Geoffrey Chaucer

Canterbury Tales

chaucer.jpg (16880 bytes)

Geoffrey Chaucer as a Pilgrim 
on his way to the shrine of
St. Thomas a Becket

Unit Overview:

We will read selections from Chaucer's famous tales including the General Prologue, where we will meet the pilgrims, and the Knight's Tale. One thing we can learn from reading the CT is that people in Chaucer's day were not so different from people today.

The world Chaucer presents to us is diverse and interesting. He gives us a wide variety of contrasts to consider. And he never preaches at us, but lets his tales and his characters reveal their own truths to us.


  • secular/church

  • wealthy/poor

  • courtly/country

  • refined/coarse

  • moral/immoral

  • wise/foolish

We will read the Knight's Tale (KnT) and others in a translated version (Coghill), but we will attempt the General Prologue (GP) in Middle English. And to own a piece of linguistic history, you are "invited" to memorize and recite the first 19 lines of the GP.


Unit Assignments:

Related Links:

family scene.jpg (39685 bytes)

Family Scene, Wife With Spinning Distaff, 
Bourdichon, French, 15th c.

Click on art to listen to medieval music.

Click here to visit a site with more medieval music.

Or here


Breaking flax.jpg (20964 bytes)

Breaking Flax For Linen, 
Dutuit, French, 16th c.

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  Pronunciation Help

First 18 lines of the General Prologue

Whan that Aprille with his shoores soote
Wan thot A'prill with his sure-es so-tuh

The drought of March hath perced to the roote
The drewgt of March hath pear-said to the row-tuh

And bathed every vein in swich liquor
And ba-thed every vane in sweech lee-coor

Of which vertu engendred is the flour
of wheech ver-too en-jen-dred is the flu-er

When Zephyrus eek with his sweete breeth
When Zeph-er-us ache with his sway-tuh breath

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
In-spear-ed hath in every holt and heth

The tendre croppes and the yonge sun
The tawn-dray crop-pays and the young-gay soan

Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne
Hath in the rahm his hall-vey coors e-rown

And smale fowles maken melodye
And smal-ay foe-lays mock-en mel-oh-dee-uh

That slepen all the night with open eye
That slep-en all the neekdt with open ee-ah

So priketh hem nature in hir courages
So prick-eth him nah-tour in hear core-ahj-ez

Thanne longen folke to goon pilgrimages
Thah-nay lon-gen folk to goen-on pilgrim-ahj-ez

And palmeres for to seeken stronge straundes
And palm-ers for to sake-en stroan-jay stroan-days

To ferne halwes couth in sondry londes
To fair-nay hallways kouth in soan-dray loan-days

And specially from every shires ende
And specially from every shear-ez end-uh

Of Engelond to Canterbury they wende
Of Eng-gal-ond to Khan-ter-bury they wend-uh

The hooly blissful martyr for to seeke
The holy blissful martyr for to sake-uh

That hem hath holpen whan that they were sike
That hem hath holp-en whan that they were seek-uh

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2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 Dawn Hogue
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