Study Questions for The Merchant's Mark by Cynthia Harnett


Discussion/Essay Questions
We are unable to supply an answer key to these study questions. Original thought is looked for in answering many of these questions for which there is no "one right answer". We hope these questions will assist parents in discussing the book with their children. Those who haven't read the book themselves could still discuss these questions and ideas in a general way with their children, have their children discuss it with others who have read the book, or seek summaries of the book online to better understand it.
1. Explain the basic cloth-making process from the time the wool is still on the sheep to the finished product.
2. Was it right for Nicholas not to tell his father about all of his suspicions concerning the Lombards? Why? What would you have done in his place?
3. Why do the townspeople gather for archery every Sunday?
4. In Chapter 4, Nicholas' uncle, John Stern, is asked if he is familiar with the Isle of Wight. What significance does the Isle of Wight have later in the story?
5. In Chapter 18, Nicholas has nearly solved the mystery, but has no proof because he can't get into the barn belonging to Master Leach. When he goes to Master Richard, the parson, for help, what is he advised to do? How did the advice work?
6. Explain why Master Fetterlock's opinion of Nicholas changes from Chapter 12, where he accuses Nicholas of having a "clacking tongue" to the end of the story where he calls him a "man of honour".
Vocabulary Words:
Please note that many of the words in this list will need to be identified within the context of the book. Some are even defined in the book, but it may be useful to take note of them as they may reappear in later chapters. The many illustrations will also be helpful in understanding some of the terminology. I'm including not only unfamiliar words, but also the names of places and historical figures.
Chapter 1 - factor, apt, doublet, array, mountebank, truant, sarplers, wool-fells, drover, piebald, man-at-arms, laden, Cotswolds, Calais, Sandwich, Southampton, Oxford, Witney, Northleach, Gloucester, Burford, Westwell, Lombards, Wars of the Roses, King Richard III, King Henry Tudor.
Chapter 2 - weals, swill, knave, mutton, thatch, dovecot, trestle, poultice, draught, chirurgeon, userers, poser
Chapter 3 - distaff, casement, jerkin, aquiline, brocade, rushes, damask, refectory, flagons, goblets, venison, Lavabo, obeisance, requiescat in pace, kirtle, coif, Bristol
Chapter 4 - ballad, manchet, yokel, cockney, punctilious, ewer, wainscot, joiner, capons, pasties, trenchers, scullion, quizzically, sweetmeats, privateers, churlishly, Flemish, Isle of Wight, Bartolomeo Diaz, Cape of Good Hope, Kublai Khan, Florence
Chapter 5 - turpentine, bolster, chequered, rogues, coffer, florins, varlet, anelace, victual, fobbed, commission, Sebastian Cabot, Isle of St. Brandan, Brazil, Cathay, Indies, Canary Islands, Azores, Madeira, Cristofero Colombo, Marco Polo, Venetian, Dingle Bay
Chapter 6 - Whitsuntide, Rood screen, taper, almshouses, parson, chantry, Master, burgess, Prymer, larder, stirrup cup, fulsome, ledgers, betrothal, garrison, guild, clothiers, wolds, milk-sop, parsonage, prie-dieu, comfit-jar, fleur-de-Lis, stachel, bravado, Flanders, Messer
Chapter 7 - tithes, illuminating, birching, Psalters, Hotch Potch, palfrey, pillion, parchment, tethered, Dover
Chapter 8 - ransacked, buttercups, cot, faggots, bequeathed, minstrels, lute, staves
Chapter 9 - prodigious, cordial, peregrine, stag, sluiced, viol
Chapter 10 - sepulchral whisper, gibbet, corpse, retainers, dais, flaxen, Vespers, quivers, cross-bow, sidling, mariners, Paternoster, pang
Chapter 11 -. Saracen, fleece, carding, spinsters, clay daub, swaddled, ply, afffix, dyers, fullers, gallows, ledgers, timbers, loom, shuttle, bobbins, harness cords, grizzled, warp, battens, weft thread, dormer window, wares, damasks, besotted, japes, trumpery, wanton, nap, teazles, minx
Chapter 12 - Hoodman Blind, prating, ducking-stool, spiked palings, mercers, haberdashers, cordwainers, sundry, halberds, kersey, frieze, alehouse, victuallers, tabor, quarterstaff, Quintain, smote, impetus, apothecary, phial, gesticulating
Chapter 13 - vantage, Tanners, Pange Lingua, sickle, mart, Alps, binding, agog
Chapter 14 - suffused, smith, dirge, ribald, hurdy-gurdies, parsonage, commended, refuse, tinder-box, tenterhooks, Bruges
Chapter 15 - stylo, quagmire, ostler, venison, combatants, suave, drawl
Chapter 16 - courtiers, circuitous, retinue, tang, cockle-shells, portcullised, battlements, urchins, whit, buttressed, porters, postern, Quay, pennons, rigging, emblazoned, plied, wherry, mulled, bower, skeins, Rouen, waylay
Chapter 17 - "bearded sacks", sully, wolds, tantalizing, mettle, livery, vicarage, chirurgeon, knave, Hospice, yoked buckets, cloister
Chapter 18 - pillion, calvalcade, bower, ague, casement
Chapter 19 - pilloried, Rouen, light motes, pallor, hazard, surety