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Main page » Non-Fiction » Science literature » Literature Studies » The Man of Law's Tale (Canterbury Tales )

The Man of Law's Tale (Canterbury Tales )


A group of merchants from Syria travel to Rome to see if there are any opportunities for trade.

During their visit, they hear about Constance, the Emperor’s daughter who is described as the perfect woman, being full of grace, beauty, goodness and chastity.

When the merchants return to Syria, they tell the young Syrian Sultan about Lady Constance and he immediately is enthralled by the description of her. He is determined to make her his wife.  His counselors advise that she will not marry a Muslim, so rather than lose Constance, he will be baptized a Christian, and so will all his subjects.

The marriage is arranged, and Lady Constance makes a sad farewell to her homeland.

The Sultan’s mother will not give up her old Religion for the sake of this foreign girl, and she devises a plan to thwart her son’s happiness.

Lady Constance is greeted with great ceremony and the wedding is a great celebration with a dazzling array of visiting dignitaries. During the banquet, the mother’s troops sweep into the banquet hall and kill all the Christians, including the young Sultan.  Lady Constance is spared, but she is set adrift on the sea.

Her ship is at the will of the currents, and after a considerable length of time is beached in Northumberland, England, a Pagan land.  She is found by the Constable and his wife who care for her. Constance still keeps her faith in Jesus Christ and soon Hermengild, the Constable’s wife, is converted to Christianity, and so too is the Constable.

One night Satan enters and murders Hermengild, and leaves the murder weapon in Constance’s bed. Accused of the murder, she is taken by the Constable to King Alla.  The King sentences her to death, but the women of the Court wail, pleading for Constance to be spared.

Satan, disguised as a Knight, accuses Constance of the murder and at that moment he is stricken dead, and a voice is heard saying that the King has unjustly judged a disciple of Christ.  The whole Court is converted to Christianity, except Donegild, the mother of the King.

The King and Constance fall in love and are married. Whilst the King is away fighting the Scots, Constance gives birth to a beautiful son.  Constance writes to her husband, but Donegild intercepts and changes the message, saying that the child is disfigured. The King replies that it is God’s will, but again this letter is intercepted, and Donegild writes that the King wishes the son to be destroyed. Constance leaves in a ship for home.

King Alla returns and discovers the evil perpetrated by Donegild and has her put to death.

Back in Rome, the Emperor sends an army to Syria to avenge the death of the Christians.  On their way back from Syria, they discover Constance in her small boat, but she has lost her memory, and they do not recognize her.

Alla decides to make a Pilgrimage to Rome to seek penance for the evil done to Constance by his mother. He happens to see a child whose face strongly resembles that of Constance. He asks a Senator concerning the circumstances regarding the child, and he learns where Constance is living.  There is a happy reunion and the Emperor is also glad to have his daughter back.

Alla and Constance return to Northumberland, but unfortunately the King dies a year later.  Constance’s son returns to Rome to become Emperor.

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Tags: women, rsquo, would, virgins, Chaucer, Tales, chastity, Canterbury, women