"Five husbands . . . at the church door"
In Chaucer's time, a wedding was performed at the church door and not inside the church or chapel.
hateful; horrid; awful
to agree; to consent
the act of freeing from a charge or accusation
to act as judge, to decide disputes
Argus . . . pull his beard
a mythological giant with a hundred eyes whose duty was to guard a mortal (Io) whom Zeus loved. By Chaucer's time the word referred to any observant, vigilant person or guardian.
splendid attire; finery; dress
an unpaid, overdue debt
greed; a passion for wealth
an Arabian physician (980-1037) who wrote a work on medicines that includes a chapter on poisons.
to declare the provable truth or validity of; affirm
a church office endowed with fixed capital assets that provide a living
of a kind and gentle disposition
to leave material goods in a will
to make an earnest request
lightheartedly; festively; merrily
a person given to clowning and joking
a citizen of an Engligh borough (town)
to behave riotously; to revel
Cheapside and Fish Streets
streets in London that were known for the sale of strong spirits.
to criticize for a fault or offense
the medieval system, principles, and customs of knighthood
a mystery; a puzzle
reserved, shy or modest
a raised platform
deprived of courage as a result of fear, anxiety, or disgust
reserved in manner; shy; modest
steady attention and effort
having or showing careful judgment in speech and action; prudent; tactful
the act of treating with contempt or scorn
a prize awarded to the married couple in Essex who had no quarrels, no regrets, and, if the opportunity presented itself, would remarry each other. The Wife is still establishing the right of more than one marriage.
constraint by threat
Ecclesiaste,See xxv: 29.
of high rank, distinguished
the process of bringing into existence
to stay away from
deserving of esteem; admirable
the act of depriving one of the right of church membership by ecclesiastical authority
speech that incites
to obtain from another by intimidation or blackmail
artificial; counterfeited; faked
great happiness; bliss
to betray pain with an involuntary gesture
thriftiness (the act of being thrifty)
performed with a natural, offhand ease
the vice of continually overeating
stirring to action
innuendoes; indirect hints; implications
a combat between two mounted knights using lances
The book that relates this and the previous incident is the Policraticus of twelfth-century writer John of Salisbury.
lacking energy or strength
See Proverbs 31:4-7.
a town in Spain noted for its strong wines.
Lot's daughters got their father drunk and then seduced him (from the Book of Genesis in the Bible); the Pardoner's point is that Lot never would have committed incest if he had not been drunk.
an illness; a trouble
a loose, sleeveless coat worn over outer garments, a cloak
Mark can tell
The miracle of the loaves and fishes and the barley bread is actually John, not Mark (see John VI:9), but this is a slight error for a woman of the Middle Ages to make.
one who serves or works merely for money
not readily noticed or seen; unknown
difficult to manage or control
a woman's saddle horse
loot; goods seized unlawfully
belief that one's fate is already decided
a high-ranking member of the clergy
the act of evading the truth; lying
of extraordinary size and/or power
to put before another for acceptance
Ptolemy . . . almagest
Ptolemy was a second century A.D. astronomer whose chief work was the Almagest. The Wife of Bath's quote shows that she is familiar with such a famous person.
a vulgar designation for the female pudendum, or vulva.
Radix malorum est cupiditas
Greed is the root of evil
to get revenge for
objects esteemed and venerated because of association with a saint or martyr; here, the Pardoner's relics are false.
to give what is due or owed
widespread acclaim; fame
full to or beyond satisfaction
deserving condemnation; despicable
group of attendants or followers
the biblical "strong man." He revealed the secret of his strength to Solome, who then betrayed him to his enemies.
of a healthy, reddish color
vulgar or abusive language
dignified in character or manner
absolve from sins
the act of obtaining absolution for sins
expressing care or concern
the mother of Constantine the Great, believed to have found the True Cross.
not immediately obvious, operating in a hidden way
things that are not necessary
easily bent; pliant
Thinges Three,reference to Proverbs xxx, 21-23.
being in complete harmony or accord
the act or practice of lending money and charging outrageously high interest
Valerie and Theofraste
a work attributed to Walter Map, a minor satirist who disparaged marriage. All the writers the Wife of Bath quotes have written something either antifeminist, satiric, or unpleasant about marriage.
writers who espoused that gentility comes from within and not from outward appearances.
Venerien . . . Marcien
the quality of being true, factual, or real
food fit for human consumption
unrestrainedly excessive; luxuriant; frolicsome; playful
a cause of suffering or harm