Medieval Crime and Social Control

By Barbara A. Hanawalt; David Wallace | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
The Host, the Law, and
the Ambiguous Space of
Medieval London Taverns

Barbara A. Hanawalt

The most notable depiction in Middle English of an innkeepertaverner appears in The Canterbury Tales in the character of the Host. Harry Bailly's Tabard Inn, where the pilgrims gather, suggests an institution that is replete with ambiguity and contradictory images. In the Prologue the Tabard is described as a “gentyle tavern” rather than one of the sordid establishments that were common in London and Southwark. Its clientele is a varied one that represents regular and secular clergy, nuns, rural laity ranging in social degree from knight to plowman, and a large contingent of Londoners of different ranks and occupations. Not only the variety of social classes represented but also the gender mix are somewhat surprising for medieval society: a woman (the Wife of Bath) traveling alone and a Prioress, who is appropriately accompanied but suspect because she is staying at an inn rather than one of the well-endowed nunneries of London. The Monk, likewise, could have found lodging in a monastery. Were they all eager for an early start, or was Harry's place recommended for its fine wines, ales, and cuisine? The Tabard was certainly well known for its food, both historically and in the Tales.1 The space within the inn also defies the conventional ordering of society in that Harry's wife, Harry eventually confesses, dominates the domestic power relations and challenges his manhood. His position as guide and the acceptance of his role by his social superiors among the pilgrims is also of interest: no one, except the Cook, disagrees with his self-designation as “judge,” “governor,” “referee,” and punisher of “rebels” against his rule. I argue in this chapter that Harry Bailly's character and that of his inn may be understood more fully when seen in the context of London inns, their regulation, and the power invested in inn and tavern keepers.2 While modern readers often see the Host only as a buffoon, a medieval audience would certainly have known the official role of innkeepers and would have understood that encouraging mirth is but one technique for diffusing the hostilities and fights that arise in a drinking establishment and, by extension, on a pilgrimage. Certainly, a personal knowledge of innkeepers and taverners had considerable bearing on the language Chaucer used to describe Harry Bailly.

-204-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Medieval Crime and Social Control
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 264

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.