The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Pearcy, Roy J. "Chaucer's Franklin and the Literary Vavasour." 8 (1973): 33-59.
In medieval society, vavasours as a class exist between the aristocracy and the serfs. From this position, a vavasour can offer advice to the more ambitious and hospitality to knights, particularly since the vavasour, as a landholder, is stationary as compared to knights who travel a great deal. The Franklin has many of the stock qualities of the vavasour. Romances typically draw knights and vavasours into conflict in order to explore their different lifestyles and devotion to different ideals through "debate." As the feudal system declined, however, disorder occurred in class relationships. As Gautier le Leu's Le Sot Chevalier shows, however, the relationship between knight and vavasour can collapse. The lay and fabliau may use the meeting between knight and vavasour as the context for the whole work as in Le Vair Palefroi and Le Chevalier a la Robe Vermeille. The fabliau vavasour is stubbornly practical, and thus becomes the object of satire as part of an attempt to restore social order. The Squire and the Franklin seem to show the separation between knight and vavasour. The Franklin chooses to tell a lay in order to confirm his position as part of the Squire's class, but the Franklin is unable to escape his practical, rational approach to life. The final result is that the Franklin seems to look nostalgically at the passing chivalric world.