For a writer so disparaging about magic, Chaucer’s understanding of occult practice seems to have been considerable. In the Squire’s Tale, magic objects drive the (truncated) plot. For the Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale, Chaucer consulted alchemical works to construct his story. And in the Franklin’s Tale, Chaucer’s vivid depictions of illusions reflect his broad knowledge of magical practice. These tales include learned references to alchemy, astral prayer, astrology (regarded, to some extent, as a science in Chaucer’s day), automata, and clerical magic, as are explored here.

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