inn', built for Christ Church Priory in 1392-5

    Late medieval Canterbury had a large number of inns, taverns and lodging houses, the most famous of which was the great courtyard inn, known as the `Cheker of the Hope'. Begun in 1392 the work took three years, and cost £867 14s 4d to complete. The inn was being erected during the last few years of Geoffrey Chaucer's life and is mentioned in an early fifteenth century continuation of the Canterbury Tales (not written by Chaucer), The Prologue to the Tale of Beryn.

    Most of the eastern side of this inn survives, though approximately half of the total structure was destroyed in a great fire on 22nd August 1865. The inn itself, a large three storeyed, jettied building, with galleried internal court, incorporated an impressive stone arcade on the ground floor which still survives at the corner of Mercery Lane and the High Street.

    Great site The Murder of Thomas Becket, Henry II, Canterbury Cathedral including a virtual piligrimage 2000 and than the big question What Happened to Thomas à Becket?

    March 15, 2000 - 06:56 pm
    That's really interesting, Barbara. Thanks for the click-ons. Do you remember the name of the movie about Thomas a Becket? I especially enjoyed it - Lots of years ago. I don't remember that it gave the details about his demise.

    March 15, 2000 - 08:53 pm
    Lonex: Wasn't that "A Man for All Seasons?"


    March 15, 2000 - 09:06 pm
    Lorrie - Thanks. I bet it was. I'll check it out this weekend (that's how I get the ironing done).

    Joan Pearson
    March 16, 2000 - 02:40 am
    Good morning! WELCOME!!! Jeanine, Fran, Kathleen, and Lady JoanG!!! Surely you can begin the Pilgrimage with us, Lady Joan and when you must, turn back, catch the Chunnel en France and then catch up with us again along the road! You are very welcome! Lonex reminds us once again that these are good cobbled Roman roads and the ride is not difficult. (Clippety-clop and ploppety-plop, Barb - you'd be ill-advised to walk!) But amble we shall, plenty of time for story-telling. Lady Joan, it will be a good six weeks before we reach that Bawth woman's tale. Come back to us! Your horse awaits!

    Joan Pearson
    March 16, 2000 - 03:13 am
    Isn't this super! We are just about ready. 22 of the 29 paltry palfries saddled up! Will you all check your names up in the heading and be sure you are included? What shall we do with the other 7? Perhaps we can put our gear (those crooked staffs we've been issused for some obscure purpose) and whatever else you don't want to "carry on". (Phyll, I need to run a "correction" column here! I think I mispronounced Southwark earlier too - it's supposed to be Suthic, as I remember.)

    A few notes, before we get going on our spring break (don't you miss Maryal already?) I hope the weather is nice for her! Yes, it was a pleasant break for the Canterbury pilgrims, making the trip for spiritual reasons, some much more serious than others. But it was a merry band as opposed to a somber penitential group!

    Charlotte, concerning the display of the silver-gilded bone from TB's cranium for veneration, I seem to remember that when attacked at the altar by the four assaillants, that one blow severed his skullcap. It would make sense that one of the monks would have recovered it and well, displayed it to the Pilgrims...
    I think weal refers to prosperity. We need a good glossary in the heading here, don't we? I'll check ELF in the heading and see if it will serve...oh, and I think you are confusing the Thomases. Man for All Seasons - Thomas More.
    Barbara, our minds work alike! I wondered about the storyteller's ability to be heard too. I know that reality was not Chaucer's main consideration, but it is said that he himself did go on at least one pilgrimage. He must have done something to wile away the hours. Wouldn't be surprised it he talked/listened to fellow travelers. So how was it done. They walked slowly, with only slight clippety-clopping, the speaker rode in the middle of the pack and called out his tale loudly for all to hear? I doubt any of the tales would have been as long as the Knight's Tale...did you see how long it is? The poor guy would have been hoarse halfway through!

    Have you read the lines out loud? Have you read the Middle English lines out loud? IN the heading, in ELF there is both the Middle and the Modern version. Try the first few lines in each! Can you hear the poetry in the Middle English (sound the silent "e" at the end of the line...) Isn't it grand?

    Sir Jim, you have provided the start for our conversation, which will hopefully get started in earnest today. We were too concerned with getting to know one another, admiring our costumes and saddling up for the ride yesterday. I think we're ready to begin now!

    March 16, 2000 - 03:41 am
    Are we leaving soon?... I'm up early, since I don't want to miss the Knight's Tale. Now I see, 'twill be coming. I'll go back in and maybe the Innkeeper can find me a pot of hot tea.

    The Quiet Nun

    Joan Pearson
    March 16, 2000 - 03:53 am
    Sorry, Sister, no tea to be had...innkeeper hung up the old apron and is off for spring break! You're on your own. No Knight discussion till Monday. We've got to straighten out the storytelling contest first! I love contests!!!

    Okay, there's a prize for the first person to find a Canterbury Tales glossary on-line! Elf is good to search the lines, but not a glossary!

    Later! Can't find my sunscreen!

    March 16, 2000 - 04:17 am
    Sunscreeen? You need a wide brimmed felt hat.

    March 16, 2000 - 04:22 am
    Barbara, that is a wonderful site on the Murder of Thomas Becket, just wonderful. I've been trying to print it out for two days and keep having problems.

    And there we have the two; Thomas Becket and Thomas a Becket, I guess we need to assume...what? I guess the one is his French name while in exile??

    I like Thomas a Becket better, but what do I know?

    Joan G: bon voyage and have a super time!! Next year you can lead all US Pilgrims to France !!! hahahah (I can see her turning green now)!! Listen, you have plenty of experience taking groups to France, a bunch of cranky Pilgrims should be no problem at all! hahahaha Have a BALL!!

    JUST got my copye of the Coghill today! hahahaha

    The Vineyardiste

    March 16, 2000 - 04:23 am
    Here are three links for Chaucer Glossaries.

    Take your pick.

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 16, 2000 - 04:41 am

    Glad to hear about Becket's cranium, but can't stand the idea of their sawing bodies apart to make them in to relics.


    Jeanine A
    March 16, 2000 - 05:40 am
    Lonex - I have several broomstick skirts shal wear one then and try the mead.

    Joan - France! Lucky you. I also enjoyed the click on for Beckets bones.

    Please everyone no horse in the procession for me. I haven't been on aa horse since I was a child. I do believe I shall walk.

    Will the book remain on line so I can continue to read it?


    Joan Pearson
    March 16, 2000 - 05:57 am
    Jeanine, yes, to all your questions! Everything is do-able here! The text will definitely remain in the heading...Check out the ELF translation up there - you can set it for either Middle or Modern English! Just for the experience, try reading the poetry of the original Middle English aloud for the first 15 lines of the prologue...a bit difficult at first, but you soon get into it!

    You certainly may walk, but gather up that broomstick skirt and watch where you are stepping! We promise to move at a nice slow pace

    Sister, you win the prize for the first to present some glossaries, but because of your vow of Poverty, we shall add it (it was monetary!) to our joint kitty for expenses along the way.

    And although you did provide us with three glossary sources, none of them helped with the meaning of the word weal as used in the Knight's tale -"Who helped them when they lay so ill and weal." The first found nothing, and the second two I couldn't figure out how to use...So the prize is still there for a workable glossary. Can anyone get the second or third URL provided in Post #176 to operate? Otherwise we will put the first one in the heading by default, and the meaning of the word "weal" in this context will remain a mystery!

    Shall we begin? The others will surely catch up with us! What better place than the first fifteen lines of the Prologue to set the scene and give us an idea of the Medieval view of man's position in the cosmos!

    Look where Chaucer begins the reawakening with the four basic elements of life: Aprill shoures (water), droghte and the dry land (earth), Zephirus and the wind (air) and the yonge sonne (fire). Then what???...Watch him build this pyramid from the bottom up!

    March 16, 2000 - 07:34 am
    A note of mild protest for perusal by Master Harry Baily upon his return:

    Harry, Harry, you sly old fox! Under the gentle guidance of Mistress Joan P. I just this moment read my copy of the contest rules and conditions of the prize to be awarded to the best tale-teller. I must tell you that I heretofore register a mild protest. YOU, sir, are to be the sole judge and jury of the best tale? I do question your qualifications. Be that as it may, I do bow to your most canny and devious approach to the awarding of the prize. A dinner in the Tabard to the winner sounds fine, for I have no criticism of the good food herein, but that the losing pilgrims must foot the bill! Now, really, sir!!! And not only that, but that YOU will determine the prix fixe!!!! Always an eye on the bottom line, eh, Harry? Ah well, I'm sure that all we pilgrims are deep enough in the pocket to pay up our share. Let the contest begin.

    Phyll, the Pixilated Pilgrim

    March 16, 2000 - 07:53 am

    In the Oxford English Dictionary, one of the many, many meanings of the word "weal" is fragile or frail. I think that sounds more in context with that line in the ELF translation. In the ME that word doesn't appear.

    "The hooly blisful martir for the seke
    That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke."


    March 16, 2000 - 08:07 am
    My Netscape is "performing illegal operations" and closing down every few minutes. (Probably chopping up bones for relics.) Nonetheless, I must find another vehicle for this trip. I'll catch up.

    YiLi Lin
    March 16, 2000 - 09:18 am
    thanks i found that link and at least at work on my lunchtime i have a computer screen big enough to read- when i sign on to seniornet it is often on one of those itsy bitsy smaller than a laptop computers- this is delightful.

    i'm already caught up in the notion of pilgrimage and read briefly today the prologue and am excited to get to know the pilgrims better.

    Kathleen Zobel
    March 16, 2000 - 09:52 am
    Are you all using a book of Canterbury Tales or the online book by ELF? The poetry is lovely in Middle English but I sure am glad to have the translation next to it! Even the translation is charming. What perfect timing...the Prologue starts in Spring, and Chaucer's enchanting description quickened my pulse for sure. He certainly quickened my curiosity by setting the stage to read the tales of these religious travelers.

    Now to find the last 115 lines before the 20th. Kathleen

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 16, 2000 - 10:26 am
    I know, I know we need a glossery and discussion about our Knight's tale BUT this is a riot and in keeping with Chaucer's view of rollicking friers. the ghost of Nell in Canterbury Cathederal

    Joan Pearson
    March 16, 2000 - 10:45 am
    kathleen zobel! It has been ages! Over a year??? I'll tell you, my pulse quickened when I saw your post in the other site expressing interest in getting a palfrey saddled up for you! Oh this is wonderful! Many of us are reading the Modern English, but there is a small cadre of purists who wouldn't dream of it! Your choice. If you click the B&N logo in the heading, you'll see the Coghill translation. That and the Nickolson are said to be the best. I'm sorry about the line counting, but we've decided to read the description of the individual characters at the time we read the tale - so as not to separate the teller from the tale which we were warned not to do by Charlott'e wonderful Professor Patterson. So, if you scan through all the individual character descriptions (we'll come back to them), you'll come toward the end to the line: ""Now I have set down briefly..." - and that's where we get the details of the storytelling contest. Phyll has already caught on to the humor of the proposal. But did the Canterbury company????????

    Oh, I am so happy that you have found us!

    And YiLi, that's why I like to go to work too! The monitor screen is so much larger than mine......and everything loads in lightening speed. I get to go in this evening and use it!!!

    HAHAHAHAHABarbara! What you find when launching an all out search! I couldn't slow her voice down..."Everybody.....this place is haunted?" What did Nell say?

    Lonex nobody's doing any bone crunching until you get here...don't worry you won't miss anything! Just get that Netscape glitch straightened out before we leave! Does anyone have a map, or are we just going to follow the guys in front of us? What if they're going to the Beach?

    March 16, 2000 - 11:02 am
    Joan - It was! It was! Bone fragments in my hard drive. It took all morning to clean them out, using my magical bone defrag tool. One more run to Barnes & Noble before we leave. I don't think they had maps in those days. Not many roads and they had to be drawn by hand. Do I need a towel for the Beach?

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 16, 2000 - 11:07 am
    No, too cold, a blanket will do but, be sure you do not take any Warden's Pie with you or we will be crunching your bones for sale!

    Joan Pearson
    March 16, 2000 - 11:11 am
    Never go on a trip without my map! This is a good one too! It's Medieval England, easy to read - not too many towns to confuse.

    Medieval England

    Do you see London? Our Tabard Inn is on the South side of the Thames...Do you see Canterbury? Not far at all. Just don't miss the signpost for the Cathedral and follow the Thames to the shore!

    If you look at the Map to the west of London, you'll see the City of Westminster, which is where our pilgrims, Ginny, Fran, PatW and Ginger will be staying. So glad Westminster was a Medieval city! And if you look waaay up toward the Northeast, you'll see Bury St. Edmund's where Tom Hoving's priceless Cross was made about this same time!!!

    March 16, 2000 - 01:04 pm
    I"m back and a raring to go! JOAN: You silly-nilly! I live in Florida. It was necessary, however, to take a trip, to the other coast, to check in on a beloved friend who is ailing. You said something delightful in one of the recent posts, which I just reviewed. You said "we are all of us, pilgrims on a journey thru life." I thought and thought about that statement. Remember!! Chaucers choices, as he characterized his pilgrims, encompassed a wide range of personalities, a diverse nation of people thru his pilgrims. They were without extreme. Normal, so to speak, much like we mere mortals. It was " a perennial progeny of men and women." Just like us together we = a party!! Let's go. Keep your eye on our grogster, Barbara. She'll be tempting our new riders, Lonex and Yilin.

    Jeanine: don't be a sissy, come with us. I'll beat the serpents and ogres, to keep you safe.

    It is said that when love comes to the Chaucerian heros,s it comes as the most beautiful of absolute disaster. Agony- desired as much as bemoaned EVER to be pursued & NEVER to be betrayed.

    I found it interesting rememebering that Chaucer was a page, which gave him the finest education in manners. Will this be reflected in his Tales?

    I didn't realize that this was supposed to have taken only a day. It seemed as if I was astride that bloody horse for weeks.

    Our distinguised Knight is the first pilgrim introduced. so chivalrous and noble is he, always winning fame for his prize. He was a true, a perfect gentle-knight. He joined our pilgramage to render thanks. (Betch with all of the riding into battle he's done, he will stay astride HIS horse, far better than I.

    JOAN: Out cartographer, which do YOU think I meant, ardorous or arduous? J

    I just realized I went past the scheduled lines. I started on 42 --crud -- If I erase it, I'll forget it. I'm going to leave my comments and refer back. (YOu can tell I'm a new user, huh?) I guess our Harry Bailley really encouraged me to make a drunken sot of meself.

    March 16, 2000 - 01:23 pm
    Barbara, Me Lass - Might I help ye carry that flask for a wee bit?

    March 16, 2000 - 01:32 pm
    Alf, if you had chosen a jenny, you would have not far to fall if your skirts cause you to slide off. Don't you had a belly strap to hang on with?

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 16, 2000 - 02:29 pm
    Having read in a tourist site that the weather typically does not freeze in winter nor goes much above 80 in summer, it does rain a great deal. So I thought I would have some fun with words using the Knight's tale as a guide.

    Once on a time, afore we do all fuss
    If weather's a fluke and trial dubious.
    Of mind we be bawd and yes curator
    Foreign my rhyme a real sternutator
    But that a tasimeter was not neath the sun
    Full many a cold body was undone.
    What with cloudbursts and no hostelry
    Be gained in the nearby vicinity
    A place to finish this epopoeia
    As we all suffer the skill logorrhoea
    Prompts full speed ahead with all zealotry
    The Knight's glory before I use a dolorimetry
    And to my seniornet proximity
    Before contradictory rainy threnody
    Let this noble group to á Beckett ride
    With hostess Joan marching as our guide.
    And truly a very long tankard of beer
    Will keep Lenox and I from the bier
    While our blood filled with salinity
    Will escape being chopped into alkalinity.

    Francisca Middleton
    March 16, 2000 - 03:33 pm
    I have a one-word critique:


    When I figure out how to change fonts, colors, etc., I'll put that into HUGE print in bright and shining RED.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 16, 2000 - 03:46 pm
    Courtly Love

    Courtly Love is an aristocratic philosophy of love that flourished in France and England during the Medieval Era. The code required a man to fall in love with a married woman of equal or higher rank. Before consummating that love, he must commit daring exploits to prove his devotion. The lovers then pledged themselves to secrecy and fidelity. In reality the code was little more than rules governing adultery.

    Now, given this encyclopedia identification, is the Knight’s Tale a tale of Courtly Love? Not completely, though it has some aspects of the courtly tradition. Emily is not a married woman. She is viewed from a distance without either Palamon or Arcite having had an opportunity to talk to her. They only see her from the tower in which they are imprisoned. But they both immediately fall in love with her because of her physical appearance. To put the loved one on a pedestal and worship her from afar certainly is emblematic of the principles of courtly love. Both of the men commit daring exploits when they come together in battle in the gorgeous stadium set up for that purpose. It is also emblematic of the courtly fashion.

    Yet some of the critics maintain that wherever we look in CT, we find a contempt for romance. It appears that only the knight who is a gentleman and has proven himself in battle, is the only one allowed to tell a story of heroic romance. In fact all of the characters are of noble stature and must retain their aristocratic position, so there is no display of inner feelings as may be shown in by those of the lower classes.

    We must be reminded to read the tale in the spirit in which Chaucer conceived it. Nor must we attempt to give it a modern interpretation. Let us not deplore the lack of characterization, but delight in the spectacle as the knight describes it.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 16, 2000 - 04:07 pm
    Sorry about the big red letters. We were playing around with it and it didn't let us do what we wanted to do.


    March 16, 2000 - 06:30 pm
    Here's another glossary to try... Look in lower right .

    March 17, 2000 - 05:03 am
    OK, maybe I need to change my title from The Vineyardist to Ignorance Personified. Sorry to ask this, but I just got my copy yesterday and love the way Coghill wrote, just love it, it's a masterpiece, I really think.

    But where the heck are we? I keep counting lines and I don't see "Now I have set down briefly..."

    Will somebody who HAS the Penguin Coghill please tell me which page we're to be up to? Sorry to be so dumb, but if we're to be Pilgrims in all their foibles, we may as well know what we're dealing with, with me.

    Loved the Map, Joan!! WHERE is Londinium? At Westminster?

    Barb, that was beyond fabulous!!

    Charlotte, thank you for that Courtly Love information.

    Now as soon as I find out where we are I can saddle up my palfrey (OED: "Palfrey: ME from Old French: palfrei from late Latin palafredus by dissimilation from parafredus: late Latin paraveredus from the Greek 'beside' + veredus: light horse, post-horse. A saddle horse for ordinary riding as distinguished from a war-horse; exp. a small saddle horse for ladies. "A damoysel ...on a fayr palfroy (Malory) He cried 'My charger and her p.' Tennyson."

    Sorry for that etymology, my Christmas present was a set of the OED which I have wanted for ages, not the new volumes, but a 1937 set, very little used, but I have changed all that in a heartbeat.


    March 17, 2000 - 05:06 am
    I see Chaucer's father was a vintner. Why is it that everybody always assumes a Vineyardist is a Vintner and vice versa?

    Not, you know?

    The Vineyardist

    Joan Pearson
    March 17, 2000 - 05:35 am
    TOP O' THE MORNIN' to all ye Irishmen and wannabees today! Tell me, did our Canterbury Pilgrims celebrate this day with GREEN ale????

    I was so happy yesterday to see our own Carolyn Andersen indicate that she will be joining us on this expeditions! Many of us know Carolyn, a regular Great Books member. She lives in Norway and has a wonderful grand-daughter...we feel as if she belongs to all of us! Please be sure to give her a big WELCOME when she gets here! So now, we have saddled up 23 of our 29 waiting paltry palfries/palfreys??? Ginny, what does your Oxford say about the plural of palfrey?

    For those of you who couldn't see London on the map, maybe this will help...Medieval Map of LOndon

    Pat- Patty - Paddy Westerdale, I think you may have just won the prix for the glossary site...wait just a second, and I'll give it the "weal test........Nope, the prize monetary) is up for grabs- I don't know if weal is on the list, because I don't have the patience (a Gemini) to scroll slowly through each letter of the alphabet...took three minutes to get through the a's and b' time to wait for "W". I think our "official" glossary needs a "search! feature! Getting quite picky in my old age! Time is precious! Sorry, Sister, nice try!

    March 17, 2000 - 05:48 am
    OED doesn't, at least the one I have doesn't give a plural for palfry. But Webster's does, while disagreeing with the OED as to etymological information. Anyway Webster's says "palfreys."

    HELLO again, our Carolyn from Norway!! NOW we can begin with our CAROLYN and our Dear Kathleen! back with us again!


    Joan Pearson
    March 17, 2000 - 06:04 am
    I'm so sorry for the patchy discussion schedule and the line counting.. for this week's discussion. Am simply trying to direct your attention to the conditions of the storytelling contest, (and also to introduce a little contest of our own) before we start The Knight's Tale discussion on Monday. The conditions are found at the end of the General Prologue. As many are reading Nevill Coghill's translation, I can give the paperback page number for that...will that help?
    "Now I have told you shortly, in a clause,
    The rank, the array, the number and the cause
    Of our assembly in this company
    In Southwark..."
    (Page 22, half way down the page - to the end of the prologue.)

    Charolotte and Jim O have brought up some important points, I think, to keep in mind as we read the tales and I'd like to talk some more about those before we start on Monday too....will be back after this Irish Terrier gets a nice long walk to properly celebrate her day!

    March 17, 2000 - 06:14 am
    ALLLL RIIGHT!! Thank ye, Mistress Jeanne d'Arc, I'm ahead for once!


    The Ignorant Vineyardist was she
    Not fair, and dressed inobly
    For on her back yon Pilgrims didst see
    Assor't sweats and tees in bold navy.

    The Vineyardist

    March 17, 2000 - 06:18 am

    I don't know if you already have your answer as to where we are but it depends on which edition of Coghill that you have. I have an older, smaller Penguin edition and in that the line, "Now I have set down....." is on p.38. I also have a larger, newer Penguin edition and in that the line is on p. 22. Good luck in finding it. Look for an indented line.

    I don't recall who mentioned the David Wright translation as a highly recommended one but I picked it up at the book store yesterday and I really like it a lot. Even better than Coghill, in my opinion.

    Happy St. Patrick's Day, all you pilgrims! Phyll, the Pixilated Pilgrim

    Joan Pearson
    March 17, 2000 - 06:27 am
    You posted before I got the leash on the poor pleading dog's neck, Phyll! - a happy day to you as well. Yes, that's an excellent point...<...there is nothing finer than David Wright's introduction- and if anyone can manage to get hold of a copy, get it! Even if you have to steal it! Hard to get these days. Where did you get yours, Phyll?

    Off to walk/run the dog! - Later!

    March 17, 2000 - 06:36 am
    "The characters of Chaucer's pilgrims are the characters which compose all ages and nations; as one age falls, another rises, different to mortal sight, but to immortals only the same; for we see the same characters repeated again and again, in animals, in vegetables, minerals, and men; nothing new occurs in identical existence; Accident ever varies, Substance can never change or decay. Of Chaucer's characters, as described in this Canterbury Tales, some of the names or titles are altered by time, but the characters themselves forever remain unaltered, and consequently they are the physiognomies or lineaments of universal human life, beyond which Nature never steps. Names alter, things never alter. I have known multitudes of those who could have been monks in the age of monkery, who in this deistical age are deists. As Newton numbered the stars, and as Linneus numbered the plants, so Chaucer numbered the classes of men....Every age is a Canterbury pilgrimage; we all pass on, each sustaining one or other of these characters." -William Blake

    I find it interesting that so many, many years later we are still studying Chaucer and attempting to personally identify with a particular pilgrim whom we feel fits with our own personality. In other words, the human characteristics never really change, do they?

    Phyll, the Pixilated Pilgrim

    March 17, 2000 - 06:41 am

    To my delight and my anguish I live about two blocks away from a Borders bookstore. That is where I found the Wright translation. As if being so close to a Borders isn't bad enough--about a half-mile away is a BIG Barnes and Noble. So many books--so little time--and so little money.


    March 17, 2000 - 07:16 am
    Aye! Bless 'ye Irish souls, me fine pilgrims. Will start the day with "our" green tees. Mine says I.B.M.- Irish By Marriage and Bills says F.B.I.- Full Blooded Irishman Will return soon, he's feeding my damned horse and pulling at MY reins to get out and get moving early today.

    YiLi Lin
    March 17, 2000 - 10:00 am
    seeing these characters even in their brief intro in the prologue in sooooooo many works i've read.

    Carolyn Andersen
    March 17, 2000 - 02:43 pm
    Good friends, having very little experience with biologically based transport, I had thought to follow this merry company mounted on a trusty motor scooter. But alas! Look at the condition of the road! In the introduction to his time-honored edition of the Prologue Alfred W. Pollard notes that "...even main-roads in the 14th century were little better than quagmires, and this Canterbury road in particular is twice spoken of as by the Host as 'the slough' ". I guess it'll be necessary to hire one of those horses, "...prominently marked to discourage thieving..." which are available for twelvepence from Southwark to Rochester and another twelvepence from there to Canterbury. I hope you are all well-mounted, and beg to join you.

    March 17, 2000 - 04:00 pm
    Ah, now. I have my book and pack. London temperatures are in the 50's (daytime) and 40s at night. Do we need woolies and raingear? My puny Palfry looks piqued. No roads, or trails, on the map. Is the Knight in the lead? Does he know the way?

    Joan Pearson
    March 17, 2000 - 04:16 pm
    Lonex, I hope so. Harry Baily is supposed to be our guide, but has other 'obligations'...ahem. And now from Carolyn(welcome, welcome, welcome!) we get the sad news that those excellent Roman roads are NOT??? How can this be? Barb, you'd better rethink the walking idea! Quagmire?Slough? Oh dear! Well, we do have the hordes of Pilgrims going before us, we can follow them...and we do have our MAP! And the virtuous accomplished Knight! We should be alright, but my heart breaks over the loss of the Roman roads!

    Nellie Vrolyk
    March 17, 2000 - 05:19 pm
    I'm here...lurking as usual. If any of the pilgrims were to suit me it would be the Scholar, as like him, I'm always found studying with my nose in a book. But whatever comes I shall be around as much as I can.

    Joan Pearson
    March 17, 2000 - 05:48 pm
    Ah Nellie!WELCOME! Delighted to have you join us! You always approach a story from a different angle! Your palfrey awaits!

    Today I've been puzzling through the I'm differences between Chaucer's Medieval man and modern man - us.

    Charlotte, when speaking of Courtly Love as expressed - perhaps - in the Knight's Tale remarked, "We must be reminded to read the tale in the spirit in which Chaucer conceived it. Nor must we attempt to give it a modern interpretation." Okay, now remember that we are also warned by Prof. Patterson not to separate the teller from the tale, the knight from the characters/virtues....It seems to me that if wer are to avoid giving the tale a modern interpretation, we should be aware of what that is...

    Previously, JimO tells us that Chaucer was a man of his time, but his universal view as to the human condition transcends his time. His universal view is perhaps what strikes the chord with YiLi, Phyll & the rest of us!

    The question has come up here several times regarding the nature of the trip- Was this a religious pilgrimage for the purpose of atonement - or something fun to do after a long winter - Beach week? I'd say it was largely the former and a wee bit of the latter. And to understand that, I think we have to look closely at Medieval man and how he regarded himself in relation to God and the universe. This seems to be what the opening lines of the prologue are telling us...My question is how does this relationship differ from how man regards himself today. It is this difference that we will have to accept and refrain from applying our modern interpretation to appreciate what Chaucer has accomplished here.

    March 17, 2000 - 07:48 pm
    JOAN: A pilgramage is an expedition to a distant sacred place or shrine ; a crusade, a mission. Does that not denote tribute? In this case, to Thomas a'Becket. I felt it was a voyage of thanks to express gratitude for------ whatever. However, pilgrims were merely wanderers, wayfarers, n'est pas? Some nine and twenty in a company Of sundry (various) folk happening then to fall In fellowship and they were pilgrims all!! I like your point better, tho, Joan, a "spring break." Where the boys are, ya mean, lass?

    The point made over and over is that the tales actually develop the personalities of the narrators.  The quarrels and diverse opinions of the tellers are specific  to each recital.  As CHAROLOTTE has pointed out, let us not seperate teller from tale. That will be the fun part.

    NELLIE"  Welcome to this motley crew.  Pick yer poison, but DO try the grog.  The scholar you wish to be?  the Oxford Cleric?  Though a philosopher, as I have told, He had not found the stone for making gold. A tone of moral virtue we will need on this journey, so saddle up yer mare.

    Lonex:  don't believe a word JOAN is telling ya.  Hary Bailley lies as drunk as a skunk---- somewhere ~
    WHOA, horsey.  Noone told me that it was going to drop to the 40s at night.  I may have to reconsider this trip.

    CAROLYN:  no self propelled vehicles allowed on this travel.  Nice try--- no dice.  Suffer with the rest of us.  Be sure to pad the fanny well.  these beast here are tough on the derriere.

    ppppPHYLL:  Can I move next door to you?  A Borders and a B& N nearbyl  Oh Lordie, let me die there.   Bless you./  Who is William Balake?  I said many of those same things only yesterday  ( not nearly as well as he di.d) Every age is a Canterbury Pilgramage.  Alas, it is true.  How else could this have survived 600 years????

    Joan Pearson
    March 17, 2000 - 07:57 pm
    I am still mourning the loss of the Roman roads - who said there were little fog lights along the edges to guide us on our way?

    ALF, I'm trying to be serious here for a minute...trying to make the point that the pilgrimage was primarily, for every one, a religious journey to improve chances for salvation. Of course, our band is made up of mortals prone to weakness and faults, "cracks" as Ginger would put it...but all of these Christians are concerned about their relationship with God.

    If there is one word that would characterize the Medieval period it would have to be "Christianity" - not so much the pious aspect, but the intellectual and moral journy towards God and salvation. Chaucer lived in what would have to be called the golden age within the Middle Ages. His contemporaries - the Pearl Poet...(last year we read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - and loved it), and William Langland who wrote Piers Plowman provide portraits of the people and temper of the period - both of these had as basic theme of salvation and its obstacles.

    The Canterbury Tales will be a moral struggle to find the balance between Personal reponsibility and the need for individual liberty...does this sound familiar? But how does all of us differ from our way of thinking? Why do we insist that this was merely a spring break for these people? Is it because we can not understand Medieval man's belief system?

    March 17, 2000 - 07:59 pm
    I'm back and sunburned. Happy St. Patrick's day to all.

    Tomorrow I will read all the posts that have miraculously appeared since I went on pilgrimage to the beach.

    I did read one post about relics. There were few REAL relics. Pig's bones and various other animal bones were sold as bones from a martyr or a saint. People then were as gullible as people can be today. There were many corrupt clery just as there were good ones. We meet both in the General Prologue. The best of the lot is the parson who lives what he teaches and takes care of his sheep. The pardoner is an example of one of the worst:

    But to speak of his craft, from Berwick to Ware
    there was no other such pardoner;
    for in his bag ie had a pillowcase
    which, he said, was Our Lady's veil;
    he said he had a piece of the sail
    Saint Peter had when he sailed
    on the sea, until Jesus Christ took him;
    he had a cross of brass, set with stones,
    and in a glass he had pigs' bones
    but with these "relics" whenever he found
    a poor country parson,
    he in one day got himself more money
    than the parson got in two months.
    And thus, with false flattery and tricks,
    he made monkeys of the parson and the people.

    Is certainly is good to be back among the company, but I am very tired and windblown and must to bed.

    ~maryal/Harry the Hustler, prop. of the Tabard and fellow journeyer to Canterbury.

    March 17, 2000 - 08:13 pm
    IMO if the pilgrimage had been solemn, with atonement in mind, the rules for story-telling might have indicated something spiritual ...maybe the lives of saints, with a few prayers sprinkled in. The suggestion for story-telling was jovial and specified only "good morality and pleasure" to amuse and entertain the travelers.

    Joan Pearson
    March 17, 2000 - 08:24 pm
    MARYAL! You've come back just in the knick of time! We are getting into our first little disagreement here about the purpose of the pilgrimage! ooooh sunburn! I wanted to hear more like "tanned and rested". Take care! We're back to winter temperatures tonight - in the 20's. Odd to be sunburned and freezing, isn't it!

    LONEX, the purpose of the trip was to improve one's chances of salvation...and these Pilgrims understood from Church teaching that they would receive a Plenary (full!) indulgence or pardon for their the purpose of the trip was not so much as solemn and pious - but rather a belief that the veneration of Thomas' bones at Canterbury would bring them salvation. So, yes, they were jovial and in high spirits - they are about to earn salvation and they also wish to give thanks for their good health. (Remember the Plague - do we need numbers of those who died of the plague to understand how concerned these people were about death - and beyond!) But they were well, they were gaining salvation, and yes, in very high spirits!

    The prologue opens with a hierarchy that begins with the water (rain), fire (sun), air(wind) and drought (earth), the four basic elements necessary for life >, then the floures (flora), the fowles (fauna) and finally man at the center. But THAT'S NOT ALL! Chaucer's characters are well aware of their relationship with God and the necessity of achieving salvation while on earth.

    March 17, 2000 - 08:41 pm
    Sorry JOAN, thought you were kidding about spring break. I agree with LONEX, I didn't feel the solemnity. There was nothing grave or spiritual with this group. You're very welcome and I can't think when ---Upon my word I'm telling you no lie- I've seen a gathering here that looked so spry, No, not this year, as in this tavern now. I'd think you up some fun if I knew how. We continue with-- "And I don't doubt, before the journeys done You mean to while the time in tales and fun." Doesn't sound like anybody's ready to atone for much of anything, to me. No reconciliation or reperation here with this group. Is there????

    March 17, 2000 - 08:42 pm
    Joan - Oh. I haven't found the part about salvation. The first batch of lines , in the Prologue, told about thanking/honoring St Thomas for helping them.

    Joan Pearson
    March 17, 2000 - 08:51 pm
    ALF, they don't have to atone, they don't have to make reparation, don't you see? They just have to physically get themselves there ...
    "Then people long to go to seek the holy blissful martyr quick to give his help to them when they were sick...
    Ready to go on pilgrimage and start for Canterbury, most devout at heart"
    I will agree - this is not a holy band of angels on the way...but I'm convinced they had a motive other than fun - (or they would have gone to the beach!) They believed they were doing something to save their souls...a pilgrimage is a journey to a sacred place to get something, to petition something, not just to give thanks. You don't need to touch a relic to give thanks.

    Chaucer seems to be using a hierarchy as he describes his characters...even though the Knight begins the round of storytelling by chance, by drawing straws...the Knight is the most virtuous, the most worthy, the one having the least trouble battling with the universal problem of the human condition - finding a balance between personal responsibility and the need for freedom. He is more......saintly than human.

    Then the Nun, fastidious, but "coy" and little false- less saintly than what she would have people think...

    I'm willing to bet that as the tales are told, we have more human imperfections as we move down the line. Funny, that the Knight drew straws and won the privilige of telling his story first!

    I'm sorry if I sound like I'm preaching, but I feel quite strongly about the importance of getting into the mindset of the Christian mindset of the this period of time, without putting a modern interpretation on it! Yet, at the same time, marveling at the universality of the struggle between responsibility and liberty. One of the links, there was a monk or a man of the Church who scolded the Pilgrims for their joviality on the way to Canterbury. It could have been Chaucer's group - our group! I'll find that now!

    "Bishop Simon Sudbury of London once overtook a band of merry-makers on their way to Canterbury and berated them by saying:

    "Plenary indulgences for your sins by repairing to Canterbury? Better hope might ye have of Salvation had ye stayed at home and brought forth fruits meet for repentance!"

    A young Squire from Kent, Thomas of Aldon, angrily spoke back:

    "My Lord Bishop, for that you have thus spoken evil of St. Thomas and are minded to stir up the minds of the people against him, I will give up mine own salvation if you do not die a most shameful death!"

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 18, 2000 - 05:15 am
    Oh Joan what a big question!!! Am going off the web to think about it. May come back later.


    Billy Frank Brown
    March 18, 2000 - 06:20 am
    In the "Prolog," we are introduced to a fascinating cast of characters representing a panorama of life in the late Middle Ages. Chaucer uses a certain shrewdness of description, deft touches that reveal the personality of each individual, as well as their ulterior motives which are universal.

    The Wife of Bath:

    Three times to Jerusalem she'd been Full many a distant stream her feet were in To Rome she'd been, and gone to far Boulogne In Spain to Santiago, to Cologne.

    The gift of laughter and fun was hers Love's remedies she knew, and not by chance; She knew first hand the art of that old dance.

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 18, 2000 - 06:34 am
    Hi Billy Frank Brown: I liked your notes on the Wife of Bath. However, I am returning to answer Joan's question.

    Similarities and Differences Between Chaucer's Pilgrims and People of Today

    In the first place we cannot speak of “men of the time” any more, because we are not talking about men alone but also of women. The only satisfactory designation, for want of a better one is “people.” Basically, we and they have the same needs, desires, failings, etc., but people in this rapidly changing age are developing differences. Not only that, but there are so many differences between generations that it is difficult to know where to start.

    Are we talking about the over 50 set like us, who still think moral values are important, are not excessively materialistic, but want to remain contemporary. We learn to use and enjoy computers, but we turn them to our own interests like the Arts and Literature. I am aware that we are a unique group here. So that does not make us representative of the rest of this age group who are not into such things.

    Nor can we speak for the young, suddenly rich, generation which is busily involved in acquiring bigger houses, fancier cars and all the latest electronic gadgets. Neither can we speak for the women who strive to climb the business ladder and provide financial as well as moral support for their families.

    Let us not forget the immigrants from Europe, Africa and South America who are coming to this country in droves to build better lives for themselves. Can we say that their needs are only for material things or do they wish to live in a society where they have an opportunity to grow and change? How free are they from the class-structured society from which they came? Are they able to escape the prejudice which restricted their advancement in the lands of their birth? These are difficult questions to answer when the media emphasizes the tragedy that continues to occur.

    Because of the influx of immigrants from so many different areas of the world, this country is in the unique position of changing society. In bringing all these people of different color, religion and ethnic values together so that we all understand that human needs, desires and biology is basically the same, we can build a better civilization.

    Yes, I would say we are the same as the people who lived in Chaucer’s time, but we have an unusual opportunity to change things and in the process can create better lives for ourselves.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 18, 2000 - 06:53 am
    I loved your quote from Cervantes and also Chaucer. Welcome back.


    March 18, 2000 - 07:06 am

    I did a search in good old "" and found this for you:

    William Blake (b. Nov. 28, 1757, London--d. Aug. 12, 1827, London) was the first of the great English Romantic poets, as well as a painter, engraver and printer. Largely self-taught, he began writing poetry when he was twelve and was apprenticed to a London engraver at the age of fourteen. His poetry and visual art are inextricably linked. To fully appreciate one you must see it in context with the other.

    Shall I tighten the screws a little? About 3/4 of a mile in the other direction we have a BookStar. I am lucky to be surrounded by great resources. And you can move in any time!


    March 18, 2000 - 07:20 am
    Did 14th century christians all have the same mindset? The fact that Bishop Sudbury saw fit to scold them, suggests that some did not take the pilgrimage as seriously as the church would like.

    Remove all our contemporary accouterments and select 29 humans from a cross-section of mankind. Wouldn't we find some who are solemn, worried, and dour, while others have little concern about serious matters? Those characteristics show up in literature, from 'way back, so the light-hearted rogues (and roguesses) must have existed even when the church was the major power in government.

    March 18, 2000 - 07:30 am

    ...the Knight is the most virtuous, the most worthy, the one having the least trouble battling with the universal problem of the human condition - finding a balance between personal responsibility and the need for freedom. He is more......saintly than human.

    I am having trouble with this view of the character of the Knight. He was after all, a mercenary who made his livelihood in the business of killing. And not all of the battles he engaged in were "holy".

    And also, it is difficult to not view the pilgrims from a point of modernity because that is the platform upon which we are all standing. I feel that then, as now, there were some extremely devout pilgrims who went to give thanks, but there were, also, those individuals who went for the lark, and some who went with an eye to "keeping up appearances", a sort "of look at me and see how pious I am (and of course, if I get a little gain out of the trip--well, so much the better.)"

    Consider Harry Baily--(sorry, Maryal) he certainly isn't making the pilgrimage in a devout manner. He has proposed a story telling contest in order to liven up the journey and the "prize" is a win/win deal for him. I wonder if he isn't the least pretentious of the bunch. He makes no bones about why he joined the group.


    Harold Arnold
    March 18, 2000 - 08:46 am
    Just a note to say that, I am following this discussion and reading the material. Though time and other obligation are in conflict, I may from time to time post comments. I was last exposed to the Canterbury Tales some 50 years ago in sophomore English. To me it is noteworthy from three principal points of view:

    First it is one of the earliest works to appear in a language that might reasonability be termed “English.” Though it is certainly not modern English when compared to even the writings of Shakespeare, still the modern reader can follow much, perhaps the majority of the story line. My college text is heavily footnoted with translations of individual words to modern English.

    Second the participants in the Canterbury pilgrimage are amazingly close to their modern counterparts in some respects yet there are notable differences. They appear so very similar in their manifestation of the gregarious nature of the human race to seek the association and friendship of their fellow beings. But the environment in which they traveled is yet so very different. Their slow pace promoted and provided the opportunity to tell their many tales. One can hardly imagine a similar happening in the cabin of a 747 today.

    Finally, to me, the Canterbury Tales has significance as a historical document. We find in these stories a social history describing life as it was experienced in the time. When one considers the lack of other historical source documents from this period, its importance becomes apparent.

    March 18, 2000 - 09:23 am
    Harold A - The 747 keeps one confined in a very small space. I guess that's what you meant by the 'environment. If one is paired with a sleeper, a long flight can be tiresome, but I've run into some great tale-tellers.

    Joan Pearson
    March 18, 2000 - 09:47 am
    Billy Frank! So good to hear from you again! And Harold! WELCOME!!! You have given us more to ponder! May we saddle two palfreys for the trip to Canterbury for you two so we can continue this discussion along the way? Your number brings us to 26 of the 29...

    I've got some questions for you? Who is the narrator of the prologue? Is it Chaucer? Is he one of the 29 - in other words, do we saddle him a horse...or is he invisible?

    Back in a sec!

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 18, 2000 - 09:54 am
    Ok must put my two cents in here - Thought - of all the written material why would this piece of Chaucer still be around today? Personally I think it has much to do with the irreverence to the 'intent of the law' rather than piously acting on the 'letter of the law.' At this time we had not 'The List' nailed to the church door by Luther - We only had the Roman Catholic Church as the supreme authority. We still didn't have old Henry who gave reigning kings authority.

    This only reminds me of a discussion we had in another folder - I do not remember which now - about the use of various silver table utensils. We have reduced our use of silver and the number of utlensils but most of us still eat with something other than our hands.

    Well this like a reduced version of a Crusade. The time is less than 100 years from the last major Crusade and they took years. Those on the march would have to amuse themselves as well as, I understand from reading, they foraged the country side as they walked presenting a threat to the country side on the way to Damascus, the Holy City or fight the infidels, what ever your choice. These folks were so worked up by speaches from the Popes that they spent years of their life, many dying on the way, walking to Jerusalaem. Therefore, to follow as we understand history, the norm and visit a Holy Place like Canterbury would be a reduced version of a Crusade and today much like going to collage. I say collage because in today's world we have little else we hold that sacred. At least collage is thought the key to 'worldly' success and those that can figure out how to afford it attend, knowing they and ultimatly their family wil be saved from the burden of 'working' for another or in some cases getting out of the ghetto of poverity they have known. We work kids minds from early on that collage is the answer to their being saved in this world.

    Just as studnets in collage, even those on scholarship, will joke and make the most irreverent statements about the authority's view or the socially acceptable view this appears to me to be Chaucer being irreverent. By having the Knight's tale first there is the benchmark of expected socially correct, authority approved thinking and behavior. Why even today we go into a hurrah if a nun or priest's behavior is depicted less than exemplary. Chaucer is the stuff of the weekly tabloids.

    In fact, as I remember we were not allowed to read Chaucer in High School because of it's depiction of nuns and priests - Yes, I attended Catholic High.

    March 18, 2000 - 10:21 am
    OH BOY-----I love it. A discussion with varying points of view on why the pilgrims are off to Canterbury. I'm with Bishop Sudbury on this one--he condemns those who try to buy their way out of purgatory instead of doing good where they live.

    Re: Joan's post #222.I think that these people are as different from each other as people are now, medieval mindset or not. Yes, some went on pilgrimages for the sake of their souls. Some also went in order to find husbands. I propose the Wife of Bath, for example. She has been on many pilgrimages and has married many a husband. If she can do her soul a little good as well as finding husband number six, why not?

    The parson, on the other hand, he who believes in living the good life, in modeling the ways of Christ, is certainly going for the sake of his soul, to do honor to St. Thomas. I do not doubt his motives.

    The knight, it seems to me, is a flat character. We have fulsome description of him, but it is all from the outside. He is a generic good knight who has fought in and survived many battles. His son, the squire, will no doubt grow up to be just like him.

    And while I'm on the knight--yes, he is the highest ranking of the group. It's my guess that Harry Bailly set up the draw so that the knight would go first. It is only fitting that he begin. (And Harry, always with his eyes on the prize, does himself no harm by fixing it so that the Knight goes first.)

    One more thing to think about: where are we as we listen to the description of the pilgrims? In the inn? We seem to be there when the narrator (Chaucer) encounters the group. Yet we also seem to be simultaneously on the road with them as the narrator describes how they ride along. Place fades in and out like a DREAM. We are both in the inn and on the road at the same time.

    Finally, as to the medieval mindset--different from and yet like ours, I think. Medieval people were far more accustomed to death than we are. Many children died in infancy or early childhood. And then there was the Plague, the Black Death, always threatening to recur. Medieval people were also like us--they differed in intent as well as in intelligence. They were good and evil and mostly somewhere in between with charming qualities as well as flaws. The brilliance of Chaucer is in his ability to portray people from all classes while at the same time not stereotyping them. All of his characters, with the possible exception of the knight and the squire, are individuals as well as representatives of a class.

    I have ranted on long enough.


    March 18, 2000 - 10:24 am
    In my opinion the narrator cannot be an "unseen" pilgrim. He was already at the Tabard when the nine and twenty pilgrim's arrived to overnight there and they convinced him (or perhaps her?--though unlikely) to join them in their journey. Therefore, the group had to be aware of him. It very well could be Chaucer, himself. Perhaps he is playing the same type of part as the narrator in Thornton Wilder's Our Town. There, but not there. Could the narrator in the Tales be just an "Observer Pilgrim"? Or possibly, in the unfinished story of the Tales, Chaucer meant to reveal his identity by telling a few tales of his own?


    Post Script: I became so engrossed in our very learned discussion that I nudged my palfrey's ribs a bit too strenuously. He took umbrage and bolted through the hedgerow, across the sweet meadow and into yonder woods. Oh my, that WAS exciting! It took me some time to find my way back and catch my breath. However, I am here now and listening to all of these enlightening ideas. Harry, I have a great thirst! Will you please call up the wine-bearing mule and open a cask for all.

    Jim Olson
    March 18, 2000 - 10:29 am
    Second Thoughts

    I'm having some second thoughts about this trip.

    Those April showers whatever they do to the poet are sure going to raise a lot of mud on the road unless we are on one of these roads the Romans built for us (better have Joan get a map).

    I don't imagine any of the pilgrims have had a bath for six months or so and in spite of the perfume around there is a lot of fragrance de locker room around. I get enough of that at The Y.

    I'm not a big guy (5' 8") but this suit of armor was made for the average knight who is even shorter and its beginning to chafe a little here and there. Besides that I can't really figure out where the fly is or how the zipper works.

    That miller besides telling some dirty stories has ground up some dirty wheat with little fragments from the stone grinding wheels getting at my teeth and grinding them down.

    There may be some bad water around with the sanitary facilities (or lack of) being what they are and some of us are going to be getting the runs.

    My trusty steed is getting the colic from indulging in too much fresh green grass raised by those bloody showers the poet keeps pouring on us.

    You guys go on ahead.

    I'm going to take the bus.

    March 18, 2000 - 10:39 am

    That is the best laugh I have had in months! Thanks!!!


    March 18, 2000 - 11:47 am
    Jim Olson--I'm still laughing. You're gonna have to adjust those twenty-first century sensibilities if you are going to be a happy camper on our pilgrimage.

    I recommend holding a handkerchief to your nose, one that has been well soaked in wintergreen. Since smells offend you, you would do best to ride beside another pilgrim. Perhaps the Wife of Bath, who, I have been told, had a bath just before she left home.

    Phyll--was that YOU requesting the wine? I am off to find the wine mule in order to refresh all the company. No more Inauthentic grog, alas.


    YiLi Lin
    March 18, 2000 - 12:54 pm
    with so many posts i feel out of step with your thoughts- i read somewhere that in those days taking a vacation was frowned upon- considered frivolous- all ativities needed a purpose- so the notion of pilgrimage evolved and shrines were erected along "vacation roads". trips to canterbury were exceedingly popular because thomas was popular and one earned social points by taking the trip.

    reminds me of gathering's i've attended where the game is oneupmanship on whose been where- and i am chortling thinking of those Frank Perillo ads where a select few can join him for trips to the vatican- ow his son hawkes the wares.

    i'm reading slowly on elf but anticipate some high times watching the three estates line up in social order for the journey aha noble warriers, praying clergy and toiling peasants- so what's changed?

    Shasta Sills
    March 18, 2000 - 03:30 pm
    Just to let you know I'm here--a day late and a dollar short--but trying to catch up. I'm reading all the previous posts. Don't want to miss any of the fun you pilgrims have been having.

    March 18, 2000 - 03:48 pm
    Welcome Shasta!----I would offer you some grog, but we are now keeping kosher to the middle ages and have only wine and mead. I recommend the wine. It is over there to your left on the wine-mule. He's the one with the strange looking eyes and a straw in his mouth.

    Charlotte---I have brought you Diet Snapple in two flavors, peach and raspberry. It is also on the wine mule, toward the neck of the mule.

    Almost immediately after the murder of St. Thomas a Becket, pilgrims began to visit Canterbury to see the place where he had been killed. The King himself (Henry II)made several pilgrimages there to atone for his part in the murder. Becket was canonized within two years of his death.

    An odd detail---after Thomas Becket was murdered he was undressed, and a hair shirt was discovered. It was full of vermin, indicating that he had worn it for a long time. One of the more curious aspects of religion at this period and in time to come was the mortification of the body. (The other St Thomas--St Thomas More--also wore a hair shirt. When he was imprisoned in the Tower, he had his daughter, Margaret, take it and wash it for him. She was sworn to secrecy that he wore the shirt.)


    Harold Arnold
    March 18, 2000 - 04:54 pm
    Joan Pearson in message #232 asks, “I've got some questions for you? Who is the narrator of the prologue? Is it Chaucer? Is he one of the 29 - in other words, do we saddle him a horse...or is he invisible?”

    I’ve always considered the narrator to be Chaucer, himself, but on reflection it don’t have to be. It could be some identified third party playing the role as the chorus in a Greek drama. But this is definitely not in the Greek Classic mood. It is an early example of true realism in English literature. That is, it is stories about real people in real life situations. The characters are all real people, and though several are religious individuals, not one of them can be mistaken for a god. I guess I like Joan’s idea that the narrator is one of the 29, as if it was Chaucer or a third party, how could he have been exempt from giving his own stories?

    And in Message #236, Jim Olson speculates on the likelihood of coming down with a good case of the grippers from the unsanitary conditions encountered on the road. But Jim, we are all 14th century creatures. The conditions you describe are the same as those we have faced all our lives. Our bodies are well protected by an army of anti-bodies countering the threats you describe. And remember too, we are pilgrims on a sacred quest with nothing to fear!

    Joan Pearson
    March 18, 2000 - 06:35 pm
    Hmmmm Harold, I think I'm going to saddle up a palfrey for Mr. Chaucer just in case - or at the very least, one of PatW's jennies!

    And welcome to you, SHASTA (-$1.00), Pilgrim #27...and counting! I think we'll offer a wee prize for #29. <

    Speaking of prizes, can we all look a bit more closely at the storytelling contest proposed by our innkeeper/guide, Harry Bailly - before agreeing to anything? As Phyll noticed earlier, Harry is not promising to foot the bill for the free meal he's offering for the best story (that which amuses himself? He's the judge, right? )...He's offered the dinner to be paid for - by us? By the losers? Do we all put our pounds into a pot before we start, or does he propose that we pay up afterwards...There's another "clause" in the contest rules. I think we'd better reread the fine print before agreeing to anything!

    ps.Charlotte, thanks for your careful response to my earlier question...and those of you who added comments! I think I'm ready for the journey now- still can't get over Carolyn's description of the roads though!
    Harry! - sooo glad you are back...what would we have done without your guidance through the slough?

    Joan Pearson
    March 18, 2000 - 07:03 pm
    Interesting stuff about the hair shirts, Maryal! My image of Thomas Becket was more of a political man of the world, rather than a pious one - a lawyer. Perhaps there was a major change once he became Archbishop??? I remember reading that Henry II appointed him cancellor the very same day Thomas was ordained a priest, in order to keep an eye on Henry's interests...and very shortly after that he became Archbishop of Canterbury? Will look for that link tomorrow! (Well, here's the link, and I was wrong...he seems, from this account at least, to have been a very religious type, from boyhood! Thomas Becket)

    Was about to shut down my computer, and see these two notes I had copied on Notepad earlier this morning - rather than save them, I'll post here and save room on the old hard drive!

    "Once they had reached Canterbury, the pilgrimage was over, for to Medieval man the pilgrimage was a symbolic journey that represented the course of human life, from one's home on earth to one's true home in the universal order. A pilgrimage was therefore declared over at its destination, and the return home was not part of the ritual act."

    "When Chaucer introduces the pilgrims, he arranges them so that we can better see their social relationships
    First came the Knight and his small retinue, the Prioress and hers, and the Monk and the Friar; then followed the Merchant, the other members of the merchants class, and those pilgrims of "middle" rank; and in last came the commoners, the "churls," those freemen of the lowest rank, the same category in which Chaucer wryly includes himself."
    Where's that jenny, Pat!!!

    March 18, 2000 - 07:45 pm
    Chaucer the Pilgrim----Most Chaucer scholars refer to the "I" of the prologue as "Chaucer the Pilgrim" to distinguish him from Chaucer the author. But I don't see any reason why the "I" couldn't simply be an anonymous pilgrim as someone suggested. I'm perfectly happy to think of him as "the narrator."

    Joan---Yes, Thomas More was certainly much more a man of the world than Thomas a Becket, but More was also profoundly religious. He kept the hairshirt secret, I suspect, because he did not want to call attention to his piety. He was, after all, a man for all seasons.

    William Roper's The Life of Sir Thomas More gives information about the 14 months that More was incarcerated in the Tower of London before his execution. More was allowed his books, his writing materials and his personal servant. Roper stresses the additional comfort More gained from the many visits of his eldest child, Margaret, who was his favorite. Speaking of his imprisonment during one of Meg's visits, More tells his daughter: "I believe, Meg, that they that have put me here ween they have done me a high displeasure. . . .I find no cause, I thank God, Meg, to reckon myself in worse case here than in my own house. For me thinketh God maketh me a wanton, and setteth me on His lap and dandleth me." (In our language, More felt so supported by God while he was imprisoned that he felt like God's spoiled child.)


    edit:---oooops, Joan, I reread and see that you were writing of Becket. Ooops. From what I've read Henry II seems to have thought Becket would support him and thus appointed him Archbishop of Canterbury. But, as is the case with many a Supreme Court appointee, Becket would not allow the king to have any of the Church's power. You just can never tell, can you?

    March 19, 2000 - 05:10 am
    My little jenny came down with the colic... got untied and ate her self sick when she got into the grain stash... but I'm back having spent the night walking her in circles to relieve the gas...

    This trip certainly reminds me of a pilgrimage that our local church group took to Israel.   We went with all good intentions of reverence, prayer, and meditation.  But I'm sure we spent more time gawking at the modern sites in Jerusalem, buying gifts for everyone back home, selecting goods to feature at our next church bazaar, and taking photos of everyone standing in front of whatever looked different from what we saw at home,  than we did paying our tribute and respect to the religious shrines.  (what a terrible sentence.)

    Daily life needs a diversion from the humdrum..  The pilgrims could make this journey and make points with the church and their own conscience, but also enjoy the company and companionship of the other pilgrims.

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 19, 2000 - 05:16 am
    Chaucer as Narrator and Pilgrim

    I see Chaucer as both narrator and pilgrim because that’s exactly what he tells us:

    “In Southwark, at the Tabard , as I lay
    ready to go on pilgrimage and start
    for Canterbury, most devout at heart”

  • * * *

    “By speaking to them all upon the trip
    I soon was one of them in fellowship
    And promised to rise early and take the way
    To Canterbury , as you heard me say.

    He is like Ishmael in Moby Dick, who participates in the events and also allows himself to comment on them. We might think that the knight is hell-bent for battle, but Chaucer puts his own anti-war feelings into the mouth of the knight.

    “for men are slain as much as other cattle.
    Arrested, thrust in prison, killed in battle,
    In sickness often and mischance, and fall,
    Alas, too often, for no guilt at all.”

    Now, Chaucer only mentions that the knight has returned from battling the Amazons. He does not mention that they are women warriors who posed a threat in battle. He has been victorious, has married the Queen and brought her sister Emily home with them.

    What he shows us of Emily makes it difficult to believe that she was also an Amazon. Am off to check out the Amazons. Will come back later.


    I’m back. I remember something about the Amazons, but needed some confirmation. Here’s what the Encylopedia says. The Amazons were a tribe of warlike women who developed a matriarchal society in which women governed and fought, while men performed the tasks of the household.

    When Theseus went to Amazon territory, he abducted Antiope, the Queen. In retaliation the Amazon Army invaded Athen, and was defeated by Theseus.
  • Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 19, 2000 - 05:21 am

    Ugh about self-mortification and More. It's difficult to believe that this practice still exists in some religions today.

    Thanks for your consideration in providing Snapple, but rather than peach or raspberry, I'll stick with the wine. I sort of enjoy the haze I get from just one drink.


    March 19, 2000 - 08:16 am
    Charlotte---OK, help yourself to the wine. But do try to be more careful than you were while imbibing the (historically inaccurate)grog.

    The character who defeats the Amazons and returns with Queen Hippolyta is not the knight who is telling the tale but Theseus, Duke of Athens.

    A fine morning to all pilgrims, knights and churls. Rumor has it that the COOK has provided us with a fine hot breakfast. Help yourselves.


    Joan Grimes
    March 19, 2000 - 08:30 am
    I wish I had time to participate here but alas I must prepare for my own pilgrimage which will begin on Tuesday next. Let me assure you that we will be visiting many a shrine and church along the way but there will be much levity throughout the trip. Rather than paying homage to any Saint we have learning as our goal. Since we love to travel that is one of the main ways we accomplish our goal.

    I do think that the narrator is definitely Chaucer himself. I agree with Maryal in her posts. I am enjoying the posts here.

    Canterbury Tales is a wonderful piece of literature. It is so valuable to us historically in that it is the best picture of life in the Middle ages that we have. Chaucer's character's are wonderful. They are real. They live for us today because they are so much like people today. People are always the same. Conditions change but not people.

    Jim O. I thoroughly enjoyed your post. I was laughing out loud. Theron came in to see what was so funny.

    So I will look in on this pilgrimage from time to time as I travel on my own pilrimage. There are cybercafes in many cities and towns in France. I will try to stop and read your posts every once in a while.

    Edit: Maryal, I am not sure I want to eat anything that the cook prepared.LOL


    March 19, 2000 - 08:41 am
    Joan---Sorry that you cannot join us. Have a most wonderful time on your trip. Wish you could be here with us.


    March 19, 2000 - 10:49 am
    WOW! What fun we're having here. JIMO forget about the chaffing, I will bring Corn Starch and help with the application if you insist. Re. the fly, you'll know exactly where to find it when the grog filters thru.

    CHAROLOTTE: Yes, I agree with the premise that Chaucer is narrator as well as one of the pilgrims. Thank you.

    Due to the differences of opinions as to the purpose of the pilgramage, I recently asked a scholar of Chaucerian literature this question. The answer given to me was as follows:

    "There is not agreement on the question of the nature and purpose of the pilgrimage among Chaucer scholars. To further complicate matters, Thomas Becket, whose shrine they are traveling to visit, was a symbol of church-state conflicts. Further, there are numerous differences among the pilgrims. The parson, for example, is quite an upright and moral figure. Pilgrimages themselves were a matter of controversy in the late fourteenth century, and the less than pious purposes of these tourists were frequently denounced. "

    SO, kind pilgrims not only the likes of us, but the scholars are in conflict. Pretty cool, huh?

    March 19, 2000 - 10:52 am

    Bon Voyage! Go in safety and health and come back with lots of stories.

    Phyll, the Pix. Pil.

    March 19, 2000 - 11:14 am

    Interesting post and it just re-inforces our own thinking, doesn't it? Some of the pilgrims in the Middle Ages had very pure motives and were truly on a mission of devotion. However, some, perhaps most, had different reasons for going on a pilgrimage. It doesn't matter what age it is, or what the environment may be, or any outside influences, humans will always be so very human.

    "The more things change; the more they remain the same." I think that is why we can study a great work that was written in the Middle Ages and still so closely identify with it in the New Millennium.


    About this "wee prize" you propose to give to the 29th brave soul to join our rolicking group----do we have to pay for that, too, along with the price of dinner for the contest winner? This is getting to be an expensive trip!!! The ad in the travel guide for "Fun Pilgrimages--Come One, Come All" neglected to mention any of these extra expenses we keep hearing about.

    Phyll, the Pix. Pil.

    March 19, 2000 - 11:30 am
    Must we carry our own vittles? I thought breakfast was included.

    March 19, 2000 - 12:14 pm
    You lazy sots! Be gone with ye. LONEX: Not to fret- The chow will be provided (I hope)

    PHYLL: You say "the more things change, the more they remain the same." Do you think that now in the 21 st century much has changed? Strange isn't it? We are still arguing seperation of church and state. Are our leaders in the high offices, still looking for an easy alliance between church/state? Let them keep in mind the disaster that befell Thomas when he changed his mind and did penance to show his error in his original decision to support Henrys amendment.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 19, 2000 - 03:11 pm
    OK, someone early on asked how Becket became á Becket - well this may be our answer - his parents were French! Also the man seemed to represent the dichotomy of purpose within the group on their way to Canterbury. Here is a thumbnail sketch showing this information.
    Martyr, Archbishop of Canterbury, born at London, 21 December, 1118 (?); died at Canterbury, 29 December, 1170.

    St. Thomas was born of parents who, coming from Normandy, had settled in England some years previously. In after life his humble birth was made the subject of spiteful comment. His parents were people of some mark, and from his earliest years their son had been well taught and had associated with gentlefolk. He learned to read at Merton Abbey and then studied in Paris. On leaving school he employed himself in secretarial work, first with Sir Richer de l'Aigle and then with his kinsman, Osbert Huitdeniers, who was "Justiciar" of London. Somewhere about the year 1141,he entered the service of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury. Theobald recognized his capacity, made use of him in many delicate negotiations, and, after allowing him to go for a year to study civil and cannon law at Bologna and Auxerre, ordained him deacon in 1154, after bestowing upon him several preferments, the most important of which was the Archdeaconry of Canterbury

    When King Stephen died the young monarch Henry II became master of the kingdom. He took "Thomas of London", as Becket was then called, for his chancellor, and Thomas at the age of thirty-six became, with the possible exception of the justiciar, the most powerful subject in Henry's wide dominions. The chroniclers speak with wonder of the relations which existed between the chancellor and the sovereign, who was twelve years his junior. People declared that "they had but one heart and one mind". Often the king and his minister behaved like two schoolboys at play. Both were hard workers, and both, had the prosperity of the kingdom deeply at heart. Whether the chancellor, the elder man, was the true originator of the administrative reforms which Henry introduced cannot now be clearly determined. In many matters they saw eye to eye. The king's love of splendour were shared by his minister and when Thomas went to France in 1158 to negotiate a marriage treaty, he traveled with such pomp that the people said: "If this be only the chancellor what must be the glory of the king himself?"

    In military operations Thomas, a Deacon, took a leading part, unhorsing many French nights, he lead the most daring attacks, laid waste the enemy's country with fire and sword. His principles did not differ from those of the other commanders of his time. No word was ever breathed against his personal purity. Foul conduct, foul speech, lying or unchastity were hateful to him, and on occasion he punished them severely.

    He had clear principles regarding the claims of the Church, and even during his chancellorship he more than once risked Henry's grievous displeasure. But to the very limits of his conscience, Thomas identified himself with his master's interests; served Theobald well, served King Henry well as Chancellor, and finally served well the Church.

    Archbishop Theobald died in 1161. In the next year Henry prepared the way for further schemes of reform by securing the advancement of his chancellor. Thomas was ordained priest on Saturday in Whitweek and consecrated bishop the next day, Sunday, 3 June,1162.

    It was St. Thomas who obtained for England the privilege of keeping the feast of the Blessed Trinity on that Sunday, the anniversary of his consecration, and more than a century afterwards this custom was adopted by the papal Court, itself and eventually imposed on the whole world.

    A great change took place after his consecration as archbishop. In view of the struggle he clearly saw before him he gave himself to fasting and discipline, hair shirts, protracted vigils, and constant prayers. Before the end of the year 1162 he stripped himself of all signs of the lavish display. On 10 Aug. he went barefoot to receive the envoy who brought him the pallium from Rome.

    Reading about Thomas I could see profiles of our Canterbury Pilgims. We have the student or scholarly Thomas, Thomas of culture and breeding, the legal Thomas, the Thomas of fun and play, pomp, hard work, the Thomas of clean morals and punishing Thomas, the secretarial Thomas, Thomas the priest, the fighting knight/chancellor, the negotiator, Thomas the elder, the archbishop, the political Thomas, the reformer Thomas, the penitent and than finally Thomas the martyr.

    I also wondered if the statement "If this be only the chancellor what must be the glory of the king himself?" was the beginning of the concept that hold sway for so long that a wife's clothes and looks foretold the 'glory' of the husband, money earner, power of the union. Also, I wondered if this thinking in 1158 was the emphasis that promoted the French Fashion Industry that certainly focused on providing the means for woman to capture the 'glory' of society. I love lovely looking things but always felt this undercurrent of exploitation.

    March 19, 2000 - 06:15 pm

    "Things" have changed. We drive cars instead of riding horses--we read books rather than tell tales--we communicate with the world by computer rather than by word of mouth around the castle keep. All these are things. But the human condition remains the same. We have the same needs, wants, fears, hates, loves as human beings have always had, don't you think? We hunt for food in the grocery store, not in the field or stream or woods. We seek shelter in houses and buildings, not in huts or castles. We seek out mates and love and worry about our children. We wrestle with our faith and our beliefs just as Thomas did and just as some of Chaucer's pilgrims did. We have the same triumphs and make the same mistakes that humans have always made.

    One of the foundations upon which America was laid was the separation of church and state but more than 200 years later we are still agonizing over that question, aren't we?

    Well, if someone will bring my palfrey over to me I'll climb down from this soapbox.


    March 19, 2000 - 06:15 pm
    Barbara---Thanks for the great post on Thomas a Becket. As to his being French, many were part French in England at the time and French was spoken at court. Another reason that it was so wonderful of Chaucer to write in English. Imagine the contribution he would have made to French literature had he made another choice!

    And now Good pilgrims---How about a little mulled wine before bed?

    Time to round up the terriers and get off to bed.


    Kay Lustig
    March 19, 2000 - 07:50 pm
    I enter heare on tiptoe, back into the hostelrye where all aroond I heare the loode snoores of the compaignye My busyness in towne keeped me awaye these resente day Oontill nowe on the eve of ower pilgrymage I vow to staye I will to ride away in eerly morne with evrywoon And nowe to sleepe, mye weerye selfe falls doone.

    Joan Pearson
    March 19, 2000 - 09:14 pm
    AHAHAHAHA! Kay! Well done! She - (my sister) just emailed me a few hours ago to say she's going to London "Won that April withe showers soote the drout of March hath persed to the roote" exodus to London? This is contagious, I fear! And our Joan G - on the eve of her departure has found the time to stop in and bid farewell! Now listen, you two. There are two snorting stallions in the stable awaiting your reason you can't catch up with us when you get back. I have it on good authority that each of you is well acquainted with the Tales and your input will be greatly welcomed and appreciated!

    ALF! Way cool! We scholars are in conflict, huh? The church and state are in conflict, and the conflict goes on where individual liberties end and... I think I'm going to ride off with the understanding that we are all heading to Canterbury for spiritual improvement or physical healing some more focused than others, all enjoying the ride - more like Pat W's trip to visit the shrines of Israel...lots of diversions along the way, but a common purpose. Certainly not like spring break - or beach week where the sole purpose is to break loose and party! For a good number of us, the pilgrimage will probably be more "ardorous", than "arduous",ALF!

    Here's another cool coincidence...tomorrow we start our Tales, tomorrow is the first day of SPRING
    "Early next morning at the spring of day
    Up rose our Host and roused us like a cock."

    GOOD OLD HARRY! What a deal he made, hasn't he Phyll? He not only has made us promise to pay for the best story-teller's free meal, (complete right? That includes beverage, VOIDE and gratuities?) - himself the judge (so you just know he'll choose someone who has the wherewithall to pay), he has poured enough wine to get us to agree to pay all expenses the group might incur along the way if we rebel against his decision! Did you notice that?

    Would it be worth it to try to second-guess ole Harry and choose the best tale ourselves. It is tricky, the winning tale has to reveal the storyteller's character!

    Phyll! Another contest idea! Yet another prize! (don't you love to award prizes when someone else is paying for them!)

    How about a prize for the best tale told by one of our Pilgrims here? Same rule? The tale would have to reveal the storyteller's own character traits! Let's do it! Open to impartial judge! Details on the road tomorrow!

    To bed! We have to be up at dawn in the morning - and our innkeeper has turned out the lights!

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 20, 2000 - 12:12 am

    Of course it was Theseus who married the queen. My error in the writing. Thanks for the correction. Must have been the one drink I had which always addles my head.


    March 20, 2000 - 05:06 am
    Kay---My goodness, well done. Get some sleep as we hit the road soon. Better not partake of the wine right now. It's over there on the wine-mule if you need it later.

    Welcome, Pilgrims to Spring!

    Joan--what fine graphics!

    Charlotte---ONE drink? Hohohohohoho. I saw you at the mulled wine last night. Just didn't want you getting the teller mixed up with the tale.

    So, some in the company seem a little suspicious of Harry and his really neat contest whereinby the winner of best storyteller is treated to dinner by the rest of you losers at Harry's fine establishment the Tabard. Why would any of you be suspicious of Harry? And Harry will certainly be a more than fair judge. Whom would you propose instead of Harry Bailly?


    March 20, 2000 - 06:29 am
    MARYAL:  Do NOT allow them any more mulled wine, they won't be a rising, easily.

    Barbara:  Excellant post re. HenryII's kinship with Thomas. Yikes,  friends like him, we don't need.    Wasn't it his mother who was French?  Gilbert a` Becket, the father, was an Eng. merchant and a one time sheriff of London.

    PHYLL:  Absolutely correct, me thinks.  Even though we have great "breakthroughs", new developments and advancements we tend to repeat the "cycles" of history.  Just as you said : "  THINGS." The seperation of church/state is centuries old.  These tales are 800 years old and here we are facing the same dillemas today.

    KAY:  Rise and shine, yer merry sel

    JOAN:  Good idea.  Have the 2 London wanderers meet us along the way.
                 SO!  Joan, you much prefer  an impassioned intensity, hey? You zealous little imp, you.  NAH!  I am expecting a difficult, strenuous burden travelling with these louts.  Please, tho do not tell them I said that
    SPRING has sprung-- the grass has riz and THIS is where the voyagers IS>.

    March 20, 2000 - 06:44 am

    The Duke called Theseus: In Greek mythology, the greatest of Athenian heros, the son of either (??)Aegeus, king of Athens, or Poseidon, god of the sea, and Aethra, daughter of Pittheus, king of Troezan. At the age of 16, Theseus went to Athens to claim Aegeus as his father. Killing bandits along the way, he arrived in Athens wearing a sword and a pair of sandals that Aegeus had left for him in Troezan. Aegus's wife, attempted to poison Theseus, but recognizing these heirlooms, Aegeus proclaimed Theseus his son and heir, bandishing Medea.

    As king of Athens, Theseus was wise and generous, retaining his love for danger & adventure. He abducted the Amazon Hippolyta, who bore him a son, Hippolytus. "He had subdued the Amazons by force and all their realm,, once known as Scythia, But then Femeny. Hippolyta, Their queen, he took to wife and says the story, He brought her home in solemn pomp and glory, Also HER younger sister, Emily."

    Jim Olson
    March 20, 2000 - 07:03 am
    I will certainly defer to Harold's information on possible immunity to the bacteria around as I will to any other historical perspective Harold will share with us.

    I wonder if anyone has located an online sound source that gives us an idea of exactly how the prolougue would have sounded when spoken in the language of the time.

    YiLi Lin
    March 20, 2000 - 08:26 am
    Phyl- yes agree with your post- the human condition has not evolved much since the writing of the tales- we've not changed as much as the circumstances of our lives. reading ever so slowly here. but soooo glad i decided to reread this work at this phase in my life. thanks

    March 20, 2000 - 08:44 am
    JimOlson---interesting you should ask about how middle English sounded. I was thinking of that very thing this morning after I got to work. I plan to do a search. Nothing so far, but I keep hoping.


    March 20, 2000 - 08:54 am
    Jim Olson--Not from the Prologue, but from the very end of The Canterbury Tales. Go to: to hear four lines. Will continue to look. Part of Prologue has to be out there somewhere, most likely the opening lines.


    March 20, 2000 - 08:58 am
    Here we go---sound and text together

    This is the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales


    March 20, 2000 - 09:31 am
    And a male voice reading the beginning of the Prologue.

    For this one you need to select the audio file under "Course Materials"


    Joan Pearson
    March 20, 2000 - 09:56 am
    OH Maryal, that's just wonderful! I hope you can all hear the reading! It's up in the heading now for easy reference...I'm going to listen to the male reading now! See Jim, just ask and you shall receive! The wonders of technology!

    Barb, I've been thinking about your earlier question - about how difficult it was to hear the tales if all those people were on horseback.. Perhaps they all weren't listening as closely as we are. The only person who really has to hear them is Harry, as he is the judge? He'd have to be riding very near to the speaker. Or perhaps the Knight is projecting, verging on shouting his lines over the clippety-clops! I read somewhere that as he was growing up, Chaucer lived on a route to Canterbury and very well could have overheard this very sort of thing - the storytelling on the way - as soldiers often sing along as they march along?

    The story of Theseus is really helpful, Alf! The pieces are coming together. Charlotte's earlier reminder that Hippolyta and sister Emilye were Amazons have made me look upon this maiden with different eyes! No wonder her appearance had such a shocking effect on Palamon...

    Woman or Goddess, which, I cannot say.
    I guess she may be Venus - well she may!"
    A few months ago, I reread Midsummer Night's Dream before attending the play. We all remember the fairies and their orgy that summer night, little tiny elves (Puck!), but the framework for the story, the revelry is the marriage celebration in Athen's between Theseus and his Amazon bride, Hypolyta. You know, I'd be willing to bet that a few hundred years into the future, Will Shakespeare would read Chaucer's Canterbury Tales as his inspiration for MSND! More his style the myths! I'll see if I find anything about this...perhaps in a Shakespearean site? Isn't it amazing how everything seems to be coming together the more we read? YiLi, I'm glad to be reading this again! SO much richer an experience than going it alone!

    March 20, 2000 - 10:24 am
    Joan--My Chaucerian colleague says that the woman has closer to the right sound on vowels and about the right roll to the R.

    Then he laughed and said, "Of course we were all taught by our professors how it sounded, and those professors didn't all sound alike!"


    March 20, 2000 - 11:39 am
    That site is wonderful, Maryal, all of them are! Thank you so much for putting them here! I listened to several, and it was so funny, they were slow to load so meanwhile the phone rang and right in the middle of my conversation here came the male voice reading the end of the Tales, it was wonderful if a bit startling to my caller.

    I love all the information there, too, just a gold mine of sites!

    I'm not at all sure that anybody in a caravan could hear any story from one person unless that person shouted, are we sure this telling took place on the march? Then the person recording the stories would have to have ridden along or walked next to each teller or they did it when they had stopped while sitting around. You know yourself there is no way 29 people could hear while traveling? Even a couple of horsemen have trouble being heard without shouting.

    Maybe the time element which was not addressed would have been addressed later. I'm not sure even a horse could cover those miles at a gallop in one day much less an amble with the walkers. Perhaps (says the ignorant woman) Chaucer would have added days and evenings and stops later??

    I mean if it takes a train 1 1/2 hours today to cover the miles at 60 mph then how long would it have taken people on foot?


    March 20, 2000 - 01:04 pm

    Ever being one who plans ahead, I have been thinking about this dinner you will award the winner upon the return to the Tabard. If I may be so bold I am offering for your consideration one of my favorite dishes. Just in case I am the winner of the tale-telling contest I want to be sure that I will enjoy my meal. But, also, this is a fine dish that I am sure all the LOSING pilgrims will relish, as well. I offer it in all humbleness. However, a word of caution, if I may. Do not allow our fellow pilgrim, the Cook, to have a hand in its preparation for I understand that on occasion flies turn up in his pies!


    Take and perboile oynouns & erbis & presse out þe water & hewe hem smale. Take grene chese [brede AB] & bray it in a morter, and temper it vp with ayren. Do þerto butter, saffroun & salt, & raisons corauns, & a litel sugur with powdour douce, & bake it in a trap, & serue it forth.

    (Modern English) Amber Day Tart.

    Take and parboil onions and herbs & press out the water & cut them small. Take green cheese [see note: bread] & grind it in a morter, and mix with eggs. Add butter, saffron, salt, Zante raisins/currants, and spices, & bake it in a pie shell, and serve it.

    3 - 4 small onions, chopped; 2 bunches of parsley, chopped; 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (OR ½ cup unseasoned bread crumbs); 8 eggs, beaten; 1 Tbs. melted butter; 1/8 tsp. saffron; ½ tsp. salt; ¼ cup Zante raisins or Zante currants; ¼ tsp. sugar; 1/8 tsp. each cloves and mace; 1 nine-inch pie shell; optional spices - ½ tsp each of any of the following type of herbs: sage, basil, thyme, etc. Parboil or saute the onions and parsley; drain well. Mix with all other ingredients and place in pie shell. Bake at 350° F for 35-40 minutes or until pastry is brown and filling is set.

    For those wishing nutritional information please contact: Phyll, the Pix. Pil.

    March 20, 2000 - 01:22 pm

    Those are great sites! Thanks for pointing us to them. I prefer the woman's reading of the lines. I found that the man's r-rolling was a little too exaggerated, IMO.


    I am a little bothered, too, by the time line of this journey. If they walked slowly enough to hear each other it would have taken a very long time to get to Canterbury. And surely, they had to stop for rest and food from time to time. You might be right that Chaucer meant to refine those details and was never able to. Also, I don't think he was all that interested in being authentic about passages of time, etc. I suppose we could call that "poetic license", couldn't we?


    Joan Pearson
    March 20, 2000 - 01:40 pm
    Phyll!, I'll set the licence in the glove compartment with the the recipe. Don't have any green cheese, but do have cheddar in the pantry - do I have to let it go green first?

    In my mind, I don't see anyone writing anything on this trip. I see oral storytelling, and then I see Chaucer the poet, writing them out in verse, long after the trip is over????

    March 20, 2000 - 05:12 pm
    I've got it. Tales by the campfire. GINNY and PHYLL are right, how else could these tales be related? Roasted marshmallows. No! some of PHYLL'S TARTS, per chance?

    On the very outskirts of the town,In all felicity and height of pride Thebeus asks: "who may you be that, at my coming, so perturb my festival with cries of woe?' And tell me if the matter may be mended and why it is that you are clothed in black?" He asks if they begrudge him the celebration of his honours.

    The eldest of the wailing women relate to Theseus the fact that their husbands, killed at the siege of the city of Thebes, were not allowed proper burial rites. "Have pity on our sorrowful distress!

    She is the Queen of King Capaneus who died at Thebes. (In Gr. mythology, King Capaneus died at the ill fated expedition against Thebes by seven chieftains and followers.

    March 20, 2000 - 05:17 pm
    Phyll----Oh my, I will be sure and tell Bailly about the tart, which actually doesn't sound that bad. I'm sure he will complain that the food at the Tabard is superior in all ways, not to mention costly. Hehehehe.

    You are in good company! My colleague, the Chaucerian, heard the passages I posted and commented that the R rolling on the man was overdone. He thought the pronunciation of the woman superior. Said the vowels were well done.

    Ginny--I am happy you enjoyed the links. And I got a good chuckle imagining how surprised your friend must have been to hear a medieval man on your premises. Ye Gads!

    Joan--thanks for putting the link up front. It occurred to me later that future posters wouldn't be able to see it.

    I've been reading a little more on Chaucer today in between classes. Found one critic who pointed out that Harry Bailly's comments on the tales are always offbase. Harry just doesn't GET it. This made me feel really really bad as I had taken him for a smarter man than that. I guess he is only smart about making money and playing Master of Ceremonies.

    As to the TIME problem, I don't think Chaucer was paying much attention to verisimilitude. And he does tell all the tales in his own poetic ways. The miller's tale would be a mess if Chaucer had the lower class (not to mention crude) miller take over the lines. Let's keep in mind that Chaucer was NOT a modern writer. Similarly, I don't think he gave any thought to WHEN the pilgrims would tell the tales or how they would hear each other.

    And now it is time to round up the horses, stable the goats, round up the sheep, and get the mulled wine ready.


    March 20, 2000 - 05:20 pm
    ALF---Yes, Theseus saves them to bring them back to Athens to put them in prison forever. Fascinating. The whole thing about the dead not being buried reminded me of Antigone not being allowed to bury her brother. Anyone remember that old Greek play? And I have always imagined the pilgrims stopped for the night or for a lunch break too although I don't believe anything is ever mentioned about stopping.


    Jim Olson
    March 20, 2000 - 06:59 pm
    Thanks for the links.

    I preferred the male voice, of course.

    Maybe Joan could put links to both in the heading.

    It certainly does give one (either voice) a sense of the poetic beauty of the Tales and the richness of the English language that Chaucher frees with his use of English for telling the Tales.

    We had a professor in Humanities at U of M who read Dante to us in the Italian, another writer of this general period who gave value to his works by putting them in his own langauge and not using Latin or Greek.

    March 20, 2000 - 07:45 pm
    I'm checking to see if I can make the links like other people do.

    March 20, 2000 - 07:45 pm
    Listen here to hear opening lines of Prologue.


    March 20, 2000 - 07:48 pm
    And now I am Dancing in joy. It worked!


    Joan Pearson
    March 21, 2000 - 05:51 am
    Maryal!, yes you did! Congratters! You have learned all the tricks necessary for running this three-ring circus! I listened to the male voice...Tom Hanks???!!! - must confess, I preferred it the drama...although I liked the understated tone of the female's reading too! I put Tom's reading up in the heading as requested, Sir Jim!

    So, Harry Bailey doesn't get it! I don't have much confidence in his ability to choose the best tale! He won't choose the knight's tale, I'll tell that you right off. The knight is using too many references to Greek mythology and history that would be lost on Harry. And I don't think he'll be able to relate to the virtuous knight or Palamon's virtues either for that matter.

    Charlotte's Prof. Patterson has warned us against seperating the teller from the tale...I don't think Harry will be guilty of that! He will dismiss the tale, as he will dismiss the teller. What do you think?

    Joan Pearson
    March 21, 2000 - 06:26 am
    I think the references to Greek warriors and mythology put the Knight's tale into the category of mythology. The characters are bigger than life, possessing super-human characteristics! And not to seperate the teller from the tale, the knight comes across that way too! He's a "veray parfit gentil knight"! I suppose the "gentil" puts him into the human category. We're told he's distinguished, possessing all the requisite characteristics of chivalry - truth, honour, generousness and courtesy. Yet he doesn't dress the part, wearing that dark, stained tunic. In other words, his success hasn't gone to his head. He must be married. His son is riding with the company. Concerns of the heart do not seem to consume him, as they do in his tale. This seems to indicate, that it is not a tale of romance, but rather one of knightly virtue that he is telling. (What does Emilye make of all this? Why does she have to marry either one of them?) Which of the two, Arcita or Palamon displays these virtues. It seems that will be the successful knight - (the one who gets the girl).

    Do you see the Knight's virtues evident in Theseus? I can't figure out if it was a compassionate or a perverted act, generous or honourable to spare the lives of these two young men, but then give them the life sentence in the tower....

    Shasta Sills
    March 21, 2000 - 08:01 am
    I'm surprised to learn that Chaucer didn't write his stories himself, but just collected existing stories--like an anthology. I never knew that before. But of course he converted them into poetry.

    The courtly love tradition has always seemed to me the most ridiculous and artificial contrivance the human race ever invented. And the Greeks would never have practiced such nonsense. But maybe I'm wrong. After all, they fought the Trojan War over a woman.

    Joan Pearson
    March 21, 2000 - 08:33 am
    Shasta! ! What are you saying about Chaucer and his tales? What do you mean that he didn't write them himself? You are disillusioning me! Perhaps you are referring to our banter about how Chaucer as narrator could have been writing down these tales in the story of Canterbury Tales? That's all that was. Banter. I don't think that in real life that he went on a pilgrimage and memorized tales he heard others tell, do you?

    On the other hand, Chaucer, the writer, may have based some of these tales on old legends and myths, as well as historical fact - just as Shakespeare later. Have you ever heard the tale of Arcita and Palamon before, or is this a Chaucer original? Perhaps we need our research team to investigate Chaucer's sources for Canterbury Tales!

    March 21, 2000 - 08:52 am
    Chaucer held several public offices and was sent on many diplomatic missions. At that time, court entertainment often consisted of story-telling. He spent some time in Italy and is believed to have rubbed elbows with Boccaccio and Petrarch. Maybe he drew from those stories and experiences.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 21, 2000 - 11:29 am
    OK - it is fine to read in old English or middle English and to enjoy the poetry but I needed to figure out what everyon is saying and what is going on before I can relax with Chaucer written or voiced in this poetic archaic language. So last night wonders of wonder I found The Canterbury Tailes in Prose version in Modern English by David Wright for $10 in paperback. Whew - now I can sail along, find the thread and later turn to the second copy I found translated by Nevill Coghill in what appears to be Middle English as the site above offers.

    In the introcuction White does say " ...But it is the great variety of contacts that his involvements in affairs offorded the poet, no less than his travels and campaigns, that lies behind the immense experience of men and women and life that is apparent in his work and nowhere more that in The Canterbury Tales. These include every variety of medieval story--romances of courtly love..."

    No where does it say though that Chaucer was presenting a collection of documented tales. My guess would be, like any artist, he took what existed (some of the tales) and created characterization, background, style etc. to give them a whole and a place. We are not disappointed when an artist captures a boat scene or a house in the countryside with great clouds. We know the house exists as does the boat but the artist helps us see them in a new light. Even Emily Dickerson's Daffodil existed but her charming poem we consider an original work. The words stays with us and we often quote her poem in Spring when the Daffodils are blooming again.

    March 21, 2000 - 11:34 am
    According to the David Wright translation-Explanatory Notes-Chaucer based the Knight's Tale on Boccaccio's Teseide, in which Arcita marries Emily on his deathbed. I wonder if the Tales could be considered as morality stories in that they were not original to the teller but were passed down from one generation to the next such as Biblical parables or Aesop's Fables or fairy tales. Even today, in the Appalachin Mtns., gatherings are held where the dying art of story telling is still practised. Sometimes they are amusing, sometimes they are tragic but often there is a moral lesson hidden in them.


    Edit: Barbara, Our posts trampled on each other but I think we were saying essentially the same thing. It doesn't matter whether Chaucer invented the tales or not, they are told, or retold, to make a point.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 21, 2000 - 11:52 am
    Phyll what do you think - the tales passed down by word of mouth are often collected and documented than published as John Jacob Niles did in Appalachia during the early part of the 20th century and as Francis James Child did in the British Isles during the 19th century or even as the Brother's Grim collected the tales we now call Fairy Tales in the 18th century. Those collections are repeating as told and generally accepted, the stories and songs that that already exist and are simply put on paper . Where as to me, Chaucer builds a stage if you would and wove the tales into a larger picture. The fact they are shared as poetry could be the way of the original--as I understand recanting long stories, the rhyme and rhythm of poetry helped the memory of the story teller. What do you think Phill a collection or art based on the existing tales that could anchor the reader to something they already were familiar making the reader feel less challanged.

    Yep, we are trampling but our horses are agreeing, just going through a tight spot on the trail...

    March 21, 2000 - 01:30 pm
    Chaucer admired Boccaccio. From Boccaccio's Il Filostrato Chaucer borrowed the story of Troilus and wrote Troilus and Cryseide. Later, Shakespeare also borrowed the story of Troilus for his Troilus and Cressida. Incidentally, most of Shakespeare's plots are borrowed from historical accounts or prior stories. The genius was in the telling, not in the invention of plot.

    As Phyll points out, the Knight's Tale has its origin in Boccaccio's Teseida which gives a much longer account of the story of Arcite and Palamon. Notice that the knight several times points out that he is shortening the story.

    Boccaccio's Decameron also has people telling stories-- ten people (seven women and three men), ten stories each for ten days. Thus 100 stories in all. The huge difference between Boccacio and Chaucer is that Boccaccio's tellers were all gentlemen and ladies who were escaping Florence because of the Black Death. They flee to the country where they each are King or Queen for a day and determine the day's activities. Because all of Boccaccio's tellers are of the upper class, there is an apparent dissonance between the teller of the tale and the bawdy tales. Chaucer has a range of classes, as we have noticed before. So when the Miller tells a bawdy story it seems to fit. Only those from the lower classes tell bawdy stories.

    And now for some mulled wine!


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 21, 2000 - 09:39 pm
    Oh dear Ginger how did I present disappointment for you??

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 21, 2000 - 10:39 pm
    What I am trying to say Ginger is that like an artist paints - the artist sees a house that is interesting that everyone in the area can identify and when the artist paints it on the canvas it is not an exact copy but, that which surrounds the house on the canvas is contrived or created in a different way than what is really surrounding the house and the artist uses the elements of art to create this picture of the house in new surroundings. That to me is building a stage in which this house is a part of the overall scene or larger picture, meaning the house now, is more than the is a part of an orgainzed piece of art which makes it more than just an interesting house.

    That is what I am suggesting Chaucer did with the known medieval tales incorperated in this book The Canterbury Tales. I am also suggesting that, from research I have learned, these long epic stories, passed down by word of mouth, were made easier to remember because they used rhyme and a rhythmatic way of talking, often beating something lightly to keep the rhythm going while the tale is told. Poetry has rhythm and rhyme and therefore, I am even suggesting that Chaucer may not even have been the one that took the tales and made them into poetry-- that some of the tales may have been in a poetic form that he simply rearranged or included, using what was basically there adding the poetry that explains the various characters and the walk or ride to Canterbury along with the idea of the Innkeeper and the wager. That last bit others have shared seemed to come from Boccaccio.

    These are ideas, my musing, as I put bits and pieces together that I have read or learned over the years along with recent information read in the Introduction to White's Chaucer and the commentary I have read on some internet sites. Just conversation asking what do you think, is this possible - not - oh look this is so and here is where I read it.

    It sounds like you have a wonderful memory and can quote long tales told to you by your uncle. There are I am sure others that have that gift. I just remember when I was studying some Joseph Campbell stuff that these long epics that take hours and hours to tell were passed down generation after generation where ever the written word was not the way of the collective memory, and to do this the trick was used of rhyme and rhythm. David Lean depicted this in his Lawrance of Arabia when the camel drivers listen to tales at night around the campfire and in unison, lightly beat the rhythm on the ground with their camel switches.

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 22, 2000 - 05:20 am
    Good morning everyone.

    Maryal: I've got to tell you how much I admire that Cervantes quotation. After all, the pleasure comes from what one is doing rather than for what waits at the end of the road. It's perfect!! Honor and awards mean very little, as some honorees who are honest with themselves, will admit.

    My pleasure comes from studying the research that others have done on Chaucer, trying to come to my own conclusions without stealing from the scholars and then communicating what I've learned to the group. I feel this kind of discussion is still experimental and am learning new ways of thinking all the time.

    One of Chaucer's intentions in the tales is SATIRE. It appears throughout, though we must study carefully in order to dig it out. He is mocking, but he is being very careful to avoid offense. This is especially evident in The Knight's Tale. He fears offending the nobility and wants to present the Knight with all the qualities usually attributed to that class. But, how come the knight goes on pilgrimage immediately after returning from battle without even having bothered to change his clothes.

    In the story of Arcite and Palamon, he attacks the tradition of courtly love and makes the knights appear somewhat ridiculous. They both fall in love with the woman in the garden, though neither of them can get close enough to speak with her.

    Though Chaucer only mentions that she is a member of the Amazon tribe, we all know about the Amazons. If I remember correctly, they were so intent on war, that they even mutilated themselves by amputating one breast in order for them to more efficiently use their weapons. I am looking about more info on the Amazons and will return at another time.


    Joan Pearson
    March 22, 2000 - 06:05 am
    Charlotte!!! Exactly what I was thinking! Satire! Irony! It is very funny, actually. In the General Prologue we learn of the Knight's outstanding qualities! "Chivalry, truth, honour, generousness and courtesy" Now to consider those qualities of the teller, we look closely at the tale he has chosen to tell!

    Theseus seems to be a "parfit" example of chivalry. He has chosen to save the two young knights, dying on the battlefield. Isn't that generous? He saves their lives and locks them in the tower in the woods for the rest of their lives!!!! Then, as another example of his generosity and chivalry, he builds this elaborate stage for the battle between the cousins for the hand of the beloved Emily! This is the only fair way to handle the unfortunate triangle. His sister-in-law is the prize. Does Emily have anything to say about this? Is this a love story, courtly love? Charlotte uses the word 'ridiculous'! I believe that's exactly what Chaucer is doing here...ridiculing chivalry, courtly love...and he's doing it all with such a straight face!

    Joan Pearson
    March 22, 2000 - 06:20 am
    Simply cannot forget to thank you all for what you bring to this discussion! So our Geoffrey had many influences - was well- educated, well-read , particularly influenced by Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarch (could read Latin, French, English and Italian). He considered himself an expert in astronomy, medicine, psychology...alchemy. He could quote from every book of the Bible....sounds like a Renaissance man to me and the Renaissance hasn't even dawned (0r has it>)!

    But I think we should all be assured that Chaucer is not merely retelling tales he has heard. He is influenced by them, yes. But he is applying ideas from those sources to his work in a totally new - imaginative way to create something brand new for his time. He is satirizing that which has long been revered! And he is doing it in such a clever fashion that it can go undetected at first!

    March 22, 2000 - 06:27 am

    Exactly!!! I think that is exactly what Chaucer was doing and the beauty and the endurance of his writing is that he considered his "audience" intelligent enough to figure this out. Some research I have read (and it may have been David Wright again) said that the middle classes were beginning to emerge at about this time and on the face of it he seems to honor the higher ranked knight by giving him such dominance---he tells his story first, it is the longer tale, he is the "parfit and gentill knight", but is he really? I think Chaucer was ridiculing him very subtly.

    Forgive me, but I wrote a humble little poem last night:

    I think, at the risk of being drumned out of the corps,
    This long-winded knight is becoming a bore.
    He proses and poses 'til the story wears thin.
    I cannot believe the dinner he'll win!

    Phyll, the Pixilated Pilgrim
    (AKA: 3P)

    March 22, 2000 - 06:29 am
    ThreeP, that's cute, I agree with you!

    I'm at the point in the Knight's Tale where both cousins are free, and am enjoying the tale very much, although finding it extremely drawn out (while all the while he says he'll not make a long thing of it) but before the tale I'm very interested in the descriptions, quite a few of them ironic, of the assembled group.

    I find myself a bit confused with the church orders assembled. We have first, a Monk, and Chaucer doesn't spare him one whit:
    "Supple his boots, his horse in fine condition.
    He was a prelate fit for exhibition,
    He was not pale like a tormented soul.
    He liked a fat swan best, and roasted whole.

    So there's a picture of a monk who is not, in essence, followed by the Friar, "A Limiter, a very festive fellow, in all Four Orders there was none so mellow."

    The "Four Orders" and "The Limiter" are explained in the back notes.

    Now this Friar "Or so he said, with more than priestly scope:
    He had a special licence from the Pope
    Sweetly he heard his penitents at shrift
    With pleasant absolution, for a gift."

    So he is a Friar who can give absolution.

    Then we have a Parson who truly preaches and serves,
    that's not an order, is it?

    And a Pardoner who can sell indulgences from the Pope.

    Then we have one Nun, another accompanying her and "three Priests as well." Now are these three priests the Monk, the Friar and the PARSON?

    Or are there three more clerics we haven't heard about?

    I think Chaucer here is pretty clear on the character of the churchmen present, at least the "priests." Interesting.

    I like the Oxford Cleric ("cleric" means member of the clergy, too) best: "And gladly would he learn, and gladly teach." "He had not found the stone for making gold.
    Whatever money from his friends he took
    He spent on learning or another book>br>

    A man after my own heart, even tho he, unlike me was short of words.

    I'm confused on the number of churchmen going, surely that's a high and disproportionate number for any gathering, of disparate clergy?


    March 22, 2000 - 06:42 am

    I apologize for introducing an extra syllable into your name. I was going to edit it but on second thought, I think it has a nice rythmic flow, don't you? Char-o-latt-e.

    Three P

    Shasta Sills
    March 22, 2000 - 06:59 am
    When I said earlier that Chaucer didn't originate his tales, I should have said where I picked up that info. I'm reading the Coghill book, and in the Introduction on page xvii, he says:

    "The tales these pilgrims tell come from all over Europe, many of them from the works of Chaucer's near contemporaries. Some come from further afield, from the ancients, from the Orient. They exemplify the whole range of contemporary European imagination... One of the few tales believed to be his own invention is that of the Canon's Yeoman..."

    Ginny, I thought as you did, that Chaucer's group included a disproportionate number of clergy. But the church permeated society at that time to a much greater extent than it does today. If any of those pilgrims could be transported to our time, they would probably be shocked to discover how irreligious we are.

    March 22, 2000 - 09:06 am
    Phyll(the PP)--I love your poem. Keep at it, if only for my amusement.

    Charlotte--Thank you for your compliment on the tagline. And I agree with you on the satire-- Chaucer certainly has fun with some of his pilgrims. And I also think there is a kind of winking at the whole courtly love tradition.

    Ginny---I agree. Lots and lots of clergymen of one kind and another. There seem to have been few available professional jobs at the time. You could be a court member of some sort or take orders in the Church. The middle class is just beginning to get going. I also notice that Chaucer doesn't have any representatives of the nobility. The knight is as high as we get.

    Joan---morning to you.

    Anyone for some brunchtime mulled wine?


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 22, 2000 - 10:26 am
    I love it Satire Yes! Thanks for pointing that out.

    Out of the back reaches of my high school memory I believe that the church had not issued it's proclamation yet that the ordained must not marry or rather be celibate. Friers often had wives and many children. Upon their death the church was loosing wealth by caring for the familes and that of course had to stop - I need to find the date, I don't any longer remember when all the ordained had a vow of celibacy included when taking the sacrament of Holy Orders. Monks belonged to an order like the Benedictines or Carmilites and joining the order there would be vows that included celibacy.

    As I've read, in England during this time, Monasteries were most often a place of healing, the local hospital if you would, and Monasteries during the middle ages depended on the wool industry for their income. Some Monasteries were Hostelries for returning or aging Crusaders, built on the established Crusader's roads. In the 14th century there were many aged Crusaders, or old Knights to be cared for. The fact that our Knight had a son to care for him seems to be showing a macho grit, independence that again the satire y'all have discussed is just so much more poignant.

    Shasta Sills
    March 22, 2000 - 01:19 pm
    Why does the Knight describe Theseus' stadium in such detail? There are six pages describing the pictures on the walls. What was there in this kind of detail that appealed to Chaucer's audience? Was it just a device for relating stories from Greek mythology?

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 22, 2000 - 01:41 pm

    Andrea (Alf) as given me the name Charolotte for the duration of our study of Chaucer. But your name is even cuter Charo-latte. I'll drink to that.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 22, 2000 - 02:56 pm
    As we all know history has been mainly HIS-STORY. Male accounts of battles and the succession of kings. We are given very few facts about HER-STORY. In the early sixties I tried to research the Women's Suffrage Movement in the U.S. I found very little material. What was available was tattered and torn and falling apart. It wasn't till the seventies when Simone DeBeauvoir awakened Betty Friedan who began the women's movement.

    Naturally I wondered why Chaucer gave only a passing reference to the Amazons, when even Aristophanes ( who I think who was the playwright) wrote "Lysistrata" about them. With a little research I found this mind-boggling paper by Jessy Luani Wolf and would would like to share some of what she says with you.


    When Chaucer wrote, Europe was on the verge of a period in history which can only be compared to the Holocaust in terms of suppression, torture and murder of a specific group. The group was not identified by ethnicity or race, but by gender. The pagan references in Chaucers’ work as well as the type of women he chose to illustrate his stories foretell the terrible war against women which was just beginning.

    The male establishment of the time had decided that women were gaining new freedoms which threatened male dominance. Accusations of witchcraft would be the primary excuse, but the real agenda behind the persecution of suspected witches was the suppression of women as a potential class and the reclamation of power by the church and state, using terror to control the populace. Female medical practitioners, midwives would be suspect, as well as widows and spinsters.

    Midwives were suspected because they taught reproductive control over women’s own bodies, performed abortions and recommended herbal remedies. Spinsters and widows were suspect because they were not controlled by men and sometimes had money and property. Poor women were considered a burden on society. In Ireland women were persecuted as early as 1324. Scotland executed over 1300 women. The worst attacks occurred in Germany where public torture and death was common during this period.

    In the 16th century, the Holy Roman Empire, which included Germany, over 100,000 women were accused and tortured.and over 50,000 put to death for witchcraft. There are official records to prove this.

    “Pre-Christian paganism in Britain allowed status and power which valued the creative force of females.” This was considered in opposition to the patriarchal, political and religious structure of the state. The ideology of female freedom and pagan beliefs were tied together in the propaganda of the witchcraze.

    The Amazon myth brought together all the elements which the state and church hoped to eradicate. “For this reason, THE KNIGHT’S TALE INCLUDES AN AMAZON, PAGAN RELIGION AND A CODE FOR PROPER FEMALE BEHAVIOR. It is important when viewed as a precursor of the impending witchcraze.

    I will discuss Theseus and the Amazons in my next post.


    March 22, 2000 - 02:57 pm
    Shasta---Interesting, isn't it, all that detail about what is on the walls of the stadium.

    When my daughter was in high school, she kept rereading The Hobbit. To get her interested in some other authors, I gave her a Dickens' novel. A couple days later she had finished it. Although she was a fast reader, I couldn't understand how she had accomplished this feat. Her method of reading Dickens was to skip over all the passages where he describes the room, the furniture, everything on the furniture, the view from the window, all the people in the room, and so forth and so on.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 22, 2000 - 03:07 pm

    I love the parts your daughter skipped. Right now I am reading "Little Dorrit" in between studying CT. Also, I think the description of the stadium in which the knights will duel is some of Chaucer's best writing. I guess we have more time than the kids did.


    March 22, 2000 - 03:13 pm
    Charlotte--I like Dickens' description too, especially in some places. I always remember the opening of Bleak House with all that FOG, for example. I told my daughter that not reading the description was cheating. Hehehehehe.

    Daughter turned out to be a fine painter---guess what she is now interested in? You got it--detail.


    March 22, 2000 - 03:14 pm
    Charo-latte---ooops, got your new name wrong. S~O~R~R~Y!

    Harold Arnold
    March 22, 2000 - 04:07 pm
    This post concerns the recent thread mentioning the fact that Chaucer did not originate the stories told by the Canterbury Pilgrims, but rather he was repeating previous stories from classic literature and/or folk tales. While the posts and the discussions have not been too critical on this count, I would like to mention that the practice of borrowing story lines from pre-existing sources, has been rather common in English and other literature.

    For example, the Arthurian legends had been the subject of a major poetic work by a well-known author about the time of Shakespeare, and there were certainly earlier written accounts based on the many ancient legends. The title of the published account, I remember as something like “The Morte D’ Arthur.” Try as I might I cannot remember this Author’s name nor could I find it by a quick search of the Internet? These legends even have a certain historical basis in early accounts of one of the pre-conquest English kings (before the 1066 Norman Conquest) who had limited success in unifying the many petty kingdoms for defense against the barbarian invaders who harassed the Island in the centuries following the Roman withdrawal. Tennyson in the 19th century wrote his version in “The Idylls of the King,” retelling the same tales just as the earlier author had retold the account from the oral legends. Tennyson of course used his own words to create his own unique poetry, and he did not always feel bound to follow the exact plot line as presented in earlier accounts. I remember one in particular; I think it was “Gareth and Lynette” in which the earlier publication had the young knight, Gareth after successfully completing the quest, marrying one of the two sisters who figured in the plot. Tennyson had him marrying the other sister. Of course Tennyson had so modified the story line that he could hardly have done otherwise.

    Also is not all-historical fiction un-original in the sense that basic elements of the plot are drawn from history (generally not very accurately). Shakespeare himself wrote a number of plays based on history. Was the plot of even “Romeo and Juliet” original with Shakespeare? Also many of the operas have their plots based on historical or legendary themes. Chaucer, in using pre-existing stories taken from the classics and folk legends, was doing nothing that had not been done by earlier authors nor what has been repeated by thousands of writers since his day.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 22, 2000 - 04:47 pm
    Charo-latte Bravo! thanks for that info on woman.

    March 22, 2000 - 05:16 pm
    Harold---Malory? Le Morte DArthur?

    Joan Pearson
    March 22, 2000 - 07:02 pm
    Harold, thank you so much for that post. You are much information at your fingertips. Please stay with us through this ride to Canterbury! Lots more questions for you! I think the point is made. There is a great difference between what Chaucer did with known tales and what we know as family folklore, where the same tales are passed on to generations exactly as remembered...

    Ah yes, we French majors spent time with Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur - (we spent time with Chaucer's Roman de la Rose too - I must confess I remember NOTHING but the lovely title! I promise to look that up tomorrow..especially Chaucer's attitude towards women!) The Death of King Arthur I do remember...It was written shortly after Canterbury Tales - courtly love - women on s pedestal-I'm having trouble placing the women of the the Arthurian legends in the same period as the holocaust, the murder and torture of women that you have just described, Charo-latte !!!

    There's another woman of from this period, one I can't read enough about - Jeanne d'Arc. Please say that someday, someday soon you all might be interested in reading together GBShaw's St. Joan together? I'd love that! I can't understand this woman in her time ...early 1400's...who led the armies of France and then was burned at the stake as a witch!!!

    Verrry interesting!

    I came in with some thoughts on Arcita and Palamon... which was the nobler knight and at what point I knew that Palamon would get the girl, but it's late! Shasta's question is also begging to be answered...why did Chaucer spend so much time describing the arena Theseus built? But there's always tomorrow! Night all...

    March 22, 2000 - 10:23 pm
    Dear one and all ..gads if you dont keep up here one finds oneself left behind. I forgot that since I had surgery ( thank goodness with a modern doctor in a hospital etc.) I would not be able to ride my steed to Canterbury. So I have made arrangements for his care whilst I look for a litter and litter bearers to bring me along on the journey.

    My doctor gave me a prescription of something I think it is like morphine? But I have found just a bit of fruit squeezed by the vinter has been sufficient.

    I have spent my leisure time perusing the modern version and have completed my reading assignment but methinks I need to re read it to understand what I have read. I just got caught up in the rhythm and not really understanding what I was reading.

    I will re read and as soon as I find two strong litter bearers I will be with you ..... Save some libation ( whatever you have will be fine) and some pasties for me.....I can just sleep on my litter Be of good cheer now ..anna from virginia

    March 23, 2000 - 03:34 am
    Question for researchers with resources: During the tournament description, the phrase "taken to the stake " confused me.

    Do it means they were physically capture, over powered and put in the "penalty box"?

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 23, 2000 - 04:57 am
    Joan: Maybe we should do G.B. Shaw on this heroine. It fits right in with the witchcraze that the researcher describes as beginning during Chaucer's time.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 23, 2000 - 05:02 am
    Bravo for coming along on your litter. It just proves that we seniornetters are made of really stern stuff.

    Charo-latte, Charolotte, Charlotte. I'm all three. One and the same person.

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 23, 2000 - 05:04 am
    My guess is that it means execution, rather than something gentler as a penalty box.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 23, 2000 - 05:28 am
    Rushed today - so I may gallop through the woods and be back with y"all later - thought before I leave-- Vaguley in my lit classes I remember learning that discription of interior rooms, spaces etc. was usually symbolically discribing the interior soul, or interior life of the character or the story.

    March 23, 2000 - 06:33 am
    My opinion is more mundane. Since decor and ornamentation was meager, and often limited to local craftsmen, I feel that people enjoyed hearing about such things that they might never have the opportunity to see. Like the PBS series on 'Castles in Europe' etc. Through the 19th century, writers seemed to provide elaborate descriptions of the settings. Now we have it all or see it on TV/movies.

    March 23, 2000 - 06:50 am

    I think you are right about the "stake". I am reminded of the penalty box in ice hockey. Another modern parallel, don't you think? But what I thought was really unfair, Palamon was forcibly pulled to the sidelines and put in the "penalty box" because he was wounded by one of Arcita's good buddies, King Emetrius, (probably in the back--so much for chivalry!)and not fairly bested by Arcita himself. Then because, Palamon was out of the battle Arcita was declared the winner of Emily--who, by the way, didn't want to be married to anybody! Now what was fair about that? It was only Arcita's bad luck that while wildly celebrating, his horse stumbled, pitched him on his head and ultimately he died. This whole tale of knights and chivalry, etc., just doesn't connect with all I've been told about saintly acts of bravery that supposedly was required by the Chivalric Code.

    As to when I first decided who would be the winner--strangely, while reading about the wailing and whining of Arcita in prison; his breakout; his secret return to be near Emily in even the lowliest postion, and on the other hand, Palamon's rather passive attitude, at least in the beginning, I thought of the old Tortoise and the Hare story. The race doesn't necessarily belong to the swift or "Slow and easy wins the race". Anyway, whether that makes sense or not, I decided early on that probably Palamon would win fair Emily. And guess, who the loser is? Not Arcita but Emily who just wanted to be left alone--"who would far rather roam the forests wild than ever be a wife, or be with child" (Wright trans.)

    Gadzooks!!! I humbly apologize to my fellow pilgrims for rattling on. I shall now slow my trusty palfrey to the back of the group and quench my oratorial thirst with a cup of wine.

    Three P

    March 23, 2000 - 06:59 am
    One more quick comment while Harry is drawing my cup of wine----the best lines in the Wright translation are, IMO, in reference to "bleak old Saturn": "The old, in fact, have a great advantage: Wisdom, experience, belong to age. You can outdo the old, but not outwit."

    Right on!!!


    Jim Olson
    March 23, 2000 - 07:26 am
    The courtly love tradition even though remnants of it hang on in our culture today, namely in the double standard for sexual conduct for men and women, is so alien to most modern sensibilities and so absurd when viewed by us that Chaucers use of it with all of its abusurdities may have the appearance of satire.

    I don't really read the Tales that way but think Chaucer was reflecting that tradition not satirizing it. There were. I think other elements of humor- mainly very broad slap-stick humor in some of the lower tales, nut I didn't find much in the upper class tales.

    I agree with Harold in his ananysis of the use of standard tales by many authorrs.

    I think the question concerning this in the Canterbury Tales is whether the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, or did Chaucer not just use the Tales in his collection putting his own poetic and narrative style on them, but did he also create something more original in the way he collected and presented them by the various narrators of the Tales?

    I think he did.

    March 23, 2000 - 08:10 am
    Lonex---I like what you suggested. People must have been as taken with the pictures created by words as we today are with the exotic places that movies and TV programs allow us to see.

    I remember listening to radio and creating the most wonderful pictures in my mind. You suggest that Chaucer's pilgrims would have been doing the same thing, and I agree with you.

    annafair---Of course a litter will be provided for you so that you may accompany the assembly to Canterbury. I will personally make sure that you have full access to the wine all day lest your pain grow too severe to allow you to attend to the tales. Welcome back.

    ~Harry, prop. of Ye TABORD, best inn in town; disregard the neighborhood

    Joan Pearson
    March 23, 2000 - 09:29 am
    Maryal, your comment about the Tabard neighborhood in Southwark (Suthik) jogged my memory - something I read while sifting through and attempting to organize the heap of books and pamphlets I picked up in England.

    This is from a book on Southwark, regarding the Tabard and neighborhood...

    Historic Southwark
    All London life, high born or low, had to cross London Bridge to the southbank of the Thames to trade, to travel, to be entertained, or imprisoned for debt, death or martrydom.

    It was the Romans with their engineering skills, who created Southwark. They came and found three separate, sandy islands bordered by a riverside of mud and marsh.

    Their road-builders bridged the gaps between the islands - built a stong wooden bridge. They occupied Britain for some 350 years.

    Wealthy Romans came to live in this suburb across the river from the city of Londinium...

    The Dark Ages took their toll on Southwark. The bridge broke down and was rebuilt several times before being pulled down. Marauding Danes had occupied the City and had a stong position on the bridge. KIng Olaf of Norway made roofs for his ships and sailed them under the brige where his men tied ropes to the piers...on command, they rowed hard and pulled down the bridge with the Danes on it. London was saved and a rhyme was born:

    "London Bridge has fallen down, fallen down..."

    In medieval times London Bridge was rebuilt of stone It lasted 600 years and was the only crossing point over the Thames for all the travellers, pilgrims, clergy, merchants, ordinary folk, kings and princes, rebels and traitors drawn to the great city...

    Because so many travellers used the bridge, the Borough inns grew in number and reputation to provide them with food, drink and a bed for the night. Most of the inns were three-sided around a courtyard with an entrance directly onto Borough High Street. The most famous was the Tabard, where the Canterbury pilgrims gathered; the George, the White Hart, the Queen's Head and many others contributed to Southwark's reputation for providing hospitality and entertainment.

    Throughout the medieval period there were twenty two inns situated along the length of Bankside. Southwark had a great fire in 1676, ten years after the Great Fire of London. The only remaining evidence of these inns is the names of some of the alleyways off Borough High St. - Talbot Yard (a later name for the Tabard)

    So perhaps ye Spring pilgrims, Ginger, Ginny, Fran, Pat, Kay...may find some time to find Talbot Yard in Southwark and soak in some of the spirit of the time and place, can it and bring it back to us!

    Joan Pearson
    March 23, 2000 - 09:47 am
    Never enough time for this! Some very good questions posed...will put them in the heading right now! Phyll (3P?), I really want to get back to your comments on the cousins!

    Charo-latte, I feel it is the right time to follow this discussion with Shaw's St. Joan - not a very long play, certainly the right period. We shall be experts by the time this is over! Fairanna, I will drag your litter behind my paltry palfrey!

    SIR JIM, I'm going to disagree with you BIG TIME on the satire ISSUE. Will put the question up in the heading in the DISCUSSION questions, okay? I feel the satire is so thick, I can cut it with a knife! Let's see what the others think?

    Back later...time goes so fast here! So much to think about!!!

    Shasta Sills
    March 23, 2000 - 11:09 am
    I was amused by the section where Arcita, Palamon, and Emily each prayed to their favorite god. Arcita to Mars, Palamon to Venus, and Emily to Diana. Each god promised them what they prayed for, and then discovered that they couldn't all deliver what they promised, so there was a quarrel among the gods.

    I have recently been reading the Odyssey, and have often remarked that the Greeks would have been better off without all that meddling from their gods. A more irresponsible, illogical, unreliable bunch of gods could not be imagined. All they were good for was to complicate human activity. I think Chaucer is making a tongue-in- cheek comment on the role that the Greek gods played in the life of the Greeks.

    March 23, 2000 - 01:33 pm
    --Shasta----Me too. Each prays to a god or goddess. I especially like Emily's prayer to Diana to let her remain a maiden. Here are these two men ready to kill each other for her, and there's Emily, praying to continue her life as it is! (If you want to get the girl, pray to Venus, not Mars.)

    Joan P. ---Thanks so much for the most interesting information on London Bridge and the inns. It is good to know that the TABORD was the most famous, probably because of Chaucer, but, hey, maybe it was the fine food and wine, not to mention the charming and talkative Host.

    annafair---I'm sure we can ask the Plowman and the Shipman to carry your litter. You should not have to be dragged behind a horse, even if it is Joan's palfrey.

    I see NO difference between Arcite and Palamon. They are as alike as two peas in a pod, nothing that differentiates them as individuals that I can find.

    And now, pilgrims all, time for a little of Harry's delicious mulled wine

    ~Harry, prop. of the TABARD, most famous inn of all the inns, and close to London Bridge to boot!

    March 23, 2000 - 03:09 pm
    Joan that was fabulous, thank you so much for putting that here, give us a list,
    a list,
    a list,
    I wist,
    a list
    and we'll take it to Canterbury and send back photos fine!

    Unless it's of bums. Or dangerous. Or both.

    The Quavering Pilgrim

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 24, 2000 - 05:32 am
    Theseus was credited by the Athenians with the destruction of the Amazon nation. Though their reputation was as the fiercest of warriors, he devastated the nation and abducted their queen. He marries Queen Hippolyte and obtains custody of Emilye.

    Though Chaucer portrays him as a nobleman, he raped and abandoned women and showed no mercy to Thebes. “Yet the poet, “ shows him to be “noble and just, as one who responds to the supplications of women, as one who though harsh and arbitrary at first is later able to relent and forgive.”

    Unlike Boccaccio, he forbids death at the tournament. He protects Emilye, who as an Amazon may not really want or need his protection. We wonder why he has brought the Amazons into the story. Why does he show them as passive and subservient?

    The author of the paper on “The Amazons and The Knight, “ maintains that they are used to support the legitimacy of the patriarchy.

    “On the eve of the witchcraze,”she says, “these women prove the necessity for a cleansing to bring all pagans, crones, Amazons, mother-in-law, rebellious wives and daughters, witches, lesbians and whores, back under patriarchal rule.”

    As we read more of the tales, let’s try to see if Chaucer’s portrayal of women supports the patriarchy and eventually leads to the gross persecution of women in the 15th and 16th centuries. Is this really satire? Does Chaucer put his own ideas into the mouth of the knight, or is this what he himself believes?

    Jim Olson
    March 24, 2000 - 06:15 am

    I borrowed a can opener from a Connecticut Yankee I found wandering around the meadow the other day and got out of this %^#$ suit of armor. Boy is that a relief.

    What's more I traded that nag of mine in for a fine Indian pony and now have a Lakota bow and arrow (armor piercing type) that ought to take care of any challenges along the way.

    If you want I'll rig up a travois and you can ride along with me until you feel up to waliking along behind the pony (as Indian maidens should do).

    We may be a little anachronistic and cross cultural that way but at least we will be giving Charlotte some more ammunition in her crusade to free women from the shackles of history.

    At any rate I'm enjoying the trip a lot more now.

    Miss the buffalo herds, though, and these English Lords really think they own the world and all the game in it. Maybe that Yankee and I can change some of that.

    March 24, 2000 - 06:59 am
    Jim-----Heheheheh. That Connecticut Yankee really does get around. So glad to hear that you have broken out of your armor. It must have been awfully hot in there.

    Charo-latte---a fine morning to you. I don't think that Chaucer was quite as anti-woman as you suggest. He was a man of his times, true. But he gives us a very strong woman in the Wife of Bath. I think of him more as a man who enjoyed the vast plenty of different personalities. He was one of those upon whom nothing is lost (with a nod to Henry James) and therefore probably was never bored.

    Joan P---Wake up. I have to teach and meet with students today. You have to distribute the wine and tend to the pilgrims. Yoooooo hoooooooooooo, Joan!

    ~Harry the Handsome, prop.of the Tabard

    March 24, 2000 - 06:59 am
    Jim - No fair 'time-warping'.

    March 24, 2000 - 07:03 am
    Lonex-----That's why "they" made me get rid of thegrog. An anachronism. And it was good grog too!!!

    ~Harry the Hardy, prop. of the Tabard, etc.

    March 24, 2000 - 07:33 am
    The mulled wine is sweet and makes me sleepy. Can we break out a keg of ale today?

    March 24, 2000 - 07:40 am
    Lonex-----OK on the ale, but it is still far to early. You will have the pleasure of anticipation in the meantime.

    ~Harry the Hosteler, prop. of the Tabard

    March 24, 2000 - 07:42 am
    JimO and Joan,

    I will probably sound like the "mugwump" on this issue but I think that you are both right. Chaucer was reflecting his times and also, satirizing the customs of society. Great writers have always done that, haven't they? Women, at least in the upper classes of England, were treated as property and perhaps that was beginning to change just a little. However, not completely, even in the 18th C. young women were "presented to society" and considered by the peerage only if they had a suitable dowry. And today, isn't it a coup to marry the boss's daughter, especially if she is due to inherit the company or a large portion of it? But that is another can of worms and though I believe in the women's movement, I am not militant about it.

    Speaking of cans, Sir Jim, what is a can opener? In fact, what is a can? Are you a believer in astrology, too, and perhaps you have seen these strange things in the stars? Fascinating!!

    AnnaFair, Don't worry about keeping up--we will wait for you. My backside could stand a rest about now, anyway. How can horses get so hard--they are only filled with hay?

    Phyll, the pooped and pouting pilgrim.

    March 24, 2000 - 08:50 am
    That's 4 P's Phyll. FourP.


    The Ignorant Vineyardist

    Shasta Sills
    March 24, 2000 - 09:15 am
    Speaking of description, I love the passage at the beginning of Part IV describing the preparations for the joust. Clattering horses, glittering shields, crowds of people. This is so vivid that I feel I am there witht he rest of them, trying to decide which knight to bet on.

    March 24, 2000 - 10:11 am
    Fellow Travelers: I apologize for my tardiness in catching up, but a problem has arisen, here, on MY home front. None-the- less, here I am. Some critics have suggested that the TALE is an allegory, in which every character represents a broad idea or theme; i.e. Arcite & Palamon may represent the active and the contemplative life, respectively. This seems a bit forced for a story which, by all appearances, is told simply for the sake of being told. It could also be the story presents a moral about who justly "deserves" the hand of the maiden. The love of a maiden and the practices of chivalry-- ahhhh!

    March 24, 2000 - 10:36 am
     Re: the Gods-  Arcite, Palamon AND Emily pray to the gods of Love, Chastity  and war.  Palaman, received a sign in the temple which he interprets as a positive answer when he asks Venus to bring him victory, in the name of love.  Emily begs Diana to prevent ANY marriage and r/c a negative sign informing her she'll have to marry one of the Thebans.  Arcite, begs the god of war (Mars) for victory in battle, r/c a positve sign as he hears the statue of Mars whisper, "Victory!"

    Great pomp and circumstance surround the tournament:

    "<That never since the day the world began In all God's earth, wide seas and reach of land, Had so few men made such a noble band."<

    Nellie Vrolyk
    March 24, 2000 - 02:33 pm
    I'm riding along with the crowd, deep in thought, and wishing as a scholar that I had a copy of the book at hand. Alas, I have not been able to find a copy locally as yet. Reading online is difficult and it takes up the precious little time I have to do all that I must and want to do. So for the main part I will follow along quietly.

    I did read a bit of the online text, and thought of one thing regarding the Knight. We are told he fought fifteen mortal battles among many other adventerous things. So why does he tell the tale of Theseus, and not one of his own tales about what he did?

    March 24, 2000 - 03:10 pm
    Nellie----What a wonderful question. I could be wrong about this, but I don't think any pilgrim tells a personal tale. I wonder if it wouldn't have been considered arrogant for a person to give a personal narrative.

    If the knight had told a tale from his own experience, wouldn't it have taken the romance of battle, which is a total invention, out of the tale? He would have had to tell something of the truth of killing, wounding, beheading, seeing dead horses and rivers of blood.

    And now I do believe that it is time to find the ale to slacken (slack? slake?) our thirst as we prepare to listen to the knight resume his tale.

    ~Harry the Haughty, prop. of the Tabard

    March 24, 2000 - 03:13 pm
    Make that SLAKE and it's a really true medieval word.

    March 24, 2000 - 03:16 pm
    Just what I've been waiting for... A pitcher of ale here where Nellie and I are visiting quietly..

    Slake my thirst... yes, satisfy

    The Quiet Nun

    March 24, 2000 - 03:30 pm
    Cakes too, Harry. Please?

    March 24, 2000 - 03:41 pm
    Diet Coke, there's nothing else!

    The Ignorant Vineyardist

    March 24, 2000 - 04:24 pm
    CAKES for Lonex......choice tonight is Chocolate or Italian Creme. cakes and ale for all.

    Ginny---have to agree with you on that one--Diet Coke for me.

    Pat Westerdale---yes, SLAKE, not gonna forget that one. Had to look it up even. Sigh.

    ~Harry the Humble, prop. of the TABARD

    March 24, 2000 - 05:06 pm

    Make that a large one for me, if you will, kind Innkeeper. Besides a sore backside I have a very big thirst! As for the cakes, my choice is for BOTH Chocolate and Italian. Along with my big thirst I have a big hunger.

    Has anyone peeked ahead at the Miller's Tale? I don't think my English Lit. class was allowed to study that one! Back in those days I'm sure that the teacher thought it would be too much for our innocent little ears.

    Three P

    March 24, 2000 - 05:17 pm
    Phyll---you got it----one tall one coming up. Most of the chocolate cake is gone, but I saved you a piece. (Perhaps you should cover your ears when we get to the Miller's Tale?????)


    Joan Pearson
    March 24, 2000 - 06:20 pm
    The Miller really liked his ale,
    "very drunk, and rather pale
    Straddled on his horse, half-on, half-off"
    No more for him, Innkeeper, tis next his tale!!!

    What a crazy day... a roller coaster ride! Started off just fine and dandy and then around noon, one thing after another - now Duke is losing by three points with 30 seconds to go........back in a minute! OOOOOEEEEE! Duke lost to Florida! In shock! How often does Duke not make it to the final four? Ooops! Wrong discussion!

    March 24, 2000 - 07:08 pm
    JoanP----I know, I know. Maryland lost last week and now UCLA is out also. Daughter was rooting for Duke. Sorry.

    Time for some grog

    ~Harry, prop. of The Tabard Inn and Sports Bar

    Joan Pearson
    March 24, 2000 - 07:20 pm
    Thanks bartender...I mean, Innkeeper! Fridays!...there was something in the Knight's Tale about Fridays...certainly true today!
    "Just as upon a Friday, truth to tell
    It shines one moment, on the next rains fast;
    For thus can whisical Venus overcast
    The spirits of her folk, just as her day,
    Friday is changeable, and so are they,
    Seldom is Friday like the rest of the week."

    I see a difference between these two young men - Palamon, consumed with anger, feels he's been cheated - he saw Emily first after all. He wasn't seeing her, as in courting, he just saw her from his window... he feels that his cousin is a "traitor, false, wicked" - becomes enraged..."like a madman", vows to fight him to the death...attacks him even though he has no weapon. Now Arcite is not one to back away from this anger, he scorns him. Yet he is reasonable. He will fight, but in an honorable way. He will filch two suits of armour - (did you "filch" yours, Sir Jim?) He will bring arms, food, drink...they help each other into the armor as friendly as brothers, but are determined to fight to the death. (They changed colour when they met...twice that happens. Did they go pale? Flush?)

    But Theseus arrives just in time, furious because they are fighting thusly without a judge! Without a referee to determine the winner. They explain to him that the loser doesn't want to live..."What is so foolish as a man in love", Theseus asks. (I know the answer to that one, do you?) Theseus had arrived "bathed in happiness and bliss" with the fair Hippolyta, his lovely queen" (wedded bliss?) Emily comes a' hunting too...
    Now both ladies weep, begging Theseus to spare the young men. Kill me...kill me, kill him, cries Palamon!

    I thought Theseus' plan was interesting for two reasons...

    The two cousins are to come back in one year. This will give them time to prepare for battle. Does this sound familiar? Sir Gawain gets a year to prepare for almost certain death at the hands of the Green Knight. The Pearl poet was writing at the same time as Chaucer. Sir Gawain was given this time to prepare himself to meet his maker...redemption - salvation - a Christian message.

    The cousins are given a year to assemble a armies to fight one another to the the death - the winner to get an earthly reward - the hand of the disinterested maiden.

    Here's a question...why don't they fight it out right on the spot, Why do they need all that time to arm? Why not a duel in the woods. Theseus would make a fine judge, don't you think? I think Chaucer consciously wanted to emphasize the difference between the Christian belief in salvation, life after death - and the Greek gods, depicted here more as fallible, blundering humans...

    And none of this is what I came in to say! Used up all my bytes for tonight...back tomorrow! And please...give that miller some coffee - he's up next! (Barb, do we have coffee yet?)

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 24, 2000 - 11:54 pm
    Looks like No Coffee and No Tea! This may include more than you want to know - my books on the subject are extensive.
    850 - Legend has it that an Ethiopian shepherd noticed how his sheep stayed awake all night after grazing on wild coffee cherries.  The shepherd noticed that this mysterious fruit had the same effect on him.  He told the local monks of the strange effect of the berries, whereupon the monks used coffee to keep them awake through their long devotionals. 

    Ninth Century--First record of coffee drinking by the Mufti people of Aden The bean made its way to Yemen from Ethiopia by traveling merchants through trade routes across the Gulf of Aden.

    1100 - The coffee first trees are cultivated on the Arabian peninsula. Coffee is first roasted and boiled by Arabs making "qahwa" --- a beverage made from plants. Coffee was utilized during the classical period of Arabian medicine.  Various curative properties were claimed for coffee, and it spread over several centuries Mecca, Aden, Medina, and Persia.

    1475 - The world's first coffee shop opens in Constantinople. Coffea arabica was believed to have been introduced to Yemen from Ethiopia by traveling merchants through the trade routes across the Gulf of Aden. 

    The establishment of two coffee houses in Constantinople in 1554. In the 16th century the Ottoman empire expanded its power through the Balkins,  and the north coast of Africa bringing along the Turkish coffee house. 

    1600 - Coffee enters Europe through the port of Venice. The first coffeehouse opens in Italy in 1654. The Merchant communties of Venice and Genoa imported  the turkish lounge, altered to their own style of coffee house.  The priests in Rome wanted it banned as atheist drink, but instead Pope Clement VIII gave it his blessing stating: "This Satan's drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall cheat Satan by baptizing it."

    1600 - By the mid-1600's, tea had been introduced to Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Scandinavia, Russia and America. Tea's popularity has been credited for playing a major role in opening the Orient to Occidental commerce.

    The Dutch held a near monopoly on trading for some time, it wasn't long before Britain importated, what would become the nation's most popular beverage of all time. Tea replaced Gin as the drink of choice creating an unprecedented health trend due to the consumption of purified boiling water in place of alcohol. (Looks like we pilgrims will be drinking alcohol all the way to Canterbury, no wonder the tales get so bawdy!)

    After much bloodshed and some compromises, the British East India Trading Company wrestled control of much of the tea trade from the Dutch and began importing enough tea that Britain's public had access to the delicious new drink. Before that, tea was limited to the upper-class and consumed at only the most elite gatherings, costing six to ten British pounds per pound of tea. (Tea was kept in chest under lock and Key)

    1650's - French travellers brought coffee into Paris society

    1652 - The first coffeehouse opens in England. Coffeehouses are called "penny universities" (a penny is charged for admission and a cup of coffee).

    1657 - Thomas Garway, an English proprietor got the bright idea of offering tea to the public and the beverage quickly became the drink of choice, far outpacing wines and liquors. Taverns became deserted in favor of "coffee houses" (which were so named because the public sale of coffee pre-dated the sale of tea by a few years).

    Unfortunately for those in power, Britain was losing all the taxes that accompanied liquor sales. But the government quickly remedied that situation by imposing a tea tax. (And we in the USA know where that lead)

    1674 - Women's Petition Against Coffee established in London.

    1688 - Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse opens. It eventually becomes Lloyd's of London, the world's best known insurance company. Coffee houses in London were important as meeting places for businessmen. Financial institutions like Lloyd's and the stock exchange grew from coffee houses.

    The word “TIPS” is coined in an English coffee house: A sign reading “To Insure Prompt Service” (TIPS) was place by a cup. Those desiring prompt service and better seating threw a coin into a tin.

    1675 - The coffee houses wielded so much power that a threatened King Charles II shut them down, calling the selling of tea a virtual act of sedition. A month later, the King had to recant his edict when tea, coffee and chocolate dealers rose up in protest. Of course, the fact that the King's wife, Queen Catherine of Braganza, was a tea drinker didn't help his cause, as she set an example for all of Britain's subjects to indulge in the new fashionable drink.

    1686 - First cafe serving coffee is opened in Paris (Le Procope--it's still in business!) It is believed that sugar was first used as an additive in the court of Louis the XIV.

    1690 - The Dutch become the first to transport and cultivate coffee commercially. Coffee is smuggled out of the Arab port of Mocha and transported to Ceylon and East Indies for cultivation. Export of seed was illegal. But Muslims making the pilgrimage from India to the Holy Land managed to take coffee seeds back with them to Mysore where cultivation was begun.  Dutch botanists were establishing plantaions in Java.

    1714 - Louis the XIV arranged to have a young coffee plant which had been raised on a plantation in the East indies sent to Paris. His plans to establish commercial coffee plantaions in Martinique failed.  But five years after his death, a French military captain managed to transport a healthy seedling which became the ancestor of most of the coffee growing in Central and South America.

    1727 - The Brazilian coffee industry gets its start from seedlings smuggled out of Paris. The colonization of the Americas increased the demand which the new plantations of Brazil and Central America now supplied.

    1750 - One of Europe's first coffeehouses, Cafe Greco, opens in Rome. By 1763, Venice has over 2,000 coffee shops.

    1900 - Kaffeeklatsch, afternoon coffee, becomes popular in Germany.

    1905 - Although the first commercial espresso machine is manufactured in Italy, (just prior to WWI) the prototype of the first espresso machine was created in France in 1822. and in 1945, (post WWII) Achilles Gaggia perfects the espresso machine with a piston that creates a high pressure extraction to produce a thick layer of crema.

    1995 - Coffee is the worlds most popular beverage. More than 400 billion cups are consumed each year. It is a world commodity that is second only to OIL!
    History: Legend; The Early Years; Coffee In Europe; Cultivation Abroad; The 20th Century
    A Brief History of Coffee

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 25, 2000 - 03:25 am
    Hi Everyone:

    Some years ago my daughter gave me a lovely ed. of CT. It has many medieval drawings and am enjoying looking at them. However, many of them are quite small, so a magnifying glass adds a new dimension and makes them real so that I can even see facial expressions on the characters.

    Now that I’ve finiished some research, I am going back to the Knight’s Tale and find some interesting things.

    Chaucer puts an anti-war statement in the mouth of the knight when he says:


    For men are slain as much as other cattle, Arrested, thrust in prison, killed in battle, In sickness often and mischance and fall, Alas too often, for no guilt at all Where is right rule in your foreknowledge, when Such torments fall on innocent, helpless men.

    As I read this last line, it makes me wonder why the knight has turned the Amazons into helpless, innocent women. It’s true that they have been conquered, but that should not make them the compliant, subservient people he describes. Even in captivity, given their reputation, one would think they would fight viciously to regain their freedom.

    Though the knight does not give any evidence of Amazon rebellion against their new circumstances, he does say that Emilye has gone to plead with Diana:

    “Thou knowest well, O chaste omnipotent, 
    That I would be a virgin all my life 
    And would be neither mistress, no, nor wife. 
    I am thou knowest of thy company 
    A huntress , still in my virginity, 
    And only ask to walk the woodlands wild, 
    And not be a wife or go with child, 
    Nor would I know the company of man, 
    O help me Goddess, for none other can.” 

    font color=blue size 5 Palamon had already gone to Venus to plead for help
    “Consider this, have pity on my pain 
    As I shall ever struggle to maintain 
    Thy service, in so far as it shall be 
    Within my power to combat chastity.” 
    So during the battle  “See what a miracle happened thereupon! 
    The fierce Arcite with no helmet on, 
    Riding his courser round to show his face 
    Cantered the whole length of the jousting-place 
    Fixing his eye on Emily aloft; 
    And her returning gaze was sweet and soft, 
    For women, speaking generally are prone (double entendre?) 
    To follow Fortune’s favours once they’re known.” 

    When Arcite dies “His spirit changed it’s house and went away.” (What a lovely way to describe a death.) Palamon howls and Emilye shrieks. We know nothing of her inner thoughts now that she realizes she must marry. She faints and the knight says we do not need to tarry on her tears or how long she wept. At the funeral, which is described in great detail, she is the most sorrowful of all. Yet she is compliant when Theseus tells her that after grief there should be bliss., that Palamon would be worth considering. Of course there is no problem in getting Palamon to agree. So they espoused. Since we are aware of Emilye’s heritage as an Amazon, I can only predict that this will be a disfunctional marriage.

    Charley we miss you. Why have you abandoned us? <


    March 25, 2000 - 06:24 am

    Definitely a dysfunctional courtship but, Chaucer wrote at the end of the Knight's Tale:

    For Palamon from now on all is bliss,
    He lives in wealth and health and happiness,
    And Emily loves him so tenderly,
    And he loves and serves her so devotedly,
    That between those two was never spoken
    A jealous word, nor so much as a cross one.

    No more of Palamon and Emily,
    And God save all this noble company.

    Not only was it not a dysfunctional marriage, apparently, but also too good to be true?

    So far, I don't think the Knight should win the contest but I'll admit his tale has caused a lot of thought and I am really enjoying that. But perhaps my viewpoint is too narrow. Am I.....

    Phyll, the parochial pilgrim?

    March 25, 2000 - 08:53 am
    Barbara, Charlotte, Phyll--So good to see you this morning.

    Barbara--What interesting information on coffee. I loved the image I got of those monks sipping coffee while performing their devotionals (I know, I know--they drank the coffee first, but that is not how the picture came into my mind!)

    Charlotte---What interesting thoughts about the Amazons and Emily. And thanks for putting in the appropriate lines. I have a different modern English version, and I love seeing the others.

    I want to know where Charlie is too. Yooooo hooooooo, Charlie, we need some more men on the pilgrimage. Perhaps we will meet you around the next bend.

    Phyll---I wouldn't say "dysfuntional." I'd say "arranged" by the gods. And it is certainly hard to believe that such an undisturbed relationship could be anything other than an idealized one.

    JoanP---Hope you have recovered from Duke's loss. Sorry there is no coffee for the Miller. He would just get drunk again anyway--before he tells his tale. Middle Ages------alas no Bill W yet, no AA, no 12 step programs.

    Today I am off to Newmarket to see the town. A Saturday pilgrimage for my daughter, me, the two Jack Russells, and anyone else who would like to come.

    ~Harry the Hurried, prop. of the TABARD, "no coffee, no tea, but lots of wine, mulled or otherwise and ale."

    March 25, 2000 - 10:05 am
    Fickle men! Theseus goes from wanting to kill both Thebeans to promising Emily to one of them in a few minutes time. Where is the motive or interior thought in this reversal of emotion? Chaucers style is not introspection.

    The story involves qualities which our Knight possesses; courage & skill in battle, respect for ones' Lord, love of a fair maiden, all the marks of chivalry. It does not involve depth of character for as impressive as the knight is, he is a shallow character.

    Like the rest of ye pilgrims he is even a bit of a bore. Why was this tale SO long? Is that why the Miller is restless?

    It is said that the Knights Tale, we are now completing, creates a contrast with the stories to come, since its characters are so FLAT and undeveloped.

    March 25, 2000 - 10:41 am
    Maybe the Knight and his tale was deliberately contrived by Chaucer to show the shallowness of one who invariably presents himself as the epitome of virtue and all that good stuff. People like that really are boring. It could be another characterization of humans.

    March 25, 2000 - 10:53 am
    Harry, old chap - Many thanks for the cakes and ale! They were most enjoyable. I wandered down the trail, on a most amusing and entertaining sidetrip, and was quite late returning to the company. Found a few crumbs of the chocolate, but a nice piece of the Italian creme wrapped in a cloth near the snoring Miller. Had he pilfered it for his breakfast?

    Francisca Middleton
    March 25, 2000 - 11:17 am
    What vegetables am I going to be able to find on this piligrimage? I love my meat, but like a bit of green or yellow along with it.

    What say you, provisioners?

    Phran the Pilgrim

    March 25, 2000 - 11:39 am
    Turnips and cabbages?

    March 25, 2000 - 01:46 pm

    You would have corn, beans, herbs and spices of all kinds, garlic, and onions, as well as blackberries, apples, etc.

    If you will go to

    It is a great site with all kinds of foods of Chaucer's time.

    Three P

    March 25, 2000 - 02:25 pm
    My source at hand says Columbus carried the first grains of corn, from the Americas, to Europe. I don't have time to research it. Does anyone know for sure? Ah. Here's a notation that says, "In England the word "corn" was used chiefly to denote wheat; it was originally applied to all kinds of grain used for making bread."

    March 25, 2000 - 02:29 pm
    Lonex---I think wheat was called "corn" in England. Corn as we know it wasn't there until brought from here. I'll check this out.

    ~Harry, proprietor of the Tabard, "whatever there is to eat in the Year of Our Lord 1390, we have"

    March 25, 2000 - 02:35 pm
    Here we go------corn


    Pronunciation: 'korn
    Etymology: Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German & Old Norse korn grain, Latin granum
    Usage: often attributive
    Date: before 12th century

    1 chiefly dialect : a small hard particle : GRAIN 2 : a small hard seed 3 a : the seeds of a cereal grass and especially of the important cereal crop of a particular region (as wheat in Britain, oats in Scotland and Ireland, and Indian corn in the New World and Australia) b : the kernels of sweet corn served as a vegetable while still soft and milky 4 : a plant that produces corn

    ~Harry, prop. of the Tabard

    March 25, 2000 - 02:35 pm
    Harry - Indeed ye must be the fore-runner of Toots Shor. Such a fine Host, we'll not see again until the 20th century!

    March 25, 2000 - 02:40 pm
    Lonex----Thank you, but are you sure the world will last that long? There have been eclipses of late that suggest otherwise.

    Best to have some wine or ale while we still have world enough and time to enjoy it.

    I do believe the knight is still droning on about a couple of Greeks and some lady. We must attend to him now.

    ~Harry, prop. of the Tabard.

    March 25, 2000 - 04:03 pm
    Corn, Cornes, Corn of Whete Corn refers to grain and wheat; cornes, the plural, means crops; and corn of whete is grain of wheat. In the Middle Ages, this was not "Indian Corn," the yellow, white, or brown kernels on cobs so familar today - Medieval man didn't have the use of that New World food. Corn in period vocabulary meant any cereal grain. "Ther never yet grew corn ne gras" - The Book of the Duchess "Of makyng ropen, and lad awey the corn" - The Legend of Good Women "Maken so long a tale as of the corn" - The Man of Law's Tale "Or springen cokkel in our clene corn" - Man of Law's Endlink "And they brende alle the cornes in that lond" - The Monk's Tale "Noght but the montance of a corn of whete" - The Pardoner's Tale

    Fellow travelers:

    I beg your pardon for not realizing that you would view "corn" from the modern platform. I give to you the use of the word as accepted in Chaucerian times. No, it is not a vegetable but is at least a change from meat.

    Three P

    March 25, 2000 - 04:09 pm
    Phyll----Thank you for the corn.

    Do you know where I could get one of those modern platforms for the Tabard? Sure could use a new platform.

    ~~Harry, prop. of the soon-to-be-renovated TABARD

    March 25, 2000 - 04:13 pm

    Is the platform needed at The Tabard for hanging cantankerous pilgrims?

    Three P

    Joan Pearson
    March 26, 2000 - 05:17 am
    Good morning, Ginger! Lots to read there! Congratulations for keeping up! Geez! You take off for one day and must spend another just catching up! A pile of KNIGHT questions and notes on my desktop and we are about to start the MILLER tomorrow!

    Maryal (Toots!) Did you love Newmarket? Did you buy anything in that antique Mecca? Please tell! Barb brings bad news - no coffee for that Miller...but mentioned something about Arabian qahwa. Could you try to import some of that (Fed Ex?)...special request, hmmm TOOTS? Someone's got to do something about that miller! Have you read some of the things he's saying? How are we ever going to discuss this - on the air???

    ALF! Are you still here! I'm sorry to have missed you! You cut right to the heart of it! A bore, the Knight's prize for him? (I agree with you, Lonex, perfection is boring - who can relate? It makes me uncomfortable to be around that type...I feel surely they can't help but notice my own imperfections!)

    I'm one of the oddballs here, I wasn't bored...I thought it was a wonderful piece of satire - but we still have some disagreement among us about whether this really is satire or simply a reflection of the times which appear to be satire to us today. We'll have to wait and see. We are told again and again that Chaucer's audience understood his references and what he was intending. We'll just have to try to get into their shoes as we hear more! The same with his attitude toward women. To be honest, I see Chaucer pointing out the weaknesses, the foibles of both men and women, equally, Charlotte, but will certainly keep your position in mind as we continue on our way.

    Shasta, I think the elaborate description of the arena Theseus has prepared for the "contest" serves two purposes in the tale. The constant Greek references remind that this is a form of Olympics? An athletic contest...between athletes who have been in training for a year. A sporting event. Even the bleachers are described! Unlike the Roman "games" where people came for bloodshed. This was no fight to the death. There was even a penalty box (thanks for that, Pat!) This was more about chivalry and honor, and anti-war sentiments - all the knightly virtues the Knight exhibits. There's even a trophy for the best athlete!

    But you know what I really liked! This is ancient Greece, right? All the descriptions make sure we notice that! But! But! We have armour...mail, lances, we have all the accoutrements of Medievel Ancient Greece. Would they ever have seen or imagined such a sight??? Did Chaucer's readership appreciate this? What do you think?

    There, cleaned the desk top!!! Oh, by the way, I have exhausted all my search ability to find a good reference page...line-by-line notes, more than a glossary for the Tales. There are so many references that make no sense. I remember when we read The Odyssey we had a grand reference in the heading. Surely something like that exists for Canterbury? My notes for the Coghill edition are truly inadequate for my needs. Are any of you reading a text with really good notes and explanations? It would sure help to know if you have such a resource. The Miller's Tale has so many obscure references. Have you read it? I don't know how we'll discuss it on the air? Air? HaHa!

    Enjoy the tale! ENJOY the ROAD!

    March 26, 2000 - 09:01 am
    Joan P - I think super virtuous people tend to protect themselves from people/places they disapprove of. Even though the knight had been exposed to the grime, killings, and 'sins' of war, he didn't bring that part of himself on the pilgrimage. That may account for the superficiality. Very Virtuous people avoid looking at some things.

    Question: Did Chaucer deliberately line up the Miller after the Knight to contrast the extremes of a social group? Very Virtuous at one end and Earthy, bawdy, devoid of finesse, at the other end?

    March 26, 2000 - 10:52 am
    The Knight's Tale is a romance. The Miller's Tale is a fabliau, a comic tale of low or bourgeois life involving trickery, often obscene, with a coarse sexual motive.

    (Harry: "Sounds like fun to me.")

    In Chaucer's time the fabliau was widespread in France and Italy, but almost unknown in English until Chaucer.


    Here's a little information about the romance and the fabliau from Derek Pearsall:

    "In romance the audience enjoys participating in the fantasy of the superhuman, the idea that men may act in ways that surpass their nature. In fabliau the same audience enjoys equally the fantasy of the subhuman, the idea that man will always act in accordance with their basest appetites, untouched by morality or any form of idealism.

    Neither view of life is more "realistic" than the other: it is no more nor less true to life to be stricken inert with passion than to be permanently on heat.

    The juxtaposition of the two forms. . .provides, however, an interestingly rich contast, as Chaucer recognized in setting The Knight's Tale and The Miller's Tale side by side."

    ~Harry, prop. of the TABARD INN where the good life surrounds you

    Jim Olson
    March 26, 2000 - 01:21 pm
    That concept of juxtaposition of the romance and (that other thing)-fabliau- is one of the things I think Chaucer used and was picked up by later writers.

    Shakespeare ofen used the device of placing high tragedy next to low comedy as in Macbeth- the porters scene near to Lady Macbeths.

    March 26, 2000 - 01:48 pm
    LONEX: Your post #363 is exactly what I think also. Our Chaucer was a cleaver fella. He full well knew how to make his point.

    JOAN: I don't believe anyone of us is bored. Is there? Oh golly, how in the world can you be bored with Mr. Chaucer? Is everyone enjoying this as much as I am? As Charoltte related, early one, the tale and the teller are one.

    March 26, 2000 - 03:54 pm
    Somewhere in there, I cannot find it now, doesn't Chaucer mention the Scythians?

    My mind has been clicking over this for some time. How about this possibility. The Amazons have appeared in mythology all over the map. No one has been able to pin down Where they actually may have existed, if at all. The Scythians are known to have existed, but did a Complete disappearing act. Like the Lost Colony.

    Recently, new gravesites of the Scythians have been uncovered. In fact, there is an exhibition at the Walters Gallery in Baltimore right now. I have read that they have been astonished to find that apparently women rode with the men and were equal at the riding and the use of their bows and arrows. Then they found gravesites with all the stuff of kings with the deceased, but they were Women! Maybe the archaeologists do not want to jump to conclusions; especially if they are male, but my instincts are screaming out that possibly the ancient Scythians Were the Amazons of mythology and perhaps the Greeks did destroy them. Perhaps because they could not bear the horror of women in command?

    No question that Chaucer retold, for the first time in his native tongue, many tales from all over the place. He did history, as well as literature, a great service.

    People really did believe back in those days that such a pilgrimage would give them permanent "indulgences"; i.e., forgive them their sins and keep them from the fires of hell forever. They would have paid some money for this privilege, as well. One of the practices Martin Luther railed against.

    Just lurking along as you go. Happy journeying!

    March 26, 2000 - 06:12 pm
    Mary P - Early in the Knight's Tale, it says Theseus had subdued the Amazons and their entire realm "once known as Scythia".

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 27, 2000 - 03:54 am

    Interesting comment on the Scythians. Maybe they really were women who were wiped out by the men "because they could not bear the horror of women in command."


    Thanks for clearing up the question of the fabliau.


    Interesting idea about doing the Miller's Tale directly after the tale of the virtuous knight. So the Amazon's realm was known as SCYTHIA!!!


    There is a Chaucer page on the web. I am trying to make a clickable for you Let me know if it works.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 27, 2000 - 04:00 am

    P.S. My clickable didn't work. Will come back later after I get help from Milt.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 27, 2000 - 04:42 am
    Not many people read the entire tales, so we really are embarked on a great adventure. The tales grow out of the interplay between the pilgrims.

    The host tries to get the monk to tell a tale of heroism like that of the knight, but the miller interrupts. The host wants the monk to go first, but the miller insists. The company knows that the miller is drunk. They want to keep him from telling his tale, because they are sure it will be bawdy. He persists, so Harry, the host, in fear of disrupting the pilgrimage, finally gives in. He says:

    "So if this tale had better not be heard
    Just turn the page and choose another sort."

    Interesting note: Dorothy Wordsworth, sister of the famous poet, read the Miller's Tale to the family on a cold winter winter night. The absolutely loved it. Maybe it's a family thing. I reminded my own bawdy younger generation to reread it. I think it may be more scatalogical than anything their contemporaries have thought up recently.


    March 27, 2000 - 04:48 am
    I think that Harry gave some good advice.... Still holds today ... Change the channel..or switch to another Internet site... or trash the email.

    Joan Pearson
    March 27, 2000 - 05:03 am
    Do kids still read Canterbury Tales in High School today? If they do, I'll bet the teachers don't assign the Miller; therefore most will skip right over it because "it won't be on the test." But isn't there always at least one "reader" in the class who would read it anyway?

    Do you imagine the Canterbury pilgrims were aghast - or was this type of a "tavern" story well known? My guess is that they were able to appreciate the humor, the ironies, without dwelling on the bawdy aspects. I'm trying to imagine the Knight's reaction - the quiet Nun's?

    Charlotte! That Dorothy Wordsworth's young family could enjoy it on that level means that we can too! Interesting!

    ps How about you post the URL here and I'll make it clickable and link it our collection in the heading too?

    Joan Pearson
    March 27, 2000 - 05:58 am
    And speaking of links, here's a Washington Post review of that magnificent exhibit of Scythian artifacts currently at the Walter's Gallery in Baltimore (mentionned by Tom Hoving in Art for Dummies as the best permanent museum collection in the country) - Scythian treasures Too bad you can't see the photos of the gold pieces!!!

    How topical! Thanks LONEX and Mary Page for the heads up. By the way, lurkers are counted and you've just been palfreyed, Mary ! Now we are 28/29 and counting!!!!

    Shasta Sills
    March 27, 2000 - 06:47 am
    I have to admit I found the Miller's Tale hilarious. I'm not sure why. Usually vulgarity doesn't appeal to me. Can it be because vulgarity presented in poetry is funnier than it would be in prose? Poetry always enhances language, whether the subject is tragedy or comedy.

    March 27, 2000 - 07:01 am
    I wonder if any of the Pilgrims were really aghast at the Miller's Tale. Our tendency to censure sex (and nudity) seems to be the legacy of the Puritans. Despite the strong influence of the Church, Europeans never became as uptight (as Americans) about such things.

    Speaking of American youngsters, does anyone remember "mooning"? A few years back, they had this initiation, or challenge, that involved baring the buttocks and pressing one's rearend against the car window to "moon" a passing driver. HS kids might snicker at the Miller's Tale, but I doubt they'd be shocked by it. Teachers/parents may have a problem with it, though.

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 27, 2000 - 08:52 am
    The NY Times has a series of articles called "Writers on Writing." Featured today is BK.

    Among the things she says: Why should literary authors shy away from anything so important? Nobody else does. If we calibrated human experience on the basis of TV * * * and other media we would have to conclude that humans devote more time to copulation than to sleeping, eating and and accessorizing the hot new summer look, combined.

    "Americans with out heads soaked in frank sexual imagery and our feet planted in our Puritanical heritage, and any novelist with something to say about procreation or the lordotic posture (looked up the word but couldn't find it, but I can guess) has to negotiate that territory. Great sex is more rare in art than in life because its harder to do."

    We must own up to its gravity. We also must accept an uncomfortable intimacy with our readers in the admission that, yes, we've both done this. And we must warn our mothers before the books comes out.


    March 27, 2000 - 10:04 am
    Charlotte--I laughed outloud when I read the part about writers warning their mothers! Long ago, I was in a very embarrassing situation. My mother was reading Updike's Rabbit, Run. She was an inveterate reader, and Updike married one of my older sister's best friends.

    Anyway, I was home visiting. Mother came into my bedroom one night with the book, pointed to a specific scene and said, "Does this say what I think it does?" I glanced at the book (I'd already read it), and sure enough it was a description of a sexual activity that we now all talk about openly. I pretended to be reading through the scene while I thought about what to answer.

    Finally, I said, "No, I'm sure it doesn't," without ever asking her what she thought it meant. She looked relieved and said, "Thank you."

    This is a true story.


    I think the Miller's Tale is funny. Such a rollicking meter, and when Handy Nicolas is scorched and cries out for Water so that the Miller thinks the flood is coming, that's funny. Ordinarily I think fart jokes are down there with body waste jokes, but this one I like. It must be the way it's told.


    March 27, 2000 - 10:41 am
    I think we find the Miller's Tale funny because it is a comical situation. Many of the off-color 'jokes' or stories we hear today are not particularly clever/comical. They rely on vulgar language to get laughs. The Miller used very few vulgarisms to tell his tale.

    It occurred to me that Harry (Chaucer?)'s warning (that some may be offended) is the precursor of what we find on R-rated movies and some CDs.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 27, 2000 - 10:59 am
    This is a little off our subject but in keeping with the fourteenth century. I think it is a hoot-- just came back from an inspection in which the inspector, Ben has varied interests including the history of building. He noted on the house he was inspecting that the threshold needed some repair because of wood rot. As I copied down the information so the seller knew what exactly was needed I struggled with spelling threshold-- at which point Ben launched into an explination about what was the original job of a threshold.

    Seems that in the middle ages more small individual houses and storefronts as well as taverns were built with flooring other then pounded earth. Slate and wood were the easist building materials found for flooring but during the wet season they became slick and therefore, the thesh from wheat or flax was strewn on the floor to keep those with wet or muddy shoes from slipping. As the season wore on, more and more thresh piled up. To keep it in the building a hold was constructed at the door, usually only a board that you stepped over. Thus a hold for the thresh or a threshold.

    One more-- raining cats and dogs-- seems the cats and dogs as well as other wild life snuggled nice and warm in the thatch roofs and when it rained the thatch become wet and slick sending all the wildlife tumbling down and thus it rained cats and dogs.

    March 27, 2000 - 11:21 am
    Two bits of social commentary, we're neglecting:

    The carpenter married an 18-yr-old -

    "For he was old and she was wild and young;
    He thought himself quite likely to be stung.
    He might have known, were Cato on his shelf,
    A man should marry someone like himself;
    A man should pick an equal for his mate."

    - - -The other I found interesting was the part where the carpenter's young wife went to church " search her conscience and do the work of Christ..." This was after she agreed to meet Nicholas, but it did not interfere with her tryst.

    March 27, 2000 - 11:26 am
    Lonex---agree. It is certainly important that the Miller has such a young wife. She is still "coltish."

    Barbara,---I am so happy. I have wondered all my life where the expression "raining cats and dogs" came from, and now I know. It was based on literal truth after all. Hard rain and suddenly you see a cat fall by your window. LOVE IT.

    CIDER anyone?

    ~harry the happy, prop. of the TABARD where we aim to please

    March 27, 2000 - 11:35 am
    Well, another thing - This was not a sudden lapse of conscience that occurs in the heat of passion. It was carefully planned and arranged by one who has searched her conscience. How common an occurrance was that - in those days?

    Cider sounds good.

    March 27, 2000 - 01:22 pm
    Talking about the Miller, I just happened to think of something today. Remember this song? A Whiter Shade of Pale Click on that for a GREAT version of it!

    Is that the same Miller?

    A Whiter Shade of Pale (Brooker / Reid)*

    We skipped the light fandango
    turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
    I was feeling kinda seasick
    but the crowd called out for more
    The room was humming harder
    as the ceiling flew away
    When we called out for another drink
    the waiter brought a tray

    And so it was that later
    as the miller told his tale
    that her face, at first just ghostly,
    turned a whiter shade of pale

    She said, 'There is no reason
    and the truth is plain to see.'
    But I wandered through my playing cards
    and would not let her be
    one of sixteen vestal virgins
    who were leaving for the coast
    and although my eyes were open
    they might have just as well've been closed

    She said, 'I'm home on shore leave,'
    though in truth we were at sea
    so I took her by the looking glass
    and forced her to agree
    saying, 'You must be the mermaid
    who took Neptune for a ride.'
    But she smiled at me so sadly
    that my anger straightway died

    If music be the food of love
    then laughter is its queen
    and likewise if behind is in front
    then dirt in truth is clean
    My mouth by then like cardboard
    seemed to slip straight through my head
    So we crash-dived straightway quickly
    and attacked the ocean bed

    Interesting, no?


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 27, 2000 - 01:41 pm

    Here's a clickable to Chaucer site: Geoffrey Chaucer
    Milt found this for me.

    My daughter-in-law said that she read the Miller's Tale in high school and so did husband Milt.


    March 27, 2000 - 02:15 pm
    Class Structure Aristocracy-- Knight and his entourage : highest ranking layman; ideal, Squire: romance hero, Yeoman: hardworking, in tune with the earth, Prioress: coy; unconsciously pretentious, Second Nun and entourage: remain undeveloped, Monk: highest cleric, Friar : "lik a maister or a pope" (l. 263)

    Middle Class-- Merchant, Clerk Ideal?, Sergeant of Law, Franklin, Guildsmen Belong to common craft guild, Cook, Shipman, Physician, Wife of Bath,

    Lower Class and Ruffians-- Parson: Humble origins; ideal, Plowman: Ideal, Miller: Scoundrels all, Manciple Reeve, Summoner & Pardoner: Clerical figures, but depraved, Narrator: Chaucerian persona, Host/Harry Bailey: Owns Tabard, governing force.

    This helped me place the pilgrims in context of their social standing.


    March 27, 2000 - 02:48 pm
    A fine (although rainy here) afternoon to all pilgrims struggling not to laugh along with Harry at the Miller's fine fabliau.

    Seems to me, from the lines immediately following The Miller's Tale, that the company took the story well, except for the Reeve who had once been a carpenter:

    When folk had laughed their fill at this nice pass
    Of Absalom and clever Nicholas,
    Then divers folk diversely had their say;
    And most of them were well amused and gay,
    Nor at this tale did I see one man grieve,
    Save it were only old Oswald the reeve,

    Phyll---Harry does not appreciate being put in the group of ruffians!

    Charlotte----Thanks for the link. I didn't read the Miller's Tale in high school, just the prologue and the nun's priest's tale as well as I can remember.

    Ginny---A different Miller, I'd guess. Thanks for the lyrics.

    Lonex----I have no idea how common adultery was in the middle ages, but I do know that there are lots and lots of jokes about men being cuckolded. It was especially dangerous for an old man to marry a young woman.

    One more thing-----

    Does everyone notice that the courtly lover, Absalom, gets made fun of as well as rejected? He serenades Alison at her window, grows pale for love of her, etc. etc., but after his experience with her hind parts, his "love" quickly is forgotten.

    ~Harry the Host, not a ruffian, OWNER of the TABARD "where the elite meet to eat"

    March 27, 2000 - 03:05 pm
    hahaha Mine Host, could be, but then again he's got 16 vestal virgins there too, you don't see them much anymore. Not to mention Neptune. Are there any millers in this day and time?

    Stalling for time while finishing the reading! OK OK I'll shut up!

    The Backward Vineyardist Who Shall Ride Backwards the Next Ten Leagues as a Penance!

    March 27, 2000 - 03:21 pm
    Ginny----We are fresh out of vestal virgins here at the TABARD. The only virgins on board are women of the cloth. And they are not vestal. I don't think.

    Harry the Hosteler

    Joan Pearson
    March 27, 2000 - 03:26 pm
    Oh Maryal, I can't tell you how much I am enjoying this discussion! Hahahahaha! Sounds of Whiter Side of Pale pouring out of my speakers! I'm going to disagree with you on this one! I do believe this is "our" miller ! The poor girl was not as bold as Alison and blanches at the tale.
    And so it was that later
    as the miller told his tale
    that her face, at first just ghostly,
    turned a whiter shade of pale

    And I love our proper Charlotte enumerating the number of young people who have read the tale in school. Everything is fine! We are going to be able to discuss this to our hearts content! We are quite a mature group of pilgrims!!! Here's my favorite line from Whiter Side of Pale
    "and likewise if behind is in front
    then dirt in truth is clean."

    Now tell me again this is not the Miller's Tale!!!! Phyll, the Miller really went out of turn, didn't he? If we had waited for the tales in social order, I don't think the Miller's would have been as shocking! The Miller said he was going to repay the similar were the tales, once we get over the shock of how different they were?

    ps. Lonex, you have great insight into human nature - first on the perfect people and now on the reason we (with our Puritan residuals look upon such a tale as "shocking"! Please stick around and keep telling it like it is!

    pps. Charlotte! Great site. Will put it up now! Thanks!

    March 27, 2000 - 03:38 pm
    Joan---Who is "she" in your quote above? I couldn't find it in the prologue and don't know where to look for it. By process of elimination, I assume that it is the Prioress since it is hard for me to believe the Wife of Bath would turn pale at such a romp. HELP!!!

    ~Harry, prop. of the TABARD, "stay with us and get a free ticket to cross London Bridge"

    March 27, 2000 - 03:45 pm
    Joan------Never mind, it's in the song. Hehehehehe. You tricked me. Unkind, not nice. You won't be winning any prizes. I can guarantee you that. Nuh uh. You don't stand a chance.

    ~Harry the hostile hosteler

    March 27, 2000 - 05:06 pm
    Sorry, Harry! I calls 'em as I sees 'em!

    Joan: It appears that the Miller went out of turn but I think that old "sly boots", Chaucer, meant it to happen that way just to point up the contrast between his story and the Knight's tale.

    C. David Benson, Chaucer's Drama of Style (1986):

    "By its rustic and animalistic imagery and by speech that is colloquial and deceptive rather than formal and philosophical, the second tale [The Miller's Tale] shows how far from the idealism of romance much of actual life is led. In contrast to the honorable love of Palamon and Arcite, who spend untold years in faithful devotion to the chaste Emelye, the rival truth of the Miller's Tale is perhaps best summed up in a characteristically witty and cruel proverb that explains why Nicholas succeeds with Alisoun while Absolon fails: "Alwey the nye slye / Maketh the ferre leeve to be looth." In addition to making us laugh, the fabliau reminds us how stupid and unfeeling human being can be and fully illustrates their capacity for self-deception and self-destruction. The MT offers a pessimistic view of human rationality in contrast to the KT: all of its characters are driven by passion, and the only thinking in the tale that is not merely wishful is deceitful. In MT characterization is specific. In KT characterization is vague, its speeches abstract. It's noble poet, like Theseus, wants to bring order to the complexities of life, but his solutions, like the symmetrical stadium, are often too neat and simple to be completely satisfying. If the first tale inspires us by expressing the human capacity for heroism and generosity, the second speaks to our fear that men are nothing more than creatures of duplicity and selfish desire, who, for all their cleverness, are incapable of self-control or self-knowledge. After the fabliau, the faith in human achievement and goodness advocated by the romance seems naive indeed.

    By the way, Harry, did you bring along any towels--this rain is seeping under my collar?

    Phyll, the pathetic pilgrim

    March 27, 2000 - 05:57 pm
    Adultry was extremely common in the Middle Ages. To quote from my "The Portable Chaucer" (Theodore Morrison), "By courtly convention, love was not to be expected between man and wife." Romantic love was all about adultry, and that was expected. Marriage was all about property and alliances. Chaucer's contemporary, John Wycliffe, was the first Englishman to start a movement to reform the church. You have to remember that this was a time when Popes themselves had mistresses and loads of children. Wycliffe's followers came to be called Lollards, and in the Tales, when the Parson disapproves of the Host's swearing, (Chaucer?) says: "I smell a Lollard in the wind." I guess you could say the Lollards were the first Puritan types.

    March 27, 2000 - 06:25 pm
    Phyll---Sorry, you will just have to tough it out like the rest of us soggy pilgrims. I am wet to the bone myself. Funny though, a little ale, a little wine, and you forget your troubles.

    MaryPage--thanks for the post. You're right--courtly love was expected to be extramarital---and not lead to marriage either--but I wonder how many folks actually went through with it? Outside the court, that is, or even inside the court. Sometimes people brag about conquests when there haven't been any.

    ~Harry the hairy, prop. of the TABARD, the inn Shakespeare would choose if he were born now.

    March 27, 2000 - 06:34 pm
    "Sometimes people brag about conquests when there haven't been any."

    Probably in every high school locker room that every existed!!

    Harry, if you can't offer a towel then may I please have my ale warmed? I'm freezing out here!!!

    Phyll, the Plodding Pilgrim

    March 27, 2000 - 06:40 pm
    One extra large warm ale coming up. Wish I had some latte to offer you.

    ~Harry, prop. of the TABARD, the best place to stop when on pilgrimage

    March 27, 2000 - 07:00 pm
    If adultery was fairly common and acccepted, and if wives were neglecting the hearthfires while they indulged in dalliances, there would probably be growing resentment among husbands who provided bed/board for the roving wives. Would that have contributed to the growing oppression (and persecution) of women that began in the next century?

    March 27, 2000 - 07:34 pm
    "Adultry was extremely common in the Middle Ages."

    Hmmm and it isn't now? Ha Ha

    I have a brother-in-law that says every successful book must contain at least one sexual type encounter. I guess Chaucer knew that a long time ago...

    People just don't change do they?

    Phyll, come over and sit under the wagon with me.

    The Quiet Nun.

    betty gregory
    March 28, 2000 - 02:53 am
    Charlotte, Mary Page----I appreciated many of your comments about the station of women. Property, chattal, possessions, ownership---these are the words that come to my mind regarding the vulnerable position of women of the time and for years to come. At the beginning of the Knight's Tale, the Knight in the story gains a wife and her sister as spoils of war. The sister will later be awarded as a prize. As John Stuart Mill wrote several hundred years later---1700's?(first male to write realistically about women) women served as slaves to meet the needs of those who owned them.

    I, too, am curious about Chaucer's tone/purpose. If it is ironic, which I hope, is he being ironic enough? Could Chaucer have been THAT ahead of his time, i.e., the amoral moral Knight? I doubt it. But because of the period of time this was written, I guess I don't expect enlightenment. It does make it difficult reading, though, about women as things to be captured, owned, awarded, discarded. Curious that Chaucer chose the Amazon group to mention----or the tale may already have existed, as is suggested.

    Joan Pearson
    March 28, 2000 - 04:04 am
    Good morning, Betty! So good to hear from you! Will you stay around for more of the discussion? There's a prize for our 29th Pilgrim to mount a palfrey???

    We's love to have your voice as we try to figure out just what Chaucer's readers understood him to be saying back then, as they nodded their heads up and down in recognition. He was quite popular in his time! Although most of his tales are 'twice told', he reworked them to suit his purposes...the Knight's Tale was Boccaccio's, with a twist.

    Alcite did not hit his head in the fall from his horse after the battle in the original, but rather had his chest crushed in battle and died instantly!

    I will check the Amazons, but I think they were Boccaccio's. I did read that Chaucer's originality was the inclusion of so many different characters, personalities in one work - not seen before.

    I just did a quick check and found that Boccaccio referred to the Amazon's quite frequently in his work- here it is...Chaucer just repeated the Amazons: Boccaccio/Amazons

    What did you think of the "lecherous" Alison in the Miller's Tale? I'm comparing her to Emilye of the Knight's Tale...when looking for similarities between that and the Miller's Tale. Triangles - "love" triagles- Palamon, Arcite and Emily/Niclolas, Adsalon, Alison!!!

    ps.I neeeed an annotated Canterbury Tales The names are driving me crazy!!! Is this supposed to be "Absalom"? I see a biblical connection! The meaning or derivation of "Philostrate"? Please! There's got to be an on-line annotated version somewhere!!!

    Have a great day, everyone!

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 28, 2000 - 04:31 am

    You hit on the difference between literary erotic writing and what occurs today. I am sick of the repeated use of the same vulgar words, as I am of the repeated car crashes and explosions that we see in the movies.

    I was enchanted at the beginning of "Being John Malkovich," the puppets, the office on the 7 1/2 floor and the old man whom we later learned was living forever. But then the repeated incidents of people blasted through a tunnel and landing onf the N.J. turnpike was surely aimed at today's adolescents.

    By the way, I am in my late seventies. I started college in the '60's and know where you're coming from.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 28, 2000 - 04:36 am
    Right on. J.Stuart Mill wrote "The Rights of Women. He was a friend of Mary Wollstonecraft who began the women's suffrage movement in Britain. She was also the mother of Mary Shelley who married P.B. Shelley and wrote "Frankenstein."


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 28, 2000 - 04:38 am
    I tried to get the song, but couldn't. Will put Milt on it.

    Also, I took your advice about researching the past of the poetry folder. It's all there.


    betty gregory
    March 28, 2000 - 04:51 am
    Hi, Joan. What did I think of the lecherous Alison in the Miller's tale? I wonder about the comic spin. If, in fact, she'd been found out, chances are her husband or the existing courts could have chosen her death. If her husband had been found out in similar circumstances? I don't know enough about the "laws" of the time but I know the only people to have legal rights were men. Wonder how many centuries that women were thought to inhabit one of 2 roles---mother/madonna or whore/temptress. I suppose this kind of tale could have been quite popular, since a woman could legally leave a man only through death. The fantasies of story tellers could have created some very exciting possibilities of what was not possible in the light of day. At lower socioeconomic levels, I'm sure women had less sexual supervision----I'm thinking of field laborers whose only goals might have been to have food, shelter and to avoid the rampant diseases.

    betty gregory
    March 28, 2000 - 05:06 am
    I don't know enough about "laws" of the times. Isn't this during the period when a feudal lord had total control over all who lived on his land? So, treatment of people could vary depending on where they lived. Yes?

    March 28, 2000 - 05:08 am
    About the adultry, etc. My histories point out a lack of privacy for all bodily functions in those days. Whole families and extended families lived in one room hovels. ONE ROOM! Even the wealthy had children, servants and guests share their sleeping quarters. People performed all sorts of things we consider private matters with other people all about.

    March 28, 2000 - 05:44 am
    On a tour of Shakespeare's place I recall hearing of the number of people who shared beds/bedrooms. People slept side-by-side crosswise on a bed - as many as would fit and they were not necessarily related or family members.

    Drawing from the attitude that sex/adultery was not seriously censured, in those days, women would probably not have suffered much fall-out from such incidents as long as they tended to the master.

    I haven't been able to make a connection between Noah and the carpenter. Need to look at it again. My book spells Absalon with an 'n' whenever the name is used. Is it a typo?

    March 28, 2000 - 06:31 am
    Lonex----Absalon, Absolom, Absalom---not typos, alternate spellings. All are connected to the Absalom in the Bible, David's rebellious son. Spelling in English is not standardized until the 18th century--we have Samuel Johnson to thank for that. Up until then, folks spelled pretty much as they pleased. Shakespeare spelled his own name several different ways.

    betty gregory--Your comments on women are edifying. But wait to you meet the Wife of Bath. You will find her to be very "modern" for her time. She isn't about to sit back and be any man's chattel. Please stay with us and enjoy the conversation. I appreciate your comments.

    JoanP---I, too, have tried to find what Philostrate means. Got nowhere. Lover of what? Just can't find the root for the second part. Alas.

    MaryPage---Your information on "privacy" fits in with Barbara's wonderful information about medieval houses (with animals cuddling in the thatched roofs). It's my guess that only the upper classes had anything like what we consider privacy. Look at what an elaborate plan Nicholas has to come up with to get the Miller out of his bed so that he (Nicholas) can enjoy a night with Alison. I think that difficulty of access added to the pleasure Alison and Nicholas take in each other.

    ~Harry, prop. of the TABARD where women are treated as well as men, especially if they wink at Harry!

    March 28, 2000 - 07:26 am
    Haven't we all at one time or another said the same as the Reeve? "Shut your trap! Give over with your drunken harlotry. It is a sin & foolishness, said he, To slander any man or bring a scandal On wives in general. Why can't you handle some other tale? There's other things beside." AHA. The Reeve-- he protesteth too much.

    This is comical, indeed. A fabliau someone explained, hinging on a trick or joke. The rude, drunken Miller entertains us after the Knight, after the hosts request that the Monk go next (Sounds like some old frat parties I've attended.)

    The carpenter is tricked but Nicolos says. "A scholar doesn't have to stir His wits so much to trick a carpenter." A scholar indeed!

    Our parish clerk, Absolon, has not a prayer (even if beautiful Alison does do the work of Christ, "his labour won him nothing but her scorn.") I kind of took a hankering to poor old Ab. "So jolly in his ways, would bear the censer round on holy days and cense the parish women. He would cast a love-lorn look before he passed---" the philandering little tease was he, this woe-begone wouldn't even take her offering. (for courtesy, it wasn't right.)

    Nicolos, bloody heathen that he is, tells the carpenter of "Christ's intentions " -after some liquor had been fetched. The carpenter, fearing for his lovely Alisons safety, agrees to "hang some way apart." My favorite line from this tale is: "How fancy throws us into perturbation! People can die of mere imagination."

    the dastardly deed is done! "Alison, honey-comb, are you around?' interrupts Absolon and , so fortune framed the farce, put up his mouth and kissed her naked arse...

    that rocked me right off my chair..Talk about comedy & farce- he knew something was amiss, as his love cooled.

    Cool wasn't in poor Nicolos's repetoire, tho, as the middle of his rump was smote and the carpenter awoke in fear, only to be deemed mad.God bring us all to Kingdom Come.

    The Miller's Tale is quite appropriate to our rowdy, drunken Miller. I enjoyed it immensely and strangely enoughfound myself giggling like a school girl. The kids of today must LOVE this tale.

    March 28, 2000 - 07:48 am
    I found the following to be very interesting. Early on we were saying that things change but people don't. Here is a comparison of the CT and something so "present" that I doubt we could do without it now.

    Though separated by six centuries' history, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and the World Wide Web actually share much in common. Many of Chaucer's tales are joined by brief snippets of dialogue and action traditionally called "links"; on the WWW one "clicks" on a "hyperlink" to go to another "page" on the Web. Chaucer's great work was constantly in revision and seems never to have found a final, definitive form. Many of the groups of Tales, called "fragments," seem to have been "free-floating" with several possible arrangements. By the same token, the WWW is constantly in flux. One need never follow the same path to a subject, and new links are being added while others disappear. And in the same way the WWW is faced with issues of censorship, so Chaucer himself was aware that some might look critically upon a few of his tales, and so the Pilgrim-Narrator of the Canterbury Tales advised that if readers found a Tale offensive, they should turn the page and choose another tale. He even went so far as to rethink the value of the Canterbury Tales in his Retraction.---Daniel T. Kline, Univ. of Alaska at Anchorage

    I am finding this discussion we are having SO interesting!!!

    Phyll, the pepped-up pilgrim

    March 28, 2000 - 07:52 am
    Thanks pepped-up Phyll, how true that is. I hadn't thought of that. Links, HTML's, navigating, etc. good point.

    March 28, 2000 - 07:55 am
    ALF----O, me too, me too. I think this tale is the best example of a fabliau that we have in English. Everyone but Alison gets his comeuppance, including the old carpenter who may have been unwise to marry such a flirtatious and "coltish" girl.

    I think Nicholas is quite clever. He uses his known expertise in astrology to get the carpenter to believe that he has seen signs that a great flood is coming. He gets the carpenter to hang three tubs and to agree to sleep in one at some distance from his wife, lest he sin by having relations with her. One had to be ritually pure at such moments and refrain from intercourse.

    While Absalom is getting burned on the rear end, the carpenter is still hanging in his tub until he hears the loud cry WATER at which point he cuts the rope so that he may float in his small ark upon the waters, falls to the ground and breaks his arm. Alison the flirtatious gets away clean. Hehehehehe.

    Joan---Re:the story of Noah and the tale. I have some things to say on this but right now have to do some other reading essential for class tomorrow. Remind me if I forget.

    ~Harry the handsome hunk, prop. of the TABARD where we have much ale for whatever ails you.

    March 28, 2000 - 11:53 am
    I want to tell you being carried in a litter is not so great I have been jostled and jiggled. Jim would a travois be better? I doubt that!I had need to visit with a man of medicine so I am a little behind (after reading some remarks re the Miller's Tale I can see everything can sound a bit lewd)any way I am into the Knights Tale but have re read all that went before and cant believe how funny it is.I could wish I were a neat as the Nun who can eat and not drop food upon her gown. I for one could use a bib! And the Monk out of his cloister with text not worth an oyster. I guess that Friar was a wanton sort carrying pocket knives for pretty girls. Arcite and Palamon remind me of the gangs in West Side Story.

    This discussion is an education itself. Just reading the information everyone is sharing re coffee,chivalry,food,drink etc I am having the best time!!!!!!

    Will finish re reading the knights tale tonight( a bit of fun there ) and on to the bawdy Millers Tale ....I have often said I had a bit of a bawdy sense of humor! Will report back and let you know!

    Another two weeks and I will be walking with the rest of you ....and please may I have a bit of mulled wine? It rained all night and the breeze this afternoon is a bit chill. My wool lap robe smells from all the rain ...we need a good sun to dry it out.

    Perhaps we can have a nice fire at the Inn to dry us all out ...

    Ye hardy travelers I bless you each ...anna the fair

    March 28, 2000 - 01:13 pm
    Anna, fair Anna,

    Do not worry. When you are ready a fine gentle little mare will be ready to carry you so you won't have to walk. We are all riding very slowly so that you may catch up with us. The Knight's Tale was long and very noble but you will get a kick out of the story that drunken lout, the Miller, is telling. It does appeal to those of us who are not averse to a harmless but titillating tale now and then.

    I shall ask Harry to make a tisane for you to build your strength for the journey ahead.

    Phyll, the polysylabic pilgrim

    March 28, 2000 - 02:16 pm
    Annafair---Of course you may have some mulled wine, m'dear. I would be more than willing to make for you a tisane just as soon as Polyshowoff Phyll gives me the RECEIPT for said concoction.

    ~Harry, monosyllabic and proud owner of the TABARD

    March 28, 2000 - 07:22 pm

    Never fear, Phyll is here with your receipt:

    LEMON ZINGER This delicious tisane includes lemon grass, lemon verbena, lavender, hibiscus, & spearmint in a refreshing and summery herbal blend. Tastes wonderful hot and iced. A delightful herbal experience.

    GARDEN TREAT An herbal blend of alfalfa, chamomile, jasmine, comfrey, lemongrass, mint, & verbena that is clean and tasty with no caffeine. A very pleasant herbal tisane.

    A choice of tisanes for the fair Anna. Mix a few leaves of each with boiling water, allow to steep, strain through a clean (I said, CLEAN) cloth and serve in as dainty a cup as The Tabard may possess.

    Phyll, I always aim to please pilgrim

    March 28, 2000 - 07:54 pm
    Phyll---I knew I could count on you. Might you have a Clean Cloth to lend Old Harry? I do believe I have all the other ingredients. But look you---fair anna seems to be asleep on her litter. Must have been the mulled wine that did her in. I guess Harry knnows what he is doing.

    ~~Harry the Handy, prop. of the TABARD where we tend to the needs of our guests, even the sick ones

    March 28, 2000 - 08:36 pm
    Annafair looks a bit peaked to me. Maybe a mustard poultice? Leeches? There's some fine ones on the reeds in the pond down the road.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 28, 2000 - 09:47 pm
    Annafair just do not ask for any soup please-- and watch that the tisane is truly served in a tankard or some crockery because Taverns are harbingers of trenchmouth--

    Seems Ben, the inspector, even knew about 'trenchmouth' and you must, fair Anna, put the kobash on tavern food. Seems 14 through 17 century tavern food was served either on a plank or, if the fare was more liquid like soups, served in a trenched out thick wooden plank, a wooden trench or bowl if you would-- well these wooden "plates and bowls" were never washed-- awash in germs all cuddled together and appropriated to all who sloshed their fill. The outcome...trenchmouth!

    March 28, 2000 - 10:51 pm
    Well, here she comes, barbette askew (I think I'd be wearing a barbette in Chaucer's day), palfrey half-caparisoned, hair not combed...

    Just caught up with you all. Now that the baby is well and so am I, I've read 98 pages of Chaucer in three days and caught up on most of the posts as well.

    So, this is what I have to add on the various topics, in no particular order.

    Changes in language/storytelling: I think CT owes a lot to Dante and Bocaccio. Also I was reminded of Herodotus, who also (I think) mentioned Amazons. Herodotus also invented the historical practice, still in use through the Renaissance, of creating speeches for historical people to have given at dramatic moments (for instance, Pericles' speech between the walls, when the Athenians were dying of plague and he told them why they were fighting the war). Anyway, Herodotus' histories are collections of stories about places; he wrote down anything he could get someone to tell him. Maybe it's just the attitude that's similar.

    Do they teach this in high school: Yes, I think I read the Miller's Tale in high school. I was going to teach senior English this year and CT was part of the curriculum. However I probably wouldn't have taught Miller's Tale; teachers have to be careful as parents these days do challenge what we teach (I got an angry call from a parent after I told the kids that the Continental Army waited for the British at Lexington in a tavern).

    Women in these stories: I think that Emily and Alison are both property. Alison doesn't act like she even has a choice when Nicholas suggests that they sleep together; he makes the suggestion and she starts to plan it with him. The Miller's Tale has an inevitability about it; of course this will happen because the man is so old and the woman is so young. Emily goes along with marriage because she is told that the gods have ordained it, etc.

    I'm enjoying the discussion, too. Hope to be able to keep up with all you enthusiastic pilgrims!

    March 29, 2000 - 03:28 am
    EllenM ... so good to see you join our (motley) group...

    Alison is most certainly treated as property, but you'll have to admire her spunk.. She knows how to make the best of the situation.

    (And take good care of your little one.)

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 29, 2000 - 03:41 am
    Hey everyone : Please stop overdosing AnnaFair. She's supposed to help me in the poetry folder. She hasn't shown up yet. Must be asleep on her litter.

    The carpenter is Illiterate and gullible. He believes implicitly in what Nick says about the flood ending at 9:00 A.M. when he cuts the ropes so that his tub hits the deck and falls breaking his arm and rendering him incapable of interfering withe love dalliance.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 29, 2000 - 04:04 am
    Nicholas tells the carpenter that Noah whipped his wife to come aboard the ship. “What a black business it was,” he says. He tells the carpenter that Mrs Noah finally agreed when she was given a vessel of her own. Of course we know that Nick’s intention was to keep Alison apart from the miller so they can have their time together. The carpenter believes what Nick is telling him because it refers to versions of Noah’s story then being told in the drama cycles.

    The carpenter is illiterate and gullible. He believes implicitly in what Nick says about the flood ending at 9:00 A.M., so he cuts the rope, hits the deck and breaks his arm, rending him incapable of interferring with the love dalliance.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 29, 2000 - 04:21 am
    Milt says that the computer hates me. I think it does. I am only interested in using it for my writing. He is only interested in understanding how it works. I tried to add the second paragraph to my second post, but it appeared in the first post. The persnickety machine wouldn't let me reedit the first one, so I had to retype it again.

    apologies and sighs,


    March 29, 2000 - 04:33 am
    Dear Pilgrims Whatever I had I AM CURED......I think this is also a good time to diet. Trenchmouth AUGH At least the tisanes are made with HOT water which I am hoping will KILL any germs!

    Finished re reading the Knights Tale and read the Miller's tale. For some reason it sounded familiar. I had to laugh at the story and wonder if it was not a familiar one to others in the group. The Host is trying to discourage the miller from telling his tale and the Reeve is suggesting he "Shut his trap!" and seemed to know what the tale would be about.

    Do I think anyone was offended ? I doubt it. I think people of that time were more open about life. There was little privacy and no roadside bathrooms or bathrooms in homes either.

    After reading some of our modern tales all of which would make the miller's tale a mild one I cant imagine any high school student finding the tale unusual. In fact I think even elementary students would giggle at the story.Which I guess is a sad commentary about our society.

    anna the fair

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 29, 2000 - 04:49 am
    Welcome back. So glad you are CURED and ready to go. Get aboard your palfrey. You won't need that litter.


    March 29, 2000 - 05:29 am
    Annafair---Please tell Charo-latte that we did not overdose you. You know that all of us had only your best interests at heart.

    Lonex--Please return the leeches to the pond; we shall not have need of them. Our fairanna is well now.

    Ellen M---THERE you are. Welcome back and congratulations on catching up. Yes, agree that Alison was property, however, I think she's an enthusiastic participant with Nicholas. All she had to do to get out of the situation was to tell her husband, John the Carpenter. The fact that she does not do so proves her complicity in the liason.

    Charlotte---Please say a little more about the mystery plays so everyone will know what you found our about the story of Noah and the Flood as it was performed. It's an interesting piece of cultural information.

    Harry is downhearted and despondent that any would think that the food at the TABARD would cause anyone to become ill. At the TABARD we have individual trenches for all which my wife washes thoroughly every evening. She is always complaining.

    ~~Harry. prop. of the TABARD where children and dogs stay free

    March 29, 2000 - 05:31 am
    I have the sense that Chaucer is poking fun at the clergy as well as the hypocritical "believers." As Charolotte noted "What a Black Business" this was. GC not only pokes fun at beloved, old Noah, but as Alison swears she'll love Nicholas with a solemn promise "To be at his disposal, by St. THOMAS", off to do the works of Christ she goes searching her conscience. Absalon, - a parish clerk whose hsoes cut out in tracery, as in use in old St. Pauls. He had played the part of Herod on stage. The religious conotations are full of mockery and hypocrisy, on the part of our characters. The foolish carpenter says "God guard his ways!" (noting Nicholas's disappearance.) He crossed himself, "St Friedswide bless us! He beseaches Nich. to wake up and think upon Christ's passion," as he signed the cross and prayed.

    Next, Nich. says that it is Christ's intention to betray if his story is repeated, by John, our carpenter. Who then proclaims" man, woman or child by Him that harrowed Hell!" (which our footnotes tell us is the redemption by Christ.) That is funny! Nicholos urging the old carpenter NOT to betray. Each chapter and verse has a reference to a blessed soul-- almighty Solomon, Noah, god's secret, the flood. Even Gervase refers to Jesu, benedictite, blessed St Neot. Chaucer's pious incantantions reflect irreverant farce. Is this intended, do you think or am I reading something into this that is only meant to amuse? He does it so well, you wonder if he is intentionally being disdainful.

    March 29, 2000 - 05:32 am
    Ah, Harry!! Send the sniveling complainer to the old carpenter in our tale, he needs some tender loving care.

    March 29, 2000 - 05:35 am
    ALF----God morning to you. We were posting at the same time. I think all the oaths reflect the language at the time. The exclamations were more colorful and varied than we have now. Saints names lept to the lips as ejaculations.

    Charlotte---Perhaps while you are telling us about Noah, you might mention what was done in the mystery plays with the Harrowing of Hell, a very popular medieval topic.

    In haste, Harry the hurried

    Joan Pearson
    March 29, 2000 - 05:37 am
    Sorry, Charlotte, but annafair will have to stay on her travois or exercise on foot! Her palfrey has been taken! annafair, this is marvelous! Are you 100°/° cured? (Pat, how do I make a percent symbol?) Is this a miracle? We haven't even reached Canterbury yet? Will someone change places with the fair lady and let her ride if she needs it?

    Our latest Pilgrim...EllenM!!! Welcome!!!! I know from Alice in that you will bring your own interesting perspective to this discussion. I'm off to the heading to saddle your palfrey - and readerdoc's too. Also another surprise for you all - watch the HEADING!

    Back in minutes...don't go away!

    Later...There! Look in the heading? See the stained glass KNIGHT??? Our own Nellie's original contribution!!! I love it! Wait till you see the other's she's done! She loves to illustrate stories and aren't we fortunate that she has joined us on our Pilgrimage??? Many thanks for brightening our day, Nellie!!!

    March 29, 2000 - 06:39 am
    I do enjoy you and I also learn from you. What more could any pilgrim want?

    Phyll, the it's a Privilege to know you Pilgrim

    March 29, 2000 - 07:28 am
    awwwwwwww Phyll ---Harry feels a tear forming in the corner of his ee, er, eye. Blessings on your head.

    ~~Harry, prop. of the best inn of all, the TABARD, where only the wife complains.

    Jim Olson
    March 29, 2000 - 11:15 am

    I am glad you are recovering and have for the moment at least escaped the leeches.

    The medical treatmets of the time were no doubt much more deadly that the diseases they sought to cure- and I'm not so sure things have changed all that much in the ensuing centuries.

    But at least we now have a better idea of the causes.

    With all of the sexual activity going on in the tales and elsewhere, I wonder about the extent to which people were aware at that time of the relationship between sex and veneral disease, and for that matter the extent to which veneral disease was a major health problem.

    I think they knew there was a relationship but not related to any germ theory but just the causal effects of sin and and reprobation- come to think of it that seems to be a popular theory in some current circles regading the cause of AIDS.

    I can't seem to find an accurate history of veneral disease of the period.

    Maybe another reader here has more information.

    I know there is a theory that some veneral diseases came back with the crusaders.

    Some feel that some diseases came back later from the new world with the sailors from early explorers- others say it was the other way around and some VD came to the new world from the old.

    At any rate, I imagine it was a probelm recognized or not at the time of the Tales.

    March 29, 2000 - 11:48 am
    Jim - I have a source that says Columbus (and crew) brought VD back from the Americas. I think it's in The Oxford History of the American People, but I'll check it later (expecting S-I-L). Others say Europeans infected this side of the world. On the other hand, life expectancy was so short that dying from anything was probably accepted as a fact of life. Infected wounds, infected teeth, infectious diseases, pneumonia, childbirth, animal bites, being kicked by a nag - you name it - people died young from all those things. I'd guess that few lived long enough to show the full ravages of a slowly developing disease.

    March 29, 2000 - 11:59 am
    Ellen, I cannot Believe parents complained of your telling a true fact of history! What was Wrong with stating that they waited in a Tavern? Good Grief!

    No question that Chaucer was having fun with some of the Clergy. I note he said right out that anyone who Paid the Friar could have their sins forgiven. He went on and on about this, with me snorting with laughter.

    Joan Pearson
    March 29, 2000 - 04:13 pm
    Phyll (PPP), your comparison of Canterbury Tales and Web links - "brief snippets of dialogue", got me to thinking about our posts and this discussion we are having - "snippets of dialogue" again...lots of snippets, threads on so many different topics! I feel as if we are trotting along slowly, talking in small groups after the Miller has told his tale. Now, I'm a Gemini...that means I don't stay in one place very long, but flit around - like a butterfly. I want to stay and talk, but I overhear the next group and am easily distracted! What to do?!

    I'm going to try to stay with just one of the many interesting groups of pilgrims and pursue just one of the snippets overheard today.

    ALF!, I've been looking for one of many Chaucer sites that I've scrolled through recently - without success. There was an interesting scholarly essay which stated that Chaucer would not have criticized or poked fun at the Church or religion at that time. Granted, this was one article, one person's opinion, but it was convincing when describing reasons why Chaucer would not have jeopardized his position, which was closely linked to the Church, even if he felt so inclined. Rather, he pointed to the weaknesses and foibles of people, including those who were members of the clergy. His favorite target appears to be the most self-righteous and those who feel they have fulfilled the letter of the law, if not the spirit. Commandment Christians.

    (Who was St. Friedswide? I have a feeling that this saint was non-existent! Still looking for an annotated CT! - the search goes on! My guess at the derivation of the name, Philostrate - philo- love; stratum-layer, stratus. Remember this is Arcite's alias. Love of layering... Well, what's your guess? ) This butterfly would like to know where PPP finds ingredients for tisane at this time of year? How does your garden grow??? Hmm?

    March 29, 2000 - 04:26 pm
    All I can find is Webster's definition of philology - says it's Greek for love of women (notice the plural - all women? women in general?). Found nothing for strate (just strata).

    March 29, 2000 - 05:53 pm

    "threads on so many topics": It is a little like we pilgrims are taking all our different colored threads (thoughts and opinions) and weaving them into a whole cloth, just as Chaucer took all the different pilgrims of his time and wove them into an epic poem that has lasted all these centuries.

    Mary Page--I think Chaucer was not only having fun with the clergy but with all of the layers of class structure he includes in the Tales. But very cleverly, because he didn't ridicule them outwardly but allowed them to make fools of themselves without any help from him. And he left it up to the reader to discover who was sincere and who was "full of it", so to speak.

    Phyll, the oftentimes Perplexed Pilgrim

    Kay Lustig
    March 29, 2000 - 06:10 pm
    It took me so long to read the Knight's Tale (enjoying most, skipping some; starting with the Middle English of my old college text, printing out some Modern from here, going back to the Middle for the wonderful sound of it as I read out loud), that I didn't get to post at all (sigh). Anyway, I finally got to the Miller's Tale last night. Goodness, we certainly were not assigned to read it at The College of St. Elizabeth in 1960! I have no notes written in the margin at all! I did enjoy it now; it sure is a startling contrast to the Knight's. I think the lower classes of the time were defnitely bawdy and many very sexually natural and free, even women, especially but not only younger women of certain classes. Well, that's enough from me for now; I'm just happy to have caught up with all of you. (I had to really gallop through all your wonderful posts to get here. ) Please pass me a tankard of ... anything, so I can toast to the company!

    March 29, 2000 - 06:24 pm
    Joan-----Here you go---only thing I could find on the obscure, and most likely non-existent St. Friedswide.

    Third paragraph, second line. Sorry, but I don't read Italian. Is this Italian? Oh dear.


    Jim---Tomorrow I'll try to corner my Chaucerian colleague and ask the venerial disease question. I think they did know that certain diseases were sexually transmitted. Gonorrhea was known in ancient times. Syphilis there are arguments about, but it isn't identified as such until the 15th century in Europe.

    An aside----I think there's a big difference between making fun of corrupt clergy and poking fun at THE CHURCH or the DOCTRINE of the Church. Chaucer is poking fun at those who abuse their offices and praises those, like the parson, who are good clergy. Chaucer always focuses on the individual, making no generalizations.

    ~Maryal (Harry is in bed for the night)

    March 29, 2000 - 06:26 pm
    Kay Lustig------Welcome back. Harry the Host is in bed, so I will offer you some grog.

    Good to see you again.


    March 29, 2000 - 06:58 pm
    JoanP----Here you go. More information on your favorite saint. She's a WOMAN:

    TA DA!!!


    March 29, 2000 - 08:24 pm
    SO--there I was doing a little research on Ste. Friedswide for Joan P. and I came upon the most interesting prayer I have read in a long time. It is from the entry on Bridget of Ireland, and she is the cited author. Keep reading, it has beer in it.

    "I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us. I would like an abundance of peace. I would like full vessels of charity. I would like rich treasures of mercy. I would like cheerfulness to preside over all. I would like Jesus to be present. I would like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us. I would like the friends of Heaven to be gathered around us from all parts. I would like myself to be a rent payer to the Lord; that I should suffer distress, that he would bestow a good blessing upon me. I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings. I would like to be watching Heaven's family drinking it through all eternity."

    Saint Brigid


    March 29, 2000 - 08:58 pm
    Maryal - I think wine and beer were considered the healthiest drinks. There was no plumbing and natural water sources were often befouled with waste. There was no way to keep milk from spoiling. Families who did not have a healthy cow, relied on beer/wine. Neither 'Germs', nor sterilizing, had been discovered yet. Microscope was invented in 16th century and biologists were able to see micro-organisms, but it wasn't until the 19th century that the little bugs were shown to be the basis for disease. In the Middle Ages, if a mother had no milk for her infant, and a wetnurse could not be found, the baby was often fed bits of bread moistened in beer. (I read that in one of Guttmacher's books many years ago. I think it was "The History of Obstetrics and Gynecology")

    betty gregory
    March 29, 2000 - 11:36 pm
    Just a thought, just a thought---no grimace associated---each reference to Alison's participation or willingness or lighthearteded enjoyment of the deceitful liaison-----all this is written by a man. All the stories we have about any women here are from tales written by a man.

    In Carolyn Heilbrun's book, Writing: A Woman's Life (several meanings) she reminds us that until very recently, all we knew of the history of women was written by men. She suggests with a calm eloquence that I fall short of summarizing here that everything we think we know of the history of woman.....may be wrong. Soooo, when I read "lighthearted" tales such as Alison's, I begin to think of decades of jokes we've all heard of "farmers' daughters," of various tales of seductresses, of all the "fun" escapade-type sexual stories that are included in numerous contemporary pornographic magazines. I have to remind myself that these tales tell us much about the men, little about the women.

    Kay Lustig
    March 30, 2000 - 03:42 am
    Good point, Betty. I wonder how a woman writer of the time would have portayed Alison. I wonder about our whole idea of how women did or did not behave sexually in the England of Chaucer's time. Hmm.

    Joan Pearson
    March 30, 2000 - 04:21 am
    Good morning everyone! May "vessels of charity and cheerfulness" prevail!!!

    Maryal! Our scholar and researcher (what an exquisite contrast to Harry!) So St Friedswide did exist...buried at Christ Church in Oxford! (I visited the very place a month ago! Barb - thought of you while there, as this is where Lewis Carroll and Alice lived when he wrote Wonderland) Interesting the Oxford connection as this is where the Miller's Tale takes place!!! The saint was much revered by the students of Oxford as well!

    With some digging, we are finding out much about women and the position of women at the time. Chaucer's ear for detail has provided many links! Do you know what I'm thinking? We should make a list and publish our own on-line annotated Canterbury Tales - as such a thing is so very difficult to find!!!

    Kay, does your old college edition of CT have good annotations? We've been asking everyone who is using other than the Coghill translation to share whatever information is provided in the copy they are using...Kay is my sister, did you know? An English major. I can remember when she was reading CT all those years ago - in Middle English. (How come I remember that and not so many other important things?)

    I just want to add that Chaucer was something of a psychologist and seemed to enjoy presenting his characters, warts* and all, without comment (as I think it was PPP mentioned yesterday, leaving it to others to judge. I think he even let them judge themselves. I really don't get the feeling that Chaucer held women or the Church in contempt, but rather presents a picture of individuals at the time. Remember, he did not write the Knight's Tale, or the Miller's Tale. He did create the tellers of the tales and the tales he has them tell reveal the real teller. That is where we get to know the real Chaucer and his attitude toward women...and men!

    Vessels of charity and cheerfulness,


  • more on warts coming up!
  • Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 30, 2000 - 04:55 am

    You are not being fair to Annafair. You can't take away her palfrey. My book has pictures and shows John Lydgate an English poet who wrote the story of Thebes and added himself to the pilgrimage. Anyone could go and everyone deserves a horse.

    Betty Gregory:

    On "Writing a Woman's Life," You are right on. I have been studying Herstory rather than History practically forever--or ever since I read de Beauvoir. Some day we'll be able to conquer and direct our own biology. Then we'll really put men in their place. Milt keeps saying men are better, but I think it's a matter of self defense. His best friends are women. The smartest ones are the ones likes most of all.


    I'll see what I can find about the Mystery plays, but if I fail I'll put Milt on it. He has the patience and persistence I lack.


    March 30, 2000 - 06:03 am
    I am still limited in my activities but the mere idea of leeches and other cures was enough to make me leap from my pallet and decide to walk with all. Besides walking allows me to exchange opinions.

    Tisanes may be found in the herbal teas which I enjoy. Although green tea has always been the one I preferred and how nice to know it has such good qualities and may help prevent certain illnesses.

    Betty thank you for the comment on women being portrayed by men.That is an interesting observation and one I have never given thought.

    Charlotte after some thinking I agree I need a horse! Reminding myself walking behind a horse is not the safest or most desirable place to be!

    Warts and all! That was my feeling about what I have read thus far. Chaucer is letting us see through the various stories people as they are and not as they would like to be seen. I suspect he laughed out loud at some of things he wrote.I know I do!

    What delicious discussions here !

    anna the fair

    March 30, 2000 - 06:56 am

    How about a woman author of OUR time?

    "Dateline New York: Topping the best seller charts this week is the salacious, tittilating, rib-tickling, sexual romp titled "Alison, the Carpenter's Wife". Read how Ali and her young, smooth talking paramour, Nicky, put one over on her aging old codger of a husband. You'll laugh out loud! A fun and quick read by one of our most popular women authors--Jackie Collins."

    It boggles the mind!

    Phyll, the I don't have time to go to Roget to find a "p" word, pilgrim.

    March 30, 2000 - 07:27 am
    It frightens me that I know this...

    Syphilis was brought back to Europe by Columbus' men. Before that it was unknown. It is believed that Henry VIII had it and that's why he had so much trouble fathering a son (the children born after Edward were all badly deformed). We know it was brought back from the Americas because pre-Columbian skeletons have been found that had various characteristics associated with syphilis.

    Now, garden-variety crabs and gonorrhea have been around in Europe for centuries. Crabs would have been considered a type of lice (which lots of people had then too). Since it can be caught from bedding I don't think it was considered an STD. I imagine treatment for it would have involved cutting off hair, boiling clothes, and possibly some herbal remedies (in the 19th century that would have been kerosene applied to the areas). Gonorrhea and eventually syphilis were both treated with mercury. It might have worked if it didn't poison people. Various other diseases were known then, too--sometimes people blamed them on witches or Jews, as also happened with plague. As far as I know, without the germ theory of disease, no one knew what caused any disease. So, people thought that wearing garlic around their necks could keep away plague (and also vampires...)

    Incidentally, condoms were known. They were made out of pig or sheep intestines.

    March 30, 2000 - 07:38 am
    Considering that AIDS, Leggionaire's Disease, Ebola Virus, and probably a few others, are 'new' diseases, maybe some of the viruses/bacterial-infections that we're familiar with, had not evolved yet. It's like they run their course for a few hundred years(?) then disappear and something else turns up.

    March 30, 2000 - 08:03 am
    What GREAT posts, ye merry pilgrims. I love the virgin St. Friedswide and our beloved Bridgid. I would like to drink from her beer lake today. I'll be lurking, as I am in transit in 1 hour to Albany, NY to visit by grandbabies for "Honey-hugging" time. You are all so bloody creative and imaginative, I will miss your folly. No time for ale, tho, my son-in-law buys my Glenfiddich.

    Someone, MaryAl or Jeryn (???)---PLEASE feed and groom my mule, for the week. Thanks, Love Andrea

    March 30, 2000 - 08:40 am
    ALF---Fear not, I will get Harry to take care of your mule. Have a wonderful visit and please hug a grandbaby or two for me. I have only a grand nephew. He is the loveliest child in the world though.


    Nellie Vrolyk
    March 30, 2000 - 11:36 am
    I'm still with you riding quietly along on my lean, bony nag with my nose in a book. LOL Would anyone actually read while riding in Chaucer's time? I would think that books would be too precious to risk dropping one on a dusty or muddy road by accident.

    Joan Pearson
    March 30, 2000 - 11:52 am
    Nellie! You are right! When did printing come about? It seems to be that most of these Pilgrims would have relied on other means of communication...When printing, researchers? In the British Museum, I saw and early version of a printed "illuminated" Canterbury Tales, but for the life of me I can't remember the date on it! Too valuable and too big! Leave the book at home, Nellie and fait attention to the taletellers!!!

    March 30, 2000 - 12:04 pm
    Hi Joan - My little old-time Encyclopedia (1933) says that the earliest surviving European print bears the date 1418, but it is believed that wood blocks were used in Europe as early as 1350. Maybe they've found earlier ones since this was published. Examples of Chinese printing bear a date of 868A.D. Aren't the 'Illuminateds' the ones done by hand? Those were very rare and very expensive.

    Jim Olson
    March 30, 2000 - 12:23 pm
    It is indeed true that in the Tales we get a view of women as seen through the eyes of a man.

    But we also get a view of older men as seen through the eyes of younger men.

    An old "how old exactly man?" was not considered capable of taking care of the sexual needs of an 18 year old maiden ( where is Charlie Chaplin now that we need him?)

    And her (actually 18 is a little old for that period as women were expected to bear children and be sexually acvtive earlier) sexual energy is seen as being more intense that that of an older woman. (really ancient at 30 or 40 perhaps)

    Poor deluded poeple to fall for such stereotypes.

    March 30, 2000 - 02:00 pm
    From the translation of The Canterbury Tales by David Wright:

    "....Chaucer transmuted Boccaccio's metal into gold. The story-tellers of the Decameron all belong to one class and, morover, are pasteboard figures.".......

    "Chaucer is the only English writer to treat marriage (as distinct from love) seriously and at length in poetry."....."Chaucer's treatment of this intractable theme is certainly the most balanced. Well might Gavin Douglas write of him:
    For he was evir (God Wait) all womanis frend.".....

    "But in all of them (the tales) Chaucer's personality is present, reflecting a humane, modest, unassumingly ironic and unobtrusively deprecatory turn of mind; detached, yet informed with huge gusto and curiosity, and an active acceptance and enjoyment of life..."

    I feel that Chaucer, because of all his years of experience in public life, was an astute observer of society. I believe he was reflecting society, in other words, holding up a mirror to the reader in which we, if only we look, can see ourselves. And what we see is ageism, sexism, classism, theism, atheism or all of the other -isms that afflict humans of any time.

    Ohmygosh!! My soap box is beginning to collapse. I'll get down now.

    Phyll, the perfervid pilgrim

    March 30, 2000 - 02:21 pm
    For all the poetry that he wrote, Chaucer never wrote a poem to his wife.

    At least, none that is known.

    March 30, 2000 - 02:28 pm
    My Morrison on Chaucer says:

    ".... books were rare and costly, and the King's English was in the process of creation. Books in Chaucer's day were manuscripts copied by hand and bound. A book might include copies of several or even a considerable number of separate works or compilations; thus the sixty books that Chaucer refers to as his own constituted in his day an unusual private library. Printed books only began to appear in Europe half a century after Chaucer's death, and not till 1475 did THE CANTERBURY TALES appear in an edition printed from type by Caxton, the first English printer."

    Many of the pilgrims on this journey would not have been able to read or write.

    March 30, 2000 - 02:54 pm
    Talking about books of the period, Christopher de Hamel, in one of his many books on illuminated manuscripts, A HISTORY OF ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS, makes the point that the Book of Hours, an illuminated manuscript, was the basic book for medieval households.

    Every family who could afford one, wanted one. The book was divided into hours of prayer of the day:
    "The core of the manuscipt comprises the Hours of the Virgin: a standard series of prayers and psalms intended to be used in honour of the Virgin Mary at each of the canonical hours of the day. These are Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. It is because of these that the text is called a 'Book of Hours.'"

    The owner of a Book of Hours was meant to stop eight times a day and read the appropriate texts and prayers. All the hours were fairly standardized in illustration, and the prayers were extremely well known. Thus the Prime is illustrated by a mineature of the Nativity and these texts, which were known by heart, were used to teach reading, hence the word "primer."

    De Hamel is a wonderful writer with a great sense of humor. He himself tried the prayers out and found he could complete an entire set in 3 minutes, so it wasn't a prohibitive sort of time thing.

    He also states that often the Book of Hours, which was intended for the common man, was often the only book the family had: "To the great majority of the medieval population of Europe, the first book they knew, and often the only one, must have been the Book of Hours."

    There's a brand new CD out on the Books of Hours, also by Christopher de Hamel which allows you to see first hand the spectacular Horae Beatae Mariae ad usum Romanum, page by page with commentary and translations! It's spectacular.

    Such an interesting subject!


    March 30, 2000 - 03:56 pm
    rather than ribald I would say the Millers tale qualifies for "pornagraphic" and I'm no prude. . . . infact that anal sodemy with the hot poker is more than GROSS. No I don't think kids in high school would be a good audience for the modern english version. In the tenth grade I remember having to memorize some of the prologue in middle english, but I had no idea what the stories were about. found it boring and didn't continue. Imagine that? NOw to read the Knights tale.

    "Fabliau, short, ribald tale in octosyllabic verse, realistic in detail, that burlesques human weaknesses and shows savage disrespect for authority. Fabliaux, composed and recited by wandering minstrels, flourished in France in the 13th and 14th centuries.

    Of the enormous number of fabliaux produced, about 150 survive, and approximately 20 of the authors are known. The fabliaux strongly influenced French writers of prose narrative of the 14th to the 16th century. The form was used by many Middle English writers, including Geoffrey Chaucer, whose masterpiece The Canterbury Tales contains six fabliaux, notably The Miller's Tale. In later times, such writers as Giovanni Boccaccio, Shakespeare, and Molière made use of material from the fabliaux in their works. Because of its characteristic brevity and emphasis on plot and climax, the fabliau is considered a forerunner of the modern short story."

    March 30, 2000 - 04:17 pm
    Anal sodomy? Did I miss something? I thought the fellow just got his butt branded.

    March 30, 2000 - 04:19 pm
    You missed something.

    March 30, 2000 - 04:54 pm

    March 30, 2000 - 05:12 pm
    would have confused me then as I had no background int eh greek myths. I was well abl to follow, but bored . "get on with it. tell the story. What happened NEXT" which is the challenge for any good story teller.

    I came in late so must catch up on the competition. Who is to win WHAT? As for now......well.....I'll have to go back and see. .


    March 30, 2000 - 05:19 pm
    ????Sodomy?????----No, not sodomy. Branding with a hot poker. Just before this passage, Nicholas has let go a fart that almost knocks Absolom over. Then Absolom uses the hot iron he has brought with him. Here are the lines:

    And he was redy with his iren hoot,
    And Nicholas amidde the ers he smoot:
    Of gooth the skin an hande-brede aboute;
    The hote cultour brende so his toute
    That for the smert he wende fot to dye. . .

    But he was ready with his hot iron
    and struck Nicholas in the middle of his arse:
    off went the skin a handsbreadth on each side;
    the hot colter burned his buttocks so badly
    that he thought he would die with the pain.

    Chaucer is very specific--notice where the burn occurs. We have a burn on both sides of the buttocks a handsbreadth wide. If sodomy were the act in question, there would be a different and far greater injury. And I doubt Nicholas would cry out for water; more likely he would double over in pain and scream or perhaps be struck dumb or maybe faint.

    I've been in a meeting all afternoon. Well, almost all afternoon. Boy, am I tired.


    betty gregory
    March 30, 2000 - 05:21 pm
    Phyll and Jim----enjoyed your comments very much. And I agree wholeheartedly that Chaucer's writing reflected the current social standards. If, as scholars have suggested, he was one of the first to observe people as individuals, that still leaves much room for recording traditional tales in reworked form, inequities (warts?) and all. Chaucer didn't stand apart from the fabric of social context of men and women (I agree with Joan) to create new low perspectives of women. He was part of his time. And, stretching here, I suppose a precursor to really seeing how things were for women would be someone who observed individuals.

    Charlotte, my compatriot in studying about women, I think men suffer equally with women these days trying to stay inside the prescribed lines of limited lives. What it means to "be a man" comes at such a price.

    March 30, 2000 - 05:25 pm
    Welcome to our company, WHYSONE!-- Joan will get you a palfrey, and Harry, if he ever wakes up, will provide more ale than you can shake a stick at.

    You and I agree on the Knight's Tale------zzzzzzzzz. It is very good for the kind of romance that it is, but I too want to get on with the story. That's another contrast between the Knight's Tale and the Miller's, by the way. The Miller's Tale moves very quickly to its end. (No pun intended-----hehehehehe)


    March 30, 2000 - 05:28 pm
    Maryal - Thanks. I read that twice and then a third time. It still sounds like a butt brand to me.

    March 30, 2000 - 05:39 pm

    March 30, 2000 - 05:45 pm
    and what do we find there? nuff said. As to which of the tales would be more likely to appeal to the judge who is an inn keeper and seeks entertainment. I should pick the Millers tale. Gross it is but also much more entertaining at least to me and perhaps the judge?.

    Jim Olson
    March 30, 2000 - 06:45 pm
    I think the wound under discussion was a brand with the "middle" considered on a relatively flat plane with a hand span of burn covering each cheek.

    I suspect an inclination to see this as sodomy might be logical given recent New York city police actions but I don't see it that way.

    I am amazed at the threads in this discussion.

    This brings back painful memories.

    Keep it up and I'll show you where I was wounded in the Korean war.

    I'm headed for the tavern and a pint or two to help me forget.

    March 30, 2000 - 06:47 pm
    You're right, Jim, Enough already

    March 30, 2000 - 07:14 pm
    Jim!-----Don't go away; we have lots of ale right here.

    OK, new topic. Let's see---we did saints. We could talk about what kind of person the Reeve seems to be from his description in the Prologue. Anyone have the lines?

    ~~Harry the Hotspur, prop. of the TABARD where we aim to please

    March 30, 2000 - 07:23 pm
    Are we still in walking distance of the tavern? I thought we'd be halfway to Canterbury by now! What's the delay? Well, I might mosey up and fill my bola bag to take along the way. (It's like a goatskin flask - holds about 1/2 liter. Is there an olde English name for it?)

    Joan Pearson
    March 30, 2000 - 07:24 pm
    C'mon, Harry, don't change the subject that drastically! (I haven't read the Reeve's Tale yet!) The Reeve isn't even ready! He's not up till Monday.

    We have lots more to talk about this Miller. Let's start with his warts! No one has talked about his description from the prologue, or how the tale reflects on him...or how unlikely the elaborate description of Alison's attire from this "mouth like a furnace". That could have been a description of the bride's dress in the nuptials in the newspaper!

    We haven't talked about how the Miller's tale resembles the Knight's! Each tale is supposed to be a response to the one before.

    Then there's the contrast between this Noah and the biblical Noah and finally how this old Miller sees himself in the tale. Did he have a speaking part? We are not finished, Harry!!! !!

    March 30, 2000 - 07:58 pm
    "He must have been a man of a most wonderful comprehensive nature because, as it has been truly observed of him, he has taken into the compass of his Canterbury Tales the various manners and humours (as we now call them) of the whole English nation, in his age. Not a single character has escaped him."

    He went on later to say: "We have our forefathers and great-grandames all before us, as they were in Chaucer's days; their general characters are still remaining in mankind . . . for mankind is ever the same, and nothing lost out of nature, though everything is altered."

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 31, 2000 - 04:28 am
    Right on Joan. I've been avoiding all the ME drinks,sticking to my occasional scotch on the rocks and researching the web.

    Pairing the two tales at first seems unseemly--that told by the drunken cherl right after the dignified romance of the knight's tale. Yet the two tales have the same purpose in mind. The knight's tale tells us to survive the exingencies of life by making virtue of necessity, while the Miller's tale tells us that laughing at our difficulties is a mechanism for survival.

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    March 31, 2000 - 04:30 am
    In telling the story about the flood, Nick refers directly to versions of the Noah story as told in the drama cycles. Nick reminds the miller that Noah had a hard time convincing his wife to get into the boat. He even had to whip her to get her to go. So she had her own boat. Remember that the miller is illiterate. He believes what the scholar tells him and what he knows from seeing the Noah plays.

    With Alison separated from the miller in her own boat and the miller snoring away in his Nick and Alison were free to have a ball.

    Joan Pearson
    March 31, 2000 - 06:09 am
    I'd like to hear those drama versions of the Noah story that found credibility in the tavern version. My own conclusion - this carpenter is not only gullible beyond belief, lacking common sense (is he supposed to be senile?) - also not a man with much exposure to Bible stories. Biblical Noah tried to get everyone to believe his vision that the flood was coming. Was concerned about all of creation, not just himself. Certainly wasn't secretive about his knowledge of the impending flood. Everyone laughed at him, mocked him as he went about building and appointing a huge boat that would survive the flood...EXCEPT his family! There is much description of his extended family, sons, their wives, the pairs of animals that he took with him...they all believed him, all willingly boarded ship. Now I am really curious about the the plays of the time and how they deviated from the Biblical version.

    I do understand that most people had no books, no Bible and relied on the Church for whatever education they would ever get...

    That was interesting reading about the illuminated books, printing and wood cuts. I think that there was a lot of illuminating going on AFTER the printing process was done. I hope some of our Spring Pilgrims to England will stop into the British Museum...and look at the wonderful pages from Canterbury Tales...and tell me what I was looking at last month!!! The same exhibit contains illuminated pages from the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Book of Kells!

    Let's pursue the medieval plays, particularly the Noah story, shall we?

    Joan Pearson
    March 31, 2000 - 06:29 am
    Good mornin' Ginger!

    Thank you MaryP for continuing to drive home that which was Chaucer's true art. I see him clearly now - holding his mirror over his own society - inviting us to look into that mirror to witness their virtues, and particularly their find that these same are still present in our own time - and gasp! - in ourselves!!!

    Thanks, Charlotte! I hadn't thought about that difference between the two tales. I did note how Chance played a big part in both of them though. We've talked about that in the Knight's Tale, but it was also very much at the heart of the Miller's Tale as well. I'll be watching for the way Chance determines the action in the upcoming tales...

    Kay writes that she has a well-annotated Riverside version of CT - full of descriptive notes and explanations! Now I've come across an on-line Riverside, but can't figure out how to use it! If I brought it here is there anyone who has a bit of time to tinker with it? It would be invaluable to take along in the bola bagge, (that's the ME, <Lonex)!

    And I have palfreyed both Why & Marj, which brings our number to 32! I was able to snare a few more palfreys so poor Anna is no longer on foot!

    I did come in this morning to talk about WARTS...

    Back in a few...minutes!

    Joan Pearson
    March 31, 2000 - 07:08 am
    Let's look closely at this poor specimen of humanity, this drunken Miller! Chalk it up to too much Southwark ale! Why is he on this pilgimage to Canterbury anyway? He's such a mess! Some went for salvation, redemption, others to give thanks (the Knight?) and some for healing. Talk of miraculous cures through Becket's intervention was widespread! I'll bet that he went for a cure. They didn't seem to regard alcoholism as an illness then, did they? But he does seem to have a condition that needs some attention!

    He's a big stout fella - and strong! (He could heave any door off its hinge and post. Or he could take a run at it and break it with his head! - have you ever looked closely at a medieval door?)

    Now look at his NOSE! How can you miss that? At the tip there is a WART on which there stood a tuft of red hair!!! A tuft growing from one single wart? This is some kind of WART! Sounds as if it needs some medical attention - healing. Sounds like a good reason to go to Canterbury!

    What else do we learn about him in the Prologue to keep in mind when reading the Tale he tells? The man is a DISHONEST miller, stealing grain with that "thumb of gold". He puts that heavy old thumb on the scale and makes the grain weigh 3X its worth!

    He plays the bagpipes - that requires a lot of air...a lot of HOT AIR? He likes to entertain...

    He has a MIGHTY MOUTH LIKE A like a furnace (Trenchmouth, Barb?) - out of which comes a store of filthy tavern stories...

    What a poor specimen of humanity, we think to ourselves. Already, we're not expecting much out of that mouth in response to the Knight's tale (we're told that when telling these tales, that one was intended to match the preceding - claire, you read them out of order!) "I've got a noble story I can tellee...", he promises. Did you believe him?

    One more thing, we learn this Miller has a NAME . Says Harry, "hold on, Robin, dear old brother..."

    ...and a WIFE. Can he be happily married (can she?)? He does say he wouldn't do it again, adding, "A man's no cuckold if he has no wife."

    To be fair, he does say too..."There are many good wives - a thousand good for one that's bad" I can hear you wondering what odds the wives of the day would give to good husbands...


    March 31, 2000 - 07:20 am
    Charo-latte---Thank you for the background on the Mystery Plays. Noah was one of the popular subjects of these plays. Another popular topic was the apocryphal "Harrowing of Hell" which was said to have occurred after the crucifixion. Jesus goes down into hell and saves the righteous pagans who have died.

    Because the Miller is illiterate, much that he knows of Bible stories, he has learned from stained glass windows or seeing the Mystery plays which were popular entertainment in medieval times. In England these plays were generally performed on Pageant Wagons which were constructed by trade guilds.

    Here's something I found from the encyclopedia Britannica which ties together mystery plays, stained glass windows and the Book of Hours which Barbara mentioned above.

    "The increasing use of the affairs of common life as the subject matter of dramatic comedy through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance is also seen in painting of that time. Scenes from medieval mystery cycles, such as the comic episodes involving Noah's stubborn wife, have counterparts in medieval pictures in the glimpses of everyday realities that are caught through the windows or down the road from the sites where the great spiritual mysteries are in progress: the angel Gabriel may appear to the Virgin in the foreground, while a man is chopping wood in the yard outside. Medieval artists had never neglected the labours and the pleasures of the mundane world, but the treatment of them is often literally marginal, as in the depiction of men and women at work or play in the ornamental borders of an illuminated manuscript page. The seasonal round of life, with its cycle of plowing, sowing, mowing, and reaping interspersed with hawking, hunting, feasts, and weddings (the cycle of life, indeed, which comedy itself celebrates), is depicted in series after series of exquisite miniatures, such as those in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry."

    --from the Encyclopedia Britannica


    March 31, 2000 - 08:00 am
    Dusting off my bookshelves this a.m. & found this book. Wonderful pictures. Published by Thames and Hudson in 1978 in Great Britain. WONDERFUL description of the martyrdom of Thomas a Becket and a valuable explanation of why folks went on pilgrimages in the Middle Ages. It also tells how indulgences worked.

    I have been to Canterbury and all. 1971. Fell in love with Mead. If we had Locals here, and if they had a small cask of Mead at the end of the counter, why I would be a drinker! Also a pub goer, for the company and all. HATE our American bars! Eeeeuww!

    betty gregory
    March 31, 2000 - 08:21 am
    You asked what the 2 tales have in common? A warning. If you pursue your true love, you could lose your heart, er, your life, or at least the skin off your arse.

    giggle, har har

    Or, seriously, thinking about the not-so-handsome, pushy, drunken Miller who, like a kid, can't wait to tell his tale and won't be shushed.......not that different from a scene from today when someone is quick to one-up someone else. Maybe from a need for attention, or acceptance. Raunchy tale, hoping everyone will laugh. Needing everyone to laugh. The miller---different class from a knight---saying, "Oh, yeah? Well, I can top that."

    March 31, 2000 - 08:32 am
    The Miller is not a stranger to me. He is coarse and earthy and cheats his customers, but he also keeps his faith and kindliness in a separate compartment. I have a feeling he is generous, and affectionate to friends and family; maybe even soft-hearted in some situations. I doubt that he has a particular reason for the Pilgrimage other than a strong belief and devotion to his religion. He believes in God. He knows he is a sinner and will be forgiven for his earthly sins. He might even fight a man who uttered blasphemies.

    I have a friend very much like the miller. She is well-educated, but e-mails me jokes that make me wince, they are so coarse. We traveled to Europe together and bought a railpass - good for 5 trips over a 30-day period. Whenever the conductor came to punch the tickets, J disappeared (into the WC or to the other end of the train). By the end of the trip she still had two unused tickets. Memorable parts of the trip, for her, was attending Mass at St Mark's in Venice, and mass & confession, at St. Peter's in Rome. She is devout in her faith - and soft-hearted and generous with her family and friends. She often cheats the system - and carries her fixings for Bloody Marys when she's away from home. No hair-tufted wart, though.

    March 31, 2000 - 08:58 am
    Lonex, I know someone very similar. I marvel at the lack of ability to "connect" things in such brains.

    Still dusting. Dusted off the huge books full of old issues of BRITISH HERITAGE. Decided to look for something about Chaucer. Nothing. Then pulled down a great pile of the magazines I have not bothered to buy books for. Found an article titled "Wandering for the Love of God" in the April/May 1980 issue.

    The color copies here of the original Ellesmere Manuscript paintings of the pilgrims in Canterbury Tales are quite, quite wonderful. It says this manuscript is to be found in the Henry E. Huntingdon Library and Art Gallery, but it does not say where in Britain that is to be found. Well, there are also pictures of the medallions the pilgrims would purchase at each shrine they made a pilgrimage to. They are pewter and are to be found in museums at the various shrines and in the cities and towns. Look for them.

    This you will need to know before you end your journey: "The returning pilgrim was greeted at the edge of his parish with general rejoicing on the part of his family and friends. Pewter medals jangling on his dusty clothes, he was led into his home church where he dedicated his staff and some of his tokens on the altar."

    So hang on to your staffs to the end!

    March 31, 2000 - 09:02 am
    Do you think we will find medallions on our pilgrimage in May?

    March 31, 2000 - 09:18 am
    Harry has been hanging out here reading the posts about the Miller, good old Robin. How complicated any individual is as several of you are pointing out. If we are to tell anything about the Miller from the tale, I agree with those who think he has a kindhearted side. He's a big showoff with many a good tale to tell. And, yes, a bit of a rogue also.

    But he plays those bagpipes well to keep up our energy on this trip. Even when he is in his cups, he makes a good companion.

    ~Harry the hirsute, prop.of the TABARD

    March 31, 2000 - 09:19 am
    Here's a super site on the Tres Riches Heures of the Duc de Berry (1340-1416), mentioned above.

    Many people do not know that the Tres Riches Heures are very unusual for Books of Hours. Christopher de Hamel says that the Heures, currently in the Musee Conde at Chantilly, "is famous precisely because it is such a freak. It is far bigger and far richer than any normal Book of Hours, and it was left unfinished when the duke died."

    You note the Duke's life parallels that of Chaucer's pretty closely.

    The illuminations of the Tres Riches Heures are (5.5 X 8.5 inches) themselves, that is, the illuminations alone, and that is close to normal size for the entire page of a normal illuminated page, including margin, illustration, and text, so you can see it's huge.

    It's gorgeous, too, as you can see at this site showing the calendar of April: The illumination for April in the calendar of the Tres Riches Heures Gorgeous thing.

    The medieval aristocrat the Duc de Berry was an unusual man of immense wealth, who "would not have seen himself primarily as a collector of Books of Hours. He owned about 300 manuscripts of which only 15 were Books of Hours, 16 were Psalters, and 18 Brevaries. He also possessed at least ten castles, 50 swans, 1,500 dogs, a monkey, an ostrich, and a camel. It is fair to suggest that it was hardly a typical household."

    --de Hamel in A History of Illuminated Manuscripts

    Do we have any immensely wealthy among our Chaucerian Pilgrims to Canterbury? Looks like the "rich are [always] different," even then.


    Joan Pearson
    March 31, 2000 - 09:20 am
    Pat, I didn't see any medallions, but I didn't know to look for them. You do! Look for them! I got my photos back from Canterbury yesterday.. One means a lot to me...a close-up of the worn tiles on the floor where Becket's body lay during Chaucer's time...worn from the knees of the Pilgrims. Chaucer's knees too, I bet!

    March 31, 2000 - 09:22 am
    Thanks, Ginny---Here is the Tres Riches Heures in what I hope will turn out to be clickable:

    We'll see if that works.

    ~Harry the Helpful

    March 31, 2000 - 09:41 am
    Pat, from what I have read this morning, you will Definitely find medallions in England this Spring if you Look for them. Ask at museums and cathedrals. Probably staffs as well!

    Hey, did you all get your warrants before leaving home? I don't remember your being instructed to do so. Having seldom, if ever, left your home village, you will be considered an "incomer" (foreigner) in the very next village, etc.

    "His only defence against a possible charge of vagrancy lay with the warrant which he carried in his scrip (purse): written by the hand of an educated clerk and sealed with the ensign of his local bishop, it declared him to be "a good and suitable person", fulfilling a religious pilgrimage." (British Heritage, 4/80)

    March 31, 2000 - 10:00 am
    MaryPage---Could you get one of those passes for Harry that says he is "good and suitable"?

    Thanks, Harry

    March 31, 2000 - 10:15 am
    Thanks to those who thought the Knights tale was overlong..Although I read it all I felt impatient with the Knight. To me I thought he was overly proud to be the first narrator and relished his being in the spotlight.

    Thank goodness I havent been exposed to many drunks in my life but those I recall were like the miller. Not to be hushed and all seemed to have bawdy stories or jokes to relate. I think perhaps they need to be drunk to tell their stories. Sober they might think twice about sharing thier tales.

    The listeners might react as I do in similiar circumstances...withhold my opinion and pretend to enjoy the story. Which I do think is I am sure there were some polite laughter and I can imagine listeners relating the story to friends who stayed at home on thier return.

    I am not sure the miller;s story is true but like dirty jokes they just make the rounds as someones fanciful tale. They can use it as device to see what others reactions are and also give vent to some of their own thoughts they might prefer when sober not to have known.

    In any case I am enjoying reading CT, thinking about what the stories reveal of that time and comparing it today. I think of some books that seemed to be in the first chapter a NICE book and find descriptions later that would make the miller's tale mild.

    Love to share ideas and read thoughts here.

    By the way the gentle mare I am riding is such a good little palfrey and I thank those for finding her for me.

    anna the fair

    Joan Pearson
    March 31, 2000 - 10:16 am
    OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHH Ginny, how magnificent! I could print each one out. To think this was done as Chaucer wrote! He must have oooooooooohed over them too! Will look at each one more closely after I've finished my PROJECT!

    What riches we have at our fingertips here! Thank you all for all you bring!

    March 31, 2000 - 10:53 am
    Harry, I personally only have enough money for the trip and plenty of your good mead.

    You will have had to pay your local Bishop for such a warrant as to your good qualities.

    I don't think he will give a hang about your qualities. Just pay the clerk.

    If you own a set, as I do, of Will Durant's The Story of Civilization, look in Book IV, "THE AGE OF FAITH" and look particularly at pages 805 & 806. I am there now.

    For those without this reference, it would seem that nuns in those days were not called Sister, they were called Madame. Most of them were from the upper classes and sent to the convent by their male relations to get rid of carrying the expense of their keep. If you could not find a marriage for your daughter, sister, or ward, or could not afford a dowry, then get her to a nunnery! On page 806 we are told: "The prioress in Chaucer's Tales had no business there, for the Church had forbidden nuns to go on pilgrimage."

    So how did SHE get her warrant? Maybe from the Priest she had with her. Maybe with special permission.

    March 31, 2000 - 01:25 pm
    I know that most people in the middle ages were illiterate (as opposed to now? Skateboard magazines don't have words in them; just pictures). We were discussing how the Miller would have known the story of Noah. I'm not sure that he would have heard it in church; I thought everything in church in those days was in Latin. He might only have known Bible stories through the mystery plays. It's my understanding that mystery plays were changed for dramatic effect.

    I'll see if I can find anything on mystery plays; I think I have the text of one or two in an old book.

    Joan Pearson
    March 31, 2000 - 02:04 pm
    Ellen, the plays and as someone pointed out - the stained glass windows, which portrayed Noah dragging the reluctant wife aboard the ark - did I get that right?

    March 31, 2000 - 02:39 pm
    Emily, a "widow ere she was ever a wife".... and given her druthers would have followed diana in her purity rather than ever become one. . . . . .just a thought.

    Both tales have to do with love only one is romantic love and the other is earthy love. The miller probably doesn't think much of romantic love. He can TOP that with something more meaningful to him =LUST.


    March 31, 2000 - 02:47 pm
    My books say that Minstrels, troubadours, and just plain story tellers roamed all over the place. People did not read, and they adored stories. So they gave food and a sleeping spot to have the stories told. This was done all over the world, so stories would come to England from as far away as India. Like all stories told and retold, without anything being written down, they would change as they spread from country to country. Many times the story teller would change a tale on purpose in order to make it fit in with the culture of the people he was telling it to.

    The 12th century pilgrim shrines of Britain were numerous. The county of Norfolk alone had 38 places for pilgrims to pray at the memorial to saints and confessors. "200,000 worshippers annually knelt upon the site of Becket's murder in Christ Cathedral ... " (from British Heritage)

    March 31, 2000 - 02:48 pm
    is a folk tale not just a written one and must have traveled by word of mouth at a time when storytelling was a form of entertainment as well as educationg children. In doing so like many folk songs it changed and changed and changed.


    March 31, 2000 - 02:53 pm
    That is correct, Claire. The story of the flood is present in many, many different religions, not just the Hebrew and Christian. It appears in the Indian Mahabharata.

    March 31, 2000 - 02:53 pm
    Me not at all. and I think the audience was used to such material. English folk songs are full of it. . . although often disguised, people of the day knew that A sprig of Thyme meant virginity and a rose meant wantoness also musical instruments served as illusions considering a flute to be male and a stringed instrument, a lute with it's hole in the middle to be female. Sex wasn 't such an issue to them as it has become thanks to religion and queen Victoria and POLITICS. It was more for FUN.


    March 31, 2000 - 02:56 pm
    Did you know that "Serbo-Croatian" was not written down with an alphabet and words until the 20th century? All of their history and folklore was handed down in long, long epic poems that had to be memorized from generation to generation.

    Many languages present today still do not have writing.

    Joan Pearson
    March 31, 2000 - 03:55 pm
    Claire, what would bagpipes mean? The Miller, named Robin remember, was playing the bagpipes as they rode into you remember a fella named Robin in his Tale? Was it our Miller?

    Speaking of the Miller, did you all notice the new Robin up in the heading...that's Nellie's - she did the Knight! Where else in Books do you find original illustrations in the heading, changing weekly. We're lucky to have Nellie brightening our days!

    March 31, 2000 - 04:13 pm
    Those are really neat graphics, Nellie. You flatter the Miller, tho. I think he's older and more grizzeld looking.

    March 31, 2000 - 04:51 pm
    According to the Coghill introduction, "Chaucer left ten fragments of varying size of the great poem. Modern editors have arranged these in what appears to be the intended sequence, inferred from dates and places mentioned in the "end-links", as the colloquies of the pilgrims between tales are called.

    In this rendering I (Coghill) have followed the accepted order first worked out by Furnivall (1868) and later confirmed by Skeat (1894)."

    I perhaps am understanding this incorrectly but I think that no-one is certain of what the order of the telling of the tales was intended by Chaucer. Some of them, such as the Miller and the Reeve seem to be counterparts and are logically read in sequence but perhaps not all of them, so I am not certain how we can make a direct comparison, one tale with another. As for comparing The Miller's Tale with The Knight's Tale I am not sure I can make that stretch, except perhaps to compare the classes of society depicted in each story. The extreme pomp and circumstance of the Knight's tale (the Upper Class?) and the earthy, crude Miller's tale (the Lower or Ruffian Class).

    I wondered, too, why this Miller is on a holy pilgrimage. He sounds so much like a person who couldn't care less about the "holy" blessing of a long dead saint. I wonder if it wasn't more likely that he cheated so many people in his milling business that he had to get out of town 'til things cooled off and a Pilgrimage seemed like a good place to hide. Who would think to look for this scoundrel on a holy mission?

    "Contrast the Biblical Noah with the Carpenter and his crew"? The story of the biblical Noah was only a tool used by the very clever Nicholas. He knew that if he convinced the carpenter that he had seen a vision of a big flood that the carpenter would of course, think of the old Noah story and have the bejeebers scared out of him enough to make elaborate preparations for survival and therefore, be conveniently out of the way.

    So far, which tale wins? As far as I am concerned, that long-winded knight has once again drawn the short straw. Miller - 1 Knight - 0


    Harold Arnold
    March 31, 2000 - 05:11 pm
    I will make this comment on the earlier thread concerning venereal disease, particularly Syphilis. As was stated correctly in message #468 Syphilis was Montezuma’s revenge for the conquest by the Europeans. It was unknown in Europe prior to the discovery. The Durant’s covered the advent and spread of the disease during the early 16th century in one of the books in their 1950’s history series. They cite pre Columbian Peruvian human remains subjected to modern forensic studies which show the presence of the disease. When it first appeared in Spain, it was referred to as “the pox.” A few years later, it was in France where it was called the “Spanish pox.” When it hit England it was called the “French pox.”

    All types of venereal disease (save aids) were common through all the world during the 18th and 19th centuries. Boswell’s London Journal includes an account of his bout with gonorrhea in 18th century London. He caught it from an actress acquaintance that he considered "safe." Boswell was quite upset, particularly with the bill sent by his society doctor for the cure. In the late 19th century syphilis figured in the early death of Lord Randolph Churchill, the 2nd son of the Duke of Marlboros, Winston Churchill’s father.

    March 31, 2000 - 05:31 pm
    Phyll, British Heritage says that in addition to going on pilgrimage for forgiveness of their sins and promise of going direct to Heaven, not passing through Purgatory by so much as a day, some other reasons for going were because of having taken a vow. A man might vow to take a pilgrimage to, say Canterbury, if Saint Thomas would send him a son within the year. The man might have all daughters. When the son finally comes, he has to fulfill the vow. Likewise he might ask for relief from debt or a good harvest. Another interesting bit was the following:

    "The lay pilgrim was excused from the payment of all taxes; his property was declared secure from confiscation and injury and his wife was threatened with excommunication should she think to remarry during his absence."

    March 31, 2000 - 05:50 pm
    Harry is a lay pilgrim and is happy that his beloved TABARD will not be confiscated in his absence. Harry's wife would never leave Harry. Heh heh.

    March 31, 2000 - 05:57 pm
    That would certainly motivate the less-than-devout and keep a steady stream of Pilgrims visiting the shrine.

    March 31, 2000 - 09:09 pm
    Fellow Pilgrims - Please disregard my mutterings here. I'm temporarily in another world.

  • Ginny - I tried to e-mail the Duc's calendar site to my son, but your post with the information does not cut & paste that part as clickable. Is there anyway I can do that? Thanks.
  • Ginny
    April 1, 2000 - 03:57 am
    Lonex, sure: Just RIGHT CLICK on this: Tres Riches Heures Calendar and Site and select, in Netscape COPY LINK LOCATION and then go PASTE that immediately in his letter?

    For Explorer you point your mouse at it and RIGHT CLICK and select COPY SHORTCUT and then immediately paste it in his letter?

    If you are on WEBTV or do not use a mouse, write me?

    Thanks, Maryal, for the help.

    What's that I see in the heading? 32 Pilgrims and 29 palfrys? Well my poor palfry does NOT consider himself a cart horse, I can tell you that right now! I even sent him OFF and they said while he was beautiful to WATCH they wouldn't trust him to go a foot safely so somebody else's palfry will have to drag the travois!

    Apparently it's equally if not MORE dangerous to drive rather than ride! We're not going to find out with my old horse!


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 1, 2000 - 04:11 am
    Gkood Morning All:

    Except for a some members of the aristocracy, the general population was illiterate. Books were scarce and were copied by hand by monks. Because Chaucer was attached to the court he was able to travel on court business. In Italy he was able to read Boccaccio, which is where he got some of his ideas.

    The church was the book for the common people, which is why stained glass and sculpture told stories from the Bible, especially horrific ones about purgatory, heaven and hell, in order to frighten the people into living good, moral lives.

    The great Greek plays disappeared after the fall of the Roman Empire. To entertain the people small troops travelled in wagons from town to town and presented vaudeville acts and short plays in the church square. The church councils were against these performances, because they were often lewd and violent.

    Jim Olson
    April 1, 2000 - 04:38 am
    To me the wart is symbolic of the scope of Chaucer's poetic vision in the Tales.

    Like the variety of Tales and tellers it depicts a broad view of humanity with all its glory and imperfections, but all united on one central journey.

    I don't mean to imply that Chaucer was breaking new ground and trying to present a radical egalitarian view of society.

    He kept society in its accepted heirarchy of the period even relfecting this in his images of nature in the Prologue.

    We are all in there- warts and all.

    Even the "nun" whom Durant notes should not have been allowed.

    I wonder where the reference to nuns as prostitutes originated as it is later expressed in Hamlet's admonition to Ophelia to "Get thee to a nunnery" as he transfers his contempt for his mother's transgressions to the innocent Ophelia.

    Women have indeed taken a beating by the dead white male Eurpoean writers.

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 1, 2000 - 04:46 am

    They were presented annually on the two or three days preceding the feast of Corpus Christi. In some locations they were performed outside of town in a “round,” a construction of circular earthworks. Major scenes were played on scaffolding erected at various locations around the circle. These platforms contained generic sets: a palace, a cottage, a hell’s mouth--which could be used in any play requiring such a location. Players stood on the platforms or on the ground in front of them. The audience stood in the center of the round or sat in the empty spaces between the scaffolding..There were several levels. God appeared in the heavens and a boat could be shown sailing on water.

    Pageant wagons were the staging most often associated with the mystery plays. Each wagon contained the set for a scene, which were sometimes generic so they could be used in other plays. If the play required multiple locations, more than one wagon would be used.

    They were paraded through the streets at the beginning of the festival and then located at various points around the town square, or in the “round” or open space where the play was presented. The audience could then shift its focus as the scenes unfolded.


    were complicated and spectacular. Golden wheels revolving in opposite directs. Clouds which parted to reveal the face of God. Actors could be lifted to the heavens or carried down to hell. Devils were described as belching fire from their mouths.

    At Coventry, a man was paid for minding the fire in the Hell-mouth and stirring it when needed. Three worlds were constructed for the Last Judgement and then burned during the performance. Animals were played by men in costume, but sometimes included models which used machinery for appropriate movement. Water effects were not uncommon and some pageants could provide spectacular floods on cue.

    April 1, 2000 - 04:57 am
    32 Pilgrims and 29 palfrys? Riding 2 up seems to be acceptable after looking at Ginny's "Tres Riches Heures Calendar and Site".

    April 1, 2000 - 07:00 am
    Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, Book IV, The Age of Faith, Page 806

    "A number of nuns had been cloistered against their wills, and found it uncomfortable to be saints."

    Bishop Ivo of Chartres reported that the nuns of St. Fara's Convent were practicing prostitution; Abelard gave a similar picture of some French convents of his time; Pope Innocent III described the convent of St. Agatha aas a brothel that infected the whole surrounding country with its evil life and repute."

    The history goes on with other examples. Durant also says the following, which I find to be JUST as true today of what we read and hear:

    "If history had been as careful to note instances of obedience to conventual rules as to record infractions, we should probably be able to counter each sinful lapse with a thousand examples of fidelity."

    Shakespeare was writing in a time when it was politic to be on the side of the monarch's own prejudices. Therefore he wrote ill of the House of York (told a lot of lies about them, in fact) and of the Roman Catholic Church. He needed the support of the Court.

    April 1, 2000 - 07:19 am
    Ginny - Thank you, thank you, kind Pilgrim. I will share my palfrey should yours go lame.

    April 1, 2000 - 07:52 am
    Charlotte---Wonderful information. I am a fan of the theater and would love to have seen these mystery plays performed on wagons. I can imagine what comic scenes may have been added to please the common folk (I'm thinking of Shakespeare's groundlings who appreciated slapstick humor and lots of action).

    Jim--Ah yes, Chaucer's people are there, warts and all. I can't remember which famous author, but someone, referring to the Canterbury Tales said, "Here is God's plenty." (Dryden?)

    Pat W.---I know HARRY well, and I am more than certain that he would gladly share his palfrey with you.

    MaryPage--Have I commented on what a great name you have for a READER? Hamlet has the kind of nunnery you describe in mind when he tells Ophelia to get herself to one. It is a terribly cruel scene because Ophelia is so very well-brought-up and innocent and Hamlet is so very cruel. It is common for the sacred and the profane to be mixed in literature, one standing for the other. For example, when John Donne (17th c) was young he wrote love poems that are full of religious imagery. As an older cleric, Donne wrote religious poems that are full of sexual imagery.

    It's my guess that these two profound human experiences---sexual love and spiritual contact with a diety get mixed because they are the deepest experiences we have in this life. If you read descriptions of the visions some of the saints had, the imagery is decidedly sexual.


    Harold Arnold
    April 1, 2000 - 08:55 am
    I would be interested in knowing the text that that many of you are reading. As I see it, there are three types of text currently available. They are (1) in the original 14th English without editorial explanation, (2) in the original 14th century language but with many annotations by the modern editor explaining obscure 14th century terms, and (3) translations into modern English. For the Prolog and Knight’s Tale, I used my 1946 college text that uses the original text, but is loaded with footnote annotations explaining the obscurities. This worked out quite well. But the Millers Tale was not in my book. I found a www site in 14th century English that was very difficult to follow. Last Night I found another site , that gives options allowing the choice of the old English or a modern English translation. I suppose the translation, like all translations of poetry, is a poor substitute for the original, but it certainly facilitated my following of the story line.

    Perhaps I should have paid more attention to the many www links that have been posted earlier. Perhaps the link given above has previous been given. If not, one of you HTML gurus might want to make it interactive?

    Finally I have missed the meaning of the following 14th century terms:

    (1) Palfrey. Is this term a synonym for “horse,” or does it refer to a particular type, breed, or color of horse?

    (2) Mulled Wine. What is it? On second though let me guess? Once in connection with an Ancient Egyptian display a local museum held an ancient Egyptian food tasteing event. With wine, there were horrible (to the modern taste) mutilations of perfectly good Gallo. All involved weird combinations of spices. Were spices and flavorings involved in the 14th century versions?

    Joan Pearson
    April 1, 2000 - 09:48 am
    Harold!!! Wonderful! An annotated..heavily annotated text. We'll know where to come with our questions - after the Miller's Tale! Most of us are reading the Modern English version - many Coghill and Wright. Excellent translations, but too short on annotations. So far we have been unable to locate a satisfactory on-line annotated version. The annotated Riverside is said to be the best...they have an annotated site, which none of us have been able to figure out! Do you want to play with it? I'll bring it here!

    About the "palfrey", not sure what he looks like - these are virtual horses we're talking about. Didn't I give you one? What does he look like? (Will refer your question on the mulled wine to our able innkeeper!).

    April 1, 2000 - 10:07 am
    I am hugging my honeys, so Harold can use my nag in my absence. What great posts! Right on down to the small excrescence formed on and rooted in the skin. WARTS!!

    Joan Pearson
    April 1, 2000 - 10:24 am
    Hey there, ALF - you are missed! We're moving at a nice leisurely pace. Looking for your return!

    Charlotte! Valuable information on the mystery plays! Thank you so much! Such spectacles would attract quite a crowd! For many, then, this constituted their religious education? No wonder the Church Fathers looked down on them! But did they attend I'm wondering?

    Mary P, your sources are providing so much on motivation to go on a pilgrimage...the Miller, for example might well have gone for the economic reasons - tax relief!

    Sir Jim - "I don't mean to say that Chaucer was breaking new ground.." - Oh, but I think he was! Is their a record of these "tavern stories" anywhere before Chaucer included them in his tales? what a different picture of medieval life we get from these bawdy tales! Even the French fabliaux did not come near to what we find here! Also the number of characters from the ranks appearing in one story - this is "groundbreaking", isn't it?

    Maryal, yes, the line is from a proverb and it was Dryden:

    " 'Tis sufficient to say, according to the proverb, that here is God's plenty."

    That's how the poet John Dryden described The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer's 14th-century masterpiece in which pilgrims, representing a cross-section of English society, take turns telling tales as they travel together from London to a saint's shrine in Canterbury.

    And out of our Miller's mouth, we get

    A husband must not be inquisitive 
      Of God, nor of his wife, while she's alive. 
      So long as he may find God's plenty there,

    I read too that "God's plenty" was an oath often heard in the taverns...

    April 1, 2000 - 11:00 am
    On page 1054 of THE AGE OF FAITH by Will Durant, he says of fabliaux: "Some were as old as Aesop or older; some came from India through Islam."

    Chaucer did not invent these. He is the first to retell them in English and write it down.

    April 1, 2000 - 11:11 am
    Aha--I have two of them, reprinted in Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume 1. It also has selections from Piers Plowman.

    Anyway, this is what it has to say about mystery plays in general: "The word 'mystery' in this context refers to the spiritual mystery of Christ's redemption of mankind, and mystery plays are dramatizations of incidents of the Old Testament, which foretells that redemption, and of the New, which recounts it. In England the mysteries were generally composed in cycles containing as many as 48 individual plays; a typical cycle would begin with the Creation, continue with the Fall of Man, and proceed through the most significant events of the Old Testament, such as the Flood, to the New Testament, which provided plays on the Nativity, the chief events of Christ's life, the Crucifixion, the Harrowing of Hell (based on sources now deemed apocryphal), and the Last Judgment.

    "The Church had its own drama in Latin, dating back to the tenth century, which developed through the dramatization and elaboration of the liturgy--the regular service--for certain holidays, the Easter morning service in particular. The vernacular drama was once thought to have evolved from the liturgical, passing by stages from the church into the streets of the town. However, even though the vernacular plays at times echo their Latin counterparts and though their authors may have been clerics, the mysteries represent an old and largely independent tradition of vernacular religious drama....

    Cycles of plays evolved in several towns; four of these cycles still exist. "Every trade in urban society had its guild, an organization combining the functions of a modern club, trade union, and religious society, and each of these guilds had its traditional play to perform on the days when the cycles were presented. In certain of the towns each company had a wagon that served as a stage. The wagon would proceed from one strategic point in the town to another, and the play would be performed a number of times on the same day; the spectators gathered at any one strategic point would never be without a play before them, and might see the whole cycle without moving. In other towns, however, the plays were probably acted out in sequence on a platform erected at a single location such as the main city square."

    I love the idea of the play coming to the audience!

    April 1, 2000 - 11:30 am
    MaryPage----Right you are. Fabliaux were very popular in France, hundreds and hundreds of them which Chaucer would have had access to.

    Harold---I couldn't find my college text so I picked up a paperback, edited and translated by A. Kent Hieatt and Constance Hieatt. It has the Middle English on the left page and modern English on the right. Problem is that it is a selection of the tales. Did you see the link at the beginning to the ELF text on line? I also use it. It has an option where you can have Middle English and Modern English at the same time. Mulled wine is usually made with red wine diluted with water, sweetened with sugar, flavored with such spices as cloves and cinnamon, and served hot. I figure that it is best to dilute the wine around here--fewer headaches for the company and more money for HARRY.

    Etymology: Middle English, from Old French palefrei, from Medieval Latin palafredus, from Late Latin paraveredus post-horse for secondary roads,from Greek para- beside, subsidiary + Late Latin veredus post-horse, from a Gaulish word akin to Welsh gorwydd horse; akin to Old Irish réidid he rides. Date: 13th century

    archaic : a saddle horse other than a warhorse; especially a lady's light easy-gaited horse.

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I think we ought to give Harold a warhorse.

    JoanP--Thanks. I was going to look it up, and then I thought NAW, I'll just worry Joan.

    ALF---You have a gooooooood time now. We'll be here when you get back.

    ~Harry the Horseless. prop. of the TABARD which was more comfortable than this dusty secondary road

    Joan Pearson
    April 1, 2000 - 12:08 pm
    I like that, a nice easy-gaited horse! Perfect for ambling and chatting!

    They still put on Passion plays all over the world at Easter time...saw one once in St. Augustine, FL and I can't spell it...Oberamag....well, in Germany in a town that starts with the letter "O". I understand that such performances dated way back to medieval time...

    Oh yes, I know that Geoffrey didn't originate the tales, but he was the first, well one of the first to include them, to raise them to the level of "literature", right?

    MaryP, I like the contrast between the quote from Durant:

    "If history had been as careful to note instances of obedience to conventual rules as to record infractions, we should probably be able to counter each sinful lapse with a thousand examples of fidelity."

    AND our Miller's:
    "There's many virtuous wives, all said and done,
    Ever a thousand good for one that's bad."
    Now that was a nice, positive upbeat thing to say, but when he added,
    "A man's no cuckold if he has no wife."
    ...Is he uncomfortable that his own wife may not be one of the virtuous? I just read the Reeve's Tale for Monday's discussion and I think this may be significant...

    April 1, 2000 - 12:16 pm
    Joan---According to my friend the Medievalist, Chaucer was the first to write fabliaux in English. Of course, Chaucer is one of the first to write in English at all!

    Shasta Sills
    April 1, 2000 - 01:16 pm
    Speaking of mulled wine, I am puzzled about the practice of mixing wine with water and spices. Today, we would seldom think of diluting good wine with water or anything else. Do you suppose the wine they made then was too strong or too inferior to drink straight?

    April 1, 2000 - 01:22 pm
    Shasta---Wish I could answer that question, but I don't know. So----as I learned from taking a lot of multiple choice tests----when you don't know, GUESS. Since water at this time was generally not drinkable unless one had a fine spring nearby, I think that mulled wine provided a way to get more liquid into people without having them reeling drunk all the time. Water would be potable if boiled, and since mulled wine was served hot, I assume that it was the water, not the wine that was heated. The spices again would provide some variety in taste.

    I could not have lived in these days. Couldn't get by without my Diet Coke and my bottles of water.


    April 1, 2000 - 02:24 pm
    The Examination of Master William Thorpe, priest, Of Heresy, Before Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, In the Year of our Lord 1407 (Excerpt) "Also, Sir, I know well, that when divers men and women will go thus after their own wills, and finding out one pilgrimage, they will ordain with them before[hand] to have with them both men and women that can well sing wanton songs; and some other pilgrims will have with them bagpipes; so that every town that they come through, what with the noise of their singing, and with the sound of their piping, and with the jangling of their Canterbury bells, and with the barking out of dogs after them, they make more noise than if the King came there away, with all his clarions and many other minstrels. And if these men and women be a month out in their pilgrimage, many of them shall be, a halfyear after, great janglers, tale-tellers, and liars." ---William Thorpe

    It would seem that we have always been considered, in some circles, a rowdy bunch. Even in the 15th C. In that case, Harry set up another round and Miller, tootle another tune on that bag of howling cats and we'll all sing along!!!!

    Phyll, the pragmatic pilgrim.

    April 1, 2000 - 02:49 pm
    The illumination of the Miller in that earliest manuscript shows him on a dirty looking white horse, a long sword with a huge, round hilt on his left side, he is wearing a long white gown and has a short, greenish blue mantle or shawl around his shoulders. He is blowing his bagpipes.

    Durant says: "Medieval men and women went on pilgrimage to fulfill a penance or a vow, or to seek a miraculous cure, or to earn an indulgence, and doubtless, like modern tourists, to see strange lands and sights, and find adventure on the way as a relief from the routine of a narrow life. At the end of the thirteenth century there were some 10,000 sanctioned goals of Christian pilgrimage."

    Dodson says: "unless a man spends several hours in the (hunting and catching of vermin) when he is on pilgrimage, he will have but unquiet slumbers."

    Dodson also says: "staff was perhaps most emblematic of his vocation in the eyes of his contemporaries. Measuring from six to seven feet in length, the staff was topped with a heavy iron knob, upon which was inscribed the prayer, HAEC IN TUTE DIRIGAT ITER." This pilgrim staff was called a bourdon.

    That translates May this guide thee safely on the way.

    "Useful for pole-vaulting over ruts and chuckholes in the road, the staff also proved an effective weapon when held spearlike against the attacks of bad-tempered village dogs or as a cudgel against highwaymen."

    Pass me a draft of mead, will you, Harry .......

    April 1, 2000 - 03:16 pm
    MEAD for MaryPage on its way from the Mead Wagon, also used for the performing of plays in season. Thanks for the staff. I need something to hit these nasty woods rats with. It will come in handy when Harry gets home too. Wait till the wife takes a look at it!

    Phyll, my pragmatic pilgrim. Oh my, I do love that quote from the testimony. It has bagpipes and everything. I get wonderful pictures of my terriers coming along just so they will have something to bark at. Sounds like the Middle Ages' version of a motorcycle gang to me. I had no idea we were so rowdily correct in our behavior. Hehehehehe.

    ~Harry the Host, prop. of the TABARD, bawdy singer and general all-round good guy, but you probably don't want him in your town so he will move right along

    Joan Pearson
    April 1, 2000 - 05:52 pm
    HAHAHAHA! Marvelous, Phyll! A motorcycle gang, Maryal!! A noisy rowdy crowd are we...and our Miller, with that mouth like a furnace, blowing those pipes! Is that hard on the mouth and lips...blowing that thing for extended periods...Here's the Ellesmere manuscript Miller, Mary Page, palfrey and all! Miller - pipes and palfrey


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 2, 2000 - 06:09 am
    How wonderful to find a double meaning in what Hamlet told Ophelia. Obviously Shakespeare must of known about the convent that became a brothel. No wonder Ophelia comitted suicide, what else was there for her to do.

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 2, 2000 - 06:12 am
    I think you may have turned John Donne around. If I remember correctly from my 17th century college course in lit., the love poems came in Donne's youth. When he got older he turned religious and wrote magnificent hell-fire and damnation sermons, which no doubt Joyce read and used as a model for the ones he put in Portrait. They were designed to scare the wits out of those kids.

    April 2, 2000 - 06:51 am
    Joan, that is the same figure as in the Ellesmere, but backwards. Also, the colors are fresher in the real thing and that thing covering the horse's head is not there.

    April 2, 2000 - 09:16 am
    This is as fine a group of Pilgrims as one might enjoy on such a lengthy trek. The entertainment and refreshments are wonderful. I'm learning a great deal lurking and listening. Unfortunately, I was caught in a severe hailstorm, down the road, and my poor palfrey is bruised and lumpy. The hailstones were indeed as big as a cow's eye! I must plod alongside while her wounds heal.

    Joan Pearson
    April 2, 2000 - 11:02 am
    Mary Page, did I turn poor Robin, (the Miller) in the wrong direction? I'm sorry, and we're not even half way to Canterbury yet! How's this? Brighter? The right direction?
    Ellesmere Manuscript's Miller
    Be back in an hour with my last and final question about Robin Miller- (until after we've discussed the Reeve's Tale of course!

    April 2, 2000 - 11:06 am
    But you would want the Miller riding off the page...

    April 2, 2000 - 11:25 am
    Yep, Joan, you've got it right now. The colors from your source are not the wonderful, bright medieval colors on mine. Wish I knew how to show you MY book! Anyway, the colors are bright and beautiful and there is no shroud or whatever over the horse's head.

    Adair says: "The author of an epilogue to THE CANTERBURY TALES, who wrote not long after Chaucer, tells us that the pilgrims arrived at 'mid-morrow' ( about eleven a.m. ) and lodged at 'The Chequer of the Hope'. After dinner and a visit to the shrine the knight and his son toured the battlements, the wife of Bath and the prioress walked in the garden, and the pardoner waited until the candle was out before he took to the streets in search of illicit love. Only a vaulted cellar which held the casks of wine from which they all drank still survives beneath the later Tudor building."

    Adair also says that in addition to acquiring the bourdon and the medallions, "no pilgrim would leave the precincts without filling his small lead bottle from the Well of St. Thomas."

    Dodson says: "The point from which the shrine or its town first came into view was designated the Mons Gaudii or Montjoie ( "mountain of delight" ). If reached on horseback, the pilgrim dismounted and walked barefoot over the last mile or so to the shrine."

    My noble intentions are diminishing. More Mead, Harry, please!

    April 2, 2000 - 11:43 am
    The click-on of Ellesmere Manuscript's has a number of other click-ons as one scrolls down the page. It's great. More images, papers, and comments from a number of sources.

    April 2, 2000 - 03:27 pm

    BAREFOOT! On this muddy, potholed, manure strewn road? Through all that pilgrim litter? I THINK NOT!!!!

    Phyll, the particular pilgrim

    April 2, 2000 - 04:07 pm
    My sentiments exactly. But hey, we have to follow the rules!

    We can wash our feet with the strongest stuff Harry has to offer when we're done.

    Set 'em up, Mine Host!

    Harold Arnold
    April 2, 2000 - 04:51 pm
    The following is an account describing a visit to the Canterbury shrine by an earlier pilgrim about 1178, just 8 years after the martyrdom of Thomas Becket. It is taken from a 1960’s book, “Daily Living in the Twelfth Century” by Urban Tigner Holmes Jr. The author was a professor at the University of North Carolina. The work is based on the Observations of Alexander Neckam in London and Paris. Alexander Neckam was a 12th – 13th century churchman, scholar, and teacher. In 1178 he traveled from London to Paris to study. After a number of years of study and teaching in Paris he returned to England where he continued his teaching and writing until his death about 1216. The Author, Urban Tigner Holmes, Jr. describes the work as his personal interpretation based upon primary text, archaeological evidence, and mediaeval Iconography. I read the book more than 30 years ago and found it particularly easy and enjoyable reading.

    DAILY LIVING IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY, Based on the Observations of Alexander Neckam In London and Paris. By Urban Tigner Holmes, Jr. Madison, The University of Wisconsin Press, 1962. The following quote describing the stop at Canterbury on the second day after the party left London on their way to Paris is from page 44 and 45

    “…….. Two days of travel were required from London to Dover. The first night could have been spent at Sittingbourne, or perhaps at Faversham. On the second day, early in the afternoon, the travelers gazed down upon that lovely cathedral at Canterbury. The road crosses a ridge a few miles before reaching the town, and it was from this vantage point, as they turned out of a wooded stretch of road, that they suddenly espied the cathedral.

    We may assume beyond question that the travelers stopped for an hour or so to visit the tomb of the Martyr. They found the cathedral town noisy with heavy construction work, but this was not rare in any large mediaeval community. The cathedral had suffered a fire four years before, in 1174. The choir was now being rebuilt and the nave lengthened. A terrible accident had occurred not long before Alexander’s visit. Guillaume de Sens, the brilliant and dynamic architect from the Continent, had fallen from a rope and been badly crippled. The shrine of St. Thomas was still located in the crypt because of the construction work. The sarcophagus was surrounded by a wall pierced by openings, two on each side, through which the pilgrims could gaze while making their prayers. Already many rich and rare gifts had been deposited at the shrine. Alexander purchased a tiny phial of lead, containing Canterbury water, to be hung around his neck. This was ordinary water to which an infinitesimally small quantity of the Saint’s blood had been added. Formerly the water had been sold in little wooden containers with—strange as it may seem—a mirror in the lid.3 The wood persisted in leaking and a lead phial, sealed with wax, had been devised. Canterbury was not a restful scene at this time, with the workmen lifting heavy stones by pulley and hoist and the crowds of people stumbling over ropes. We are taking for granted that Alexander and his acquaintances left that afternoon and continued their journey toward Dover. ………………”

    Though this journey was a full 200 years before the Chaucer pilgrimage travel conditions were probably much the same though the physical layout of the shrine may have changed. The journey took less than 2 days. Our 14th century pilgrims must have reduced their pace to a snails crawl to permit time for so many stories?

    April 2, 2000 - 05:29 pm
    Often it is just a pleasure to read your opinions, thought,web sites for research,I thank you for them all.

    This is really a jolly group and one I would go with even if I had to do so on foot! anna the fair

    April 2, 2000 - 07:06 pm
    "no pilgrim would leave the precincts without filling his small lead bottle from the Well of St. Thomas."

    No wonder the people had a short life span... in addition to diseases, they also must have died of lead poisoning.

    The Quiet Nun

    Joan Pearson
    April 2, 2000 - 07:57 pm
    HAHAHA! Pat! Never drink the well-water! Bottled Evian!

    Mary Page and Harold,you are taking us right back to the 14th century! Thanks so much! I got back my Canterbury pictures on Friday - wish the scanner wasn't broken! I took closeups of the tiles which the pilgrims wore down - on their KNEES!

    I read that the Pilgrimage was considered to be the trip TO Canterbury - not the return...and wonder if the groups who came together, went home together. Ours might...they want a chance at that free meal back at the Tabard! Our trip to Canterbury is moving quite slowly. We are only to Greenwich when the Reeve begins his tale. I think the whole of Canterbury Tales is accomplished in one day, isn't that right? And there's something about the position of the sun in the tales...well, that's for tomorrow. I have a few more thoughts on the Miller before the clock strikes 12!

    Mary P., how about THIS MILLER Is he heading in the right direction to Canterbury? He's nice and bright???

    I like reading the first names of these pilgrims. Alison and John Alan, Nicholas...Robin, the Miller. What a wonderful record of the names of the time! Am I the only one who is intrigued that the Miller, named Robin, put himself as a character into his tale? He was the "strong lad who could take a door off its hinges" - sound familiar? The same words that were used to describe the MILLER in the prologue. And his name is ROBIN too. Niclolas tells the carpenter NOT to tell Robin about the disaster. Robin is to remain in the dark. I'm seeing some connection here between the two...and I think it will become clearer after reading the Reeve's tale!


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 3, 2000 - 04:02 am
    Hi Everyone:

    Harold: Thanks for that description of life in the 12th century. No wonder Americans are so obsessed with sanitation and plumbing.

    So today we start the Reeve's Tale. This guy is an old man who now manages the details of an estate or a busines, but he began as a carpenter. He is very angry at the Miller's story and vows to pay him back.

    He says:
    My hoary top-knot writes me down for old 
    Unless I be like them there medlar-fruit, 
    Them that get rottener as they ripen to't 
    Till they be rotted down in straw and dung. 
    That's how we get to be, no longer young. 

  • * *

    What we can't do no more we talk about And rake the ashes when the fire is out. "Yet we have four live coals, as I can show; Lies, boasting, greed and rage will always glow
  • Phyll
    April 3, 2000 - 08:47 am
    It's not till we are rotten, that we're ripe;
    We'll jig away, so long's the world will pipe,
    For our lust's always caught against a snag:
    A leek's green tail, to go with a white head,
    Is what we want; for though our vigour's gone,
    The flesh still longs for folly just the same.

    Now I've been called a Q-tip (white hair and white walking shoes) but not a leek. I rather like it, as a matter of fact.

    Phyll, the pleased pilgrim

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 3, 2000 - 09:38 am
    Hi Phyll:

    I learned about Q-tips in Florida, where there are lots of them, except where they've become blonde.

    I've been doing some research on the Reeve's Tale and find that it is considered the most pessimistic of all the tales. Allegory has usually been required to teach a moral lesson, but this tale contradicts the rule.

    The Reeve attacks the wisdom which should come with age. He says if life leads to only to decay and death, why pursue study and education. His advice is to indulge and enjoy sinful acts.

    He laments the loss of mental and physical capacities, yet he is still plagued by desire. He wants to continue living his life with the four live coals: Lies, Boasting, Greed and Rage. He has not grown with age and insists on attacking the students who make their lives in pursuit of study.


    April 3, 2000 - 09:46 am
    Ah yes, the poor old Reeve. He is still lusty, but impotent. I wonder if telling a tale where everyone (virtually) gets in bed with everyone else and swives the night away makes him feel better. This tale just doesn't have the rolicking humor of the Miller's Tale, or at least not for me. Maybe it has something to do with my dislike of the Reeve.

    Harry is working on getting the mulled wine, the ale , and the wine together so you can all refresh yourselves tonight.

    ~harry the holy, on his way to Canterbury

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 3, 2000 - 10:25 am
    In his book Long Walks in England, Scotland and Wales written for the National Trust, Adam Nicolson describes the details of the 116 mile Pilgrims' Way which begins in Winchester and ends at Canterbury, sometimes coinciding with the new footpath.

    The ridgeway was first trampled out by herds of untended animals moving along lines of least resistance in search of food. Evidence shows these animal tracks adopted by Mesolithis people who arrived 10,000 years ago. The first 30 miles based on season and wetness is over undrained and unmanaged landscape. In the middle ages this walk starts at the capital of the kingdom the secular Winchester to Canterbury the center of the ecclesiastical hub of power.

    Adam shares his English knowledge that includes the fact that; Henry II gave Becket opportunities time after time to escape or compromise. That Becket's obstinate courage and knowledge of his own death was therefore, intentional martyrdom and at the center of the pilgrimage was the cult of relics. The body of a dead saint was believed as holy as the man had been when alive, and possessed miraculous powers of healing. To visit relics and be cured was the usual aim. Also, the journey itself imposed a penance and the "suffocating lack of privacy in any medieval community, where one's every action and motive were publicly scrutinized, would drive many to try to escape it. One of the only respectable means of doing so was to go on pilgrimage. To go on foot was especially virtuous."

    When the King made his pilgrimage three and a half years after Becket's murder, he took 5 days, lived on only bread and water, arriving in Canterbury put on sackcloth and ashes and went bare footed. His feet were cut by the stony streets, leaving a trail of blood. Inside the cathedral he prayed, where Becket had died, then crypt before the coffin, clothes drawn down he was flogged, five strokes from the prelates and three each from the eighty monks. He spent the night in prayer ending at daybreak with Mass. At this time the King was the most powerful man in Europe and held unquestioned divine right. "He subjected himself to a punishment for a crime he may for a second have deeply wished, but in no way ordered and actually tried to prevent."

    Adam goes on to say; " it is necessary to keep the historical idea firmly before one on the Pilgrim' Way if the whole walk is not to disintegrate into something slight ludicrous, particularly in Surrey, where you thread your way from golf-course to back-garden to golf-course again. ...You must resolve either to love the putting-greens or carefully exclude them from you mind, filling it instead, as a medieval traveler would have done, with the strange story of Thomas à Becket."

    Pilgrims came to Winchester to visit the tomb of St. Swithun, the modest ninth-century bishop, tutor of Alfred. His body was moved in 971 from his requested burial location on the damp north side of the cathedral to behind the high alter. The disturbance produced a rain storm lasting forty days, which the English have talked about ever since. The shrine was destroyed at the Reformation but a replacement has been built in the east end of the cathedral. The transports preserved the Romanesque style of just after the Norman Conquest and would be the look of Canterbury when Becket was killed. Both cathedrals share the exact nave, both having been built at the end of the 14th c.

    Next 9 miles, of the 28 miles to Farnham,is along the Itchen river heading for Easton church tower, followed by a lane passing the Avington estate where Charles II and Nell Gwynn spent a week-end. Through the Hinton March the clear chalk stream water is ideal for cress. Here the Bishop built a great embankment across the Alre, damming behind a two-hundred acre lake. The profit the Bishop was after lay in the wool that came of the Downs to the north making Itchen one of the few export markets of raw wool in the country to the Flemish and Italian clothiers. Itchen prospered until 1353 when the staple was moved to Calais and the Itchen waterworks were neglected. Remaining is a 60 acre lake and a coot-infested march.

    There is question as to the walk on to Farnham from Alton as to whether the prehistoric route went through the valley, were later settlements grew or the high chalk hills which would be exhausting with all the up and down. The landscape is bleak. Walking seven miles you come to Bentworth the birthplace of George Withers a seventeenth-century poet who spent his early life in and out of prison for what was considered his scandalous poetry on vise.

    Goodness-- could George Withers poetry be anymore scandalous than Chaucer's Canterbury Tails??

    April 3, 2000 - 11:09 am

    It would seem that our chatty group was ambling along at a very slow rate. Chaucer did say that they proceeded "at a walk", I believe. Here is a clear description of their daily progress from a book I found this morning, not on the Web, but on my own bookshelf. I had forgotten it was there!

    The pilgrims assembled at the Tabard Inn on April 16, supposedly in the year 1387, and set out at sunrise ("whan that day bigan to sprynge"--about 4:45 A.M.) the following day. A little way past "the waterying of Seint Thomas" they drew lots to determine the order in which they should tell their stories. This was a little brook at the second milestone on the Dover Road. The Knight and the Miller have already told their stories by "half-way pryme" (7:30 A.M.) when the Host, before inviting the Reeve to begin his tale, notes that they are within sight of Deptford and Greenwich. The natural place for the pilgrims to have passed the night would have been Dartford. It is presumably the next evening when the Host, calling on the Monk for his tale, says "Loo, Rouchestre stant heer faste by": at Rochester they would spend their second night. The Summoner promises to tell two or three tales "er I come to Sidyngborne", and it is at Sittingbourne where we may presume the pilgrims spend their third night. This would mean that they had gone fifteen miles the first day, fifteen the second, and ten the third. They are now sixteen miles from Canterbury and could make it in a day, but they may well have done only six miles on the fourth day to spend the night, as many pilgrims did, at Ospringe. This must have been early on the fifth day, for it is still morning when the Host tries to rouse the drunken cook at the "litel toun which that ycleped is Bobb-up-and-doun", the modern Harbledown, just east of Canterbury, which the pilgrims can be assumed to have reached soon afterwards.---Excerpt from "Literary Landscapes of the British Isles" by David Daiches & John Flower.

    For the first 56 miles or so the road to Dover was also called "Pilgrim's Way" which led to Canterbury, the oldest center of Christianity in England.

    Three P

    Francisca Middleton
    April 3, 2000 - 11:17 am
    Gee, I don't read this RT for one day and it's loaded up with erudition. In fact, I'm so engrossed learning from all of you that I haven't time to read the tales! Okay, I will, I will.

    JoanP..The most famous Passion Play today is in Oberammergau, in Bavaria, and something to behold. It began in the Middle Ages in thanksgiving by the town folks for being saved from one of the plagues. To this day, only townspeople can play any of the parts and the man who portrays Christ must be someone who is deemed to be a devout person and role model. Each scene from the Old Testament is followed by a related scene from the New Testament..similar to what's still followed today in the readings in the Catholic Mass. This Passion Play is presented only every tenth year and is well worth seeing. I was lucky once and would go back again if the chance presented itself (it's on this year).

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 3, 2000 - 11:20 am
    Farnham to Merstham 30 miles. Farnham is Cobbett's town and still looks as it did when he was born here in his father's pub, the Jolly Farmer, in 1762. Most of the houses have Georgian fronts with urbane prosperity. This is the site of the famous corn market, the biggest outside of London. According to Defoe, 44,000 bushels of wheat, drawn by eleven hundred teams of horse, had once been brought to market in a single day...When the Speenhamland system and private enclosure of over four million acres of common land had combined to polarize rural wealth, Cobbett hurled in his Political Register, "We are daily advancing to the state in which there are but two classes of men, masters and abject dependents"...This was Cobbett's constant theme and anger... His love of southern England grew out of this moral concern and practical knowledge of soils, crops and land management, all learned on horseback. He was no walker. He died in 1835 and is buried in Farnham churchyard.

    East of Farnham is Hog's Back humps 500 feet above sea level and about 200 feet of the Surrey fields and heaths. Steep slopes, the Pilgrims' Way steps down about a third of a mile to the south to get more sun and better drainage of the slope. Cross the river Wey by Moor park than climb Hog's nose. Moor park was the home of Sir William Temple, a diplomat to Holland, who employed Jonathan Swift as his secretary. Here Swift wrote The Battle of the Books and met Esther Johnson, known to the world as Stella.

    This country is very pretty and fertile, with good roads. Nothing wild and bold. Puttenham is a pretty brick-and-clunch village, crowned by the church. Severl houses are brick in-fill between the timber uprights and this is called nogging. Others have the rare ironstone chips pushed like raisins into the mortar, called galletting which give a charming twinkle to the face of a cottage. A two mile detour brings us to the terra-cotta Mortuary Chapel of G.F. Watts, the Victorian painter and sculptor and from here to St. Catherine a grey ruin. Below is the River Wey, now safely channeled but previously spreading untidily over the whole valley. John Bunyan may have lived at Shalford and the original Slough of Despond, and the Pilgrim's Way itself was the imaginative source of the whole of Pilgrim's Progress.

    Guildhall's cobbled streets is the best thing about Surrey. The 1683 Guildhall with its clock hanging yards out into the street is opposite the Tunsgate, a giant Tucson portico that used to front the now demolished corn exchange. Now the climb into Chantries Wood with a heavy scent of pines to the tiny church of St. Martha's on the summit. The descant in pure sand and emerge to a broad swooping valley with the first view of the North Downs. Here the line of the Pilgrims' Way is lost and the choice is open. One way is through Abinger Hammer, named after the iron works or bloomeries that were once here and whose furnace ponds still are. A climb in the ridges to the River Mole. The Roman Stane Street from Chichester to London squeezed through here as the trunk road and railway do now. The river Mole, until the eighteenth century, burrowed underground to appear several miles later at Leatherhead. Before the sixteenth century it was known as the Dork, hence Dorking. Defoe, the rational topographer, was firm that it never disappears at all. There is a slight leakage and it runs over the chalk. William Camden's story that someone pushed a duck in at one end to retrieve it at the other with its feathers rubbed off could not possibly be true. The myth of the Mole persisted: Spenser, Milton, Cilia Fiennes and Pope all repeated it.

    Box Hill on the far side of the Mole is the site of Emma's disastrous expedition in Emma. The foot path across the fields arrives at Merstham's show-piece: Quality Street, a traffic-free backwater lined with houses most of which are from about 1700. Everything is tile hung or half-timbered. Acres of Surrey and North Kent are now covered in streets whose whole aim is to be like this one.

    Jerry Jennings
    April 3, 2000 - 11:36 am
    Ok, I clicked HERE. Now what do I do?

    April 3, 2000 - 11:38 am
    Joan, Much better picture of the painting of the Miller, but he Has obviously changed horses since his is now a different color!

    Harry! Have you run out of Mead entirely! I can't Stand it!

    I have had it in my head it took 5 days to walk to Canterbury from London. Can't find my reference, but I see from the above that it took Henry II 5 days.

    Now am determined to find my original reference ......

    April 3, 2000 - 11:48 am

    Read post #576 to see how many miles were traveled each day and where the merry band stayed each night.


    Joan Pearson
    April 3, 2000 - 12:06 pm
    JerryJ, we have made contact! I see you are making your first attempt to join our Canterbury bunch of rowdies! We are finishing the fabliaux this week! Clearly beginning to tire of them, particularly this Reeve character! I don't like him either...a bitter , cynical old man! So mean that he personally attacks our silly Miller...and I believe, his wife!

    Your palfrey awaits!

    I have a funny story to tell you all about Jerry, but will wait until he successfully posts! Jerry, just type in a message, and press,"Post my Message. That's really all there is to it!

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 3, 2000 - 12:14 pm
    Phyll just saw your post...there may have been several ways to traval from London to Canterbury but, this is the National Trust's guide to the Pilgrims' Way. I thought it would give us some mental pictures of what the Way has become as well as, what it means to centuries of Pilgrims.

    The final leg of the journey as discribed and walked by Adam Nicolson, graduate of Magdalen College Cambridge and whose father is the author Nigel Nicolson--

    In Kent the Pilgrims' Way is a much more definite thing-- no archaeological resurrection, but a continuous thread of lanes, both on the Downs and below them. After about 1200 London took over from /Winchester as the capitol of England. Many Pilgrims took the alternate route down the Roman road through Rochester joining the Pilgrims' Way at Otford where it crosses the Darent, the scene in 774 of the Offa's battles. No one knows who won. From the Coldrum Stones is the six-mile-wide Medway gap that medieval pilgrims crossed by ferries but the modern crossing is the Aylesford bridge.

    Medway to Canterbury is 31 miles. Heading toward Folkestone below Kit's Coty we pass the famous Neolithic monuments. The Way now crosses the Roman Road from Rochester through the Weald to Hastings through a succession of villages all dependent on the Pilgrim's Way but lying just south of it. At Boxley, three miles past Kit's Coty, pilgrims would definitely have left the Way to go the Cistercian Abby. Now only Boxley Abbey, an enormous barn, remains but, until the Reformation it was a big, rich place with a life-size model of Christ on the cross, which when various wires and levers were operated by hidden monks, would nod and roll its eyes, wag its head. Most important it could pull faces of extreme displeasure if the pilgrim's offering was too mean, and of divine relief and grace when the pilgrim finally produced enough. It was also burnt at the Reformation.

    At Hollingbourne a little off the Way is Leeds castle made of Kentish ragstone that changes from grey to yellow according the the light. Charing has several places to stay a natural market with wide streets leading to the 15th c. Church tower, the remains of the archbishops' palaces whose fine buildings are now used as a farm. The eastern side of the courtyard was once the Great Hall a large building built in 1300 and now used as a barn. The Pilgrims' way avoids Charing and moves west past the large chalkpit at Burnthouse Farm, past Eastwell Church, a romantic thing by a water-lily lake. The Way reaches a turning point at the Valley of the Great Stour. Pilgrims would either keep to the damp valley ground or take the river itself at Wye

    If you continue on foot you turn at Boughton Lees to the 14th c. Boughton Aluph church and than on to the King's wood, full of thieves and a terror for travelers. On the right the open slops of Godmersham Park where Jane Austin's brother lived and the model for Mansfield Park and Pemberley, Darcy's house in Pride and Prejudice. Past the Chilham Castle estate the footpath lead straight the 6 miles to Canterbury. The famous view of the cathedral, meant to be preserved is now obscured. Through the High Street past shoppers, indifferent to the fact that you have walked half way across England. Mercury Lane, the image of medieval street with upper stories jetty out and the welcoming sensation of being more and more enclosed the deeper you penetrate, by the city wall, the close wall and then the cathedral wall itself. One of the great architectural experiences in the country is to enter the perpendicular nave of Canterbury Cathedral. The North Transept, is where Becket was martyred and the heart of the place.

    Jerry Jennings
    April 3, 2000 - 12:26 pm
    I have a recording of some of the Canterbury Tales, which is where I will begin, if I can. Not that I'm lazy or anything, just that for a while I'll let somebody else do the work.

    Love the Wife of Bath's tale.

    April 3, 2000 - 12:42 pm
    Welcome Jerry--Help yourself to some grog and mount that lovely palfrey that Joan is holding for you. We are glad to have you amongst the company. The Wife of Bath is up next, I do believe. If not next, then next to next.

    Harry's head is aching with all the knowledge about the highways and byways, stopping points, inns and towns on the way to Canterbury. The TABARD seems so far away now. What wonderful postings this day hath brought. Thanks to you all!

    ~~Harry the Horseless and therefore "especially virtuous." Harry needs all the help he can get escaping time in purgatory, which given his sins, stretches a long way out toward infinity.

    Jim Olson
    April 3, 2000 - 02:24 pm
    Just a couple of comments on the Reeve's tale.

    As an avid outdoorsman and natural history buff I picked up on the incident when the Miller freed the stallion to pursue the "wild" mares in the nearby woods.

    I wonder what was meant by "wild" here- actual feral horses- a wild herd- or wild in a sexual sense (in heat).

    Doesn't matter really, I guess, as either way we have Chaucer once again using some references that have nature reflecting the human actions. Shades of our disucussion of " A Man in Full."

    In this case the symbolic value identifies the human actions as animalistic. Wonder how the mares felt about this whole incident- did they reflect the pure animal pleasure that the wife and daughter seem to have experienced?

    Or is Chaucer just doing the MCP mentality of the time, having the female appreciative of the virility of the male even when she is tricked into the act?

    Even on a higher social level we see this distrust of natural female virtue and suspicion of their sexual proclivites by the use of the locked chasity belt.

    The Reeve is also making a social comment about the quality of wives and daughters of millers-

    They were no ladies in spite of or maybe because of the wife's background?

    I really don't share or appreciate the Reeve's view old men.

    April 3, 2000 - 02:57 pm
    I think they meant literally wild horses. Even today, The New Forest, as it is called, is full of wild horses. They call them ponies, but admit they are small horses and Not ponies.

    April 3, 2000 - 04:24 pm
    Seems to me they could be both wild as in not tamed and wild sexually to prefigure what happens later with the women. Jim--I think what the Reeve says about Old Men is more revealing of the Reeve than it is of old men in general. The Reeve probably wasn't a very nice Young Man either, and we know he has been stealing from the Lord whose estate he manages. He's as much of a cheat as the Miller and mean to boot.


    Kay Lustig
    April 3, 2000 - 04:32 pm
    I took a look back at the description of the Reeve in the General Prologue and then in the Prologue to his Tale, and, yeah, what happened to him between the two? At first he was mainly long and lean, well shaved and shorn (no mention of white hair well shorn). Hmm. Maybe Chaucer would have gone back and adjusted his initial description if he had the opportunity.

    I don't much like the Reeve either. Too mean-spirited for my taste, no fun at all. And isn't it interesting how we again meet two male characters at the center of a tale, involved in Romantic or sexual adventure?

    April 3, 2000 - 04:53 pm
    Gosh what an assembled company, better than the one Chaucer had, am loving all the historical data.

    Still thinking about Ellen's information about the wagons going from town to town and the different Guilds performing according to their Guild, their part (section? or story? )in the play. I love that.

    I wonder if the present day Mummers are any kin to that idea? They prepare all year but don't present a religious performance, but a performance, none the less.

    I love that image and did not know the clergy had their own different passion plays.

    Am learning a great deal and enjoying every minute of it. So far the score seems to be Virtuous Pilgrims (Chaucer's, of course)! 1: Non Virtuous: 2.

    Always the Virtuous Vineyardist

    April 3, 2000 - 04:54 pm
    Have just discovered the Ellesmere Manuscript is in CALIFORNIA! I had assumed (when will I Ever learn?) the Henry E. Huntingdon Library and Art Gallery was in Great Britain; probably in London.

    Boy, was I wrong! Anyone here living nearby? Can you go take a LONG look and report back?

    It is in San Marino.

    April 3, 2000 - 10:03 pm
    I'm still out of step. I felt sorry for the Reeve. He seems to be suffering from the depression/melancholy that afflicts some oldsters when they realize life has not been kind to them and now it's about over. He is bitter, and resigned to it, but I think it's also kind of sad. There's no passion in his anger. It's resigned and depressed.

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 4, 2000 - 03:05 am
    An excellent comment. It's what happens to those who have not changed or grown through their entire lives without seeking education or trying to be alert to what is happening in the outside world.

    A good example of Eric Ericson's list of what happens to aging people who allow their minds to decay along with their bodies.


    Joan Pearson
    April 4, 2000 - 05:37 am
    The Reeve's tale bothers me. I hear too many "elderly" going on about their ails and ills, totally absorbed with their own problems, totally oblivious to the needs of others - and to the effect such recitation of troubles has on others!!! Harry sure doesn't want to hear any more of it...cuts him off and urges him to get on with his tale. You just know already that the tale is definitely NOT going to be upbeat! I remember thinking that if the tale reflects on the teller (as Prof. Patterson stated) - I was prepared NOT to like what he was going to say! There were morals to the story that I found worthwhile - and noted that such as the "rotten apple spoiling the barrel" and the expression "that takes the cake" had this early expression.

    Oswald, our Reeve, begins his story at 9am - near Greenwich and Deptford. I was interested to read your accounts of the way to Canterbury. Remember passing the towns of Sittingbourne and Faversham on the train last month. Spent a day in Greenwich too. Our party has not traveled very far! Greenwich is a borough of London...and we left a dawn. This means we have listened to the Knight's Tale and the Miller's Tale over a three hour period (if you take this literally!)

    Well, let's get on with this "fabliau", this "light-hearted tale with a bawdy twist" - and in this case, a mean-spirited undertone, a societal criicism...

    April 4, 2000 - 06:36 am
    Some people you don't ask how they are... because it takes them forever to list their aches and pains.

    April 4, 2000 - 07:52 am
    PatW---Laughing here. I've noticed how some people, who for years have given the reply, "Fine, just fine," all of a sudden start really responding to what is only a social pleasantry, something to say after you say "Hello."

    There are certainly some people that I am careful to greet with, "Hello, it's so good to see you again." It is then the other person's turn to speak. Sometimes I even manage to get away without hearing the latest woe.

    I think my greeting to Oswald the Bitter Reeve would be something like "Yo, Oswald, have some grog."


    April 4, 2000 - 07:55 am
    Addendum: In this case, I think the tale is a good deal better than the teller. Not as rollickingly funny as the Miller's tale, but all that middle-of-the-night bedswitching is well done. It helps me to understand how dark it was in a Medieval House.


    April 4, 2000 - 07:56 am
    .....and listening and pondering. Great discussion points and ideas proffered.

    This site delves into descriptions of the clothing worn during that period----.

    Also my son mentioned that the current issue of BRITISH HERITAGE carries an article on Chaucer's London.


    Shasta Sills
    April 4, 2000 - 08:41 am
    Phyll, what did Robert Browning mean when he said he had "proved" the past?

    April 4, 2000 - 10:16 am

    The Browning quote is from "Rabbi Ben Ezra". It is a very long poem so I won't post the whole thing however, the leading three lines are famous and sets the tone or theme of the rest.

    Grow old along with me!
    The best is yet to be,
    The last of life, for which the first was made.

    The stanza containing the quote under my name is:

    So, still within this life,
    Though lifted o'er its strife,
    Let me discern, compare, pronounce at last,
    "This rage was right i' the main,
    That acquiescence vain:
    The Future I may face now I have proved the Past."

    The poem means to me that I have made it through all the crises and triumphs and "growing pains" of youth and middle years and proven to myself that I can make it therefore, I can face the future (old age) with confidence.

    Now that I think about it--where the Reeve has reached old age and is not at all happy about it, Rabbi Ben Ezra is very upbeat about old-age. Each of us is different, are we not?


    April 4, 2000 - 10:27 am
    Speaking of poetry, how about this one by Browning that fits right in with the Tales:

    OH, to be in England Now that April's there,
    And whoever wakes in England
    Sees, some morning, unaware,
    That the lowest boughs and the brush-wood sheaf
    Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
    While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
    In England -- now!

    No more poetry, I promise!!

    Phyll the poet-spouting pilgrim

    Joan Pearson
    April 4, 2000 - 10:47 am
    More, we want more, PPP! "Oh to be in England now that April's there"Just said those very words to my husband last night!

    Will look at the medieval clothing look this evening, Marj. I wonder if the British Heritage article is on-line?

    April 4, 2000 - 04:43 pm
    and discovered, oh, please know this is not an advertisement of any kind whatsover; I do not know these folks at all.

    But the Huntingdon Library has had copies of the Ellesmere Manuscript made up for sale. They say it is quite, quite like the original. You may have the sewn version for 16k, the unsewn for a mere 8k.

    Sigh! Pass the mead, please.

    April 5, 2000 - 07:12 am
    Mary, the Page,

    If the tariff is too dear for the Ellesmere Manuscripts, sewn or un-sewn, I see that the Huntington has the "Chaucer Tie" for only about thirty dollars. Has all the Ellesmere figures on it and would really spiff up our fustian bliauts, I think.

    Phyll, the penurious pilgrim

    Jim Olson
    April 5, 2000 - 08:09 am
    One of the questions about the Cook's tale is why we have only a fragment of it.

    I suppose there are many possible answers and no doubt one of our scholars may offer some documented reason.

    I have only a surmise and a fairly weak one at that.

    But this Tale (or its beginning anyway) comes close to rewarding someone who fought the system of the time and presumably won.

    Perkin is an apprentice and bound to a cook- a virtual slave- who eventually wins his freedom by theft, revelry, and drunkeness and seems as the story proceeds to be headed toward a rewarding sexual adventure involving the wife of his new fellow reveller host.

    Maybe this is a story line Chaucer had second thoughts about pursuing after having picked up the essentials of the story from one of his many sources for the tales.

    Just as he might not have wanted to pusue a Robin Hood type plot. As I understand it the Robin Hood type legends covered a wide period of time .

    April 5, 2000 - 08:43 am
    I have succumbed to the flu since all of these "honeys" are insistent on sharing their bugs with me. Ohhhhhhh. I'll be home to groom me horse tomorrow and join in, for the remainder. (If I can keep me head out of the porcelain bowl long 'nuf.)

    JIM and Mary P: "They were as fed horses in the morning. Everyone neighed after his neighbor's wife.LUST!!!! The equine comparison in the Reeves tale underlines the disgusting physicality of the Miller and his family, snoring all together like a a "hors (that) snorteth in his sleep." )In contrast to Alysoun, with her natural youth and beauty.)

    Just as the Reeve sees old age as the perversion of body and spirit, so sex in the Reeves tale lacks any "noble fiction" , any offsetting qualities of attraction, desire, beauty or pleasure. Even Christian love in the Reeves tale is a self-serving means of advancing the pride and status of the parson who despoils the church of its goods in order to advane the "honour" of his "hooly blood."

    The Reeves image of life, a keg tapped by death -at the moment of birth is a bleak and dismal view of life as a physical process only-- waste and loss. Manuals about dying were a popular form of literature and death was considered the culmination of ones life, a task that required study and discipline to accomplish in a worthy manner.

    April 5, 2000 - 09:21 am
    Welcome back, ALF--Sorry to hear that the honeys were contagious. That's one of the drawbacks to children. There was one winter when my two (only eighteen months apart) passed a cold back and forth (and to me) until I thought I would lose my mind. Someone's nose was always running.

    However, you have come to the right place. I'll provide a good purgative for you and then perhaps a poltice. And then there is the best cure of ALL, some fine grog!

    Pilgrims all--the Reeve's Tale has much bedchanging at night. Going by the "landmark" of the cradle, several go astray. I wonder if any of you have had interesting middle-of-the-night disorientations which have caused you to find yourself in an odd situation. Please do tell if you have.

    ~Harry the Hopeful, prop of the TABARD, etc.

    Joan Pearson
    April 5, 2000 - 11:37 am
    Maryal, I'll be interested to hear our posters responses to your question...any sleepwalkers present??? This reminds me of our Story- telling contest? Creative writing? Is anyone interested in telling a tale? There is special discussion that is open for you to post it if you do??? Anyone interested?

    There's a nice prize - from Canterbury (not from the Huntington Library!!! ~~Mary Page, where is the library located? Huntington Beach? Where is that? Near LA? San Francisco? Phyll! LOL! I think we should start a shopping list and ask Marcie to check it out for us! One costly Ellesmere manuscript repro and one Pilgrim tie on that list so far. (How much is the tie, oh penurious one? I may just have to order one of those!)

    I'm such a sound sleeper, that I haven't experienced such a scene as took place at the Reeve's. Once, late at night a hotel desk clerk gave me the wrong key to a room already occupied. I unlocked the door and moved my luggage in without turning on the light switch. (Couldn't find it near the door.) I took off my coat and went to the bathroom (that light worked). By the light from the bath, I made my way to the night lamp between the beds. Of course when I turned it on and wakened the slumberer, we sorted it all out...sort of. Let's just say I was out of there faster than went in...

    ALF! Will be looking for you tomorrow. Sorry about the flu! Bummer. Interesting points about the Reeve's characters! You put your finger right on it... - the bleak physical aspects of "love'...strong contrast to the previous tales. I think the noises were even worse than snoring in that small crowded room! No wonder the "boys" couldn't sleep!

    Sir Jim - I too am curious about the fragments...were they sketches for tales Chaucer intended to develop or did he simply decide that a tale like the Cook's was not worth expanding upon once he had fleshed out the Miller and the Reeve's Tale? I'm off to look at that more closely and see how it compares or differs from the others. And how the tale reflects back on the teller, the Cook. Remembering the Cook is delighted- "tickled" that the Reeve put the Miller in his place, so he must share something in common with the sour Reeve!

    April 5, 2000 - 12:50 pm
    Joan, all I know so far is the Harry E. Huntingdon Library and Art Gallery is in San Marino, California some 30 miles north of Los Angeles. They give directions for getting there on their web site.

    I live in Virginia, and do not know California, having only visited San Francisco.

    I think Chaucer came up with the idea of The Tales and did the first parts and then gave himself time to do the, what, 120 tales? With all of his other duties, to his Duke and his King, etc., he simply ran out of time. Where there are fragments, my guess is he jotted down just enough to remind himself of which tale he wanted whom to tell. Then, alas, he died before getting very far along with his project.

    April 5, 2000 - 01:57 pm
    MaryPage--I think your guess about getting some ideas down so that he could return to the tale later is a good one. We know that Chaucer wrote Canterbury Tales late in life. He died in 1400. Writers I know are always saving stuff that they start and might use somewhere else later. One friend of mine, for example, took a short story (unpublished) and incorporated it, with changes, into her novel (published). I imagine that writers have always been this way, squirreling things away on the offchance that the material might prove useful.

    Joan--I love the wrong hotel room story, but you failed to tell us the sleeper's reaction and whether it was a man or a woman.

    Charlotte--Where are you? Come out, come out, wherever you are.

    Jim--Your guess is as good as anyone else's. A number of critics have suggested that Chaucer thought of something he would rather write, or that he was working on this one and decided it wasn't working. One critic has even suggested that the Cook's Tale IS finished. The point has been made. The wife is about to be gotten. Why not stop there?

    My own tale of nighttime disorientation took place in a hospital. I had had back surgery and was on some kind of pain medication. Woke in the middle of the night to loud snoring and said, very firmly, "John, please stop snoring. Roll over!" My roommate, a lovely young woman named Ceilie, told me about it the next morning. She also swore that she NEVER snored. We had a fun argument about that!

    Phyll---My PPPPP'ish pilgrim. What a fine tie that must be. Do they perhaps have a scarf as well since I don't wear ties much?


    April 5, 2000 - 03:19 pm
    Harry is . . . .lonely!


    April 5, 2000 - 04:13 pm
    Sorry, I can't resist this, I know it's off the subject, but look, Pilgrims, what you might have had if you had been making a Pilgrimage today A Pilgrim's Card for 2000

    I want one soooo bad but will resist.


    April 5, 2000 - 05:02 pm
    Harry's favorite caption from the Pilgrim Card site. It was hard picking. Thanks, Ginny, and you can be off the subject any time you want!


    In order to satisfy requests which can arrive after scheduled terms for emission and delivery of Pilgrim Card, exists some Special Pilgrim Cards like Last Minute Card, Just in Time and 1 Day Card

    April 5, 2000 - 05:20 pm
    Harry, you've been serving up Everything but my favorite Mead!

    Have you run out? I am parched!

    April 5, 2000 - 05:25 pm
    MaryPage-----One tankard of Mead just for you.


    April 5, 2000 - 05:30 pm
    Thanks heaps.

    British Heritage says: "... some travellers made themselves appear more worthy by purchasing imitations (medallians) or tokens which they had not earned."

    Imagine that! (said tongue in cheek)

    April 5, 2000 - 05:32 pm
    MaryPage----oh Fie on those people, fie, I say. Harry would never buy an imitation anything. Harry always buys the Real Thing.


    April 5, 2000 - 05:35 pm
    "It is from the leisurely gait of the Canterbury pilgrim's horse that we gain our term to 


    our ambling 'saunter' was used to describe the progress of pilgrims to the "Sainte Terre" or


    and our modern 'roaming' refers to those who made their visit to the city of St. Peter a pleasurable outing rather than a hurried tour."

    April 5, 2000 - 06:12 pm
    Joan and Maryal,

    [[[[Just in!!! One of a kind!! No other tie like it! Hurry, hurry, hurry before they are all gone! You'll never forgive yourself if you miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime offer!]]]]

    Go to and click on "The Huntington Shop" underneath the pictures.

    Tell 'em Phyll, the pokerfaced pilgrim sent you. (They won't know what the heck you are talking about but, tell em' anyway.)

    Harry, no more mead--I think I've had enough.

    April 5, 2000 - 06:31 pm
    Phyll the Pie-eyed Pilgrim---But did you see THIS one?


    September 8, 2000 -- January 2001

    The 600th anniversary of Geoffrey Chaucer's death will be commemorated in this exhibition, the centerpiece of which will be The Huntington's magnificent 15th-century illuminated manuscript of The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer (c. 1343-1400) is considered by scholars to be second only to Shakespeare among English poets. His principal work, The Canterbury Tales, was authored in 1387. The Huntington's version, known as the Ellesmere Manuscript (circa 1400-1405), was penned by scribes shortly after Chaucer's death. It is the most beautiful and most complete version of the medieval poet's best-known work, consisting of 240 parchment (animal skin) leaves, richly illustrated and decorated with gold leaf. The Ellesmere Chaucer was acquired by Henry Huntington in 1917 from the third Earl of Ellesmere, whose family had owned it for 300 years. Among the other items displayed in the exhibition will be the first printed edition of The Canterbury Tales, published by William Caxton in 1478, and a copy of the famous Kelmscott Chaucer designed by William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. Library, West Hall

    I didn't realize that this was the 600th anniversary of Chaucer's death until I read it on the Huntington Site. How about that? Are we in tune with the times or what?

    Harry® the Historian

    April 6, 2000 - 03:38 am
    Was there a tradition of not finishing tales? I am not very familiar with Chaucer' sources. Otherwise it sounds reasonable he thought to go back to the Cooks Tale.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 6, 2000 - 03:50 am
    I'm here lurking, but not writing. I have some research to finish up on the Reeve's Tale and have not yet read the Cook's Tale. You can also find me in Poetry, which Annafair and I ar working on together.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 6, 2000 - 04:00 am

    I went to the shop, but all I saw was a black illustration.


    Joan Pearson
    April 6, 2000 - 04:43 am

    Good morning, Charo-latte! Another early riser! Good to see you back! Thought we had lost you to poetry!!!

    I checked out the tie ...very dark on my screen too! Don't see a scarf either, Maryal...surely they could sell you a square of the silk fabric used for the tie and we could all help you roll the edges...of course if it's dark like the tie, you may change your mind about your order?

    Marj, I've been thinking about the tales recited by the Canterbury pilgrims - especially the fabliaux, "tavern stories" of the Miller, the Reeve and the Cook. These were twice-told tales and most of the party were familiar with them. Of course the teller is the one who makes the tale interesting with his own little embellishments...But the point is that everyone knew what was coming next. Perhaps Chaucer felt that his portrayal of the Cook was all that he needed to do and that it was unnecessary to write out the whole tale. That his listeners would know the rest and how it would reflect back on the teller??? Hmmm..let's see what the rest of the "fragments" look like as we move through the tales...

    Isn't it fascinating to witness the part that CHANCE plays in each of the stories! After so many tales, you begin to expect it to the point you don't even think it strange anymore! Chance becomes predictable! Predictable chance! Isn't that an "oxymoron"?

    I've spent a bit of time looking at the "boy pairs" in the three completed tales so far...

    Back in five!

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 6, 2000 - 05:19 am
    Am I wrong or is the Reeve playing a joke out of revenge because he was tricked and cheated where as, the Miller, wanting to protect is opened to being the butt of a joke while the jokster rues the day with his injured butt just to have fun at someone elses expence while getting something for himself?

    Joan Pearson
    April 6, 2000 - 05:19 am
    Boys, will you step forward into the spotlight with your partners, please! We wish to examine you a bit closer to determine your motives, to see if there are similarities that link you - or differences that would demand a separate investigation...

    Palamon and Arcite, you are close cousins and yet you are willing to kill one another for the hand of the fair Amazon! Your defense? You really don't want to kill your cousin, but rather, you will fight to your death because you do not want to live without her love?

    Love? Do you even know her? You will fight to your death for someone who looks good to you? Is that admirable? Reasonable? We leave that to the jury to decide!

    Absalom, please help poor Nicholas up to the witness box...those were indefensible things you did to a fellow Oxford student! Are you in the same college? Did you know one another before laying eyes on the wanton Alison? You both knew she was a married woman? What were your intentions? Love? Certainly neither of you had honorable intentions. You inflicted insult and injury on your fellow classmate for - LUST! You have no defense as do Palamon and Arcite...This is one of the seven capital sins! Capital punishment for you both!

    John and Alan, fellow Bible students at Cambridge, as close as "brothers" - unhappily spending the night in that miller's cramped quarters. You two did not even suspect the miller had cheated you at that point or that he had let loose your horses. How do you defend your actions that night? You simply drank too much and then helped yourself to your host's wife and daughter. Certainly not love, not even lust! Just base animal instinct! And you are Bible students!!! Aha! Your defense is POETIC JUSTICE which you discovered after the fact! Boys, we sentence you to further study of the Bible...the actual words you attribute to that old proverb:

    reads "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you"!

    Joan Pearson
    April 6, 2000 - 05:25 am
    Barb, good morning! I'm on my way out with your question in mind. How was the Reeve cheated? Back later to hear the answer to that one? Have a super day!

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 6, 2000 - 05:57 am
    Ah yes I guess it is in his story that the two students, Aleyn and John, are cheated but I get the sense the the Reeve has a different morality and feels his sensabilities are taken advantage and feels his moral code is under attack by the Miller being so 'lew la la' and wants to throw it back but doesn't know how to pull 'lew la la' off, since his own strict and straight moral code gets in the way and therefore, he just comes off mean sounding.

    I think the issue of his age is to show that decorum and wisdom are partners and 'you Miller' have sullied both as well, as an old man y'all must forgive my crude attempt to the show the Miller as playing loose but, I don't have the experience playing this 'lew la la' game and have pity on an old man's crude attempt just trying to get some moral decorum going here by trying to one-up the Miller.

    April 6, 2000 - 09:13 am
    IMO Chaucer had not decided how to characterize the cook. The description in the Prologue sounds as if the cook were a Master Chef, but the Host describes his culinary skills as quite unappetizing.

    April 6, 2000 - 09:34 am
    Good morning, everyone!---So many good points, so little time to write.

    The miller and the reeve (the pilgrims) are both cheats. The miller puts his thumb on the scale and the reeve manages his lord's estate while managing to pocket a good deal for himself. For me, the main difference between the two thieves is that the miller has a better nature. He also seems to be simpler than the reeve who must work hard to manage all those accounts while making so much that the lord takes no notice. I'd say the Reeve is a far trickier man than the miller.

    MaryPage---I know you're there somewhere. What do you think about the Cook's tale?

    Joan---the miller in the Reeve's tale is a cheat. That's why the two students go to get the grain ground and to watch him every minute. Their plan goes awry when he lets the horse loose and the horse goes after the mares. But he was a cheat in the beginning.

    Charlotte---I'll look for you over in Poetry. Didn't know you were there.

    Phyll---When you check in, good afternoon.

    Jim---Afternoon to you, sir.

    Barbara---I agree--the Reeve, who might have learned something over the course of his life, appears not to have learned a thing.

    Lonex---Perhaps he didn't know exactly what to do with the Cook. Or maybe, the tale IS complete, as suggested above. The audience could already see how it was going to come out, so why go ahead with it?


    April 6, 2000 - 10:06 am
    Maryal - I don't mean to nit-pick, but if the cook's tale is complete, the description in the Prologue is not consistent. Was it oversight or carelessness? I'm going with the idea that the work was not quite finished when it went into print.

    April 6, 2000 - 11:04 am
    Lonex,----Most of the critics, nearly all, think that the tale is incomplete. I was playing devil's advocate. I think Chaucer may have simply wanted to get on to something more interesting. But that is only a guess. There isn't any evidence at all.


    April 6, 2000 - 11:30 am
    Maryal - The description in the prologue was so polished. It would have been nice t see a professional character with some class. Maybe one will show up in later tales? On the other hand, then as now, people relish tavern tales about things they dare not indulge in... especially the seedy and unsavory.

    "Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.." (Hamlet?)

    April 6, 2000 - 11:39 am
    Lonex----Have no fear. They are not all fabliaux. Thank heaven. And yes, Hamlet. Care for some ale?


    Nellie Vrolyk
    April 6, 2000 - 11:45 am
    This scholar is still riding quietly along and is soaking up all the most interesting information presented by her diligent fellow pilgrims. Thank you for all that research work you are all doing!

    Joan Pearson
    April 6, 2000 - 11:54 am
    Hi Nellie! Just missed you! I'll be waiting and watching in the next tale for a true love story...we hanen't seen one yet! Is Chaucer capable of writing one...or just not interested???

    April 6, 2000 - 11:54 am
    maryal - Thank you muchly - I don't mind if I do. Might ye have a few pretzels for a bit of a snack?

    April 6, 2000 - 11:59 am
    Lonex!----I just finished some pretzels with a bit of cheddar cheese! You are definitely psychic. WOW. Of course, I will share my pretzels. Would you like some cheese as well?

    Nelly---so glad to see you this fine day.

    Joan----We'll see. We'll see. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.


    April 6, 2000 - 12:12 pm
    Maryal - Oh, the cheddar will be most delightful. You are truly a fine Host on this journey.

    April 6, 2000 - 12:53 pm
    I say they DID know the miller had cheated them and were getting even with him. They just did not know the details. I give you:

    "A curse, said John, on the day that I was born! 
    Now we'll be in for ribbing and for scorn. 
    Our meal is stolen, men will call us 'fool', 
    Yes, both the provost and our friends at school," 

    This was said on their way back from having caught their horse. 

    Then later, kept awake by the snoring, Alan says:

    "Our corn is stolen;  that we can't gainsay, 
    And we've been in a bad fix this whole day. 
    Now since my loss is past all cancellation, 
    I will accept instead some compensation," 

    I most definitely read it that the boys figured out the truth, knew the horse thing to be a ruse or, at any event, that the miller had time to steal from them and would have, and the fornications were absolutely vengeful. Read again and tell me, how say you?

    April 6, 2000 - 01:01 pm
    Chaucer started the tales in 1397 and died in 1400. Only a 3 year time span, and he an extremely busy man.

    I still advocate the theory that the cook's tale was just notes he was going to fill in later.

    Personally, I have all Sorts of writing projects I have stuffed into files for future work.

    April 6, 2000 - 01:15 pm
    MaryPage - That's how I read it. They knew he was skimming meal when they took the corn to be ground. They insisted on staying and watching the grinding, in two different places, in the mill. The miller knew they were keeping an eye on him and snuck out to release the horses. He could not switch the corn during the grinding process, but got into the sacks, while they were gone. The guys knew he had one-upped them. They talked about it while they chased their nags.

    April 6, 2000 - 02:56 pm
    MaryPage-----Say that again, nice and LOUD. Every writer I know has lots of stuff that is hanging around somewhere in case it might fit somewhere or be worth working on later.

    When The Canterbury Tales was first published, there were no printing presses. Editions were manuscript copies and would have been very expensive. Chaucer was dead by the time his books were circulating.

    Scholars of Chaucer suggest 1387 as a starting date for The CT.

    And now, good members of the company, a little wine, a little ale, a little Mead. Step right up to the "water" wagon.

    ~Harry®, the Holy

    April 6, 2000 - 05:59 pm
    "The Cook's Tale" Edited by John M. Bowers

    "Breaking off abruptly after only fifty-seven lines, The Cook's Tale offers the first instance of a "loose end" in Chaucer's grand scheme. In the Hengwrt manuscript, probably the earliest attempt at organizing the fragments of the Tales, the scribe left room to fill in the missing conclusion, apparently with the hope that stray pages might turn up among the author's papers. When it was clear that no additional poetry would be delivered, the copyist made a note in the blank: "Of this cokes tale maked Chaucer na moore."Medieval scribes - and modern critics - have been struggling with this unhappy circumstance ever since.

    In ten manuscripts, the Cook's fragment has simply disappeared altogether."

    IMO, Chaucer started the Cook's Tale and just lost interest in it or possibly it wasn't going in the direction he first planned so he put it aside for later revision. Most authors, I believe, make outlines and write down brief sketches of their characters and what they want them to do. Before he got back to it, he died. There could be any number of explanations as to why this is a fragment.

    Some Chaucerian scholars have tried to make the case that this is a complete Tale--not a fragment at all--however, it seems that they haven't really been convincing.

    As to the comparison between the Reeve and the Miller: It seems to me that the Reeve was a sanctimonius hypocrite--and mean-spirited to boot. The Miller was lewd, ill-mannered and coarse but he was as he appeared. I cast my vote for the Miller.

    And a Good Eve to you, Harry, my fine host, and to all of my fellow pilgrims traveling this bumpy road.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 6, 2000 - 07:46 pm
    Oh dear I guess the Reeve comes across as sanctimonius but I guess I see the poor fellow a little differently. We know that people from the North were considered yokels and therefore, the Reeve, although from the landed gentry so to speak, would not be as quick and with-it as those from the South. He probably didn't come across too many folks in the north that joked and had fun at someone elses expense; much less hearing all the pilgrims laugh at a story in which the whole purpose was to show what a yokel was this head of the house and as older man at that. It may have hit buttons for him, that listening, he didn't see what was coming and if it had been him as the character in the story, he would have feel for the hoax.

    Here he is, feeling out of place among this sophisticated group that would tell a story that makes a fool out of an older man all for a laugh. He probably wants to join in with the group of piligims and be accepted, after all it is still only the beginning of the journey and he wouldn't want to alienate the others nor, be a butt of their jokes. So being out of his element he tells a story that at least has an acceptable reason to make a fool of someone-- revenge-- rather then a story that would support the humor of this bombastic interupting man who gets others to laugh at an older man's naivite. He realizes he cannot beat the man at his own game and his story is the only avenue he has to at least show the Miller and the other pilgrims an acceptable vise that would support making a fool out his story's character.

    He can't ask the other piligrims to have pity on him saying. I am from the North and have lived a life of stricter morals and we don't usually joke around as y'all do here in the South. At least my character deserved to have his come-up-pance. So instead he says, look I am old, respect me for my age and consider my message even if I am not as adroit a story teller.

    I guess I too have trouble giving Kados to someone who inturrupts to tell a story that is based on making a fool of someone just to show what a yokel someone can be as the Miller does. If I were in the group I may not like the Reeve or his story but I would shake my head up and down, give him credit for being basically a decent sort and make my mouth into a straigt line grimacing in agreement with what the Reeve was doing to show that at least, the one being made a fool was guilty of more than being slow.

    I think of the Brit Com 'As time Goes By' and the characters at the Hardcastle's Country House. Yokels all and yet, Mrs. Bale or even Lionel for that matter could never be as flip as Alistar or Sandy even Jean and her daughter Judy, all sophisticated Londoners. Mrs Bale and Lionel would be put out if Alistar told a story just to make a fool of someone but, Mrs. Bale especially would want to join in after a drink or two and would probably botch a story that she would be trying to tell in a joke like mood while trying to give it a moral twist. Now Lionel's father and his wife could pull it off, living almost full time with yokels or not, with their wonderful joie de vie.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 6, 2000 - 11:36 pm
    Hehehe what a hoot-- now after some Chaucer under my belt I can appriciate the Brit Coms in a new way. Thursday night we have mystery theater, followed by 2 hours of Brit Coms. Tonight showed a repeat of 'Keeping Up Appearences' the one where Hyacinth and Richard are looking for at a second house in the country. Well, it was a take off on the Miller's story, only in reverse.

    They come across a Yokel walking on the village street, who pulls the game on Hyacinth and Richard. He gives them instructions as to how to go to the cottage they want to preview and our pair really do not understand him with his thick accent and of course think he is a fool because of his dress and manner of speach. When they go round for the key it turns out to be the Yokal that has the key and in his dialect saying things that Richard and Hyacinth think has something to do with rats and woodworm in the cottage.

    The cottage they are previewing is a beamed, pseudo probaly 14th or 15 c cottage that the Yokel is saying something about it being there as he knows since 1800. He follows then closely and takes every opportunity to be too close and familiar with Hyacinth. Finally, looking for the woodworms that he eluded, Richard ascends the attic stairs leaving Hyacinth alone with the too friendly Yokel. And then, Richard falls through the ceiling astride the large beam with his two legs and shoes dangling through the broken ceiling, rather than tubs dangling on either side of a roof beam. With the sounds Richard is making, you know he is infering he has hurt himself where it hurts.

    With the Yokel after her, Hyacinth tries to escape to her car. In the mad dash the Yokel's wife with broom in hand confronts them. Hyacinth safely in the car is than scared by a large bull next to the car and she attempts to run back to Richard in the house. He is coming out hopping calling attention to how he hurt himself. After he gets in the car and Hyacinth attempts to go round to her side a herd of big wooly sheep stampede running her down the road.

    It of course has the Hyacinth Bucket twist but it essentially trying to make a fool of someone because they are different. In this case it is the Yokel trying to make hay with Hyacinth and a fool of Richard so that he can dilly dally with Hyacinth who is nieve to country ways. All the while, the humar seems to be sexual and barnyard.

    April 7, 2000 - 05:13 am
    Barbara---My problem with the Reeve is that he takes offence at the Miller's story just because the butt of the joke , the old man with the young wife, Alison, is a carpenter. The Reeve seems to think that the tale is being told against ALL carpenters, and he is a carpenter and therefore must get revenge. Even considering that we are in the Middle Ages, I think the Reeve is going out of his way to find an insult.

    Perhaps if the Reeve's Prologue didn't show so much bitterness, I would not feel as I do about this cranky old man. I like the tale a good deal more than I like the teller.


    April 7, 2000 - 05:33 am
    Oh, Barbara! Just suppose Mrs. Bale were serving our drinks instead of Harry! We would none of us be able to sit our horses.

    Everyone in the World should know Mrs. Bale. She is my all time favorite housekeeper.

    April 7, 2000 - 07:51 am
    I think it's interesting Barbara made that point about Hyacinth Bucket because British Comedy does have that theme a lot, doesn't it? John Cleese's "Clockwork, " (or Clockwise, can never remember), has Cleese, a Headmaster, out to deliver a Headmaster's Address and runing afoul of the directions. He encounters (since he's driving a car across his fields) a farmer on a tractor and asks directions in a haughty way for which he pays dearly, the "yokel" in this case sending him on a merry chase with the words, "All right, my old dear."

    Come to think of it tho the yokel/ townie is a theme as far back as Aesop and as recent as 2000, it's a common theme also seen in THE GOOD EARTH.

    The Recalcitrant and Very Far Behind Vineyardist Who is Making Small Talk Because She's Not UP on the Reading.

    April 7, 2000 - 08:32 am
    Ginny! for shame. Get your assignment done, post haste!!! I have returned. where are we? Where the h- am I? where's me horse? Pass the grog, Maryal and go ahead and shoot the messenger (our Reeve.)

    April 7, 2000 - 08:32 am
    The Crude and the Cultured have always been with us.

    Have always divided us.

    Will always be.

    But Crude has nothing to do with "Good" or "Kind" or "Worthy".

    And neither does Cultured.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 7, 2000 - 08:37 am
    Yes MaryPage I agree I don't much like the Reeve either, he really isn't very likable is he, but he rings true. I can feel and have observed folks bristle when their profession or age or family or ethnicity or area of the country they come from is too similar to a joke or funny story and today, we call that being politically correct in our humor. I've also seen folks trip over themselves trying to right the wrong they feel without the skill to pull it off. Their injuried pride gets in their way.

    April 7, 2000 - 08:46 am
    And what about Basil Fawlty who gets done in by the local yokels constantly?

    Little side story, please. We stayed in a small hotel in Edinburgh one time where the head waiter was a carbon copy of Manuel from Fawlty Towers. Every time he came near me I had to turn my head to keep from laughing in his face. And if he had ever said, Que?, to me I would have fallen right down on the floor. I am sure he thought this American lady was completely dippy. It was a great hotel, though.


    April 7, 2000 - 09:40 am
    Phyll, are you referring to "Que" as in "thank you"?

    My husband and I got such a kick out of that, every once in a while one of us would remember it and we would practice it.

    We also got a kick out of "glassssGO" and many other Scottish pronounciations.

    I have never watched Fawlty Towers. Don't care for slap stick comedy. I guess I'm something of a stick. (pun intended)

    April 15, 1997 - 06:16 pm
    "Properly pasted was this millers's head, Pale drunk he was, he'd passed the stage of red; Hiccupping thru his nose he talked and trolled As if he'd asthma or a heavy cold."

    Hey, this sounds like our kinda guy -this old miller. Set 'em up one, ole Harry.

    Which one will be our next tale? The Man of Law's Tale?

    Joan Pearson
    April 7, 2000 - 12:13 pm
    ALF! How are you? Better, I hope!

    Yes, yes, Man of Law! An abrupt 180 from these bawdy fabliau! Thanks for the reminder...will put it up in the heading right now!

    I did see that very episode Barb described (she's in real estate too and must have gotten a real kick out of it!) and you know she's right! There is a direct connection between the spirit and the low humor found in the tavern stories of Canterbury Tales and the British productions we see today. Oh Mary Page I think you'd laugh at Fawlty Towers even if you don't like slapstick! There's so much else going on...You know, you can buy video tapes of the FT episodes? I almost got them for my very correct, conservative husband who adored the show years ago....If anyone is interested, I've kept the mailing address somewhere! I am having trouble reconciling my stereotype of the British as "correct" - rigidly correct - and this form of humor which has amused them throughout the ages...

    There is an underlying resentment against university students in these tales. We have one pair from Cambridge and another from Oxford. I wonder if there were strong differences between the two universities as there are today. It might be interesting to know what the universities were like back then...who attended, etc... Hey, I have a great site about week-long study programs for adults at Cambride and Oxford if anyone is interested?

    This resentment may be the same as exists today against college kids by hard-working blue collar workers. (Today it's the college kids who are "properly pasted and pale drunk"!)

    The Man of Law's Tale is an abrupt departure from the rowdy, randy characters we have been reading....

    April 7, 2000 - 12:49 pm

    Manuel in Fawlty Towers was of Spanish heritage and "Que?" means "what?" He always had difficulty understanding English and was forever confused.

    My husband and I adopted the "kew" for "thank you" and say it now just as a matter of common speech. I loved the Scottish accent. I could understand the Borders speech but had some trouble with the Highland accent. They are wonderful, friendly and quietly funny people. We didn't find the "dour" Scot anytime we were there. Everyone was very pleasant and welcoming to us.

    I am ready to take a vacation from the so-called lower classes' idea of entertaining tales. Bring on the Man of Law now, please. We will find out if Shakespeare was right when he said, "First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."


    Jim Olson
    April 8, 2000 - 05:08 am
    The crude and cultured have indeed always been with us, and I think Chaucer has something in common with Pogo when he shows that "they is us"

    A little bit of each in all of us (all of us pilgrims, at least- otherwise why would we be on this journey?)

    I think it would be very hard to consider the cook's tale complete.

    It seems so obvious given the previous tales that the apprentice is off to some time of sexual adventure in his new quaeters.

    But I suppose one could say that the tale is complete in that it illustrates the truth of the rotten apple theory- best to get rid of the rotten apple (apprentice) before the whole basket is spoiled- and the apple does get thrown out and ends up in a basket that is already spoiled- where it belongs- and what difference does it really make to go ahead and describe all the interactions between the rotten apples in that basket.

    Best to just go on to another tale.

    Who wants to muck around any longer in a mess of rotten apple gunk?


    But Ok , Chaucer, move on. Onward and upward.

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 8, 2000 - 05:38 am
    At first I believed that Harry was jealous of the cook, as cooks sometimes are. They do not want anyone to think that anyone is more capable and original than they are. Sometimes they even refuse to share recipes. But Harry has notice a “mormal” or ulcer on the skin of the cook. This is a sign of a serious illness like leprosy or venereal disease. He is a character that certainly should be kept far away from food preparation so that he has no opportunity to infect others. Having already listened to two tales about cuckolds, the cook insists on telling his own.

    Richard Embs in an article entitled “The Cook’s Tale: Maybe Not A Fragment,” maintains that the tale was autobiographical and that the ‘prentice’ in the story is really the cook who has had several “amorous encounters with the sluttish wife, and the ‘mormal’ with its underlying pathology is a souvenir of these encounters. Such an irony is worthy of the genius of Chaucer.” Embs thinks the story is not a fragment, but is complete within itself

    Joan Pearson
    April 8, 2000 - 05:56 am
    HAHAHAHAHA! SIR JIM!!! After this series of tavern tales, we have nowhere to go but UP!

    Good morning, Charo-latte! Interesting stuff on the cook. Hmm...the Cook and the apprentice the same. The cook with a serious infection. The apprentice...a reveller with the ladies.'re right, He shouldn't have been around food. Don't let him touch my burgers, Harry!

    The Cook..."he was brown, brown as a berry - black hair." Is he a black man? Is he tanned? Why does Chaucer mention this? A dancer, revelling Peterkin, full of love and full of sin. (love? I don't see any love story yet, do you?)

    Whenever a "pageant" or "procession" came down Cheapside...this sounds like the traveling dramatic morality presentations we ve been hearing about...but Revelling Peterkin takes them as an opportunity for ...revelling, hardly religious edification! And when he gets fired, his replacement has a working wife, a prostitute!

    I'm trying to imagine the general reaction to these stories...had they all heard these tales before? Were any of them shocked? Did they all laugh? Or were they ready for a change of pace, just as we are?

    I notice that there is a lot of sport made of university learning...Were any of the party alums? How about Chaucer himself? Did he attend Cambridge or Oxford? I'd be willing to bet he writes from experience. But what about his characters? The Knight? Perhaps the Lawyer. Yes, the lawyer.

    It will be interesting to note. If I can squeeze in a few minutes, I'll try to find something on Chaucer's education and something on Cambridge and Oxford at this time...

    Have a great day! It's lovely in Arlington - Cherry Blossom parade today (even though the blossoms have finished blooming ten days ago!)

    Joan Pearson
    April 8, 2000 - 09:06 pm
    I was interested in learning more about the university students at the time, as they make frequent appearances in these tales...Chaucer never portrays them in a favorable light. Couldn't find anything about his own education...all his biographies seem to place him as a page at court at a young age and not mention anything about his education. But we know he was educated! The search goes on! Found some interesting facts about the universities at the time...Cambridge and Oxford.
    You may not be interested enough to wade through the whole article, so I'll copy the relevant parts here:
    Meanwhile, in Europe, the first universities were being formed. The first of the great medieval universities was established in 1088 at Bologna. This school specialized in teaching Roman Law, which is the paradigm for all modern western codes of law. In 1119 the University of Paris was founded. This school became the model for most of the schools in northwestern Europe. The various colleges of Oxford opened between 1167 and 1185, but Cambridge was not established until 1209 Each university, though affiliated with the church, was self-governing and democratic (Barnett 19). They were basically communities of scholars implanted into a host town, and relations between the host community and the scholars were not always congenial. An argument between the students and towns people in Oxford, for instance, escalated into a riot, and forced some of the students and faculty to flee the town, in fear for their lives. This incident precipitated the founding of Cambridge University. Nevertheless, the idea of community and collaboration was central to the formation of the schools which have evolved into modern universities

    Joan Pearson
    April 8, 2000 - 09:28 pm
    OOH! Look at this! the reason for the riot at Oxford! College boys and the town girls!

    Oxford University is organized into a series of residential colleges that began as residence halls for students who were in the city to study with the professors who were there. Eventually, the masters of these colleges formed a guild that became the university. By 1300, Oxford was second only to Paris in importance.

    Cambridge University got its start as a result of a murder at Oxford. In 1209, a student killed a local woman. Townspeople raided the college he was part of and hanged two or three students. The guild of masters (i.e., the university) suspended classes, and some 3,000 students and teachers left Oxford to take up residence in Cambridge. In 1228, a crowd of students from Paris joined those already in Cambridge, thus helping to create the university.

    I'm still wondering if any of our party has attended one of the universities. It would appear that it was the thing to do to refer to the behavior of the boys with the local town girls! I thought that if any of these pilgrims attended university, it would have been the upcoming MAN of LAW, but found this
    Oxford University, in England, got its start perhaps as early as 1117, but no one can say with certainty when the university began. Certainly it had reached that status by the end of the twelfth century, and, by 1209, it is estimated there were 3,000 students and teachers associated with it. Unlike Bologna and Paris, law wasn't taught in the universities. Rather, students studied law at the Inns of Court in London.
    Off tomorrow! See you all Monday for a real change of pace!

    April 9, 2000 - 07:43 am
    Thank goodness, I saved this information on our old friend St. Frideswide. She played an important part in the history of Oxford, apparently:

    St. Frideswide (FRIDESWIDA, FREDESWIDA, Fr. FRÉVISSE, Old Eng. FRIS). Virgin, patroness of Oxford, lived from about 650 to 735. According to her legend, in its latest form, she was the child of King Didan and Safrida, and was brought up to holiness by Algiva. She refused the proffered hand of King Algar, a Mercian, and fled from him to Oxford. It was in vain that he pursued her; a mysterious blindness fell on him, and he left her in her cell. From this eventually developed the monastery, in which she died in 19 October (her principal feast), and was buried. The earliest written life now extant was not composed until four hundred years after her death, but it is generally admitted that the substance of the tradition has every appearance of verisimilitude. From the time of her translation in 1180 (commemorated 12 Feb.) from her original tomb to the great shrine of her church, her fame spread far and wide; for the university was now visited by students from all parts, who went twice a year in solemn procession to her shrine and kept her feasts with great solemnity. Cardinal Wolsey transformed her monastery into Christ Church College, King Henry made her church into Oxford cathedral, but her shrine was dismantled, and her relics, which seem to have been preserved, were relegated to some out-of-the-way corner.

    Phyll, "cubed"

    April 9, 2000 - 09:00 am
    Phyll, the Perspicacious Pilgrim---Thanks for posting Oxford's saint again. The problems between "town and gown" sure do go back aways. Remember that for a very long time, college students wore their short sleeve black gowns to class. Professors and other higher ups had longer sleeves. I believe this custom is still followed to a certain extent, albeit most casually.

    JoanP--Have a good day off. I didn't know you had days off. Enjoy it.

    Good morning to all pilgrims. The ding has dung and you can all read the Man of Law's tale. Up next!

    ~~Harry the Hoarse, prop. of the TABARD where we allow you to keep your dogs with you and your horses in the stable.

    April 9, 2000 - 09:43 am
    Our student is from Oxford:

    " There was an Oxford Student too, it chanced, 
    Already in his logic well advanced." 

    Also Morrison writes as follows:

    "Dryden praised Chaucer as 'learned in all sciences,' and some awareness of the range of his reading and knowledge will give the modern reader a better understanding of Chaucer. Little is known of how or where Chaucer got his extensive education. Robinson, relying on records cited by Professor Crow, thinks it probable that he obtained part of his early training at St. Paul's Cathedral School in London. An old tradition, which has recently gained new favor, holds that he was a member of one of the Inns of Court, which suitable candidates studied law, a helpful preparation for Chaucer's diplomatic missions and administrative posts."

    April 9, 2000 - 09:48 am
    MaryPage----G'morning to you. I read all your post despite the last line wandering off the right margin. I would fix it if I knew how because it would be good if everyone could read it.

    I speculate that Chaucer was also very much educated, especially in the ways of the world and the kind of people in it by all his experiences as a diplomat abroad. And he also read a lot. He made numerous translations of other writers, like Boccacio, for example.

    If he did go to St Paul's school, he would have learned Latin and Greek at an early age. We know more about his life than we do about Shakespeare's. I find that fact amazing.


    April 9, 2000 - 09:49 am
    MaryPage---Hey, you must be here at the same time, and you fixed it. Thank you so much.

    April 9, 2000 - 10:17 am
    Yeah, I did fix it, Maryal.

    I am firmly of the school that we know so little about Shakespeare because the William Shakespeare of REAL HISTORY was not the William Shakespeare who wrote the plays and sonnets. I believe the 2 or more, but not more than 4, people who were in on the writing of that fabulous literature paid the actor William Shakespeare to go along with the deception for social and political reasons.

    April 9, 2000 - 10:19 am
    MaryPage----could be---Shakespeare theory. But no one has yet convincingly proved that anyone else---or plural--wrote the plays. I think people find it very hard to believe that such a genius could have come from "nowhere" and did what he did. I suppose the argument will continue for some time.


    April 9, 2000 - 10:30 am
    It is just so weird that there were NO BOOKS in his home! And his wife and daughter were totally illiterate! And he never went to Court and never travelled out of England and very little within it!

    April 9, 2000 - 10:37 am
    Yup--very strange. It looks like SS (if he was the one from Stratford) spent all his time in London. Or almost all. His son Hamnet died at something like 12. Maybe he would have been taught to read. The other two children were girls, and you know how it was to be a girl in these days. Unless you were Princess Elizabeth or someone very important.


    April 9, 2000 - 11:06 am

    From my perspective, your perception of my pellucidity makes me pale with pleasure.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 9, 2000 - 01:37 pm
    So how did we get into WS when we're supposed to be discussing Chaucer. I'm looking out at April snow in New York covering the blooming forsythia, spring bulbs and lawns, but it's not sticking to the pavement or the roads, so I'm sure it will give up soon and remember that it's spring.

    I recall that Chaucer did a lot of travelling on diplomatic missions to the continent, so that while he may not have been college trained, he had access to magnificent libraries in Italy and perhaps Germany and France. It is well known that he read Boccaccio and modelled some of his work after that of the great Italian author.

    I have been using my indoor time to catch up on the M of L. Here are some interesting things I found.

    The Man of Law’s Tale

    The story of Constance shows Chaucer’s only confrontation with Islam, which during his time was Christianity’s strongest religious rival. It contains the only reference to Mohammed and the Koran. It also attacks paganism and further shows male attitudes towards women of that era.

    Especially notable are the comments of the lawyer who says:

    “All husbands are good husbands; heretofore
    Wives have established this, I say no more

    Yeah? How naive can he get? What poll has he taken and of how many wives?

    and then he says the following, using the word “thrall,” which means “enslaved”. From the previous statement a reader can only assume that he approves of such enslavement.

    “Woman is a thrall
    Disposed and ruled over by men in all!

    And as for women’s sexual satisfaction he says:

    “For wives albeit very holy things
    are bound to suffer patiently at night
    \ Such necessary pleasures as the King’s,
    Or others who have wedded them with rings.

    Let us not forget that this is not really a pleasure jaunt. These people feel flawed and guilty for the sins they have committed and are making the journey in the hope of being absolved of the error of their ways. However, they try to make light of what they have done by telling stories of the excesses committed by others. Disorder has broken out and in asking for the Man of Law’s Tale, Harry hopes to call for unity in the service of Christianity and fraternity among the members of the group.

    Susan Chibanoff maintains that the Man of Law considers Islam as dangerous to Christianity because of its close proximity to it. He believes that Islam mimics Christianity and in doing so avails himself of a popular medieval belief that it is dangerous to the Christian religion.

    She further states and is well supported by other feminist writers that the Man of Law’s hostility extends beyond religion to gender. Their analyses centers on Constance’s passivity, which previously has meant Christian virtue to other writers. She quotes Sheila Delany who states that the Man of Law’s handling of the issue makes this less a model of laudable Christian suffering than a model for female submission. Other writers say that it endorses the tyranny of husband over wife and that the love of a man should be placed above other responsibilities. Even above LIFE itself.

    More to come later.


    April 9, 2000 - 02:32 pm
    Which, I suppose, is why it used to be accepted by The Law that a man could beat his wife to death?

    Newsweek 4/3/00 page 52 has the following: "However, when leaders of the Icelandic settlement agreed to convert to Christianity, they cut a deal with the missionaries; we worship your God, you let us keep practicing female infanticide. The church agreed."

    In thrall, indeed. And worse!

    Joan Pearson
    April 9, 2000 - 03:19 pm
    Mary Page! shshshshsh I work at the Folger Shakespeare Library in DC Scholars come in from all over the world (especially England because Henry Folger managed to acquire most of the first Folios of Shakespeare's plays in existence!) Mary, I can tell you, after four years of talking to these scholars, there is no credibility given to the sensationalists (not many) who claim they know who has written the works...

    Admittedly, there is little known about where WS was educated. He left Ann in the country with his family while he spent much of his life in London. That's true. What he did there, other than stage "his plays" is not documented - but that doesn't mean he didn't write the plays. There simply is no credible evidence to prove that he did not and that someone else did!

    There is little known where Chaucer was educated either! I wonder if Morrison drew conclusions from Canterbury Tales??? The Man of Law refers to him as if he knows him ..."law wasn't taught in the universities. Rather, students studied law at the Inns of Court in London!" Hmm, Morrison concludes that Chaucer may have been educated here too.

    Yes!, we do have an Oxford student in our party...on his way to Canterbury to do penance for his dalliance with the Oxford town ladies, no doubt!

    PPP, you've got me thinking about St. Friedswide at Oxford. And wondering just where she was...was she protected from these wild youth, the students of Oxford, or did they just go for the town girls?

    Looking forward to a change of pace in the morning...another saint?

    Joan Pearson
    April 10, 2000 - 03:54 am
    I think it is quite amusing to hear the Man o'Law, referring to Chaucer by name...we knew that Chaucer had inserted himself into the pilgrimage party in the very beginning, but now we have someone poke fun at him "clumsy, as he is at times", adding that Chaucer has "told more of lovers up and down than Ovid!" Is that what this is? A love story? An odd one coming from the Man O' Law?

    April 10, 2000 - 08:49 am
    Constance's boat represents the church!  V.A. Kolve suggests that constance's voyage represented the ship of the church on its mission to spread christianity, to the heathen lands.  The image of the church, as a boat,  in which the faithful find refuge from the sea of the world is extremely commonplace in medieval iconography. The architecture of the church building itself is meant to recall an image of a boat; the "nave" (from theLatin "navis" meaning "ship") is often constructed so that the roof resembles an upside-down ship's keel. <center>But Noah's ark also represented the sacraments of baptism and communion, as Agustine explained in his discussion of
    Noah's ark. "And the door which it was given in its side surely represents the wound made when the side of the
    crucified was pierced with the spear. This, as we know, is the way of entrance for those who come to him, because
    from that wound flowed the sacraments with which believers are initiated" (City of God, XV, 27).</center>

    Joan Pearson
    April 10, 2000 - 08:56 am
    Alf! That's great...the boat/the Church! How about Constance's body/the Church? Now let's fit the Crusades into the picture?

    April 10, 2000 - 12:34 pm
    Once again we can see the proof of what was one of our original discussions---things may change but people don't. In reading Charlotte's post about women in thrall or enslaved I was reminded of the very big bru-ha-ha just last year, I believe, where the Southern Baptist convention adopted in their creed, or by-laws or whatever they called them, the edict that Southern Baptist women must "submit to their husbands". I hope I do not tread on anyone's toes but that sounds to me very much like something the Man of Law would say. It seems that this is a constant issue stretching down through the ages. It ebbs and flows and I wonder if it will ever be truly resolved.


    Edit: If the lawyer did not personally know Chaucer he certainly knew Chaucer's previous writings quite well--apparently cites all of them plus some that Chaucer didn't write.

    April 10, 2000 - 01:52 pm
    Afternoon, pilgrims all----I am attempting to see through medieval eyes and appreciate this tale of Constance the unbelievably constant woman. From what I understand in the fourteenth century this story was a very popular one, told by a number of authors, among them Chaucer's friend, John Gower.

    I think I have the same problem with this moral lesson tale as I do with fairy tales and some folk tales. There is entirely too much emphasis by means of repetition for my taste. Constance is one unlucky woman when it comes to being put out to sea to survive, with "provisions," but God knows how, for years and years, at least five the second time.

    I know, I know, this is about the lengths people will go to to remain constant, and if they do this, God, in His providence will care for them.

    Constance is a stick figure to me; she's not a woman at all or I would get more upset with her. No one in the tale is real to me, except maybe the narrator.

    OK, I'll stop ranting and get myself some good ale---and lighten up.

    Alf---most interesting post. The Church = the Ship Constance sails on. So the Church is traveling around to pagan countries and making the conversion of pagans to Christianity possible.

    ~~Harry the Hopeless Heretic

    April 10, 2000 - 02:33 pm
    Phyll, I am in complete agreement with you. I have read and heard a lot of versions of why women have come to have a lesser value than men, but none of them have ever seemed conclusive to me.

    I think it downright devilish that men have been able from the very beginnings of religious writings to assert that God made us for men and to be submissive to them. So it most definitely was through Religion that they have been able to successfully insert this mind set into the brains of both sexes through the ages.

    Jim Olson
    April 10, 2000 - 03:05 pm
    I agree with the various comments anout the status of women in the tale (and many others).

    Mary Page's phrase "devilish" is quite apt as there a a number of references in the story to the devil and Eve.

    Later Milton in his Paradise Lost would repeat this view but assign equal blame to Adam for man's fall. Eve tempted him, but after all he was a man and should have known better.

    What sturck me about the Lawyer was his frequent use of terms and situations dealing with contracts and obligations that had to be met.

    He is telling the story because he contracted to do so as part of the agreement of all the pilgrims to tell a story.

    The king Alla put his mother to death because by her lies about Constance she breached her contract to support Alla in all things.

    There were many other examples.

    Reminded me of the 1994 Newt Gingrich Contract on America- in many ways. That is the year the republicans completely lost the women's vote through their contract with the religious right, resulting in Clinton's re-election in 96.

    One of histories ironies.

    April 10, 2000 - 03:37 pm
    Jim Olsen---That remark of yours that the Man of Law "is telling the story because he contracted to do so as part of the agreement of all the pilgrims to tell a story" is so meaningful to me that I had to write it in here again.

    Does anyone see a connection between the Man of Law's Prologue---that little essay on poverty and how wretched it is and the tale about Constance?


    April 11, 2000 - 03:21 am
    Maryal...I have been wondering about just what you said...the poverty essay. How does it fit in? Constance was the poor had no power of choice; lived at the whim of those in control for quite a few events of life.

    The only powerful women in this story are the two wretched nasty mothers. What does that have to say about the attitude toward women.


    April 11, 2000 - 04:23 am
    A lot.

    Joan Pearson
    April 11, 2000 - 04:36 am
    I've been wondering why the man of law - aka serjeant-at-law - told this particular tale and how it reflects on the teller. It is becoming clearer, thanks to you! Perhaps by week's end - we need to find out more about the relationship between LAW and the CHURCH at that time...

    Jim notes the strong link between contracts/obligation. That's what this tale is really all about, isn't it? Good/Evil - Power/Submission - Christianity/Non-believers - Parents/Children - Male/Female.

    Constance (I missed the "constant" in there ) - is not the crusader saint out to convert the world to a better way, to Christianity, but as Maryal points out, a "stick figure" (a very attractive one, so let's give her a few more curves) - an instrument (a thrall?), sailing the world within the ship - the Church (thanks, ALF).

    I'm wearing the robes of the medieval pilgrim now, trying to imagine the reaction of the tale on our band of pilgrims...(as opposed to a roomful of 20th century feminists - <<BG>>)

    Will reread the prologue - on poverty. As I recall I liked it - something in there about the value of Time. As PPP mentions - some things never change!

    April 11, 2000 - 05:25 am
    PHYLL: My son is a Baptist preacher and you should have heard his answer to that statement re. women's submission to men. Keep in mind the fact that HE was raised in a single household by a mother and two very strong-willed sisters. Even the dog was a pure bred female. When the Baptists came out with that statement, his sisters demanded an explanation. They proceded to chew him up and spit him out, like never before. The kid didn't have a prayer (no pun intended) for his own defense against his sisters remarks. Amazing how one forgets where they come from.

    Wasn't it on 18th of April, in '75 that Paul Revere made his run? Our introduction begins there too? Significance?

    Joan: Let us keep in mind what we discussed initially. These tales develop based on the diverse opinions, personalities and quarrels of the tellers. Hmmmm?

    April 11, 2000 - 05:44 am
    Can it get any better than this? "O hateful grief to suffer indigence!" That beginning grabbed me right away, folks. The blame is put on Christ and all (including your brother) will hate you.

    It sounds like a poem to me but I will defer to our elite writers in the group. "Her features filled his fancy and invention Till all the passion of his heart was cast On loving her as long as life should last."

    Isn't that poetry? Mal, Charolotte? Are you there?

    The sultaness? "A well of vices; she saw the course on which her son was bent of giving up their ancient sacrifices." I love her. ( I am a Scorpio, so beware gang.) To her God she promises to die rather than depart from her faith. Oh brother, Ms. Sultaness. Such piety- what nobility. She keeps her god and sacrifices her son. Irony? Fablieux?

    April 11, 2000 - 10:10 am

    A quote from The Portable Chaucer trans. by Theodore Morrison:

    It looks as though Chaucer had originally meant the Lawyer to tell a story in prose, but the Lawyer's Tale as in fact we have it is an elaborate and formal narrative in the seven-line rhyme-royal stanza."

    It would appear that Chaucer changed his mind from the original outline--as we have observed that he has done before.

    (I loved the story about your son and his two sisters. I am sure the same thing happened in many Baptist homes. I was born and raised a Baptist but not a Southern Baptist. I think that it unfortunately set the Baptist denomination back a few centuries.)


    Perhaps someone will enlighten me but I see no connection between the Lawyer's woeful rantings against "poverty" and his Tale. Perhaps his prologue dealt more with his personal situation than is evident in the Tale of Constance. After all, Chaucer did say that the lawyer was not as busy as he "seemed" to be. Even though he outwardly appeared well-off with his properties owned "without entailment", maybe he wasn't taking in as much as he would have liked thus would explain such statements as, "Better be dead than live poor and abject!" In my family it was called "poor mouthing".


    April 11, 2000 - 12:10 pm
    Phyll---ah yes, I remember poor-mouthing. The only connection I can see is the one mentioned by MarjV , that Constance is poor. She is, however, rich in spirit. The Man of Law is apparently on his way up and not poor at all, thus his introduction may be in contrast to who he is......maybe poverty is also what he fears. Constance's whole existence seems to be led in order to store up treasures in heaven. If true, then the tale is a moral lesson for the Man of Law, who doesn't seem to get the point.

    ALF--Loved your story about your son, the Baptist minister. My father was ordained a So. Baptist minister but left it for the Congregational Church (now the United Church of Christ) early in his career.

    MarjV---Those mother-in-laws-- evil evil women-- are something else, are they not? Not to mention EVE whose fault everything was. I see the dichotomy (man created) of Virgin and whore operating here. Women are either so pure they are too good to walk upon the earth (Constance who spend most of her time at sea), or they are an occasion for sin. IRRRRRK

    JoanP----You get to do the LAW and CHURCH research. Smile.

    Hello Charlotte---I know you're there somewhere.

    Yo MaryPage You too.

    Hey, Jim!

    ~~~Harry the Hounded Husband, who knows just exactly what women are like!

    April 11, 2000 - 12:38 pm
    Maryal: figure this one out. My kids were born, baptised in the Episcopal faith, attended the temple with friends, married icatholics and now-- Mike is a Baptist minister, one daughter- an Episcopalian, one a Catholic and I am now attneding the Lutheran church. Diversity!

    April 11, 2000 - 12:48 pm
    ALF-----I'm all for Diversity. Just so long as religion is not discussed at the dinner table. Joking!

    April 11, 2000 - 12:50 pm
    Poor Constance! Such adversity for her and those that loved her. It was a false conversion by the sultan and his barons, but the Constaple Hermigeld and Alla is a diffferent story. They are sincere and Alla in particular has an unshakable faith, like Constance. Their faith is rewarded in the end, yes--and this CONTRASTS with Palomon and Arcite in the first Tale.

    April 11, 2000 - 02:58 pm
    ALF: I loved your story, as well. I am a bit confused, history wise, about the Baptists. I thought they started out in this country (I do not mean were founded in this country), in Rhode Island, as a church WITHOUT a hierarchy. I thought originally that was the whole point of their being, and that each individual Baptist church was independent from every other. For this reason, I have been unable to understand the Southern Baptist Convention, or whatever. Well, no stone throwing here. I have never been a Baptist, though I deeply admired the Colonial ones.

    We have diversity in my family as well. I was born to a Catholic mother and Episcopalian father. Was raised Episcopalian, converted to Catholicism, married a Catholic, left the church and returned to the Episcopal church. Married a Methodist who became an Episcopalian. Have 3 children who were baptised Catholics and 1 Episcopalian. Today I am an agnostic, 2 of my children are agnostics, 1 child is a practising Catholic and 1 belongs to a new fundamentalist religion I'm not familiar with out in Missouri.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 11, 2000 - 04:21 pm
    Looks like churches are still debating 'individual Reason and freedom of choice' as opposed to 'Scripture is Truth.' Here is some information about the famous lovers Apelard and Heloise, so often referred to in Europe. And you can see Apeloard seems to be challanging the church during the 12th century with some of the same argument that went on in Alf's house with her children...loved the story Alf.
    Abelard. Parisian Scholastic philosopher Peter Abelard (1079-1142?) wrote: "by doubting we come to inquiry; and through inquiry we perceive truth," he was echoing that Hellenic spirit of Human Reason -- what we call humanism -- as well as foreshadowing the future life of the skeptical mind. French theologian, sensualist and monk lived, wrote and taught during "12th Century Renaissance."

    Abelard's studied under "radical" theologians, he also studied under the very orthodox William of Champaux (1070-1121). But Abelard was an odd man and nobody's fool. Instead of becoming either unorthodox or dogmatic, he worked out his own philosophy. Abelard was a restless, vain and contentious man who got into trouble with the medieval Church not so much for his views -- which by today's standards seem rather innocuous -- but for the way in which he stated his views. And if the way he stated his views caused uneasiness with the Church authorities at Paris, a cathedral city, his romance with Heloise, the niece of the canon Fulbert caused downright scandal.

    Heloise (1101-1164), barely seventeen, and Abelard, then thirty-eight, met as intellectual equals in the home of Fulbert and fell passionately in love. They were secretly married. Against the protests of Heloise, had a son whom they called Astrolabe, and were constantly hounded by the authorities of Notre Dame. Subsequently, Heloise was sent to a nunnery and Abelard to a monastery, but not before he was castrated for his sins against Fulbert's niece. Despite all of this and constant complaints from the Church authorities at Paris, Abelard attracted students from all over Europe. In an age when there were only a handful of universities across Europe, Abelard nearly acquired the title of "The Philosopher," a label medieval philosophers were to eventually ascribe to Aristotle. Heloise and Abelard continue to meet and share their rules of order and how they re-organized their monastery and nunnery where Heloise become the prioress.

    Abelard admired classical philosophy but lived at a time when Latin translations were minimal and difficult to obtain, even for a professor of theology at Paris. However, in what Abelard did have of Greek thought, he found all the essential doctrines of Christianity -- and here's where he really got into trouble.

    Abelard had the audacity to declare that the distance between ancient paganism and the Scriptures was not that great. For this reason, he did not condemn the ancients -- as would Dante -- simply because they did not know Christ. Abelard was disgusted with those people who hastily accepted any doctrine before seriously considering its merits. His most famous work, SIC ET NON, quoted the Church Fathers -- Origen, Augustine, Jerome and Eusebius -- on various issues and showed they were by no means in agreement when it came to interpreting the Scriptures.

    Abelard supplied 158 problems in the form of general statements, intended to be disputed by anyone who cared to enter the debate. The ultimate answer -- truth -- was left to the individual reader to surmise. This technique shocked Abelard's contemporaries. Scripture, for these men, was truth. There was no need to meddle in what was considered absolute. But Abelard wanted men to think for themselves. Reason and Logic were the answers for Abelard -- his faith in the power of Reason was perhaps exaggerated but important nonetheless. Reason has taken different shapes at different times. Abelard is the transitional figure.

    Doubt, inquire and perceive truth, underlying this simple statement -- "by doubting we come to inquiry; and through inquiry we perceive truth" -- is an optimistic faith. This faith is secular and religious at one and the same time. Reason and faith, for a man like Abelard, are two roads which lead to the same truth. In Abelard's case, that truth is God.

    April 11, 2000 - 05:28 pm
    Barbara, that was fascinating stuff.

    It is rather discouraging to note that nothing much changes. It would seem we always have those who question and those who feel more comfortable forbidding questioning.

    April 11, 2000 - 05:35 pm
    Barbara!---Thank you so much for the wonderful information on Peter Abelard. He was one of my Dad's (the minister)favorite theologians. I can remember Dad's often quoting the very part you begin with (and end with)--"by doubting we come to inquiry; and through inquiry we perceive truth."


    April 11, 2000 - 05:52 pm
    In the Christian tradition, St Peter himself was thrown about in a ship on a storm tossed sea. The ship was blessed by God tending over him, symbolizing the protection of the soul in time of great adversity. This was much like our Constance had to endure, with her faith.

    The ship is an allegory for the church. The function of the church in the salvation of men's souls is described here. The ship of the church takes the christian homeward, to safety (salvation) It is merely a means of transport from this world to the next. Wasn't earthly life seen as a pilgrimage?

    The St. Ursula legend is vaguely similar to the Constance legend. Like Constance, Ursula was a British Christian, and the wreck and martyrdom of St. Ursula and the eleven thousand virgins was often glossed in a way illustrated by the tale. St. Ursula was often portrayed as helping sinners into her boat to save them from drowning in the seas of the world.

    Jim Olson
    April 11, 2000 - 06:20 pm
    I guess I read the poverty bit a little differently.

    The Laywer doesn't put the blame on Christ- the impoverished person does.

    I read it as a cautionary tale- avoid poverty.

    If you don't here are all the bad things that will happen to you.

    Friends will shun you, etc. etc.

    And you will even reach such a low state that you will blame Christ for the uneven distribution of wealth.

    The rich merchants seem to be the lawyer's heroes.

    They tell him the tale that he tells and it is a very proper tale about constancy and virtue and the reward for virtue.

    Of course, the punshments and rewards will be meted out by men to women with God standing by and overseeing the process, personally intervening a couple of times to reward Constance and protect her.

    Remember at this time poverty is considered a crime and one is put in prison for it. The Cook's apprentice spent some time in Newgate prison (having squandered and gambled away his money).

    It is the fault of the individual not the society that one is in poverty.

    Not until much later when Blake and Dickens appear on the scene do we get a different literary look at poverty in the English literary world.

    Chaucer is not about to rattle any cages social or theological.

    Nor will Shakespeare either for that matter.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 11, 2000 - 07:37 pm
    Alf somewhere in the back of my mind...isn't the church symbol for 'HOPE' a ship?

    April 12, 2000 - 03:57 am
    Jim, if you are ever over in politics here in SeniorNet, you will hear from some who still cling to that medieval point of view that poverty is always totally the fault of the impoverished. Amazing, but 14th century mind sets are still with us!

    Jim Olson
    April 12, 2000 - 06:24 am
    Mary Page

    Yes the concept of poverty as the fault of the impoverished is very much alive in current politics.

    There is an interesting discussion in The Greatest Generation here that centers on the depression.

    Many people then found themselves in poverty and felt guilty about it.

    In spite of the rhetoric of politicians about "welfare queens" etc. many impoverished still have those feelings.

    But the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow in this country and globally.

    I don't think it's all the fault of the poor anymore now than it was in Chaucer's time.

    Chaucer's time was a time of economic transition with a growing merchant class and middle class. This is , I think, reflected in the tales including the Lawyers tale, but not something Chaucer confronted in any thoughtful way except as he has the people who expereinced it tell their stories in their language.

    The widespread use of the English language and Chaucer was a pioneer here in a literary sense was one of the factors that eroded the central control of government and church and brought a more common bond to the wider population.

    I found it interesting that the lawyer held out for at least some Latin as he marked the transitions from the three major parts of his story with Latin phrases signifying the end of one section and beginning of the next.

    Lawyers still are reluctanct to use English as most people know it and continue to hold out for "legaleese" filled with archaic and Latinate terminolgy.

    In many parts of the world the Catholic church is still fighting the ideological battle about which language mass is to he held in.

    And protestant groups are fighting over biblical language, some claiming the King James version supreme as coming directly from God.

    Joan Pearson
    April 12, 2000 - 07:48 am
    Oh my, so many threads going at many brilliant insights! We certainly are unearthing long-forgotten circumstances that made this tale perfectly understandable to the meievalists - but baffle us today.

    Marj Those mothers-in law from hell really puzzle me! Just can't understand how they did in their own flesh and blood - for religious or for any other reason! I know, I wasn't there. And the fact that it happened twice indicates that it was a natural response to the "conversions", which is beyond my comprehension.
    Why did Dunegild murder her own people, yet send Constance and her grandson to sea? Why not murder her with the others?

    ALF - are you saying that you think the lawyer's tale is projecting his own negative feelings against the Crusades, the Church? I spent a little time trying to unearth the relationship between the Church and State (Law) at this time... The community was the ideal, centering around the church but the Renaissance is around the corner with emphasis on the individual... Change is in the air. People are beginning to question, to reason, rather than to accept. The Pope in Rome had always exerted strong influence on the church and the state in England. The Pope then moved from Rome to Avignon in France and England is involved in war with France (100 years War - dates?) ... So it is very possible that the Man of Law is reacting against the church, the Pope.., but as Jim reminds us, "Chaucer is not about to rattle any cages, social or political." What is the moral of the tale, what is the man of law saying about the Crusades, about Christianity?

    Yes, it sounds like poetry to me too, Phyll. Do you think Chaucer changed his mind ...or that he had a reason for doing the exact opposite. "I am not a poet, but a plain spoken man who will tell a story plainly." I got the impression that this lawyer is anything but a plain ordinary man. Look at the description of his attire. Not exactly dressed for a pilgrimage on the dusty road to Canterbury. And he is anything but a plain-spoken man as he laces his language in legalese. The man is described as "perfect" - though "not as busy as he seemed to be." Not as perfect? Not as plain-spoken or direct as he claims to be??? What does this mean to the rest of you? And how is this related to the tale he tells? Things are not as perfect or ideal as they appear to be? The converts to Christianity are not as fervent as they appear to be? What do you think?

    Alf, there are strong contrasts with the Knight's Tale, I agree...on many levels. Start with the basic tale, two guys, one pretty disinterested object of affection. The one who wins her dies, and so she lives happily ever-after with the other. What else? (Also would like more information on the legend of St. Ursala? When? Would Chaucer have been familiar with it - and incorporated the whole ship/sea image into the tale of Constance.?

    Barb, wonderful stuff on the Age of Reason...are we beginning to see the Renaissance ideas creeping into the tales, folks starting to question the ideals - the Church? Is that what the Man of Law's tale is doing, in its own way? Was that evident to Chaucer's pilgrims or only to us looking at it from hindsight?

    Jim, did Constance ever blame Christ for her plight? Did anyone? Is she being held up as an examplar - the ideal? I agree, Chaucer did not intend to rattle any social/theological cages, but did he? Or did his listeners react differently to the tale than WE are?

    This is a marvelous discussion. I thank all of you for what you are putting into it! Imagine reading this alone?

    April 12, 2000 - 08:03 am
    Jim---Almost fell off my chair when you said that even today lawyers do not speak English! After all, they go to law school to learn all those latinate terms and circuitous expressions with parties of the first part and parties of the second. My daughter is a paralegal (no training--she picked it up on her own) and she can sling those words around with the best of them. But she doesn't, except when talking with the lawyers and explaining something to me.

    Good morning, my fellow pilgrims. Busy day here with student appointments and a lunchtime meeting, but I wanted to jump in and say how interesting this discussion is. I'll try to find out something about Saint Ursula if I can get some puter time today.

    ~~Harry® the Hurried

    April 12, 2000 - 12:05 pm
    BARBARA: Thank you for the A & H info. Abelard is definitely a man for my heart with the quote > "The ultimate answer -- truth -- was left to the individual reader to surmise"

    JIM-----Oh Yes! Even happens in one to one conversation. Some people are unable to deal with the fact there are many translations; some excellent. Your quote > "And protestant groups are fighting over biblical language, some claiming the King James version supreme as coming directly from God."


    April 12, 2000 - 05:10 pm

    This so obviously learn-ed Man of the Law has sure damped down this rowdy bunch of pilgrims!

    HARRY, if you are there, do think we might need a little something to restore our high spirits?

    Phyll, the pensive pilgrim

    Joan Pearson
    April 12, 2000 - 06:36 pm
    Dear Pensive, Poetic, Pontificated-to-death Phyll! Do you imagine that our man o'law had the same effect on his fellow travelors? Sermonizing always puts me to sleep too!

    There was something there that got me thinking - about time. I found it striking a chord (especially at tax time where you may find Harry tonight!):

    Bewail time's loss more than the loss of gold:
    "Lost money is not lost beyond recall,
    But loss of time brings on the loss of all."
    I find that I put more value on time these days than ever...more than wealth definitely, more that food, appearance, more than sex perhaps, (but I guess I won't go so far as to put health on this list). It is a priority now more than ever before. Perhaps I am more aware now that it is running out! Those lines never would have jumped out at me years ago when reading them in school...

    Is this what motivates the man o' law?

    April 12, 2000 - 06:36 pm
    Phyll----Good idea. I am sure the Man of Law (Imagine Harry bowing) would not mind were we all to indulge in some libations to salute his pious tale. And therefore Harry will, without further ado, tap the new keg of Malmsey!

    And don't anyone tell me that Malmsey is not authentic or appropriate to the times since it is mentioned in the next tale.

    Harry®, Host and prop. of the almost-forgotten-now TABARD, where the nights are long as are the beds.

    April 13, 2000 - 03:35 am
    Oh dear me, I am on the run. URSULA info to follow as soon as I get off the golf course. I will be thirsty Harry.

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 13, 2000 - 05:11 am
    I think the purpose of this tale is to remedy the disorder that has broken out in previous tales.. The M of L calls for unity in the service of Christianity among the members of the group. But his fraternity is for men alone. He is concerned about the Muslims and pagans which were competing with Christianity in that era. In presenting Constance as a model of female submission and passivity he dehumanizes both women and Muslims.


    Joan Pearson
    April 13, 2000 - 05:19 am
    Charlotte, I think the Renaissance is just around the corner, where man (and woman) will be regarded as thinking, reasoning individuals - Humanism will have its day! This is the tail end of the Medieval period, where the ideal community is still the norm for the day. Canterbury "Tails"! I don't think that our pilgrims looked upon the man o'law's tale as one of "de-humanization" of women, do you? I think that's a conclusion based on hindsight???

    Jim Olson
    April 13, 2000 - 05:35 am

    No, Constance bnever blamed Christ for her plight and I never even hinted that she did.

    We were discussing the Poverty piece and it is in the prologue not in the story of Constance.

    Spite of thy will thou must, for indigence,
    Go steal, or beg, or borrow thine expense.
    Thou blamest Christ, and thou say'st bitterly,
    He misdistributes riches temporal;
    Thy neighbour dost thou censure, sinfully,

    Where the laywer is quoting a indigent (impoverished person)

    Constance was not killed because she was protected from that fate by Christ- for her faith and virtue.

    Had she even had an unkind thought about Christ she would have been a goner and we would have no story.

    Don't oversell the renaissance as the coming of a glorious age of humanity and the deliverance of women from repression and prejudice.

    I'm sure there are readers here who could point out a continuing thread of maltreatment of women in western thought that was not broken to this day.

    Joan Pearson
    April 13, 2000 - 11:03 am
    Okay, Constance, like Job, despite all that has happened to her in her young life, NEVER wavers, never with fist to the skies asks her God why he is not heeding her prayers. She never questions. always accepts, submits...

    So she is an example that the M O'Law is using to preach his little sermon on poverty - do not blame Christ because of unfairness on earth. Now here's the question - to whom is he preaching? To those in the party who may be expressing some sort of resentment toward the well-heeled lawyer? To others who resent court decisions. or the fees he collects with very little effort? (I'm still wondering where the "he was less busy that he seemed to be" is all about - as well as his reason for this sermon-tale??

    April 13, 2000 - 12:27 pm
    OK----Here is some information about the very early St.Ursula. She was 4th century, very early.

    An artist's rendition of St. Ursula. Ships/boats on the left.

    Article from Encyclopedia Britannica

    Ursula, Saint

    fl. 4th century,, Rome; feast day October 21

    legendary leader of 11 or 11,000 virgins reputedly martyred at Cologne, now in Germany, by the Huns, 4th-century nomadic invaders of southeastern Europe. The story is based on a 4th- or 5th-century inscription from St. Ursula's Church, Cologne, stating that an ancient basilica had been restored on the site where some holy virgins were killed. Mentioned again in an 8th- or 9th-century sermon, the number of maidens increased to several thousand, reportedly martyred under the Roman emperor Maximian. In Jacobus de Voragine's Legenda Aurea (1265-66; Golden Legend) Ursula is a British princess who went to Rome accompanied by 11,000 virgins and was killed with them by the Huns on the return from the pilgrimage. The discovery at Cologne in 1155 of an ancient Roman burial ground believed to contain these martyrs' relics inspired additional legends. Ursula is the patron of the Order of St. Ursula (Ursulines), a congregation of nuns dedicated to educating girls. In the 1969 reform of the Roman Catholic church calendar her feast day was reduced to observances in certain localities.

    The discrepancy between 11 virgins and 11,000 virgins is said to have come from an inscription which reported "11M". Speculation is that the M stood for MARTYR, and that it was misread as the Roman Numeral for one thousand.

    ~~Harry®, the Helpful

    April 13, 2000 - 01:07 pm

    The phrases in the General Prologue concerning the Sargeant-at-law (in the Wright translation)"--one of great excellence, judicious, worthy of reverence, Or so he seemed, his sayings were so wise." and a few lines later, "And nowhere would you find a busier man; And yet he seemed much busier than he was. bother me, too.

    It just seems to me that it introduces an element of doubt that this man was all that he appeared to be. In modern words, he talked a better game than he played.

    I wonder if his tale of Constance, the pious, never doubting in God, pure of heart in spite of all her adversities, is really his subtle way of showing his own piety and purity without appearing to be personally boastful.

    Also, I wonder if his relating of the devious knight in the tale who was turned down by Constance and in his spite kills the governor's wife and then tries to make it look as though Constance had killed her is a back-handed slap at the Knight pilgrim for his perfectness and gentility? Perhaps a little jealousy?

    I guess he just does not ring true with me and if I found myself in legal difficulties I think I would hire one of the other lawyers that gather on "St. Paul's porch".


    April 13, 2000 - 01:45 pm
    Those statements, Phyll, certainly cast a shadow on the Man of Law. He runs around busily, knowing that the busy lawyer is a GOOD lawyer, people will think? Chaucer is having a little fun with this lawyer who divides is story into three parts which he announces. Is this a tale or an argument?


    Shasta Sills
    April 13, 2000 - 02:24 pm
    It doesn't seem to me that the Man of Law's tale suits him. This kind of story should have been told by a Man of the Church. If he had told a tale about breaking a will or avoiding income tax, I would have believed he knew what he was talking about.

    Joan Pearson
    April 13, 2000 - 03:27 pm
    Shasta, I'm with you! I feel we are stretching here...and still looking for the connection between the man of law and the tale of religion...
    We are finding some links to contracts, duty, etc. but it's still a stretch. Are we missing an important piece to the puzzle?

    April 13, 2000 - 03:43 pm
    JoanP----If we are, I don't know what it is. Unless that it is somewhat odd that this man would tell such a pious tale. Perhaps he is a true believer, but somehow I doubt it. Could he be telling it to impress others? I agree with Shasta--the tale doesn't seem to fit the teller in this case.

    Maybe Chaucer wanted to make sure he told a version of this very popular tale. In the 14th century, the story of Constance was very popular. My modern-day parallel, and I hope this doesn't upset anyone, would be the movie, Titanic. So many many people loved that movie, but I'll bet it won't be watched fifty years from now.


    April 13, 2000 - 05:22 pm
    Maryal, Shasta, Joan,

    One of the translations I have from the library is The Portable Chaucer by Theodore Morrison. In it he says "The Lawyer's Tale itself is a sustained piece of elaborate rhetoric, likely enough first written before he (Chaucer) conceived The Canterbury Tales and later adapted and brought into the plan."

    Maybe what is bothering us is that it just DOESN'T fit here! Maybe Chaucer died and didn't have a chance to get back to it to tailor it for a better fit to the Lawyer. Or more likely, tailor the Lawyer to fit the tale. I don't know just why but several of us seem to be feeling that it just isn't quite right.


    I agree on the Titanic movie, Maryal. I'm sure the Titanic STORY will still be remembered for a long time but people will be asking Leonardo Who?

    Joan Pearson
    April 13, 2000 - 06:11 pm
    Phyll, Maryal, Shasta ~ don't you feel we ought to be whispering when we sit here and criticize Chaucer? We talking about Chaucer here and saying, maybe he died or something before he made the man o' law fit with his tale. Maybe that's why I keep saying we're missing something - the link between law and religion. I think it's stronger than we realize because we are so accustomned to the separation of Church & State? Here's something I just found, but too tired tonight to look closely at it
    What precisely is it about Christianity's distinction from Islam that makes the Sowdanesse claim that Christian law will bind Islamic people to a thralldom to their bodies (and penance) which they do not already have and suffer from? One can understand how betraying Mohammed will condemn Islamic people to hell if they convert to Christianity, from their perspective at least. What is considerably less clear is why the Sowdanesse argues that Christian law will convert them to a slavery to their bodies if they accept Christianity. Christ's law, after all, is supposed to be just as otherworldly in its orientation as Islamic belief claims to be. Both are concerned primarily with the beatific afterlife and how one must behave to have any hope of achieving it. The Sowdanesse's addition of only three words ("to oure bodies") curiously amplifies and transforms Custance's earlier complaint to her father, where she is responding to being sent away to the land of the infidels, into a statement that seems "nowadays" to be slightly off the mark of how Christianity is generally perceived.
    Is there something here about binding law that will help? You know, this is the first time I remember Constance (Custance???) complaining about anything? Will have to read that part again!

    Joan Pearson
    April 13, 2000 - 06:39 pm
    WHOA! I think I've got it...again, will leave it here for morning to read more closely, but I think the great Schism is the missing link between law and church we've been looking for:
    Chaucer's journey to Canterbury is undertaken in an age of Schism. That a sense of profound doom hangs over his Tales of Canterbury can be read in the fact that the church has abandoned its concern for the cure of souls and has taken up instead the art of protecting the property and revenue rights of its vast material holdings. That single schismatic issue has become so intensely con tested by the end of the century that one pope raises an army of Christian soldiers to fight a real war against the other pope's army of Christian soldiers. One point that can be drawn from this observation is that Chaucer may have perceived the Schism itself as God's second judgment against sinful man, a judgment he ties to Noah's flood through association with the traditional first day of its beginning.

    The Schism, more than the Crusades, has been on Chaucer's mind throughout the writing of the Tales...there's more...

    Joan Pearson
    April 13, 2000 - 06:44 pm
    "There is no historical evidence to show that a majority of pilgrims went on their journeys in the spring ; indeed, the major pilgrimages to Canterbury were undertaken in July and December" (166). When Chaucer says that "And specially from every shires ende/ Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende" (I.15-16), he suggests that a considerable number of English people took to the road in April to make the pilgrimage. If nothing else, the historical fact reported by Wood suggests that Chaucer's original audience, and we can assume most such people were aware of major traditions associated with Becket's shrine, may ha ve wondered why Chaucer asserts that a significant number of people longed to go on pilgrimages in April, when more likely months for the journey were July and December. Wood takes note of the fact that it rains heavily in the spring and, "although April is a nice time of year for a trip, who wants to go riding in all that rain?" (166). He answers this question by suggesting that the traditional, biblical date for the beginning of Noah's "journey on the ark" was April 17, which is the same day he determin es from Chaucer's astronomy for the beginning of the Canterbury pilgrimage (162-163). Wood also acknowledges the fact that Chaucer's reference to the sun's position in the constellation of Aries is ambiguous and not nearly precise enough to fix a date with total confidence. The issue may be moot, since the Man of Law's Prologue contains a specific reference to April 18 (II.5).

    Joan Pearson
    April 13, 2000 - 06:49 pm
    "The opening passage of the Canterbury Tales must also be considered in the light of that same issue. "Whan that Aprill," therefore, can be taken as a reference to the beginning of Noah's flood, on the one hand, which initiated God's first punishment of a sinful world, and to April 8, 1378, on the other, as a point in time when God might consider a second destruction of the world because of the sin that was ushered into His creation by the beginning of the Great Schism, since April 8 was the day Gregory XI's college of cardinals elected Bartolomeo Prignano as the pope who took the name Urban VI. In answer, then, to the question of how soon Chaucer engages the issues of the Great Schism in the Canterbury Tales, one can argue that he does so from the very first words of his literary production."

    April 13, 2000 - 06:50 pm
    Emare is a 14th c. poem on the Constance theme. A rich and mighty emperor named Artyus has an only child, Emare. The empress dies before her daughter can walk or talk. Sir Tergaunte, the king of Sicily, presents the Emperor with a marvelous cloth of gold, that had previously belonged to the Sowdan. The Emperor has a a beautiful robe made for Emare out of the cloth, and when he sees her in it, he falls in love with her and wants to marry her. He even goes so far as to seek permission of the Pope to allow such an irregular marriage, but the girl refuses. Her father becomes angry and sets her out on a raft. She takes the robe with her. The craft lands in Gaul where it is found by the King's steward. The King falls in love with her and marries her against his mother's wishes. He then goes off to war leaving Emare in the care of his steward and a bishop. During his absence, she bears a son, Segramour, and false messages are sent to the King concerning the birth of his child as in the versions by Trivet and Gower. Emare is set adrift once again and ends up in Rome where a merchant named Jurdan finds her and takes her home. In the meantime, the King returns, discovers the treachery, and has his mother banished. Some years later he goes to Rome to get absolution and lodges in the house of the merchant who had befriended Emare. There he sees his son, learns the boy's name, guesses the truth, and a joyful reunion finally takes place. In Trivet's version of the story, the incest theme has been filtered out. In Emare the wicked stepmother is not killed, only exiled.

    Nellie Vrolyk
    April 14, 2000 - 10:15 am
    I'm still hanging around with not much to say. I did read the whole of the Constance story and it reminds me of a dozen different fairy tales for some reason. I suppose the evil mother-in-laws are one aspect that make me think that.

    I too thought at first that this was a strange unfitting tale for a lawyer to be telling; but then I thought, we all have favourite stories which do not in any way have anything to do with our work or our careers. So could the lawyer's tale not be one he simply loves and admires himself because of what is expressed in it about faith and constancy?

    April 14, 2000 - 01:19 pm
    Nellie---I agree with you. We have not only the evil mothers-in-law but also all the repetition. Constance is in danger, Constance is saved. Constance is sent to sea. Constance is saved. Even the two mothers-in-law might as well be the same person.

    I think it's a hard story to appreciate through twenty-first century eyes!


    Shasta Sills
    April 14, 2000 - 03:19 pm
    When I read this story, I thought it was so presposterous and improbable that I didn't understand why it was so popular in those days. But I found this comment in "Cliffs Notes."

    "The author produced his work--we must remember--in the spirit of the Christian Middle Ages when man loved the perfect, the universal, as opposed to the Renaissance which focused its attention on the imperfect individual. Constance, the beautiful, is the perfect and the universal..."

    I suppose we have to try to understand a viewpoint that is different from our own. Nevertheless, classic literature is supposed to appeal to all ages. If Chaucer's tales are still great literature, shouldn't they still appeal to us?

    April 14, 2000 - 03:25 pm
    Shasta----I think that some of the tales are considerably greater than others. I wouldn't give the Man of Law any more than a C- for tale-telling ability! Even the greatest of writers has off moments. There's an old saying that speaks of this lapse: "Even great Homer nods." If Chaucer did have this tale already written, as has been suggested, perhaps he was having a go with seeing how it fit into his overall plan. He didn't finish the CT--we have the fragments.

    I really appreciated what you said about audiences in the middle ages being taken with the universal. We are all of us now the inheritors of the Renaissance mode of thinking, as you pointed out. In the middle ages, sculptors didn't sign their work. Can you imagine anyone today making a magnificent gargoyle for a great Cathedral and NOT signing it?

    Enough chattering away. Someone call Harry. It is time for refreshments.


    Joan Pearson
    April 15, 2000 - 03:52 pm
    Good grief! Where did everybody go? You didn't like the preachy man-o'law? You've said all you want to say about him and his C- tale?

    Ooh! Prof! And in these days of grade inflation too!!!

    I hope it wasn't me...that I didn't dump a bucket of cold water on this fun-loving bunch - by suggesting that this wasn't a real spring-break kind of pilgimage? That they didn't used to make the pilgrimage in April, but rather December or July...those roads were barely passable from the spring rains.

    Putting your disappointment aside for a minute, weren't you the least bit excited about learning of the Great Schism within the Church(April 8 1378) and the effect that the schism had on the western world at the time...Chaucer included, who began writing Canterbury Tales at the same time?

    " a sense of profound doom hangs over his Tales of Canterbury can be read in the fact that the church has abandoned its concern for the cure of souls and has taken up instead the art of protecting the property and revenue rights of its vast material holdings."
    You don't think Chaucer is criticizing the excesses, the zealots within the church who have forgotten the true mission of the Church, the concern for souls and has become more interested in property and revenue...everything the man o'law is interested in? Don't you think the ENTIRE CANTERBURY TALES is a reaction to the excesses of the Church? I do. I think it's the Schism within the Church that Chaucer is writing about and will no longer say I think that this is a mistake, that Chaucer didn't know what he was doing when he put this tale into the mouth of the Man of Law. I think it's exciting! I'll give him an A! And maybe the free meal! There! I said it and I'm glad! But I am really sorry about spring break! N wonder you're all sulking!

    April 15, 2000 - 07:19 pm
    JoanP---I'm not sulking, just busy. April is the cruelest month for me. . . .grades, faculty activities report due, book orders due, papers to grade, Milton to read, a new novel to start. Complain, complain, complain.

    So you think the Man of Law gets the prize? I think you better have a little talk with Harry about that. If I recall correctly, Harry was going to pick the winner.

    I think the Great Schism is interesting. This is the period when there was a pope in Avignon and one in Rome. Chaucer was certainly aware of the abuses in the church as we will see when we encounter the Pardoner and the Summoner. But I think he was also a devout Christian. I know that the tale of Constance was told and retold during this time period, and that it was a big hit. Tastes change.

    Before grade inflation, would have given the tale a D. Heh heh.

    ~~Maryal (Harry is off in the country somewhere. Sure hope he gets back before the company return.)

    Joan Pearson
    April 16, 2000 - 04:40 am
    Milton! You have to read Milton!!! Oh my! I'm impressed! You come in here for "light reading" then!

    The more I think about it - the Schism and all it meant at the time, the more I see its influence on Canterbury Tales. Not just the fact that there are now two popes, but the scramble for dominion - property. And the "holy wars", the Crusades being waged by brave steadfast soldiers to save souls, obeying orders from the higher-ups who really had more material motives than spiritual. I think that Chaucer was very bothered by this. The Pilgrimage is a crusade in a way, to regain the path to spiritual redemption. The mindless Crusades and motives of those waging them motivate his satire. We've seen Noah and will see more of him...sailing off - away from the excesses of the world - to start fresh on the right path.

    I don't think I can look at these tales again, without thinking about the major upheaval the Schism is causing in Chaucer's world...

    April 16, 2000 - 07:09 am
    Morrison gives us the prologue and epilogue to The Lawyer's Tale, but does not give us the tale itself in THE PORTABLE CHAUCER.

    He gives us a short review of the Tale itself. Here is a portion of what he says about it:

    "The Lawyer's Tale itself is a sustained piece of elaborate rhetoric, likely enough first written before he conceived THE CANTERBURY TALES and later adapted and brought into the plan. It purports to be an historical account of Constance, daughter of the Roman emperor, but belongs to a cycle current in folklore and known as the story of the 'calumniated wife.'"

    April 16, 2000 - 07:45 am
    Mary Page,

    I have the Portable Chaucer, too, and I had to look up the word "calumniated" in Roget. I found this:


    VERB: 1. To make defamatory statements about: asperse, backbite, defame, malign, slander, slur, tear down, traduce, vilify. Law: libel. Idioms: cast aspersions on.

    The definition just re-enforces MY thinking that this tale speaks more to the position of women in society than it does to the religious division. Perhaps I am not getting the point but I just can't see that Chaucer was wholly concerned about the schism in the Church. I still believe that he was "holding up a mirror to ALL society". Perhaps it would have been more clear in its intent if Chaucer had been able to complete, revise, and refine the Tales but as it turns out he left us with only fragments and half-formed thoughts.

    Maryal, I think your grade was much too generous and since my education does not encompass the age of grade inflation, I give the Lawyer, at best, a D-. But of course, O Wise and Generous Host, the decision for the ultimate prize is up to you. Forgive me, if I lobby against the Man at Law. So far, I think it is:
    Knight - 0
    Reeve - 0
    Lawyer - 0
    Miller - 1.

    Phyll, the protesting pilgrim

    April 16, 2000 - 09:21 am
    If we are to choose the best of the 4 heard thus far, I vote for the Reeve.

    Sorry, Phyll.

    April 16, 2000 - 09:22 am
    With the exception of Miss Joan, I am truly ashamed of the masses of 'ya all. Fie on you. I love the MOL expounding on the perils of Pauline (oops I mean Constance) as she sails the mighty seas . It is overwhelmingly religious cynicism our boy Chaucer has concocted, here in this tale. Perhaps he didn't issue forth an overt statement of his displeasure with the church, BUT it is quite obvious with the MOL sardonic tongue, he was indeed displeased.

    April 16, 2000 - 09:30 am
    But the case being made, ALF, is that this story is not really Chaucer's. The point is that he simply put into rhyme, apparently at first with the notion he would not bother so to do, a story that had been OUT THERE for a very long time, perhaps centuries.

    That being the case, how Could Chaucer have been trying to make any kind of point about anything?

    April 16, 2000 - 10:33 am
    Mary Page----I agree. I think Chaucer was just keeping up with the times, learning as he went along, putting this many times told story into poetry. He was still feeling his way, I think, when he wrote this tale.

    Phyll--Good old Phyll. Thanks for looking the word up. I would have had to check it myself. There are many tales that make women look bad (not just Chaucer's but many others of the time.) Here is one that is written to make a specific woman, the ideal Constance, look good. But she is TOO good, not really human. She has no feelings that I can discern, except devotion to God. SO--I still see the tendency to divide women into two classes---the virgin and the whore. My grades are ALWAYS too high as my daughter and son point out to me! I'll lower it to a D, which is generally what I mean when I give a C-.

    ALF----You give the man of law a good deal of credit. I think he told the tale because it was the only one he knew (except for those that Chaucer had already written).

    My vote goes to the Miller. So far.

    Back to work. Sigh.


    April 16, 2000 - 11:19 am
    JOAN...the information on the schism most fascinating. I do not think a writer can be in isolation from the impact of events in his/her world.

    Constance reminded me of people I know who are "holier than thou". Obey and do not think. We all react and respond in different ways.


    April 16, 2000 - 01:13 pm
    OK then, I will sit with me tankard of ale by myself. (Not quietly though.)

    April 16, 2000 - 02:34 pm
    Ah, no, Alf,

    Please do not go off and sit alone with your ale. Stay here with us and share your thoughts (and your ale?). I value your thoughts and opinions, even when they differ from mine. Variety is the spice of.....Can you imagine how boring life would be if we all agreed!!!!


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 16, 2000 - 02:51 pm
    Seems we have several thirteenth century issues that all may have been reflected in Chaucer. I am not sure what is reflected or not but, the Knight Templers having a rocky history with the Pope and were completly suppressed in 1312. After they were in the hands of the inquestition, the bull of suppression Vox in Excelso was read. All Templer property was transferred to the Hospital with a single exception of property on the Iberian peninsular, which went to the local military.

    Edward II had drawn on Templar resources of wool, meat and fish, funds to pay clerks and alms for religious houses, estates were stripped of horses, stock, kitchen equipment and any moveable property as well as the timber untill the supression.

    The Hospitallers gained as gifts from the Pope deeds, charters and rolls secured by lawyers August 30, 1324. Most of the lands and estates were seized by neighboring lords in France, Germany and Italy creating a wild orgy of plunder which passed beyond the Pope's control and which delayed the organization of the Hospitallers. in 1317 the German Templers were given permission to join the Hospital and a year later Pope John XXII ordered the Franciscans and Dominicans of Naples to support surviving templars. A fairly large group lived in their houses in Aragon with the last Templars drawing pensions in England in 1338.

    The idea of chivalry actually began to spread during the first part of the 12th c. with the fundemental aim to attain fame in this world and to achieve salvation in the next, the aims of the Templars. This ideology was fused from a combination of the northern austerity of St. Bernard and the more luxurious secular knightly ideals of southern France.

    The ideology from the legends of Arthur became linked with the Temple in literature. The Book of Judges was translated for the Templar so they could study chivalry in biblical times pariticularly the conquest of the Holy Land by Joshua and later defence by David and Judas Maccabaeus.

    Secular orders of chivalry flourished in the fourteenth century, from the Order of the band 1330 , the Order of the Garter, founded by Edward II in 1348 with an emphasis on cermoney and elaborate forms of dress rather than the original chivalric ideals. As late as 1431 Philip the Good established the Order of the Goden Fleece which contains echoes of the Templar rule.

    The downfall of the Templars, originally authorized by the Pope to protect pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem was hear-say and suspician of guilt. During the Middle ages heresy and mysticism were considered equally diviant and the facts are, no convincing evidence of heresy was ever found. The above is from The Templars Knights of God by Edward Burman.

    We have the lawyers successfully securing for the knights serving King and Country some pay for their efforts in 1376.

    Therefore, the knights referred to in Chaucer's time would have to be secular knights, members of the Order of the Garter. With Chaucer's group going on a pilgrimage to a Catholic Saint's site - how much is the church's supression of the Knights entering into the characters or their stories? How much of the self-righteous attitude of the secular knights demand for payment other than plunder is reflected in the characters or their stories?

    During this time in history we have the fanatical dis-trust to the point of hatred for Saracens, in fact all Islamic followers and the Jews. With the story of Constance eminating from the mediterranean I'm now wondering about it's real significance.

    We have a smaller population still realing from the Black Death that continued to affect the population into the early fifteenth century, with the resulting peasant revolt in 1381. The effects of the bubonic plague upon the Catholic church in England, since clerics were hit especially hard by the plague, the church lost much of it's strength. From Boccaccio, TheDecameron, The onset of the Black Death, was described by Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375)

    Most of the legal constraints to woman were outlined during the twelth century by lawyers and this site gives details Woman and the Law There is a book that have not been able to find about what happened to woman, widows and surviving girl children as a result of the Black Death. Most were stripped of their wealth and forced into poverty.

    We have the continued hundred years war with a break in 1389 with the Truce of Leulinghen, renewed repeatedly, prevented any major campaign until 1404.

    Then in 1378 Begins the Great Schism (1378-1417) in the western Church that has been addressed.

    With all that going on I found it difficult to hone in on what the story told by our lawyer was really trying to reflect.

    Joan Pearson
    April 16, 2000 - 03:21 pm
    ALF, you can sit over here in the corner with me. I'm still looking at this schism thing and the turmoil in which the whole society found itself at the time. The Church was waging unholy wars against the "infidels" at the time - the Church around which the whole of society centered.

    Mary Page, I think you would be surprised if you saw the story you think Chaucer just put into verse for the this tale. He did far more than rhyme it!!! He rewrote it! I'll link it here and you can see for yourself...and maybe when you see what he did with the original, you'll agree that he was up to something...

    Barbara, those links are wonderful! You are right, there is a lot going on during this period - but the Schism was huge and shook the foundation the Medieval Society was based on...Why do you think that during this period, when there was hatred and bloody wars going on against the East, the Saracens, Constance would have been given in marriage to the "enemy"? What did her father stand to gain? The link on women and the law that Barb brings us states at length the laws regarding the dowery. This wasn't explained in the tale, or was it? Did I miss something about the reason the unhappy Constance was sent to marry the Islamic prince?

    April 16, 2000 - 03:52 pm
    If these are oft-told tales, how many writers, storytellers, were putting these stories into the written word? Was Chauser the only one, and using verse to appeal?

    April 16, 2000 - 03:55 pm
    The Law and women... Old family saying... "The law takes care of fools, idiots and married women, .... and the fools and the idiots come first."

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 16, 2000 - 06:17 pm
    So long as 'women can neither pray nor fast during their menses' and so long as 'the evidence of two women is equal to the witness of one man.' This reasoning is not a temporary one, but is rooted in and derived from the Qur'an for all time until the day of resurrection.
    "Women are ungrateful to their husbands and are ungrateful for the favours and the good (charitable) deeds done to them. If you have always been good (benevolent) to one of them and then she sees something in you (not of her liking), she will say, 'I have never received any good from you."
    'Woman was made to bear and feed children. Therefore she is very emotional. And she is forgetful, because if she did not forget how it is to give birth she would not have another child. That is why she will not be as reliable a witness as a man."

    And according to the following Hadith, women not only have ten 'awrat, but the woman herself is perceived as 'awrah : "The woman is 'awrah. When she goes outside (the house), the devil welcomes her." So going outside the house is a form of exposure of the 'awrah; a thing that delights the devil.

    This is why women are discouraged from going outside the house, even to pray in the mosque, as the following Hadith indicates. "A woman is closest to God's face, if she is found in the core of her house. And the prayer of the woman in the house is better than her prayer in the mosque."

    The character of women is likened to a rib, crooked. Bukhari reported the following Hadith:

    "The woman is like a rib; if you try to straighten her, she will break. So if you want to get benefit from her, do so while she still has some crookedness." This Hadith is classed as agreed upon.

    Another Hadith attributes this crookedness to the act of creation because the woman was created from man's rib. This crookedness then is inherent and incurable, the man has to live with it and make the most out of it. This belief is accepted not only by the masses but by celebrated scholars such as Imam Shafi'i who said :

    "If you relax the woman's bridle a tiny bit, she will take you and bolt wildly. And if you lower her cheek-piece a hand span, she will pull you an arm's length ... Their deception is awesome and their wickedness is contagious; bad character and feeble mind are their predominant traits ... Mohammad said : 'The likeness of a virtuous woman amongst women is like a red beaked crow among a hundred crows."
    Man's sexual needs are considered so urgent that it is better for food to burn in the oven than a man to burn in waiting for his wife to satisfy his desire. If she refuses, the angels of heaven will turn against her.

    "The prophet of Allah said: When a man calls his wife to satisfy his desire, let her come to him though she is occupied at the oven."
    All the woman's piety is considered useless if she disobeys her husband. Her disobedience to her husband represents an unlawful and irrational act. But obedience to her husband is the key to Paradise
    Man's status is so much higher than woman's that no sacrifice on the woman's part will ever gain her her full right in relation to a man. Even in our own time (1985) a Muslim writer, Ahmad Zaky Tuffaha, seriously and reverently quotes the following Hadith :

    "If a woman offered one of her breasts to be cooked and the other to be roasted, she still will fall short of fulfilling her obligations to her husband. And besides that if she disobeys her husband even for a twinkling of an eye, she would be thrown in the lowest part of Hell, except she repents and turns back."

    Early scholars saw that "love" between the husband and the wife refers to the sexual act, while "mercy" refers to the offspring of the man and his wife.

    'Memorise three things from me, which I memorised from the prophet who said: "The man is not to be asked why he beat his wife ..."'

    A provision is made for men to marry more than one woman as follows: "If you fear you can not treat orphans (girls) with fairness, then you may marry other women who seem good to you: two, three or four of them. But if you fear that you can not maintain equality among them, marry only one or any slave girls you may own. This will make it easier for you to avoid injustice."


    First: the wife should not reject Islam. If she rejects Islam, she has no right to the custody of the children.
    Second: she must be of good character for if it was proven that she is corrupted by illicit sex, or theft, or has a low trade such as a professional mourner, or a dancer, she loses her right to custody.
    Third: she is not allowed to marry anyone except the father of the child. If she remarries, she has no right to custody, unless her new husband is related to the child as a paternal uncle. But if she marries a foreigner she has no right to custody.
    Fourthly: she must not leave the child without supervision. Especially if the child is a female, because females need protection. So if the mother had to go outside for a long period and so neglect her child, she has no right to the custody of the child.
    Fifthly: if the father is poor, and the mother refused the custody of the child except for payment, and his aunty said 'I will look after him for free', then the aunt will have the right to the custody of the child.

    Muslim men are entitled to several wives in this life. In Paradise, they are further rewarded with additional women - perfect in beauty.

    "The marriage contract is designed by the legislator so that the husband may benefit from the sexual organ of the woman and the rest of her body for the purpose of pleasure. As such the husband owns by the marriage contract, this exclusive benefit."

    "The dowry (Mahr) is a technical term denoting the money which must be given to the woman in the marriage contract in exchange for enjoying her."

    MAN HAS THE RIGHT TO REFUSE HIS WIFE'S DAILY MAINTENANCE There is no support for the woman if she is -
    (1) Rebellious (Nashiz) that is the woman who goes outside the house of the husband without his permission and without a justifiable reason, or refuses surrendering herself to him so she does not enter his house. But if she refuses to have sex with him (even though that is unlawful) that refusal is not a reason for stopping her support because the qualifying reason for the support does exist and that is her being locked up in his house.
    (2) The renegade woman.
    (3) The woman who obeys the husband's son or his father or kiss either with lust or any thing that might put her relation with her husband on a prohibited degree.
    (4) The woman whose marriage contract is imperfect, and the woman who had sex with someone by mistake, the man thinking she was his wife.
    (5) The wife who is too young to have sex. ["The Islamic law knows no minimum age for a legal marriage.]
    (6) The wife who is imprisoned, even if she is innocent, if he can not have access to her (as a wife).
    (7) The sick wife who, due to severe illness, did not move after the ceremony to the husband's house, because she did not surrender herself to the husband.
    ( The wife who was raped by another man.
    (9) The wife who goes to perform pilgrimage ... there is no support for her because she is not locked up."

    The virtuous wife, if her husband bids her, she obeys him; if he looks at her, she pleases him; if he gives her an oath; she fulfils it, and if he is absent from her, she guards herself and his property."

    The Place of Women in Pure Islam Now after you get over that one and you still haven't consumed too much Grog try this one Women In Islam Versus Women In The Judaeo-Christian Tradition

    Than there is this little gem that may explain the other woman
    A man had a beautiful wife, who died; but the mother, a decrepit old dotard, remained a fixture in his house, because of the dowry. He was teased to death by her company; but, from the circumstance of the dowry, he had no remedy. In the meantime some of his friends having come to comfort him, one of them asked: "How is it with you, since the loss of that dear friend?" He answered: "The absence of my wife is not so intolerable as the presence of her mother.---They plucked the rose, and left me the thorn; they plundered the treasure, and let the snake remain. To have one eye pierced with a spear were more tolerable than to see the face of an enemy. It were better to break with a thousand friends than to put up with one rival."
    From Sa'di (1184-1292): The Gulistan, c. 1256 CE
    Could it be that the story had little to do with the father marrying his daughter to an "Infidel" (as called by good holy Christians) so much as showing her Faith in God and her renouncing the laws and affections of an Infidel Prince??

    Joan Pearson
    April 16, 2000 - 06:25 pm

    "The dowry (Mahr) is a technical term denoting the money which must be given to the woman in the marriage contract in exchange for enjoying her."

    Geez...what does this sound like to you????

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 16, 2000 - 06:27 pm
    Oh Joan go to the site and read it - it gets more b@#$%^*))*^%$ as you read and this is still current Islam Law!!!????

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 16, 2000 - 06:29 pm
    What is so amazing is it is all so carefully laid out with some God only knows sense of logic!

    April 16, 2000 - 06:42 pm
    BARBARA:1. Who can pray OR fast during menses? I'm too pi**ed off to think about it.

    (so long as the evidence of two women is equal to the witness of one man.') Is that soemthing like 2:1 ratio to GET IT?

    2. Deficient in gratitude? Ahhahahahahahahahahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaa

    3.WOMEN ARE DEFICIENT AS WITNESSES (you say) 'Woman was made to bear and feed children. Therefore she is very emotional. And she is forgetful, because if she did not forget how it is to give birth she would not have another child. That is why she will not be as reliable a witness as a man."

    WHO the hell can forget that small chore of giving birth?

    4. TOY? Hello-o=-o-o, who is the unreliable group here? the ones giving birth or the ones ditzing the bearers? AWrah? this wouldn't have anything AT all to do with being the house slave!!! Would it?

    Isn't that indicative of God's sense of humor? Man and THEN women?

    OH LORDIE!!!! I am not a femisist and I just reread my OWN posts. Barb, this is scary.. I will be still!

    April 16, 2000 - 07:43 pm
    Outrage, Outrage, Outrage!!!!---I am tired, having both worked and partied today, yet I must comment on ONE and only ONE of the enumerated items kindly brought by Barbara. Number THREE----Here, folks is an example of crazy logic. Women are emotional and forgetful. "Proof" of their forgetfulness is that they "forget" the pain of childbirth. If they did not, they would never have another child. OK, let's look at the LOGIC here.

    Why oh why are women singled out? All pain which one experienes is over, once the pain itself is gone. It is not forgotten, but it is over. Try an experiment---try to actually FEEL the contractions of childbirth----or the pain of having oral surgery. You know you were there---you know you felt great pain----but you cannot actually physically feel the pain. You remember it, but you do not feel it.

    Men cannot bring back the actual physicality of pain either. Therefore, they too are forgetful, and thus probably also "emotional" whatever that means. ARRRRRGHHHH. GRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

    And that is ONLY point number three. I leave the rest alone in order to preserve my blood pressure and my peace of mind.

    Thanks Barbara for opening our eyes to some very terrible information.

    ~~~Maryal (don't know where Harry is. Hiding his head probably)

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 16, 2000 - 08:06 pm
    The one that got me is so horrific it is ludicrous:
    "If a woman offered one of her breasts to be cooked and the other to be roasted, she still will fall short of fulfilling her obligations to her husband. And besides that if she disobeys her husband even for a twinkling of an eye, she would be thrown in the lowest part of Hell, except she repents and turns back."

    You have to read it in the site - they are really talking about chopping off a breast! Breast soup tonite dear...God I don't know what they do in the name of you I cannot figure it out yet.

    April 17, 2000 - 05:14 am
    Barbara---I'm not up to even contemplating the breast one. I can only deal with the ones that are based on faulty logic. The breast one is just HORRIBLE. UCK.

    I wouldn't last ten minutes in that religion. I can see me now with my tongue cut out and my hands cut off.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 17, 2000 - 05:19 am
    Oh come on everyone, I thought this was going to be a serious scholarly discussion. Let’s get back to reading the tale itself. Did you notice the lines that say?

    the silly husband has to pay, He has to clothe us, he has to array Our bodies to enhance his reputation, While we dance round in all this decoration. And if he cannot pay, as it may chance, Or won’t submit to such extravagance, Thinking his money thrown away and lost, Then someone else will have to bear the cost.

    Some writers suggest that Chaucer really intended this tale to be told by a woman, but perhaps forgot to change it. I suggest a tint of homosexual jealousy on the part of the MOL. What do you think?

    What about the conversation between the monk and the wife? He tells her:

    I cannot but imagine our good man Has been at work with you since night began: You really ought to go and take a rest.’ And he laughed merrily at his little jest, And for his private thoughts his face turned red.

    The pretty wife says:

    In all the realm of France there is no wife that has less pleasure in that sorry play.

    The wily monk sees his own opportunity.

    Unfold your grief It may be I can give you some relief.

    And then he tells her that he is not really the merchant’s cousin but insists that he only says this so he can see the wife more often because he is love with her.

    She tells him that her husband is very mean to her and :

    To me at any rate, since the world began. It’s unbecoming, since I am his wife, To tell a soul about our private life, Whether in bed or any other place.

    In the SN generation this idea used to hold true. But it seems to have changed to more openess in generations following. Is this better for women? Does it lead to more satisfactory marriages?

    The story then turns pretty raunchy when the merchant starts to embrace his wife:

    And up he went and made it pretty tough. “No more!” she said. “By God, you’ve had enough!”

    And he says such things in the company of women! Women of the church, no less!

    When the merchant and the wife quarrel about the money she tells him: “I’ll never pay except in bed.” He tells her that she must economize. But why? He can afford to pay for her fripparies.

    In Middle English, the Shipman concludes the tale with a very crude pun in the final couplet:

    Thus endeth now my tale, and God us sende Taillyng ynough until our lyves end. Amen.

    Albert Silverman suggests that there is a double entendre in the use of the word “Taillynge.” He says that the Shipman means not only tallying or paying debts, but also sexual intercourse. “Only a few lines before there is a clear pun when the wife says: ‘I am your wfe, score it upon my taille.’ This was a slang word prevalently used for pudendum in Chaucer’s day.

    Neville Coghill ends the tale more gently with:

    And now story’s done, and may God send us Plenty of entries until death shall end us! Amen.

    But in both ME and in Modern English, it is still a double entendre. We know what both Chaucer and NC’ s translation really meant. And it is strictly from the male point of view.


    April 17, 2000 - 05:33 am
    Charlotte----Ah, yes, the tales, that's what we were doing here. I note that your remarks are about the Shipman's tale. Commentators speculate that Chaucer originally intended this tale for the Wife of Bath and then found her a better one. Because of time running out, or maybe oversight, he forgot to change the pronoun.

    What interests me is the belief that the status of the husband was shown forth publicly in the dress of the wife. If I remember correctly, a little additional weight was also a sign of prosperity since the poor could not afford enough food to be overweight. Thus a plump and well dressed wife brought attention to her husband.

    The pun, or double entendre at the end, is my favorite part of the tale. Here it is in Middle English:

    Thus endeth now my tale, and God us sende
    Taillynge ynough unto oure lyves ende. Amen

    edit: Ooops, I note that Charlotte has included the Middle English in her post. I'll leave it here since it's worth repeating.

    What do the rest of you think of the Shipman's Tale?

    ~Harry®, the hurried host

    Joan Pearson
    April 17, 2000 - 05:57 am
    Yes, we will move on to the Shipman's Tale, but Charlotte, any "scholarly" study of a book cannot ignore the circumstances, the society and the political climate that produced it. Especially Canterbury Tales which is clearly a satire on members of that society.

    Not only does such knowledge help to understand the particular tale, and what Chaucer very well may have intended, but future tales as well...

    On the other hand, Chaucer's insight, understanding of human nature is universal in the portrayal of the tellers of the tale. He uses the satires, the tales to bring out the nature of the teller. Yes, on to the Shipman's Tale, by all means, but with a new perspective - gained from the Man Of Law's tale. This is another one easily dismissed if considered in a vacuum........

    Okay, first the Shipman's tale...did you think it funny? Irritating? True? Satire? Do you really think it was a mistake on Chaucer's part, when he changed the pronouns, the perspectives of the husband and the wife in the opening, or contrived?

    April 17, 2000 - 06:03 am
    The shipman's Tale is summed up nicely in the notes at the back of the book. What else is there to say after reading the "puns intended" ? She was caught by "her flanks". Hahahah. What a shocker St. John would get if he caught ME by MY flanks. St. Augustine is mentioned frequently here. What a riot! Augustine recorded in his confessions: "Give me chastity and continence, but not just now!" As a writer Augustine was prolific, persuasive and a brilliant stylist.

    Cousin John is told, " My gold is yours whenever you think best. And not my gold alone, but all my stuff; Take what you please, be sure to take enough. "

    Atta boy, good little Johnie did JUST that. 600 years ago and we make it sound like something "innovative" today.

    April 17, 2000 - 08:19 am
    JoanP---I think the pronoun and the woman's point of view is a mistake. Of all people to give it to---the shipman??? An unlikely candidate for cleverness I'd say. If it were intended, I think Chaucer would have prepared for it by having the shipman make a comment about what he was doing. It wouldn't have been difficult to do--something along the lines of "Here's a tale my wife heard from her neighbor" would do it.

    Must return to duties, more later.


    April 17, 2000 - 09:09 am
    "The Shipman's Tale is a fabliau . Its setting in France and even its use of French phrases, perhaps as a touch of "local color," distinguish it sharply from works such as the Miller's and Reeve's Tales, which are clearly set in Chaucer's own place and time. For this reason, the Shipman's Tale has sometimes been regarded as Chaucer's earliest work in this genre, closer to his French models than his later fabliaux. However that may be, the tale provides a good beginning example for a study of Chaucer's use and redefinition of the genre. The basic story in the Shipman's Tale -- "The Lover's Gift Regained" --is ancient and widespread, and it remains in circulation today as an orally transmitted "dirty joke." Chaucer's version may well have been based on some oral version, or he may have drawn on one of a number of written versions. Typical of the medieval versions is that in Boccaccio's Decameron , Day 8 Tale 1." ---THE HARVARD CHAUCER PAGE

    Back to our fabliau. Chaucer used them to great advantage, I think. They were stories that the masses were familiar with and could understand very easily. But it seems to me that all of the previous posts here stating great outrage at the suppression of women would lead our pilgrim band to attack the devious (but clever) monk as the true culprit in this bawdy tale. I haven't seen that point brought out in the discussion as yet, I don't believe.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 18, 2000 - 04:22 am
    Interesting item I learned from my research:

    During Chaucer’s time the female population was quite small, probably through death in childbirth or through other untreated gynechological illnesses. Men and women did not spend time together. When Chaucer read his poetry, it was to an entirely male audience. Thus the woman-bashing free-for-alls in the fabliau. An increasing presence of women at the end of the 14th century brought about the decline of the genre.

    Did you notice how generous the merchant was with the monk. He considers the hundred francs as a small loan to the monk, yet such a request from his wife is regarded as unseemly. He says to the monk:

    “My gold is yours whenever you think best. And not my gold alone, but all my stuff: Take what you please, be sure you take enough.”

    Chaucer is aware of the commercialization of the married state. In order to get needed money, the wife has to give herself to the monk as well as to her husband.

    She is essentially the victim, though the husband is cuckolded.

    April 18, 2000 - 05:04 am
    You've got that right, Charlotte!

    April 18, 2000 - 07:50 am
    Phyll--If this sailor's tale is indeed an early attempt by Chaucer, that would explain its slightness in comparison to the Miller's tale. The sailor's tale, it seems to me, is more TOLD than SHOWN. It lacks the details that bring the Miller's Tale alive. We have here almost entirely plot.

    Charlotte--Aha, a male audience. Well now, that explains a lot, does it not? The fourteenth century's version of the lockerroom story where males brag and women may not come off so well?

    Charlotte, I like very much the translation you have quoted--

    My gold is yours whenever you think best.
    And not my gold alone, but all my stuff

    I have "ware" where you have "stuff." I think "stuff" is better since it is clear that the merchant thinks of his wife as part of his "stuff." He unwittingly gives the monk the go-ahead to sleep with his wife.

    I notice much punning on "tail" and "tale" in this tale. There are those fine last two lines as well as, for example, the wife's reply to her husband when he discovers she has spent the money the monk has given her: " I am youre wyf; score it upon my taille."

    One more time--my major criticism of the Sailor's tale is that there is so little detail to bring the characters alive. Granted, they are just characters in a fabliau, but even such lowly figures benefit from some individual touches. There are a few here, as, for example, when the monk, preparing for his meeting with the merchant's wife, shaves both his face and his tonsure. That's the sort of thing the tale needs more of.


    Joan Pearson
    April 18, 2000 - 12:27 pm
    Let's match the teller with this tale. The Shipman of the prologue helps himself to his host's Bordeaux, red or white, whenever the merchant isn't looking...or is snoring away. (Snoring! Could write a whole post about that, but won't!) We are told that "the nicest rules of conscience he ignored"...

    Bring on the tale!

    Maryal, ALF, you got that right! The only one who comes alive is the man of the church, the monk, Sir John - "well-made and bold"; 30 winter's old..."delightful face" and oh "so free in spending!" Out to the country to inspect Church property and collect "revenue", bearing the malmsey wine and a brace of birds...presents for all the "faithful" too...of course he is center stage here, with the spotlight shining on him - do the other characters even have names? The wife, the husband, the merchant, the little girl, the cousin...

    The satire on the Church is clear, and also biting. The Shipman without conscience - helping himself to the merchant's wine, the man of the cloth who will offer the Mass and then take his host's wife- without any qualms of conscience!

    The Schism, the blurred vision of the Church ~ administering to the spiritual or to the temporal...all right! I won't get into the Schism!

    I think the fact that this is a French fabliaux, with the droll double entendre and sarcastic irony makes this very different from the slapstick comedy and chance occurences of the English fabliaux we have seen so far? Where is your taste? Which appeals more? Do you think Chaucer chose this type of tale, because of the subject? A satire about the excesses, the sacrilige, the lack of conscience of a man of the Church deserved a more cynical approach, rather than the hilarity of the students in the Miller's and the Reeves's tales???

    April 18, 2000 - 12:30 pm
    Reading Theodore Morrison's "The Portable Chaucer" , a Penquin paperback published by Viking


    Nevill Coghill's "The Canterbury Tales", a Penquin classic published by The Penquin Group.

    Interesting. First time I have taken the time to compare. So far, I like Morrison better.

    Joan Pearson
    April 18, 2000 - 12:37 pm
    Mary Page, many of us are reading Coghill, which is why we appreciate so much when you tell us what Morrison has to say........

    April 18, 2000 - 12:37 pm
    MaryPage----If you have a little time, would you give us a couple of samples from the two translations? Maybe ones from the Sailor's Tale?

    I'd be most interested to read them.

    Hi JoanP----you here too? Go see note I left you wherever the workroom is, please.


    April 18, 2000 - 01:18 pm
    Morrison does not do the Shipman's, though he gives the story and has a lot to say about it, most of which someone else has posted here. Here are 2 versions of a verse of The Words of the Host to the Shipman and Prioress. First Morrison:

    "Well told, by the Lord's body!" said our Host. 
    "Long may you voyage up and down the coast, 
    Noble Sir Skipper, and anchor in the roads! 
    God give this monk bad years, a thousand loads! 
    Aha, good people!  Look out for such a scrape! 
    This monk, he turned the man into an ape, 
    And, by St. Augustine, his wife as well! 
    Let no more monks come in, wherever you dwell!" 

    "Well said, by Corpus Dominus!" cried our Host. 
    "Long life to you!  And may you sail the coast 
    In safety, noble skipper!  Don't get sunk. 
    A load of lousy luck upon that monk! 
    Hey, fellows, watch your step for such a jape! 
    He took the merchant's hood and put an ape 
    Inside, by St. Augustine, and what's more 
    Into his wife's hood too!  Well, shut your door 
    Against all monks! ... What next? ... Well, let me see; 
    Who else shall entertain the company?"

    April 18, 2000 - 01:39 pm

    I have Morrison's "The Portable Chaucer" too, and am moving back and forth between that and Coghill and Wright. I like Morrison but wish it was a little more complete, don't you? But then I guess it couldn't be called "Portable". could it?

    I also picked up the (dare I say it?) Cliff's Notes:

    "This tale fits the personality of the Shipman. A thief and a pirate, he tells a grossly immoral story.------The laugh is on the merchant and his wife. The moral of the story is, perhaps, that adultery can be very amusing and profitable, provided that it is not found out. Chaucer's tale has a fine sense of narrative and the characters are well-designed but yet there remains the rather distasteful portrait of lust and treachery."

    I wonder---do you think that this tale is really told as just another bawdy story to entertain the mostly male audience to whom Chaucer directed his work and really has no deep sociological or philosophical intent? Does anyone think that maybe we sometimes assign great satirical commentary to someone who really just wanted to tell a funny joke now and then merely to entertain his listeners? Am I being sacrilegious?

    Phyll, the puzzled pilgrim

    April 18, 2000 - 02:01 pm
    MaryPage---Thanks. I prefer Morrison's translation also. I've been reading the ELF one online. Not sure who did that translation. I also have a prose translation, borrowed from a friend, that takes all the poetry away. I don't read it much, but sometimes it is good to have to check out a passage.

    Phyll, my Pious Poppet---Sorry, but I think words like "treachery" are a little strong for this tale. Yes, the monk gets the wife and fools her too, and yes, he betrays his "friend" the merchant. But these people just aren't real enough for me to accuse of treachery. In another setting with another tone, I might well use that word. I just love it when I disagree with the critics!

    Could that be HARRY I see coming around the bend?

    Joan Pearson
    April 18, 2000 - 02:05 pm
    Phyll, in this case I think that we are looking satire right in the face. The Miller's Tale however had entertainment value. I don't think any of us need to feel sacriligious in the Shipman's company!!! Perhaps the entertaintment value of Sir John and his "revenue" collecting was the fact that he was a cleric? Maybe the guys in the tavern thought it was pretty funny that a man of the cloth was carrying on with the young wife of the merchant (upper class), but I think Chaucer includes it as satire/criticism.

    Did you think it was funny? Or even entertaining? What about the guys down at the tavern? Do you think they roared at it? What about it did they enjoy do you suppose?

    Joan Pearson
    April 18, 2000 - 02:09 pm
    Harry! - and not a moment too soon! What grade will this tale merit in his book, do you suppose? I do think he's laughing!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 18, 2000 - 02:16 pm
    JoanieP, my luv, however did you know? I certainly find the monk in this tale quite to my liking, a man who knows how to get what he wants when he wants it. A man of sweet words for the merchant's wife, a man who watches out that the husband is out of town, a man not to be caught by this merchant's wife as he has many others to pursue----Harry finds him a man indeed!

    Harry's vote so far is for the Sailor who told this most recent tale!

    Pilgrims, gather around and share the malmsey. Let all of us share in the monk's cleverness and fun, and may he find many more tails tales to tell!

    ~~Harry the Happy, host and prop. of the TABARD, near London Bridge, not yet falling down

    Jim Olson
    April 18, 2000 - 02:49 pm
    I don't know about the fellows down at the tavern or even about our fellow pilgrims, but this ship Man's tale really put me to sleep.

    The only highlight was the pun about the tale of the tail.

    If this level of entertainment keeps up I think I'll just take my steed and head on down the lane to find some windmills to joust with.

    As my teen grandkids say BORING.

    April 18, 2000 - 03:11 pm
    Sir Jim----I believe that word is pronounced BO-ring, all drawn out like. And I agree with you. A loser indeed. If it is indeed Chaucer learning how to write a fabliau in English, we can forgive him.


    Joan Pearson
    April 18, 2000 - 03:35 pm
    That does it! Get the hook! Get the Shipman off the stage! NEXT!!!

    Have you noticed the discussion schedule up top??? Tomorrow we will begin one of the Classic characters of Canterbury Tales - the Prioress!! Read up and don't forget to reread the PROLOGUE which is precious!!!

    We'll leave the Shipman up through tonight in case there is someone out there doing additional research on him. (THERE really is a lot more to him and to this tale that we have discussed but attention is fadinggggggggg)

    April 18, 2000 - 04:32 pm
    Oh Barbara....that work you qouted also evoked !@#$%^&*() in my heart!

    "When Chaucer read his poetry, it was to an entirely male audience. Thus the woman-bashing free-for-alls in the fabliau. " this comment from Charlotte helps to understand the bawdiness of it I think. Tho I do not like the women's "roles" in these narratives.

    In Wright's trans the Sea Captain has a gown of coarse serge. I could not help but think his tale reflected his description...coarse and bawdy. In his prologue he didn't want gospel thumping...thus Brother John was true to form.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 18, 2000 - 04:32 pm
    Don't worry about being sacreligious. That was part of Chaucer's intent to expose abuses within the church,especially the priests and monks who were profiting by selling fake indulgences. I had a college course on GF more than thirty years ago, given by a professor who was a Catholic school grad. It was one one of the best courses I ever took. You could see the guy's delight in telling all.


    April 18, 2000 - 04:42 pm
    Sorry, but I need to slip in one last observation regarding the skipper's tale.

    It tickled my accountant funny bone, Truly it did, that this thrifty monk parlayed a $100 loan into a gift for himself (i.e., a night of passion) and then managed to so deftly pass his i.o.u., as it were, on to the wife of the lender.

    Would that I had been so clever in devising methods of paying MY obligations!

    Yes, that I found pretty funny.

    April 18, 2000 - 05:11 pm
    Ah, Harry, my judicious host,

    I would have liked the Shipman better if it hadn't appeared he was in the throes of gender confusion. Poor mixed-up guy.

    Phyll, the (not so)pietistical pilgrim

    April 18, 2000 - 05:30 pm
    Phyll------That is FUNNY. Hhhehehehehehehehehehe.

    ~Harry the Hillariously Happy

    April 18, 2000 - 06:05 pm
     JOAN:  satire indeed-y!  Irony, ridicule?  Let us not forget very few of the wives accompanied their  husbands on this rollicking pilgrimage.  Does that mean they were left "home alone" to entertain the:  merchant, monk,whoever remained ?   Ha-ha-hah that puts a differnet perspective on this doesn't it?  I thought it was funny-- and ST. Augustine  (post # 753....)
    give me celibacy------   such an appropriate story ..

    Let us not make light of the merchants wife's enjoyment of our monk:  Nor should we make much ado over the "poor" womans  plight with what here has been called female bashing.

        "And to go shortly to the point indeed
        this lovely woman readily agreed
        to take his hundred francs and to requite
        Sir John by lying in his arms all night."

     As we read at the end of this humorous tale (tail) (taile) ??? our host bids the shipman "long life.~" and says Don't get sunk  (to the shipman????)

    Joan Pearson
    April 19, 2000 - 03:39 am
    And Alf, how about Harry's parting shot at the clergy...
    "A lot of lousy luck upon that monk!
    ...He took the merchant's hood and put an ape
    Inside, by St. Augustine, and what's more
    Into his wife's hood too.
    Well shut your door Against ALL monks!

    Is anyone riding along beside the MONK in our party? Is he laughing along with Harry - or fuming?

    Marj, it seems that these fabliaux have all been told by the lower echelon, doesn't it? The Shipman, the Skipper, could have been "middle class", but as you point out, his brown serge gown - and then that "farm horse" he's riding immediately put him back with the Miller, the Reeve and the Cook, even before he opened his mouth!

    It's true, we don't seem to have any wives in this party, do we? Very few women, actually. There is a Widow and some nuns... I wonder if this is unusual for the pilgrimages, or did wives generally stay home? Charlotte's note about the female population at the time may be part of the explanation...

    Well, here comes our Prioress now! Let's see if her portrayal is any more favorable to women than those we've seen in the preceding tales. How does she compare to our poor beleagured Constance? Her opening lines set the tone, perhaps to put down the Shipman?

    "O Lord, our Lord, how marvellous Thy Name...
    Nor only are Thy precious praise and fame
    Found in the mouths of men of dignity,
    For in the mouths of children... The bounty of thy ways can be declared..."
    The portrayal of the Prioress is my favorite! Her tale, another story!

    April 19, 2000 - 04:50 am
    b>Joan:  Yes we have the prioress and the widow accompaning the gentlemen.  They are chaste women however, unfamiliar with someone to share their warm beds at night.  Hmmmm-  It started as a jibe, but I wonder if Chaucer was insinuating something here with all of these women who found favour elsewhere, other than with their husbands?

    April 19, 2000 - 05:04 am
    Through the showers of April I must journey today
    To where our grandsons appear in a school play
    Made especially for fond grandparents, you know.
    So it is with great pleasure a-traveling we go,
    To Virginia and that village that's called Warrento(w)n.
    And there we shall laugh and "bobb-up-and-down".
    So I bid you, my friends, a most fond adieu,
    And I shall return in only a few.

    Phyll, the poetic pilgrim

    April 19, 2000 - 05:06 am
    Phyll---Have a wonderful time and enjoy the entertainment!

    Joan Pearson
    April 19, 2000 - 05:48 am
    Phyll! Do you know that Robby (of Generation Speaks) lives and has an office in Warrenton??? How long will you be there?

    Shasta Sills
    April 19, 2000 - 01:23 pm
    Reading two different translations of Chaucer makes me realize how much variation there can be. When you read a translation, you really don't know what the original writer said; you only know what the translator said he said. And this is especially true of poetry. Poetry must be harder to translate than prose. You can get the meaning, but not the music.

    April 19, 2000 - 01:36 pm
    Shasta---Just for the fun of it, try looking at the ELF text of the Canterbury Tales online. UP THERE^ in the heading. You can choose to see the Middle English and the modern English side by side. It is surprising how easy it is to read Middle English when you have the Modern English right there!

    I agree with your comment on translating poetry. It has been said that only a poet can translate another poet and even then the poem is better in the original language. I expect that Seamus Heaney's new translation of Beowulf will be good because Heaney is a poet.


    April 19, 2000 - 01:55 pm
    I like the questions that have been posted.  The answers are complex as well as debatable, but I'm going to give it a shot here.

    The Prioress:  Madame Englantyne.  We know from the prologue that pity ruled her tender heart.  WHY I ask is she here?  the Prioress is the head nun!  She is responsible for assisting in the running of the abbey.  She is needed to maintain internal affairs and is the one  responsible for the contacts in the outside world.   The prioress is charged with the duty of discipline  and organization in her convent.  She travels with another nun and 3 priests, as well.  Why is she going to Canterbury?  For absolution or penance?  Is it a devotional trip?  Why has she absented herself from her abbey?  I thought nuns were forbidden to go on pilgimages then.

    She begins with Domine, dominus noster (psalm viii) which is The Glory of the Lord in Creation - the psalm of David showing the littleness of physical MAN and the greatness of God. She goes on to beseech the blissful Queen Mary.  "Guide thy song that I shall sing for thee."
    Mary remains the most complex of the holy Family.  she fullfills all roles: protector, tender sister, indulgent mother.   Miracles of the Virgin portray Mary as protecting those who are dedicated to her, including criminals who have no other virtue except devotion to Mary; they show her rebuking and punishing those who harm her favorites;  they show her as a nurturing mother who heals the ills of her earthly offspring by tenderly
    suckling them with the miraculous milk from her breasts. She came to represent, in popular piety, the mutually exclusive ideals of the infinite mercy of a mother for her offspring (as well as an eternally chaste lover.)
    She also lacks the faults of ordinary women; there is no deceit, no cunning, no duplicity, trickery or falsehood in her. (Available on CD, Gautierde Coincy: Les Miracles de Nostre-Dame, France-Telecom Foundation)

    April 19, 2000 - 01:57 pm
    Oops, sorry Harry, I got off on a tangent there and didn't answer one bloody one of the questions. I shall return.

    April 19, 2000 - 03:35 pm
    Chaucer would have been a terrible anti-semite. This was totally accepted right up to and including the 20th century. By the time Christians were many decades old, and after Paul, who still considered them part of the Jewish faith and Not gentiles, the Jews were refusing to recognize Christians as Jews. You could not be a Jew if you believed the Messiah had already come. So Christian communities decided they were not Jews any longer.

    By the time Christianity was several hundred years old, they had placed blame for the death of Jesus on the Jews. This is like saying "the Americans" killed the man executed last night in Tennessee. Each was sentenced to death by the authorities.

    But the church needed to heap scorn on those who had declared them apostates. And it is always helpful for unity of a cause to declare an enemy. The Jews were chose for this distinction. When the Holy Roman Empire came into being, laws were passed that Jews could not own any real property anywhere in the Empire. This meant they could not farm or own homes. Because no Christians wanted to live near them, they did live in ghettos set up by landlords who were willing to make huge profits from their rents. The professions open to them, and remember also, they had a tradition of learning, were law, medicine, trade and banking. Most of them were in trade. They had to make sure at all times that their valuables were portable, in the event of a sudden pogram. So they put their money in gems and precious metals.

    The church passed dogma stating that anyone who paid or received interest on a loan was guilty of usury and would burn in hell forever.

    So Christians could not be bankers. Jews lived in countries by the grace of the king or lord of that state. Over and over again the following happened: the king or duke or whatever would want to go to war against a neighbor. He would go to his Jewish community for a loan. It would be given. He would win the war.

    Strangely, you can go back in history and find instance after instance where wars were won by one side over the other, and the side winning was the side borrowing Jewish money!

    Then, when the king or whatever found he could not or preferred not to pay back the money owed, he would institute a pogram and declare the country would no longer allow Jews to dwell within its borders. After all, they were agents of Satan himself, because they accepted interest! Our history book darling, Richard Lion Heart, was one of the many who did exactly this. So the Jews would be driven out, sometimes with the excesses of many deaths.

    Terrible tales, such as this one we are reading, were made up and told right from the pulpits. Jews were said to sacrifice Christian babies as part of their religious rites.

    All of these stories were totally false. All were absolutely believed.

    The church has had blood on its hands for 2,000 years, not just for 60+.

    I need to put in here that I love the Catholic Faith and am not putting on a diatribe against the Church. But this history is absolutely true and you can read up on it for yourself. Of course, most of you already know it. My only aim is to set the record straight and offer hope that through knowledge the wrongs of centuries can be Stopped.

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 20, 2000 - 04:48 am

    The Jews were restricted to the ghetto because the nobles were not allowed to engage in any practices which involved the handling of money. It was perhaps considered a sin for them to do so. Consequently, the Jews were needed to do this dirty work. The Jews were used as tailors, haberdashers, seamstresses, and jewelers, etc. When debts to them reached outrageous proportions they were either banished or killed.

    They were segregated on a street which was open at both ends, which required the Christians to pass through the ghetto in order to reach the other side. This is the route which the boy also had to use to go to school.

    The boy was a handsome child with a lovely voice. He was supremely dedicated to the Virgin Mary and delighted in expressing his veneration, loudly, to her memory several times a day on his way to and from school. In his innocence, he did not understand that he was insulting and challenging the beliefs of the Jews.

    Victoria Wickham says: The Prioress “is introduced in the General Prologue as an aristocratic, genteel, pious nun, but she is a raving bigot, because her tale is full of anti-Semitic attitudes. It is what her tale says about her, however, that is at the core of Chaucer’s intent in her depiction: she is shallow, unworldly, un-Christian, and childish of character, and that is what Chaucer wants the reader to understand about her”

    She further says that one of the most significant things about her is her name. It is Eglentyne. This flower was often used to symbolize the Virgin Mary. It is ironic on Chaucer’s part, because Mary is the embodiment of love and mercy. Both of these qualities are not admired by the prioress very much.

    Though she outwardly appears to have made her religion her priority, her adherence to feminine tastes denies it. She is “more concerned with material possessions and a comfortable life than, with the bare, impoverished life of a nun.” She puts on airs, tries to appear aristocratic, is careful in her table manners and speaks French with an English accent that has no hint of its Parisian origins. Though she is tender to her lap dogs and would weep if she saw a mouse caught in a trap, her attitude towards the Jews in her tale is “vindictive and unmerciful.”

    Ruth Ames says that this tale “reads like an unhappy chapter in the history of 13th century England. It is seen through the eyes of a sentimental, bigoted woman and that may be how Chaucer meant it to be read. Wickham further believes that Chaucer used the increase in violence to show that the Prioress “is a bad example of a pious, religious nun. “ She further states, “that it is unlikely that Chaucer would not have noticed that the Prioress was coming across as a hypocrite.”

    “The Christian listeners to- her tale are touched and sympathetic, but they are also shocked that the Prioress is so vehemently against the Jews.” This is evidenced in the “silence immediately after she finished speaking.”

    In my humble opinion, Chaucer has continued his habit of attacking the hypocrisy and malfeasance’s in the society of his time. He has not left the Prioress off his hook. I’m sure he wrote with much trepidation and worry about being attacked. But he was a religious man who hoped that exposure would lead to change for the better. These beautifully wrought stories, which continue to be read today, prove his success in depiction. Unfortunately, humankind has still not learned the lessons which he so capably and entertainingly taught.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 20, 2000 - 04:53 am
    Thank you for an excellent description of the history.


    Joan Pearson
    April 20, 2000 - 06:29 am
    Very interesting source, Charo-latte, (as usual)...Wickham describes our Madame Eglantyne as "unworldly" and "childish" - among other things...childish! Unworldly!

    I suppose that's what you'd have to call her transparent mannerisms, her belief that the way she wishes others to see her is what they do in fact see! "...straining to counterfeit a courtly kind of grace" - straining to appear worldy, but all the time unworldy? How complicated!

    But this is not the naive childishness of the young boy in her tale. His age is clearly stated as seven. What is the significance of this? At the age of seven, a child is considered in the eyes of the Church to be old enough to make his first communion, to have reached the age of reason. Our child is seven, but so unworldly, so ignorant of the ways of his world and the effect his hearty song would have on Jewish ears. Apparently, he has been brought up, by his widowed mother, who never exposed her son to bigotry. Apparently, we are to conclude, that this was never communicated to him through his Church or his school either!

    So we have an interesting contrast between the teller and the subject of the tale. Both "unworldly", both "childish" and yet both so different. Is Chaucer making a point that the Lady has no excuse for her pretention? No excuse for telling such a tale, for acting as if her bigotry is not transparent in choosing the tale in the first place? Is Chaucer satirizing the Church's attitude toward the Jews (as Mary Page) describes, or is he too much a man of his time to even be seeing the Church persecution of the Jews for what it was?

    Jim Olson
    April 20, 2000 - 06:45 am
    I am quite willing to take Chaucer at face value in this and other tales and not attempt through all manner of conjecture and extended reasoning to go much beyond what is on the surface of the tales.

    He wrote his Tales in English to reach the English audience of his times and in so doing reflected that society as it existed- not a scholarly audience several centuries later who would be delighted that the language had changed so they could now explore his works as veiled somewhat by a language barrier so they are even more free than usual to "deconstruct" the tales and make of them all sorts of clever but historically inaccurate conjecture.

    He told dirty stories because people then as now liked dirty stories- calling them by a french name and labeling them satire tells more about our sensibilities than it does about Chaucer and his audience.

    In this tale he reflects the anti-semitism of that period. Just as shakespeare did later with Shylock- albeit giving him much grander poetry than any of villains have in this tale.

    I think poetry is the key to the tale.

    We see here after the dreadful prosaic Ship Man's tale a return to poetry, to poetic expression.

    Much of this poetry is devoted to - and it is entirely appropriate that it be done by a prioress- extensive and repeated praise of virginity- the virgin mother and the Christ-like boy himself whose rise from the grave reflects the death and resurrection of Christ born unto a virgin.

    I read the tale not so much as an anti-semetic tirade (which it clearly is and there is no way to sugar coat that by calling it "satire") but as a song of virginity- it's beauty and power as seen through the eyes of the prioress.

    It's not a song I particularly believe in but it is a song that has its own beauty and poetic power that does transcend the mores of the period just as the force of Shylock's speech "Hath not a Jew..." in "The Merchant of Venice" did in its time.

    Joan Pearson
    April 20, 2000 - 07:02 am
    Sir Jim, that's what I suspect too. - that Chaucer accepted the prevalent attitude toward the Jews, that the 'satiristic' elements are visible only through our "modern" eyes (what word am I looking for there? Enlightened, perhaps) But still there is great satire here regarding this self-deceptive woman and the innocence of the boy in her tale!

    Will read again, this time paying more heed to the "poetry."

    April 20, 2000 - 08:19 am
    Mary Page:  At a time when money was replacing feudal loyalty as the means by which land was controlled and transferred the money-lending activities of the Jews, activities forbidden to Christians,  and the influence that derived from these activities, especially from their dealings with the   indebted monarchy caused a great deal of fear and animosity in the general population. It is evident from the charters issued in the reign of Richard the influence that the Jews had obtained with the monarchs --thanks to the king's financial dependence on them.

    At the coronation of Richard I, a bitter dispute erupted over the admission of Jews to the coronation ceremony, a
    dispute that was followed several months later by  the massacre of 150 Jews at York and the despoliation of their
    houses and goods.
     Later on, Richard's brother John also issued a charter to the Jews which confirmed the privileges and protections
    they had had under Richard,  including the right to their own justice and special exemptions from taxes and tolls. The
    reason for this is clear: the Jews paid John the sum of 4,000 marks for the confirmation of this charter.

    Jews were finally expelled from England in 1290, as a concession by Edward I in exchange for a new tax.

    Popular culture in the fourteenth century was thoroughly imbued with antisemitism, and popular literature, such as
    Miracles of the Virgin, or the stories of blood libel (the belief that Jews would kidnap, torture, and murder Christian
    children in the Passover season) portrayed Jews as agents of the devil, figures of almost supernatural malevolence, a
    superstition that was aided by the fact that no Jews lived in England (at least openly). The story the Prioress tells was
    well known in the fourteenth century, one of the most popular versions of the infamous blood libel stories. Another
    popular story with the same them is that of Little William of Norwich, which the Prioress mentions.

     Charolotte:  Why do you think the prioress was on this trip?  She probably came from a proper, aristocratic family.  Perhaps she was from a large aristocratic family, with many females, which would have increased her ineligibility for marriage, if she was at the bottom rung of that ladder.  Do you believe, perhaps, that that is WHY she was hypocritical in Chaucers depiction of a holy woman?

    April 20, 2000 - 09:22 am
    Quite a story for Holy Week!

    Such forward hatred for the Jews.

    My translation uses the word "Ghetto" in the first sentence of the this tale. Is that used in other translations???


    April 20, 2000 - 10:43 am
    ghet*to [1] (noun), plural ghettos also ghettoes

    [Italian, from Venetian dialect gheto island where Jews were forced to live, literally, foundry (located on the island), from ghetar to cast, from Latin jactare to throw -- more at JET]

    First appeared 1611


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 20, 2000 - 10:56 am
    The age of reason, in order to recieve Holy Communion in the Catholic Church was only changed to age 7 from the age the of 12 either at the end of the ninteenth century or the early twentieth century. In a rush just now but the number seven has all kinds of symbolic meaning within the church that may explain the childs age. I will post it tonite.

    April 20, 2000 - 12:31 pm
    Ther was in Asye, in a greet citee,
    Amonges cristene folk a Jewerye,

    These are the first two lines of the Prioress' Tale in Middle English. As noted above, the word ghetto doesn't appear until the early 17th century.

    I also note that the tale is set, not in England, but somewhere, very vaguely, in a great city of Asia.

    Although Jews had been officially banned from England since 1290, the Church took a position against the persecution of Jews. There were several papal decrees forbidding it.

    Insightful men saw the base economic motives behind the persecution of Jews. The German chronicler, Jacob von Konighshofen, recounted the slaying of the Jews in Strasbourg in 1349. He wrote:

    "The money was indeed the thing that killed the Jews. If they had been poor and if the feudal lords had not been in debt to them, they would not have been burnt."


    April 20, 2000 - 01:57 pm
    Did the church ever take a stand against the American priest (Chicago, was it?) who used to rant against the Jews on the radio when I was a child?

    This question is not confrontational. I honestly don't know the answer. But he was on the radio for a very long time, so the public must not have protested his dreadful words.

    April 20, 2000 - 04:47 pm
    MaryPage---I grew up in Chicago. I don't remember the priest you describe, but I am horrified that such a man was allowed to go on and on with such hatred. I have no idea what the Church had to say, but obviously his bishop didn't control him. What a pity.

    The Prioress is convinced that she is doing what she should do in order to help the other pilgrims. She tells what she perceives as a fine Miracle of Mary story about a little boy who comes to life through divine intervention. She does not see the terrible antisemitism in her tale. Herein I think lies the poignancy of this tale. Madame Eglentyne does not understand the implications of the tale she tells. She is spiritually blind. She doesn't know much about love despite her brooch with "Love Conquers All" on it.

    But Chaucer knew, I believe. He had travelled broadly for his day and would have met many different kinds of people. I think he intended his audience to note the sentimentality of his Prioress as well as the horror of her tale.


    April 20, 2000 - 05:18 pm
    I think the name was something like Coughlin, pronounced Coff (as in having a cold) Lynn. He was quite a fixture of the age back then. I run into references to him every now and again. But the church still officially declared the Jews responsible for the crucifixtion of Jesus. I am pretty sure it was this current Pope who declared the church no longer holds that position.

    April 20, 2000 - 05:26 pm
    I don't believe Chaucer saw any horror in the tale as far as how the Jews were treated. He would have taken that for granted. Any horror would have been based on what supposedly happened to the poor little tyke. I also do not see any symbolism in the child's age. I believe that back then most people truly believed the type of story the prioress told to be the gospel truth. I do not believe a single one of them would have been offended by it. They would have just been upset about the fate of the little boy.

    Even now I occasionally hear people let loose with virulent anti-semitism. It is like folklore, handed down from generation to generation.

    April 20, 2000 - 05:46 pm
    Mary Page: Amen to that-- bigotry lives. In MY own family bigotry reigns adn I HATE IT!!! Many times it is due to the fact that someone HAS to respond - and over the years a negative response is acceptable---not to me!!!!!

    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 21, 2000 - 04:03 am
    Above the brooch she wore, there was also an engraved "A." We all know what that means from Hester Prynne. Obviously it came down to her through the ages.

    If the Prioress was an observant nun, she would have remained true to her vows of poverty and chastity and not gone on a pilrimage in search of another husband.

    I still think the tale is beautiful in the boy's devotion to his faith, though I deplore the anti-semitism in the Prioress.

    I think it was indeed Chaucer's intention to expose such practises within the church as well as in the general population. His purpose was exposure throughout the tales.

    I note that a theater group in CA is planning to stage the tale, but I think it's better left between the covers of a book.


    Charlotte J. Snitzer
    April 21, 2000 - 04:09 am
    I hope my post answered your question. So nice to hear from you personally.


    April 21, 2000 - 05:03 am
    Charlotte----Good morning. I am trying to imagine a staged version of this tale! That will be something.

    I must point out that I believe this is the first instance--in English--of that old truism, "Murder will out." The idea is Biblical, from Genesis, when God says that Abel's blood is calling out to him from the ground. It appears in many writers, but here it is for the very first time. "Mordre wol out, certeyne, it wol nat faille."

    Have any of you guessed yet that I am also a great fan of mysteries? I especially like Elizabeth George and Ruth Rendell.


    Jim Olson
    April 21, 2000 - 05:10 am
    I don't think I have spelled the name right, but he did have a national radio program and preached all kinds of hate and a kind of a populist politcal message that had wide appeal.

    We used to listen to it in the 30's during the depression.

    I don't think the church either supported or condemned it at the time- interesting to learn more about that.

    There was a rise of anti-semitism at that time from various quarters and the Klan moved north as well and concentrated on both Catholics and Jews.

    April 21, 2000 - 05:18 am
    I am most interested in this Father Caughlin or Coughlin person. If I can get out from under this very HIGH stack of papers, perhaps I can do a little research. His name rings a bell with me though I am reasonably sure I never heard him.


    Joan Pearson
    April 21, 2000 - 05:39 am
    You know, when I look at it again, Chaucer doesn't seem to be decrying the murder, as much as he concentrates on what happens afterward? It is almost as though he considers the Jews' reaction to the boy singing this disturbing song in their midst - something to be expected. He seems to be focussing on the widowed mother and her dead son, the pure and innocent. (Sacrificial Lamb?)

    Isn't this a coincidence that we are discussing this particular tale on Good Friday?

    I have a Biblical question for you. Do we know anything about Mary and Joseph at the time of the Crucifixion? She seems so alone and vulnerable throughout the Passion, that I've often wondered where Joseph is at the time. He was much older than she was at the time of the Nativity; I've concluded that Mary is a widow at this time?

    Is Chaucer telling the story of the Passion on an April Good Friday? The timing is right? There seems to be no rancor against the's as if "they know not what they do" when they react to the new song that they are hearing.

    The grain of wheat upon his tongue...the bread of life -eternal life.

    I think this is a very religious tale coming from the Prioress, sobering to our gay party on Good Friday.

    Shasta Sills
    April 21, 2000 - 02:50 pm
    Maryal, I tried reading the Middle English version, but it didn't help me much because I don't know how the words sound. I liked the Elf translation though. I think it has a smoother flow than the Coghill translation that I have been reading. I wish it was more comfortable reading a computer screen. I much prefer sitting in a nice armchair and reading a book.

    Joan, I'm glad you mentioned the meaning of the grain of wheat on the child's tongue. I thought that was very odd and had no idea what it meant. This whole discussion of this tale has been very interesting and informative.

    April 21, 2000 - 06:13 pm
    If you type his name into the search engine you will find numerous links to info on him.


    Jim Olson
    April 22, 2000 - 06:39 am
    I recall very little of those broacasts since I was 7-8 years old at the time.

    His antisemitism seems aimed at the banking industry and usury which he identified with specific persons and didn't seem to attack Jews as a group although it was common in that period to associate the banking indusry and usury with Jews- one of the major Klan points as well as a current skin-head claim-

    He called Christ "the Christian Moses" and expressed admiration for Moses and his people.

    Here is an official church position as reported by the Detroit Daily News historical view of him:

    " Detroit Bishop Michael Gallagher refused to discipline Fr. Coughlin, saying: "Until a lawful superior rules otherwise, I stand steadfastly behind this priest."

    Archbishop Edward Mooney, newly arrived as Detroit's first archbishop in 1937, was that superior. Fr. Coughlin was maneuvered out of the limelight and eventually silenced.

    Fr. Coughlin continued to serve as pastor of the Shrine of the LIttle Flower until his retirement in 1966. He died in 1979 at the age of 88.

    Joan Pearson
    April 22, 2000 - 12:10 pm
    "Oh Hugh of Lincoln likewise murdered by cursed Jews"

    ...I looked up St. Hugh and find he is a cannonized saint, know for his defense of the Jews

    "He was one of the leaders in denouncing the persecution of the Jews that swept England, 1190-91, repeatedly facing down armed mobs and making them release their victims" - and died of poor health. He clearly is not the one mentioned in the Prioress's tale!
    St Hugh of Lincoln

    Look what more search reveals!!!

    Among the calendared records of the royal chancery in England, there is
    documentation for the death of a boy supposed to have been killed by Jews at Lincoln in 1255, the year in which "little" St Hugh was martyred--at least there are royal pardons granted to the alleged culprits. This does not, of course, prove that he was really killed by them, only that they were charged with culpability in the crime. These pardons were probably extended to those not *directly* implicated in the murder. Other than these few references, contemporary chronicles are our chief sources for the murder of 1255.

    Little St. Hugh of LIncoln

    This was not an isolated case...this site lists similar incidents:
    Little St. Hugh of Lincoln

    Jim Olson
    April 22, 2000 - 02:22 pm
    Whatever version of these supposed ritual murders we believe at this time, the relevance to our discussion is that Chaucer probably did believe them (as did many who came after his time) and certainlny they were current in the society and minds of his readers and therefore suitable material for the tale.

    A way was needed to get the boy killed to add drama and force to the tale and to get the full religious value out of his holy song and partial resurrection.

    Just having him fall down a well would not have done it.

    Joan Pearson
    April 23, 2000 - 05:48 am
    Jim, I think Chaucer believed this too. It seems to be a matter of "public record" at the time. Next to the insight into human nature, the satirical humor and the poetry, I am fascinated by the amount of the history of the time and place we are experiencing! We are back in the late Middle Ages!

    Tomorrow we hear from Chaucer on Chaucer! A riot! Except for the second tale Harry forces him to tell, the Tale of Melibee - that one is 1000 lines long and most editions do not even cover it. Many of us have the Coghill edition which includes a short summary of that tale. Ginny has scanned these pages and there is a link to them up in the Discussion schedule in the heading if you do not have the Coghill edition.

    I am curious as to whether the other editions we are reading here carry the complete tale?

    Have a JOYful day, everyone!

    April 23, 2000 - 09:38 am
    I've not gotten around to reading the Knight's Tale as yet. So I can't speak for that tale. But, one thing I feel is that thus far Chaucer shows that the people with religious vocation as their career are not to be adored and venerated. They have horrible chinks in their life just as every human. In the past I know people have looked to their clergy as above other humans; and there are people who do that still today. Not so says Chaucer in the descriptions and tales. That thought came to me today.


    April 23, 2000 - 11:33 am
    Well, darn!!!

    I turn my back for a few days and you all just go right on talking! It will take me days to catch up after I get back on this sway-backed horse, and just when the saddle sores were getting better, too!


    Jim Olson
    April 23, 2000 - 03:50 pm
    Marj says:

    Chaucer shows that the people with religious vocation as their career are not to be adored and venerated. They have horrible chinks in their life just as every human. In the past I know people have looked to their clergy as above other humans; and there are people who do that still today. Not so says Chaucer in the descriptions and tales.

    I agree with you in many of the tales he does this.

    I don't get any sense of it being the case in the prioress's tale.

    What chinks does he display in her character and action?

    In the case of the villians in the tale they aren't chinks- they are evil to the core.

    April 23, 2000 - 07:51 pm
    Well Jim, I think that there is too much sentimentality in the Prioress. She weeps over a mouse caught in a trap and adores her little dogs, but when it comes to the real basis of her faith, Christian love, she does not seem up to applying it to Jews. It reminds me of those Nazi officers who were educated, loved classical music, their children, and dogs, but who could not understand that sending fellow humans to their death was wrong.

    These tales of Jews slaughtering Christian children and using their blood in sacred rituals were clearly contrived. It is most likely, for example, that the real little Hugh of Lincoln (around whom a cult grew) fell into the cesspool and drowned. His body was only discovered when the gasses released after death caused his body to float, days after his death. But the Jews were blamed nonetheless. There is a really ancient song that is about Little Hugh that I can perhaps find again that seems to have some truth in it.

    And it is deeply ironic that little Hugh's namesake, St. Hugh of Lincoln, stood firmly against the persecution of Jews. I think the reference to little Hugh is intentional on Chaucer's part.


    Joan Pearson
    April 24, 2000 - 12:25 am
    Now I AM confused! I think there's a lot to what Marj is saying about the way some (many?) members of the clergy are regarded at this time. Jim questions that there is evidence of this in the Prioress's tale. I was leaning toward the belief that Chaucer, being very much a man of his time, accepted the belief that the ritualistic murders of Christian boys were true. Even considering the fact that he is the supreme satirist -

    Maryal brings up the irony of the two names...St. Hugh, the defender of the Jews, Little St. Hugh, the victim (Little St. Hugh was beatified by the Church, but never really sainted and the whole story downplayed hundreds of years later. But the question remains - what did Chaucer believe at the time? How much of this is satire?

    More questions - the answers may provide a clue to the answer. The Prioress refers to Herod, also Rachel and St. John of Patmos in her tale.

    Oh cursed folk of Herod come again. Herod had every two year old child killed in an attempt to kill the Christ-child.

    What of Rachel? The mother, "a second Rachel weeping for her child." What happened to Rachel's child?

    St. John of Patmos? "There they don white robes before that Lamb and sing afresh that never have known woman in the flesh." Do these references simply reinforce the belief that the Church accepted the murder by the Jews as true, or is there further example of irony here?

    April 24, 2000 - 08:13 am
    Every book I have read of the history of this time, as well as of the times prior to and after this period, indicate a strong belief on the part of Christians that the Jews were accursed and in league with the Devil and totally condemned forever for the death of Jesus. I gather the records give every indication that folks were totally imbued with this belief and quite simply did not entertain any doubt about it. The Church itself believed it, and no Christian Love was directed towards the Jews, nor was it ever suggested that it should be. Doubtless some sensitive individuals felt concern and compassion for the plight of the Jews, but these were enlightened exceptions to the rule for those times. Sir Walter Scott was one of the early writers to appreciate and come to the defense of the Jews in his book: "IVANHOE". He came centuries after Chaucer! No, I truly believe Chaucer would not have felt a single qualm about castigating the Jews.

    I think a lot of us today feel such a strong distaste for believing people could be, in such a vast majority, so cruel towards other human beings. We must remember these were also people who enjoyed going to public executions. And we must believe so we can work towards preventing this being the majority opinion ever again.

    April 24, 2000 - 09:08 am
    A fine Monday morning to all the Pilgrims

    I have consulted my colleague the Medievalist on this difficulty about Chaucer and his beliefs about Jews. With the exception of this tale, John believes that Jews are not mentioned in Chaucer's works. That piece of information doesn't help much, I know, but John says that we do not know what Chaucer thought about Jews. Sounds like an area of pursuit for a doctoral dissertation.

    At any rate, I suppose the tale is here because it is a miracle of the Virgin and therefore an appropriate tale for the Prioress to tell.

    Joan----I also asked John about the Great Schism. He said that it would have had some effect on Chaucer since it gave another reason to feel unease, but he thought Chaucer's attention was mostly focused on the court---he lived under three kings. He also pointed out that the Hundred Years War caused no little anxietry as well as repeated occurences of the Black Death.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 24, 2000 - 09:33 am
    During the later part of the 1800s Francis J. Child spent his life collecting the Ballads from Locals all over the British Isles. IN 1882 he published The English and Scottish Popular Ballads a 10 part study of 305 ballads with as many as ten or more versions. He includes a comprehensive discussion of the history, date, lore, and versions of each ballad and the ballad's cultural traditions as well as how the ballad is related to folktales of Europe. Professor Child continues to say that the average folk passed on the cultural history in ballad since they did not have a skill in letters and the Ballads were the stories of the news of the day often embroided for affect.

    I'm copying a synopsis of ballad 155; Sir Hugh, or, The Jew's Daughter also known as 'Little Harry Hughes and the Duke's Daughter. The manuscript for the Ballad was once in the library of the Lincoln Cathedral. There are several versions.
    Version A
    boys who are playing football are joined by Sir Hugh, who kicks the ball throught the Jew;s window. Sir Hugh sees the Jew's daughter looking out of the window, and asks her to throw down the ball. She tells him to come and get it; this he is afraid to do, for fear she may do to him "as she did to his father." The Jew's daughter entices him in with an apple, leads him throught nine dark doors, lays him on a table, and sticks him like a swine; then rolls him in a cake of lead, and throws him into a draw-well fifty fathoms deep, Our Lady's draw-well. The boy not returning at eve, his mother sets forth to seek him; goes to the Jew's castle, the Jew's garden, and the the draw-well, entreating in each case Sir Hugh to speak. He answers from the well, bidding his mother go make his winding-sheet, and he will meet her at the back of merry Lincoln the next morning. His mother makes his winding-sheet, and the dead corpse meets her at the back of mery Lincoln: all the bells of Lincoln are rung without men's hands, and all the books of Lincoln are read without man's tongue.

    In version G
    The Jew's daughter lays the Bible at the boy's head, and the Prayer-Book at his feet(how come these in the Jew's house?) before she sticks him.

    In version O there is a jumble;
    Oh lay a bible at my head,
    And a Prayer-Book at my feet,
    In the well that they did throw me in...

    In 1255 the Annals of Waverly have the story that a boy in Lincoln named Hugh was crucified by the Jews in contempt of Christ with various preliminary tortures. to conceal the act from Christians, the body when taken from the cross, was thrown into a running stream; but the water would not endure the wrong done its maker, and immediately ejected it upon dry land. The body was then buried in the earth, but was found above ground the next day. The guilty parties were now very much frightened and quite at their wit's end; as a last resort they threw the corpse into a drinking-well. Thereupon the whole place was filled with so brilliant a light and so sweet an odor that it was clear to everybody that there must be something holy and prodigious in the well. The body was seen floating on the water, and, upon its being drawn up, the hands and feet were found to be pierced, the head had, as it were, a crown of bloody points, and there were various other wounds: from all which it was plain that this was the work of the abonimable Jews. A blind woman, touching the bier on which the blessed martyr's corpse was carrying to the church, recieved her sight, and many other miracles followed. Eighteen Jews, convicted of the crime, and confessing it with their own mouth, were hanged.

    In this same year 1255 Alfonso the Wise recorded in the Siete Partidas, that Jews were wont to crucify on Good Friday children that they had stolen or waxen images when children were not to be had and this was one of the most effective grounds offered in justification of the expulsion of the Jews under Ferdinand and Isabella. In San Diminguito de val, a choir-boy of seven, was said to have been stolen and crucified at Saragossa in 1250. in the text there are a great collection of stories with dates of supposed boy child kidnappings and than crucified all over Europe, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Munich, Baden, Colmar, in the Tyrol on and on. The Anglo-French version of this Ballad has 92 stanzas.

    In another version written in the Annals of Burton, continues with the King on his way to Scotland stopping at Lincoln, agrees with the charges and lockes all the Jews in their houses which are stormed. John of Lessington promises Jopin, the head of the Jews and the priests who it was believed to be at the botton of the whole transaction, that he would save their lives. Jopin delighted, expecting to be able to save the other Jews by the use of money confessed to everything. Considering the disgrace to the majesty of the King if he escaped punishment he was tied to the tail of a horse, dragged throught the streets, over sticks and stones and hung. The Dominicans in the area are bribed and they save the lives of the others. Richard of Cornwall, the king's brother, to whom the king has pledged all the Jews in England as security for a loan, stimulated also by a huge bribe, withstood this violation of vested rights and further executeions was stayed.

    And still another version has the Jews of Lincon steeling the boy Hugh, who is eight years old on Peter and Pual's day, June 29 feeding him properly for ten days, assembled were Jews from all over Great Britian, with a curcifixion that includes an appointed judge, a Pilate. The boy is scourged till the blood ran, crowned with thorns, spit upon, pricked with knives, made to drink gall, mocked and scoffed at, hailed as a false prophet, finally crucified with a lance thrust into his heart. Taken down he is disembowelled for magical purposes. The mother called Beatrice made dilligent search for her lost child, neighbors say he was playing with the Jewish children, the town officers is sent for, draws the body from the well, the mother shrieks drawing a great concourse to the place among whom was Sir John of Lexinton a long-headed and scholarly man, a priest of the cathedral declaring he never heard of the Jews doing such a thing and lays hands on the Jews. The Jew, Copin by name, encouraged to confess by Sir John is in custody when the King comes through and blames Sir John for the promise made to save the Jews. Copin seeing he had no chance for life volunteered to complete his testimony saving Sir John. The inquisition made by the king's justices showed that the crime was the common act of the Jews of England and with the mother's appeals to the King, on St. Clement's day eighteen of the richer and more considerable Jews of Linclon were hung.

    Professor Child also includes how Chaucer used bits and pieces from the various stories alive and well during that time in history and sites the seven year old choir-boy as being the choice of age for the boy in his tale.

    April 24, 2000 - 09:52 am
    It was all a religious hysteria easily spread by a mostly ignorant and illiterate populace. And the blood lust of this populace was easier to contain while they had the single (all Jews) focus for their hatred.

    Shirley Jackson's "THE LOTTERY" imagines a futuristic solution to this particular proclivity of mankind.

    April 24, 2000 - 10:13 am
    In the General Prologue, Chaucer goes to great length to apparently expose the falseness and pretensions of the Prioress. Speaking of several things such as her badly accented French, her spoiling of her two little dogs in that she feeds them only on "white" bread when most of the masses had access to a rather crude dark bread, and on and on. Many things that seem to go directly against what we would expect of a member of the church clergy. However, in the tale that he has the Prioress tell, she spends a great part of it establishing her reverence for the Virgin Mary and showing how "good" she is before she goes on to tell this grossly bigoted story. I wonder if GC is presenting her personal picture in the Prologue and then gives this well known tale to her just to demonstrate that instead of a true Christian who would condemn this commonly held view of Jews she goes to great lengths to pander to and incite the people's hatred of the Jewish community.

    I am not painting all clergy with the same tar brush--but I am saying that I would bet that all of us at sometime in our lives have known the minister or faithful church member who puts on a pious face in public and then tells terrible ethnic jokes to his buddies or cheats his neighbor or whatever.

    I think Chaucer is mirroring so many different social ills of that time (and of this time). I think he was an astute observer of society. He had many positions in the court and in those jobs he surely met all kinds. I do not think it was his way to out-and-out condemn what was happening around him but chose to expose in a subtle way and let those who would see, draw their own conclusions.


    April 24, 2000 - 12:09 pm
    But Phyll, according to the historical records, in those days MOST "true Christians" Would have condemned the Jews. It was the position of the church. That position has just been declared null and void by the present pontiff. Seriously, it was just not the same at all as it is now. Not the least little bit.

    April 24, 2000 - 12:22 pm
    Although antisemitism was a way of life in the Middle Ages, I would like to point out that Jews were officially banned from England starting in 1290. If Chaucer came into contact with Jews at all, it would have been on the continent. It is also important that by Chaucer's time the Church had taken a stand against the persecution of the Jews. See Joan's note above on St. Hugh of Lincoln (the man, not the boy.)

    Of course, it takes a long time for the illiterate to "get with" the new rules. I think it is horrible how the original tellers of these stories managed to make Jews into people who would use the blood of children in some secret religious ritual or kill children in "revenge".

    It astounds me what fear and ignorance can come up with when combined.

    April 24, 2000 - 12:25 pm
    Barbara,----Wow, that is very good information on some of the stories in circulation about little Hugh. I love the story of losing the ball because of how accurate it seems to me---up until we get to the part about the Jew's daughter and luring the boy into the house. I, for one, really appreciate your work.


    April 24, 2000 - 12:30 pm
    Phyll--I agree with you. It seems to me there is a real rub between the description of the prioress in the prologue and the one who tells this extremely pious (and to me horrible) story about a miracle. This woman can feel sorry for a mouse in a trap, but doesn't mind a story where some number of Jews are rounded up, essentially forced to confess, and then drawn and quartered and hanged. This means that Jews are less than animals in the Prioress' moral universe. Anyway, the Chaucer scholars don't know how Chaucer felt about Jews, so I guess we will all come to our own decision. Which we do anyway, right?


    April 24, 2000 - 12:34 pm
    One more thing and then I will be quiet. Two hundred years later, Shakespear will write The Merchant of Venice, a play that demonstrates the humanity of Jews, among other things. I think there are, in any given age, some people who do not go along with what nearly everyone believes.

    Now I'll go and see if I can stir up Harry. He has been missing since before Easter. Seems one of the wine mules is missing also.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    April 24, 2000 - 01:26 pm
    Also, if you remember Sir Walter Scot's Ivanhoe includes a Jew and his daughter - evidently the part from above "Richard of Cornwall, the king's brother, to whom the king has pledged all the Jews in England as security for a loan." Is true and those Jews that had money to lend were the ones that were given protection, often they secured their vested rights with additional bribes. Lincoln is where most of the money lending Jews lived during the Middle Ages untill the eighteenth century when there was more wars to finance and therefore more safty for Jews who were lending the money that supported the cost of wars. The average Jew in England had no place to go where they were welcome and so they just took their chances and although officially banned stayed on hoping the local officials and knights honored them as the security for the loan made to Richard. And so Chaucer probably was acquainted with Jews.

    It is amazing how unwittingly we have introduced this hatred to our own children through what appeared to be simple nursery rhymes. I forgot now how it goes but something about a cook chasing children to roast them or put them in a pot for stew all comes from this obsessive falshood about children being sacrificed by Jews. In fact when I was a little girl I was admonished for walking near a chinese laundry because my grandmother believed that they kidnapped children and cooked them to make the starch they used to make the clothes they ironed so firm. Also when I was a child if a Jew was walking on the sidewalk and you were going to walk pass they were expected to walk in the gutter and let you pass. I also remember as little kids anyone that came onto our street that we didn't know we looked at carefully and if they were lame or ragged we actually threw stones at them man, woman or child!

    What I am trying to say is that this unreasonable hatred based on fear and a need to justify some belief that others are not worthy, I don't think was just because of the church. I think the church at the time yes, was the supreme law and power but folks have created their own tales and stories in the name of the church and still do. Back in the 60s when the church changed so much, they removed from the calander the celebration of many that were thought of as Saints in which stories had evolved and were believed by the average catholic, like the story of Saint Christopher carrying the Baby Jesus across the swollen river. And when I was a child, it was the whisper kept close, one of the local priests was dating the girl that lived next door to us. Her mother was so upset and would talk to my mother by the hour sharing her upsetment. I don't think a vow taken or a law created is perfectly kept by those taking the vow or those for whom a law is intended.

    Joan Pearson
    April 24, 2000 - 01:46 pm
    Hi Barb! We can't think you enough for all the extras you bring to our discussion! Isn't it fascinating trying to put all the clues together to get inside of the Medieval mind? The only thing more exciting to be would be the that of the cave dwellers!

    This week we get to look closely at Chaucer on Chaucer! Now this is fun! From the very first opening lines (we also get a look at Harry's wife here too!) - we get a physical rendering of Chaucer! I'm goin g to say right off that I think that he looks quite the opposite of the elfish fellow with the waist of a poppet! What do you think? Why is he staring at the ground? Is he listening intently, deep in thought, depressed, tired, bored, composing?

    April 24, 2000 - 04:32 pm
    They so enrich the reading. And coax the mind to go meandering.


    April 24, 2000 - 05:12 pm

    I am going to quibble a little bit over words, I'm afraid. A "true believer in the doctrine of the Church" would have condemed Jews but I strongly believe that in that age and in all ages since, a "true Christian--a true believer in the doctrine of Christ" would not have been a part of the persecution of Jews.

    And also, I find it is unfortunately very much the same now. I know personally people who profess a great faith and belief in Christianity but will make the most disgusting racist remarks in private. Direct opposition to all that Christ tried to teach.


    April 24, 2000 - 05:14 pm
    Oh, Harry, where are you, just when we need you most?


    April 24, 2000 - 05:49 pm
    Oh Phyll, now if you are going to put Christian Love as what Jesus taught, well, I could not agree with you more! I often remember the parable of the Good Samaritan, as an example. And remember, too, that he Was a Jew! As were his parents, grand parents, etc. And he practised the religion, but preached Love for all.

    But I am not talking about his teachings. I am talking about true history of how the peoples of Europe, citizens of the "Christian" countries, have behaved over the past 20 centuries and of how accepted it has been. Even today, in this country, we have whole colleges and universities of young people being taught to hate the Jews. We really, truly do. And it breaks my heart.

    April 24, 2000 - 07:05 pm
    Enough of all this talk of religion. Harry's head is spinning. It is time for merriment and grog.

    A zippety-do-dah, sippety grog
    All good men should jump a log
    Harry will help the halt and lame
    And turn this church-talk into game!

    Harry the Heretic, prop. and owner of the TABARD, which is far from being a church

    Joan Pearson
    April 25, 2000 - 04:04 am
    Harry! We hear you've been having trouble with that wife of yours! No wonder you are ready for merriment! And look at poor old Chaucer riding along with his chin to chest! Let's stop under that stand of trees over yonder and ope the canteen while we try to cheer him up!

    Jim Olson
    April 25, 2000 - 04:08 am
    One more thing and then I will be quiet. Two hundred years later, Shakespear will write The Merchant of Venice, a play that demonstrates the humanity of Jews,


    That play depended for its main plot on the persisting stereotype of Jews and prevelant anti-semiticsm of the time.

    Shakespeare gave Shylock one such speech (but read the play in its entirity and compare all of Shylocks lines with the others.)

    The fact that the play is seen today as you describe it is based on many modern productions.

    No modern production would dare to produce the play as it was originally intended.

    We continue to read the Tales as modern tales from modern eyes and not from the perspectvive of the audience of the time.

    This happens all the time in this forum - people discuss the characters as real people and consider them as contemporary- not as fictional representatives of the history of mankind.

    Times change- but we are in many ways our past as well as our present.

    We cannot reshape that past to make it look like the present.

    We can reshape the present to avoid the errors of the past.

    But only if we understand both.

    Joan Pearson
    April 25, 2000 - 05:57 am
    This is so important Jim! "We cannot reshape that past to make it look like the present." And yet, in our attempt to understand the past, we bring our modern conceptions and understanding. It is a challenge to strike the balance. We are trying. We will continue to try!. You keep us in line, okay?

    Did you read Chaucer's own description of himself, his physical appearance? Why do you suppose he makes such a point of describing his "eyes to the ground" as if searching for a hare?

    Has anyone come across a picture of Chaucer? The one above is from the Ellesmere manuscript, but it is my understanding that all of those illustrations were created from the Canterbury Tales text. I'd love to see something from an actual portrait, or woodcut created in his lifetime. Can you tell where you found it and we'll link it here? Do you think his portrayal in the prologue to Sir Topaz is accurate?

    April 25, 2000 - 07:21 am
    Jim----I yield. I overstated the point and you are correct. Everything depends on my being influenced by modern productions of Merchant. The play is certainly full of antisemitism.

    Let me quote G.B. Harrison, ed. of The Complete Works:

    "As for Shylock, opinion has changed during the centuries. In Shakespeare's time a Jew, especially on the stage, was a monster, capable of any cruelty toward a Christian; yet Shakespeare made him a man with real and bitter grievances enough to sour a saint. When the play was first acted there was little sympathy for him, and some surprise that he was let off so lightly. In more recent times, star actors who have taken the part have rather stressed the pathos in the Jew, so that in spite of his vindictiveness, Shylock often seems to stand out as the only man of worth in a worthless society."

    As for Sir Thopaz-- His name, our modern "Topaz," was a girl's name, and he is described, complexion and all, in terms that are usually used to describe a lovely woman.



    April 25, 2000 - 07:25 am
    Joan----I find the description of Chaucer the pilgrim perfect. I know several writers who stay quietly in the background when at parties or in gatherings of people. Watching, observing, taking mental notes on the other pilgrims--Chaucer the pilgrim manages to be completely unremarkable, almost invisible.


    Joan Pearson
    April 25, 2000 - 02:46 pm
    Marj sent the gif for the portrait of Chaucer above - looks like a guy to me! I'm trying to figure out what was running through his mind when he describes both himself and Sir Thopaz with feminine attributes, if that is in fact what he was doing. Haven't quite figured out these lines and would be curious to know how it appears in your versions? This is Harry, describing Chaucer...
    "He's shaped about the waist the same as me;
    He'd be a likely poppet to embrace
    For any woman, small and fair of face!
    There's something elvish in his countenance..."

    And then the description of Sir Topaz (Who yearns for an Elf queen):
    ...with face like bread of whitest grain.
    His lips were red as rose,
    And his complexion like a stain
    Of scarlet red, and I maintain
    He had a seemly nose.

    He was bramble-flower
    Where red the berries creep."

    April 25, 2000 - 06:04 pm
    "Chaucer's work was much influenced by romance, the dominant mode of secular fictional narrative in his time: the Knight's Tale -- with its emphasis on aristocratic spectacle, knightly tournaments and courtly love as well as its thematic structure of balance and chiasmus -- clearly owes as much to romance as to Boccaccio's pseudo-classical narrative that is its source (the same can be said of Troilus and Criseyde). The Squire's Tale is the beginning of an exuberant fantastic romance of the sort that was to flower in the fifteenth century in the great works of Boiardo and Ariosto. The Franklin's Tale is, so its narrator claims, a Breton lay (a variety of short romance). Sir Thopas is at once a parody and a celebration of English popular romances.

    Sir Thopas is a delightful send-up of the popular English romances. Hardly a line is without its parallel in surviving romances.

    Chaucer's parody of the English popular romances is an affectionate one; he could have written the work only after a long and close acquaintance with the genre. Older critics assumed that Chaucer intended to write a popular romance. The Tale of Gamelyn appears in some manuscripts of The Canterbury Tales, and it was believed that Chaucer intended to adapt it for the Knight's Yeoman. There is no basis for this belief, but the tale is worth looking at as a vigorous example of the Popular Romance."

    On the Harvard Chaucer Page there is also a link to the Thomas Hoccleve portrait of Chaucer. Apparently Hoccleve was a personal friend of Chaucer, or so he claimed, and even said that Chaucer attempted to teach him how to write poetry. Click on Canterbury Tales and then click on The Prologue to Sir Thopas.


    Jim Olson
    April 25, 2000 - 06:49 pm

    Sir Thopas is at once a parody and a celebration of English popular romances.

    And as such it gives us the other extreme of the popular concepts of sex (two extremes still with us)- from the gross physical to the highly fantazied romantic view.

    It reminds of an incident years ago when some of us in the service in Korea were discussing sex, as men (and women) in the service sometimes did.

    As one might imagine most of the discussion was of the "Wham, Bam- thank you Mam" school of sex related discourse.

    But one young man said he had this fantasy of sleeping naked with a magical beatuiful maiden and never touching her- the experience too beautiful and etheral to ruin with sex.

    We all thought he may have had a point to some degree but that it was a pretty unusual and extreme case of extended fore-play.

    Seems to me Chaucer gives us these two ends of this continuim in the Tales as well.

    At any rate the Romance is expressed in highly figurative romantic verse complete with the birds singing away in the background. Our young man would have loved it- others would have responded more to the Miller's tale .

    I think it is a pleasant poetic interlude.

    April 25, 2000 - 06:55 pm
    Oh, Jim, it does make a nice change, doesn't it?


    April 26, 2000 - 01:03 am
    Will have to come back tomorrow and read ALL the subsequent posts since last I perused thoughts shared here....

    Seems I have much reading to catch up to the story line So I am off to do that

    A wee bit of something warm to help me on my way

    Anna the fair from Virginia

    Shasta Sills
    April 26, 2000 - 02:01 pm
    What a curious thing for Chaucer to do. To include a story that he considered ridiculous and then to break it off in the middle. Why include it at all? We know he considered it ridiculous because he expresses this opinion through his spokesperson--Harry. Has this kind of thing ever been done in a collection of short stories by any other author?

    The Cook's Tale was unfinished and probably wasn't intended to be included in its unfinished state. But the Tale of St. Topaz was deliberately broken off, and deliberately included that way. Then Chaucer himself relates The Tale of Melibee which was so boring that Coghill refused to translate it. But Chaucer included it.

    Apparently, he himself did not approve of all the types of story-telling that were popular in his day. But I suppose he included them because he knew his audience would appreciate them. And when he includes the worst examples of story-telling, he assigns them to himself! It takes a person of strong character to poke fun at himself. I think this was what he was doing when he described himself as effeminate and elfish. All of a sudden, we get a picture of the man himself, and he is intelligent, discriminating, and has a wicked sense of humor.

    April 26, 2000 - 03:32 pm
    Harry is describing Santa Claus here. ..with face like bread of whitest grain. His lips were red as rose, And his complexion like a stain Of scarlet red, and I maintain He had a seemly nose. He was bramble-flower Where red the berries creep."

    ---------------------------------------------------------- A horrible tale of a young boy being massacred has just been completed, by the Prioress. Everybody is depressed! Good lord! Lets get light-hearted, here. " Say something now, as other folks have done; and let it be a tale of mirth; at once." A story of mirth we get, gleeful, festive we read the adjectives; the herbs springing , birds singing as he searches for his worthy Elf-Queen.

    Aha! Topaz-- a hard stone with a soft luster. Only two steps below the diamond . Topaz can be broken easily, however, because the crystal has a perfect line of cleavage. do you think that has any bearing here?

    I don't get it? Why did the host insist he cease with his "doggerel-rhyme" and speak in prose? My dictionary defined that as light verse in a loose, irregular rhythm. The host asks for a virtuous moral. (Like any of the other stories fit that bill.)

    April 26, 2000 - 03:44 pm
    David Wright translation:" What a poppet for a pretty girl to cuddle in her arms! His face looks elfish, for he speaks to nobody." Wright calls Sir Topaz a burlesque parody. I think I am appreciating it more after reading posts. It seemed quite boring the first time I read it. Wonderful descriptions.

    And Wright states he omitted the Tale of Melibeus "as the general reader would undoubtedly find it wearisome". He includes a synopsis and his understandings.


    April 26, 2000 - 05:08 pm
    "It is, of course, ironic that Chaucer says to the Host that these are the best rhymes that he can do. Each stanza is filled with traditional cliches and absurd speech. Chaucer was making fun of himself, ridiculing this type of literature, and belittling the people who read this type of poetry. And most ironic of all is that Chaucer assigns this silly tale to himself.

    Furthermore, when the Host interrupts Chaucer, he pretends to be a little offended saying that these are his best rhymes. And then Chaucer promises a little thing in prose with a few familiar proverbs, but he proceeds to write a long, dull tale that rambles on forever and is filled with many proverbs.

    The Tale of Sir Topas has long puzzled scholars. At the time Chaucer wrote it, there were already in existence scores of tales of handsome knights in search of adventure and fair maidens. All of them were naively simple, long-winded, larded with minute descriptions, and plotted with improbability."

    Is the inclusion of this tale Chaucer's way of criticizing the popular literature of his time? Just as a modern literature scholar might poke fun at the "bodice-ripper" novels of today? (And before anyone here becomes upset, I have been known to read an occasional bodice-ripper myself.)


    Joan Pearson
    April 26, 2000 - 05:44 pm
    Chaucer says he knows only one rhyme and proceeds to parody just about every known tale there is. And then there's the Tale of Melabee - which is basically a put down of the Knight's tale - yes, let's at least look at the summary because we can get a good idea of what he is doing with that - without reading the excruciating 1000 lines!

    What else did he write...I mean, did Chaucer write anything serious? With a straight face? I know he's known for Canterbury Tales...and his wicked sense of humor, ability to write verse and satire is evident here. But what I'm this the extent of his talent? If so, we must take seriously what he is doing with his own tale. Is he telling us that this Is what he does? He is not about creative writing, but about parody? This is the only thing that he does and yet Harry doesn't like it? Is this how he thinks the public feels about him? He is clearly laughing at himself here.

    Another the Coghill version, the tale of Sir Topaz is made up of two parts, the "first fit" and the "second fit"...any ideas? Any notes in the Wright version?

    Jim Olson
    April 27, 2000 - 06:33 pm
    He is not about creative writing, but about parody? This is the only thing that he does and yet Harry doesn't like it? Is this how he thinks the public feels about him? He is clearly laughing at himself here.

    Ah but good paradoy is creative even if it is derivative.

    Can one of our scholars here check out just who was the audience for the Tales and some of Chaucer's other writings?

    I suspect the court would be an audience for paraody and wit (it such there is)

    I wonder how wide an audience the Tales actually had at the time they were published.

    And how did the audience get the tales? There must have been a rather low level of literacy but a lot of oral transmission of tales of various types.

    Were the Tales read to audiences- read by them- which audiences?

    April 28, 2000 - 07:13 am
    Jim----The Tales are not published until after Chaucer's death so they would not have been read in book form until later. We know that Chaucer read parts of earlier works to audiences at the Court. It is not unlikely that he may have read some of the tales, the ones written earlier and added to The Canterbury Tales, to a like audience. I will check with my colleague, John-the-Medievalist, when he gets back from a conference to see if he can enlighten us.

    Phyll---From what I've read, it looks like Chaucer was indeed lovingly criticizing the popular romances of his day. He had learned from them and now he has moved beyond them. I read somewhere that of all the English romances, Sir Thopas is the ONLY one that has all the elements of the romance. I wrote them down somewhere (at home--where I am not) and will post them later.

    There is no reason to doubt that Chaucer the Pilgrim is doing the Very Best That He Can Do, but Chaucer the poet is levels above him, controlling all the pilgrims and Harry. And Harry is not easy to control!!!!!! There is a very deep joke going on here--Chaucer having a bit of fun with his send-up of the popular romance at the expense of the (invented) Chaucer the pilgrim.

    I think the description of Chaucer in the prologue to the tale may well be what he looked like, middle-aged belly and all. Such a sweet poppet for a woman to hug.

    And while we are on portraits---look at that picture of Chaucer on the horse. It is way out of proportion. Chaucer is large in comparison to his mount and his head is large for his body.

    A fit is a division in a poem. There would have been many more had Harry not interrupted the tale.

    A fine morning to you all. It is too early for grog, so I don't have to find Harry.


    April 28, 2000 - 07:26 am

    No grog? Then have some madeira, m'dear.

    I think it is interesting that most of the translations I've looked at just gloss over The Tale of Sir Topas while I wonder if it isn't the one that is the most personally revealing of the "real" Chaucer?

    I think I would have really enjoyed knowing Chaucer, the everyday man. He seemed to not take himself too seriously.


    April 28, 2000 - 07:31 am
    Phyll---I know I would have liked him. Chaucer has lots of fun poking fun at the "I" character in other poems too. He always seems to be a little dull and distracted, quite the opposite, obviously, of this extremely bright and thoughtful man.


    April 28, 2000 - 07:44 am
    In answer to the question #4 in the heading---poetry is what Robert Frost wrote, "doggerel-rhyme" is what I write.

    Phyll, the poetically-challenged pilgrim

    April 28, 2000 - 07:48 am
    Phyll-----THANK YOU! There's no way to be clearer about the distinction between doggerel and poetry than the one you provide! Hehehehehe. Actually, your poems have been better than what I am reading in Sir Thopas. GOOD doggerel? And doggerel "not worth a turd" to quote Harry?

    Now I really do have to stop playing and get on with the grading and exam writing. Alas!


    April 28, 2000 - 07:55 am
    Miss M,

    Tote that bale! We'll be here when you get back.


    April 28, 2000 - 11:16 am
    To add to what Maryal posted regarding "fit" -----

    (Merriam Webster) fit [1] (noun)

    [Middle English, from Old English fitt; akin to Old Saxon fittea division of a poem, Old High German fizza skein]

    First appeared before 12th Century

    archaic : a division of a poem or song


    April 28, 2000 - 11:24 am
    Jim....I was looking at online pics of St. Nicholas. You were saying the description sounded like Santa. Yes!

    Being Merry on a Friday afternoon...


    April 28, 2000 - 05:08 pm

    Joan Pearson
    April 29, 2000 - 11:18 am
    Marj, I like the picture of Chaucer to be found in the list of his works...straight-faced, belying his dry humor? I can't tell which of the poems on that list are his own, and which are translations, can you?

    Certainly the silly doggerel verses found in the tale of Sir Topaz are his own - though parodies of the story line of other tales. What did you make of the Elf queen? Chaucer is described as elf...sought by the ladies, though "chaste" - he fled "lechery." Does the elf queen suggest a fairy-tale love, without the reality of sexual love as portrayed in the fabliaux told so often before? Clearly this fairy tale does not please Harry. Clearly he does not see the humor in the parody! Is it the doggerel verse, or the subject matter not living up to the anticipation that comes with this type of verse? Sounds a lot like the romantic tale of Sir Gawain & the Green Knight, written at the same time, but certainly not in doggerel...

    April 29, 2000 - 05:27 pm
    Evening all-----Apologies for absence. I am still up to my nose in end of the semester craziness, but I did manage to find the list of elements that chivalric romances have. A commentor by the name of Gibbs remarks, "Sir Thopas has everything that the chivalric romance ought to have--except sense."

    Here are the elements of chivalric romance:

    --description of hero
    --hero riding forth in search of adventure
    --love of a mistress (in this case a faery queen)
    --the romance landscape
    --encounter with a giant (I assume a dragon could be substituted)
    --the feast
    --the arming
    --mention of other romances

    Sir Thopaz is the only English romance to have them all. Its doggerel depends on the jogtrot rhythm of the lines and the inept or senseless rhyming words.

    Back to work.


    Joan Pearson
    April 29, 2000 - 05:45 pm
    Another gem from Marj!!! What Maryal tells of Chaucer's Sir Thopaz applies to this thesis paper...

    Saturday night fun! Thanks so much!

    April 29, 2000 - 06:04 pm

    Thank you! Thank you! for finding that play-----it gave me a big laugh. I especially liked the lines.....
    But bureaucracies...
    Like Chia pets...
    Just grow and grow...
    Once they are wet...


    This is a medieval play - that's all you need. Now hit the lights and bring on the mead.



    April 29, 2000 - 07:42 pm
    Oh, yes! Please bring in the mead!

    ( Love that stuff! )

    April 29, 2000 - 08:02 pm
    It has come to my attention that Harry has delivered a brand new--but properly aged----vat of mead

    Be warned. Strong stuff. If you drink enough, Sir Thopas might become interesting!


    April 29, 2000 - 08:20 pm
    Don't think so Harry. First my eyes can't read any more. Then I just slip quietly under the table.

    That stuff is SO GOOD you don't realize it isn't honeyed herbal tea you're drinking! Suddenly, gud nite ev er bod ee ......

    April 30, 2000 - 05:09 am
    Shame on you all 'ye sots! Mead, indeed! You keep yer fermented honey and H2O-- I will take the grapes. My last post, I was seeing "santa claus" so-- perchance I should refrain from sipping the nectars. I am off to Captiva Isle to enjoy the company of my daughter and family. I will take my book with me and give Chaucer a taste of SW Florida sun and sand. Enjoy your read.



    April 30, 2000 - 10:17 am
    Andrea----Have a wonderful trip. You couldn't be going to a lovlier place. Trust me, the Nun's Priest's Tale is a good one, fit for beaches as well as bedrooms.


    Joan Pearson
    April 30, 2000 - 10:26 am
    Oh sure, ALF, off for a day in the surf and sand. leaving the rest of us to tangle with this unfortunate situation! We're halfway into a classic tale, meet the author with great anticipation and find that none of our fellow pilgrims like his tales - either of them? Do you suppose some were snickering, as we did last night at the great spoof Marj provided last night? Harry didn't think it was funny, did you notice that? He cuts him off and tells him to try something else...and hands out more MEAD to the rest of the travellers to help them over their disappointment and boredom! Is Mary Page up yet? She was in baaaaaaaad shape last night!

    Harry laughed heartily at the Miller, the Reeve and the Cook, remember? I'll bet no one was laughing at Chaucer! I think they were expecting to be entertained with a down and dirty tale that made them laugh, had a moral and perhaps maybe even made them feel they were not as bad as the folks in the fabliaux! The tale of Sir Topaz didn't do Chaucer turned to his prose tale of Melibee...Was this any better received?

    Well, it says something that it is not even included in most editions...a long sermon, debate about whether a man should avenge his little daughter's assault by some burglars who broke into his house while he was away. His wife, DamePrudence argues that this is wrong...and after 1000 lines of examples, Biblical, Papal, Roman orators...convinces him to let them off and forgive them. How do you think this goes over with the pilgrims? What is the moral...(sort of obvious - turn the other cheek)...but do the pilgrims accept this? Again, I'm going to guess NOT!

    So Chaucer tells two unsatisfying tales to the group...WHY? To entertain the court? Us? Or is he really drawing everyone's attention, including ours, to the teller of the tale and holding that person's shortcomings up for this particular case, his, Chaucer's own. He spends his life translating silly tales with questionable messages and morals - to entertain the crowd, (the Court)- for what purpose? I'm guessing that rather than mocking the tales, he's mocking the tellers, he's mocking himself!

    And yes, I like a man who can laugh at fragile male ego here to pussyfoot around - unlike the fragile males in these two tales...

    April 30, 2000 - 12:06 pm
    Finally the spring rains have ceased and the gentle zephers are beginning to dry up this quagmire we are riding through.

    Joan, if you will look closely at that portly elf-like pilgrim riding on that VERY small palfrey at the back of this slogging group of pilgrims you will see that gleeful gleam in this eye. He has just managed a coup---he mocked the accepted romantic tale that is so popular in his time and he irritated Harry as well. What more could anyone ask?

    And now that we are through with Sir Thopas and the warm and pleasant days of May are nearly upon us, I am...........

    Phyl, the Panglossian Pilgrim

    April 30, 2000 - 12:08 pm
    This time you have stumped me, Phyll!

    What is panglossian?

    Itching to know!

    April 30, 2000 - 12:10 pm
    okay, okay.

    Webster says it is inappropriately optimistic.

    So why inappropriately?

    Thank you for a new word! What fun!

    April 30, 2000 - 12:14 pm
    Phyll--------------Message from Harry------Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

    I think I know someone who will be sleeping far from the fire tonight!

    Sir Thopas has a name more appropriate for a girl; he is from Popering--the wrong place to be from; his beard (saffron) reaches to his waist (way too long); and worst of all, he excuses himself from Sir Elephant until the next day when he will return with his armor. Silly, foppish little would-be knight!


    April 30, 2000 - 12:44 pm
    Ah, MaryPage, you made my day. I finally stumped someone!.....if only for a moment.


    ADJECTIVE: 1. Expecting a favorable outcome or dwelling on hopeful aspects: optimistic, roseate, rose-colored, rosy, sanguine. Informal: upbeat. Idioms: looking on the bright side, looking through rose-colored glasses. See HOPE.

    Roget’s II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition. Copyright © 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by the Houghton Mifflin Company.


    April 30, 2000 - 12:48 pm
    Now, Now, Harry. Do not be upset with me----you must know I was only indulging in a wee jest. Please-----my feet will get very cold tonight, I fear.

    Phyll, the penitent pilgrim

    Joan Pearson
    Phyll- from Candide? Dr. Pangloss? the word itself...Gloss or shine/sheen on PAN...all - everything?

    You are too much!!! Do you sit there with a thesaurus as we go on and you run out of P's - or are they all from your HEAD? I'm impressed!!!

    Jim Olson
    Dr. Pangloss was Candides tutor who always insisted when things went bad that this was the best of all possible worlds.

    It was Voltaire's satire on ?- a prominent philospher of the period who held that position.

    Candide is separated from Pangloss but they later meet again after both going through wars- inquisitions- torture- capture by pirates- and all sorts of ills of the day.

    Pangloss was also a rake and a hypocrite in the story.

    He inspired later the figure of the father for the modern racy 1960's take-off on Candide- called Candy which satirezed some of the philosophical and hypcritical philosophies of the flower children era.

    Phyll, Joan and Jim, I am in your debt!

    Love learning new words, and this time a lot about where it came from as well! Thank you!

    Joan Pearson
    Jim, I'd like to add here that Voltaire's "Candide" was racey too - though not quite "Candy"! My oldest son was a senior in High School, and after a visit to the college of his choice in the early fall, September it was, he came home with the news that he would be exempt from College French if he had four years of it in high school. He always hated French and his third yr. teacher had been in WWII (funny how these topics are all tying together these days!) The teacher spent much of the year reminiscing about his war years en France and my David had decided that he would not be ready to handle the demanding (optional) 4th year teacher after such poor preparation his junior year. Now the idea of not taking the required college French caused him to rethink matters. We talked it over, and I promised to be his daily tutor! This turned out to be more than he bargained for, because I was as demanding as his teacher. Every evening, I spent one hour with him...and I still remember the semester where we translated aloud together - Candide! Not exactly the kind of subject matter that an adolescent is comfortable reading aloud to his mother!!! But we did and by Spring of his Senior year this really poor French student was inducted into the French National Honor Society, having achieved straight A's his Senior year! Memories!!!

    But I digress...have you notice the pretty-faced Monk riding along at the back of our group? Well-fed and cared for too! What lovely children he would have if allowed to procreate! What's his name? Sir John?, asks Harry. A man of the world too - prosperous...hmmm. Sir John...doesn't this sound familiar? I wonder how our Monk reacted to the Shipman's Tale? Did anyone see his face? Was he laughing - blushing?

    Pangloss----Can't resist one quick comment. His name indicates his philosophy, he glosses over all. Whenever Candide and Pangloss are confronted by a terrible tragedy, say an earthquake that kills hundreds, Pangloss assures Candide "Everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds."

    Back to the papers. I shall return.


    Pangloss and Polyana. They sound like clones. Or more correctly--Pangloss is Polyana's evil twin?

    Thanks for all the fascinating information on the origin of the word. As you all may have guessed I have an on-going love affair with words and to read all that background is great fun for me.


    Joan Pearson
    I find it particularly funny that Harry first describes his wife...
    "she screams...and it's a caterwaul...and that's how the evenings end and days begin. (She wants vengeance - "if any neighbor when in church fails to acknowledge her or bumps against her") 'I've married a milksop or a cowardly ape,' she tells him (our Harry?)- ' and won't stand up to back his own wife!' ...She turns me out of doors at night...I'm an ugly customer. I can't stand up to her..but now let's drop the subject and move on..."
    And he does...he procedes to tell the Monk that it's too bad he's wearing the habit - that he should have a wife...and why? Because laymen have hardly a groat between them...but the clergy, well-fed and prosperous would be better able to satisfy the "debts of Venus" and of course procreate stronger seedlings to build the nation compared to the slender feeble children laymen engender!!! Harry! Is he speaking the truth? From his own experience?

    Surely Harry is expecting something uplifting from the Monk after just suffering through Dame Prudence's lengthy diatribe -against her husband's desire for vengeance?

    Will the Monk buoy the good humor of our crowd?

    Joan - I have to say a long nooooooo to your question above.

    Mighty gruesome was Dame Fortune. I want to search why fortune is female.

    The story I thought quite gripping and that I enjoyed , though she came to an unhappy closure, was the Zenobia tale.

    Chaucer's Monk is quite the man of the world in the description. I have a Chaucer study book where the scholar talks of the bells. I will quote it later.


    Interesting background I found on 'fortune'.

    Ency. Brittanica

    Tyche in Greek religion, the goddess of chance, with whom the Roman Fortuna was later identified; a capricious dispenser of good and ill fortune. The Greek poet Hesiod called her the daughter of the Titan Oceanus and his consort Tethys; other writers attributed her fatherhood to Zeus, the supreme god. She was also associated with the more beneficent Agathos Daimon, a good spirit, protective of individuals and families, and with Nemesis, who, as an abstraction, represented punishment of overprosperous man and so was believed to act as a moderating influence. She was often shown winged, wearing a crown, and bearing a sceptre and cornucopia; but she also appeared blindfolded and with various devices signifying uncertainty and risk. Among her monuments was a temple at Argos, where the legendary Palamedes is said to have dedicated to her the first set of dice, which he is supposed to have invented.


    in Roman religion, goddess of chance or lot who became identified with the Greek Tyche; the original Italian deity was probably regarded as the bearer of prosperity and increase. As such she resembles a fertility deity, hence her association with the bounty of the soil and the fruitfulness of women. Frequently she was an oracular goddess consulted in various ways regarding the future. Fortuna was worshiped extensively in Italy from the earliest times. At Praeneste her shrine was a well-known oracular seat, as was her shrine at Antium. Fortuna is often represented bearing a cornucopia as the giver of abundance and a rudder as controller of destinies, or standing on a ball to indicate the uncertainty of fortune.

    The city was a major cultic centre for the worship of the goddess Fortuna Primigenia. Her sanctuary and temple oracle were surrounded by an immense complex of buildings rising up the hillside like a pyramid of terraces, visible even from the sea. The cult was flourishing by 241 BC, but the time during which the great buildings were constructed is a matter of debate.

    From a Drama paragraph: Allegory is simplified in Roman drama, submitting heroic deeds to the control of the fickle, often malignant goddess Fortuna.

    Joan Pearson
    Good morning! I notice we are setting out today from Rochester...a glance at the MAP indicates that we still have quite a way to go to Canterbury. Roust those pilgrims from the sack! Too much mead again! Harry refers here to the "corpus of St. Madrian" - my notes indicate that there was no St. Madrian, but that St. Adrian was known in the 14th c. as the patron saint of brewers! Methinks Harry has been praying with a bit too much fervor these days!

    There's a note in the Riverside edition that indicates Chaucer may have had a reason for mentioning Rochester at this point. There is a cathedral in Rochester - at this time it was a monastic house - probably not a coincidence that the Monk is mentioned - AND the cathedral was famous for a huge wall hanging of the WHEEL OF FORTUNE! Interesting information on the goddess, Fortuna, Marj! We've seen that chance happenings ~ coincidence have played a part in quite a few of the tales we've read...often hilarious...but this is something different, I think.

    I keep forgetting that this is the Middle Ages where magic and superstition are accepted beliefs! Our Monk gives us a choice...a tale on the life of St. Edward the Confessor OR some "tragedies"...quite a few tragedies!!! Notes say that tragedy was not a familiar form at this time, which is why Chaucer feels it necessary to have the Monk go on and define it - that tragedy tells of those who once stood in great prosperity and and fell from glory.

    But these go farther than a just an unfortunate fall; as Marj found, the "gruesome goddess", Fortune is behind the fall - acting independently of a DIVINE plan. (Notes say the this fatalistic view is not evidenced in Chaucer's other works) The worldly Monk's warning to the crowd...

    "Let no one trust blind prosperity!"
    Someone ought to tell that to the Day Traders in today's stock market!

    "As he has promised, the Monk tells a series of "tragedies", that is, in this definition, stories about people who have fallen from "prosperity" and "high degree" and have died "in misery" This kind of story was a genre in itself in the Middle Ages, sometimes referred to as "De Casibus Illustrium Virorum" (Concerning the Fall of Great Men). The Monk's stories range from the fall of Lucifer and the fall of Adam in Paradise, through secular and sacred history, to the "modern instances" of men like Peter de Lusignan, King of Cyprus, who had led the capture of Alexandria at which the Knight of the pilgrimage had been present. Peter was assassinated in 1369. It has been suggested that this story provides a good excuse for the Knight to intervene and stop what has become a rather tedious list. It has also been suggested that the Knight interrupts because he sees his old commander being represented as coming to a bad end because of the kind of wicked things he had done, including the sack of Alexandria.

    The Knight's intervention is vigorously supported by the Host who asks the Nun's Priest for a more cheerful tale. He cheerfully obliges."

    Interesting---we are being introduced to yet another genre. Chaucer seemed to employ all the literary devices of the time that he could find to weave into his work.


    Phyll---Yes, quite the experimenter was our friend Chaucer, and the first to do all this stuff in English. No wonder he is our first great poet. I think that his understanding of human nature is phenomenal. He really seems to have been paying attention as he met different folks at court and abroad. For all of his humble and distracted appearance, not much got by him.


    Joan---So HARRY got a saint's name a little wrong? Do you want to make something of this? Harry at least found the proper saint. And what difference does one little letter make? Sheeesh!

    ~Harry the Hosteler and HOST

    Oh Joan:  The Patron "saint of brewers"  OK Harry, we all have to have our Gods, don't we.  I don't blame yuou for praying fervently toSt. Adrian.  The wheel of fortune, Joan? Would that be with Pat Sajeck and Vanna?

    Day traders- oh my how I love & enjoy your comments.  Always the comic, dear Joan.

    I have returned from visiting my "honeys" and  will post re.  the Monk later on today. Carry on ye mery fools.

    ALF----Welcome back from you visit. We need you and have missed you. In your absence, Harry has been held up to ridicule. Would you care for some welcome back grog?


    Oh Harry, the magnificent. I need a keg of the stuff after my week. be back soon. i'm trying to catch up with my posts.

    Oh Phyll...thanks for bring the below to light. Since I have not gotten to read the Knight's tale as yet this was a fascinating insight for ending the Monk's talk.

    "of men like Peter de Lusignan, King of Cyprus, who had led the capture of Alexandria at which the Knight of the pilgrimage had been present. Peter was assassinated in 1369. It has been suggested that this story provides a good excuse for the Knight to intervene and stop what has become a rather tedious list. It has also been suggested that the Knight interrupts because he sees his old commander being represented as coming to a bad end because of the kind of wicked things he had done, including the sack of Alexandria".

    ---Marj (may I be the Milady Marj or has somethat title?)

    M'Lady Marj---Now that is very interesting. I thought the knight interrupted so that Harry wouldn't have to again since Harry has just interrupted Chaucer. I also thought that the Monk had gone on somewhat long and in the same depressive note.

    Actually, these cautionary tales were well received by medieval audiences. I am at a loss to explain why. Perhaps if you were poor, it was comforting to see examples of the mighty falling.


    The tale has generally been regarded as a philosophical and artistic failure, although various attempts have been made to justify the shortcomings of the Monk both as an intellectual and a cleric. Paul Beichener sees the Monk as a practical and competent business administrator whom Chaucer has humanized by his failings. Socola has argued that the principle linking the stories is a progressive personalization of the character of Fortune from the first three stories, where Fortune is not mentioned, through the next eight, where Fortune is an abstraction, to the last six, where Fortune is given a more personalized characterization . Although the attempts to rehabilitate the intellectual and moral character of the Monk are on the whole forced and unconvincing, the alternate reading - that Chaucer intended to satirize the Monk - also seems insufficient to explain the purpose of The Monk's Tale within the economy of The Canterbury Tales as a whole.

    Jim Olson
    We talk about Chaucer's use of this or that genre of tale common to the period or of histrorical interest to him and of his use of the genres.

    This brings up on interesting question as to whether the concept of these genres was something that had been developed by Chaucer's time or was part of the world of literary criticism that followed.

    He was obvioulsy aware that some tales (like Romances) followed a particular pattern and satirized that pattern- but had all thes genres been named and classified at Chaucer's time?

    As I read the paraphrases of some of the critics I feel they are engaged in looking at the Tales from modern eyes without enough consideration of the era in which they were told.

    I think the only really valid way to look at a literary work is to put it first in its historical context.

    To say that

    the Monk is a practical and competent business administrator whom Chaucer has humanized by his failings

    is an example of this problem as I see it.

      A number of issues raised by the Monks Tale were prominent during Richards reign- that of tyrany.  Tyrany was power over others and not just specific for kings.  This tale warns of  the consequences of this tyrany and the implications of unfair taxation to support a corrupt court, wage warfare, etc..

      The Monks Tale considers social  and political consequences of sin.  Like the parsons tale, sin is disorder.  It is impossible to know, for sure, whether this Tale pertains to any specific historical fact but, we can assume.

    This is about ecclesiastical law (Monk) and royal law (the stories themselves) meant to provide a commentary on the struggles of the English monarchy following 1386.  Chaucer's monk is one who perverts precisely the most important ideals of the monastic orders, such as the ideal of poverty, or reverence for learning. Critics also say,  the Monk himself is evocative of Nimrod who was commonly associated with hunting, confused reason, and lordly aspriations. The monk is both a a hunter and a "multiplier of horses," engaged in pursuit of personal wealth and "delicacye" rather than "commune profit.."

    From The Canterbury Tales by David Williams, c1987. At that time a prof at McGill U, Montreal.

    Writing about the Monk-- "the Monk is said to love venerie, a word which in this context means "hunting" but which is akin to, and suggestive of, venery, "sexual pleasure," derived from the name and idea of Venus. Indeed, in the Middle Ages, a euphenism for the pursuit of fornication was "the hunt of Venus." ..........Hunting for rabbits hardly seems much of a challenge for a "manly man", one as robust as our Monk, but the narrator sees no inappropriateness. Chaucer's specification of the hunt as having the hare as it goal suggests another iconographic tradition, already mentioned, that of the hunt of Venus which had as its prey "a small furry creature," and with this allusion the ironic description of the Monk as a sexual predator is emphasized."

    Williams defines iconography: employment of a visual scene or picture to communicate a poetic idea.

    Sure adds to our pic of the Monk!

    --M'Lady Marj

    There is so much in this tale, methinks we need to put off the "Nun's Priest Tale" until next week??????

    ~M'Lady Marj

    M'Lady Marj---I think that is a fine idea. The Nun's Priest's Tale is one of the very best in the collection, and I think it deserves a whole week to itself. Let's save it for next week.

    ALF---The information you provide about the connection between hunting and sexual activity together with Harry's little jokes about how unfortunate it is that such a manly man is not producing children certainly points to the Monk being a person who does not take his vocation seriously at all. But he certainly knows a lot of stories for the edification of his listeners! He talks the talk, it seems to me, but fails to walk the walk. "Do as I say, not as I do."


    Aye --- I fear' tis true, Miss Maryal

    His sword IS mightier than his pen.

    ALF------HEHEHEHEHEHE. Very good!

    Jim Olson
    I'm not a church historian nor connected to the church in any way so I am not aware of the history of the concept of celibacy for priests and monks as it developed in the Catholic Church.

    But many of our comments deal with clerics who seem to disregard their vows of celibacy (and poverty) with ease.

    I wonder if the general view of these vows has changed over the years.

    I suspect there was a more general tolerance of sexual activity by clerics in Chaucer's time than at some other periods in church history- and I'm not at all able to speak to present attitudes about it.

    I have discussed this issue informally with a couple of priests I know and they say cleibacy is no problem- that sexual desire does not persist in a celibate life.

    In fact, in order to make it valid as a "sacrifice" priests often do things that show how they miss it- adding emphais to their sacrifice- such things as going to porn movies etc. (which actually bore them rather than arouse them)

    Maybe all the talk of the sexual active clerics in the Tales is of this ilk- more show than substance- a way of showing the supressed virilty of clerics.

    The host may be taunting them in a freindly way to reinforce this concepts.

    Something like this happens in Lakota Sun Dance where the dancers fast for six days- the commentator of the dance often taunts the dancers saying things like he knows some of them are sneaking out to the food tent etc.

    It is part of the ceremony.

    Joan Pearson
    Good morning! Dashing through...want to drop this off. Sorry about length, no time to edit. Talk to y'all tomorrow am!

    One danger in permitting priests to marry and have children was the possibility of church lands being inherited by the sons of clergy.44 The Council of Clermont in 1095 forbade the ordination of priests' sons unless the sons had professed monastic vows. In 1160, a priest named Daniel gave the church of St. Edmund to the canons of St. Paul's Church in London on the condition that his son Ismael would hold St. Edmund's for life in exchange for an annual payment of 12d.45

    The popes of the middle ages were for the most part staunchly against clerical marriage. Pope Leo IX took action against clerical marriage and simony in 1049. Gregory VII said that married priests were to be barred from celebrating Mass. In 1075, the pope banned fornicators from the priesthood. In 1079, people were banned from hearing Mass being said by fornicators. The Council of Troyes in 1107 decided that married priests should be deprived of their office. The same principle was to apply to simoniacs.46

    At the Council of Winchester in 1076, the Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury said that priests would be forbidden from marrying in the future, but those who were already married were allowed to remain so.47 At the Council of London in 1102, Anselm demanded celibacy throughout all ranks of the clergy, from the archbishops down to and including subdeacons. Gerard, Archbishop of York, made an attempt to carry out the decrees on celibacy. Henry used the council decrees to tax married clergy and canons.48

    At the Council of Rheims in 1049, priests were forbidden to take wives or bear arms. In most, if not all, cases, they were much more reluctant to give up women.49 The clergy must have felt an extremely strong need for female companionship for the next eighty years. The First Lateran Council of 1123 declared that priests were forbidden to live with their concubines or wives. The Second Lateran Council was held in 1139. It summarized and codified many of the decisions made by earlier popes and councils. Married priests were now required to separate from their wives and to do penance for this sin. The people were not allowed to hear masses from married priests. Sons of priests who were in the priesthood themselves were removed from office unless they were under monastic rule. The marriages of clergy were finally declared invalid because those marriages broke canon law.50

    The Second Lateran Council was called in 1139. In part, this Council discussed clerical marriage and celibacy. Canon 7, part of the decisions agreed upon at this Council, said that no one was allowed to attend the Mass of any priest who was either married or enjoyed the company of a concubine. Those who were in sacred orders who were married were to be separated from their wives. Both the husband and his wife or mistress were to do penance "commensurate with such excesses."51

    An Icelandic Penitential of the thirteenth century viewed celibacy as a very important responsibility. Failure to remain celibate was equated with murdering another human being. As with the Second Lateran Council, serious punishments were recommended for offenders. A monk or canon found breaking the vows of celibacy would incur the same penance for that act as he would for committing homicide.52

    As time went on, the church's position on clerical marriage and celibacy may have relaxed a bit. In 1311-12, the Council of Vienne was convened. It suggested that the church might consider adopting the Greek practice of clerical marriage. They believed that if Western women married Eastern clergy, the women might convert their husbands to Catholicism. In what might be seen as a reward for the men for converting, they would be allowed to remain married if they became priests in the Western church.53

    Clerical marriage and celibacy, lay investiture, and simony were issues that had a lasting effect on the church. Even though simony seemed to have been extinguished by the Fourth Lateran Council, attitudes were still in place at the beginning of the fourteenth century when Pope Boniface was charged with simony. Lay investiture did end with the Concordat of Worms in 1122, but its ties with simony went on. Clerical marriage and celibacy continues as a controversial issue in the Roman Catholic Church today, where except in extremely rare cases involving priests converting to Catholicism after being ordained in another denomination, church leaders are forbidden from enjoying the company of a woman in an intimate setting. Though these controversies corrupted the medieval church, the leaders of that time worked their way through it. If these controversies had not arose, the Christian church would not exist in the form we know it today.

    Nellie Vrolyk
    I'm still quietly riding along on my palfrey at the rear of the group listening to the conversation but not having much to say myself. It is hard not having the book -I'm still looking. I do read the online version but can't mark or reread while making a post.

    Nellie---good to know that you are here. I hope that your palfrey is comfortable and of good temperament.

    Jim---You got me thinking about the clergy and celibacy. Focusing here just on the monk, I discovered that the monastic ideal is a life of POVERTY, CHASTITY, OBEDIENCE.

    Chaucer doesn't tell us what order his monk belongs too, but if he was a Benedictine, work would have been required of him. Any kind of work, but work was considered a great good. Our monk seems to spend his time hunting and admiring fine horses. Although the monkish life is specifically a rejection of this world, this monk is described exclusively in terms of the world. He refuses to obey St Augustine's command that monks should perform manual labor. "How shall the world be served?" he asks.


    Nellie: do you know how to toggle back and forth while re-readingand posting? Which browser do you use?

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    Picked up a book tonight in B&N called "Uppity Woman of Medieval Times" by Vicki León written in a wry sense of humor about woman who wouldn't stay in their place. Reading through the short notes on 200 daring damsels I found three that were especially approprié to our read.

    With all the talk of celibacy this one is a hoot--
    Johanna of Naples
    In 1343 Queen Johanna of Naples married Andrew a Hungarian royal with a proboscis the size of Budapest, she had high hopes that the old alchemical formula "as above, so below" would hold true. Alas, there turned out to be nothing else about Andy that would match the nose in majesty. Deeply peeved, she had him strangled-- a faux pas that got her kicked out of her comfy kingdom of Italy.

    The ex-queen took her entrepreneurial spirit and interst in things sexual to Avignon, where she set up Europe's glitziest brothel on property family owned. By coincidence the headquarters for one of the two popes...

    Her first goal was to make point with the female entrepreneurs who were already freelancing their sexual wares in Avignon. They wanted their own version of the Teamsters' Union... Bravo said Johanna, and gave the ladies their own association and membership ensignia-- a bit of red braid on the shoulder. With that she filled her luxury bordellow with the highest quality flesh artistes.

    To maintain cathouse cashet, Johanna set up house rules, including Saturday STD exams and in-house quarantine for women found contagious or in the family way. Johanna ran her business according to good Catholic guidelines--no birth control, no abortions, and guaranteed care for any offspring her ladies brought forth.

    After managing her Gold Card establishment for a year or so Johanna sold it to a salivating buyer-- none other than local Pope Clement VI, who continued to run Johanna's joint under the name "The Abbey." In addition to the cash, Johanna finessed a parden from the pope for all past sins-- including the impetuous murder of poorly endowed Andy. The only trick she missed... a papal pardon for the numerous fleshly sins fun-loving Johanna went on to commit.

    Eleanor Rummynge
    ran a pub at Leatherhead, later a favorite watering place for John Skeleton, poet Laureate of England and first tutor to Henry VIII. During Eleanor's time in the late 1300s a pub served food, drink, lodging, acted as an information center, provided entertainment and medical services, arranged credit for customers and pub keepers served as a pawnbroker and a mediator.

    This was also a time when the beer versus ale controversy began. In the monasteries European monks discovered that adding hops kept the beer from spoiling so quickly and balanced the sweetnes of the drink. Ale, however, remained the traditional English drink of choice and Eleanor's rated among the best. Her unforgettable mug was celebrated in a ditty called "The tunning of Eleanor Rummynge."
    Catch this-- sheeesh as they say!!
    Catherine of Siena
    In the Middle Ages, the church tried to clean up pagan fascination with Fascinum or penis worship. It didn't succeed. By Catherine of Siena's day in 1350, hundreds of churches bragged about owning Christ's foreskin or part of it as a holy relic.

    Catherine went them one better. Her own claim, Jesus had given his holy foreskin to her as a wedding ring! With this statement, this Italian visionary and member of the Dominican Sisters of Penance, a lay order active in the community, had a huge following in no time at all. Lots of devotees were female since aspiring mothers in medieval times believed that the holy foreskin was a sure-fire fertility charm...

    The rest of her story is gross which includes; self-flagellation three times daily, once for the Father, one for the Son and one for the Holy Ghost. At one point she gives up all food, merely chewing bitter herbs and drinking water which she 'brings' back up. She survives the inquisition and because she manifests sincerity, courage and radical holiness in her insane anorexia she is made a Saint.

    A self-taught reader she writes a book and does get Pope Gregory XI to close the Avignon branch, only to reopen two years later upon his death. She is one of 22 children and the twin who got nursed. Her weaker twin sister is sent out to be wet nursed and died--guilt, guilt that she sustains with fasting and eating filth, including the pus from the scabs of the sick she tends. She died at age 30.

    Joan Pearson
    BARBARA! agggggggggghhh! We're having a serious discussion here!!! Where is Charo-latte? She'd call this rowdy group to order!!! I miss her. Has anyone heard from her lately?

    Well, it seems Harry is falling off his horse out of sheer boredom with the MONK's lectures...(Notice the mud he's almost fallen into...Spring rains are flooding our path! Watch you step, fellow pilgrims!)

    Why is the MONK telling these tales of Doom and Loss? IN response to the Shipman's Tale of the promiscuous Sir John? Is he saying that all Monks (the Benedictine Monks) are not disobeying their vows? For all his good looks and worldliness, his tales are warnings that all the world's wealth can be lost in a flash...strictly by chance - and there's not a thing in the world that man can do to protect himself.

    Now, the Knight interupts! He doesn't like this idea! He prefers to believe that his knightly virtues would stand him well in the face of adversity...that his Fate is not predetermined. (Are we listening to religious debate going on in Chaucer's time? It would seem so!) The Knight adds that he does like the opposite sort of tale where by sheer luck, a man strikes it rich!

    Harry agrees...that's the kind of tale he wants to hear too...and asks the Monk for one of those! But he's "not in the mood"! Does that mean he doesn't know any of those? That his tales are strictly warnings to put aside the wealth of the world (maybe donate it to the local monastery?)

    Harry spots the Priest riding his poor, thin. horse (in contrast to the Monk's), who agrees to tell a tale to perk up the spirits of our group....

    I love the tale he tells...the widow's little cottage in the meadow sounds delightful, even though she has to do without sauce piquante for her veal! How does one subsist without sauce piquante? I love the many little details of the tale so far...but haven't finished, so won't say more now till you've had your say...

    Barbara----Oh my, oh my, oh my. What stories those are. Especially the last one---GROSS. So much for what used to pass as holy. Ick. In order to recover from the tale of Catherine of Siena, I will contemplate one of my favorite saints (as a Protestant I can have any saint I want, hehehe)--St. Francis of Assisi, he of the birds and small animals.

    I hope all will enjoy the tale of Chanticleer and Pertelote.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    I guess I am having a hard time with these tales because of the poor 'use' of woman. I know that we come from a long line of abuse but, to have it thrown in my face with nearly every tale...ouch. As gross as Catherine's story is it showed me how far woman have stooped to prove their place and worth according to the church and the opinion of the male population of the times.

    Writing this I know it can sound argumentive but I only mean it as it affects me-- and to me the desecration of womanhood is what is 'serious.' I have a hard time taking all the other literary and historical facts as 'serious' in face of what appears like a holicost against woman.

    I did read in my copy of "The Medieval Reader" That we have St. Ambrose Bishop of Milan around 385 to thank for this 'right' by men to abuse and woman to accept while supporting the concept by abusing themselves. This view of woman by woman as well as men exists to this day among ordinary woman, our neighbors and friends.

    Ambrose said, "Mothers are acceptable to the church, but they are not free-- they are subordinate th their husbands. Only the happy virgins who have withdrawn from the world to embrace the Bridegroom of Christ are free from the decadent and mere-tricious use of cosmetics and jewelry, against which Ambrose was fanatical. From St. Paul, who out of his rabbinical background, was convinced that women ought to sit silently at the back of the church along with the Roman law and the intense dislike by the church fathers for any competitive practical claim by women, even virgins, to play a significant role in church government and the ministration of its sacraments therefore, even virgin nuns became vague ethereal marginal figures."

    Margery Kempe a lower class Englishwoman wrote a bio of herself, a victimized woman, that includes a vision of the LORD, saying to her, "Daughter, it is more pleasing to me that you suffer scorn and humiliation, shame and rebukes, wrongs and distress, than if you head were struck off three times a day every day for seven years. And therfore, daughter, do not fear what any man can say to you. But in my goodness, and in your sorrows that you have suffered, you have great cause to rejoice, for when you come home to heaven, then shall every sorrow be turned into joy for you."

    Later, when she brings this vision to the Archbishop of York along with his clerics, canons and secular men, he says to this creature, "What woman, have you come back again? I would gladly be rid of you." He then bribes his clerics with five shillings to lead her out of the country to quiet her. Those accepting the bribe while on their journey are all arrested and her gold, silver, beads and rings are taken--she is brought before him, im-prisoned for 40 days... the abuse goes on and on till she is so ill. For eight years she is crying constently and ill that they cannot risk giving her communion openly in the church.

    The "Uppity Woman..." book has a chapter devoted to Englentyne, who was a real prioress. Voluminous church records about her life and antics still exist. She paid off her downery fee her dad plunked down when she entered the nunnery (I remember the difficulty for my parents of putting together my sister's dowery fee when she entered the convent, the dowery amount gives you access to certain ladders to climb as well as what orders will accept you)

    Englentyne learned to sing, read, speak French, and sew as well as had a sweet disposition, upper-class connections, and nice table manners which the other nuns thought counted when they voted her in. The nunnery is a business and farm as well as a religious institution and she was supposed to keep the books straight. She was not good at it and the biship luckly understood her math phobia and worked around it.

    Englentyne ran into hot water with the four Ds, also known as the nun's downfall: dress, dogs, dances and demonic pilgrimages. She liked and wore gold rings, hairpins and a silver girlde as well as a two-foot hennin headdress and some fur. (hennin headdress are those tall conical shaped hats that medieval doorways had to be raised to accommodate. Wearing these hats required the waxing away of the hairline. As a nun she was expected to cover the hairline with a wimple.) She liked low cut dresses and trains for special occasions. She had a pooch or two which she pointed out to the bishop another prioress had a pack of dogs and a monkey in her room.

    But her most outragious act was 'wandering the world.' This included short trips to town as well as her many pilgrimages to; Canterbury, Norway and France. She traveled with another nun and three priests. Together they chalked up more "business travel" than half the bishops. Since 791 and for six centuries, nuns were supposed to stay put and pilgrimages was forbidden until the nunneries were disolved by Henry the VIII. Then nuns got to wander! (we still have woman unsure of themselves wandering the world alone always accompanied with a fear of being accosted)

    These stories all seem to support the concept of a woman as Lorlie, manipulative, and proving she is not up to snuff in male desired saintly ways. If this thinking was not so alive and well today I could easily take a more schorlarly (serious) look at this read but reading Canterbury Tales is bringing me to tears and moments of rage.

    Barbara...thanks for the good background reading about Margery Kempe and Englentyne. I just sigh!

    This week's story sure has many layers - figuratively and literally. Cluck!

    ~M'Lady Marj

    ps....just backed up and read about some of the outrageous ladies!

    --on with our layers

    Jim Olson

    A widow poor, somewhat advanced in age,
    Lived, on a time, within a small cottage
    Beside a grove and standing down a dale.

    She kept herself and her young daughters twain.

    A temperate diet was her whole physic,
    And exercise, and her heart's sustenance.
    The gout, it hindered her nowise to dance,

    Widows always seem to make good heroines for any type of tale.

    They have such a positive image; eliciting sympathy, admiration, even some muted (or sometimes not so muted) sexuality. This widow is, after all, not so old that she doesn't have young daughters and an inclination to goutless dance).

    Wives like Pertelote in the tale never seem to come out with positive PR. They seem to have a universal bad press (until, of course, they become widows or are in the process of mourning slain husbands)

    Women in fiction of any kind seem always to be indentified by their marital or sexual status (widows, wives, harlots, virgins, spinsters, patient Griselda's, adultress, tempstress and on and on) almost always in relation to men, while men are seldom so charcterized.

    They are more apt to be identified by occupation or some skill level or character trait. Who ever heard of an Old Husband's Tale?

    Some things never seem to change.

    Or do they?

    The fox, of course, had a wife; she was a vixen.

    She probably put him up to going after Chanticleer.

    THANK YOU, Jim Olsen!

    You are a King among men!

    Agreed MaryPage~ Sometimes the story is told by it's abscence. Thinking about Dame Fox.

    Really a good number of articles here: [Tried every which way to make it a clickable link]

    ~M'Lady Marj

    Joan Pearson
    Thanks, Marj! Great sites! Back in a few minutes...

    from M'Lady Marj's inimitable research!

    Shasta Sills
    I love the story of Chanticleer and Pertilote. Not only is it a charming story but it has two morals: Vanity will cause one's downfall, and don't open your mouth when you should keep it shut. But what is a nun's priest? Is he the priest who hears the nuns' confessions at the convent? Harry doesn't show much respect for the priesthood, does he?

    Joan Pearson
    Hi Shasta! I liked it too! It had the moral - like one of Aesops' and it also had a bit of a lecture on pre-destination and free will, but not too much...enough to get the point across. This must have been a major controversy at the time because it isn't the first time we've heard "sermons" on the subject.

    I liked it because of the emphasis on dreams and their meaning... have always been fascinated with dreams. Years ago we read The Odyssey here in Great Books (that took a year!) and there was a discussion of Dreams of Ivory and Dreams of Horn...if the dream came through the ivory, it was a warning...horn, well just ignore it! I never know when to heed them...they are often very real...though mine are not in color as the red and yellow fox. Mine are always black and white, like old movies...~ and I can't read in my dreams. If someone hands me a note of warning or any text, I think to myself that it's too bad I can't read it because I'm dreaming!!!

    I thought it was very interesting that the two dreams that Chanticler related concerned two sets of men! In both cases, the dreamer was ignored by the non-dreamer, whether he was the ill-fated subject or not. Then the same thing happened to Chanticler...his dream was ignored by Perdetote...only this time he says that a woman's counsel is cold.. when she tells him his dream is foolish. How so? He's just told too tales where men don't believe the dreamer ..

    Oh course, the most delicious part is when the fox does come and fulfill the dream ~ destined to happen? Except Chanticler is able to use his own free will to outwit that fox and defy FATE!

    Okay, now to read the experts to see what I was really reading and why I liked it so much!!!
    <P. ps. Either the Nun's Priest was her escort and/or her confessor?

    I liked that Joan. I too, read the tale, ponder the meaning, then go to see what it's realy all about. I shall return shortly.

    The original of Chaucer's tale was a fable by Marie de France. This translation is by Harriet Spiegel (Marie de France,Fables [University of Toronto Press, 1994).

    The Cock and the Fox

    And now a cock you'll hear about;

    Atop a dung heap he sang out.

    Then up to him there came a fox

    Who with fine words addressed the cock.

    Said fox,'How lovely you are, sir!

    I've never seen a nobler bird!

    Your voice the dearest of them all

    Save for your sire's (as I recall);

    No bird could better vocalize

    Than he - for he would close his eyes.

    'I'11 do the same,' the cock proposed.

    He flapped his wings; his eyes he closed;

    He thought to make his song shine bright.

    The fox leaped up and clutched him tight

    And took off toward the forest; and

    As he passed through some open land,

    The shepherds tried to run him down;

    Dogs barked at him from all around.

    'Look at the fox! He's caught a cock!

    If he comes near, woe to the fox!'

    The cock said, 'Shout to them just so -

    I'm yours and you'll not let me go!'

    But as the fox began to shout,

    From fox's mouth, the cock leaped out -

    And up the trunk of an old tree.

    And when the fox all this did see,

    He felt himself most infantile

    To have been duped by rooster's guile.

    Outraged and in a dreadful wrath,

    The fox began to curse his mouth

    For speaking when it ought to hush.

    The cock replied,'I'll do as much

    And curse the eye that thinks to shut

    When it should safeguard and watch out

    Lest the seignior should suffer ill.

    And thus with fools, for they all will

    Speak out when they their tongues should check

    And check their tongues when they should speak.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    Thanks Joan for making Marj's great site a clickable - I took the photo tour of Canterbury and it is great-- also liked the essay on the Nun's Priest. Alf the tale sounds like a Disney cartoon in poetry doesn't it? Reading this we have discovered the basis of the Brit Coms and now the movie cartoon and I guess comic books also humanized animals. Oh yes, and all those children's tales like "Chicken Little."

    Just found this site that so simply 1,2,3 explains the Schism and how it affected Europe as well as how essentially the Black Death, the 100 Years War, the lack of the church's service during this time and the new tools to fight war (long bow etc.) contributed to this break down in the pope as a governing force. The Schism

    Barbara: As usual, your clickable has provided us with some great information.

    I realize Chaucer has treated trivial points such as vanity and braggadocia grandly but I have a few questions. Do you think there was a double entendre in this stanza?

    She kept herself and her two daughters going.

    Three hefty sows-no more-were all her showing.

    Which 3 sows is he talking about -the poor old widow & daughters or the animals?

    Lady Pert -e-lote? Hmmm-- pert as in high-spirted? A LOT? Cute Geoff.

    Harry, I am horrified at the way you are conducting yourself as the host. You insulted the poor priests horse, calling him ugly and thin. Demanding Sir John step back. Really, Harry!! Insulting the Monk. " This Monk, he talks too loud;"

    Joan Pearson
    Thanks Barb! I really think it important that we know as much as we can about what was happening in Chaucer's England at the writing of Canterbury Tales, and always thought the Schism and its effects were paramount. Now I'm not so sure...the 100 yrs. War really took its toll on the people - especially on the Church. It seems that as it lost its control on the diminishing wealth and properties, there was much unbecoming behaviour on the part of individual clergy members attempting to hold on to what it had without question - leaving the clergy wide open for the irreverent jokes and tales we have been seeing throughout. The Schism just widened the gap between the church and its people, lessened church authority when it came to morals and opened the way to personal interpretations of what was right or wrong. So we need to look at the church position on pre-destination and free will at the time, and what the people accepted - and didn't. What are we seeing here? I'll put the great Schism site up in the heading for future reference.

    Alf, I've been playing with the names too...I'm looking at them from the French...

    ~Chanticler - French chanter, to sing and cler, clear

    ~Pertelot - perdre, pert lost and lot, lot, portion, prize, fate

    I'm forgetting already...what did happen to Pertelot? Did she burn up? Was it suicide? Will I have to go back and read that all over again? Help!

    I thought of my beloved grandmother reading this tale. She was a firm believer in taking Castor Oil to purge yourself. If you were feverish- castor oil would take care of it; grouchy- ingest some Co; headace- you've got it-CO; the great panacea of all ailments was Castor Oil. One needed to purge themselves often, purify your "innards ", so to speak. Evacuation- I think not. Chaucer called it melancholy choler but at least herbs were prescribed for the vapors (from the farmyard.) You will find their natural property is to unbind and purge you well beneath and well above."

    Maybe Cato knew so much about laxatives (from the farmland) due to the fact that he was born on a farm and remained interested in agriculture.  Cato is also remembered as being the  first one who wrote a prose history of Rome, called "Origines"& his De Agri Cultura is a treatise on farming and remains the oldest written prose work in Latin.
    He sure dreamed a great deal- of destroying Carthage!

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    Alf - I wonder if it was farm or just the medicine of the day that was mostly Herbs (they hadn't started burning the woman doctor/herbologists yet) Not only did my father use the dreaded Castor Oil but today, and since about 1990, after 50 years devoted to western medicine, I use much herbology, and to stop infection recommended is heavy doses of digestive enzymes that does clean you out. The concept being that much bacteria causing infection lodges itself in the intestents.

    good point Barb. If it's all the same to you and Harry, I will keep my bacteria ---NO Castor oil for me. Although, I have an old fashioned rememdy book that relates hundreds of uses for C.O

    What wonderful posts from you all!

    ALF---'Scuse me, but I have talked with Harry about his manners. Harry has lots of problems at home with his wife, and like the typical henpecked husband, is acting out when he disrespects various members of the company. However, I have to agree with him about that tiresome MONK. Thank heaven, Sir John, the priest, is a better story teller.

    Barbara--Thanks for the wonderful clickable. I think that people in England were most affected by the Plague and the Hundred Years' War. England is, after all, an island and in the 14th century truly cut off from Europe for most people. Chaucer with all his diplomatic missions is one of the exceptions.

    JoanP--Funny, I didn't think that anything at all happened to sweet Pertelote. I will have to go back and look.

    I especially like Chanticleer's Latin translation for Pertelote. At the end of their discussion about dreams, Chanticleer says:

    Now let us speak of pleasant things, and stop all this;
    Madame Pertelote, as I hope for bliss,
    in one respect God has shown me great favor;
    for when I see the beauty of your face--
    you are so scarlet red about your eyes--
    it destroys all my dread;
    for it is just as certain as In prinicipio,
    Mulier est hominis confusion
    Madame, the meaning of this Latin is,
    "Woman is man's joy and all his bliss."

    Hehehehehe. The Latin means "Woman is man's ruin." I love Chanticleer's flattery of his wife and her lovely eyes, or rather the area around them. We are subtly reminded thus again that this is a story about a cock and a hen and a fox despite all the intellectual discussions of dreams.


    Don't kid yourself Harry, the scarlet red around the eyes is the result of that nasty grog you've been- a- feeding us.

    ALF---Harry's grog is the very best purgative available. Cleans you right out!!!

    ~Harry, purgative provider and prop. of the Tabard

    Oh boy! Purgative provider-hhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah hhhheeeeeeeeeeee

    that is the very best yet. I used to think the "Juniper" berries purged me, yours takes the cake.

    Joan Pearson
    Maryal! So happy to have you back with us! Are you really back or just passing through? Finished for the summer?

    When they beheld the rape of Chanticleer...
    Dame Pertelot emitted sovereign shrieks
    That echoed up in anguish to the peaks
    Louder than those extorted from the wife
    Of Hasdrubal
    , when he had lost his life
    And Carthage all in flame and ashes lay.
    She was so full of torment and dismay
    That in the very flames she chose her part
    And burnt to ashes with a steadfast heart.
    As I reread I see that we are speaking of the wife of Hasdrubal and not our Pertelot...

    So Pertelot just shrieks and Chanticleer spends the rest of his days as the "hen-pecked" husband? I love it! Harry the Hen-pecked husband and now Chanticleer...

    I found some interesting tidbits on our Pertelote in the Riverside...first of all, the name means "one who confuses"... the colors of these birds suggest an actual breed - the Golden Spangled Hamburg as described in My Gentle Cock??? (Will hunt that up later..)

    According to Riverside, Pertelote's represents the practical, unimaginative scientist and Chanticleer the imaginative, pompously self-conscious philosopher, and a student of the occult. Her refusal to accept his dream as his fate shows her practical side, and her dismissal of the whole idea of pre-destination.

    Chanticler defies everything but his own conclusions. It's a good thing too. If he had listened to Pertelot's confused diagnosis, and he had followed her perscriptions...for all those hot, dry herbs, which taken together would increase his dryness and hotness and would have certainly endangered his life and he'd have been overmedicated to death!!!

    Had he believed his dream, that the fox would do him in, he would have let himself be carried away - certain that he was fated to die - he'd have been eaten for sure. No, he has control over his own destiny! He fights back and outwits the fox!

    More, but that's enough for now...gonna go find My Gentle Cock

    Joan Pearson
    Here he is, azure legs and all...
    My Gentle Cock

    On Joan's fine link above, Harry found the following poem:

    Joan Pearson
    HAHAHAHA! That is great! This has got to be the prize-winner so far, don't you think???

    Here's something legs! Golden Spangled Bantam

    Alf - I missed the lines about the widow and daughters and then the 3 sows. I wonder. Could be anything with Chaucer's creativity.

    Such good links we all have offered.

    I think the dialogue between C and P is just hilarious. Reminds me of "The Honeymoooners" in places.

    And all the references to excrement!!!

    M'Lady Marj

    ALF----I think they are sows, barnyard type. The fact that there are three could be --if I stretch a little, hehehe---symbolic of the Trinity, but I think really what we have here is THREE because there are three women. Thus, the widow could give each of her daughters a sow as dowry and still have one for herself.

    Shasta Sills
    In earlier times, roosters were considered interesting and charming. People loved to hear them crow. But how times have changed. Last week, someone in my town called the police and filed a complaint because his neighbor had a pet rooster, and it made too much noise. He failed to see any charm in a crowing rooster.

    Shasta----Yes, and roosters were good alarm clocks. When I was teaching in Puerto Rico a few years ago, I grew used to hearing them in the morning. I had a small apartment right in San Juan---many roosters around.


    Joan Pearson
    As Marj has already mentioned, this simple charming little tale has many different "layers"...You might find this boring... Scroll through if you do. (the wonders of technology! Too bad we can't scroll when someone is "sermonizing" at us in real life!)

    It is Chaucer's placement and manipulation of genres that intrigues me - pull back from the amusing Chaunticleer and Pertilote, Chaunticleer and Daun Russell, the Fox - and watch Chaucer applying his "layers" and what he achieves...

    *He pairs the Nun's Priest's Tale with the Monk's Tale...the long list of "tragedies" describing the Fall of Man (which puts the crowd asleep and the Nun's Priest is called upon for a merry tale more to the liking of the crowd.)
    By pairing the two, he ridicules the excess of rhetoric - "sermonizing", and demonstrates the growing distance betweem the common man against the clergy.

    * He includes two genres in this tale-

    ~ first, the simple "moral fable" of the Fox and the Cock found in the verse of Marie de France that Alf posted earlier. Such fables were considered a controversial means of preaching at the time - controversial between the SECULAR CLERGY and the FRIARS (Chaunticleer, the cock priest and the Fox, the beguiling Friar).
    The fables were practical homey bits of wisdom about how things ought to, the foolish deceived by flattery...
    ~ Chaucer has included a second genre here - the AMORAL " BEAST EPIC" from another French source - Le Roman de Renard! This is quite different from the simple, gentle message found in Marie de France's little moral verse. In these we see animals operating outside of morality - the hens are both "sisters and paramours", i.e. Chaucer's placement of both of these genres within the Nun's Priest Tale and the clever portrayal of animals as human beings, makes it a tale beyond the norm of accepted Church teaching, but more within the understanding of the common folk listening to this sort of "sermon" coming from the clergy - the same clergy that they also see "operating outside of the morality they preach!"
    * Then there's something interesting going on between the tellers of the two tales...Shouldn't the Nun's Priest Tale be told by the wily Monk,instead of that "sermon" he delivered? Have to think about that some more...
    So clever, so many "layers"...doesn't it make you wonder how much of this was grasped by Chaucer's readers, if not by our own Harry and, no offense, Harry, the other common folk of our party ? I'm going to guess that they appreciated it even more than WE do!

    Jim Olson
    So clever, so many "layers"...doesn't it make you wonder how much of this was grasped by Chaucer's readers, if not by our own Harry and, no offense, Harry, the other common folk of our party ? I'm going to guess that they appreciated it even more than WE do!

    Which readers?

    I thought we had established that there were none- the Tales being published after his death and few readers even then.

    I'm interested in Chaucer's use of word play and puns.

    Unfortunately, I am not reading the original version.

    Maybe someone who is could develop this idea a little more than it has been already in previous posts.

    Joan Pearson
    Sir Jim - our author was an eminent poet in his lifetime, not only in London, but recognized in France and Italy as well. Only the highly educated or sophisticated could read at the time...(of which there were many in cosmopolitan London at the time). "Reading" was frequently done aloud - one person reading aloud to groups of listeners - as a form of entertainment. Chaucer was most popular in such circles.

    While it is true that Chaucer "retracted" Canterbury Tales as a form of repentance, and left them incomplete (many think on purpose), that didn't stop his ardent supporters from including them in collections of all of his works following his death. There are fifty five surviving manuscripts that contain the complete tales...and 28 more that contain one or more individual tales. The earliest manuscript is preserved in the National Library of Wales, the Hengwrt, copied at about the time of Chaucer's death and is said to contain the best text, the nearest to what Chaucer apparently wrote. That same scribe is thought to have written the Ellesmere manuscript which is now in the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA. Of the earliest "complete" works, there are two in the Cambridge U. library and one in Corpus Christi College, Oxford...all from the early years of the 15th century

    When I referred to Chaucer's readers in an earlier post, I was referring to the people of his time who would recognize the historical, social and religious references immediately -unlike ourselves...

    Was there a particular "play on words" that got your attention, that led to your question, Jim? Do you feel that the punning and wordplay are lost in the translations to Modern English?

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    One train of thinking leads to another and checking out Marj's great site on Then Nun's Priest's Tale I not only found this; a letter written by Dante but that prompted me to do more research on the symbolism of the tale--
    Excerpt form Dante's letter
    be it known that comedy is derived from comus, 'a village,' and oda, which is, 'song.' whence comedy is, as it were, 'rustic song.'
    So comedy is a certain kind of poetic narration differing from all others. It differs, then, from tragedy in its content.
    tragedy begins admirably and tranquilly, whereas its end or exit is foul and terrible;
    it derives its name from tragus, which is a 'goat' and oda, as though to say 'goat-song,' that is fetid like a goat, as appears from Seneca in his tragedies;
    whereas comedy, introduces some harsh complication, but brings its matter to a prosperous end, as appears from Terence, in his comedies.
    And hence certain writers, on introducing themselves, have made it their practice to give the salutation: 'I wish you a tragic beginning and a comic end.'
    They likewise differ in their mode of speech,
    tragedy being exalted and sublime,
    comedy lax and humble,
    as Horace has it in his Poetica, where he gives comedians leave sometimes to speak like tragedians
    On the surface this story of Rooster and his 'harem of wives' gave me an uncomfortable feeling that I 'should' have admiration for the cock's actions saving himself, while I would have been just as happy if he bit the dust. The nature of the story had me put my shield up and not want to deal with this story until I started to see the symbolism-- here goes:
    is the number of the universe-- Three of heaven and the soul, four of the earth and the body-- the first number that contains both the spiritual and temporal.
    It is perfection; security; safety; rest; plenty; also virginity and the number of the Great Mother.
    There are seven: cosmic stages, heavens, hells, major planets, rays of the sun, ages of man, pillars of wisdom, notes of the scale, wonders of the world. Seven days of fasting and penitence. God is represented by the seventh ray in the centre of the six rays of creation, seven sacraments, gifts of the spirit, deadly sins, tiers or mountains of purgatory, liberal arts, major prophets, angels of the presence, devils cast out by Christ, seven joys and sorrows of Mary.
    This being the time when the devotion to Mary was extreme-- hens being female, I wonder if Chaucer was also building that bridge.
    Slyness, cunning, hypocrisy, craftiness, guile,The Devil, the deceiver, feigning death to trap its prey it is the treachery and stratagems of Satan. Spoiling the vines signifies the actions of heretics and enemies of the Church. In Dürer's "Virgin Mary with Many Animals," the fox is tethered in reference to satanic associations.
    In Medieval bestiaries the view of Reynard is crafty.
    "When he is hungry and finds nothing to eat, he burrows in red soil so that he looks as if he were spattered with blood, then drops to the ground and holds his breath. The birds see him lying there, covered in what appears as blood, his tongue hanging out, and they believe he is dead. They come to rest upon him, and the fox catches and eats them. The devil acts in the same way: to the living, he pretends to be dead, until he can get them in his jaws and devour them"
    Rooster or Cock
    Known to European antiquity variously as an animal of the SUN, crowing the announce of daybreak and drives off nocturnal demons, as a magical and sacrificial animal for subterranean power. His crowing was believed to ward off LIONS and BASILISKS--
    • LION: Christians should continue to walk in the way of God, avoiding the temptation of the Lion, that is, of the devil, for Satan even though he is invisible, seeks with temptation whom he will devour next, like the lion...")
    • BASILISKS a mythical creature,
      • St. Hildegard of Bingen wrote, "a toad feeling herself pregnant, saw a serpent's egg, sat upon it to hatch it, until her own young were born. They died but she continued to sit upon the serpent's egg, until life began to stir within it, which was immediately influenced by the power of the serpent of Eden...the young broke the shell, slipped out, then suddenly let out a blast of breath like Fire...It kills everything that comes near."
      • Writes St. Augustine: "as the besilisk is the king of serpents so the devil is king of demons.
      • In medieval bestiaries the basilisk is crowned sperpent to whom its subjects pay homage. It symbolizes lust, one of the seven deadly sins, and Christ is portrayed as doing battle against it, along with the Lion.
      • Rapidly spreading syphilis was referred to as the venom of the basilisk.
      • The Sun: God the Father, ruler and sustainer of the universe, radiating light and love, the abode of the Archangel Michael.
    the rooster's comb gave protection from nightmares, the bird that delivers us from the confines of the night was believed to facilitate the delivery of babies from the womb.
    • Christians see him as a symbol of Christ the bringer of new dawn of Faith.
    • St. Gregory proposed the rooster as a model for the clergy, he smites his midsection (does penance) before he opens his mouth to speak.
    • The triple crowing of the cock, portrayed on early Christian sorcophagi a reference to Peter's three denials of Christ before the cock crowed, was a warning against arrogance.
    In medieval Europe the rooster took on a negative association as an embodiment of lechery, as when young men were said to be driven by "rooster demons" and pugnacity. At the same time he was given a place in the arms of Gaul and St. Gall.

    Hen The adult female chicken has a different symbolic associations from the ROOSTER: She is the quintessential MOTHER.
    "Just as the mother hen protects her brood
    Lets nothing near which to them harm might bring,
    So can we too, the children of the Rood,
    Be touched not by life's care, life's woe, life's sting"
    • The hen's protective love for her defenseless offspring fegures also in Christ's analogy: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathered her chickens under her wings...!"
    • the hen's patient "brooding" stood for the "SEVEN liberal arts", which requires great patience.
    • Europeans think of the bird as ignorant or foolish, symbolizing "an intellectually impoverished flock, hightly susceptible to outside influence, they often go into a panic over nothing, suggesting the restless confusion in the mental processes of foolish people..."
    • As in nursery rhymes, the bird who in one story, can be frantic with worry that the sky is falling, can also lay "GOLDEN EGGS" it would therefore be foolish to kill her. The hen sits on her eggs symbolizes supernatural forces guarding treasures.
      • Golden Egg: Christ rising from the dead

    Oh fascinating the symbols. I know you own a book that you quote from....and I had the title written down once and have misplaced it.

    M'Lady Marj

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    My Lady... J.C.Cooper author "An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols" publisher Thames and Hudson. I found another, not nearly as good but something and easier to find: Hans Biedermann author "Dictionary of Symbolism" a Meridian Book ISBN 0-452-01118-3 published by the Penguin Group 375 Hudson Street, NY NY 10014

    No question, life prior to extensive literacy was rife with symbolism. It seems to me very much now like a language within a language, and makes me a bit uncomfortable for not knowing it.

    I can relate it to coming out of an all-girls boarding school in 1947 and taking a job that summer. My fellow workers would make laughing references to things in ways that confused me. Seeing my confusion, they would laugh all the harder. I found there were many, many words in our language that had sleezier connotations I had never known.

    My confusion and resentment back then must have left an indelible mark, for I find myself wanting to yell at these pilgrims and demand they tell their stories straight out, with no chuckling and poking afterwards that make me want to punch the smirks right off their faces.

    As if!

    Joan Pearson
    Barbara! Thank you so much for translating the symbols for us. Hang on to that book - we're not finished yet!!! I have the same feeling of confusion with many of the tales - where I'm agreeing with the moral, but disapprove of the characters or even the outcome! They are very cleverly constructed, I think...I'm really enjoying watching Chaucer at work!

    SEVEN! So many times we have questioned the number...remember the little 7 yr.old murdered by the Jew (allegedly?) A perfect number, containing both the temporal and the spiritual. We have a another murdered 7 yr. old in this tale...St. Kenelm, who dreamed of his murder, his nurse dismissed it, and sure enough...

    So practical women dismiss dreams. Men believe them. We're not hearing of any women having dreams, are we? Why is that? Maybe if they saw themselves being murdered in a dream, they would not be so dismissive!

    What I really liked about Chaunticleer...he used the dream to free himself! He didn't accept his death as something pre-ordained. No, he knew he could change the outcome, change the gruesome dream...and used his abilities to affect his fate! Yes, I really liked that. I also believe dreams should be closely examined and not dismissed outright!

    And I really liked the link between eggs and Easter! The Golden Egg and the Resurrection!

    Joan Pearson
    Mary Page, I get such a kick out of you! I feel I know you. I too attended boarding school and have always - to this day, all those years later, I still feel as if I'm going to reveal my naivete' about something that everyone else knows! I won't say I feel resentment, just that somehow I've missed something and will never catch up!

    Do you think the Nuns, the Prioress feel the same way as they listen to the secular tales?

    There are so many other things going on...the names, the dates - these were familiar to everyone at the time. Some of them are significant. That's what I love about reading along with all of you. You help fill in the blanks! Here's the latest one I've been puzzling over...May 3

    We are told that the Fox seized our Chanticleer on May 3 (but he freed himself that same day too!)

    We are told that May 3 is the date that Palamon escaped from prison.

    May 3 is also the date that Richard II was fatally wounded. What is the connection to this date?

    And another question ~we are told that God created man in March? Is that based on astonomy? Had you ever heard that before? Why is Chaucer mentioning that here?

    Shasta Sills
    Barbara, I enjoyed your research into symbolism. Who would ever have guessed that "tragedy" originally meant "you smell like a goat." As for the rooster's comb being used for nightmares and childbirth, that is not as far-fetched as it sounds. My rheumatologist gave me some shots in my knees last year for arthritis. I asked her what this medication was, and she told me it was derived from roosters' combs. I said, "Are you sure you're practicing modern medicine?" It really worked though! My knees have been better ever since I had those shots.

    I am so glad to be reading along here. So much more gleaned in a discussion and with everyone bring up a point or a link to read.

    I totally missed the May 3 connections. I know it is because so much is going on in the story and the different levels and style changes. One article I was reading referred to Chaucer's use of fracture and the challenge to read such material. Maybe that explains why he put in the bit about God creating man in March...I never heard that before.

    And i agree about dreams....not to be dismissed.

    Joan Pearson
    Shasta, LOL! Rooster's combs not only good for curbing "nightmares"(!!!) but also for arthritis! And whatever else ails ya!!!

    I'm looking for Marj this morning...were you able to convert that site into a link? I'm going to post the formula here again for the rest of you so if you find something of interest, you'll know how to link it in a post...

    <a href="http://www...whatever">Add your own text here</a>
    And Marj, not only the does the May 3 date have significance, but how about the emphasis on the day of the week...FRIDAY? Chaucer has raised this little allegory to new heights with the reference to "Iscariot" in Judas and Good Friday. Betrayal with false words for personal gain!

    Oh, oh, oh, I just noticed something about the Latin "Malius est hominus confusio" translates Chaunticleer to dear little Pertelot, as "Woman is man's delight and all his bliss" !!! This, he translates to her just as he mentions Adam's fall from Paradise...and the real kicker is that the real translation of these words is "Woman is man's downfall.", which of course is lost on Pertelot...and us? I think that one of you may have pointed this out in an earlier post, but it went over my head at the time! And remember the translation of her name...Pertelot="one who confuses fate"?

    Joan Pearson
    I think this is good much confidence do you all have in Medieval medicine at this point? Is the Physician telling of his own experience in The Physician's tale?

    Oh boy! Am I missing something right off the rip? LIVY? Who is this Livy that "has handed down a tale to us?"

    Joan....haven't tried it as yet. It will happen!

    An article online from The Essential Chaucer: "The Physician and his Tale." Overviews of scholarly works.


    Aha! I did make the clickable link. Didn't get the title in it but M'Lady is delighted. Maybe a sip of grog this Monday morning in Michigan.

    Joan-----I LOVE the question, "If his daughter were less virtuous, would there be less reason to kill her?"

    You really hit my funny bone on that one. However, I propose a serious answer--well sorta serious--If Virginia had been less pure, the father would have killed her before she caught Appius's eye!

    Do you think I am in danger of becoming Harry?

    Losing my own identity?

    I have missed you all. My link to the Internet was shut down for two and a half days. But it was fun to come back and find all the very interesting responses.

    On the Number 7---Because 7 is said to be the number of perfection, the beast in Revelation, whose number is 666, is interpreted often as being perfection minus one, a fall from perfection. And the trippling of the number makes it three times worse.


    Joan Pearson
    In the absence of a prologue describing the teller of the tale, I jumped right into the Physician's Tale - and have been trying to relate the tale to the teller and coming up with........not much!
    I understand there is always the question whether Chaucer simply assigned certain tales to tellers without there really being much connection - this may be one of them, I thought to myself as I read the tale. What is the moral of the tale? Is there a reason for the physician to be telling this tale?

    Then I suddenly remembered something....THE GENERAL PROLOGUE!!! Eureka! I had not read over that before beginning the tale, had you? I think it is VERY telling and suddenly, this tale DOES reflect on the teller. First we have to know something about him!

    My first thought when reading the tale had been the irony - that a doctor would be taking life as a solution to a physical emergency and wondered about the Hippocratic oath... was Chaucer familiar with Hippocrates? Did doctors take that oath in Chaucer's time and if so, would death for his own daughter be his only choice?

    That description in the GEN. Pro. is quite revealing - if you haven't read it yet...I won't go any further.

    Hey ALF!, yes Livy is introduced right from the start...the Roman historian. Doesn't that lead you to believe that this tale will be one with some sort of historical significance? Well, what did you think? Is it?

    Marj! You did it! Just you'll want to finish the formula so that you have the link showing the subject of the link instead of the URL, but hey, it works! I don't usually read what the experts say about the tale until I have my own thoughts on it, which I don't have I'm going to move your link up to the bottom line of the heading here so that no one will have to go back to your post to reread it. Thanks so much!

    Maryal, you of course are right...had this beautiful daughter had been less virtuous, her father would have probably killed her long before this! But this time as punishment! And then, if the moral of the tale is : "Forsake your sins before they forsake you" - would make some sense...Virginia's sins would have caused her death. But none of this is the case...she was chaste, and without sin...but still "forsaken"...So what was the moral or lesson or "exemplum" of the tale?

    Back this afternoon with some thoughts on the good doctor described in the General Prologue...

    First the garden beckons...

    Hippocrates lived 400 years BC. However, scholars believe that the Hippocratic oath did not originate from him.

    He believed in a clinical approach to medicine and that diseases are a result not of supernatural forces but from environmental factors.

    Hmmm--- I need to reread this one about the doctors limited moral outlook.

    As Joan reminds us in the prologue: "He did not read the Bible very much." He kept the gold he won in pestilences.
    Gold stimulates the heart, or so we're told,
    He therefore had a special love of gold.

    Perhaps he should follow his own advice:
    I offer you this counsel; let it make you
    Forsake your sins before your sins forsake you.

    I get the sensation they are ALL frauds, charlatans, personified!!! Aye. We are just people and the tales reflect everybodys short comings, including priests, nuns, monks, the works! Deceitful buggers.

    Joan---Thanks for the nudge. OK, so I went back to the General Prologue and reread the description of the Doctor.

    I noticed the end of the description especially. He kept the money he earned during the Plague (a good time for doctors, surely). And then the additional comment: "Since gold in medicine is a stimulant,/therefore he loved gold especially."

    Now where have I heard that before, I mused. This one line links our physician to our pardoner. Their two tales are put together in what is called Fragment VII. They are the only two tales in Fragment VII.

    GREED is the link.

    By the way, I hope everyone remembers our earlier discussion about the pilgrims telling the tales while they were underway and how it would be very dificult to HEAR. I found the following comment by Derek Pearsall:

    "A nineteenth-century novelist would normally assume a fundamental obligation to make sure his characters did nothing in space and time that they could not, literally, have done, but Chaucer had no such ambitions, and it would have been the merest folly for him to have chosen the pilgrimage frame, with all its attendant absurdities -- how could the pilgrims all have heard the speaker, strung out two by two on a narrow, ill-kempt, pot-holed, muddy road? how could such a group have possibly met up and maintained fellowship on the road? what were many of them doing there anyway? and how do so many of them come to be graced with perfect mastery of the pentameter couplet?--if he had."


    And to continue thought many in a group of such pilgriming characters would have the vaguest idea of some of the references such as Livy, Pygmalion and the Kings in the Pardoners Tale.????

    I would wish that neither the Doctor nor the Pardoner near me; tho I suppose in dire illness you would grasp at whatever you believed. For that time and place it would have been the norm.

    The doctor lectures: "you middle aged ladies in charge of the daughters of gentle folk"....would that have been referring to convents I wonder.

    M'Lady Marj

    Claudius, Appius, Roman decemvir 451-449 BC, whose attempt to enslave Virginia, beautiful daughter of Virginius, a centurion, caused revolution and abolition of the decemvirate; Virginius killed daughter to prevent her fate; story told in Macaulay's 'Virginia' in the 'Lays of Ancient Rome'.

    Joan Pearson
    Shall we find the Lays of Ancient Rome and see if we see any resemblances to our Physician and Virginius?

    I am intrigued with what was considered an outstanding doctor in Chaucer's time...still ambiguous. Lots of references to science, but then there is the matter of astronomy and those little effigies in wax made to resemble the patient. Like little voodoo dolls, aren't they? The book notes says they were hung on the neck of the patient and when his horoscope was favorable, virtue descended and healed the patient. "Faith the Great Healer." Is this scientific? Is Chaucer laughing at the idea here?

    And the man made a lot of money in his practice...a very successful doctor he was, lots of gold for himself and for the pharmacists who filled his orders.

    We are told he was "the perfect practicing physician" of his time!

    The fact that people listened to him when he spoke...extremely well-read for his time, wasn't he? I recognized Galen and Hypocrates on the list of doctors and scientists. (didn't read the Bible much though) There was no man alive who could talk as he could. Does this sound like a man who would buckle before the lecherous judge without speaking out?

    Look at him...well dressed in that red taffeta-lined robe, and very diet-conscious too! Is he drinking from the kegs has anyone noticed? We're told that although he dresses well and watches his diet, he indulges in no superfluities for pleasure...rather close with his expenses" ...a bit tight even though he has pockets full of gold...

    Does Chaucer admire him, or is he laughing at him? Does Chaucer comment on medicine or doctors here, or is he merely describing and we are smiling from our 20 c. viewpoint?

    Okay, how does the tale he tells reflect back on himself? Does the physician in his Roman tale bear any resemblance to himself?

    Harry has seen Doc at the kegs. In fact, the old doc seems to enjoy the grog as well.

    Harry thinks that his good friend Chaucer is criticizing this particular doctor for being somewhat greedy.

    ~~Harry the Hospitable Host

    Joan Pearson
    Yeah, I didn't think he'd be scournful of the only known medical procedures of the time...

    Here's the source of the Physician's tale...from the Lays of Ancient Rome

    Virginius, Virginia

    That was Marvelous, Joan!

    And a careful reading gives such a perfect picture of life in that great city all those long centuries ago. Such detail!

    Many thanks.

    Joan Pearson
    We are being asked to suspend quite a lot on this virtual pilgrimage to Canterbury, aren't we? No April pilgrimages to Canterbury, the roads would have been just about impassable...this assortment of pilgrims would not have been travelling together; they wouldn't have been able to hear the tales as they made their way through the mud in pairs of two or three..and most of them wouldn't have understood the references to historical characters and sources!!!

    Perhaps we are as unlikely a group to be discussing this together...from learned professors, poets and first-timers who don't understand the references either!!!

    But, we are here, and Chaucer has put these fascinating characters on the route together - to present assorted levels of Medieval society and winds up giving us not only a glimpse into the history of the time, but a psychological presentation which seems to confirm that human beings have the same failings and virtues and aspirations, no matter what the period in history!

    So, we'll keep suspending credibility as we make our way...

    We get a good picture of Medieval medicine and doctors in this tale.
    I thought the Lay of Ancient Rome was interesting too, Mary Page...I don't think that Chaucer's Roman source mentioned the fact that Virginius was a doctor, did it? Just a heartbroken father who committed a ....mercy killing?

    It would appear that Chaucer added the Physician to the old legend...and this after the introduction in the General prologue that portrays Virginius as a rather cynical, greedy character. That is the doctor-father that enters into the tale, and so we see more than we would have seen had we just read the tale, not the description of the teller.

    If we have a greedy doctor who is father to a beautiful virtuous daughter, surely he is aware that she will make a fine wife for a rich man...he must be outraged that he will be denied this "honor" as she is taken from him, as if she is stolen goods! Am I being too cynical? Reading too much into this? Have I been hanging out with Harry too long?

    What is the moral of this tale? I suppose it is history, but it is also supposed to be an exemplum...what is the example it teaches? I'm wondering what effect tale had on our virtual band of pilgrims...What did they(we) come away with?

    Joan---I don't think our problem is the ability to suspend disbelief. Instead, we are all accustomed to the legacy of realism from reading novels. Without knowing it, we expect events to occur in real time and real space even though we are reading a book.

    Medieval audiences did not have such expectations. They expected to hear a story, usually one that taught something or elucidated a principle or entertained. They had no expectations of "realism."

    Perhaps we can best understand by thinking about the "magical realism" in many books by Latin American authors such as Isabel Allende (Chile), Borges (Argentina) and Gabriel Garcia Marquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude, Journal of the Plague Year) in which realism and historical events and magical happenings are intertwined. For example, the characters in Latin American stories do not seem to mind if a shipwrecked man washed up on the beach has wings.

    Chaucer's hearers (readers) were educated in classical stories, the teachings of the church, poetry, and Aristotle. We have to keep in mind how many of Chaucer's stories have classical sources.

    It is not that Chaucer's audience was exceptionaly well educated, but rather the fact that what education there was in those days was based on the classics that had come down to them as well as the Bible. There was nowhere near as much to KNOW in the Middle Ages as there is now. These people --upperclass, obviously--the peasants were mostly uneducated---were brought up on stories by Livy and Ovid and the whole classical stable. Chaucer's original audience would have recognized most of the references in the Tales.

    The medieval audience was used to stories with paperthin characters who represented something, say an ideal. Thus Virginia in The Physician's Tale seems to be nothing more than an embodiment of virginity. Her story is even less developed and motivated than is the story of Jepthah's daughter in the Bible which Virginia refers to. Jepthah promised the Lord that if he won in battle, he would sacrifice the first thing to come out of his house when he returned home. When he returns, his daughter dances out of the house to welcome him. After giving his daughter a period of time to retreat with her friends, he sacrifices her. He made a vow; he keeps the vow. The father in The Physician's Tale has no such motivation.


    Maryal: Excellent point. After I read this tale, I scratched my head, wondering What the hell was that all about. Why???

    Joan Pearson
    Maryal, I agree, we are looking for REALISM and Chaucer was not basing the Canterbury pilgrimage on realism...but wouldn't you agree that half the fun of our journey is riding along with the pilgrims, swigging ale and scanning the faces of fellow-travelors to see how they are responding to the tales! Hard to let go of that, but if we continue to do that, we'll just have to ignore a lot of other stuff we are learning...suspend the reality of the facts! Hahaha! I love it! Yes, I do hear what I have just said! To maintain realism, we must suspend reality!

    More head-scratching here too, Alf!

    The moral, the purpose of the Physician's Tale...the tantalizing thing is that we are given so many clues - but they lead in different directions and it's hard to know what Chaucer was intending! In my mind, I have come up with something, but only after stitching together a patchwork of clues from several different places.

    First there's the General which we learn the Doctor is quite skilled,(and likes to talk about it), but also loves the gold he gets for his services, and that he is loathe to spend it - a tightwad. Possessive.

    Then, in looking at Livy's account - by the way, I read this morning that Chaucer probably didn't read the original Lays of Ancient Romans by Livy, but rather the contemporary Roman de la Rose by Jean de Meun...which was widely read during Chaucer's time. I found the De Meun account of Virginia/Virginius on the Web and intended to bring it here to you, but on reading it, I found that it was exactly the same as Livy' there didn't seem to be any reason. In both, Virginius is the loving father who fears for his daughter. Chaucer embellishes the ancient tale...making Virginius a doctor in the tale, thereby linking him to the Physician of the prologue!.

    Soooooo, combining the description of the greedy. possessive doctor in the prologue and the doctor in the tale, I'm seeing a man determined to hold on to all that is his, including his prized Virginia, a man who will stop at nothing to keep anyone else from "stealing" from him. Even if it means he will lose it himself!

    Marj's link provides scholarly approaches to this tale, which confirms my conclusion...and takes it a step further...

    ~567. TROWER, KATHERINE B. "Spiritual Sickness in the Physician's and Pardoner's Tales: Thematic Unity in Fragment VI of the Canterbury Tales." American Benedictine Review 29 (1978):67-86.

    Argues for a "symbolic" connection between the Physician and the Pardoner. Both are "potential healers'; both seek wealth "by capitalizing on human sickness"; and both tales "focus on the process of dying as a terminal rather than a transcendental event."
    We were told that the Physician was not a man who read the Bible...not a religious man. Not at all concerned with an afterlife. Death is simply a termination of a scientist would measure it.

    So the moral comes down to a rather simple warning against greed - holding on too tightly to earthly possessions will only cause you to lose them ALL - not in the afterlife, but here on earth...

    Katherine Trower adds:

    "The Physician's Tale is a "prelude to the Pardoner's entire performance."
    Shall we move on and take a look?

    Show us the way, dear Joan and we shall follow.

    ALF----g'morning to you. Yes, Joan, let us proceed, with the Physician's Tale as prologue to that strange man, the Pardoner.

    And with the Pardoner we encounter yet another of the "biggies" in the Canterbury Tales. Most people remember the Pardoner's Tale after they read it.

    HARRY has recently taken roll and discovered that some of the faithful pilgrims are MISSING. Please report in, missing pilgrims, so that Harry doesn't have to contact the Sheriff of Canterbury to tell him you have gone missing. It wasn't the grog, was it?

    ~~Harry the Host

    Harry, the host:  you tell 'em mate  "Death to all lawyers that will bribe and fudge."
    We now know that the Pardoner is your favorite customer as he must "first have to think and ponder something decent while he drinks."  Dirty sots!!

    I love the way this begins as he admits to his "haughty" speech and demeanor.  Radix malorum est cupiditas.

    ALF--Harry is certainly not averse to stopping at a tavern while Sir Pardoner gets his wits together. Harry intends to order a peanut butter sandwich and perhaps a good stout aleto go with it.

    ~~Harry the Hugely Hungry

    I don't believe Harry can have a peanut butter sandwich. Weren't peanuts found in the Western Hemisphere? AFTER this here pilgrimage? And I do not believe the Earl of Sandwich has invented that yet, either. I think you can probably have a trencher of sweetbreads, with half a loaf to take chunks out of to sop up the stuff with. Good Eating, Jolly Harry. I could do with a lot more mead.

    PilgrimMaryPage---Surely you do not question the HOST. I found the peanut butter in a strange container--not glass--but I can see through it. It weighs less than glass. On the container that looks like, but is not, glass, there is a paper with S K I P P Y on it. The piece of paper also tells Harry that it is "peanut butter."

    So, what do you think about the Prologue to the Pardoner's Tale?

    ~~Harry the Honest

    Oh vey, Harry and Mary Page:  s kippy!   hahahahah

    Ya gotta love him, he flaunts his papal seal to warrant his protection.  He puts a saffron tinge on his preaching, cram full of bones, relics for a cure-all. I love this one!
     "Whoever wears this mitten on his hand will multiply his grain"( providing he offers pence or groats).  He admits freely to being a charlatan,  "and tell a hundred lying mockeries more" using the same old text- radix malorum est cupiditas. He boldly recounts how with his hands and tongue together he spins his yarn.    He does NOT care and asks."Once dead what matter how their souls may fare?"

    'But let me briefly make my purpose plain;
    I preach for nothing but for greed of gain.

     He acknowleges that he preaches against the vice he makes his living out of--avarice.
     After Harry serves the sot a draught of ale he affirms the fact "I am a wholly vicious man --don't think  I can 't tell moral tales. I can."  Now!  The beginning of greed and avarice as we all know it and recognize it.

    ALF-----Yes, our Pardoner is a self-confessed avaricious man who freely admits to his motives and means. The whole idea of relics fascinates me. When I was about ten I saw a black and white movie about Martin Luther and there were some scenes of relics being sold. It's a vague memory, but the whole idea of buying one's time out of Purgatory caught my imagination. I am a Protestant and had no idea what Purgatory was, but I soon found out. I then discovered the whole world of relics.


    Tonight, I feel like one!!

    ALF----Hehehehehe. Me too! My nose and its surrounding sinuses is driving me craZy. I guess there is more pollen in the air today or something. I feel like I have steel rods in my face, under the cheekbones. I need a new nose.

    My teeth itch, me eyes are crossing and my brain is fuzzy (fuzzier.)

    ohhhhh, it's terrible when your teeth itch. Oh my. Wonder what sort of medieval posy I can rustle up for you. Oh dear.

    Joan Pearson
    Alf! Maryal! Is this the Asian flu or allergy symptoms! I'm worrying about you two! Please don't tell me your hair hurts! We do have the perfect, practicing Physician in our midst...although you'll probably pay through the nose! What's your sign? Maybe we can diagnosis your conditions using the stars?

    OH NO!!! Physicians are not for me. I gave up nursing last year and have had my share of physicians over the years. That sounds good! I mean to say, I have had my fill of physicians, I am full of physicians. Oh the hell with it, I fell better when I walk, not weep.

    Joan Pearson
    Earth (cold and dry); Water (cold and moist); Air (hot and moist); Fire (hot and dry)

    Sounds like Air to me...let's ask the doc!

    Well, this Pardoner fellow has a lot in common with the greedy doctor, doesn't he? I'll agree, he is up front about it though! He has something else in common with the Physician too!

    But first, I'd like you to clear up a mystery for me? Notes from my Coghill edition provide this definition:
    A Pardoner: As the name implies, one who has authority (from the Pope) to sell pardons and indulgences, though not necessarily in holy orders.
    Now this blows my mind! Maryal, I'll be back this afternoon with more about indulgences, plenary and partial(purgatorial), but for the moment, is our Pardoner an ordained priest? Or just a salesman along for the ride with some prospective Canterbury-bound buyers?

    Here's something else the Pardoner shares with the Physician...neither express a belief in the hereafter. ALF posted this yesterday...

    ."Once dead what matter how their souls may fare?"
    Now, I can accept this from a doctor, a scientist, but not an ordained minister - which makes me wonder if he is in fact that???????????

    Good question. It is my understanding that this medieval ecclesiatic is merely authorized to collect money for the coffers. He raises this money by granting papal indulgences to contributors. He is a bloody salesman, the snake! Too harsh?

    ALF----No, I don't think snake is too harsh for Sir Pardoner. Maybe pond scum would fit as well. Joan---I doubt very much that the pardoner has been ordained; if he has he is still a scoundrel.

    I have a couple of appointments today but will be back later with some information on the VICE character in medieval plays. Seems our pardoner might be one of them.


    I am a couple days behind reading the posts and pondering them and the story. Oh, oh, oh!

    MaryAl noted: "The medieval audience was used to stories with paperthin characters who represented something, say an ideal". Sure helps understand the soppy characters...much like soap opera.

    The pardoner reminds me a bit of the tv preachers we have in this time > I warn you against this, I warn you against that.......altho they don't talk about how they make their living.

    And my hair hurts when I have sinus and allergy problems. I was sympathizing as I read some of the notes.

    ~M'Lady Marj......where is rains and rains lovely rain and all is lushly green.

    Marj----You hit the nail on the head----ALLERGIES. And I have already taken the prescribed medication. Good news is that it is raining and thuse air will be temporarily clean.

    Your comparison of the pardoner to various and sundry TV preachers who rail against the sins of others while lining their own pockets is a good one. Con artists have been with us from the very earliest times.

    As to the Pardoner making it very clear what he is up to, being honest about his scoundrelhood, everyone take a deep breath and think about when you were young. I don't know if any of you dated a man who said he was "not the marrying kind" and took it as a challenge. "He will change his mind once he gets to know me." I have learned to take people at their word. A man who says he is not "the marrying kind" isn't.


    Nellie Vrolyk
    Here is this lag behind pilgrim catching up with the rest. My palfrey ran away whilst I was resting and has led me a merry chase, but I have her again and am riding along.

    Until I actually began reading the Tales I always thought that the pilgrims shared their stories while they were stopped for the night at a tavern or during lunch breaks. Maybe people in medieval times had much louder voices than we have and could bellow out a tale loudly enough that they would be heard even by others on horseback?

    I finally read the Chanticleer story which I enjoyed because I like stories like that with animals behaving in quite human ways. It took me a while to realize that Pertelot was a hen. I kept thinking of her as a cat because I'm reading a book which has cats as the main characters and Pertelot is one of the cats.

    Shasta Sills
    I agree that the Pardoner sounds like some of our modern-day preachers. But he's more honest than they are. He comes right out and admits he's a scoundrel. But his sermons are quite convincing, aren't they? After that sermon on gluttony, I feel I should immediately go on a diet, and never touch another glass of wine. I don't gamble, but if I did, I would stop it right now! Maybe it takes a sinner to really describe the horrors of sin.

    Nellie and Shasta!----Welcome back!!! Nellie, we must get you a better mount. These are dangerous woods we are passing through and we don't want you set upon by thieves or some other scoundrels. Glad to hear you liked the Nun's Priest's Tale. I'll bet the author of your book with cats in it borrowed the name from Chaucer.

    Shasta---We shall see. The Pardoner may be even more dangerous because he gains our confidence by telling the truth about his true aims. Isn't he possibly using such disclosure to gain our trust?

    The road has been muddy today and the day long. I do believe that is HARRY I see and with him he brings grog! Step right up and fill your tankards.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    Ok research-- research interesting-- first my thoughts reading The Doctor of Medicine's Tale followed by What the Host said to the Doctor of Medicine and the Pardoner and The Pardoner's Proloque.

    This time in history is the height of the 'cult' of Mary. Many of the prayers, hymns, devotions were established during this time. In England St. Simon Stock recieves the 'Brown Scapular' during a vision of Mary in 1251. The church goes to great hoops to give credance to Mary as the Virgin Mother by taking the very few quotes from the early church to justify this devotion although the first real devotion was noted during the fifth century when Rome establishes Mary as the Virgin Mother. The virginity of Mary is center pin for many beliefs within the "Roman" Catholic Church that is not shared by the other 51 sects of the Catholic Church.

    The highest sacrifice that achieves the ultimate church blessing is to be martyred.

    So here we have this perfect virgin with no name but whose father is named Virginius. The daughter of Virginius, is martyred (is this not shades of the bible story about the father about to kill his son by God's request and God intercedes) rather then become a woman "soiled." The fact that her wishes would not be considered, if she was given to Apius, is no big deal since a daughter is property with no say in her marriage during the middle ages. So all this concern for the daughter is really to protect the concept of her virginity and to play 'King of the Mountain,' with the authority figure that slyly one-upped the rightious Virginius, with the ultimate devotion-- 'I win,' martyerdom, she is brought before Apius.

    Research as I would, I can find no Saint Ronyan but find that Ronan is an old and common Irish name.
    RÓNÁN (Rownun): A legendary king of Leinster who was deceived by his second wife into killing his first son. Rónán - (ROH-nawn) Old Irish=ron "seal" + dim. suffix -an; or "a pledge." Ten saints, including Ronan of Lough Derg and Ronan of Lismore had this name. Ronan.
    No Apius either but, found apis in Latin translates to 'bee' Apis: a sacred bull of ancient Egypt. Both inferring aggression.
    An early deity, probably the best known Egyptian deity represented only as an animal, and never as a human with an animal's head. Apis was most closely linked with Ptah, and his cult center was Memphis. He was primarily a deity of fertility. He was represented as a bull crowned with the solar disk and uraeus-serpent. A sacred Apis bull was kept in Memphis, and there is a great mass burial of Apis bulls, the Serapeum, located there.
    Now Claudius of course we have two that especially fit.
    Claudius 41-54

    Caligula was to last only four years, at the end of which he was assassinated in a plot hatched by the praetorian guard Cassius Charrea. The rest of the Praetorians went looking for the murderer and found poor crippled uncle Claudius hiding behind a curtain in the palace. What would you do if you found a lame old coward trembling and drooling behind a hanging bolt of fabric? Right! You'd make the gimp an Emperor. It wasn't so bad, though. He turned out to be one of the best. He was deified after his death.

    Nero 54-68

    Claudius ruled for 13 years. In 54 ad he was murdered by his wife Agrippina the younger who fed him a poison mushroom. She did it to get her own son, Domitius Ahenobarbus or "Nero" on the throne. Now Rome went back to being governed by a madman. A young one, too. He was 16 when he took over.

    He murdered his mother and probably slept with her. It was kind of an all in one Oedipal adventure since he couldn't kill his father: both of them were already dead. He poisoned his brother, Claudius' natural son Britannicus, at dinner one evening. He alienated the entire senate with his Greek artisitic tastes and his overt loathing of them. He was blamed for the big fire that wiped out most of the area around the forum. He blamed it on the Christians, though, and used them as human torches to light up his parties.

    He was to be the last of the Julio-Claudians to be Emperor.
    Claudius of our story is a hanger-on in town, is a bold and crafty fellow. I see our Claudius as a second class anti-hero much like our crippled Claudius with the twist that Chaucer's Claudius is crafty like the wife,Aggripena.

    The Chaucer Claudius seems to be a combination of Uncle Claudius, Aggripena and Nero with the important association-- Nero acts out his Oedipal adventure which is considered basic to the Marian cult by those analyzing and speaking in opposition to the 'Vow of Chastity' and abstinence from sex required by Roman Catholic priests (not monks) and Bishops starting in the 5th century. Abstinence was really promoted and expected in the 12th through 15th century. This is part of the machismo characterized by wearing the woolen 'Brown Scapular' uncomfortably irritating your skin, flagellation, a life time abstinence from sex as well as, long vigils in devotion to Mary all to counter Oedipal thoughts.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    Ok now the next bit.
    Walsingham Priory stood a few miles from the sea in the northern part of Norfolk, England. Founded in the time of Edward the Confessor, the chapel of Our Lady of Walsingham was confirmed to the Augustinian Canons a century later and enclosed within the priory. From the first this shrine of Our Lady was a famous place of pilgrimage.

    Hither came the faithful from all parts of England and from the continent until the destruction of the priory by Henry VIII in 1538. To this day the main road of the pilgrims through Newmarket, Brandon, and Fakenham is still called the Palmers' Way. Many were the gifts of lands, rents, and churches to the canons of Walsingham, and many the miracles wrought at Our Lady's shrine. Henry III came on a pilgrimage to Walsingham in 1241, Edward I in 1280 and 1296, Edward II in 1315, Henry VI in 1455, Henry VII in 1487, and Henry VIII in 1513.

    Erasmus wrote his colloquy on pilgrimages, wherein the wealth and magnificence of Walsingham are set forth, and some of the reputed miracles rationalized.

    In July, 1538, Prior Vowell assented to the destruction of Walsingham Priory and assisted the king's commissioners in the removal of the figure of Our Lady, of many of the gold and silverornaments and in the general spoliation of the shrine. For his ready compliance the prior received a pension of 100 pounds a year, a large sum in those days, while fifteen of the canons received pensions varying from 4 pounds to 6 pounds. The shrine dismantled, and the priory destroyed, its site was sold by order of Henry VIII to one Thomas Sidney for 90 pounds, and a private mansion was subsequently erected on the spot. The Elizabethan ballad, "A Lament for Walsingham," expresses something of what the Norfolk people felt at the loss of their glorious shrine of "Our Lady of Walsingham."

    I think that Chaucer is showing the dichotomy between the devotion to Mary combined with pilgrimages versus, this buying of miracles and indulgencies that reduce ones days in purgatory. Chaucer is in good company since these are also the days of the Lollards, a heretic group speaking against these practices long before Luthor nailed his decrees to the church door. The Lollards are especially upset about the Vow of Chaistity and the devotion to Mary.

    I think his irony is shown when he speaks of an almost heart attack (Mary is pictured with a heart on her chest usually with the letter M coming out of the heart that sometimes is surrounded in thorns). Also, he asks for his draught of new malt ale or a dose of tonic at the same time suggesting pseudo pity for the girl while asking for a cheerful story. Asking the Pardoner for a few jokes is the black humor of the likes of the Movie/TV series "MASH." The Pardoner's job is something Moral???

    Two quotes-- one the explination the church uses to define a heretic followed by a brief summery of John Wyclif the author of the beliefs of the Lollards.
    were religious groups whose beliefs did not wholly conform with the medieval Church's doctrines. While the groups themselves ranged in beliefs, their commonality was their rejection of and peresecution by the Church. Many of the groups still thought of themselves as Christians despite the Church's rejection. Some felt that the Church had changed too much and that it, in fact, was heretical. In this way, heretics were both within and outside the Church.

    The existence and persecution of heresy became more prominent during the period 1100-1500. Why did heretical beliefs become problematic at this time? it is important to note that this was a time in which the medieval Church was defining itself and unifying its identity. Did heretics arise at this time because their exclusion helped to define the Church? The groups are: the Beguines, the Cathars, the Hussites, the Joachimites, the Lollards, and the Waldensians.

    The English words 'sects' and 'heresy' usually convey a negative meaning.
    A 'sect'is a group that 'deviates' from the norm and separates from the church; a 'denomination,' by contrast, is an 'official' or legitimate subgroup of a church.
    A 'heresy' is an 'inauthentic' or 'illegitimate' doctrine; a 'tenet,' by contrast, is an 'official' or 'essential' doctrine.
    In other words, 'sects' and 'heresies' are religious groups and doctrines of which we disapprove...A sect must be small enough to be a distinctive part of a larger religious body.

    Studying medieval heresy also entails study of secular governments. It is important to note that the Church never executed anyone for heresy. Rather, the Church turned heretics over to secular governments for execution. Therefore, heresy was also part of political self-definition and exclusion.

    Execution of heretics-- the French kings burned heretics to the left is the Bastille, later to become the famous prison for political prisoners.

    The Lollards
    In the fourteenth century, John Wyclif, educated at Oxford, gave "learned heresy" a common audience. Like the Waldensians, the Lollards translated the Bible into their vernacular language, English. The Lollards were the most significant heretical group in England before the Reformation. Wyclif's teachings were influential for John Hus in Bohemia, the leader of another great medieval heretical group, the Hussites. Wyclif was condemned by popes Gregory XI and Urban VI on several occasions. After his death, Wyclif's heretical teachings were addressed at the Council of Constance in 1415.

    Followers of Wyclif came to be known as "Lollards." Perhaps the name was derived from the Dutch term lollaerd, meaning mumbler. The sect was driven out of Oxford in 1382, but some devout members circulated Wyclif's teachings as well as the 1394 "Lollard Conclusions." Wyclif on Indulgences

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    And finally this bit seems to touch on all the above and is an excerpt from a summery in the Catholic site that speaks to the many devotions to Mary.
    Medieval Devotion to the Virgin Mary
    It was at this period that such famous places of pilgrimage arose as Roc Amadour, Laon, Mariabrunn near Klosterneuburg, Einsiedeln etc., and in England, Walsingham, Our Lady Undercroft at Canterbury, Evesham, and many more.

    These shrines, which as time went on multiplied beyond calculation in every part of Europe, nearly always owed their celebrity to the temporal and spiritual favours which it was believed the Blessed Virgin granted to those who invoked her in these favoured spots. The gratitude of pilgrims often enriched them with the most costly gifts; crowns of gold and precious gems, embroidered garments, and rich hangings meet us at every turn in the record of such sanctuaries. Perhaps the commonest form of votive offerings took the shape of a gold or silver model of the person or limb that had been cured. For example Duke Philip of Burgundy sent to Halle in Belgian two silver statues, one representing a knight on horseback, the other a foot-soldier in gratitude for the cure of two of his own bodyguard. Often again the special vogue of a particular shrine was due to some miraculous manifestation which was believed to have occurred there. Blood was said to have flowed from certain statues and pictures of Our Lady which had suffered outrage. Others had wept or exuded moisture. In other cases, the head had bowed or the hand been raised in benediction.

    Without denying the possibility of such occurrences, popular devotion to the Blessed Virgin was often attended with extravagance and abuse, it is impossible to deny. Nevertheless we may believe that the simple faith and devotion of the people was often rewarded in proportion to their honest intention of paying respect to the Mother of God. And there is no reason to believe that these forms of piety had on the whole a delusive effect, and fostered nothing but superstition. The purity, pity, and motherliness of Mary were always the dominant motive, even the "Miracle" of Max Reinhardt, the wordless play which in 1912 took London by storm, persuaded many how much of true religious feeling must have underlain even the more extravagant conceptions of the Middle Ages.

    The most renowned English shrines of Our Lady, that of Walsingham in Norfolk, was in a sense an anticipation of the still more famous Loreto. Walsingham professed to preserve, not indeed the Holy House itself, but a model of its construction upon measurements brought from Nazareth in the eleventh century. The dimensions of the Walsingham Santa Casa were noted by William of Worcester, and they do not agree with those of Loreto. Walsingham measured 23 ft. 6 in. by 12 ft. 10 in.; Loreto, 31 ft.3 in. by 13 ft. 4 in.

    In any case the homage paid to Our Lady during the later Middle Ages was universal. Even so unorthodox a writer as John Wyclif, in one of his earlier sermons, says: "It seems to me impossible that we should obtain the reward of Heaven without the help of Mary. There is no sex or age, no rank or position, of anyone in the whole human race, which has no need to call for the help of the Holy Virgin." So again the intense feeling evoked from the twelfth to the sixteenth century over the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is only an additional tribute to the importance which the whole subject of Mariology possessed in the eyes of the most learned bodies of Christendom. To give even a brief sketch of the various practices of Marian devotion in the Middle Ages would be impossible here -- for example the Rosary, the Angelus, the Salve Regina etc. and the more important festivals -- are discussed under separate headings. It will be sufficient to note the prevalence of the wearing of beads of all possible fashions and lengths, some of fifteen decades, some of ten, some of six, five, three, or one, as an article of ornament in every attire; the mere repetition of Hail Marys to be counted by the aid of such Pater Nosters, or beads, was common in the twelfth century, before the time of St. Dominic; the motive of meditating on assigned "mysteries" did not come into use until 300 years later. Further, we must note the almost universal custom of leaving legacies to have a Mary-Mass, or Mass of Our Lady, celebrated daily at a particular altar, as well as to maintain lights to burn continually before a particular statue or shrine. Still more interesting were the foundations left by will to have the Salve Regina or other anthems of Our Lady sung after Compline at the Lady altar, while lights were burned before her statue.
    We have the daughter, the pseudo Mary-- Hail Mary and the father, Virginius, the Pater Noster. Claudius is to be hung-- a rope around the neck like a rosery around the neck and Pater Noster pleads for him.

    The Pardoner shows Bulls, yes a writ if you would, giving him his authority but also, a play on words if Apis is the origination of Apius. If all the farm animal's tongues are stung by a bee and drink of the well that cures then, the most gentle of animal, the sheep that follows in a herd, would be cured of other ailments if it drinks the water from the well. If the farmer obeys (the Jew) Jesus and drinks while fasting his cattle shall multiply.

    So if Virginius like a good sheep, obeys the concept that Mary is a Virgin for life and therefore, the symbol of Mary, his daughter ends her life rather then allow that virgin belief be sullied, his worth in the sight of God will multiply as long as-- he makes his offering of pence or silver. Sounds to me like Chaucer is inferring; Martyrdom is only as good as the silver that accompanies the sacrifice. Or the supreme sacrifice of martyrdom is minimized by the practice of peddling God's glad eye for silver.

    Barbara---Wow, you have found so many interesting sources that help us to understand the complications of Chaucer's time. Devotion to the Virgin Mary also acted as a counter-influence to secular Courtly Love which deifies the Lady.

    One point I would like to make is that the daughter does have a name--she is Virginia (how appropriate, given her role as embodiment of virginity) although we do not find this out until a little past the middle of the tale.

    Claudius the Roman Emperor is the main character in I, Claudius which was shown on Masterpiece Theater some time ago. I believe it is now available on videotape and well worth the renting if anyone has not seen it. One of my favorite actors, Derek Jacobi, plays Claudius.


    O, and one more thing. . .I find it fascinating to see how far back the seeds of the Reformation go. Here is Wycliff, as Barbara indicates, pointing to many of the same "offenses" that Luther will isolate later. Sometimes it takes a good long time for seeds to germinate.

    Intriguing also is that many religious reformers planned to remain members of the body they were criticizing, but they moved far enough from officially sanctioned doctrine that they were named heretics and thus wound up as the "founders" of different denominations. Luther never intended to leave the Catholic Church. John Wesley did not plan to leave the Church of England.


    And, might I add, the "Christians" never intended to leave off being Jewish! Same scenario.

    MaryPage----How true----for the first decades the Christian group was simply a sect within Judaism.


    Joan Pearson
    Some more notes on the Phyisician's Tale:
    ~the tale is taken from Livy's history, the Lays of Ancient Rome, later repeated in Jean de Meun's Roman de la Rose...a n historical account - Jean do Meun was the first to shorten the names, Appius Claudius to simply Appius and Marcus Claudius to Claudius, so perhaps we shouldn't read too much into the meaning of the names?

    ~ Notes indicate that many critics are disturbed by the account of Virginia's death which is original in Chaucer; instead of killing his daughter instantly and publicly under extreme pressure, as in Livy and Roman de la Rose, Virginius deliberately plans and announces the exection, which is carried out at home.

    I thought that was interesting and perhaps important in revealing the more personal vindictive nature of the execution...V. would rather die than have what is his taken from him...

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    Tell me tell me about the life of I. Claudius and how would his life become a symbol in this story? Also I do not know of Appius Claudius either-- when I researched Claudius I came up with the emperiors of Rome.

    aha missed that-- I thought the father's name was Virginius. Even more appropriate that it is her name.

    Oh yes, Wyclif was a Catholic monk in Oxford here is a link to a short bio Wyclif now I see the Lollards would have been after Chaucer wouldn't they. I wonder now if Chaucer's Pardoner's Tale sowed the seeds of discontent or if Chaucer picked up on that discontent and simply weaved it into his story?

    Everytime I am in the bookstore I've been browzing the books on the middle ages-- I've been so curious trying to imagine the home Chaucer lived in and what his daily life was like. I have watched my share of "Cadfael" dramas on TV and own "Ivanhoe," the Sir Walter Scott myth set in the time but little about an educated man living where? In town as most Guild memebers and merchants would or in a country house as a more prosperous member of the gentery. I don't think he is Sir Chaucer is he?

    I cannot find my book on the 6 tapestries housed over in the Cluny in Paris. I forgot now their name as well-- can only think of the name of one of the individual tapestires-- "The Lady and the Unicorn"-- well what ever-- the book is so grand, it explained the symbolism for every flower, every tree, every animal, every color, every one depicted was furthered as to the Medieval jobs and then the overall meaning or moral being expressed to those looking on the tapestry. Oh how helpful that book would be now to further our enjoyment of Chuacer.

    Barbara----The Father is Virginius (male form);the daughter is Virginia (female form). The Claudius in "I, Claudius" is the Roman Emperor that you found. The story involves not only Claudius but all those interesting Emperors around him like Nero. It is one of the best things I have ever seen on TV. Robert Graves wrote the Claudius books that the TV series is based on.

    The tapestries you refer to--the ones at Cluny---are really something else, aren't they? They are kept in low light in order to preserve as much color as is possible. Sorry that you cannot find your book.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    When I first visited Paris back in the 70s the Cluny didn't have the money as it does today and those tapestries were hanging almost as an afterthought as I remember with the occasional guard shooing away any picture taking. I haven't been back now since the late 80s but I always feel the Cluny to be so basic to the beginning of Paris and I especially love staying on the Left Bank.

    Sounds like you also had the priviledge of seeing the tapestries maryal. I used to do tons of needlework and in fact taught all kinds of needlework here in Austin and during some national conventions. I still have the silk and linen with the detail were I was going to do a miniture of part of the "Lady and the Unicorn" as they say, 'the best laid plans of mice and men'--

    Joan Pearson
    Hi Barbara! Everytime I come in here with something, I go off with more to look up! Fun! Will look up more on the Cluny tapestries...I think it's about time we pull out Tom Hoving's Art for Dummies - I'll be back from a little vacation on June 7 and will do it then...he has a wonderful section on Medieval Art!

    You were right - Virginius is the father of Virginia...Claudius Apius and Marcus Claudius were Romans - Claudius Apius was one of the 10 Tribunes, NOT the Emperor Claudius - in Livy's history...the judge and perhaps the one who claimed Virginia was his...I'm fuzzy as to the second. I'll post the Livy history's back a few posts...

    I did come in to comment on the Pardoner. Want to know a little more about him! Chaucer has the narrator describe him in the prologue as a mare or a gelding. Isn't a gelding a castrated horse? And a mare, well a mare is a female. By describing him as both, we have the suggestion of a sexual abnormality of some>

    I checked around and in the Riverside Chaucer, I read that it was customary at the time for the pardoners to be clerics (though not necessarily). The Pardoner's participation in the Mass suggests that he may have been a cleric, but the Riverside says that a eunuch (if that's what he in fact was) was ineligible for Holy Orders at the time. One critic concludes whether he was a eunuch or no, a cleric or no, The Pardoner is both spirtiually and morally sterile.

    Joan Pearson
    Here's the source of the Physician's tale...from the Lays of Ancient Rome

    Virginius, Virginia

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    Joan I need to get cracking and read the Pardoner's Tale itself - I wonder do you think maybe they were talking about the Pardoner as being a memeber of the church that professed abstainence and wasn't really castrated???

    Oh Joan how great-- I was posted at the same time but quickly pulled up your link. It will take time to read but it sounds wonderful-- 12 axes and 6 swards or whatever the start of it sounds like the charge of the 600 and then claudius sobbing in her skirt. I want to read and enjoy this-- by the way it is easier to read then Chaucer... whew!

    Joan Pearson
    Could be, couldn't it? Or not castrated literally, but effeminate. Some modern critics (says the Riverside) think he was homosexual, others that he was an effeminate hetero, as he attempts (unsuccessfully) to hit on the barmaids...ask Harry, he might know!

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    Yes I noticed some esseys in the link to Chaucer's page that speak about homosexuality in reference to this tale and to the Middle ages in general. So many issues that we still deal with today makes it easier to relate to these folks as real people doesn't it.

    Joan do you have any info on how Chaucer lived - I augmented my above message rather then write a new post with some of my query about the wherefore of Chaucer's abode.

    Joan, I did not feel that Virginius would rather die than have what was his taken from him. Rather, I felt that the old code of "honor", which is still prevalent in the Mid East and women still die because of it, was what was at work here. A woman of a house must be a Virgin, a wife, and a mother, period. Any HINT of anything else and she must die rather than be dishonored and thus bring dishonor on her family. Queen Noor of Jordan is trying to get Jordanians to stop this practice.

    Barbara, I want to second Joan in stating that the Claudius in this Chaucer tale IS NOT the Emperor of the series of movies (that make up about 4 or 5 or even 6 videos) titled I, CLAUDIUS.

    But Barbara, Lollards had sprung up in Chaucer's time. Read again the Epilogue to the Man of Law's Tale, where our HOST smells a Lollard in the wind.