The mid-fourteenth-century nurture poem ‘How the Good Wijf taute Hir Doutir’ begins with exhortations to church attendance and charity.1 The adoption of the literary device of maternal instruction and the primacy accorded to prayer and benevolence, over prudential advice about marriage and domestic management, suggests that the anonymous but probably clerical author considered these activities essential expressions of female piety. The Book of the Knight of the Tour Landry (1371, translated into Middle English in the mid-fifteenth century) also emphasises these feminine virtues and illustrates them with reference to a range of narrative sources: virgin saints such as St Katherine affirm female education, the exemplum of Tutivillus warns against gossip in church, and scriptural and hagiographical extracts promote the Works of Mercy.2 Such stories are commonplace in conduct literature for elite young women, but also appear in public forms such as preaching, drama and church art, where they are necessarily directed to a wider audience.