We could either read the Middle English text. The start of the general prologue is below, with a glossary. Here’s a link to the The Pardoner’s tale . Alternatively, we could or look at bawdy poetry, the jongleur tradition, Chaucer’s military service and espionage, goings-on with “raptus”. Here is a 94-page article about Cecily Chaumpaignes
The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales Lines 1–100 WHAN that Aprille with his shoures soote 1 The droghte 2 of Marche hath perced to the roote, And bathed every veyne in swich 3 licour, Of which vertu engendred is the flour; Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth 5 Inspired hath in every holt 4 and heeth The tendre croppes, 5 and the yonge sonne Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne, 6 And smale fowles maken melodye, That slepen al the night with open ye, 10 (So priketh hem nature in hir corages: 7 Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages, And palmers for to seken straunge strondes, 8 To ferne halwes, 9 couthe 10 in sondry londes; And specially, from every shires ende 15 Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende, The holy blisful martir for to seke, That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke. 11 Bifel that, in that sesoun on a day, In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay 12 20 Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage To Caunterbury with ful devout corage, At night was come in-to that hostelrye Wel 13 nyne and twenty in a compaignye, Of sondry folk, by aventure 14 y-falle 15 25 In felawshipe, and pilgrims were they alle, That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde; The chambres and the stables weren wyde, And wel we weren esed atte beste. 16 And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste, 30 So hadde I spoken with hem everichon, 17 That I was of hir felawshipe anon, And made forward 18 erly for to ryse, To take our wey, ther as I yow devyse. 19 But natheles, 20 whyl I have tyme and space, 35 Er that I ferther in this tale pace, 21 Me thinketh it acordaunt to resoun, To telle yew al the condicioun 22 Of ech of hem, so as it semed me, And whiche 23 they weren, and of what degree; 40 And eek in what array that they were inne: And at a knight than wol I first biginne. A KNIGHT ther was, and that a worthy man, That fro the tyme that he first bigan To ryden out, he loved chivalrye, 45 Trouthe and honour, fredom 24 and curteisye. Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre, 25 And thereto 26 hadde he riden (no man ferre 27) As wel in cristendom as hethenesse, And evere honoured for his worthinesse. 50 At Alisaundre he was, whan it was wonne; Ful ofte tyme he hadde the bord bigonne 28 Aboven alle naciouns in Pruce. 29 In Lettow 30 hadde he reysed 31 and in Ruce, 32 No cristen man so ofte of his degree. 55 In Gernade 33 at the sege eek hadde he be Of Algezir, and riden in Belmarye. 34 At Lyeys 35 was he, and at Satalye, 36 Whan they were wonne; and in the Grete See 37 At many a noble aryve 38 hadde he be, 60 At mortal batailles hadde he been fiftene, And foughten for our feith at Tramissene 39 In listes thryes, and ay slayn his foo. This ilke 40 worthy knight hadde been also Somtyme with the lord of Palatye, 41 65 Ageyn another hethen in Turkye: And everemore he hadde a sovereyn prys. 42 And though that he were worthy, he was wys, And of his port 43 as meek as is a mayde. He nevere yet no vileinye 44 ne sayde 70 In al his lyf, un-to no maner wight. 45 He was a verray parfit gentil knight. But for to tellen yow of his array, His hors were goode, but he was nat gay. Of fustian 46 he wered a gipoun 47 75 Al bismotered 48 with his habergeoun. 49 For he was late y-come from his viage, 50 And wente for to doon his pilgrimage. With him ther was his sone, a yong SQUYER, A lovyer, and a lusty bacheler, 80 With lokkes crulle, 51 as they were leyd in presse. Of twenty yeer of age he was, I gesse. Of his stature he was of evene lengthe, 52 And wonderly delivere, 53 and greet of strengthe. And he hadde been somtyme in chivachye, 54 85 In Flaundres, in Artoys, and Picardye, And born him wel, as of so litel space, 55 In hope to stonden in his lady 56 grace. Embrouded was he, as it were a mede Al ful of fresshe floures, whyte and rede. 90 Singinge he was, or floytinge, 57 al the day; He was as fresh as is the month of May. Short was his goune, with sleves longe and wyde. Wel coude he sitte on hors, and faire ryde. He coude songes make and wel endyte, 58 95 Iuste and eek daunce, and wel purtreye and wryte. So hote he lovede, that by nightertale 59 He sleep namore than doth a nightingale. Curteys he was, lowly, and servisable, And carf 60 biforn his fader at the table. 100 1. Its sweet showers. 2. Drought. 3. Such. 4. Wood. 5. Young shoots. 6. The sun left the sign of the Ram about mid April. 7. Hearts. 8. Foreign strands. 9. Distant saints. 10. Known. 11. Sick. 12. Lodged. 13. Full. 14. Chance. 15. Fallen. 16. Made comfortable in the best style. 17. Every one. 18. Compact. 19. Tell. 20. Nevertheless. 21. Go. 22. Character. 23. What sort. 24. Liberality. 25. War. 26. Besides. 27. Farther. 28. Sat at the head of the table. 29. Prussia. 30. Lithuania. 31. Made expeditions. 32. Russia. 33. Granada. 34. In Africa. 35. In Asia Minor. 36. In Asia Minor. 37. Mediterranean. 38. Naval expedition. 39. In Africa. 40. Same. 41. In Asia Minor. 42. Great reputation. 43. Bearing. 44. Discourtesy. 45. Kind of person. 46. Coarse cloth. 47. Short coat. 48. Soiled. 49. Coat of mail. 50. Journey. 51. Curled. 52. Moderate height. 53. Active. 54. Cavalry expeditions. 55. Considering his youth. 56. Lady’s. 57. Whistling. 58. Compose. 59. Night-time. 60. Carved.