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The Canterbury Tales: The Second Nun's Tale

The Canterbury Tales: The Second Nun's Tale


by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales: The Second Nun's Tale Resources


Jane Zatta's Second Nun Page

Professor Jane Zatta's background on "The Second Nun's Tale" includes portraits of Saint Cecilia, background information on medieval women's freedom of choice in marriage, and the text of Chaucer's source for the tale.

Goucher College Second Nun's Page

This page goes into some interpretive issues for both Prologue and Tale. Of note is an interesting section comparing the Prologue to a medieval triptych, a three-paneled altarpiece meant to juxtapose related religious scenes.

Historical Documents

Life of Saint Cecilia from Legenda Aurea
The Life of Cecilia from Jacobus de Voragine's multi-volume Legenda Aurea is likely Chaucer's most immediate source for "The Second Nun's Tale." It's provided here in full by the online Medieval Sourcebook.


Ellesmere Chaucer's Second Nun

Here's a link to the first page of "The Second Nun's Tale" in the Ellesmere Manuscript, along with an illustration of the Second Nun.

Saint Cecilia Altarpiece

An altarpiece dated 1304 from a medieval Italian church. Click on the image to see the scenes from Cecilia's life in more detail.

Resources to Help Students Learn Middle English

Teach Yourself to Read Middle English

This page, provided by Harvard, offers ten lessons that start with a general explanation of the principles of Middle English pronunciation and move on to actual practice with the tales themselves.

A Basic Chaucer Glossary

This is a helpful glossary of Middle English terms often used in Chaucer. The 100 most common words are denoted by an asterisk.

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