An Oxford student named Nicholas, who studied astrology and was well acquainted with the art of love. Nicholas boarded with a wealthy but ignorant old carpenter named John, who was jealous and highly possessive of his 18 year old wife.
Alisoun & John
One day, John leaves, and Nicholas and Alisoun begin flirting.
Nicholas grabs Alisoun, and she threatens to cry for help. He the begins to cry, and after a few sweet words, she agrees to sleep with him when it is safe to do so. She is worried that John will find out, but Nicholas is confident he can outwit the carpenter. Nicholas is not alone in desiring Alisoun.
A merry, vain parish clerk named Absolon also fancies Alisoun. He serenades her every night, buys her gifts, and gives her money, but to no avail--Alisoun loves Nicholas. Nicholas devises a plan that will allow him and Alisoun to spend an entire night together.
Nicholas devises a plan that will allow him and Alisoun to spend an entire night together. He has Alisoun tell John that Nicholas is ill. John sends a servant to check on his boarder, who arrives to find Nicholas immobile, staring at the ceiling.
When the servant reports back to John, John is not surprised, saying that madness is what one gets for inquiring into “Goddes pryvetee,” which is what he believes Nicholas’s astronomy studies amount to. Nevertheless, he feels sorry for the student and goes to check on him.