The Canterbury Tales 17: The Squire's Tale Summary and Analysis
by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download The Canterbury Tales Study Guide

Subscribe Now

17: The Squire's Tale Summary and Analysis

The Host invites the Squire to tell a love story, assuming the youth to be knowledgeable in such matters. The Squire says he really does not know that much, but he agrees to tell a story.

The First Part: In the land of the Tatars there lived a noble and famous king, called Cambiuskan, who possessed every conceivable virtue and knightly trait. Cambiuskan and his queen had two sons and a gorgeous young daughter, Canace.

The story begins in the twentieth year of Cambiuskan's reign. In the early spring, he announces his birthday feast, as was his custom. As the glorious feast begins, the guests are suddenly amazed to see a knight on a brass horse, wearing a bare sword, ride into the hall. On his thumb is a marvelous gold ring, and he is holding a large glass mirror in his hand.

Eloquently, the mysterious knight addresses Cambiuskan, saying that he brings the gifts on behalf of his leige lord, the King of Arabia and India. He then explains the marvelous gifts. The wonderous horse will ride or even fly the king anywhere he wants to go. It can even make itself invisible. The sword will cut through armor; no man it wounds will ever be healed unless the king lays the flat of the magical sword upon the wound he has inflicted.

The ring is for Canace. It will enable her to understand the language of birds and to decipher the uses of all healing herbs. She will have these powers whenever she wears the ring on her person. The mirror will allow her to see clearly any treachery in the heart of a man who courts her.

The Second Part: Everyone at the feast marvels at the gifts except Canace, who retires early. Next morning she rises at dawn and dresses to walk in the lovely spring morning. Wearing the magical ring, she could understand the songs of the birds.

As Canace strolls along, she hears the pitiful wailing of a female falcon who is bleeding from her self-inflicted wounds. The tender-hearted Canace understands that the bird is suffering terribly and has the bird tell her story.

It turns out that the lovely lady falcon has fallen in love with a noble male who has falsely pledged his undying love for her. They lived together joyfully for a time, but now her mate has deserted her and has fallen madly in love with a kite. The kite has held the male falcon's love, and the female is absolutely desolate without him. Grief and anger at her plight have caused her to tear her own flesh.

Canace takes the falcon to her quarters, bandages her wounds, and builds her a lovely cage which she keeps above the head of her bed. The female falcon begins to heal, but she continues her grieving.

The Squire here leaves Canace and promises to tell about Cambiuskan with his magic horse and enchanted sword.

The Third Part: One sentence...

(The entire section is 738 words.)