Geoffrey Chaucer, The Summoner’s Tale

Darragh Greene (University College Dublin)
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The Summoner’s Tale

by Geoffrey Chaucer is a late-fourteenth-century


and anti-mendicant satire, which features a learned but hypocritical friar who gets his comeuppance at the hands of his social inferiors, an angry churl, and a clever squire. Written in rhyming couplets of iambic pentameter, the 586-line poem is disposed last in Fragment III of

The Canterbury Tales

, following

The Friar’s Tale

. It is preceded by a 44-line prologue, which records the Summoner’s angry reaction to

The Friar’s Tale

, which is about a wicked summoner who foolishly swears brotherhood with a devil and is damned. Most of the prologue consists of the Summoner’s short story of a friar who is given a vision of hell, where he sees twenty-thousand friars swarming in and out of “the develes ers”…

2522 words

Citation: Greene, Darragh. "The Summoner’s Tale". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 July 2022 [, accessed 22 April 2024.]

39387 The Summoner’s Tale 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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