And eek with worthy wommen of the toun;
For he hadde power of confessioun,
(= and also with the noblewomen of the town / Because he had the power of confession.)
This couplet reveals the sort of company that the friar keeps, specifically, the wealthy. Confession in the medieval Christian Church was associated with absolution of mortal sins as a confessor was allowed the right of pardoning a guilty soul. It is clear that he is far more interested in the physical wealth of the company he keeps than any sort of spiritual health.
The rhyme between “toun” and “confessioun” alerts the reader to the fact that the Friar associates the wealth of the “frankeleyns” (“landowners”) and “worthy women” with the granting of confessions because, as the text tells us a few lines down, he reasons that “Giving unto a poor order is a sign that a man is well-shriven,” or “truly sorry.”
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