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Friar's Tale: A Review

Medieval Month at Banters and Books was filled with odd stories hand-picked from ye olde times. Among these was The Friar’s Tale which had a unique take on greed and other sins.

The tale begins with a travelling party wherein sits a Friar (a man devoted to God), a Host, a Wife and a Summoner (a piece of scum - at least according to the Friar that is). A Summoner’s main job is to…summon. They work under the Archdeacon and carry out their often corrupt- bidding. Crimes against the Church such as lechery, fornication and witchcraft were reported to the Archdeacon who would then send out their Summoners to bring the miscreant to justice.

An easy job, how could it go wrong?

Corruption, unfortunately, took root almost immediately. Summoners became the very thing they hunted- the corrupt, and that was an easy feat. They were extremely fair and just with who they exploited - rich or poor, men or women, it was all the same to them. The Friar’s Tale is also one such demon in the form of man.

The summoner, one day, while travelling to summon a widow for the archdeacon met another summoner who went on to boast about his feats of corruption. The pair of them travelled to the house of an innocent, old lady to falsely accuse her of a crime. The tale turns into a sickening competition of who has exploited more people. Unwittingly, the summoner continuously confesses to crime after crime to the stranger as they travelled and this unawareness proved to be detrimental.

Throughout the narration of this tale, The Friar attacks the Summoner and comments upon his immoral nature- the whole tale’s message serves as an insult to summoners.

In the story, the other summoner turned out to be a fiend from Hell who had come to drag a criminal soul to the underworld. The Friar’s tale ends as the summoner realised that the fiend hadn’t come to drag the widow but him down to the burning depths.

This tale is as clear-cut as it gets- it’s a warning about the greed that power breeds. The Friar’s Tale comments upon corruption and demons in a single, refreshing breath.


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