Geoffrey Chaucer, Workes, 1602 - The Knight's Tale, Fol. 1, B1r.

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Date:1602

Description:The source for Shakespeare and Fletcher's play The Two Noble Kinsmen.

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, in which pilgrims each contribute a story to entertain their fellow travelers, begins with the Knight's Tale. This story provided Shakespeare and his collaborator, John Fletcher, with the plot and main events for their play The Two Noble Kinsmen, in which the main characters are the warrior cousins Palamon and Arcite, who both love Theseus’ sister-in-law, Emilia.



After the Prologue the first story in the Canterbury Tales is told by the Knight. This begins with a summary as follows:

Palamon and Arcite, a pair of friends and fellow prisoners, fight a combat before Duke Theseus, for the Lady Emily, sister to the queen Hippolyta, wife of Theseus. A tale fitting the person of a knight, for that it discourseth [tells] of the deeds of Arms, and love of ladies.
[The tale begins:]

Whylom [when] as old stories tell us
There was a Duke hight [called] Theseus
Of Athens he was lord and governor,
And in his time such a conqueror
That greater was none under the sun:
Full many a rich country he had won.
What with his wisdom and his chivalry
He conquered all the reign of femininy [women].
That whilom [at that time] was called Cithca
And wedded the queen Hippolyta
And brought her home with him to his country
With mikell [much] glory and solemnity,
And eke [also] her young sister Emily.
And thus with victory and melody
Let I this worthy duke to Athens ride
And all his host in arms him beside
And certes [certainly] if it reve [was not] too long to hear
I would have told fully the manner
How wonnen was the reign of femininy [i.e. all the number of women were won]
By Theseus and by his chivalry...


Full title: Geoffrey Chaucer, Workes, London, Adam Islip, 1602.


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Source: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust - Library

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