Which Innovation is Attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer

14th century English language poet and writer

Geoffrey Chaucer

Portrait of Chaucer (19th century, held by the National Library of Wales)

Born c.

London, England

Died 25 October 1400(1400-10-25)
(aged 56–57)

London, England

Resting place Westminster Abbey, London, England
  • Writer
  • poet
  • philosopher
  • bureaucrat
  • diplomat
Era Plantagenet

Philippa Roet

(one thousand. 1366)

Children 4, including Thomas
Geoffrey Chaucer.svg

Geoffrey Chaucer
– 25 October 1400) was an English language poet, author, and ceremonious retainer best known for
The Canterbury Tales.[i]
He has been called the “father of English language literature”, or, alternatively, the “male parent of English verse”.[2]
He was the first writer to be cached in what has since come up to be chosen Poets’ Corner, in Westminster Abbey.[3]
Chaucer also gained fame as a philosopher and astronomer, composing the scientific
A Treatise on the Astrolabe
for his 10-twelvemonth-quondam son Lewis. He maintained a career in the civil service as a bureaucrat, courtier, diplomat, and fellow member of parliament.

Amid Chaucer’s many other works are
The Book of the Duchess,
The House of Fame,
The Fable of Skillful Women, and
Troilus and Criseyde. He is seen every bit crucial in legitimising the literary use of Middle English when the dominant literary languages in England were even so Anglo-Norman French and Latin.[4]
Chaucer’s contemporary Thomas Hoccleve hailed him as “the firste fyndere of our off-white langage”. Almost two thousand English words are commencement attested to in Chaucerian manuscripts.





Arms of Geoffrey Chaucer:
Per pale silvery and gules, a bend counterchanged.

Chaucer was born in London most likely in the early 1340s (by some accounts, including his monument, he was born in 1343), though the precise date and location remain unknown. The Chaucer family unit offers an extraordinary instance of upward mobility. His great-grandfather was a tavern keeper, his grandfather worked as a purveyor of wines, and his father John Chaucer rose to become an important wine merchant with a royal appointment.[five]
Several previous generations of Geoffrey Chaucer’southward family had been vintners[6]
and merchants in Ipswich.[8]
His family proper noun is derived from the French
chaucier, once thought to hateful ‘shoemaker’, but now known to mean a maker of hose or leggings.[9]

In 1324, his father John Chaucer was kidnapped by an aunt in the hope of marrying the 12-year-old to her daughter in an attempt to proceed belongings in Ipswich. The aunt was imprisoned and fined £250, now equivalent to about £200,000, which suggests that the family unit was financially secure.[10]

John Chaucer married Agnes Copton, who inherited properties in 1349, including 24 shops in London from her uncle Hamo de Copton, who is described in a will dated 3 April 1354 and listed in the City Hustings Gyre equally “moneyer”, said to exist a moneyer at the Tower of London. In the City Hustings Roll 110, 5, Ric Ii, dated June 1380, Chaucer refers to himself as
me Galfridum Chaucer, filium Johannis Chaucer, Vinetarii, Londonie, which translates as: “Geoffrey Chaucer, son of the vintner John Chaucer, London”.[11]



Chaucer as a pilgrim, in the early 15th-century illuminated Ellesmere manuscript of the
Canterbury Tales

While records concerning the lives of his contemporaries William Langland and the Gawain Poet are practically not-existent, since Chaucer was a public servant his official life is very well documented, with nearly v hundred written items testifying to his career. The first of the “Chaucer Life Records” appears in 1357, in the household accounts of Elizabeth de Burgh, the Countess of Ulster, when he became the noblewoman’s page through his father’southward connections,[12]
a mutual medieval form of apprenticeship for boys into knighthood or prestige appointments. The countess was married to Lionel, Duke of Clarence, the second surviving son of the king, Edward Iii, and the position brought the teenage Chaucer into the shut court circle, where he was to remain for the remainder of his life. He also worked as a courtier, a diplomat, and a civil servant, as well as working for the male monarch from 1389 to 1391 every bit Clerk of the King’south Works.[13]

In 1359, the early stages of the Hundred Years’ State of war, Edward Iii invaded France and Chaucer travelled with Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, Elizabeth’s husband, as part of the English army. In 1360, he was captured during the siege of Rheims. Edward paid £16 for his ransom,[14]
a considerable sum equivalent to £12,261 in 2021,[xv]
and Chaucer was released.

Chaucer crest
A unicorn’s caput
with canting arms of Roet below:
Gules, three Catherine Wheels or
= “spinning wheel”). Ewelme Church, Oxfordshire. Possibly funeral captain of his son Thomas Chaucer

Subsequently this, Chaucer’s life is uncertain, only he seems to have travelled in France, Spain, and Flanders, perhaps as a messenger and mayhap fifty-fifty going on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Effectually 1366, Chaucer married Philippa (de) Roet. She was a lady-in-waiting to Edward III’s queen, Philippa of Hainault, and a sis of Katherine Swynford, who later (c. 1396) became the third wife of John of Gaunt. It is uncertain how many children Chaucer and Philippa had, simply 3 or four are most commonly cited. His son, Thomas Chaucer, had an illustrious career, every bit master butler to four kings, envoy to French republic, and Speaker of the House of Commons. Thomas’s daughter, Alice, married the Duke of Suffolk. Thomas’s great-grandson (Geoffrey’southward smashing-corking-grandson), John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, was the heir to the throne designated by Richard Three before he was deposed. Geoffrey’s other children probably included Elizabeth Chaucy, a nun at Barking Abbey,[16]
Agnes, an attendant at Henry 4’s coronation; and some other son, Lewis Chaucer. Chaucer’s “Treatise on the Astrolabe” was written for Lewis.[18]

According to tradition, Chaucer studied law in the Inner Temple (an Inn of Courtroom) at this time. He became a member of the royal courtroom of Edward Three equally a
valet de chambre, yeoman, or esquire on 20 June 1367, a position which could entail a wide variety of tasks. His wife also received a pension for court employment. He travelled abroad many times, at to the lowest degree some of them in his role as a valet. In 1368, he may have attended the wedding of Lionel of Antwerp to Violante Visconti, daughter of Galeazzo II Visconti, in Milan. Two other literary stars of the era were in attendance: Jean Froissart and Petrarch. Effectually this fourth dimension, Chaucer is believed to have written
The Book of the Duchess
in honour of Blanche of Lancaster, the belatedly wife of John of Gaunt, who died in 1369 of the plague.[19]

Chaucer travelled to Picardy the next year as part of a military expedition; in 1373 he visited Genoa and Florence. Numerous scholars such equally Skeat, Boitani, and Rowland[20]
suggested that, on this Italian trip, he came into contact with Petrarch or Boccaccio. They introduced him to medieval Italian poesy, the forms and stories of which he would use later.[21]
The purposes of a voyage in 1377 are mysterious, as details inside the historical record disharmonize. Later documents suggest it was a mission, along with Jean Froissart, to adjust a marriage between the future Rex Richard 2 and a French princess, thereby ending the Hundred Years’ State of war. If this was the purpose of their trip, they seem to have been unsuccessful, equally no hymeneals occurred.

In 1378, Richard II sent Chaucer every bit an envoy (undercover dispatch) to the Visconti and to Sir John Hawkwood, English condottiere (mercenary leader) in Milan. It has been speculated that it was Hawkwood on whom Chaucer based his character the Knight in the
Canterbury Tales, for a clarification matches that of a 14th-century condottiere.

A 19th-century depiction of Chaucer

A possible indication that his career equally a writer was appreciated came when Edward Three granted Chaucer “a gallon of wine daily for the rest of his life” for some unspecified job. This was an unusual grant, but given on a day of celebration, St George’southward Day, 1374, when artistic endeavours were traditionally rewarded, it is assumed to take been another early poetic work. It is not known which, if any, of Chaucer’s extant works prompted the advantage, but the proffer of him as poet to a male monarch places him equally a precursor to later on poets laureate. Chaucer connected to collect the liquid stipend until Richard 2 came to power, after which it was converted to a monetary grant on 18 April 1378.

Chaucer obtained the very substantial task of comptroller of the customs for the port of London, which he began on viii June 1374.[23]
He must have been suited for the office as he continued in it for twelve years, a long time in such a mail at that fourth dimension. His life goes undocumented for much of the next ten years, simply it is believed that he wrote (or began) most of his famous works during this catamenia. He was mentioned in police force papers of 4 May 1380, involved in the raptus (rape or seizure) of Cecilia Chaumpaigne.[24]
What was meant is unclear, but the incident seems to have been resolved quickly with an exchange of money in June 1380 and did not exit a stain on Chaucer’s reputation. Information technology is not known if Chaucer was in the City of London at the time of the Peasants’ Revolt, but if he was, he would take seen its leaders laissez passer almost directly under his apartment window at Aldgate.[25]

While withal working as comptroller, Chaucer appears to accept moved to Kent, existence appointed as i of the commissioners of peace for Kent, at a time when French invasion was a possibility. He is thought to accept started work on
The Canterbury Tales
in the early 1380s. He likewise became a member of parliament for Kent in 1386, and attended the ‘Wonderful Parliament’ that year. He appears to take been present at most of the 71 days information technology sat, for which he was paid £24 9s.[26]
On 15 October that year, he gave a deposition in the instance of
Scrope 5. Grosvenor.[27]
There is no farther reference afterward this date to Philippa, Chaucer’s wife, and she is presumed to have died in 1387. He survived the political upheavals caused by the Lords Appellants, despite the fact that Chaucer knew some of the men executed over the affair quite well.

On 12 July 1389, Chaucer was appointed the clerk of the king’south works, a sort of foreman organising near of the king’due south building projects.[28]
No major works were begun during his tenure, but he did behave repairs on Westminster Palace, St. George’south Chapel, Windsor, continued edifice the wharf at the Tower of London, and built the stands for a tournament held in 1390. Information technology may take been a hard job, but it paid well: two shillings a day, more than iii times his salary as a comptroller. Chaucer was also appointed keeper of the lodge at the King’south park in Feckenham Woods in Worcestershire, which was a largely honorary engagement.[29]

Later life


In September 1390, records say that Chaucer was robbed and possibly injured while conducting the business, and he stopped working in this chapters on 17 June 1391. He began as Deputy Forester in the imperial woods of Petherton Park in North Petherton, Somerset on 22 June.[30]
This was no sinecure, with maintenance an important part of the job, although there were many opportunities to derive profit.

Richard II granted him an almanac pension of 20 pounds in 1394 (equivalent to £18,558 in 2021),[31]
and Chaucer’due south name fades from the historical record non long later on Richard’s overthrow in 1399. The last few records of his life show his pension renewed by the new king, and his taking a lease on a residence inside the shut of Westminster Abbey on 24 December 1399.[32]
Henry Four renewed the grants assigned by Richard, just
The Complaint of Chaucer to his Purse
hints that the grants might non have been paid. The last mention of Chaucer is on v June 1400 when some debts owed to him were repaid.

Chaucer died of unknown causes on 25 October 1400, although the only evidence for this appointment comes from the engraving on his tomb which was erected more than 100 years afterwards his decease. There is some speculation[33]
that he was murdered past enemies of Richard II or fifty-fifty on the orders of his successor Henry IV, but the instance is entirely circumstantial. Chaucer was cached in Westminster Abbey in London, as was his right attributable to his status as a tenant of the Abbey’southward close. In 1556, his remains were transferred to a more ornate tomb, making him the first writer interred in the surface area now known as Poets’ Corner.[34]

Relationship to John of Gaunt


Chaucer was a close friend of John of Gaunt, the wealthy Duke of Lancaster and father of Henry Four, and he served under Lancaster’s patronage. Near the stop of their lives, Lancaster and Chaucer became brothers-in-law when Lancaster married Katherine Swynford (de Roet) in 1396; she was the sister of Philippa (Pan) de Roet, whom Chaucer had married in 1366.

Book of the Duchess
(also known as the
Deeth of Blaunche the Duchesse)[35]
was written in commemoration of Blanche of Lancaster, John of Gaunt’south kickoff married woman. The poem refers to John and Blanche in allegory as the narrator relates the tale of “A long castel with walles white/Be Seynt Johan, on a ryche hil” (1318–1319) who is mourning grievously later the death of his love, “And goode faire White she het/That was my lady name ryght” (948–949). The phrase “long castel” is a reference to Lancaster (besides called “Loncastel” and “Longcastell”), “walles white” is idea to exist an oblique reference to Blanche, “Seynt Johan” was John of Gaunt’s name-saint, and “ryche hil” is a reference to Richmond. These references reveal the identity of the grieving black knight of the poem as John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and Earl of Richmond. “White” is the English translation of the French discussion “blanche”, implying that the white lady was Blanche of Lancaster.[36]



Chaucer’s curt poem
Fortune, believed to accept been written in the 1390s, is too idea to refer to Lancaster.[37]
“Chaucer every bit narrator” openly defies
Fortune, proclaiming that he has learned who his enemies are through her tyranny and cant, and declares “my suffisaunce” (15) and that “over himself hath the maystrye” (14).

Fortune, in turn, does not understand Chaucer’s harsh words to her for she believes that she has been kind to him, claims that he does not know what she has in shop for him in the future, but almost importantly, “And eek thou hast thy beste frend alyve” (32, 40, 48). Chaucer retorts, “My frend maystow nat reven, bullheaded goddesse” (50) and orders her to take abroad those who just pretend to exist his friends.

turns her attention to iii princes whom she implores to salvage Chaucer of his hurting and “Preyeth his beste frend of his noblesse/That to som beter estat he may atteyne” (78–79). The three princes are believed to represent the dukes of Lancaster, York, and Gloucester, and a portion of line 76 (“as iii of you lot or tweyne”) is thought to refer to the ordinance of 1390 which specified that no royal gift could be authorised without the consent of at to the lowest degree two of the iii dukes.[37]

Most conspicuous in this short poem is the number of references to Chaucer’due south “beste frend”.
states iii times in her response to the plaintiff, “And likewise, you still have your all-time friend live” (32, xl, 48); she as well refers to his “beste frend” in the envoy when appealing to his “noblesse” to assistance Chaucer to a higher estate. The narrator makes a fifth reference when he track at
that she shall not have his friend from him.

Religious beliefs


Chaucer’s attitudes toward the Church should not be confused with his attitudes toward Christianity. He seems to have respected and admired Christians and to have been one himself, though he also recognised that many people in the church were venal and corrupt.[39]
He wrote in
Canterbury Tales, “now I beg all those that heed to this little treatise, or read it, that if there be anything in it that pleases them, they give thanks our Lord Jesus Christ for it, from whom proceeds all understanding and goodness.”[40]

Literary works


Portrait of Chaucer (16th century). The arms are:
Per pale silverish and gules, a bend counterchanged

Chaucer’s showtime major work was
The Volume of the Duchess, an elegy for Blanche of Lancaster who died in 1368. Ii other early works were
Anelida and Arcite
The House of Fame. He wrote many of his major works in a prolific period when he held the task of customs comptroller for London (1374 to 1386). His
Parlement of Foules,
The Fable of Good Women, and
Troilus and Criseyde
all date from this fourth dimension. It is believed that he started
The Canterbury Tales
in the 1380s.[41]

Chaucer as well translated Boethius’
Consolation of Philosophy
The Romance of the Rose
past Guillaume de Lorris (extended by Jean de Meun). Eustache Deschamps chosen himself a “nettle in Chaucer’s garden of poetry”. In 1385, Thomas Usk fabricated glowing mention of Chaucer, and John Gower also lauded him.[42]

Treatise on the Astrolabe
describes the form and utilise of the astrolabe in item and is sometimes cited equally the showtime instance of technical writing in the English language language, and it indicates that Chaucer was versed in science in improver to his literary talents.[43]
The equatorie of the planetis
is a scientific work similar to the
and sometimes ascribed to Chaucer because of its linguistic communication and handwriting, an identification which scholars no longer deem tenable.[44]





Portrait of Chaucer from a 1412 manuscript by Thomas Hoccleve, who may have met Chaucer

Chaucer wrote in continental accentual-syllabic metre, a style which had developed in English language literature since around the 12th century equally an alternative to the alliterative Anglo-Saxon metre.[47]
Chaucer is known for metrical innovation, inventing the rhyme royal, and he was one of the first English poets to apply the 5-stress line, a decasyllabic cousin to the iambic pentametre, in his work, with only a few anonymous curt works using it before him.[48]
The arrangement of these v-stress lines into rhyming couplets, beginning seen in his
The Legend of Skillful Women, was used in much of his later work and became 1 of the standard poetic forms in English. His early influence as a satirist is as well important, with the mutual humorous device, the funny emphasis of a regional dialect, apparently making its start appearance in
The Reeve’due south Tale.

The poetry of Chaucer, forth with other writers of the era, is credited with helping to standardise the London Dialect of the Middle English language linguistic communication from a combination of the Kentish and Midlands dialects.[49]
This is probably overstated; the influence of the court, chancery and bureaucracy – of which Chaucer was a part – remains a more likely influence on the evolution of Standard English.

Modern English is somewhat distanced from the linguistic communication of Chaucer’s poems owing to the upshot of the Great Vowel Shift some time subsequently his death. This change in the pronunciation of English, still not fully understood, makes the reading of Chaucer difficult for the modern audition.

The status of the final
in Chaucer’s verse is uncertain: it seems likely that during the period of Chaucer’s writing the final
was dropping out of colloquial English and that its use was somewhat irregular. It may have been a vestige of the Old English dative singular suffix
attached to nigh nouns. Chaucer’southward versification suggests that the final
is sometimes to be vocalised, and sometimes to be silent; nonetheless, this remains a indicate on which there is disagreement. When it is vocalised, almost scholars pronounce it as a schwa.

Apart from the irregular spelling, much of the vocabulary is recognisable to the modern reader. Chaucer is also recorded in the
Oxford English Dictionary
as the first author to use many common English words in his writings. These words were probably oftentimes used in the language at the time but Chaucer, with his ear for mutual speech communication, is the earliest extant manuscript source.
are just some of nigh two yard English words first attested in Chaucer.[50]



Portrait of Chaucer by Romantic era poet and painter William Blake, c. 1800

Widespread knowledge of Chaucer’s works is attested by the many poets who imitated or responded to his writing. John Lydgate was i of the earliest poets to write continuations of Chaucer’s unfinished
while Robert Henryson’due south
Testament of Cresseid
completes the story of Cressida left unfinished in his
Troilus and Criseyde. Many of the manuscripts of Chaucer’s works contain cloth from these poets and later appreciations by the Romantic era poets were shaped by their failure to distinguish the later “additions” from original Chaucer.

Writers of the 17th and 18th centuries, such every bit John Dryden, admired Chaucer for his stories, but not for his rhythm and rhyme, as few critics could and then read Middle English and the text had been butchered by printers, leaving a somewhat unadmirable mess.[51]
It was non until the late 19th century that the official Chaucerian canon, accepted today, was decided upon, largely as a result of Walter William Skeat’south work. Roughly seventy-five years later Chaucer’s death,
The Canterbury Tales
was selected by William Caxton to be 1 of the first books to exist printed in England.[52]



Chaucer is sometimes considered the source of the English language vernacular tradition. His accomplishment for the linguistic communication can exist seen as part of a general historical trend towards the cosmos of a vernacular literature, subsequently the example of Dante, in many parts of Europe. A parallel trend in Chaucer’s own lifetime was underway in Scotland through the work of his slightly earlier gimmicky, John Barbour, and was likely to have been even more than full general, equally is evidenced by the instance of the Pearl Poet in the north of England.

Although Chaucer’south language is much closer to Modern English than the text of
Beowulf, such that (dissimilar that of
Beowulf) a Modern English language-speaker with a big vocabulary of archaic words may understand it, it differs enough that most publications modernise his idiom.[53]
The following is a sample from the prologue of
The Summoner’s Tale
that compares Chaucer’southward text to a modern translation:

Original Text Modern Translation
This frere bosteth that he knoweth helle, This friar boasts that he knows hell,
And God it woot, that it is litel wonder; And God knows that information technology is niggling wonder;
Freres and feendes been merely lyte asonder. Friars and fiends are seldom far apart.
For, pardee, ye han ofte tyme herd telle For, by God, you have oft heard tell
How that a frere ravyshed was to helle How a friar was taken to hell
In spirit ones past a visioun; In spirit, in one case by a vision;
And equally an affections ladde hym up and doun, And as an affections led him up and downwards,
To shewen hym the peynes that the were, To show him the pains that were there,
In al the identify saugh he nat a frere; In all the place he saw not a friar;
Of oother folk he saugh ynowe in wo. Of other folk he saw plenty in woe.
Unto this angel spak the frere tho: Unto this angel spoke the friar thus:
Now, sire, quod he, han freres swich a grace “At present sir”, said he, “Accept friars such a grace
That apex of hem shal come to this place? That none of them come to this identify?”
Yis, quod this aungel, many a millioun! “Yes”, said the affections, “many a million!”
And unto sathanas he ladde hym doun. And unto Satan the angel led him downwardly.
–And now hath sathanas, –seith he, –a tayl “And now Satan has”, he said, “a tail,
Brodder than of a carryk is the sayl. Broader than a galleon’s canvas.
Hold upward thy tayl, one thousand sathanas!–quod he; Concur up your tail, Satan!” said he.
–shewe forth thyn ers, and lat the frere se “Show forth your arse, and let the friar see
Where is the nest of freres in this place!– Where the nest of friars is in this place!”
And er that half a furlong wey of infinite, And before half a furlong of infinite,
Correct then as bees out swarmen from an hyve, Just every bit bees swarm out from a hive,
Out of the develes ers ther gonne dryve Out of the devil’s arse there were driven
Twenty thousand freres on a route, 20 m friars on a rout,
And thurghout helle swarmed al aboute, And throughout hell swarmed all well-nigh,
And comen agayn as faste every bit they may gon, And came once again as fast as they could go,
And in his ers they crepten everychon. And every one crept into his arse.
He clapte his tayl agayn and lay ful stille. He shut his tail again and lay very still.[55]

Valentine’s Solar day and romance


The first recorded clan of Valentine’south Solar day with romantic love is believed to be in Chaucer’s
Parliament of Fowls
(1382), a dream vision portraying a parliament for birds to choose their mates.[56]
Honouring the showtime anniversary of the date of fifteen-year-old Male monarch Richard II of England to 15-twelvemonth-old Anne of Bohemia:

For this was on seynt Volantynys mean solar day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make
Of euery kynde that men thinke may
And that so heuge a noyse gan they make
That erthe & eyr & tre & euery lake
So ful was that onethe was there space
For me to stonde, and then ful was al the place.[58]

Critical reception


Early criticism


“The language of England, upon which Chaucer was the get-go to confer glory, has amply justified the foresight which led him to disdain all others for its sake, and, in turn, has conferred an enduring celebrity upon him who trusted his reputation to it without reserve.”

—T. R. Lounsbury.[59]

The poet Thomas Hoccleve, who may have met Chaucer and considered him his function model, hailed Chaucer as “the firste fyndere of our off-white langage”.[60]
John Lydgate referred to Chaucer within his own text
The Fall of Princes
as the “lodesterre (guiding principle) … off our language”.[61]
Effectually two centuries later, Sir Philip Sidney greatly praised
Troilus and Criseyde
in his own
Defence of Poesie.[62]
During the nineteenth and early on twentieth century, Chaucer came to be viewed as a symbol of the nation’s poetic heritage.[63]

In Charles Dickens’ 1850 novel
David Copperfield, the Victorian era author echoed Chaucer’s use of Luke 23:34 from
Troilus and Criseyde
(Dickens held a re-create in his library amid other works of Chaucer), with M. Grand. Chesterton writing, “among the great canonical English language authors, Chaucer and Dickens take the almost in mutual.”[64]

Manuscripts and audience


The big number of surviving manuscripts of Chaucer’s works is testimony to the enduring interest in his poesy prior to the arrival of the printing press. There are 83 surviving manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales (in whole or function) alone, forth with xvi of
Troilus and Criseyde, including the personal copy of Henry IV.[65]
Given the ravages of fourth dimension, it is likely that these surviving manuscripts correspond hundreds since lost.

Chaucer’s original audience was a courtly one, and would take included women every bit well as men of the upper social classes. Yet even before his expiry in 1400, Chaucer’s audience had begun to include members of the rising literate, middle and merchant classes. This included many Lollard sympathisers who may well accept been inclined to read Chaucer as one of their own.

Lollards were especially attracted to Chaucer’south satirical writings most friars, priests, and other church officials. In 1464, John Businesswoman, a tenant farmer in Agmondesham (Amersham in Buckinghamshire), was brought before John Chadworth, the Bishop of Lincoln, on charges of being a Lollard heretic; he confessed to owning a “boke of the Tales of Caunterburie” among other suspect volumes.[66]

Printed editions


Title page of Chaucer’south
Canterbury Tales, c. 1400

William Caxton, the outset English printer, was responsible for the first 2 folio editions of
The Canterbury Tales
which were published in 1478 and 1483.[67]
Caxton’due south 2nd printing, past his own account, came most because a customer complained that the printed text differed from a manuscript he knew; Caxton obligingly used the man’s manuscript every bit his source. Both Caxton editions comport the equivalent of manuscript authority. Caxton’s edition was reprinted by his successor, Wynkyn de Worde, simply this edition has no independent authorization.

Richard Pynson, the King’s Printer nether Henry Viii for virtually 20 years, was the kickoff to collect and sell something that resembled an edition of the collected works of Chaucer; however, in the process, he introduced 5 previously printed texts that are now known not to exist Chaucer’due south. (The drove is actually iii separately printed texts, or collections of texts, bound together as one book.)

In that location is a likely connexion between Pynson’southward product and William Thynne’south a mere half dozen years later. Thynne had a successful career from the 1520s until his death in 1546, every bit master clerk of the kitchen of Henry VIII, one of the masters of the royal household. He spent years comparison diverse versions of Chaucer’s works, and selected 41 pieces for publication. While in that location were questions over the authorship of some of the fabric, there is not doubt this was the first comprehensive view of Chaucer’s work.
The Workes of Geffray Chaucer,
published in 1532, was the first edition of Chaucer’s collected works. Thynne’due south editions of
Chaucer’southward Works
in 1532 and 1542 were the get-go major contributions to the existence of a widely recognised Chaucerian catechism. Thynne represents his edition as a volume sponsored past and supportive of the rex who is praised in the preface past Sir Brian Tuke. Thynne’s canon brought the number of apocryphal works associated with Chaucer to a total of 28, fifty-fifty if that was not his intention.[68]
As with Pynson, once included in the
Works, pseudepigraphic texts stayed with those works, regardless of their first editor’s intentions.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Chaucer was printed more any other English language author, and he was the beginning author to have his works collected in comprehensive unmarried-volume editions in which a Chaucer canon began to cohere. Some scholars fence that 16th-century editions of Chaucer’s
ready the precedent for all other English authors in terms of presentation, prestige and success in impress. These editions certainly established Chaucer’s reputation, but they also began the complicated process of reconstructing and frequently inventing Chaucer’southward biography and the approved list of works which were attributed to him.

Probably the nigh pregnant aspect of the growing apocrypha is that, beginning with Thynne’s editions, it began to include medieval texts that fabricated Chaucer appear as a proto-Protestant Lollard, primarily the
Testament of Love
The Plowman’s Tale. As “Chaucerian” works that were not considered apocryphal until the late 19th century, these medieval texts enjoyed a new life, with English Protestants carrying on the earlier Lollard projection of appropriating existing texts and authors who seemed sympathetic—or malleable enough to exist construed as sympathetic—to their cause. The official Chaucer of the early printed volumes of his
was construed every bit a proto-Protestant as the aforementioned was done, meantime, with William Langland and
Piers Plowman.

The famous
Plowman’south Tale
did not enter Thynne’s
until the second, 1542, edition. Its entry was surely facilitated by Thynne’s inclusion of Thomas Usk’south
Testament of Dearest
in the first edition. The
Testament of Honey
imitates, borrows from, and thus resembles Usk’s gimmicky, Chaucer. (Testament of Love
besides appears to infringe from
Piers Plowman.)

Since the
Attestation of Love
mentions its author’s part in a failed plot (book 1, affiliate 6), his imprisonment, and (perhaps) a recantation of (possibly Lollard) heresy, all this was associated with Chaucer. (Usk himself was executed equally a traitor in 1388.) John Foxe took this recantation of heresy as a defense of the true religion, calling Chaucer a “right Wiclevian” and (erroneously) identifying him as a schoolmate and shut friend of John Wycliffe at Merton Higher, Oxford. (Thomas Speght is conscientious to highlight these facts in his editions and his “Life of Chaucer”.) No other sources for the
Testament of Honey
exist—there is just Thynne’southward construction of any manuscript sources he had.

John Stow (1525–1605) was an antiquarian and also a chronicler. His edition of Chaucer’south
in 1561[68]
brought the apocrypha to more than 50 titles. More were added in the 17th century, and they remained as late as 1810, well after Thomas Tyrwhitt pared the catechism downward in his 1775 edition.[69]
The compilation and press of Chaucer’s works was, from its beginning, a political enterprise, since it was intended to establish an English national identity and history that grounded and authorised the Tudor monarchy and church building. What was added to Chaucer often helped represent him favourably to Protestant England.

Engraving of Chaucer from Speght’south edition. The two peak shields brandish:
Per stake silverish and gules, a bend counterchanged
(Chaucer), that at bottom left:
Gules, three Catherine Wheels or
(Roet, canting arms, French
= “spinning wheel”), and that at bottom right displays Roet quartering
Argent, a chief gules overall a panthera leo rampant double queued or
(Chaucer) with crest of Chaucer higher up:
A unicorn caput

In his 1598 edition of the
Works, Speght (probably taking cues from Foxe) fabricated good utilise of Usk’s business relationship of his political intrigue and imprisonment in the
Testament of Love
to assemble a largely fictional “Life of Our Learned English Poet, Geffrey Chaucer”. Speght’south “Life” presents readers with an sometime radical in troubled times much similar their own, a proto-Protestant who eventually came round to the king’s views on religion. Speght states, “In the second yr of Richard the second, the King tooke Geffrey Chaucer and his lands into his protection. The occasion wherof no dubiety was some daunger and trouble whereinto he was fallen past favouring some rash endeavour of the common people.” Nether the word of Chaucer’southward friends, namely John of Gaunt, Speght farther explains:

Even so it seemeth that [Chaucer] was in some trouble in the daies of King Richard the second, as it may appeare in the Testament of Loue: where hee doth greatly complaine of his owne rashnesse in following the multitude, and of their hatred confronting him for bewraying their purpose. And in that complaint which he maketh to his empty purse, I do find a written copy, which I had of Iohn Stow (whose library hath helped many writers) wherein x times more is adioined, so is in print. Where he maketh great lamentation for his wrongfull imprisonment, wishing death to finish his daies: which in my iudgement doth greatly accord with that in the Testament of Loue. Moreouer nosotros notice it thus in Record.

Later, in “The Argument” to the
Testament of Dear, Speght adds:

Chaucer did compile this booke as a comfort to himselfe after corking griefs conceiued for some rash attempts of the commons, with whome he had ioyned, and thereby was in feare to loose the fauour of his best friends.

Speght is besides the source of the famous tale of Chaucer being fined for beating a Franciscan friar in Fleet Street, as well as a fictitious coat of arms and family tree. Ironically – and perhaps consciously so – an introductory, apologetic letter in Speght’s edition from Francis Beaumont defends the unseemly, “depression”, and bawdy bits in Chaucer from an elite, classicist position.

Francis Thynne noted some of these inconsistencies in his
Animadversions, insisting that Chaucer was not a commoner, and he objected to the friar-beating story. Yet Thynne himself underscores Chaucer’s back up for popular religious reform, associating Chaucer’s views with his father William Thynne’due south attempts to include
The Plowman’s Tale
The Pilgrim’s Tale
in the 1532 and 1542

The myth of the Protestant Chaucer continues to have a lasting impact on a big body of Chaucerian scholarship. Though it is extremely rare for a modern scholar to advise Chaucer supported a religious movement that did non be until more than a century after his death, the predominance of this thinking for then many centuries left information technology for granted that Chaucer was at to the lowest degree hostile toward Catholicism. This assumption forms a large role of many critical approaches to Chaucer’south works, including neo-Marxism.

Alongside Chaucer’s
Works, the almost impressive literary monument of the period is John Foxe’s
Acts and Monuments…. Every bit with the Chaucer editions, it was critically significant to English Protestant identity and included Chaucer in its project. Foxe’s Chaucer both derived from and contributed to the printed editions of Chaucer’s
Works, especially the pseudepigrapha.
Jack Upland
was first printed in Foxe’s
Acts and Monuments, and then information technology appeared in Speght’s edition of Chaucer’s

Speght’due south “Life of Chaucer” echoes Foxe’s own account, which is itself dependent upon the earlier editions that added the
Testament of Dearest
The Plowman’s Tale
to their pages. Like Speght’s Chaucer, Foxe’s Chaucer was too a shrewd (or lucky) political survivor. In his 1563 edition, Foxe “thought it not out of season … to couple … some mention of Geoffrey Chaucer” with a word of John Colet, a possible source for John Skelton’southward character Colin Clout.

Probably referring to the 1542 Act for the Advancement of Truthful Religion, Foxe said that he

“marvel[s] to consider … how the bishops, condemning and abolishing all manner of English books and treatises which might bring the people to any lite of knowledge, did yet authorise the works of Chaucer to remain nevertheless and to be occupied; who, no dubiety, saw into religion as much almost equally fifty-fifty we do now, and uttereth in his works no less, and seemeth to exist a right Wicklevian, or else there never was any. And that, all his works nigh, if they exist thoroughly brash, will testify (albeit done in mirth, and covertly); and especially the latter cease of his third book of the Attestation of Love … Wherein, except a man be altogether blind, he may espy him at the full: although in the same book (every bit in all others he useth to do), under shadows covertly, equally nether a visor, he suborneth truth in such sort, every bit both privily she may profit the godly-minded, and notwithstanding non be espied of the crafty adversary. And therefore the bishops, belike, taking his works but for jests and toys, in condemning other books, even so permitted his books to exist read.”[70]

It is significant, too, that Foxe’s discussion of Chaucer leads into his history of “The Reformation of the Church of Christ in the Time of Martin Luther” when “Press, being opened, incontinently ministered unto the church the instruments and tools of learning and knowledge; which were adept books and authors, which earlier lay hid and unknown. The science of printing being constitute, immediately followed the grace of God; which stirred up skillful wits aptly to conceive the light of noesis and judgment: by which light darkness began to be espied, and ignorance to be detected; truth from error, religion from superstition, to be discerned.”[70]

Foxe downplays Chaucer’south bawdy and amorous writing, insisting that it all testifies to his piety. Fabric that is troubling is deemed metaphoric, while the more forthright satire (which Foxe prefers) is taken literally.

John Urry produced the first edition of the complete works of Chaucer in a Latin font, published posthumously in 1721. Included were several tales, according to the editors, for the first time printed, a biography of Chaucer, a glossary of old English words, and testimonials of author writers concerning Chaucer dating dorsum to the 16th century. According to A. S. G Edwards,

“This was the commencement collected edition of Chaucer to be printed in roman blazon. The life of Chaucer prefixed to the volume was the piece of work of the Reverend John Dart, corrected and revised by Timothy Thomas. The glossary appended was also mainly compiled by Thomas. The text of Urry’s edition has frequently been criticised by subsequent editors for its frequent conjectural emendations, mainly to go far accommodate to his sense of Chaucer’due south metre. The justice of such criticisms should not obscure his achievement. His is the offset edition of Chaucer for nearly a hundred and l years to consult whatever manuscripts and is the beginning since that of William Thynne in 1534 to seek systematically to assemble a substantial number of manuscripts to found his text. It is also the first edition to offer descriptions of the manuscripts of Chaucer’due south works, and the start to impress texts of ‘Gamelyn’ and ‘The Tale of Beryn’, works ascribed to, but not by, Chaucer.”[71]

Mod scholarship


Statue of Chaucer, dressed every bit a Canterbury pilgrim, on the corner of Best Lane and the Loftier Street, Canterbury

Although Chaucer’s works had long been admired, serious scholarly work on his legacy did not begin until the late 18th century, when Thomas Tyrwhitt edited
The Canterbury Tales, and information technology did non get an established bookish subject field until the 19th century.[72]

Scholars such equally Frederick James Furnivall, who founded the Chaucer Gild in 1868, pioneered the establishment of diplomatic editions of Chaucer’due south major texts, forth with conscientious accounts of Chaucer’s language and prosody. Walter William Skeat, who like Furnivall was closely associated with the
Oxford English Dictionary, established the base of operations text of all of Chaucer’s works with his edition, published by Oxford Academy Printing. Later editions by John H. Fisher and Larry D. Benson offered further refinements, along with disquisitional commentary and bibliographies.

With the textual issues largely addressed, if non resolved, attention turned to the questions of Chaucer’s themes, structure, and audition. The
Chaucer Review
was founded in 1966 and has maintained its position equally the pre-eminent journal of Chaucer studies. In 1994, literary critic Harold Flower placed Chaucer among the greatest Western writers of all time, and in 1997 expounded on William Shakespeare’s debt to the author.[73]

List of works


The following major works are in rough chronological order simply scholars still debate the dating of most of Chaucer’s output and works made up from a collection of stories may take been compiled over a long catamenia.

Major works


  • Translation of
    Roman de la Rose, possibly extant equally
    The Romaunt of the Rose
  • The Book of the Duchess
  • The House of Fame
  • Anelida and Arcite
  • Parlement of Foules
  • Translation of Boethius’
    Alleviation of Philosophy
  • Troilus and Criseyde
  • The Legend of Good Women
  • The Canterbury Tales
  • A Treatise on the Astrolabe

Short poems


Balade to Rosemounde, 1477 print

  • An ABC
  • Chaucers Wordes unto Adam, His Owne Scriveyn
  • The Complaint unto Pity
  • The Complaint of Chaucer to his Purse
  • The Complaint of Mars
  • The Complaint of Venus
  • A Complaint to His Lady
  • The Former Age
  • Fortune
  • Gentilesse
  • Lak of Stedfastnesse
  • Lenvoy de Chaucer a Scogan
  • Lenvoy de Chaucer a Bukton
  • Proverbs
  • Balade to Rosemounde
  • Truth
  • Womanly Noblesse


  • Confronting Women Unconstant
  • A Balade of Complaint
  • Complaynt D’Amours
  • Merciles Beaute
  • The Equatorie of the Planets – A rough translation of a Latin work derived from an Arab work of the aforementioned title. It is a clarification of the structure and apply of a planetary equatorium, which was used in computing planetary orbits and positions (at the fourth dimension it was believed the sun orbited the Earth). The similar
    Treatise on the Astrolabe, not usually doubted equally Chaucer’south work, in add-on to Chaucer’s name as a gloss to the manuscript are the main pieces of bear witness for the ascription to Chaucer. Nonetheless, the bear witness Chaucer wrote such a work is questionable, and as such is not included in
    The Riverside Chaucer. If Chaucer did non etch this work, it was probably written by a contemporary.

Works presumed lost


  • Of the Wreched Engendrynge of Mankynde, possible translation of Innocent III’due south
    De miseria conditionis humanae
  • Origenes upon the Maudeleyne
  • The Book of the Leoun – “The Book of the Panthera leo” is mentioned in Chaucer’s retraction. It has been speculated that it may have been a redaction of Guillaume de Machaut’south ‘Dit dou lyon,’ a story well-nigh courtly love (a subject about which Chaucer frequently wrote).

Spurious works


  • The Pilgrim’south Tale – written in the 16th century with many Chaucerian allusions
  • The Plowman’s Tale
    The Complaint of the Ploughman – a Lollard satire later appropriated as a Protestant text
  • Pierce the Ploughman’southward Crede – a Lollard satire later appropriated by Protestants
  • The Ploughman’south Tale – its body is largely a version of Thomas Hoccleve’due south “Item de Beata Virgine”[75]
  • “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” – frequently attributed to Chaucer, but actually a translation by Richard Roos of Alain Chartier’s verse form[76]
  • The Attestation of Love – actually by Thomas Usk
  • Jack Upland – a Lollard satire
  • The Floure and the Leafe – a 15th-century allegory

Derived works


  • God Spede the Plough – Borrows twelve stanzas of Chaucer’southward
    Monk’s Tale

Run across likewise


  • Chaucer (surname)
  • Centre English literature
  • Poet-diplomat



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    Bowers, John One thousand., ed. (1992). “The Ploughman’s Tale: Introduction”.
    The Canterbury Tales: Fifteenth-Century Continuations and Additions. Kalamazoo: Medieval Found Publications.

  76. ^

    Symons, Dana Chiliad., ed. (2004). “La Belle Dame sans Mercy: Introduction”.
    Chaucerian Dream Visions and Complaints. Kalamazoo: Medieval Constitute Publications.



  • Biggs, David; McGivern, Hugh; Matthews, David; Murrie, Greg; Simpson, Dallas (1999) [1997]. Burton, T. Fifty.; Greentree, Rosemary (eds.).
    Chaucer’s Miller’due south, Reeve’southward, and Cook’south Tales: An Annotated Bibliography 1900-1992. The Chaucer Bibliographies. Vol. 5. Toronto, Buffalo, and London: University of Toronto Press in association with the Academy of Rochester. doi:10.3138/9781442672895. ISBN9781442672895. JSTOR 10.3138/j.ctt2tv0bw.

  • Fruoco, Jonathan, ed. and transl. (2021).
    Le Livre de la Duchesse: oeuvres complètes (Tome I). Paris: Classiques Garnier, ISBN 978-2406119999.
  • Benson, Larry D.; Pratt, Robert; Robinson, F. N., eds. (1987).

    The Riverside Chaucer

    (3rd ed.). Houghton-Mifflin. ISBN978-0-395-29031-6.

  • Crow, Martin M.; Olsen, Clair C. (1966).
    Chaucer: Life-Records.

  • Hopper, Vincent Foster (1970).

    Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (Selected): An Interlinear Translation
    . Barron’s Educational Series. ISBN978-0-8120-0039-9.

  • Hulbert, James Root (1912).
    Chaucer’s Official Life. Collegiate Press, Yard. Banta Pub. Co. p. 75. Retrieved
    12 July

  • Morley, Henry (1883).
    A First Sketch of English Literature. Harvard University.

  • Skeat, West. W. (1899).
    The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Speirs, John (1951).
    Chaucer the Maker. London: Faber and Faber.

  • Turner, Marion (2019).
    Chaucer: A European Life. Princeton: Princeton University Printing.

  • Fruoco, Jonathan (2020).
    Chaucer’s Polyphony. The Mod in Medieval Poetry. Berlin-Kalamazoo: Medieval Constitute Publications, De Gruyter. ISBN 978-1-5015-1849-ii.
  • Ward, Adolphus W. (1907).
    Chaucer. Edinburgh: R. & R. Clark.

  • Akbari, Suzanne Conklin; Simpson, James, eds. (2020).
    The Oxford handbook of Chaucer. Oxford. ISBN978-019-9582-655.

External links


  • Chaucer Bibliography Online
  • Works by Geoffrey Chaucer at Projection Gutenberg
  • Works by or about Geoffrey Chaucer at Net Archive
  • Geoffrey Chaucer on
    In Our Time
    at the BBC
Educational institutions
  • Chaucer Page past Harvard University, including interlinear translation of
    The Canterbury Tales
  • Caxton’due south Chaucer – Complete digitised texts of Caxton’due south two earliest editions of
    The Canterbury Tales
    from the British Library
  • Caxton’southward Canterbury Tales: The British Library Copies An online edition with complete transcriptions and images captured by the HUMI Project
  • Chaucer Metapage – Project in addition to the 33rd International Congress of Medieval Studies
  • Chaucer and his works: Introduction to Chaucer and his works (Descriptions of books with images, University of Glasgow Library)

Which Innovation is Attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Chaucer

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