The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer - THE SUMMONER, THE CLERIC, THE MERCHANT

April 6 2018


  • Friar - a man scorned
  • Thomas - a humorous one
  • Lord - missing the point
  • Jenkins - genius

There’s a friar who has no problem begging.

One day he goes to sick Thomas and annoys him with talk of wrath and greed.

Thomas decides to offer the friar a donation, if he swears to share it with every other friar.

It is agreed and Thomas directs the friar to just put his hand behind his bottom, and he will find his donation.

Thomas farts on the friar’s hand.

The friar goes to complain to the lord. The lord however, is only wondering about the logistics - how does one divide a fart in 13? (The number of brothers in a mendicant order.)

Jenkins, a squire, overhears the conversation and has the solution: A cartwheel is to the placed in the hall. The 12 friars of the order are to kneel in front, noses to the spokes. The good friar who got the gift first, shall put his nose through the axe-hole.

Then Thomas is to fart through the opposite side of the axe-hole, giving the good friar the first sniff and all the others some too.


Disclaimer: This story is interesting in that it is hardcore even for medieval standards. The tale-tellers all agree that women should not have to prostrate themselves to this extreme.

  • Walter - a terrible person
  • Griselda - a tortured woman

Walter, a Marquis has finally decided to take a wife. He decides on Griselda, the poorest villager around.

She proves to be the perfect wife and quickly bears a daughter.

Walter wants to test Griselda’s loyalty and takes the child away and tells Griselda he killed her.

Four years later, Griselda is pregnant again and bears a son. Walter decides to again pretend he murdered the child.

Thereafter, he devices a new test. He writes the Pope to get an annulment and sends for his children. He tells Griselda that her status is too low and he will marry a 12 year old.

He strips Griselda of everything but a peasant dress and sends her back to her village.

When the marriage draws nearer, **Walter **cruelly summons Griselda to prepare the wedding night suite.

Walter asks Griselda if she likes his new bride (who is actually their daughter) and Griselda praises her beauty and asks her ex-husband to please be kinder to his new wife than he was to her.

Walter now finally stops his charade.


  • January - an old knight
  • May - an unhappy wife
  • Damian - a lusty squire
  • Pluto - a god of the underworld
  • Proserpina - a faerie queen

January is an old knight who, aged 60, decides to marry May.

Damian, a squire, is mad for May. He gives her a love letter.

January is getting older and eventually goes blind. He becomes possessive and demands May to be at his side at all times.

May is annoyed and desires young Damian. They forge a key to January’s garden, Damian hides in a tree and May leads January into the garden. May instructs January to help her up the tree, he does and Damian and her have sex.

Pluto, ever on the side of lusty man, restores January’s sight. He sees what May and Damian are up to.

Proserpina, herself once betrayed by Pluto, bestows May with cunning.

May tells January that he is mistaken, she struggles with a man in a tree to cure him!

January believes her and all is well.