Introduction

This entry is part 1 of 27 in the series Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer has been around for over 600 years, and judging by the sheer number of site that post the tales today, they are still very popular. I was first exposed to them in 10th grade English, and they have remained a favorite of mine ever since. If you have not yet experienced them, then here is your chance. Although, as I said, you can find them in many versions all over the web, my aim here is to present them in a beautiful and interesting way, in the hopes that those of you who may have found them hard to read or uninteresting in the past will find yourselves enjoying them here.

The idea behind the Canterbury Tales is that a group of people from all walks of life and levels of society have been brought together by chance because they are all making a pilgrimage to the shrine of the martyred Thomas Beckett, and all of them happen to be together at the Tabard Inn along the way. The innkeeper, Thomas Bailey, suggests that they should all tell tales along the way to make the trip more interesting. He suggests that they should make it a competition, and that whoever tells the best tale shall be rewarded with a sumptuous dinner when they return, paid for by the other travelers. He, himself, shall go along to be the judge of the tales and decide which one is best.


The Canterbury Pilgrims - Edward Courbould 1884

The Canterbury Pilgrims
Edward Courbould 1884

 

Prologue – Prose Version

This entry is part 2 of 27 in the series Canterbury Tales

The Knight’s Tale is the story of two knights from Thebes who fall in love with the same woman, a princess of Athens named Emily. Since the two knights have apparently sworn to support each other in everything, each one’s love for Emily does not go over well. 

The name of the game in “The Knight’s Tale” is chivalry, a system of rituals, duties, and behaviors a knight was supposed to follow if he wished to behave with honor. The rules of chivalry included things like always keeping your promises, defending the helpless, and remaining loyal to your lord and fellow knights no matter what. Think King Arthur and you’re on the right track. 

“The Knight’s Tale” is also concerned with courtly love, which demanded the loyalty of the knight to just one person: his lady-love. Courtly love was actually a “system” of love, just as chivalry was a system of knightly behavior. That means there were rules…for love. The system got its start in the literature of the Aquitaine region in France, where troubadours sang ballads about the often secret and illicit love of knights for noblewomen (scandalous!). 

The woman in a courtly love story is placed on a pedestal: she is totally perfect in every way, and the knight practically worships her. In fact, his love for her makes the knight stronger and more honorable. The rules of courtly love were even written down in a treatise by a 12th-century French courtier, Andreas Capellanus, in a work called De Amore, although literary types disagree on whether or not this work is meant to be serious or just a way to make fun of the courtly love tradition. 

In any case, we have these two codes of behavior: chivalry and courtly love; and in “The Knight’s Tale” we get to see what happens when the two codes clash. 


Once upon a time, as they say in all the old fairy tales, there was a duke named Theseus who was the ruler of the kingdom of Athens in present-day Greece. His wisdom and his skill at fighting wars had made him the fiercest warrior of his generation. There was no one greater. He’d fought in many wars and conquered many other kingdoms, including even the women warriors of Amazonia, which used to be called Scythia. After defeating the Amazons, Theseus had married their queen, Hippolyta, and took her back to Athens with him along with her little sister, Emily. They traveled back to Athens in a boisterous victory march. And it’s here, on their journey back to Athens, where my story begins.

Oh, I wish I had the time to tell you all about what the kingdom of Amazonia was like before Theseus arrived, and about the great battle between the Athenians and the Amazonians, and the capture of the beautiful and powerful Queen Hippolyta. And I wish I could tell you about their wedding feast and the parties and all the hubbub that their return back to Athens caused along the way. But, God knows, I’m not a great storyteller, and the part I do want to tell you about is long enough without all that. Besides, I want to be fair and make sure that each of us gets a turn to tell a story on the way to Canterbury so that we can see who wins that free dinner! So, let me just start the story where I left a minute ago, with Theseus, Hippolyta, Emily, and the victorious Athenians marching back to Athens.

Now, when the happy and victorious Athenians were just outside the city, Duke Theseus noticed out of the corner of his eye that there was a group of women kneeling in the middle of the road. They were arranged in two columns, dressed all in black, and were crying and wailing at the top of their lungs. You never heard anything like it. They continued wailing until one of them grabbed the bridle of Theseus’s horse.

Divider-Books
This Canterbury Tales page was created by Katrina Haney, author, creative writer, ghost writer and all-around content writer. Illustrations by Arthur Szyk from the Special Edition printed in 1946. Please feel free to save, print or share this post with your friends or social communities. For more Canterbury Tales posts , as well as other awesome information about books, words, writing and reading, please visit Katrina’s website at www.katrinahaney.com.
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The Host – Prose Version

This entry is part 3 of 27 in the series Canterbury Tales

The Knight’s Tale is the story of two knights from Thebes who fall in love with the same woman, a princess of Athens named Emily. Since the two knights have apparently sworn to support each other in everything, each one’s love for Emily does not go over well. 

The name of the game in “The Knight’s Tale” is chivalry, a system of rituals, duties, and behaviors a knight was supposed to follow if he wished to behave with honor. The rules of chivalry included things like always keeping your promises, defending the helpless, and remaining loyal to your lord and fellow knights no matter what. Think King Arthur and you’re on the right track. 

“The Knight’s Tale” is also concerned with courtly love, which demanded the loyalty of the knight to just one person: his lady-love. Courtly love was actually a “system” of love, just as chivalry was a system of knightly behavior. That means there were rules…for love. The system got its start in the literature of the Aquitaine region in France, where troubadours sang ballads about the often secret and illicit love of knights for noblewomen (scandalous!). 

The woman in a courtly love story is placed on a pedestal: she is totally perfect in every way, and the knight practically worships her. In fact, his love for her makes the knight stronger and more honorable. The rules of courtly love were even written down in a treatise by a 12th-century French courtier, Andreas Capellanus, in a work called De Amore, although literary types disagree on whether or not this work is meant to be serious or just a way to make fun of the courtly love tradition. 

In any case, we have these two codes of behavior: chivalry and courtly love; and in “The Knight’s Tale” we get to see what happens when the two codes clash. 


The Host (Harry Bailey) - Arthur Szyk - The owner of the Tabard Inn, who volunteers to travel with the pilgrims. He promises to keep everyone happy, be their guide and arbiter in disputes, and judge the tales.

The Host (Harry Bailey) – Arthur Szyk
The owner of the Tabard Inn, who volunteers to travel with the pilgrims. He promises to keep everyone happy, be their guide and arbiter in disputes, and judge the tales.

Once upon a time, as they say in all the old fairy tales, there was a duke named Theseus who was the ruler of the kingdom of Athens in present-day Greece. His wisdom and his skill at fighting wars had made him the fiercest warrior of his generation. There was no one greater. He’d fought in many wars and conquered many other kingdoms, including even the women warriors of Amazonia, which used to be called Scythia. After defeating the Amazons, Theseus had married their queen, Hippolyta, and took her back to Athens with him along with her little sister, Emily. They traveled back to Athens in a boisterous victory march. And it’s here, on their journey back to Athens, where my story begins.

Oh, I wish I had the time to tell you all about what the kingdom of Amazonia was like before Theseus arrived, and about the great battle between the Athenians and the Amazonians, and the capture of the beautiful and powerful Queen Hippolyta. And I wish I could tell you about their wedding feast and the parties and all the hubbub that their return back to Athens caused along the way. But, God knows, I’m not a great storyteller, and the part I do want to tell you about is long enough without all that. Besides, I want to be fair and make sure that each of us gets a turn to tell a story on the way to Canterbury so that we can see who wins that free dinner! So, let me just start the story where I left a minute ago, with Theseus, Hippolyta, Emily, and the victorious Athenians marching back to Athens.

Now, when the happy and victorious Athenians were just outside the city, Duke Theseus noticed out of the corner of his eye that there was a group of women kneeling in the middle of the road. They were arranged in two columns, dressed all in black, and were crying and wailing at the top of their lungs. You never heard anything like it. They continued wailing until one of them grabbed the bridle of Theseus’s horse.

Divider-Books
This Canterbury Tales page was created by Katrina Haney, author, creative writer, ghost writer and all-around content writer. Illustrations by Arthur Szyk from the Special Edition printed in 1946. Please feel free to save, print or share this post with your friends or social communities. For more Canterbury Tales posts , as well as other awesome information about books, words, writing and reading, please visit Katrina’s website at www.katrinahaney.com.
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The Knight’s Tale – Prose Version

This entry is part 4 of 27 in the series Canterbury Tales

The Knight’s Tale is the story of two knights from Thebes who fall in love with the same woman, a princess of Athens named Emily. Since the two knights have apparently sworn to support each other in everything, each one’s love for Emily does not go over well.

The name of the game in “The Knight’s Tale” is chivalry, a system of rituals, duties, and behaviors a knight was supposed to follow if he wished to behave with honor. The rules of chivalry included things like always keeping your promises, defending the helpless, and remaining loyal to your lord and fellow knights no matter what. Think King Arthur and you’re on the right track.

“The Knight’s Tale” is also concerned with courtly love, which demanded the loyalty of the knight to just one person: his lady-love. Courtly love was actually a “system” of love, just as chivalry was a system of knightly behavior. That means there were rules…for love. The system got its start in the literature of the Aquitaine region in France, where troubadours sang ballads about the often secret and illicit love of knights for noblewomen (scandalous!).

The woman in a courtly love story is placed on a pedestal: she is totally perfect in every way, and the knight practically worships her. In fact, his love for her makes the knight stronger and more honorable. The rules of courtly love were even written down in a treatise by a 12th-century French courtier, Andreas Capellanus, in a work called De Amore, although literary types disagree on whether or not this work is meant to be serious or just a way to make fun of the courtly love tradition.

In any case, we have these two codes of behavior: chivalry and courtly love; and in “The Knight’s Tale” we get to see what happens when the two codes clash. 


The Knight - Arthur Szyk - Socially the most prominent person on the pilgrimage, epitomizing chivalry, truth, and honor. He stands apart from the other pilgrims because of his dignity and status

The Knight – Arthur Szyk
Socially the most prominent person on the pilgrimage, epitomizing chivalry, truth, and honor. He stands apart from the other pilgrims because of his dignity and status

The Knight’s Tale – Part I

Once upon a time, as the old stories say, there was a duke named Theseus who was the ruler of Athens, a city in Greece.He had great skill at fighting, better than anyone alive at the time, and he was also very wise. This wisdom and chivalry allowed him to conquer many rich countries, including that of the Amazons, the great female warriors, in what used to be called Sythia. After he defeated the Amazons, he went on to marry their queen, Hippolyta, and he took her back to Athens along with her little sister Emily. The journey back to Athens was loud and boisterous, with all his army marching along with him, and it is here, on their journey back to Athens, that I shall begin my story.

I really wish I had the time to tell you the full story about the great battle that was fought between the Athenians and the Amazonians, and of how the Kingdom of the Amazons was conquered by Theseus through his great chivalry, and about how Theseus wooed and won the heart of their beautiful and powerful Queen, Hippolyta. And I’d also love to tell you all about their wedding feast, and the celebrations of it, and about the storm of excitement that surrounded their march back home. But, unfortunately, I need to sacrifice that part, because, Lord knows, the rest of my story is long enough, and I’m not that great a story-teller in the first place. Besides all that, I want to make sure that everyone here gets a chance to tell their tale, so we can find out which one of us shall win. So, Ill go ahead and pick up my story where I left it off, with the march back to Athens.

Now, Theseus, this Duke of great renown, was marching with enormous pride and great joy towards his home. Just as he was reaching the outskirts of the city, he noticed as he glanced that way, a group of ladies, clad all in black, kneeling on the road in two columns in front of his procession. They were clamoring something awful, wailing and crying so mournfully that no one in the world could have ever heard anything like it. They wouldn’t stop all their wailing, either, until finally they began clutching the Duke’s bridle reins, and refused to let them go.

“Who are you people?” asked the Duke in irritation, “that are disturbing my victorious return with your weeping and wailing? Is it jealousy of my success that makes you complain like this? Or is it someone else that has offended you? Come on, tell me please if there is some way to fix your problem. And why, pray tell, are you all dressed in black like this?

Theseus arrives in Athens with Hippolyta and Emily - Manuscript of Boccaccio's Il Teseide, c1465.

Theseus arrives in Athens with Hippolyta and Emily
From the Manuscript of Boccaccio’s Il Teseide, c1465.

The oldest woman in the group just about fainted when she heard this. She was so pitiful to see and hear, with cheeks that were pale and sunken in; she looked like death itself, and everyone who saw her couldn’t help but pity her. “Lord,” she began, “fortune has given you victory, and you’ve been able to be the conqueror everywhere you’ve gone. We’re not upset by your glory and honor in any way. We are here to ask you to take pity on us, to have mercy for our distress and unhappiness, and to help us in our time of trouble. Because you are so gentle and kind, even the smallest drop of pity from you can help, for at the moment, we are only poor and miserable women.

See, the thing is, everyone of us here has been a duchess or a queen, but now we are captives. The treacherous Goddess of Fortune has reversed our standing, because, as you well know, no one can escape the turning of her wheel. Anyway, because we were expecting your return, we have been waiting here for two weeks in the temple of the Goddess of Pity, in the hopes that when you arrived you would be willing to help us, since we know that it is in your power to do that.

I look pretty awful right now, because I’ve been crying so much

I look pretty awful right now, because I’ve been crying so much, But I used to be the wife of King Capaneus of Thebes, before he died in battle. Curse the gods! All of us women that you see here, miserable and crying, we all lost our husbands in that town while it was being held under siege. And now, Creon, the new lord and governor of Thebes, that no-good, evil, cruel, wrathful tyrant, out of hatefulness and spite, is trying to dishonor and shame our dead. All of our husbands’ bodies have been piled in a heap as though they were trash, and he won’t let us bury them or burn them. Instead he lets them rot, and allows his dogs to eat them.

When she was finished speaking, all the women fell down crying relentlessly. “Please have mercy on us,” they cried, “and take our sorrows into your heart.”

Theseus From Highroads to Literature, 1919

Theseus
From Highroads to Literature, 1919

When the noble Theseus heard this, he got down from his horse. feeling that his heart would surely break. He did feel very sorry for them, these once royal and noble women who had been so proud and happy before, and who were now so miserable. He took them into his arms tenderly, comforting them and saying he understood. He made a promise that he would avenge the death of their husbands, because he was a true knight, and that he would wage war on the tyrant Creon, and that he would win. He swore to them that all of Greece would talk about how Theseus had killed Creon in vengeance, and about why Creon had deserved his fate.

Having made these promises, Theseus told his wife, Hippolyta, to  take her sister Emily with her and go without him into Athens. Then he had his entire army turn around right then and there and headed for Thebes, their banner flying high. He hadn’t taken a single other step toward Athens; he didn’t even stop for a rest. He didn’t stop until they had to make camp for the night. The decision was made, and just like that, it happened.

The banner of Theseus displayed the image of Mars, all in red, with his spear and shield on a snow-white field. It billowed up and down in the breeze, making it seem to glitter. Alongside the banner there was also a pennant, worked with beaten gold and displaying the image of the Minotaur that he had slain in Crete. Displaying all his chivalous glory, Theseus the Duke, Theseus the conqueror, rode into Thebes, where he found a field he thought would be a good place for the battle. And to make a long story short, Theseus did give Creon, the dreaded lord and king of Thebes, an honorable death, slaying him in battle, manfully, like a knight.

When the battle was over, Creon’s army ran away

When the battle was over, Creon’s army ran away, and in this way he won the city of Thebes. He tore down the walls and rafters of the city, and he gave to the women the bones of their slain husbands so that they could be put on a funeral pyre and given last rites.

It would take way too long to tell you about all the clamor of grief and sorrow that the women raised while the bones were burning, or about how they thanked Theseus for the great honor that he, that noble knight, had paid to the women, before they finally parted from him. I really am trying to make this story short.

After Theseus had slain Creon and won Thebes, he stayed on the field for the night to rest, and dealt with his newly won land as he saw fit.

Finding Palamon and Arcite Still Alive John Saunders: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales-Volume 1, 1845

Finding Palamon and Arcite Still Alive
John Saunders: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales-Volume 1, 1845

Meanwhile, looters began picking through all the enemy’s dead, stripping them of their armor,weapons and whatever else they could find of value.While they were searching through a heap of bodies, they came upon two knights lying side by side, gravely wounded, but still alive. They could tell by their coats of arms and their gear that they were of the royal family of Thebes, and that they were cousins, the sons of sisters. One was named Arcite and the other Palamon. They pulled them out of the heap and gently called them to Theseus’ tent, and after a short time, Theseus had them sent to Athens to be imprisoned there for the rest of their lives, without the possibility of being ransomed by someone.

After doing all this he gathered his army together and rode back home, once again hailed as the mighty conqueror, wearing a victory crown made of laurel. Afterwards lived his life in joy and comfort, and nothing more needs to be said about him. Meanwhile, Palamon and Arcite languished in the tower in misery, knowing that there was no one who could help them.

That went on day after day and year after year, until finally, one morning in May something interesting happened.

Now, the fair Emily, who had become even more lovely than the lily on its stalk of green, and fresher than the month of may with all its newly grown flowers, whose cheeks rivaled the the color of a rose, got up before dawn as she usually did, and dressed in some beautiful clothing. Her blond hair was woven into one long braid that fell behind her back and was at least a yard long. Emily was feeling the pull of May, that rouses hearts to action after the sluggish months of winter; May, which calls to one saying, “Arise and get out of bed. Spring is here, and it’s time for you to enjoy it.”

Palamon and Arcite see Emelye in the garden - From the Manuscript of Boccaccio's Il Teseide, c1465

Palamon and Arcite see Emelye in the garden
From the Manuscript of Boccaccio’s Il Teseide, c1465

So Emily decided to celebrate the month of May, and she went out into the garden just as the sun was rising.She walked up and down between the rows and gathered many red and white flowers to weave a garland for her hair, singing as she did so.

Now, the tower, that held the dungeon where Palamon and Arcite were imprisoned, happened to be attached at the base to the garden wall, and under the window of this tower was where Emily was playfully amusing herself and singing. The sun was bright and clear that early spring morning, and Palamon was up and pacing around the chamber as he usually did. From there he could see the city, as well as the garden below. Now, as Palamon was pacing up and down the chamber, complaining of his misery, and wishing he’d never been born, he happened to pass the iron-barred window of his cell just at the right time, and he caught sight of Emily below.

“Ah!” he cried, so fervently, and went so pale, that his cousin Arcite got worried and asked him what the matter was.

“Cousin, what has happened? You look deathly pale. And why did you cry out? What has happened now? You really need to learn to have some patience as I do about being here in prison, because it’s never going to change. We’ve been dealt this hand by fortune, and the god, Saturn has also aligned the stars against us. This was to be our destiny from the moment we were born, and nothing could have changed it. We simply have to endure our imprisonment, and it’s just as simple as that!”

Palamon and Arcite in the Tower From Highroads to Literature, 1919

Palamon and Arcite in the Tower
From Highroads to Literature, 1919

“No, Cousin, no! That’s not it at all. It’s not our being in this prison that has caused me to cry out. It’s because of what I just saw down there in the garden; a women so beautiful that I really don’t know if she’s a woman or a goddess. I think she must really be Venus, because she is just too beautiful; her beauty has pierced me to my heart.” Then Palamon fell to his knees, crying, “Oh Venus, if you truly decided to transform yourself right here in this garden, right before my very eyes, miserable being though I am, then help us now to get out of this prison. But, if it truly is my fate to die in this prison, then have some compassion for our family, whose good name has been ruined by tyranny.

On that note, Arcite looked out the window to see what his cousin was going on about, and he, too, was struck by the beauty of the woman he saw there in the garden, walking to and fro among the flowers. Like Palamon, he too was amazed by her beauty, and fell just as hard as Palamon had, if not more so. “That woman in the garden is so beautiful that it is killing me,” he said. “I hope that I will at least be able to see her in the garden every day this way, because if I can’t, I might as well be dead, and that’s all there is to it.”

When Palamon heard this he turned angrily to his cousin and said, “Are you joking?”

“No,” answered Arcite, “I’m not joking, I swear. This kind of thing is too important to joke about.”

If you don’t do that, then you’re nothing but a liar, and everything you swore to me was just crap.

You know, it’s not very honorable of you after so long a time with each other to turn traitor on me. I’m your cousin and your brother. We made a pact that nothing would ever come between us, that we would die for each other. We swore that we would never hinder each other if one of us fell in love, or anything else even. We both agreed on this until we died. You can’t deny that. You’re supposed to be helping me, but instead you decide to steal the woman I love, the one that I would do anything for, until the day I die. You can’t do that! I won’t let you do that! I loved her first. I told you all about my pain and suffering over it, and as my brother, who swore to help me however you could in anything, something you are actually duty-bound to do as a knight. If you don’t do that, then you’re nothing but a liar, and everything you swore to me was just crap.

Then Arcite puffed himself up and said, “You’re more a traitor than I am. In fact, I’ll tell you in all honesty that you are a traitor! I actually loved her first, and what can you even say about it? You don’t even know if she’s a goddess or a woman. Your love is more like worshiping a divine being, while mine is actual love, for a real actual woman. Which is why I told you about her in the first place, believing I could, you being my cousin and sworn brother and all. But you know what? Even assuming you did love her first, you know what all the writer’s say, ‘All’s fair in love and war.’ I tell you now that love is the most important thing on earth, more important than any law, and more important than any oath one man might give to another. Laws and oaths are broken every day in the name of love, because a man needs love more than anything. And no matter how hard he tries, he can’t stop loving, he can’t run away from it. Doesn’t matter if she’s a young woman, a widow or a wife. And besides, it’s not like either one of us can ever have her. You know as well as I do that we’re both doomed to stay forever in this prison, and that no one will be allowed to pay a ransom to release us, however hard we may wish for it. We’re like two dogs fighting over a bone all day, and neither one getting it, only to have a hawk swoop in and snatch it away from both of us. It’s every man for himself out there, My Brother. So love her if you want to; I know I always will. That’s just the way it is. We’re in this prison and we have to stay here. All we can do is suck it up and take whatever fate sends our way.”

Arcite Released from Prison From the Manuscript of Boccaccio's Il Teseide, c1465

Arcite Released from Prison
From the Manuscript of Boccaccio’s Il Teseide, c1465

They fought for a long time, angry with each other, which I don’t really have time to tell you all about. But as it happened, there was another honorable Duke by the name of Pirithous, who had been a close friend to Theseus since they were children. He decided to come to Athens to visit his old friend, which he did from time to time, because he loved him like a brother. In fact, they were so close to each other that the old books say that when one of them finally died, the other went down to Hell to rescue him. But that’s not the story I’m telling at the moment. Now Pirithous had also known Arcite in Thebes for many years, and they were also very close So  Pirithous persuaded Theseus to release Arcite, even without a ransom, which Theseus did. However, there was a catch, which I’m going to tell you about now.

The agreement that was made between the two honorable Dukes was, to put it quite simply, that Arcite was free to go anywhere he wished as long as he never set foot on any lands belonging to Theseus again, and that if he should do so, and should be caught, he should then and there lose his head. Having no choice, Arcite hightailed it back home to Thebes before he lost his life for dawdling.

Now Arcite’s life utterly sucked. He was in so much emotional pain he thought he was going to die. He sobbed and he cried and he wept so pitifully, secretly wanting to just end it all. And he thought to himself, “I should never have been born. I’m miserable and unhappy, and in a worse prison than I was before. And I’m doomed to this Purgatory, no not Purgatory but Hell itself, for the rest of my life. It’s really too bad that I know Pirithous, or else I’d still be there with Theseus; languishing in a cell, true, but that would have been infinitely better. I would have been happy just being able to see her, that would have been good enough for me. So, Dear Cousin Palamon,” he said, “You have won for sure, because there you are, enduring prison happily. Did I say prison? No, I meant Paradise! But Fortune has rolled the dice in your favor, because at least you can see her, while I cannot. You actually have the possibility, being a worthy knight and all, that by some will of Fortune, who is always changing things as we both well know, of maybe one day actually attaining your prize. But I am exiled and in pain, and stripped of all hope of ever even seeing her again. I am in such deep despair that nothing on Earth can ever help me, nothing and no one. I’m sure I’ll die of my distress. In fact, I wish I would.”

Arcite went on complaining “Why is it that people complain so much about what God or Fortune has done to them, when it is usually the case that God and Fortune know much better what is good for them than they do themselves? One man may wish to have great wealth, and receive it, only to die early or suffer for years with bad health. Another may wish to be freed from prison, only to get home and be killed by his own servants. We just don’t know what it is we pray for. It’s like a drunken man who knows very well he has a house, but has no clue how to get there, wending his way along, with no idea where he is going. We are all always looking to get whatever we think is good for us, yet we are so often wrong. Everyone has to admit this, especially myself. I held onto the thought that if I were just to be free of that prison cell, then I could find my happiness. But now I’m totally parted from what what I want, since I may not even see you at all, my dear Emily, and so I might as well just be dead. There is no cure for this pain.”

Palamon Pining for Emily From Highroads to Literature, 1919

Palamon Pining for Emily
From Highroads to Literature, 1919

Meanwhile, back at the dungeon, Palamon was just as miserable. When he found out that Arcite was really, truly gone, he made such a horrible fuss that his cries could be heard all over the tower, and it went on for hours. He cried so hard and so much that the fetters around his ankles actually got wet. “Oh my Gods!” he cried. “My Cousin Arcite, you’ve won the game. There you are, walking around free, on the streets of Thebes, and you can forget all about what I’m going through here. And now, since you are smart enough and brave enough to do it, you can gather an army from among our many relatives, and come back and wage war on this city. And then, by some chance of Fortune, you could very well win Emily for your wife. It could happen, since you are now out of prison and free to go wherever you want, and you’re a lord, which gives you a huge advantage over me, while I still lie here dying in a cage. And then for the rest of my life, all I’ll be able to do is cry and scream with grief and pain, which would be double what I have now because my love would be gone.” And with that realization, his heart burned with jealousy and rage, making things even worse for himself.

Then he screamed out, “You cruel Gods that keep the world in bondage to your whims, because you write upon a stone what the fate of a man shall be, and nothing can be done about it. You think of us as nothing more than sheep, and all of us are doomed to suffer hardships, rotting in a  prison under false arrest, or suffering horrible misfortunes and sicknesses, many times totally undeserved. And then, like any other animal, we die.”

And what’s the point of all this, that people must suffer for no reason and by no making of their own?

“And what’s the point of all this, that people must suffer for no reason and by no making of their own? This just makes me feel even worse, knowing that we are bound by this, and can’t even rebel against it. For the fear of God we must suppress our own will, while at least an animal may do as he pleases. And when an animal is dead, that’s is, he’s dead. He doesn’t feel anything anymore. But we, after death, we must still weep and mourn, of this I have no doubt. The Priests and Philosophers may debate that if they wish. All I know is I see a nasty little snake has gotten away and is free to go where he wants, while I must lie here in jail, all because Juno or Saturn who have succeeded in spilling the blood of most of the Royal House of Thebes. And Venus, too, is killing me with her her bitter pill, while She allows Arcite free to pursue my darling Emily.”

But for now, we shall leave Palamon rotting in prison, where he still has to stay, while I tell you more about Arcite.

The summer passed and the nights grew longer, making things worse for both Arcite and Palamon. I honestly don’t know which one had the worst deal, Palamon who was doomed to lie in prison forever in fetters and chains, or Arcite, who was free but unable to ever see the face of his beloved Emily.

So, all you lovers here with me, let me ask you this. Which one do you think had it worse. Palamon or Arcite? The one who could see the woman he loved every day, but had no hope of ever being free to pursue her, or the other, who could go anywhere he wished, except the one place he wished to go, and who could never even lay eyes on his adored Emily again? All of you who wish to answer can do so, and then I will continue on with the story.



First Page of The Knights Tale - Ellesmere Manuscript

First Page of The Knights Tale – Ellesmere Manuscript

The Knight’s Tale – Part 2

After Arcite made it back to Thebes, he wallowed in self-pity because he knew he’d never again see the woman he loved. He wasn’t interested in food or sleep or wine, and he began wasting away until he was just a bony twig of a man. His skin became as pale as ashes, and his eyes sunk into his head. He spent all of his time alone, and he moaned to himself at night. Music would only make him cry inconsolably. He became so depressed that no one could recognize his voice anymore. And he was so lovesick that he didn’t even look lovesick anymore, but looked like he’d gone completely insane. To put it simply, Arcite suffered more than anyone had ever suffered before or since and everything about him had changed completely.

Well, I could go on and on about how awful Arcite’s life had become, but let me just get right to the point. After he’d been living like this for a year or two since coming back from Athens, he had a powerful dream one night. In the dream he saw the god Mercury, who was wearing a hat and carrying a staff. He stood before Arcite and told him to buck up and be happier. “Go to Athens,” he said, “and all your misery will be gone.” Arcite woke up instantly and said, “Okay. I can’t take this any longer. No matter what happens, I’m going to set out for Athens and not stop until I see Emily, the woman I love, again. I don’t care if it ends up killing me.”

As he made this resolution, he caught sight of himself in a mirror and saw that he looked very different from the way he used to look. He realized immediately that his disfigurement from being so lovesick would allow him to disguise himself in Athens. And if he kept a really low profile, he might even be able to live the rest of his life there so that he could see Emily every day. He therefore changed his clothes and dressed himself as a poor worker before setting out for Athens. He took with him only a single servant who knew of his master’s plan and had also disguised himself as a common worker. When he arrived in Athens, he went to Theseus’s castle and offered up his services as a common laborer to do any work that needed to be done. He also told everyone that his name was Philostrato in order to hide his true identity. And to make a long story short, he eventually figured out the best way to get closest to Emily and got a job assisting her chamberlain. Arcite did whatever the chamberlain told him to do, whether it be collecting firewood or carrying water. He was young and strong.

He worked as Emily’s chamberlain’s servant for a year or two, and he quickly became one of the most likeable people in the entire castle because of his good manners and personality. In fact, “Philostrato” became so well known and so well liked that people encouraged Theseus to promote him and find more noble work for him to do. And so Theseus made Philostrato his own assistant and paid him plenty of money to reflect his new status and position. Arcite also had, of course, his own yearly income from being a noble landlord back in Thebes, and he had this money secretly brought to him in Athens. He spent this money carefully, though, and lived pretty modestly so that no one noticed how well off he really was. He served Theseus at home and on the battlefield like this for three years, and he became the duke’s most trusted adviser and friend. And with that, I’ll leave Arcite and his adventures for a moment to talk a little more about Palamon.

For seven horrible years Palamon had been living locked up in the horrible darkness of the prison tower. In addition to having been imprisoned this entire time, he was also so lovesick that he’d nearly gone insane. Words can hardly describe his torment properly. I know I’m not doing a very good job myself at describing his misery, so I’m just going to get right to the point.

Well, it so happened on the night of May third in the seventh year of his imprisonment (according to all the old books that tell this story anyway), whether by chance or by fate (which there’s no escaping if it really was fate) that Palamon broke out of prison with a little help from a friend and fled Athens. His friend had spiked the prison guard’s wine with a sweet drug made of opium from Thebes that made the poor guy sleep through the entire breakout. Palamon ran as far as he could and hid in a grove of trees when the sun began to rise. He planned to hide in the grove all day then hightail it back to Thebes at night. There he would rally his friends and raise an army to attack Athens. To put it simply, he pledged to win Emily or die trying.

Okay, now back to Arcite, who’d thought he was living in the clear until the goddess Fortune put him in the hot seat once more.

Well, the fateful day began like all others, with the lark’s song greeting the morning sun. Arcite, who was still Theseus’s chief servant, woke up and looked out the window to take in the morning view. He decided to enjoy the spring air by saddling his horse and going for a morning ride a mile or two away from the castle to the same grove where Palamon was hiding. He picked some flowers and wove a garland, all the while happily singing, “Welcome fair, fresh May, with all your flowers and your green. These flowers are the loveliest I’ve seen!” And with a happy heart he strolled around the grove along the path that happened to run right past the bush that Palamon was hiding behind. Palamon, for his part, was terrified that he was going to die because he didn’t realize that the man singing and walking through the grove was his cousin Arcite. Then again, how could he have possibly known since Arcite was supposedly exiled? Well, you know what they say: The fields have eyes and the trees talk. Arcite meanwhile had no idea that his old friend Palamon was lurking quietly in the bushes. People, though, should always keep their wits about them and be ready for the unexpected.

When Arcite got tired of strolling and singing, he fell into a solemn silence as he began thinking about how much he loved Emily. He grew moody as young people often do when thinking about love. Sometimes he felt great, other times awful, up, down, up, down, like a bucket in a well. Sometimes Venus, the goddess of love, makes it rain. Sometimes she makes it pour. There’s never a dull day when you’re in love.

Arcite sat down and sighed, “Damn the day I was born! How long are you going to continue punishing the city of Thebes and its people for your husband’s infidelity, Juno? The royal family of Thebes is in complete disarray. Cadmus started the royal line, and I am his direct descendent! And here I am, practically slaving away for Theseus, the sworn enemy of Thebes. And did Juno stop there? No! I can’t even let people know that I’m really Arcite! I have to pass myself off as ‘Philostrato,’ a nobody from nowhere. Dammit Mars, dammit Juno! You’ve completely wrecked the entire house of Thebes except for me and my poor cousin Palamon, who’s still rotting away in that prison. And what’s more, Love has struck me with his arrows. It’s almost like I was fated to suffer before I was even born! You’re killing me, Emily, you’re killing me. Nothing else matters except pleasing you.” And with that, he collapsed in a heap on the ground.

Palamon, who was still hiding in the bushes, shook with rage when he heard Arcite’s little speech. He felt as if a cold sword were gliding through his heart. He jumped out from behind the bushes and screamed with deadly fury, “Arcite, you backstabbing son a bitch! I’ve caught you in your lies and deception! It’s me, Palamon! I just escaped from that prison tower, and I’m going to kill you with my bare hands or die trying! You can either forget about Emily or die right here, right now, because she is mine and mine alone.”

When he recognized Palamon and heard what he had to say, Arcite became equally furious. He rose and drew his sword and looked as fierce as a lion ready to fight. He said, “God knows that if it weren’t for the fact that love has driven you mad, and you don’t have a weapon on you, I’d never let you walk out of this grove alive. I’d kill you where you stand. Screw our friendship and the oath we made as blood brothers. Don’t you know, Dumbass, that I’m free to love anyone I want no matter how you feel? But we are knights, and we must behave like knights. Therefore, if you want to win Emily in battle, then meet me here tomorrow and we’ll settle this once and for all. Come alone. I give you my word as a knight that I’ll come too—and with extra armor for you to wear. In fact, you can even take the better set of armor. Tonight I’ll bring you food and wine and blankets to sleep on so that you’re well rested for tomorrow. And if you should kill me tomorrow, then Emily is all yours.” Palamon agreed, and they parted ways until they would meet the next day at the appointed time.

Cupid, you merciless god, who jealously rules mankind with love! It is true what they say, that nothing is as powerful as love, as Arcite and Palamon discovered for themselves. Arcite rode back to Athens and the next morning managed to secretly acquire two suits of armor for the upcoming battle. He took them out to the grove as he’d promised. And when they saw each other, their faces changed color and reflected their determination to meet their destiny, just as the face of the famous hunter from Thrace changed color when he hunted lions and bears with his spear. And just like that hunter that you hear about in all the old stories, both Arcite and Palamon thought, “There is my enemy. It all comes down to this: It’s either going to be him or me.” They didn’t bother with any pleasantries—no “hellos” or “good mornings” or “How are you doings?” Instead, without a single word, each helped the other to put on his suit of armor, just as if they were brothers preparing for war. And then they grabbed their spears and began fighting, circling and jabbing each other for hours on end. Seeing them, you would’ve thought that Palamon was an angry lion and Arcite a ferocious tiger. They fought like wild dogs that froth at the mouth because they’re so angry. They fought until the grass was soaked in blood up to their ankles. And it’s here I’ll stop and leave them in the middle of their battle to tell you a little more about Theseus.

Destiny—the hand of God that makes God’s will happen throughout the world—is so powerful that no mere mortal can stop it. People might be able to postpone the inevitable, but ultimately God’s will is always done. Even if it takes a thousand years because everything that people think and want and do has already been predetermined by God. I’ll explain what I mean by telling you about Theseus. He loved hunting, you see—especially deer in May—and would wake at the crack of dawn every day to go hunting with his hunting horns and dogs. In this way he was not only a worshiper of the war god Mars, because he was so good in battle, but also a worshiper of Diana, the goddess of the hunt.

Emily Hunting with the Duke's Party From a MS of Boccaccio's Il Teseida by the Master of the Hours of the Duke of Burgundy, c1465 (Notice he did not paint her wearing green as the text states)

Emily Hunting with the Duke’s Party
From a MS of Boccaccio’s Il Teseida by the Master of the Hours of the Duke of Burgundy, c1465
(Notice he did not paint her wearing green as the text states)

Well, it was a bright, sunny day, and Theseus was out hunting with his wife Hippolyta and her sister Emily, who was wearing green from head to toe. They were on their way to the same clearing that I mentioned previously because Theseus had heard that a magnificent stag roamed around there. They’d taken quite a roundabout way to get there, through trees and across streams, because he wanted to extend the hunt as long as possible.

Palamon and Arcite Dueling in the Grove John Mortimer - 1787 (Mortimer made nine prints for an elaborate edition that never materialized)

Palamon and Arcite Dueling in the Grove
John Mortimer – 1787
(Mortimer made nine prints for an elaborate edition that never materialized)

When they finally reached the grove, Theseus immediately spotted Arcite and Palamon duking it out in a vicious battle as if they were two wild beasts. They swung their swords so violently that it seemed like you could chop a thick oak tree with each blow. He had no idea who the men were or what was going on, but he spurred his horse and jumped in between the two of them to stop the battle. He drew his sword and yelled, “Stop! Enough already! I swear to Mars that I’ll kill whoever swings next! Tell me what’s going on here and why you two are dueling without a judge like a couple of ruffians.”

Palamon jumped in and said, “Sire, just let us keep fighting. Neither one of us is fit to live. We both live such awful lives that I beg you not to interfere or try to help us or anything and to just kill me now, for God’s sake. And kill this guy too while you’re at it. In fact, you may want to kill him first because this knight here—your friend and most trusted adviser, Philostrato—has been deceiving you all these years and is actually none other than your mortal enemy, Arcite, whom you banished from Athens so long ago. He is in love with Emily. And since it looks like I’m going to die here and now anyway, I might as well tell you that I am Palamon, your other enemy who has just escaped from your prison tower. I love Emily so much that I want to die in her presence, so I beg you to kill us here and now as punishment and to end our pain.”

Without a bit of hesitation, Theseus said, “Well, you heard the man! He confessed his crimes, so that settles that. I condemn you to death!”

It was at that point that Queen Hippolyta, the best example of femininity, began crying, as did Emily and all the other women in their hunting party. The whole situation seemed so tragic to them, and they couldn’t believe that such handsome, noble men would be willing to kill each other over their love. The women saw how bloody and bruised the knights were and dropped down on their knees and pleaded, “Please, Theseus, have mercy on these men for our sakes!” Seeing the women like this cooled Theseus’s temper a little, and he thought the situation over with a more level-headed attitude. He figured that every person has the right to pursue love, and will do anything for it, even escape from prison. And as he looked at Arcite and Palamon standing there and the women kneeling before him, he said to himself, “Shame on me for having spoken so rashly and for acting pigheaded a moment ago. What kind of ruler would that make me if I didn’t forgive them? And what kind of ruler would it make me if, now that I’ve realized my mistake, I choose not to change my mind? I’d be pretty foolish if I were too stubborn to be reasonable.”

Once his anger had fully passed, he looked at everyone watching him, and said, “How powerful and great the god of love must be! Nothing can stop him, and he has the power to change every heart. Just look at these two men here. Both of them got out of prison and could have returned to Thebes to live as kings, but they chose to be in Athens instead because of their love, in spite of knowing what would happen to them if they were caught. And yet their love has brought them here and is literally killing them. Crazy, isn’t it? Or, then again, would they be crazy not to have followed their hearts and stayed in Athens? For God’s sake, just look at them! Look at how battered they are! Love, I suppose, certainly has its price! And yet, those who follow their hearts believe they’re the happiest people on earth no matter what happens.

But the funniest thing about this whole mess is that Emily, the object of their love, didn’t even know they were in love with her and fighting over here! On the other hand, what other options did these two men have? They had to do something about their feelings. I too was once as young and felt as passionately as they do now. So, since I know what these two men must be feeling, and since my wife and my sister-in-law are begging me to be merciful, I’m going to forgive Arcite and Palamon of their crimes. But both of you have to promise me that in exchange for my forgiveness you will never wage war upon Athens and will be my allies instead.” Arcite and Palamon thanked Theseus for his compassion and swore never to hurt the Athenian people.

Theseus then said, “But it looks like we still have the matter of your love-sickness to solve, don’t we? Both of you are honorable and noble enough to marry any woman you please, even a queen or a princess. But you two happen to be in love with my own sister-in-law. You know that she can’t marry you both at the same time, now matter how badly you want her. One of you is simply going to have to let her go no matter how you feel about the matter. So, to resolve this matter, this is what I propose:

Both of you should think on the matter for a year. Go wherever you please, but both of you should return here in fifty weeks with a hundred knights each to participate in a great tournament that will decide which one of you will marry Emily. I’ll be the judge, and the outcome of the tournament will be final: Whoever’s team of knights manages to kill or defeat the other team will have Emily’s hand in marriage. We’ll hold the tournament here in Athens. What do you two think about my plan?

Well, could anyone have been any happier than Palamon? Could anyone have ever smiled any bigger than Arcite? Everyone in the grove applauded Theseus for having shown both knights mercy and for coming up with such a brilliant solution. And with that, both Arcite and Palamon collected their things and set off for Thebes.

~End of Part 2~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This Canterbury Tales page was created by Katrina Haney, author, creative writer, ghost writer and all-around content writer. Illustrations by Arthur Szyk from the Special Edition printed in 1946. Please feel free to save, print or share this post with your friends or social communities. For more Canterbury Tales posts , as well as other awesome information about books, words, writing and reading, please visit Katrina’s website at www.katrinahaney.com.
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The Miller’s Tale – Prose Version

This entry is part 5 of 27 in the series Canterbury Tales

The Knight’s Tale is the story of two knights from Thebes who fall in love with the same woman, a princess of Athens named Emily. Since the two knights have apparently sworn to support each other in everything, each one’s love for Emily does not go over well.

The name of the game in “The Knight’s Tale” is chivalry, a system of rituals, duties, and behaviors a knight was supposed to follow if he wished to behave with honor. The rules of chivalry included things like always keeping your promises, defending the helpless, and remaining loyal to your lord and fellow knights no matter what. Think King Arthur and you’re on the right track.

“The Knight’s Tale” is also concerned with courtly love, which demanded the loyalty of the knight to just one person: his lady-love. Courtly love was actually a “system” of love, just as chivalry was a system of knightly behavior. That means there were rules…for love. The system got its start in the literature of the Aquitaine region in France, where troubadours sang ballads about the often secret and illicit love of knights for noblewomen (scandalous!).

The woman in a courtly love story is placed on a pedestal: she is totally perfect in every way, and the knight practically worships her. In fact, his love for her makes the knight stronger and more honorable. The rules of courtly love were even written down in a treatise by a 12th-century French courtier, Andreas Capellanus, in a work called De Amore, although literary types disagree on whether or not this work is meant to be serious or just a way to make fun of the courtly love tradition.

In any case, we have these two codes of behavior: chivalry and courtly love; and in “The Knight’s Tale” we get to see what happens when the two codes clash. 


The Miller - Arthur Szyk - A drunken, brash, and vulgar man who rudely interrupts the Host, demands that his tale be next, and warns everyone that his tale about a carpenter will be vulgar because it is true.

The Miller – Arthur Szyk
A drunken, brash, and vulgar man who rudely interrupts the Host, demands that his tale be next, and warns everyone that his tale about a carpenter will be vulgar because it is true.

Once upon a time, as they say in all the old fairy tales, there was a duke named Theseus who was the ruler of the kingdom of Athens in present-day Greece. His wisdom and his skill at fighting wars had made him the fiercest warrior of his generation. There was no one greater. He’d fought in many wars and conquered many other kingdoms, including even the women warriors of Amazonia, which used to be called Scythia. After defeating the Amazons, Theseus had married their queen, Hippolyta, and took her back to Athens with him along with her little sister, Emily. They traveled back to Athens in a boisterous victory march. And it’s here, on their journey back to Athens, where my story begins.

Oh, I wish I had the time to tell you all about what the kingdom of Amazonia was like before Theseus arrived, and about the great battle between the Athenians and the Amazonians, and the capture of the beautiful and powerful Queen Hippolyta. And I wish I could tell you about their wedding feast and the parties and all the hubbub that their return back to Athens caused along the way. But, God knows, I’m not a great storyteller, and the part I do want to tell you about is long enough without all that. Besides, I want to be fair and make sure that each of us gets a turn to tell a story on the way to Canterbury so that we can see who wins that free dinner! So, let me just start the story where I left a minute ago, with Theseus, Hippolyta, Emily, and the victorious Athenians marching back to Athens.

Now, when the happy and victorious Athenians were just outside the city, Duke Theseus noticed out of the corner of his eye that there was a group of women kneeling in the middle of the road. They were arranged in two columns, dressed all in black, and were crying and wailing at the top of their lungs. You never heard anything like it. They continued wailing until one of them grabbed the bridle of Theseus’s horse.

Divider-Books
This Canterbury Tales page was created by Katrina Haney, author, creative writer, ghost writer and all-around content writer. Illustrations by Arthur Szyk from the Special Edition printed in 1946. Please feel free to save, print or share this post with your friends or social communities. For more Canterbury Tales posts , as well as other awesome information about books, words, writing and reading, please visit Katrina’s website at www.katrinahaney.com.
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The Reeve’s Tale – Prose Version

This entry is part 6 of 27 in the series Canterbury Tales

The Knight’s Tale is the story of two knights from Thebes who fall in love with the same woman, a princess of Athens named Emily. Since the two knights have apparently sworn to support each other in everything, each one’s love for Emily does not go over well.

The name of the game in “The Knight’s Tale” is chivalry, a system of rituals, duties, and behaviors a knight was supposed to follow if he wished to behave with honor. The rules of chivalry included things like always keeping your promises, defending the helpless, and remaining loyal to your lord and fellow knights no matter what. Think King Arthur and you’re on the right track.

“The Knight’s Tale” is also concerned with courtly love, which demanded the loyalty of the knight to just one person: his lady-love. Courtly love was actually a “system” of love, just as chivalry was a system of knightly behavior. That means there were rules…for love. The system got its start in the literature of the Aquitaine region in France, where troubadours sang ballads about the often secret and illicit love of knights for noblewomen (scandalous!).

The woman in a courtly love story is placed on a pedestal: she is totally perfect in every way, and the knight practically worships her. In fact, his love for her makes the knight stronger and more honorable. The rules of courtly love were even written down in a treatise by a 12th-century French courtier, Andreas Capellanus, in a work called De Amore, although literary types disagree on whether or not this work is meant to be serious or just a way to make fun of the courtly love tradition.

In any case, we have these two codes of behavior: chivalry and courtly love; and in “The Knight’s Tale” we get to see what happens when the two codes clash. 


Chaucer-Reeve-SzykOnce upon a time, as they say in all the old fairy tales, there was a duke named Theseus who was the ruler of the kingdom of Athens in present-day Greece. His wisdom and his skill at fighting wars had made him the fiercest warrior of his generation. There was no one greater. He’d fought in many wars and conquered many other kingdoms, including even the women warriors of Amazonia, which used to be called Scythia. After defeating the Amazons, Theseus had married their queen, Hippolyta, and took her back to Athens with him along with her little sister, Emily. They traveled back to Athens in a boisterous victory march. And it’s here, on their journey back to Athens, where my story begins.

Oh, I wish I had the time to tell you all about what the kingdom of Amazonia was like before Theseus arrived, and about the great battle between the Athenians and the Amazonians, and the capture of the beautiful and powerful Queen Hippolyta. And I wish I could tell you about their wedding feast and the parties and all the hubbub that their return back to Athens caused along the way. But, God knows, I’m not a great storyteller, and the part I do want to tell you about is long enough without all that. Besides, I want to be fair and make sure that each of us gets a turn to tell a story on the way to Canterbury so that we can see who wins that free dinner! So, let me just start the story where I left a minute ago, with Theseus, Hippolyta, Emily, and the victorious Athenians marching back to Athens.

Now, when the happy and victorious Athenians were just outside the city, Duke Theseus noticed out of the corner of his eye that there was a group of women kneeling in the middle of the road. They were arranged in two columns, dressed all in black, and were crying and wailing at the top of their lungs. You never heard anything like it. They continued wailing until one of them grabbed the bridle of Theseus’s horse.

Divider-Books
This Canterbury Tales page was created by Katrina Haney, author, creative writer, ghost writer and all-around content writer. Illustrations by Arthur Szyk from the Special Edition printed in 1946. Please feel free to save, print or share this post with your friends or social communities. For more Canterbury Tales posts , as well as other awesome information about books, words, writing and reading, please visit Katrina’s website at www.katrinahaney.com.
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The Cook’s Tale – Prose Version

This entry is part 7 of 27 in the series Canterbury Tales

The Knight’s Tale is the story of two knights from Thebes who fall in love with the same woman, a princess of Athens named Emily. Since the two knights have apparently sworn to support each other in everything, each one’s love for Emily does not go over well.

The name of the game in “The Knight’s Tale” is chivalry, a system of rituals, duties, and behaviors a knight was supposed to follow if he wished to behave with honor. The rules of chivalry included things like always keeping your promises, defending the helpless, and remaining loyal to your lord and fellow knights no matter what. Think King Arthur and you’re on the right track.

“The Knight’s Tale” is also concerned with courtly love, which demanded the loyalty of the knight to just one person: his lady-love. Courtly love was actually a “system” of love, just as chivalry was a system of knightly behavior. That means there were rules…for love. The system got its start in the literature of the Aquitaine region in France, where troubadours sang ballads about the often secret and illicit love of knights for noblewomen (scandalous!).

The woman in a courtly love story is placed on a pedestal: she is totally perfect in every way, and the knight practically worships her. In fact, his love for her makes the knight stronger and more honorable. The rules of courtly love were even written down in a treatise by a 12th-century French courtier, Andreas Capellanus, in a work called De Amore, although literary types disagree on whether or not this work is meant to be serious or just a way to make fun of the courtly love tradition.

In any case, we have these two codes of behavior: chivalry and courtly love; and in “The Knight’s Tale” we get to see what happens when the two codes clash. 


Chaucer-Cook-SzykOnce upon a time, as they say in all the old fairy tales, there was a duke named Theseus who was the ruler of the kingdom of Athens in present-day Greece. His wisdom and his skill at fighting wars had made him the fiercest warrior of his generation. There was no one greater. He’d fought in many wars and conquered many other kingdoms, including even the women warriors of Amazonia, which used to be called Scythia. After defeating the Amazons, Theseus had married their queen, Hippolyta, and took her back to Athens with him along with her little sister, Emily. They traveled back to Athens in a boisterous victory march. And it’s here, on their journey back to Athens, where my story begins.

Oh, I wish I had the time to tell you all about what the kingdom of Amazonia was like before Theseus arrived, and about the great battle between the Athenians and the Amazonians, and the capture of the beautiful and powerful Queen Hippolyta. And I wish I could tell you about their wedding feast and the parties and all the hubbub that their return back to Athens caused along the way. But, God knows, I’m not a great storyteller, and the part I do want to tell you about is long enough without all that. Besides, I want to be fair and make sure that each of us gets a turn to tell a story on the way to Canterbury so that we can see who wins that free dinner! So, let me just start the story where I left a minute ago, with Theseus, Hippolyta, Emily, and the victorious Athenians marching back to Athens.

Now, when the happy and victorious Athenians were just outside the city, Duke Theseus noticed out of the corner of his eye that there was a group of women kneeling in the middle of the road. They were arranged in two columns, dressed all in black, and were crying and wailing at the top of their lungs. You never heard anything like it. They continued wailing until one of them grabbed the bridle of Theseus’s horse.

Divider-Books
This Canterbury Tales page was created by Katrina Haney, author, creative writer, ghost writer and all-around content writer. Illustrations by Arthur Szyk from the Special Edition printed in 1946. Please feel free to save, print or share this post with your friends or social communities. For more Canterbury Tales posts , as well as other awesome information about books, words, writing and reading, please visit Katrina’s website at www.katrinahaney.com.
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The Lawyer’s Tale – Prose Version

This entry is part 8 of 27 in the series Canterbury Tales

The Knight’s Tale is the story of two knights from Thebes who fall in love with the same woman, a princess of Athens named Emily. Since the two knights have apparently sworn to support each other in everything, each one’s love for Emily does not go over well.

The name of the game in “The Knight’s Tale” is chivalry, a system of rituals, duties, and behaviors a knight was supposed to follow if he wished to behave with honor. The rules of chivalry included things like always keeping your promises, defending the helpless, and remaining loyal to your lord and fellow knights no matter what. Think King Arthur and you’re on the right track.

“The Knight’s Tale” is also concerned with courtly love, which demanded the loyalty of the knight to just one person: his lady-love. Courtly love was actually a “system” of love, just as chivalry was a system of knightly behavior. That means there were rules…for love. The system got its start in the literature of the Aquitaine region in France, where troubadours sang ballads about the often secret and illicit love of knights for noblewomen (scandalous!).

The woman in a courtly love story is placed on a pedestal: she is totally perfect in every way, and the knight practically worships her. In fact, his love for her makes the knight stronger and more honorable. The rules of courtly love were even written down in a treatise by a 12th-century French courtier, Andreas Capellanus, in a work called De Amore, although literary types disagree on whether or not this work is meant to be serious or just a way to make fun of the courtly love tradition.

In any case, we have these two codes of behavior: chivalry and courtly love; and in “The Knight’s Tale” we get to see what happens when the two codes clash. 


The Lawyer - Arthur Szyk - A lawyer and one of the high justices of the court. He is cautious, suspicious, and wise, and one of the more cultivated men among the pilgrims

The Lawyer – Arthur Szyk
A lawyer and one of the high justices of the court. He is cautious, suspicious, and wise, and one of the more cultivated men among the pilgrims

Once upon a time, as they say in all the old fairy tales, there was a duke named Theseus who was the ruler of the kingdom of Athens in present-day Greece. His wisdom and his skill at fighting wars had made him the fiercest warrior of his generation. There was no one greater. He’d fought in many wars and conquered many other kingdoms, including even the women warriors of Amazonia, which used to be called Scythia. After defeating the Amazons, Theseus had married their queen, Hippolyta, and took her back to Athens with him along with her little sister, Emily. They traveled back to Athens in a boisterous victory march. And it’s here, on their journey back to Athens, where my story begins.

Oh, I wish I had the time to tell you all about what the kingdom of Amazonia was like before Theseus arrived, and about the great battle between the Athenians and the Amazonians, and the capture of the beautiful and powerful Queen Hippolyta. And I wish I could tell you about their wedding feast and the parties and all the hubbub that their return back to Athens caused along the way. But, God knows, I’m not a great storyteller, and the part I do want to tell you about is long enough without all that. Besides, I want to be fair and make sure that each of us gets a turn to tell a story on the way to Canterbury so that we can see who wins that free dinner! So, let me just start the story where I left a minute ago, with Theseus, Hippolyta, Emily, and the victorious Athenians marching back to Athens.

Now, when the happy and victorious Athenians were just outside the city, Duke Theseus noticed out of the corner of his eye that there was a group of women kneeling in the middle of the road. They were arranged in two columns, dressed all in black, and were crying and wailing at the top of their lungs. You never heard anything like it. They continued wailing until one of them grabbed the bridle of Theseus’s horse.

Divider-Books
This Canterbury Tales page was created by Katrina Haney, author, creative writer, ghost writer and all-around content writer. Illustrations by Arthur Szyk from the Special Edition printed in 1946. Please feel free to save, print or share this post with your friends or social communities. For more Canterbury Tales posts , as well as other awesome information about books, words, writing and reading, please visit Katrina’s website at www.katrinahaney.com.
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The Shipman’s Tale – Prose Version

This entry is part 9 of 27 in the series Canterbury Tales

The Knight’s Tale is the story of two knights from Thebes who fall in love with the same woman, a princess of Athens named Emily. Since the two knights have apparently sworn to support each other in everything, each one’s love for Emily does not go over well.

The name of the game in “The Knight’s Tale” is chivalry, a system of rituals, duties, and behaviors a knight was supposed to follow if he wished to behave with honor. The rules of chivalry included things like always keeping your promises, defending the helpless, and remaining loyal to your lord and fellow knights no matter what. Think King Arthur and you’re on the right track.

“The Knight’s Tale” is also concerned with courtly love, which demanded the loyalty of the knight to just one person: his lady-love. Courtly love was actually a “system” of love, just as chivalry was a system of knightly behavior. That means there were rules…for love. The system got its start in the literature of the Aquitaine region in France, where troubadours sang ballads about the often secret and illicit love of knights for noblewomen (scandalous!).

The woman in a courtly love story is placed on a pedestal: she is totally perfect in every way, and the knight practically worships her. In fact, his love for her makes the knight stronger and more honorable. The rules of courtly love were even written down in a treatise by a 12th-century French courtier, Andreas Capellanus, in a work called De Amore, although literary types disagree on whether or not this work is meant to be serious or just a way to make fun of the courtly love tradition.

In any case, we have these two codes of behavior: chivalry and courtly love; and in “The Knight’s Tale” we get to see what happens when the two codes clash. 


The Shipman - Arthur Shipman - A huge, uncouth man who can steer a ship but flounders on his horse

The Shipman – Arthur Szyk
A huge, uncouth man who can steer a ship but flounders on his horse

Once upon a time, as they say in all the old fairy tales, there was a duke named Theseus who was the ruler of the kingdom of Athens in present-day Greece. His wisdom and his skill at fighting wars had made him the fiercest warrior of his generation. There was no one greater. He’d fought in many wars and conquered many other kingdoms, including even the women warriors of Amazonia, which used to be called Scythia. After defeating the Amazons, Theseus had married their queen, Hippolyta, and took her back to Athens with him along with her little sister, Emily. They traveled back to Athens in a boisterous victory march. And it’s here, on their journey back to Athens, where my story begins.

Oh, I wish I had the time to tell you all about what the kingdom of Amazonia was like before Theseus arrived, and about the great battle between the Athenians and the Amazonians, and the capture of the beautiful and powerful Queen Hippolyta. And I wish I could tell you about their wedding feast and the parties and all the hubbub that their return back to Athens caused along the way. But, God knows, I’m not a great storyteller, and the part I do want to tell you about is long enough without all that. Besides, I want to be fair and make sure that each of us gets a turn to tell a story on the way to Canterbury so that we can see who wins that free dinner! So, let me just start the story where I left a minute ago, with Theseus, Hippolyta, Emily, and the victorious Athenians marching back to Athens.

Now, when the happy and victorious Athenians were just outside the city, Duke Theseus noticed out of the corner of his eye that there was a group of women kneeling in the middle of the road. They were arranged in two columns, dressed all in black, and were crying and wailing at the top of their lungs. You never heard anything like it. They continued wailing until one of them grabbed the bridle of Theseus’s horse.

Divider-Books
This Canterbury Tales page was created by Katrina Haney, author, creative writer, ghost writer and all-around content writer. Illustrations by Arthur Szyk from the Special Edition printed in 1946. Please feel free to save, print or share this post with your friends or social communities. For more Canterbury Tales posts , as well as other awesome information about books, words, writing and reading, please visit Katrina’s website at www.katrinahaney.com.
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The The prioress’ Tale – Prose Version

This entry is part 10 of 27 in the series Canterbury Tales

The Knight’s Tale is the story of two knights from Thebes who fall in love with the same woman, a princess of Athens named Emily. Since the two knights have apparently sworn to support each other in everything, each one’s love for Emily does not go over well.

The name of the game in “The Knight’s Tale” is chivalry, a system of rituals, duties, and behaviors a knight was supposed to follow if he wished to behave with honor. The rules of chivalry included things like always keeping your promises, defending the helpless, and remaining loyal to your lord and fellow knights no matter what. Think King Arthur and you’re on the right track.

“The Knight’s Tale” is also concerned with courtly love, which demanded the loyalty of the knight to just one person: his lady-love. Courtly love was actually a “system” of love, just as chivalry was a system of knightly behavior. That means there were rules…for love. The system got its start in the literature of the Aquitaine region in France, where troubadours sang ballads about the often secret and illicit love of knights for noblewomen (scandalous!).

The woman in a courtly love story is placed on a pedestal: she is totally perfect in every way, and the knight practically worships her. In fact, his love for her makes the knight stronger and more honorable. The rules of courtly love were even written down in a treatise by a 12th-century French courtier, Andreas Capellanus, in a work called De Amore, although literary types disagree on whether or not this work is meant to be serious or just a way to make fun of the courtly love tradition.

In any case, we have these two codes of behavior: chivalry and courtly love; and in “The Knight’s Tale” we get to see what happens when the two codes clash. 


Chaucer-Prioress-Szyk

Once upon a time, as they say in all the old fairy tales, there was a duke named Theseus who was the ruler of the kingdom of Athens in present-day Greece. His wisdom and his skill at fighting wars had made him the fiercest warrior of his generation. There was no one greater. He’d fought in many wars and conquered many other kingdoms, including even the women warriors of Amazonia, which used to be called Scythia. After defeating the Amazons, Theseus had married their queen, Hippolyta, and took her back to Athens with him along with her little sister, Emily. They traveled back to Athens in a boisterous victory march. And it’s here, on their journey back to Athens, where my story begins.

Oh, I wish I had the time to tell you all about what the kingdom of Amazonia was like before Theseus arrived, and about the great battle between the Athenians and the Amazonians, and the capture of the beautiful and powerful Queen Hippolyta. And I wish I could tell you about their wedding feast and the parties and all the hubbub that their return back to Athens caused along the way. But, God knows, I’m not a great storyteller, and the part I do want to tell you about is long enough without all that. Besides, I want to be fair and make sure that each of us gets a turn to tell a story on the way to Canterbury so that we can see who wins that free dinner! So, let me just start the story where I left a minute ago, with Theseus, Hippolyta, Emily, and the victorious Athenians marching back to Athens.

Now, when the happy and victorious Athenians were just outside the city, Duke Theseus noticed out of the corner of his eye that there was a group of women kneeling in the middle of the road. They were arranged in two columns, dressed all in black, and were crying and wailing at the top of their lungs. You never heard anything like it. They continued wailing until one of them grabbed the bridle of Theseus’s horse.

Divider-Books size = “small” This Canterbury Tales page was created by Katrina Haney, author, creative writer, ghost writer and all-around content writer. Illustrations by Arthur Szyk from the Special Edition printed in 1946. Please feel free to save, print or share this post with your friends or social communities. For more Canterbury Tales posts , as well as other awesome information about books, words, writing and reading, please visit Katrina’s website at www.katrinahaney.com. Divider-Line