Canterbury tales


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Canterbury tales

  1. 1. Chaucer and Canterbury An Introduction to The Canterbury Tales Prepared by Professor Garry Walton06/05/12 Meredith Jump to first page
  2. 2. Beginnings If English 201 really began at the beginning of literature created in England, we would start with works in Latin or Old English, rather than with the Middle English of Geoffrey Chaucer. For England in general and Canterbury in particular had important settlements by the Romans and the Saxons long before Chaucer created The Canterbury Tales in Middle English toward the end of the Middle Ages.06/05/ Jump to first page
  3. 3. Roman Canterbury The Roman city of Durovernaum arose at the ford of the Stour River. The chief feature of this walled city was the largest amphitheatre in Roman Britain, remains of which survive today.06/05/ Jump to first page
  4. 4. Early Medieval Canterbury After its period of Roman rule, Canterbury remained an important town. It was the Saxon capital when St. Augustine arrived from Rome to found a06/05/12 monastery cathedral in 597. Jump to first page
  5. 5. Medieval Canterbury Like many medieval cities, Canterbury was walled. It was entered via narrow roads which passed through gated06/05/12 openings in its city Jump to first page
  6. 6. Canterbury Cathedral06/05/ Jump to first page
  7. 7. Church at Faversham For pilgrims used to worshipping at local parish churches the size of this one at Faversham, or even smaller, the grand cathedral at Canterbury must have seemed tremendously impressive, inspiring, and ornate.06/05/ Jump to first page
  8. 8. Canterbury Cathedral This early map of the city shows the cathedral’s geographical dominance in06/05/12 the Jump to first page
  9. 9. Canterbury Cathedral This painting shows even better how the cathedral dominated Canterbury in Chaucer’s06/05/12 Jump to first page
  10. 10. Canterbury Cathedral A hundred years after Chaucer’s death the towers and porch depicted here were built. This is the southwest entrance, the main doorway into the cathedral.06/05/ Jump to first page
  11. 11. Canterbury Cathedral Like many medieval cathedrals, Canterbury was designed in the form of a cross (as seen from heaven) and typically entered from the foot of06/05/12 the cross (the bottom left of the picture). Meredith Jump to first page
  12. 12. The holy blissful martyr Thousands of pilgrims came to Canterbury Cathedral each year to visit the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket. Becket, a political ally of Henry 2 in the king’s fight with the church, was named head of the Church of England after serving as Henry’s Chancellor. But the newly ordained Archbishop of Canterbury surprised and infuriated his king by becoming a staunch proponent of the church. After years of quarreling with Henry, Becket returned to Canterbury in 1170 after six years of exile, only to be murdered within his own cathedral by four knights responding to King Henry’s angry demand,06/05/12 “Who will rid me of this low-born priest?” Jump to first page
  13. 13. Shrine to the martyr Inside the cathedral is the present shrine to St. Thomas a Becket, murdered at the suggestion of his former ally King Henry 2 in06/05/12 Jump to first page
  14. 14. Cloister path to Becket shrine At the end of this long cloister is the entrance through which Becket would have passed on his way to06/05/12 Jump to first page
  15. 15. The Crypt Becket’s tomb in the crypt under the main cathedral became a shrine almost from the moment of his death in 1170 until 1220, when it was relocated.06/05/ Jump to first page
  16. 16. Trinity Chapel In 1220 the shrine to St. Thomas was moved to the main level of the cathedral, in Trinity Chapel, at the far end of the enormous and beautiful span of the cathedral.06/05/ Jump to first page
  17. 17. Trinity Chapel There it continued to draw thousands of pilgrims each year until its destruction in 1538, when King Henry 8 allowed the plundering of England’s cathedrals and monasteries.06/05/ Jump to first page
  18. 18. Pilgrim steps Generations of pilgrim feet have worn down the stone steps leading up from the main floor of the cathedral to the chapel where the Becket shrine was located.06/05/ Jump to first page
  19. 19. Becket in stained glass Early stained glass windows in Canterbury Cathedral, like this one, depict St. Thomas.06/05/ Jump to first page
  20. 20. St. Thomas heals This window in Canterbury Cathedral depicts one of the miracles attributed to St. Thomas, as he appears to a leper and heals him.06/05/ Jump to first page
  21. 21. Becket memorialized in cathedral window Becket’s life story is told in a wall of stained glass windows -- Becket and King Henry 2 are momentarily reconciled (top); Becket prays as the king’s men attack (bottom); a pilgrim visits the shrine06/05/12 after Thomas’ death (middle) Jump to first page
  22. 22. Chaucer’s memorial to Becket Millions of people who have never been to Canterbury nevertheless know about its shrine to St. Thomas because of Geoffrey Chaucer, who in the late 14th century crafted a collection of tales supposedly told by a “company of sundry folk” on pilgrimage to England’s most famous holy site. Generations of scribes recopied and even illustrated this not entirely holy manuscript, keeping it alive until the printing press and the Internet made it06/05/12 easier and cheaper to Jump to first page
  23. 23. The Ellesmere manuscript s Probably the most famous copy of The Canterbury Tales is contained in the 464- page Ellesmere manuscript -- notable in part because of its beautiful marginal illustrations completed around 1410 by an06/05/12 unknown Jump to first page
  24. 24. Early portrait of Chaucer s This tinted woodcut is based on an illustration in the margin of the famous Ellesmere copy of The Canterbury Tales. Early scribes not only hand-copied the Tales but06/05/12 illustrated Jump to first page
  25. 25. The Knight Chaucer begins the introduction of pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales with the highest ranking traveler, the Knight. Note his ramrod posture on his sturdy mount, his medals, his tarnished06/05/12 chain-mail Jump to first page
  26. 26. The Squire s The Squire, son of the Knight, has neither his horse nor himself under tight control. Compare his clothing and face to his father’s. Note especially the curly hair and fancy embroidered gown06/05/12 of this young Jump to first page
  27. 27. The Yeoman A medieval yeoman was a freeholder -- an independent farmer who owned a bit of land. The term also means an attendant or retainer to a wealthy or powerful lord. The yeoman in Chaucer’s Tales serves the knight as a forester: note his tanned complexion, wardrobe all06/05/12 in green, and his care for his bow, arrows, blades. Jump to first page
  28. 28. The Prioress Dainty, elegant Madame Eglantine seems more like a medieval lady than a nun. As head of a nunnery she is described less in moral than in courtly terms, as beautiful, well mannered, tender hearted, and well06/05/12 accessorized with rich religious Jump to first page
  29. 29. The Second Nun The General Prologue says almost nothing about those accompanying the Prioress. In keeping with her rank and reputation, the Prioress does not travel alone but with another nun, her06/05/12 “chaplain” or secretarial Jump to first page
  30. 30. The Nun’s Priest Along with the second nun, the Prioress is said to have been accompanied by three priests. But only one appears in the remainder of The Canterbury Tales. Though we learn nothing of him from the general prologue, he tells a most interesting tale that may06/05/12 reveal his attitude toward the Jump to first page
  31. 31. The Monk Like the Prioress, the Monk is highly placed in his order -- ready to take over as the abbot. He is “a manly man” who spends little time cooped up in the monastery. He loves to ride out to take care of the monastic lands -- and also to hunt, as shown by his fat belly and fur-trimmed sleeves. His worship music is not the bells06/05/12 of the monastic chapel, but his horse’s jangling bridle Jump to first page
  32. 32. The Friar Brother Huberd is licensed to beg for donations for the poor in a particular area. But he prefers ministering to young women, rich landowners, and tavernkeepers rather than to the poor or sick. He sings well06/05/12 and dresses very well for a man of profession. Jump to first page
  33. 33. The Merchant With his forked beard and secretive ways, as well as his profession of profiting by trade and money- changing, this Merchant fits the medieval stereotype of a06/05/12 middle-class Jump to first page
  34. 34. The Clerk The Oxford clerk is as lean as his swaybacked horse. He does not seek to profit from his vast learning and has no interest in fine clothes or music. All his money goes for books, each of which was handcopied and might cost about as much as a small06/05/12 house. He is quiet, thoughtful, Jump to first page
  35. 35. The Sergeant of Laws This wealthy pilgrim is not only a lawyer but a high- ranking justice or judge. As his garb reveals, he is sometimes paid in rich robes, though he is careful not to appear too flashy or too idle. Then as now, a lawyer could sometimes seem busier than he really was. This pilgrim could06/05/12 recite relevant cases memory. Jump to first page
  36. 36. The Franklin This is Chaucer’s Santa Claus figure -- red cheeks, white beard, ample belly, and jovial personality (as sanguine as the Reeve is choleric). This rich country landowner is generous with his wealth, regularly entertaining and feasting. He holds powerful positions as06/05/12 justice of the peace and Member of Jump to first page
  37. 37. The guildsmen Chaucer depicts five tradesmen traveling together as members of professional guilds. All have occupations somehow related to England’s dominant “industry” -- textiles. They are a weaver, a dyer, a tapestry-maker (pictured here), a carpenter, and a06/05/12 Jump to first page
  38. 38. The Cook The five guildsmen were well off enough to travel with their own cook. He was clearly very talented in the kitchen, but note the careful attention both Chaucer and the Ellesmere illustrator pay to the pus-oozing06/05/12 sore on his Jump to first page
  39. 39. The Shipman Chaucer’s Shipman does not build boats; he sails them. No one knows more about ports, tides, and shipping lanes than he. He keeps careful watch on his cargo and often helps himself to it. He sends his enemies home “by water” and wears his dagger prominently. Can06/05/12 you think of another name for this dark, seaman? Jump to first page
  40. 40. The Doctor of Physic Like the Manciple, this pilgrim is depicted as carrying something valuable in his hands. In this case, it seems to be a golden potion (drugs were expensive then as now, but in those days some medicines actually contained gold!). No wonder folks suspected that doctors and druggists were in cahoots. The doctor dresses very well, in blood red. He has great06/05/12 knowledge of astrology and medicine but little of the Jump to first page
  41. 41. The Wife of Bath Perhaps the most famous pilgrim, this weaver is known by her town of residence, Bath, and her frequent marriages (five!). Also notable are her looks -- red face, gap teeth, wide hips -- all signs of her lusty nature. The illustrator also shows her hat as big as a shield and her spurs -- and06/05/12 adds a whip. She is a veteran of many Jump to first page
  42. 42. The Wife of Bath This is one of the few surviving illustrations of the pilgrims in the Cambridge manuscript (Gg.4.27) of The Canterbury Tales. Even then readers saw the independent-minded Wife as a “man tamer,” complete with whip -- but still06/05/12 wearing big hats! Jump to first page
  43. 43. The Parson The Parson is poor financially, but rich in holy thought and work. (Note his devout posture and golden halo-crown.) He ministers to a far-flung parish, whatever the weather or the wealth or rank of the parishioner. He epitomizes the perfect local minister, striving06/05/12 always to set a good example to his Jump to first page
  44. 44. The Plowman It is not clear whether Chaucer means that the Plowman is literally the brother of the Parson, but they are clearly spiritual twins. This pilgrim does the hard manual labor of agriculture without complaint, and helps his neighbors without thought of profit.06/05/ Jump to first page
  45. 45. The Miller Who could forget the noisy Miller? With his brawny, “no-neck” build, his blue hood and “golden thumb” to mark his profitable profession, his foul mouth full of off- color stories, and the blaring bagpipes with which he led the pilgrims06/05/12 out of town, he makes an indelible Jump to first page
  46. 46. The Manciple A Manciple is a steward or purchaser for an institution like a school. This one is the business manager for a community of lawyers. Note the resemblance of this picture of the Manciple to the illustration of the06/05/12 Doctor of Jump to first page
  47. 47. The Reeve Chaucer depicts the Reeve (farm overseer) as slender and choleric (ill- tempered, because his dominant “humour” is choler, or yellow bile). He is clever at managing his lord’s estate and profiting for himself. His horse is dapple gray, his06/05/12 blade rusty ( a sign of his age?); he rides at the of the group. Jump to first page
  48. 48. The Summoner One of Chaucer’s least favorite pilgrims is the employee of the church who summons to court those suspected of civil crimes. Summoners in Chaucer’s day had worse reputations than today’s police or private detectives. This one seems guilty of blackmail, drunkenness -- and fornication, despite his red, scabby06/05/12 face and garlic Jump to first page
  49. 49. The Pardoner Just as the Miller and Reeve make a humorous pair -- short and tall, loud and quiet -- so do the foul Summoner and the beautiful Pardoner, both corrupt church employees. The Pardoner sports long blond hair, a smooth beardless face, and a high voice -- not like the manly Monk. He carries a jeweled cross and a heap of fake relics06/05/12 with which to contributions. Jump to first page
  50. 50. Chaucer This is probably the most famous illustration of England’s first great poet. The unknown artist responsible for the Ellesmere manuscript offers this picture of Chaucer. Though the son of a wealthy middle-class wine merchant, the poet served three English kings as soldier, ambassador, Justice of the Peace, Member of Parliament,06/05/12 Controller of the port of London, and Clerk of the King’s Jump to first page
  51. 51. Chaucer His early influences were Latin and French. Perhaps it was while traveling in Italy that Chaucer encountered the works of his Italian contemporaries Petrarch and Boccaccio, who proved such major influences on his work. Nevertheless, Chaucer’s greatest achievement was to06/05/12 write energetically in Jump to first page