Chaucer and St Kenelm ('Nun's Priest's Tale') Academic Article uri icon


  • Chaucer's reference to St. Kenelm in the Nun's Priest's Tale is not offhand or haphazard, for the Life of St. Kenelm, extent in The Golden Legend as well as the fourteenth-century South English Legendary, reveals such striking similarities in plot and characterization to both the Nun's Priest's and the Prioress's Tales that Chaucer's use of it to help structure both Tales is likely. St. Kenelm's admonitory dream of his own murder occasions Chaunticleer's allusion to his Life, but other details not specified by Chaunticleer connect to two narratives - the bird in a tree motif, the cow, and the "venomous" poison. The connections of St. Kenelm's Life to the Prioress's Tale are even more direct, for both depict a murdered little boy who is singing a Latin song of praise when his throat is cut by an assassin and whose murder is miraculously revealed, leading to the destruction of those responsible. Perhaps the most telling connection is the age of both, seven years - a possible solution to the vexing problem of Chaucer's revision downwards of the age of the murdered boy he found in his sources. 2000 Kluwer Academic Publishers.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Boenig, R.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Boenig, R

publication date

  • January 2000