Biography of Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer was a fourteenth century writer best known for his “Canterbury Tales”.

When and Where was Geoffrey Chaucer Born?

1342/3. London, England.

Family Background:

Geoffrey Chaucer was the son of John Chaucer a prosperous wine merchant who was probably deputy to the King’s Butler.

Education:

St. Paul’s Cathedral School.

Timeliney of Geoffrey Chaucer:

1346: The English defeat the French at the Battle of Crecy.

1348-50: Main period of the Black Death (Bubonic plaque which had an appalling effect on the population numbers of Europe.)

1356: English victory at Poitiers.

1357: Geoffrey Chaucer became a Page in the house of Prince Lionel, later to become the Duke of Clarence.

1359-60: Chaucer served in the army of King Edward the Third in France where he was captured but released after the payment of a ransom. These monies (totaling £16) were offered through the King by various wealthy persons such as Sir William de Graunson, Knight of Burgundy; John de York, King’s Carter and his seven fellows; Geoffrey Hacking and Thomas de Staines, Valettus of the Queen; between December 1359 and July 1360.

1360: Treaty of Bretigny gives a temporary cessation in the Hundred Years War with France.

1361: Severe outbreak of the plague once again.

1366: Geoffrey Chaucer travels to Spain.

1366: Death of his father. He marries Philippa, daughter of Sir Payne Roet. She was probably the sister of John of Gaunt’s third wife and a lady in waiting to King Edward the Third.

1367: Birth of his son Thomas. Serves as a Valettus and later Squire in the Court of King Edward the Third.

1368: He travels to France on duties for the King.

1369-70: Serves with John of Gaunt’s army in France.

1370-78: Frequently sent on diplomatic missions to the continent, visiting Italy (Genoa and Florence) in 1372 and again in 1378 (Milan).

1374 to 1386: Chaucer appointed Controller of Customs and Subsidy of Wools, Skins and Tanned Hides in the Port of London.

1374: He is granted a gallon pitcher of wine per day for the rest of his life.

1377: Death of King Edward the Third and accession of King Richard the Second.

1380: Birth of his second son Lewis.

1381: Wat Tyler and others start the Peasant’s Revolt. Death of his mother Agnes.

1382: He becomes Comptroller of the Petty Customs.

1385: Chaucer serves as a Justice of the Peace for Kent. Allowed to nominate a permanent Deputy.

1386: He leaves his house in Aldgate, London and becomes a Member of Parliament for Kent.

1389 to 1391: He becomes Clerk of the King’s Works at Westminster, the Tower of London and other royal estates.

1390: Geoffrey Chaucer is robbed of his horse and goods totaling £20.

1394: He is granted an annuity of £20 per year by King Richard the Second.

1398: He is granted a tun of wine per year. (Normally 252 Imperial Gallons).

1399: King Richard the Second is deposed and Henry the Fourth becomes King. Chaucer leases a tenement in the garden of the Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey (for 53 years).

When and Where did he Die?

25th October 1400. London, England.

Age at Death:

58.

Written Works:

1368: “Romaunt of the Rose”.
1369: “The Book of the Duchess”.
1373: “The Life of Saint Cecilia”.
1374-85: “The House of Fame”.
1382-94: “The Legend of Good Women”.
1383: “The Parlement of Fowles”.
1385: “Troilus and Criseyde” “Boece”. “Palamoun and Arcite”.
1386: “The Legend of Good Women”.
1387-1400: “The Canterbury Tales”.
1391: “Treatise of the Astrolabe”.
1396: “The Envoy to Bukton”.
1400: “Complaint of Chaucer to his Purse”.
(1526): New Edition of Chaucer printed by Pynson includes, “The Book of Fame”, “The Canterbury Tales”, “Troilus and Crisyede”.
(1532): “Complete Works”, Edited by Thynne includes many spurious attributions.
(1561): “The Works with Diverse Additions, with the “Siege of Thebes”, compiled by J. Lydgate.

Marriage:

To Philippa, daughter of Sir Payne Roet in 1366. She was probably the sister of John of Gaunt’s third wife and a lady in waiting to King Edward the Third.

Site of Grave:

Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey, London, England.

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey, London
(copyright Anthony Blagg)

Places of Interest:

LONDON:

Westminster Abbey.
Pilgrims Way began at Charing Cross.

KENT:

Canterbury Cathedral.
“Canterbury Tales Experience”, Canterbury.

SOMERSET:

Maunsel House, North Newton, near Bridgewater. (Wrote part of the “Canterbury Tales” whilst staying there).