The Middle Ages
Geoffrey Chaucer, believed to be born in London in the year of 1343, wrote the first ever script of literature in the English language. This literature was a collection of tales called “The Canterbury Tales”, told by pilgrims on their way and back to Canterbury. He was born a “commoner”, however as his father John Chaucer was a prosperous wine merchant and deputy to the King’s Chief butler, he grew up with links to the royal household. Historians assume that Geoffrey Chaucer therefore would have studied in London’s prestigious schools or be home educated by tutors. His education would have armed him with necessary skills for entry into a career of civil or court service and is presumed to have learnt Latin, French and Italian. In 1347, Chaucer was in the service of the Countess of Ulster, wife of Prince Lionel, third son of Edward III. In 1359, he served in the army in France under Prince Lionel, but then was kept as a prisoner. Edward III paid ransom of £16 for Chaucer’s freedom. Although, Chaucer died before he finished writing the rest of the story, one of the tale that was completed called “The Pardoner’s Tale” which is now one of the best and most studied in Literature. Unlike other writers in the Middle Ages, Chaucer created a range of storytellers, each with different personalities and social classes. This provides us an insight to the behaviour, attitudes and weaknesses of English men and women in the fourteenth century. Modern readers may find the personalities strange and unfamiliar, however some are relatable.
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