Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London in about 1340. After working for Elizabeth de Burgh (Edward Ill's daughter-in-law), Chaucer served as a soldier in France. He was captured, but his friends, including the king, raised enough money to buy his freedom. Later he was employed by the king as a diplomat.

In 1386 Chaucer was a Member of Parliament for Kent. At about this time he began to write his most important work, The Canterbury Tales. The book is a collection of stories told by a party of pilgrims on a journey from Southwark to Thomas Becket's shrine at Canterbury. As Chaucer chooses characters from a whole range of different backgrounds, the book provides an important insight into the social, religious and economic conditions of the 14th century.

Geoffrey Chaucer died in 1400.

Primary Sources

(1) Geoffrey Chaucer, The Wife of Bath's Tale (c. 1395)

By God, if women had written stories

As clerks have written their oratories,

They would have written more of men's wickedness,

Than all the sons of Adam could redress.

(2) Geoffrey Chaucer, The Knight's Squire (c. 1395)

With curly locks, as if they had been pressed.

He was some twenty years of age, I guessed.

In stature he was of a moderate length,

With wonderful agility and strength.

He'd seen some service with the cavalry

In Flanders and Artois and Picardy...

Short was his gown, the sleeves were long and wide;

He knew the way to sit a horse and ride.

He could make songs and poems and recite,

Knew how to joust and dance, to draw and write.