Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400)

Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London in 1340 in the family of a wine merchant John Chaucer. He was not of high birth, his parents were not rich. Being a wine merchant his father was close to the court. He wanted a courtier career for his son Geoffrey. When Geoffrey was nineteen he was taken by Edward III to France where he was put into prison by the French. But Edward III paid the ransom to free Chaucer.

At court Geoffrey met travellers and many educated men, who taught him more about the world than did all the churchmen at universities of the Middle Ages when the printing of books had not yet been invented (William Caxton set up the first English printing press in 1476-1477).

Chaucer visited Italy in 1373 where he was greatly interested in Italian poets and writers and got acquainted with Boccaccio’s “Decameron”. Geoffrey Chaucer was influenced by many kinds of writing, he used many European models, but his aim was to create purely English tradition in literature of the Middle Ages. Chaucer was a highly educated courtier that is why he was a useful servant of the king. For instance, the king sent him to other countries to speak for the court.

In 1366 Chaucer met a young lady at court named Philippa, and they got married.

In 1387 he planned his “Canterbury Tales”, and in 1388 he himself made a pilgrimage to Canterbury to visit the Cathedral where Thomas б Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in 1170 by the knights of Henry II. The Cathedral was founded as a monastery by St. Augustine in 597 and was enlarged in the 11th 14th centuries.

Chaucer didn’t manage to finish his book, because he died in 1400. He was buried in Westminster Abbey in the “Poet’s Corner”. Geoffrey Chaucer is called the Father of English poetry and the last poet of the Middle Ages.

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