Medieval Period (1066-1485)

1. Feudal System

Ranking of people in pilgrimage.

  1. King
  2. Noble
  3. Knight
  4. Peasants (Vassals)

A peasant received a piece of land in return for serving a lord or king, especially during war. They were also expected to perform various duties in exchange for their own fiefs (areas of land.)

2. Code of Chivalry

  1. Defend the weak.
  2. Be courteous to women.
  3. Be loyal to the king.
  4. Serve God above all others.
  5. Be humble.
  6. Show mercy to the enemy.
  7. Be truthful & keep one's word.
  8. Exhibit self-control.

3. Laws of Courtly Love

  1. Be humble and chaste.
  2. Don't break up another relationship.

4. Medieval Estates

  1. Those who pray (church)
  2. Those who fight (warriors)
  3. Those who work (merchants)

5. Seven Deadly Sins

  1. Pride
  2. Envy
  3. Wrath/Anger
  4. Greed/Avarice
  5. Lust
  6. Gluttony
  7. Sloth

The Seven Deadly Sins can be memorized using the acronyms PEGSLAW or EGGPALS.

6. Four Humors

  1. Sanguine causes a person to be cheerful, associated with blood.
  2. Choleric causes a person to be angry, associated with yellow bile.
  3. Melancholy causes gloominess, associated with black bile.
  4. Phlegmatic causes sluggishness and apathy, associated with phlegm.

7. Physiognomy

The relationship between a person's physical appearance and their personality/character. Notably:

  • Red hair = quick tempered
  • Broad forehead = intelligence
  • Gapped teeth = bold/aggressive
  • Bulging eyeballs = greedy

8. Notable People

  • St. Thomas a' Becket was the Archbishop of Canterbury murdered by his followers.
  • John Wycliffe translated the Bible from Latin to English.
  • Johann Gutenberg was credited with the invention of the movable type printing press.
  • William Caxton printed the Canterbury Tales, first English book salesman.
  • Thomas Malory is the author of Le Morte d'Arthur, a book of famous tales about King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and The Knights of the Round Table.

9. The Canterbury Tales

Written by Gregory Chaucer, as a collection of 24 tales about 29 people on a pilgrimage to see the shrine of St. Thomas a' Beckett. Referred to as a frame tale (stories within a story) written in rhyming couplets. Each tale is a fabliau, a short story dealing with humor and sexual themes.


  • It's April, and everyone meets at the Tabbard Inn in Southwark.
  • Each person tells 2 stories on the way there and 2 on the way home.
  • The winner is the person with the best story, and everyone has to buy the winner a meal.

Important Characters (TL;DR)

  • Knight is true to himself, gentle, wears simple tunic, not obsessed with his appearance
  • Squire is the son of Knight, not as serious as his father, focuses on what he's wearing
  • Yeoman is a servant fighter, wears green hood & coat
  • Nun/Prioress likes manners, pleasant & friendly, sentimental
  • Monk is a manly character, hunts, loves women, fat
  • Friar is mellow, fixed marriages, highly beloved
  • Merchant told stories of how he never lost, great in negotiating
  • Oxford Cleric is a student, studies a lot, jobless, spent all money on education
  • Sergeant** at law** knows every judgment, case, & crime, very busy man
  • Franklin is a wealthy landowner, wears girdle & has satchel
  • Cook known for creamy chicken dish, oozing ulcer assumed to make it
  • Doctor is a good talker, did not read Bible a lot, wears "blood" (red garment as irony)
  • Miller wears a stout (broad/knotty), short shouldered
  • Wife of Bath has a noble face, married 5 times, always donated to the poor
  • Parson is a clerk, preached Christ's gospel, found sufficiency in little things
  • Plowman lived in peace, with perfect charity, and no misfortune
  • Reeve is old, chloric, thin
  • Summoner has harrow eyes, garland on head
  • Pardoner visits court of Rome, yellow hair, bulging eyes, carries a pillowcase
  • Host owns a hotel, supplies with food and wine, proposes ideas of telling stories

Miller's Tale

A tale within The Canterbury Tales. It's the hanging bathtub story.

  • Love triangle between Alison, her young naive husband John, Nicholas and Absalon.
  • Alison cheats with Nicholas and convinces John that the world is ending with a flood.
  • Absolon lusts for Alison and tries to get a kiss but instead gets the rear end.
  • Causes Absolon to scream "water" making John think the flood is coming.
  • The two have an affair. John looks like an idiot in the process and falls to the ground (fall from innocence) in front of the townspeople.

Pardoner's Tale

A tale within The Canterbury Tales, comes after the Physician's Tale.

  • 3 young men drink and gamble. Death awaits under oak tree.
  • Finds gold under tree, no longer concerned with killing death.
  • Moral of they story: Greed is the root of all evil.
  • Ironic that the pardoner is greedy!

10. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight


  • King Authur is the knight of the round table at Camelot.
  • Sir Gawain is King Authur's nephew following the Code of Chivalry.
    • Tragic flaw: Loves life so much that he will lie to protect it.
  • Green Knight is a large muscular figure that challenges round table knights to a battle. Carries a huge axe.


  • On New Year's Eve at a feast on the court, a strange figure, the Green Knight stops by challenging any brave representative to a game.
  • Green Knight will allow whoever accepts the challenge to strike him with his own axe on the condition that they find him in exactly one year to receive a blow in return.
  • Authur initially hesitates but takes the challenge, cutting off the knight's head. The Green Knight picks up his severed head and rides off.

11. Monty Python – Quest of the Holy Grail

Monty Python is a low budget parody movie based on the Quest of Holy Grail that used coconuts to imitate the sound of horses.

  • Holy Grail is the cup Jesus drank at the last supper.
  • Seat Perilous is the empty seat of the Round Table, reserved for the knight who would be successful in the quest of the Holy Grail.
  • Galahad is the son of Sir Lancelot and