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Chaucer and the Medieval Times

Essay by   •  April 19, 2017  •  Research Paper  •  1,634 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,786 Views

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Title Page

Background on Chaucer

Page 2

King Arthur/ Medieval times/ politics

Page 3

Gender roles

Page 4

Beliefs/ Religion

Page 5

Important events during this time period

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Bibliography- Works Cited

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Table of Contents

Chaucer and the Medieval Times

Geoffrey Chaucer was one of the first greatest poetry writers in the English literature, who is famously known for the writing of “The Canterbury Tales”. Geoffrey Chaucer was born between the times of 1340 and 1345, in London (1). His father was a prosperous wine merchant; in which he was very wealthy. Geoffrey had many connections through his father’s professions- serving as a noblewoman’s page, a coutier, a diplomat, a civil servant, and a collector of scrap metal (1). Information on Chaucer’s early life and education was not documented, therefore we don’t know as much about his life other than what he writes (1). Chaucer later joined the English army’s invasion of france during the hundred-year war and was taken captive by the French, but was randsomed by the king, who later sent him on diplomatic missions to Genoa and Florence, exposing him to the writings of Dante, Boccaccio and Froissart- which inspired his writings (2). Later on marrying a lady in waiting queen’s household, Pholippa Roet; the two had 4 kids. Chaucer’s first book was “The Book of the Duchess” an elegy for the first wife of his patron John of Gaunt. He went on to write the heroic, “The Canterbury Tales” in 1387. This specific poem progressed into an epic couplet, mainly used for epic and narrative poetry in English- which he is also credited with his use of iambic pentameter.  People during this age were not all as well educated as people are today, many couldn’t write or read so when they heard these tales they would become stories they could tell their children. "Considered a cultural touchstone, if not the very wellspring of literature in the English language, Chaucer’s tales gather twenty-nine models of late-medieval English society and present them with insight and humor." (Academy of American Poets, 75 Maiden Lane, Suite 901, New York, NY 10038.) Chaucer disappears from the historical record in 1400, and soon to have died shortly after. After his death, he was buried at the chapel of St. Benedict, in the South Transept. In 1556, a monument was built in Chaucer’s honor (1). When the Elizabethan poet Edmund Spenser died in 1599 and was buried nearby, the tradition of the “Poets’ Corner” began. Since then more than 30 poets and writers were buried there (1).

King Arthur and the Medieval times/ Politics

There are many mystical tales of King Arthur but he was one of the greatest themes in British literature. We know him today as King Arthur, the Medieval King of the Middle ages who is a legendary King but he does not show up on any medieval Kings timeline (4). The timeline is very accurate but there were no records reported on King Arthur. Is he real or was he just another fairy tale made up back in the day? There is no way of us to know for sure without proper documentation. The king was also known to be associated with the “Knights of the Round Table”, with the “Code of Chivalry and Courtly Love”, and also the Camelot and a magician called Merlin (4). Nowadays there are kid’s TV shows that are related to King Arthur and the Magician Merlin, I once seen an episode which had the Magician Merlin in it. During the Medieval times the growth of trade and merchants affected the growth of the population in many towns as it increased after the black death (also known as the plague). Many towns were built on trade and the “leaders” of the town were the head merchants. Merchant guilds controlled the trade in a town as well as the towns government, they often came into disagreements with the craft guilds over power. Merchants needed a firm base for trade, therefore supporting the king and helping establishing a strong central government (5). They also regulated quality, prices, measurements, and business practices (5). Due to the power of the guilds in their domain, if one was to be expelled from the guilds, it would make it near to impossible to find a way to earn a living (5). The cleanliness back in the medieval times was far from sanitary. The sanitation was an ongoing concern; open drain channels went along side or down the streets in many towns. Almost every stable opened out onto the streets and foul smelling heaps would flow down the channels. People usually threw dirty water out their windows into the directions of the drains, keep in mind this is the same area that people use as walk ways. The law enforcement during this period was very minimal. The constables were the ones who call on citizens to get together for a night watch or a criminal watch (5). The penalties for committing a crime were much cruel compared to today’s law enforcement. A thief found in possession of stolen goods was hanged, no questions asked (5).



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