In this article will discuss The Man of Law’s Tale Summary in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.
Table of Contents
The Man of Law tells the tale of a Sultan from Syria who agrees to convert to Christianity to marry Constance, the emperor’s daughter, who was reported to the Sultan as being a beautiful young lady from Rome by the wealthy traders who has visited Rome some time ago.
The emperor accepts Sultan’s proposal on the condition of him christening himself and prepares for the occasion. On the day of departure, Constance was sorrowful as she didn’t want to sail to a foreign land leaving her friends and family behind. However, she succumbs having no other alternative to opt for.
While Sultan has agreed for the Christian way of life, he’s damned by his own mother who has sworn not to renounce Muhammad’s way of living life and by those who’s joined her.
Christians come to Syria, with the crowd they’re welcomed and after many celebrations, the time for the feast comes. The tale breaks to mourn and later reveals that everybody at the dining table has been knifed. No Christian survives including the Sultan except Constance.
The Sultanesse’s men put Constance on the ship to sail out from Syria and back to Italy. Constance is provided with the food and clothes on the ship and she prays to Christ’s cross.
At this point, the man of law asks the question why wasn’t Constance killed. He answers it with another question: who saved Daniel from lion’s den? The answer to both is, he says, the Christian God.
The ship crashes at Northumberland and Constance is given refuge by a warden of a local castle and his wife, Dame Hermengyld who are pagans. The whole land belongs to Pagans and Christian prayers are done secretly.
However, Constance succeeds in converting the wife of the warden to Christianity, and both of them are afraid of warden’s reaction to his wife’s conversion but he accepts his wife’s conversion and himself converts too.
A young knight falls in love with Constance and gets filled with the vengeance when Constance denies his proposal. One day, he knifes Dame Hermengyld and places the knife near Constance who’s sleeping beside her in order to make it look as if Constance has committed the crime.
Constance is brought to the trial in the court of Alla, the emperor of the land. Locals come in defence of Constance arguing that she can never commit such crime. The king asks the knight to swear on the book to prove his testimony to be true. The moment the knight swears on the book he dies.
On witnessing the miracle, he expresses his wish to marry Constance, and with him, many other converts to Christianity. This gesture on the part of the king, disappoints his mother, Donegild.
Constance gives birth to a boy, Mauricius, when Alla is fighting in Scotland. Out of spite, the mother sends a letter to Alla misinforming him about the deformity of his.
Alla expresses his love for Constance in one letter and for his son another. The mother changes the letters with ones that demands Constance’s banishment from the land immediately. Therefore, Constance is sent back to the sea.
Alla kills his mother for committing such acts on discovering the absence of his wife and son when he returns. Constance is almost raped on another island but Virgin Marry comes to her rescue and saves her.
Meanwhile, Roman emperor has sent a ship to Syria to take revenge of Christian massacre. While returning to Rome, the army finds Constance but couldn’t recognize Constance. However, they take both Constance and his son back to Rome.
Alla, now a Christian, has come to Rome for penancing the sin of killing his own mother. In Rome, he is reunited with his wife and son and they move to England where, only after living for one year with his family, he dies.
Constance and Mauricius return to Rome. The pope makes make Mauricius the emperor in place of Constance’s father place.