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The Sergeant of Law

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Part One-
  • What specific occupation does your character practice?
    • At first we thought he was an officer. But he is actually a lawyer
  • What does the need for this occupation tell us about the time period?
    • A lot of crimes occured during this time - theft, etc. A sense of order was needed, so a court was created. Therefore lawyers were also needed.
  • What was his or her social standing?
    • He belongs in the middle class.‍‍‍‍
  • What might your character's day to day life be like?‍‍‍‍
    • He roamed the city, doing the following things: writingting contracts, performing in court, ensuring the law is being followed, and buying land (flaunting and spending his vast amount of money).
  • What details about this character does Chaucer not include?
    • Chaucer doesn't go into as much detail into the lawyer's looks and appearance as he does the other characters. Instead, he only elaborates on the Sergeant's clothing.
  • What modern day occupation might correspond to your medieval character and why?
    • Today, the Sergeant of Law may be considered as a lawyer/officer.

Part Two-
  • Paraphase.
    • A lawyer, observant and wise,
    • Had often been at the porch of Saint Paul's church
    • for advice, was also there - an excellent man.
    • He was sensible, and greatly respected,
    • or so he seemed, his words were very shrewd.
    • He had often been a judge in courts,
    • by appointment and by full commissions from the crown;
    • his knowledge and reputation had
    • won him many riches and clothing.
    • He was the greatest buyer of land;
    • all was fee-simple to him:
    • his title was never defective.
    • He was the busiest man -
    • And yet he seemed busier than he really was.
    • he knew all the cases and judgments
    • that occured since King William's time
    • He could make up a deed
    • so that no on could find fault in it
    • and he knew every law by heart.
    • He rode dressed in a weaved coat,
    • a silk belt with small metal ornaments around his waist.
    • Nothing else shall be said about his appearance.
  • Which lines in the prologue best describe your character's physical appearance?
    • 330-331: He rode simply dressed in a coat of mixed weave, gathered with a silk belt with small metal ornaments.
  • Which lines describe his/her personality?
    • 314: He was discreet, and greatly to be respected
    • 323: Nowhere was there a man as busy as he
    • 318: His knowledge and his high renown had won him many fees and robes.
  • Which specific words add to your understanding of the character's personality?
    • Wary, wise, excellent, discreet, greatly respected, renowned, knowledgeable

Part Three-
  • What is Chaucer's opinion toward this character?
    • Chaucer seems neutral towards the Sergeant of Law. There is a slight bit of criticism. Chaucer comments on the tendency of humans to pretend. The Sergeant of Law makes himself seem busier than he really is; he's trying very hard to look like he's earning his high paycheck when actually he's just kind of lazy. He has a very high opinion of himself. The Sergeant of Law is a social climber, and he continuously uses his profession to launch himself into upper class. It's easier for him to do this because nobility likes him; that's why the King often appoints him as a judge in the court.
  • What specific lines tell you this?
    • 323-324: Nowhere was there a man as busy as he - /and yet he seemed busier than he was.
    • 322: His title could never be found defective.
    • 316-317: He had often been a justice in assizes, /by appointment and by full commission
  • What word choices require an understand of vocabulary from the time period?
    • Saint Paul's: medieval cathedral
    • Consultation: a meeting with an expert in order to receive advice
    • Assizes: periodic criminal courts held in each county of England and Wales; they administered civil and criminal law
    • Justice: a judge or magistrate
    • Commission: the act of granting certain powers or the authority to carry out a particular task or duty
    • The time of King William the Conqueror: King William ruled from 1066 to 1087
    • Statute: a written law passed by legislative body


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Works Cited

Lawyers Laid Bare: The Private Lives of Medieval and Early Tudor Lawyers. (2010, September 1). Retrieved September 14, 2011, from Medievalists.net: http://www.medievalists.net/2010/09/01/lawyers-laid-bare-the-private-lives-of-medieval-and-early-tudor-lawyers/
Medieval Law. (2008, December 29). Retrieved September 14, 2011, from Kpn.nl: http://home.kpn.nl/otto.vervaart/medieval_law.htm
Staff, T. (2008, May 11). The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer: Character Analysis/Main Characters. Retrieved September 14, 2011, from TheBestNotes.com: http://thebestnotes.com/booknotes/Canterbury_Tales/Canterbury_Tales37.html
The Canterbury Tales. (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2011, from Fju.edu.tw: http://www.eng.fju.edu.tw/iacd_99F/medieval_lit/data/Chaucer.html
The Canterbury Tales Summary and Analysis of General Prologue. (1999- 2011). Retrieved September 14, 2011, from Gradesaver: http://www.gradesaver.com/the-canterbury-tales/study-guide/section1/
The Canterbury Tales: Character List. (2011). Retrieved September 14, 2011, from Sparknotes: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/canterbury/characters.html
University, S. (2011). The Sergeant of the Law in The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story. Retrieved September 14, 2011, from Schmoop: We Speak Student: http://www.shmoop.com/canterbury-tales-prologue/sergeant-of-law.html
Whipps, H. (2006, August 3). Medieval Justice Not So Medieval. Retrieved September 14, 2011, from Livescience: http://www.livescience.com/927-medieval-justice-medieval.html