Today (January 19, 2021) everyone in the U.S. is busy guessing who will be on the pardon-list of that outgoing guy. The official list will be documented here: https://www.justice.gov/pardon/pardons-granted-president-donald-trump#Jan202021
Meanwhile, let’s find out how a person who Pardons does it. Geoffrey Chaucer’s character The Pardoner, and his tale in The Canterbury Tales (1387) come to mind. A Pardoner was an official of the Church who was licensed to sell papal pardons or indulgences (=time off Purgatory, and a less painful Hell). In addition to this scam, a Pardoner often sold fake “relics” of the Crucifixion.
To introduce his tale, Chaucer’s Pardoner shows off his Latin: “Radix malorum est cupiditas” (The root of evil is greed). In his tale, three young men find a hoard of treasure and, while guarding it at night, end up all killing each other – you know this plot.
Below are a few excerpts from Chaucer where The Pardoner confesses to, and explains, his scams. Chaucer is so wonderful in his description of the foibles of his Canterbury Pilgrims.
344 And in Latyn I speke a wordes fewe,
And in Latin I speak a few words,
345 To saffron with my predicacioun,
With which to add spice to my preaching,
346 And for to stire hem to devocioun.
And to stir them to devotion.
347 Thanne shewe I forth my longe cristal stones,
Then I show forth my long crystal stones,
348 Ycrammed ful of cloutes and of bones —
Crammed full of rags and of bones —
349 Relikes been they, as wenen they echoon.
Relics they are, as suppose they each one. ….
383 Swich folk shal have no power ne no grace
Such folk shall have no power nor no grace
384 To offren to my relikes in this place.
To offer to my relics in this place.
385 And whoso fyndeth hym out of swich blame,
And whoever finds himself out of such blame,
386 He wol come up and offre a Goddes name,
He will come up and offer in God’s name,
387 And I assoille him by the auctoritee
And I will absolve him by the authority
388 Which that by bulle ygraunted was to me.’
Which by papal bull was granted to me.’
389 “By this gaude have I wonne, yeer by yeer,
“By this trick have I won, year after year,
390 An hundred mark sith I was pardoner.
An hundred marks since I was pardoner.
(PS: if you are daunted by the Middle English, try reading it aloud. You will be surprised that you get it. )
Source of the illustration: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pardoner%27s_Tale