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The Haberdasher Essay

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The Haberdasher

The “orphan pilgrims” of the Canterbury Tales appear to be quite interesting with their “geere apiked (365).” A snapshot of the guildsmen determines that the men were wealthy, apart of some type of brotherhood, and had wives that were socially upstanding. Now an argument arises when trying to decide whether or not the craftsmen were actually in a guild or not. Evidence supports my view that, not only were they in a guild, but it was legitimate, exclusive, and included only those with similar occupations.

A haberdasher was amongst the fraternity Chaucer mentions. During the medieval times, this hat maker was probably using a cloth called chaperon to make hats. Both men and women wore these types of hats; beaver hats became popular. Women also wore veils on their head to hide their hair (Britannica). At this point in history, there were no legal contracts. This became a problem when the townspeople needed credit to buy items and the craftsmen needed raw materials. The main solution was for the craftsmen to join guilds in an effort to boost their reputation.

“The ‘solempne’ and ‘greet fraternitee’ in whose livery Chaucer dressed the five Burgesses in the General Prologue of the Canterbury Tales was probably a craft fraternity (McCutchan 313).” Guilds were very important forces in the fourteenth century. A haberdasher or any craftsman would join “for personal establishment” and membership also was “the most frequently employed means of claiming such status in local society (Rosser 10).” The fraternities served as a form of kinship and inclusion amongst peers.

The fictional kinship of a fraternity lent a moral force to the
declarations of mutual respect sworn between the ‘...


... middle of paper ...


... However, they are highly revered respected in the community and part of that is because of the product that they make. Clothing is a symbol for status, a political statement, and a first impression.

Works Cited

Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron. Garden City: Garden City Publishing Company, 1930.

Chaucer, Geoffrey. Canterbury Tales. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1987.

Harwood, Britton J. “The ‘Fraternitee’ of Chaucer’s Guildsmen.” The Review of English Studies 39.155 (1988): 413-417.

“Hat.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2003. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 13 Nov 2003 http://search.eb.com/eb/article?eu=40311.

Kirby, Thomas A. “The Haberdasher and his Companions.” Modern Language Notes 53.7 (1938): 504-505.

Rosser, Gervase. “Crafts, Guilds and the Negotiations of Work in the Medieval Town.” Past and Present 154 (1997): 3-31.


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