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Money and the Plow, or the Shipman's Tale of Tithing

David K. Coley
The Chaucer Review
Vol. 49, No. 4 (2015), pp. 449-473
DOI: 10.5325/chaucerrev.49.4.0449
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Page Count: 25
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Money and the Plow, or the Shipman's Tale of Tithing
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While it is specified in the Shipman's Tale as a loan, the hundred francs that the St. Denis merchant gives to Daun John bear structural and functional affinities to a tithe, the mandatory oblation offered by medieval Christians in recognition of God's bounty. This article shows how the tale develops these affinities to comment on several late-fourteenth-century controversies surrounding tithe, including the issue of monastic tithing and Wycliffite resistance to tithe. More centrally, it demonstrates how Chaucer uses the sum paid by the St. Denis merchant to align the “curious bisynesse” (VII 225) of international finance with traditional modes of agrarian increase, such as agriculture and animal husbandry.

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