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Fool or “fair burgeys”? The Cook, the Miller, and Their Tales in Fifteenth-Century Manuscript and Print


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Fool or “fair burgeys”? The Cook, the Miller, and Their Tales in

Fifteenth-Century Manuscript and Print

But what art thow that seyst this tale, That werest on thy hose a pale, And on thy tippet such a belle? (The House of Fame, 1839-41)

Throughout the fifteenth century the Cook’s portrayal and incomplete tale have raised different, and sometimes contrasting responses on the part of the ‘editors’ (scribes, limners, commissioners and printers) of the Canterbury Tales.1 These responses reveal two different attitudes to Chaucer’s work as a whole. On the one hand, scribal interpolations and additions, the selection of specific narratives and genres as well as the insertion of excerpted Chaucerian tales in miscellaneous volumes without recognition of the poet’s authorship reflect the tendency on the part of some readers to appropriate and recast the tales according to their own tastes, values and interests.2 On the other hand, Caxton’s proem to the 1483 edition of the Tales inaugurates the search for the “book that Geffrey chaucer had made”,3 the ideal authorial ‘Text’ free from the historical particularities that each manuscript version presents.4

Since incompleteness was not cherished in medieval book production, scribes attempted to conceal the lacuna of the Cook’s Tale by adding the spurious couplet “But hereof I wol passe as now / And of yong Gamelyn I wole telle yow”, which made the transition to the fourteenth-century romance Gamelyn,5 by leaving blank spaces where a continuation could be inserted in case one was

1 While Stanely has argued that the tale is complete as it stands and it is an appropriate closure for Fragment I (1976:

36-59), most scholars seem to agree that the tale is unfinished either because Chaucer did not or could not complete it, or because the ending was lost in the early manuscript transmission of the Tales. See Manly and Rickert (1940, 3: 446), Seymour (1990: 260), Bowers (1992: 33-34) and (1999: 14, 35), Pinti (1996: 384), Partridge (2000: 52-53). Casey suggests that the tale is complete in so far as Chaucer intended to interrupt it, as he did with the Monk’s Tale and the Tale of Sir Thopas, but it is not completed by the Cook (2006: 191).


Schoff has argued that these manipulations and alterations of the text were a response to the poetics of reading and composing which were at work in the Canterbury Tales themselves and acted as invitations to re-adaptation (2007: 45).

3 The quotation is from Caxton’s Proem to his second edition of the Canterbury Tales (sig. a2v).

4 Before Caxton, the early ‘editors’ of the Ellesmere manuscript had also contributed to a great extent to giving a

definitive, standardised form to the Canterbury Tales, complete with the Retraction which lists Chaucer’s works, and the colophon in which the poet’s name and surname are explicitly stated. Moreover, Cambridge, University Library, MS Gg.4.27 reflects a fifteenth-century editor’s attempt to collect Chaucer’s major works into a single volume. Among the six manuscripts which provide a title for the Tales, four (Harley 1758, Fitzwilliam McClean 181, Egerton 2864, Christ Church CLII), from the early second half of the fifteenth century, also include Chaucer’s name. Although many manuscripts have lost leaves at the end, Chaucer’s name appears in the colophon of about a dozen codices. See Manly and Rickert (1940, 3: 528-32).

5 The spurious tale of Gamelyn is preserved only in the manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales and it is always attributed

to the Cook. In MS Lansdowne 851, it is introduced by a four-line link which condemns the salacious conclusion of Perkyn Revelour’s adventures and suggests that the decision not to write a continuation for the tale was voluntary on


found,6 or by expanding the tale with verses of their own. In some cases, they moved the tale to a later position in the manuscript,7 or eliminated it altogether.8 Another type of scribal intervention occurs in the now lost manuscript *Se2, mentioned in Selden’s De Synedriis Praefecturis Juridicis (1653). If Selden’s account is to be trusted, in this manuscript, the Cook’s Prologue and what is known as his tale merge in a sort of preamble to Gamelyn, which is regarded as the Cook’s Tale proper (Beadle 1992: 63-64). The interpolations in MSS McCormick (1440-1460), Rawlinson Poetry 141 (1450-1460), and Bodley 686 (1430-1440) are among the most interesting, since they are examples of the scribes’ conscious efforts to transform the account of Perkyn’s revelry and riotous life into a moral tale which reinforces the social conventions and civic rules the apprentice of the Cook’s Tale constantly disregards.9 In the first two codices, a four-line moralizing conclusion is added:

And thus with horedom and bryberye Togeder thei vsed till thei honged hye For who so euel byeth shal make a sory sale. And thus I make an ende of my tale.10

Both Perkyn and his “compeer”, whose wife “swyves” for their sustenance, are condemned to death by hanging, a punishment presented as the predictable conclusion to their unruly, dissolute existence.11 The scribe of Bodley 686 goes even further in manipulating Chaucer’s text. Not only does he introduce an exemplary punishment for the two “wastrels” – one is sentenced to death, the other to life imprisonment – but he also provides a didactic lesson for young apprentices who are encouraged to follow the example of respectable citizens in order to come to “substaunce” and gain positions of authority within the community.

Chaucer’s part: “Fye Þer one it is so foule I wil nowe tell no forÞere / For schame of Þe harlotrie Þat seweÞ after / A velany it were Þare of more to spell / Bot of a knyhte and his sonnes My tale I wil forÞe tell.”

6 The two best known cases are Ellesmere and Hengwrt. In the latter, the scribe added the marginal note “Of this cokes

tale maked Chaucer na moore” (fol. 57v) in a different ink at a later stage in the process of copying. Following the example of Hengwrt, slightly modified versions of this note appear in manuscripts from the second half of the fifteenth century, such as Egerton 2864 (fol. 64v), Harley 7333 (fol. 60r), and Physicians 13 (fol. 78r). Partridge suggested somewhat unconvincingly that the gaps and notes are Chaucerian (2000: 63,73). He argued that the blank spaces left after the Cook’s Tale are an ancient feature of the textual tradition, but among the six witnesses he provides as evidence, two – Bodley 686 (1430-1440), Christ Church CLII (1460-1470) – are of a considerably later date than the others.

7 For example in MS Additional 35286.

8 The Reeve-Cook Link and the Cook’s Tale are lacking in the MSS Additional 25178, Bodley 414, Harley 7335,

Holkham 667, Northumberland, Phillipps 8137, Paris Anglais 39, Rawlinson Poetry 149. Because of the loss of leaves, the link is missing in MS Egerton 2863 and MS Rawlinson Poetry 223, and the tale is missing in MS Gg.4.27 and in MS Harley 1758. See Manly and Rickert (1940, 3: 176).

9 The interpolations in the Bodley 686 version of the Cook’s Tale have been discussed in Boyd (1995: 81-97), Pinti

(1996: 379-88), and more recently, but with few new observations, in Schoff (2007: 46-54). Throughout the chapter, I use the dating of the manuscripts provided by Manly and Rickert (1940, 1: 20-544).

10 The lines are quoted in Manly and Rickert (1940, 3: 169).

11 Most of the manuscripts read “swyved for hir sustenance”, but in Bodley 686, the line reads “sche pleyed for his

sustenaunce”. Bowers has interpreted this change as a sign of the reviser’s “delicacy” (1992: 34), which could be explained if, as Manly and Rickert have suggested, the manuscript was really made for a woman patron (1940, 1:69).


And therfore, yonge men, lerne while ye may

That with mony dyvers thoghtes beth pryked al the day. Remember you what myschefe cometh of mysgovernaunce. Thus mowe ye lerne worschep and come to substaunce.

Thenke how grace and governaunce hath broght them a boune, Many pore mannys sonn, chefe state of the towne.

Ever rewle the after the beste man of name, And God may grace the to come to the same.12

The scribe seems to promote an ethic of profitable hard work and self-governance which enables even people from the lower classes of the society to change their estate, somewhat against the medieval belief in a divinely ordained hierarchy. At the same time, he reinforces the idea expressed in the Cook’s Tale that revelry is reserved only for those with sufficient wealth, assumed to be the only ones capable of self-restraint and proper behaviour in their pursuit of leisurely activities such as dancing, singing, playing musical instruments and feasting. So he develops Chaucer’s lines “Revel and trouthe, as in a lowe degree, / They been ful wrothe al day” (I, 4397-98) in a seven-line interpolation which explicitly states that poor men and apprentices must not indulge in leisurely activities they will not be able to pay for:

When thy purs is penyles, where schalt thou have more, Thou that wylt not the occupie no thyng therefore? Revell ys ordeyned to hem that mow pay,

But prentise ne pore man, they mowe not away; Evelle-sponne woole at the laste wolle come oute, Though thou kepe it never so prevey in a lytelle cloute.13

What they must do, instead, is “wynne profite” for their masters, keep away from taverns, gambling, paramours, and avoid disreputable “meynee”.14 This is precisely what Perkyn the apprentice, does not do. His unruly behaviour is envisaged both in Chaucer’s Cook’s Tale and in its Bodley 686 version as a source of contagion for the other servants and it is the threat to the stability of the household, rather than the apprentice’s petty thefts from the master’s cash box, that ultimately convinces the latter to give Perkyn his “papir” (I, 4404) and release him from his apprenticeship before its legal expiration.15 The fact that the scribe of Bodley 686 perceived this threat as particularly dangerous is revealed by his reinforcing of Chaucer’s simile of the rotten apple through a second analogy: the “febel” servant – probably intended as weak in moral strength – is


The quotes from MS Bodley 686 are from Bowers’s edition of the fifteenth-century continuations and additions to the Canterbury Tales (1992: 35-37).

13 Pinti makes an interesting analogy between the badly spun wool and the unravelling of Chaucer’s Cook’s Tale which

“threaten[s] to dissolve into the unauthorized realm of undisciplined characters and textuality” without the moralising intervention of the scribe (1996: 384).

14 Perkyn’s “meynee” of gamblers and revellers mentioned by Chaucer (I, 4381) is extended in Bodley 686 to include

allegorical personifications of vices and sinful behaviour which reinforce the moralising tone of the scribe’s revision and contribute to giving the moral universal validity.


Blenner-Hassett has shown that “papir” stands for the apprentice’s indenture (1942: 34). See also Call (1943: 167-76).


compared to the scabbed sheep which will infect the rest of the flock. The premature release from apprenticeship had a series of civic consequences in the Middle Ages, the most important of which was the negation of citizenship (Benson 2006: 133). For the average medieval London apprentice this would have amounted to giving up the hope to become a well-to-do member of the city’s upper middle-class, and therefore it would have been regarded as a sufficiently severe punishment. Yet Chaucer’s Perkyn does not seem to be troubled in the least by the prospect of spending the rest of his life on the margins of society, in the criminal London underworld. On the contrary, he sends his belongings to a “compeer” who loves “dys”, “revel” and “disport” (I, 4420) and whose wife’s shop is a smokescreen for prostitution. Since the Cook’s Tale stops at this salacious point in the development of the narrative, the scribe of Bodley 686 felt it necessary to recast Chaucer’s tale in order to adapt it to the general pious character of the miscellaneous volume he was copying.16 The revision may also have been part of his attempt to “contain and make safe for readerly consumption” (Boyd 1995: 86) the subversive and potentially dangerous aspects of some of the

Canterbury Tales. Moreover, he was probably responding to the master victualler’s moralising tone

as well as to his “ethos of trade, profit, and respectability” which permeates the final part of the

Cook’s Tale (Kolve 1984: 226).17

Fifteenth-century readers’ manipulation of the tale to meet class-specific values and ethical precepts was not confined, however, to the words on the page. It extended to the miniatures and woodcuts which illustrated the text in the manuscripts and early printed editions of the Canterbury

Tales. In Huntington Library, MS El 26 C 9 (Ellesmere), a carefully edited and richly decorated

volume, class distinction seems to have been a focal point in the depiction of the story-tellers. This is particularly evident in the seventeen miniatures made by the first artist.18 The pilgrims of the upper and upper-middle classes are represented in such a way as to avoid satirical or equivocal interpretations, whereas those of the lower classes are constantly mocked and belittled through the use of pictorial motifs which were charged with negative connotations in the medieval visual arts. In the case of Roger the Cook and Robyn the Miller, these motifs range from physiognomic features to the type and colour of their clothing, the objects they hold, the horses they ride and the postures they assume on horseback.


In the manuscript, the Canterbury Tales are bound with eleven poems by Lydgate, among which the lives of St. Margaret and of St. George, the fifteen joys and sorrows of the Virgin, and the “daunce of Poulys otherweyes called Makabre” which concludes the collection.

17 Kolve has argued that the celebratory tone of Perkyn’s portrayal in the first part of the Cook’s Tale gives way to the

master’s point of view, which reflects the values of the newly self-conscious class of tradesmen and craftsmen (1984: 266-67).

18 This artist worked on the miniatures of the Knight, the Miller, the Reeve, the Cook, the Man of Law, the Wife of

Bath, the Friar, the Summoner, the Clerk, the Merchant, the Squire, the Franklin, the Physician, the Pardoner the Shipman, the Prioress and the Parson. Margaret Rickert has suggested that these miniatures may have been made by two different artists working simultaneously and in similar styles (1940, 1: 596-97).


The Cook is depicted wearing a red tunic which is too short, so his braies are left uncovered (Fig. 3.1).19 His apron of a greyish-white colour seems unclean. Through his worn-out shoes protruding toes are visible. He holds a meat-hook in his left hand and an object which resembles a hat or a beggar’s bowl in the right. His facial features are coarse, with a big nose and mouth. While it is true that flesh-hooks, like aprons and ladles, were professional tools used to identify cooks in medieval iconography, it is also true that they were strongly reminiscent of the medieval iconography of hell in which devils were represented torturing sinners by boiling them in large cauldrons and poking them with flesh-hooks.20 The mormal on his leg, a detail mentioned in the

General Prologue portrayal of the Cook, gives the finishing touch to this portrait by triggering a

further set of associations. As Mellinkoff has shown, physical imperfections in general, and skin blemishes in particular were often perceived as outward signs of inner sinfulness and wickedness (1993, 1: 173). She provides many examples of skin blemishes from the fifteenth-century visual arts which afflict the figure of the fool as mocker of Christ, soldiers and gamblers who diced at the foot of the cross, flagellators and executioners.21 Evidence that mormals were mostly associated with excessive eating and drinking, can be found both in late-medieval medical treatises and in poetry. In medical treatises they were also believed to be caused by lack of personal hygiene, the prolonged wearing of soiled clothes, and by having intercourse with diseased women (Curry 1926: 50-51). In Lydgate’s Fall of Princes (c. 1431-1438), unsightly mormals are linked with gluttony and riotous excess.22 Yet diseases such as mormals could also be turned to profit. In the Pilgrimage of the Life

of Man, Lydgate condemns the practice of beggars who feign to be blind, lame and to have mormals

on both their legs in order to provoke people’s compassion. In medieval iconography beggars are often represented with visible mormals on their shins or covered by bandages. Although skin diseases have positive connotations in scenes where Christ or the saints cure the sick, they are usually a reflection of extreme poverty and in the context of an almsgiving scene as the one from

19 In the fourteenth century bright red, produced with kermes or coccus, was the most expensive dye and it was usually

a privilege of the nobility. By the fifteenth century, however, red was also used for articles of clothing of the lower classes. The difference between the red hue of an aristocrat’s and that of a peasant’s garment was indicated by the difference in the degree of lustre. Medieval evaluation of colour was based on brightness and strength of saturation, not on hue (Gage 1993: 64).

20 The mendicant friar of the Summoner’s Tale uses this kind of imagery to move people into compassion for the pains

their friends’ souls suffer in Hell and to convince them to give him money for trentals: “Ful hard it is with flesshhook or with oules / To been yclawed, or to brenne or bake” (III, 1730–31). Examples from the visual arts are provided by Rosenblum (2003: 150) and Kolve (1984: 261).

21 In a crucifixion scene by a South German artist (c. 1490), a red sore on which a fly feeds is depicted on a gambler’s

leg (Mellinkoff 1993, 2: Fig. VIII.13). In the Carrying of the Cross by the Artist of the school of Constance (c. 1490-1500) a sore appears on the upper part of a soldier-tormentor’s leg (Mellinkoff 1993, 2: Fig. VIII.4). In the Crowning with Thorns (c. 1450), by the Master of the Karlsruhe Passion, a fly is depicted eating from the sore’s oozing on the head of a fool (Mellinkoff 1993, 2: Fig. I.72).


Sores on the legs as a form of divine punishment are mentioned in Deuteronomy 28:35: “The Lord shall smite thee in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore botch, that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head”.


the Speculum Historiale (Fig. 3.4), they draw attention more to the magnanimity of the donor than to the condition of the poor.

The pictorial motifs discussed so far connect the figure of the Cook in the Ellesmere to that of peasants, beggars and fools in fifteenth-century manuscript illumination. Peasants were often depicted with their buttocks and underpants exposed because of the nature of their manual activities which required looser clothing (Fig. 3.5).23 If it is true that this portrayal did not always have negative connotations, it is also true that it constituted an element of belittlement especially if it was contrasted with the elegant posture and rich garments of the aristocrats as it happens in the Très

Riches Heures.24 A similar mechanism is at work in the portrait of the Cook. The Ellesmere, like the

Très Riches Heures, was prepared for a wealthy and potent patron whose class-specific values it

reflected. In the pictorial programmes of these two codices, the belittlement contributed to reasserting the spiritual nobility of chivalry, a myth on which the superiority of the aristocracy depended, against what was perceived as the moral depravity of peasantry and the lower classes.25 The representation of the Cook with rustic traits and clothing has a further, subtler, implication connected with the theme of insubordination and rule-breaking in the Cook’s Tale. Strohm has argued that in creating the figure of Perkyn Revelour, Chaucer was drawing upon an established imagery of revelry-as-revolt which was prevalent in many late-fourteenth-century accounts of the Peasants’ Rising of 1381 (1994: 164, 174). Insubordination links the figures of the Cook and of Perkyn to that of the rebels. Although Roger is not presented as a rebel in Chaucer’s text, the Host’s accusations in the Cook’s Prologue suggest that he disobeys civic regulations, disregards the ethics of the guilds, and endangers the well-being of his fellow-citizens by selling unwholesome food. If Perkyn’s unruly behaviour threatens the system of apprenticeship on which the guilds were based, Roger’s commercial fraud casts doubt on the honesty of the guild members. The belittlement of the Cook in the pictorial representation may, thus, also be interpreted as a means of bringing under control and neutralizing through mockery the irreverent aspects of his character.

Even without its association with peasants, the figure of the medieval cook was a highly controversial one. On the one hand, there were cooks who worked in noble households and their work was considered crucial for the complete success of the magnificent feasts aristocrats organised as a means of endorsing their wealth and power as well as of reaffirming their authority. On these occasions, culinary art became a spectacle in which colours, glazing, decoration and the element of surprise played an important part. Creativity was highly rewarded and hygiene was generally

23 For a detailed study of rural costume, see Oakes (1970). See also Piponnier (1997: 41-48).

24 Commissioned around 1410 by Jean, Duc de Berry, the Très Riches Heures is one of the most richly illuminated

manuscripts of the fifteenth century, an expression of the wealth and power of its owner.


For an interesting discussion of the satirical treatment of peasants in fifteenth and sixteenth-century poetry and visual arts, see Moxey’s Peasants, Warriors and Wives (1989).


strictly observed.26 We can get a glimpse of this type of cuisine from the description of the Franklin’s household in the General Prologue:

Withoute bake mete was nevere his hous, Of fissh and flessh, and that so plentevous It snewed in his hous of mete and drynke; Of alle deyntees that men koude thynke, After the sondry sesons of the yeer, So chaunged he his mete and his soper. Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in muwe, And many a breem and many a luce in stuwe. Wo was his cook but if his sauce were Poynaunt and sharp, and redy al his geere. His table dormant in his halle alway

Stood redy covered al the longe day. (I, 343-354)

On the other hand, there were cooks who held shops and sold pies as well as other types of cooked food in the London streets and markets. They were often under a cloud of suspicion because of the documented practice of selling unwholesome food and the presumed scarce hygiene of their workplace.27

Chaucer’s Cook seems to share features both with the skilled cook of large households and with the “vitaillier” of the London cook-shops. In the General Prologue he is described as being particularly skilled in cooking chickens with marrow bones, tart spices and “galyngale”, baking pies, and preparing stews, especially “blankmanger”.28 Yet the mention of the mormal on his shin throws a sombre light both upon the Cook’s morality and upon his cooking practices. The loose flies in Roger’s shop, referred to in the Host’s taunting verbal attack, are strongly reminiscent of the flies feeding upon oozing sores on the morally corrupted figures’ bodies, including their shins and legs, in the late-medieval visual arts. Moreover, Harry Bailly’s half earnest, half playful joke about the Cook’s habit of selling “twies hoot and twies coold” (I, 4348) pasties and pies as well as unwholesome “stubbel goose” draws attention to the danger of disease and contamination faced by Roger’s customers. Although the tension between the Host and Roger is checked before it can turn into outright conflict, and channelled into a peaceful resolution based on the interplay between earnest and game,29 the idea of disease and contamination continues to hover over the figure of the Cook elsewhere in the Tales. In the Manciple’s Prologue, he is described as overcome with

26 For a useful and well-documented discussion of the complex elements involved in the staging of a medieval feast and

the role of cooks in noble households, see Henisch (2009: 134-63).

27 Forkin quotes an article from a statute passed during the reign of Henry III and maintained during Chaucer’s lifetime

which sentenced cooks and butchers who sold rotten food to the pillory (2007: 32).

28 As explained in the Riverside Chaucer, “blankmanger” was a thick stew or mousse of chopped chicken or fish boiled

with rice (1988: 29).

29 Benson has pointed out that in real life the Host’s accusations would have sent Roger to Newgate or to the pillory

(2006: 136). Therefore, they must have been perceived as particularly serious by medieval readers even if delivered in the form of a joke.


“hevynesse”, pale, having dazed eyes, sour breath and lacking the faculty of speech.30 The Manciple admonishes Roger to keep his mouth well shut lest his breath, which smells as if the “devel of helle [had] sette his foot therin” (IX, 38), should “infecte” all the pilgrims. The Manciple’s reaction reflects the widespread medieval belief that disease could be provoked by bad air coming from the sick, from decaying corpses or insalubrious places, which passed directly into the bodies of the healthy and contaminated them. Medieval medical treatises reveal that there was much concern about bad breath. To control infection, the malodorous, especially the lepers, were isolated.31 Cooks, scullions, dyers and tanners whose occupations involved dirt and bad smells were stigmatised, and kitchens, together with prisons, latrines and dunghills often occupied a prominent place in the list of bad-smelling places (Woolgar 2006: 127, 129). But bad smells were not only indicative of disease. They were also believed to be revealing of an individual’s sinful nature, since bodily corruption was equated with spiritual corruption. So the Cook’s bad breath reinforces the set of associations that the mention of the mormal on his leg had triggered. Moreover, the Host’s playful suggestion that Roger’s indisposed condition was due to his having stayed awake the night before because of fleas or sexual intercourse with a “quene” (IX, 18), and the Manciple’s reference to his advanced state of drunkenness mark him out as being both lecherous and gluttonous.

In the Middle Ages, gluttony was often associated with cooks because their culinary art involved the alteration of flavours through the use of sauces and spices which increased appetite. In an attack against the luxury of Cluniac monasteries, Bernard of Clairvaux condemned cooks for preparing food with so much skill and stimulating the palate with such fancy condiments that satiety was no longer an impediment to appetite regardless of the number and the quantity of the courses served.32 That the idea was still widespread in Chaucer’s time is proved by the poet’s use of it in the

Pardoner’s Tale:

Thise cookes, how they stampe, and streyne, and grynde, And turnen substaunce into accident

To fulfille al thy likerous talent! Out of the harde bones knokke they The mary, for they caste noght awey

That may go thurgh the golet softe and swoote. Of spicerie of leef, and bark, and roote

Shal been his sauce ymaked by delit,

To make hym yet a newer appetit. (VI, 538-46)

30 While the Manciple’s Prologue is lacking in several manuscripts, especially those of groups b, c and d, it does appear

in the Ellesmere and in Cambridge University Library, MS Gg.4.27. In the Ellesmere, it plays an important part in the pictorial representation of the Cook. In the Manciple’s Prologue, the Host addresses Roger as if he saw him for the first time and there is no mention of a previous tale told by him. This has lead some scholars to believe that Chaucer may have intended to cancel the Cook’s Prologue and Tale when he wrote the Manciple’s Prologue. See Kolve (1984: 260) and Benson (1988: 951-52). For a different view, see Casey (2006: 190).

31 For a discussion of the significance of bad smells in classical and medieval medical treatises, see Palmer (1993:



In illuminated manuscripts of medieval encyclopaedias such as Bartholomeus Anglicus’s De

proprietatibus rerum, the sense of taste was represented by means of the image of a cook, ladle in

hand, surprised in the act of tasting from the contents of a cooking pot (Fig. 3.6). Unlike sight and hearing, which were considered superior senses in so far as they played a fundamental role in learning and memorizing the Scriptures, the sense of taste was regarded as being closer to the animal soul which could easily indulge in the pleasures of a fancy meal at the risk of falling into the vice of gluttony. 33

Both the Pardoner and the Parson describe the vice of gluttony as an “unmesurable appetit to ete or to drynke” (X, 818). The latter distinguishes between various forms and degrees of gluttony: drinking lightly or until the faculty of judgment is lost, eating too much, too greedily as if devouring one’s food, consuming “delicaat mete or drynke”, or paying excessive attention to the “curiositee” of food decoration and presentation. The Pardoner describes the effects of drunkenness in terms which are identical to those employed in the Manciple’s Prologue to refer to the Cook’s condition:

O dronke man, disfigured is thy face, Sour is thy breeth, foul artow to embrace. And thurgh thy dronke nose semeth the soun As though thou seydest ay "Sampsoun, Sampsoun!" And yet, God woot, Sampsoun drank nevere no wyn. Thou fallest as it were a styked swyn;

Thy tonge is lost, and al thyn honeste cure, For dronkenesse is verray sepulture

Of mannes wit and his discrecioun. (VI, 551-559)

When the physical proximity of the Cook makes the Manciple worry about the danger of contagion, he exclaims: “Fy, stynkyng swyn! Fy, foule moote thee falle!” (IX, 40). Not only is Roger compared to a pig, but he is also described as having lost the faculty of speech, which distinguishes human beings from animals. The Manciple’s ironic observation that Roger’s fall from the horse was “a fair” feat of horsemanship and his play upon the words “sadel” and “ladel” are probably meant to reinforce class-distinction by suggesting that the Cook should have reserved his ‘artistry’ for his ladle and his kitchen rather than attempt to ride.34 The failure to meet the standards of horsemanship could turn real-life cooks into figures of ridicule and amusement. Edward II rewarded his cook with a lavish tip because he often fell from his horse provoking general mirth and the king’s laughter (Green 1980: 55). Besides emphasising through contrast the superiority of the higher classes,

33 On the role of sight and hearing in medieval mnemonic practices, see Carruthers (2008).

34 Rickert (1932: 761) and Lyon (1937: 491-44) have suggested that the character of the Cook may be based on the

historical figure of Roger, Knight of Ware, Cook, named in pleas of debt in 1377 and 1384, who, apparently, was also accused of being a “common nightwalker” in 1373. If this is true, the mention of the Cook’s “chyvachee” as well as the metaphor borrowed from falconry which the Host uses to suggest that the Cook may call the Manciple to answer one day for his false “rekenynges”, may be a means of poking fun at a cook who was also a knight. It is worth noting that cooks, far from being knights themselves, could be employed to punish knights who broke the chivalric code of conduct. The medieval practice of cutting off the guilty knights’ spurs with a great kitchen knife by the master cook is described in a fifteenth-century chronicle (Henisch 2009: 14).


Roger’s fall into the mud is also symbolic of his spiritual fall into the vices of gluttony and lechery, which, as the Pardoner and the Parson point out, are strongly interconnected. In particular, “wyn and dronkenesse” (VI, 484) are described as being among the main causes of “luxurie”. One of the forms of lechery condemned by the Parson is sexual intercourse with prostitutes, whom he calls “fool women, that mowe be likened to a commune gong, where as men purgen hire ordure” (X, 885). The term ‘fool’ is also employed to describe the amorous gaze of men and women which is thought to kindle desire. Moreover, fools are those who not being content to look at, also kiss the object of their desire, which is compared to the “mouth of a brennynge oven or of a fourneys” (X, 856). The Cook’s drunkenness and implied intercourse with a prostitute mark him out as the type of fool condemned in the Parson’s sermon and in medieval religious works. That the artist of the Ellesmere portrait did draw on the Cook’s description in the Manciple’s Prologue and was aware of the association between lechery, gluttony and folly – intended as behaviour against God’s commandments – is revealed by his use of pictorial motifs which can also be found in depictions of the fool in the initial ‘D’ of Dixit in Psalm 52.35 The fool is usually represented naked or wearing clothes which leave most of his body bare. In an illuminated initial from a French Bible historiale (Fig. 3.7), his toes peek through worn-out shoes, just like those of the Cook in the Ellesmere portrait. His bare legs are visible through the deep side-cuts in his tunic. In an earlier, thirteenth-century miniature, the fool is depicted wearing a shabby tunic and white braies (British Library, MS Additional 21926, fol. 82r). His desperate, helpless munching on the round loaf of bread he holds in

his hand in several historiated initials is a specular image of Christ’s refusal to turn the stones into bread during his forty days in the wilderness.36 Christ’s statement that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Lk 4:4) is thus subverted by the insatiable hunger for earthly things which dominates the fool of Psalm 52 in twelfth and thirteenth-century iconography. The association between folly, gluttony and lust finds full expression in a fifteenth-century historiated initial from the Statues of England (fig. 3.8) where a jester wearing a yellow hood and tunic decorated with bells holds a kitchen bowl in his hand and has a ladle tucked into his belt. Lust is symbolized by the owl perched on the jester’s arm. 37

Foolish behaviour characterises not only the Cook, but also the apprentice of his tale. Perkyn has paramours and loves “riot, hasard, stywes, and taverns” (VI, 465), just as the three “yonge folk

35 See Gifford’s discussion of the figure of the psalm fool in medieval iconography (1974: 336-42). For an interesting

analysis of the symbolism of the psalm fool in relation to Tristan’s and Troilus’s folly of love, see Kolve (2009: 223-56).


Some examples are BNF, MS Français 13901, fol. 106r; BL, MS Royal E. Vii, fol. 241r; BL, MS Add. 30045, fol. 28r; Bodleian Library, MSS Auct. D. 1. 17, fol. 170v, and Auct. D. 3. 8, fol. 230r.

37 For an interesting analysis of the owl’s symbolism in late medieval art and, in particular, in Master E. S.’s work

(active between 1450-67), see K. P. F. Moxey, ‘Master E.S. and the Folly of Love’, Simiolus, 3-4 (1980), 125-48 (pp. 134-37). The negative connotations of the yellow colour and its association with folly are discussed in M. Pastoureau, ‘Formes e couleurs du désordre: le jeune avec le vert’, Médiévales, 4 (1983), 62-73.


that haunteden folye” (VI, 463) of the Pardoner’s Tale. Medieval preachers condemned taverns as places of perdition, temples of the devil, where gluttony and lechery went hand in hand:

And right anon thanne comen tombesteres Fetys and smale, and yonge frutesteres, Syngeres with harpes, baudes, wafereres, Whiche been the verray develes officeres To kyndle and blowe the fyr of lecherye, That is annexed unto glotonye. (VI, 477-82)

The scribe of Bodley 686 exploits Chaucer’s mention of Perkyn’s preference for the tavern in order to insert an attack against tapsters, tavern keepers and cooks who are presented as instruments of corruption as well as ruthless profiteers:

With pyes and with pykrels, with wynes moste swete, With loche and with lamprey the childe might not ete. The tapster, the taverner, the koke was nedy,

Wolde clepe on Perkyn, for his purs was so redy.

The Manciple’s Prologue closes, however, on a lighter key. After the Cook’s wrath is appeased by the Manciple’s gourd of wine, Harry Bailly comments playfully on the wine’s power to transform “rancour and disese” into “accord and love”. His observation reflects the medieval belief that wine, in the right dose, could change the character of an individual by turning cruelty into pity and pride into humility (Woolgar 2006: 111). The Host’s apostrophe to Bacchus mitigates the Manciple’s condemnation of the Cook’s drunkenness:

"O Bacus, yblessed be thy name, That so kanst turnen ernest into game!

Worshipe and thank be to thy deitee! (IX, 99-101)

Harry Bailly also suggests that criticism of other people’s failures should be preceded by careful consideration of the skeletons in one’s own cupboard. He points out that the Cook may call the Manciple to answer for the irregularities in his own accounts.38 In a similar manner, the Host’s accusations in the Cook’s Prologue are mitigated by Roger’s promise to “quit” him with a tale about a “hostileer”. Thus Chaucer’s Cook turns out to be not only a figure of ridicule, subject to moralising portrayals, but also a man who knows how to use to his advantage the secrets of Cheapside and of his fellow citizens.

Unlike the Cook’s General Prologue portrayal which focuses on Roger’s cooking abilities rather than on his appearance, the Miller’s description abounds with physical details that the limner could easily transpose into Robyn’s portrait in the Ellesmere. Chaucer describes him as a short-shouldered “stout carl”, with a mouth as big as a “forneys” and wide black nostrils who is wearing a


In the General Prologue, the Manciple is described as being an expert in deceiving his masters in his accounts of the money paid for the purchase of victuals.


white cote and blue hood and carrying a sword and a small buckler.39 The Miller, with his golden thumb, which indicates his dishonesty, is represented in the act of playing his bagpipe while leaning on his mill horse in a drunken stupor (Fig. 3.12). As the rich iconographic evidence shows, bagpipes were often used in medieval art as a symbol of male genitalia and they were usually associated with the lower classes of the society, rural life and peasantry. The margins of Gothic manuscripts abound with hybrid bagpipe players whose half human and half animal bodies are at the same time a humorous comment and a an anxious reflection on the bestiality and sinfulness hidden in human nature.40 The animal-like features mentioned in the Miller’s portrayal are indicative of his sinful character.

His berd as any sowe or fox was reed, And therto brood, as though it were a spade. Upon the cop right of his nose he hade A werte, and theron stood a toft of heyrs, Reed as the brustles of a sowes erys. (I, 552-56)

As Scott has shown, the image of the sow playing a set of bagpipes was a recurrent motif in medieval iconography.41 An illustrative example is a pen drawing (Fig. 3.13) from a fifteenth-century manuscript of Pseudo Aristotle’s De caelo, De anima (British Library, MS Sloane 748). The lower right corner of folio 82v is populated by a swarming multitude of grotesques, including a sow bagpiper raised on its hind legs. The sow occupies a prominent position in the overall composition of the picture and it is depicted next to a fool with ass’s ears who grips his exposed genitals in a mocking gesture which imitates the sow’s bagpipe performance. Folly, exacerbated sexuality, beastly nature and the bagpipe are here enclosed within the space of the same manuscript page in a visual comment on the corruption of man’s soul. In the Miller’s portrait, the bagpipe has a double function. Firstly, it emphasises his social status and rural background. Secondly, it contributes to presenting him as the kind of fool condemned in medieval religious tracts and in the

Parson’s Tale. His stultitia is of the type that Aquinas defines as sinful in his Summa Theologiae.

Unlike congenital folly which is provoked by natural disposition, sinful folly causes man’s senses to be dulled and plunges him into the pleasures of earthly things (IIª-IIae q. 46 a. 2 co.). Harry Bailly draws attention to the fact that the Miller’s “wit is overcome” by drunkenness and admonishes him in a homiletic tone.

Lat be thy lewed drunken harlotrye. It is a synne and eek a greet folye

39 For a useful discussion of the Millar’s physiognomic traits in connection with the medieval science of physiognomy,

see Curry’s classic study, Chaucer and the Medieval Sciences, London: Allen and Unwin, 1960.

40 See D. Stephens, “History at the Margins: Bagpipers in Medieval Manuscripts”, History Today, 19 (1989): 42-48. See

also M. Jones, “Folklore Motifs in Late Medieval Art I : Proverbial Follies and Impossibilities”, Folklore, 2 (1989): 201-17.


Scott has also argued that the Miller’s bagpipe was also intended as a “satiric-symbolic comment on the sounds that would have been characteristic of him, especially the sounds of his drunkenness” (1967: 289).


To apeyren any man, or hym defame. (I, 3145-147)

Both in the Cook’s and in the Miller’s portrayals animal symbolism plays an important role. The former is explicitly compared to a “swyn” who has lost the faculty of speech. The latter shares physiognomic traits with sows and resembles fools in his excessive talkativeness.42 The comparison between drunken men and pigs was probably based on the animal’s habit of lying in the mud as well as its stench which made it an appropriate metaphor for impurity and moral corruption (Woolgar 2006: 130-31). Besides symbolising such sinful traits of his character as lecherousness and gluttony, the bagpipe also contributes to offering a realistic portrayal of the Miller since, in the Middle Ages, the instrument was often used during pilgrimages (Block 1954: 240). The practice was denounced by Lollards like William Thorpe who, during his interrogation by Bishop Arundel in 1407, criticised the wanton songs as well as the sound of piping and of jangling bells which accompanied the pilgrims on their journeys.43

Since the Miller’s Ellesmere portrait is a faithful rendering of the General Prologue portrayal, the limner’s and commissioner’s interpretative intervention is less evident here than in the other miniatures discussed in the present study. Yet what the peculiar position of the miniature on the manuscript page seems to suggest is that the Miller’s impolite interruption of the order of tale-telling was perceived as a source of uneasiness. Whereas the portraits of the other pilgrims were depicted either in the niches of the foliate bar border or in the gloss space, Robyn’s miniature invades the text space in a symbolic challenge to the authorial and authoritative text.Unlike the

Cook’s Tale, the Miller’s salacious fabliau does not seem to have been perceived as particularly

problematic or threatening to the established system. Manuscript evidence shows that although the

Miller’s Tale is contained in all relatively complete codices except for MS McCormick and MS

Phillips 8137,44 there are few marginal glosses and there was no attempt on the part of the scribes to offer a moralised version of it. Once labelled as a “cherles tale” (I, 3169), readers could follow the narrator’s advice to “turne over the leef and chese another tale” (I, 3177).

If the Cook’s portrait in the Ellesmere miniature shares pictorial motifs with the depiction of peasants, beggars and psalm fools, the artist working on the pictorial programme of Cambridge University Library, MS Gg.4.27 represents the Cook as a well-to-do middle-class citizen clothed in a fashionable mauve houppelande which is trimmed with fur at the cuffs, hem and neckline (Fig. 3.2).45 Its elaborate foliate green decoration recalls the green colour of the chaperon. The pate of

42 As I have shown in chapter four, loquaciousness was believed to be a defining characteristic of fools. 43

See A. Hudson (ed.), Two Wycliffite Texts: The Sermon of William Taylor 1406, The Testimony of William Thorpe 1407, Oxford: Oxford UP, 1993.

44 See Manly and Rickert (1940, 2: 139).

45 The technical vocabulary concerning clothing is based on Margaret Scott’s Late Gothic Europe, 1400-1500, London:

Mills and Boon, 1980, and A Visual History of Costume: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, London: Batsford, 1986.


the chaperon has a decorated border and it is flipped forward, while the cornette is probably wrapped around the head, since it does not hang down over the Cook’s shoulder. He wears red hose and ankle-length black boots. A dagger with finely decorated handle and sheath is visible from under the bombarde sleeve of the gown. In his right hand he holds a whip with a disproportionately long handle.46 As Kolve has pointed out, this depiction provides a plausible image for Chaucer’s portrayal of the Cook in the General Prologue as a skilled professional, employed by the five well-to-do London guildsmen (1984: 265). Although both the Cook’s and the Manciple’s prologues appear in this manuscript, they do not seem to have influenced the artist, who also departs from the

General Prologue description in that he omits to depict the mormal on Roger’s shin. The limner’s

omission is rather puzzling, since elsewhere in the manuscript he uses textual details or professional attributes such as the Manciple’s gourd of wine, mentioned in the Manciple’s Prologue, and the Pardoner’s jawbone relic.47 It would be tempting to assume that he was depicting a known and respected cook of the time. Although cooks, kitchens and kitchen utensils usually shared the margins of manuscript pages with fantastic grotesques, a real-life cook occasionally managed to pay his way into a miniature at the centre of the page.48 That medieval readers sometimes associated Roger’s portrait with real-life cooks is proved by the words “[M]aster James” scribbled on the miniature representing the Cook in Rosenbach Library, MS 1084/2 (Fig 3).49 Just as the scribe of Bodley 686 had provided a moralised version of the Cook’s Tale in which the values of profit and respectability promoted by Perkyn’s master were shown to triumph, the artist working on MS Gg.4.27 provides an image of the Cook as a respectable citizen which invites to interpret his tale in terms of the same class-specific values.

The portrait of the Cook in Rosenbach Library, MS 1084/2 (‘Oxford fragment’) reflects a still different response to Chaucer’s text (Fig. 3.3). It has neither the negative connotations of the Ellesmere miniature, nor the idealized characteristics of the image in MS Gg.4.27. The representation of the Cook as a sprightly young man with short curly hair indicates a possible overlap between his figure and that of Perkyn Revelour. In the Cook’s Tale, Perkyn is described as having finely combed “lokkes” and he is said to belong to “the craft of vitaillers”. While it is true that “vitaillier” was a generic term which could refer to such different guildsmen as grocers,

46 Hardman has pointed out that the handle resembles the pipe of the Miller’s bagpipe and she has suggested that there

may have been a conflation between the two images (2003: 55). Unfortunately, the miniature of the Miller on fol. 174v has been excised in this manuscript and there is no direct evidence that the artist had seen the portrait of the Miller in the Ellesmere.

47 Since all but six miniatures were excised, it is difficult to establish with any degree of certainty the artist’s

consistency in representing textual details.

48 It is the case of Master Robert, Abbot Thomas’s cook at the St. Albans monastery, who appears holding a kitchen

knife in a miniature from the late fourteenth-century Liber benefactorum (British Library, MS Cotton Nero D.VII, fol. 109r).


The eleven surviving folios of this manuscript together with the two folios (MS English 63) preserved at the John Rylands University Library, Manchester, are known as the “Oxford fragments”.


fishmongers, vintners, brewers, bakers, piemakers, butchers, and cooks, it is also true that Perkyn’s apprenticeship in a food-selling métier may have triggered a set of associations in the limner’s mind.50 Like the artist of Gg.4.27, he omits the mormal, yet he makes sure that the young man will unmistakably be identified as the Cook by depicting two professional attributes: a meat-chopper and an apron. Although the pictorial motif of the meat-chopper was often used to identify butchers, it could also indicate the métier of cook, just as the other tools belonging to kitchen paraphernalia did in illuminated manuscripts. The young man wears a doublet with puffed upper sleeves, typical of the mid-fifteenth-century upper-classes. The front of the doublet is closed with laces. The tights are tied to the doublet waist by vertically laced ties, a style which became fashionable after 1370 (Scott 1980: 80). His shoes with fairly long toes, of the type called poulaines or crackowes, were also very popular in the fifteenth century.51 Unlike the Cook’s elegant and soberly houppelande and

chaperon in MS Gg.4.27, which functioned as visual signs of wealth and prosperity, the doublet and

shoes in the miniature from MS 1084/2 work to characterise the Cook as a young man intent upon following the latest fashion of the day, a ‘gallant’ whose representation is closer to Chaucer’s description of Perkyn than to his portrayal of Roger in the General Prologue.52

The Miller’s portrait in John Rylands University Library, MS English 63 (‘Oxford fragment’) also reflects a different actualization of Chaucer’s text (Fig. 3.14). In omitting such textual details as Robyn’s bagpipe and the physiognomic traits which marked him out as a sinful low-class character (big mouth, wide nostrils, red beard), the artist seems to have been more interested in offering a generic image of a miller than in providing a moralizing visual representation. The Miller is wearing a short apron over a doublet and he is riding a mare loaded with two corn bags. Interestingly enough, the apron connects him with the Cook’s portrait in the Ellesmere and in Rosenbach Library, MS 1084/2. He is also holding a whip in his hand like the Cook in the miniature from MS Gg.4.27. What these pictorial signs seem to suggest is that the artists tended to conflate the two figures. In MS English 63, the bagpipe is substituted with a fipple flute which also appears in the woodcut from Caxton’s illustrated edition of the Canterbury Tales (Figs 3.16). The stylistic and formal similarities that the woodcut presents with the outline drawing in MS English 63 indicate that there was a continuity of iconographic tradition between the two images. Although it did not have all the symbolic connotations of the bagpipe, the flute was


See Kolve (1984: 275).

51 Fourteenth and fifteenth-century sumptuary laws regulated the length of the tips of shoes as a means of reinforcing

class distinction. Whereas noblemen could wear shoes with very long toes, the members of the prosperous middle-class had to content themselves with much shorter tips.


Scattergood has argued that Perkyn’s portrayal in the Cook’s Tale reminds one of the gallants in fifteenth and sixteenth-century poetry and drama who were usually dressed in “a showy ultrafashionable manner” (1984:16).


charged, however, with the negative symbolism that wind instruments had in medieval iconography, where they were often associated with fools and folly.53

The woodcut representing the Cook in Caxton’s 1483 edition provides a further example of interpretive engagement with the text (Fig. 3.9). As I have shown in the previous chapters, the printer’s approach to such ambiguous and complex characters as the Wife of Bath and the Prioress amounted to purging their portraits of all the equivocal elements which were present in Chaucer’s two portrayals. The Prioress is represented as a middle-aged woman and her portrait is characterised by austerity and conventionalism. The Wife of Bath is depicted as a respectable middle-class woman, holding a rosary on her arm and wearing a typical pilgrim’s hat. By contrast, the Cook’s portrait includes a surprisingly unconventional and unflattering textual detail. He is represented leaning slightly forward on his horse, with bent head and facial features which indicate torpor and drowsiness. His advanced state of drunkenness is even more obvious in the illuminated woodcut from the St. John’s College Library, Oxford copy of Caxton’s second edition of the Tales (Figs 3.10 and 3.11). In this sammelband, prepared for Roger Thorney, the Canterbury Tales (STC 5083) are bound with Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde (STC 5094), John Mirk’s Quattuor sermones [STC 17957] – all published by Caxton in 1483 – and a manuscript of Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes.54 One of the distinctive features of the volume is the considerable effort invested into making the incunabula look as similar to a manuscript as possible. All the pages were ruled in purple ink. Illuminated initials and red or blue paraphs mark the major divisions in the text. The woodcuts in the Canterbury Tales were washed in ink and details such as irises, trees and heraldic shields were added. Edwards has suggested that the volume may be seen “as a final vestige of some very specific in-house interest in enhancing the products of his press for a particular purchaser or prospective patron, as Thorney may have been” (1999: 505). The escutcheons depicted next to the pilgrims may also reflect the aspiration of a middle-class patron to have a coat of arms, a privilege which was reserved for the aristocracy. Interestingly enough, heraldic shields appear even in the woodcuts of pilgrims from the lower classes, such as the Cook and the Miller (Figs 3.10 and 3.15). The Cook is depicted wearing a pink gown. The other articles of his clothing have different colours in the woodcut which precedes his portrayal in the General Prologue and in the image which introduces his tale. In addition to his position on horseback, his drunkenness is also emphasised through the red blotches on his face which remind one of Peter Brueghel the Elder’s (1525-1569) and the Young’s (1565-1636) drunken peasants. In the Cook’s case, the attribution of a heraldic shield, yet

53 An illustrative example is the insipiens in the historiated intial ‘D(ixit)’ of Psalm 52 who is sometimes depicted in the

act of playing a flute. See Bibliothèque Municipal de Cambrai, MS 102, fol. 253r.


This Sammelband is discussed in Gillespie (2006: 77-88) and Edwards (1999: 500-505). See also Hanna’s bibliographical description of St John’s College Library, Oxford, MS 266/ b.2.21 (2002: 329-31).


un-emblazoned, may be perceived as an ironic pictorial comment on his “chyvachee” which contributes to his belittlement. In Caxton’s edition, just like in the Ellesmere, the irreverent aspects of the Cook’s character and tale are thus neutralized and the values of middle-class tradesmen are reaffirmed. It does not come as a surprise, since the Oxford copy of the Canterbury Tales was prepared for the wealthy London mercer Roger Thorney.

In translating the Cook’s and Miller’s portrayals from one semiotic system into another, fifteenth-century editors offered their own interpretation of Chaucer’s text while providing a “threshold” for later readers’ who, like the narrator in the Book of the Duchess, could read the “painted” text and gloss. Though being objects of interpretation, the Miller and the Cook, and by extrapolation the members of the social class they stood in for, were negated the right to offer their own interpretation, as can be evinced from the Interlude in Northumberland MS 455 (c. 1450-1470). In this fifteenth-century Interlude, the Host rebukes the Miller and other “lewde sotes” for their attempt to “read” (i.e. interpret) the stained glass, an act which was the exclusive privilege of gentlemen.55

The Pardoner and the Miller and other lewde sotes Sought hemselff in the chirch, right as lewd gotes, Pyred fast and poured highe oppon the glase, Counterfeting gentilmen, the armes for to blase,

Diskyveryng fast the peyntour, and for the story mourned And ared also - right as rammes horned!

“Pese!” quod the Hoost of Southwork. “Let stond the wyndow glased. Goth up and doth yeur offerynge. Ye semeth half amased.

Sith ye be in company of honest men and good, Worcheth somwhat after, and let the kynd of brode Pas for a tyme. I hold it for the best,

For who doth after company may lyve the bet in rest.”56

In the manuscripts discussed above, as well as in Caxton’s 1483 edition, the representation of the Cook and the Miller was not only a reflection of the readers’ interpretation of Chaucer’s text, but also a means of promoting class-specific values and ideologies. Whereas the Cook’s portraits indicate an oscillation between his depiction as “fair burgeys” or stultus, the Miller is represented as an embodiment of stultitia. Moreover, the illustrations and the scribal interpolations reveal the readers’ uneasiness in dealing with particularly challenging aspects of the Cook’s portrayal and tale as well as their engagement with the text in ways which could combine deference to the great poet Chaucer was considered to be with a conscious process of rewriting and recasting his text to meet new interests and values.

55 The Interlude describes the pilgrims' arrival in the city of Canterbury, their visit to the shrine of St. Thomas in the

cathedral, and the party's departure for London the following morning.


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