The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Braswell, Mary Flowers. "Chaucer's 'Queinte termes of lawe': A Legal View of the Shipman's Tale." 22 (1988): 295-304.
Chaucer's biography indicates that he would have had knowledge of the law. The Shipman's Tale, when closely examined, reveals that Chaucer used laws controlling trade and commerce as an informing principle for imagery, diction, and "characters, plot, and theme" (296). The wife and the monk negotiate for 100 francs, reaching a contractural agreement confirmed by repeated oaths sworn in legal language. In the plot, Chaucer also uses the medieval law that makes the husband responsible for the wife's debt. The prologue to the Shipman's Tale mentions "queinte termes of lawe" (1189), suggesting to readers the importance of the legal aspects of the tale which follows.
Martindale, Wight, Jr. "Chaucer's Merchants: A Trade-Based Speculation on Their Activities." 26 (1992): 309-16.
Most scholars read Chaucer's merchants negatively. The merchants do not, however, participate in any activities outside the realm of business dealings traditional for medieval merchants. In the Shipman's Tale the merchant of St. Denis most likely traded in cloth, and though complicated, his business transactions are not illegal. He would probably have been a client of a merchant like the one portrayed in the General Prologue who probably traded in foreign currency or operated a lending bank.