Chaucer's Prioress

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There was also a nun, a prioress, Who, in her smiling, modest was and coy; Her greatest oath was but "By Saint Eloy!" And she was known as Madam Eglantine. Full well she sang the services divine, Intoning through her nose, becomingly; And fair she spoke her French, and fluently, After the school of Stratford-at-the-Bow, For French of Paris was not hers to know. At table she had been well taught withal, And never from …

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…characteristic of medieval religious women. Perhaps he only invented the Prioress as a comical contrast to the average religious woman, but when reading historical texts one must keep the source in mind. In this case, we can assume that Chaucer presents some truth in the character of the Prioress, but it is apparent that she by no means resembled the standard of perfection that was to be attained by religious women of the time period.