Presentation on theme: "The most noble pilgrim described in Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” “"There was a Knight, a most distinguished man …“ Geoffrey Chaucer."— Presentation transcript:
The most noble pilgrim described in Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” “"There was a Knight, a most distinguished man …“ Geoffrey Chaucer
Chaucer begins presenting the characters in The Canterbury Tales by describing the Knight. The Knight is the only member of the aristocracy described by Chaucer at the beginning of his narrative poem. The knight's tale, composed in 1386, is the first tale of the poem, and is considered the first "novel" ever written: in it Chaucer's description of the Knight is more realistic than in others written down in the next centuries.
A medieval knight had to respect a lot of noble values that formed the Code of Chivalry, examined by Chaucer in the first verses of the tale. The most important value that the knight had to respect was the loyalty to his lord: in fact Chaucer's knight had never given up in battle since his first day he had fought. Other values the Knight had to respect were: honour, generosity, courtesy, prowess and freedom; they are properly listed by Chaucer in the first part of the tale.
The Knight usually fought with several weapons, but in the pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral neither he nor his son, his squire, brought any weapons, because they respected another important value: the devotion. He went on pilgrimage to thank God for his health and for his victories in battles, duels and in the Crusades. He was rich, but he didn't want to be considered rich by other pilgrims, so he wasn't gaily dressed. An unarmed knight (reconstruction)
Chaucer describes the Knight's clothes: they seem less noble, but they were very helpful for the protection of the body. He wore an old coarse tunic, made of fustian, composed by wool and cotton. This tunic was dark and had also stained, torn and smudge parts. It was low-priced and it was produced in the Flanders. The Knight wore also a bismotered gipoun, that was a tight- fitting jacket he wore under the armour and it was laced on the back or the sides.
It was sometimes decorated with heraldic symbols and it was considered unchivalric because it was dirty, as described by Chaucer. The Knight was "bismotered", because he was rich and noble but he refused the noble appearance. The Knight wore also an habergeoun, a mail coat he used to protect his chest from violent strikes. It also was always stained and dirty. An armed knight (reconstruction)
Fustian Tunic Gipoun Habergeoun
Chaucer composed this description mixing a lot of literary elements designing the character as a shining knight and, at the same time, a very devout pilgrim. The stains and the rusted armour want only to highlight his social status and his exploits. This knight wanted to appear very modest: in fact he wore no swore belt or other arms and all the garments presented take an allegorical role, literary element frequently used by the autors of the Middle Age.