The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale
Strength and Skill Quotes Page 2
How we cite our quotes:
'But for as muche thou art a worthy knyght,
And wilnest to darreyne hire by bataille,
Have heer my trouthe; tomorwe I wol nat faille
Withoute wityng of any oother wight
And if so be that thou my lady wynne,
And sle me in this wode ther I am inne,
Thow mayst wel have my lady as for me.'
Here Palamon and Arcite demonstrate another use for physical power and skill: to determine the winner in a dispute. Arcite proposes a secret duel in which one of the two fighters will die. Willingness to win a woman in such a duel, to "darreyne hir by bataille," makes one a worthy knight. This system of resolving disputes between knights is part of the chivalric code.
[…] 'Wheither of yow bothe that hath myght,
This is to seyn, that wheither he, or thow
May with his hundred, as I spak of now,
Sleen his contrarie, or out of lystes dryve,
Thanne shal I yeve Emelya to wyve
To whom that Fortune yeveth so fair a grace.'
Theseus promises to give Emily to the knight whose company manages to slay his opponent or take him prisoner, implying that the winner will be dependent upon the "myght" of the knight's army. But then he refers to the winner as one "to whom that Fortune yeveth so fair a grace," implying that the outcome is outside of everyones' hands. Which is it?
And right so ferden they with Palamon,
With hym ther wenten knyghtes many on.
Som wol ben armed in an haubergeoun,
In a bristplate, and in a light gypoun,
And som wol have a paire plates large,
And som wol have a Pruce sheeld, or a targe,
Som wol ben armed on hir legges weel,
And have an ax, and somme a mace of steel.
This passage details the battle-dress of the company that rides to joust with Palamon. It's interesting that the knights are not all dressed uniformly, since, as we later learn, they are all part of the same army. This individuality of battle-gear suggests that all the knights are individually responsible for arming themselves. This situation goes along with what we know about feudalism: individual knights pledged allegiance to a lord, but were responsible for maintaining themselves.