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1387 - Chaucer, Geoffrey - Canterbury Tales

Allusion
Date 1387
Author Chaucer, Geoffrey
Title The Canterbury Tales
Mentions Squire's Yeoman; [portrait perhaps inspired by Robin Hood]

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2014-08-18. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-07-28.

Allusion

A Yeman hadde he [the Knight] and servantz namo
At that tyme, for hym liste ride so,
And he was clad in cote and hood of grene.
A sheef of pecok arwes, bright and kene,
Under his belt he bar ful thriftily,
(Wel koude he dresse his takel yemanly:
His arwes drouped noght with fetheres lowe)
And in his hand he baar a myghty bowe.
A not heed hadde he, with a broun visage.
Of wodecraft wel koude he al the usage.
Upon his arm he baar a gay bracer,
And by his syde a swerd and a bokeler,
And on that oother syde a gay daggere
Harneised wel and sharp as point of spere;
A Cristopher on his brest of silver sheene.
A horn he bar, the bawdryk was of grene;
A forster was he, soothly, as I gesse.[1]

Source notes

Editor's notes

"A Yeoman ranked in service next above a 'garson' or groom. The term was later loosely applied to small landholders, some of whom had considerable substance. The Ellesmere MS. has no picture of the Yeoman since he tells no tale. It is conjectured that Chaucer intended to rewrite for him the Tale of Gamelyn, found in a number of MSS. of the Canterbury Tales.
101   he, namely the Knight, who was accompanied by the Yeoman as well as the Squire.
104   For references to the use of peacock-feathered arrows see, besides Skeat's note, E. S. Krappe in MLN, XLIII, 176.
107   On drooping feathers Manly refers to Ascham's Toxophilus, ed. Arber, London, 1868, 128-33.
115   Small images of the saints were worn as talismans, and Christopher was the patron saint of foresters."

Glosses

namo] no more.
kene] sharp.
thriftily] serviceably.
takel] "gear; weapons; especially arrows".
not heed] "head with hair cut short"
bracer] "arm-guard (in archery)"
Harneised] mounted.
sheene] bright, shining.[2]

IRHB comments

Chaucer's portrait of the Knight's Yeoman is often considered to be inspired by the Robin Hood figure.

Lists

Editions

Background

Also see

Notes

  1. General Prologue, ll. 101-17. Chaucer, Geoffrey; Robinson, Fred Norris, ed. The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer (London; Oxford, 1974), p. 18.
  2. Chaucer (1974), pp. 937, 955, 958, 965, 982, 983.