Geoffery Chaucer: The Founder of Our Language

Uploaded by JaclynLBell on 20.01.2012

The outstanding english poet Geoffrey Chaucer,
renown before shakespeare, is considered the first finder of our english language.
His Canterbury Tales ranks as one of the greatest public works English literature.
Renowned author, Chauser also contributed importantly the second half of the
fourteenth century
to the management of public affairs as a courtier,
diplomat and civil servant.
In a career that spanned three successive kings
Chaucer was praised and trusted.
But it is his advocation,
the writing of poetry,
for which he is remembered.
Geoffrey Chaucer was born around 1342, likely in London.
His family name derives from the french "Chaucier",
meaning shoemaker,
though Chaucer's father was a wine merchant.
Chaucer's his first appearance in historic records is in 1357 as a
member of the household of Elizabeth,
Countess of Ulster, Wife of Lyonel third son of King Edward III.
Geoffery's father presumably have been able to place him
among a group of young men and women
serving in that royal household:
a customary arrangement whereby families provide their children with opportunity
necessary and for courtly education and connections to advance their careers.
especially since Chaucer reportedly had sixteen siblings, this
was going to excel him in society.
Though this ment Chaucer had to leave his family when work is a page in service
to a knight.
He was only fifteen years old.
bu age seventeen,
Chaucer was a member of King Edward III's army in France, and was even
captured during the unsuccessful siege of Rhymes.
The king himself contributed to Chaucer's ransom
to save him in order to returned him to his majesty's service.
Chaucer surfaces again in historic record on February 22,
1366, when the King of Navare issued a certificate of safe
for Chaucer
three companions and their servants to enter the country Spain.
This occasion is the first of a number of diplomatic missions to the continent
of Europe over the succeeding ten years.
At the age of t25, Chaucer had moved
from a household servant,
a soldier, to that of a
trusted diplomat.
So much responsibility and
activity in public matters
appears to have left Chaucer with little time for writing.
However, his time traveling did expose Chaucer
to the works of Dante,
and Boccaccio.
Which was later to the profound influence on his own writing.
No information exists concerning Chaucer's early education,
although doubtless he would have been fluent in French, as was the Middle
English of the time,
he also became competent in Latin and Italian.
His rank showed that he is closely familiar with many important books this time.
In1366, Chaucer had married his longtime friend, Filippa Pann, a
lady-in-waiting to the queen of England, and continued his work for his Majesty
as a diplomat.
With Chaucer's career prospering, and his first important poem,
Book of the Duchess,
becoming popular,
Chaucer continued to connect to himself with persons in high places.
This first poem
was more than thirteen hundred lines long,
probably written in late 1369 or early 1370, it was written
for the funeral of Blanche,
Duchess of Lancaster,
Wife of John of Gaunt -
who died of plagued in September, 1369.
John of Gaunt
was Chaucer's his best friend.
"Lord, but my heart is maketh light,
when I think on that sweetest right,
a commonly one to see
and wish to God it might so be
that she would hold me for her knight,
my Lady fair and bright."
When RIchard II ascended the throne, Chaucer was appointed Clerk of the King's Work.
His pay raises more than thirty pounds a year and a pitcher of the wine daily.
He became responsible for the construction at Westminster,
the Tower of London,
and several castles and manors,
but times were still hard for Chaucer.
It is during this same time that Chaucer was caught up in illegal scandal.
The charges were dropped an Chaucer was found not guilty.
But regardless, Chaucer's place in society great changed.
He resigned, or was removed, it is not clear,
but Chaucer left the court and moved to Kent:
after which is wife, Philippa
died due to poor health,
leaving Chaucer with two sons
and two daughters.
Between the years of 1387
and 1400,
Chaucer devoted much of his time writing his most famous work,
Canterbury Tales.
The humor of the work is sometimes very subtle
but is often broad and outspoken when compared to other works
written at the same time.
Chaucer's original plan for the Canterbury Tales
called for two tales each
through over twenty pilgrims making the journey from Southport England to the
Shrine of Saint Thomas Beckett of Canterbury England.
He later modified the plan to write only one tale
for each pilgram on the road to Canterbury,
but he only finished twenty-four tales out of the one hundred and twenty
stories it is believed he had been planning.
Chaucer introduces each of these pilgrims as vivid, brief sketches,
a lively mix of a variety of genres
told by the travelers of all aspects of society.
The tale survives in groups connected by a prologues, or introductions, and epilogues,
But the proper arrangement of these groups is not altogether clear.
At this time in Medieval England,
literature was separated into very distinct styles,
focused more on audience - the lower
middle, and upper classes -
than its characters.
Chaucer, however, moves freely between all of these styles
showing favoritism to none.
He not only considers the reader of his work
as his intended audience,
but the other pilgrims within the story as well,
creating a multi-layer
rhetorical puzzle of ambiguities.
Chaucer's work thus far surpasses the ability
of any single Medieval theory to uncover.
Chaucer avoid targeting any specific audience or social class of reader,
focusing instead
on the characters of the story.
The characters
are written
with a skill proportional to their social status and learning.
Chaucer draws on his own unique background, knowledge, literary influences,
and life experiences.
The characters are all divided into three distinct classes.
The classes begin with those who prayed,
the clergy,
the highest of all of the classes in Medieval England,
Those who fight,
the nobility, and those who work, the communist and the peasantry.
Chaucer also breathes new life into his female characters, giving them, for a
first time,
a voice as narrator.
Until now,
Medieval literature only classified women as wives,
and prostitutes.
They were never given a primary role in a story.
When Henry IV takes the throne
Chaucer hoped to find a new job under a new king.
And while Chaucer's reputation for loyalty earned him a small pension
Chaucer went months without pay and was near penniless.
Nevertheless, on the strength of his expectations, on the fourth of December 1399
he released a tenement in the garden St. Mary's
Chapel at Westminster,
and it is probably hear and that he died on the 25 of the following
He was buried in Westminster Abbey and his tomb a nucleus of what
is now known as Poet's Corner.
It is unclear how he died,
and some have even speculated that he may have been murdered.
Little is known about this great man's end.
Even with such a unique and varied life,
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
praises the poet as the greatest English Poet of all time,
and the first to truly show
what the language was capable of
His work has influenced
all to come after him.
The work of Shakespeare,
Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens,
and even author JK Rowling credits Chaucer
as a strong influence.
A very modest plaque was placed at Geoffery Chaucer's tomb when he died;
however, one hundred and fifty years later, in 1556,
as a testament
to his great poetic works,
poet Nicholas Burnham
constructed a more magnificent tomb
in honor
of the father and finder
of our English language.
Today Chaucer's tomb still stands and hundreds of visitors pay him homage each
His works in his unconventional creativity in the fourteenth century
credit him
with not only found in the English language
for capturing the voice of kings and commoners alike.