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July 12 1389 Geoffrey Chaucer named chief clerk by Richard II


On July 12th 1389, King Richard II appointed Geoffrey Chaucer to the position of chief clerk of the king’s works in Westminster.

Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London sometime around 1343, the middle-class son of a wine merchant. He served as a page in an aristocratic household during his teens and was associated with the aristocracy for the rest of his life.

In 1359, he fought in France with Edward III, and was captured in a siege. Edward III ransomed him, and he later worked for Edward III and John of Gaunt. One of his earliest known works was an elegy for the deceased wife of John of Gaunt, Book of the Duchesse.

Around 1366, Chaucer married Philippa (de) Roet. She was a lady-in-waiting to Edward III’s queen, Philippa of Hainault, and a sister of Katherine Swynford, who later became the third wife of John of Gaunt. It is uncertain how many children Chaucer and Philippa had, but three or four are most commonly cited.

In 1372, Chaucer traveled to Italy on diplomatic missions, where he may have been exposed to Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. He also visited Flanders and France, and was appointed comptroller of customs. He wrote several poems in the 1380s, including The Parlement of Foules and Troilus and Criseyde.

In the late 1380s or early 1390s, he began work on the Canterbury Tales, in which a mixed group of nobles, peasants, and clergy make a pilgrimage to the shrine of Thomas a Becket in Canterbury. The work, a compilation of tales told by each character, is remarkable for its presentation of the spectrum of social classes. Although Chaucer intended the book to include 120 stories, he died in 1399, with only 22 tales finished.

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Discussion

5 thoughts on “July 12 1389 Geoffrey Chaucer named chief clerk by Richard II

  1. Well received.

    Posted by neelkanth | July 12, 2012, 20:04
  2. Amazing life for an amazing writer ahead of his time!

    Posted by iguanasell | July 12, 2012, 21:40
  3. I studied Chaucer in grad school. The Canterbury Tales were challenging but delightful. I wish Chaucer had lived to complete them. He opened my eyes to the rich, comples and bawdy aspects of living in his time.

    Posted by klynwurth | July 13, 2012, 01:56
  4. Wonder what we are missing from the other 98 stories!
    Oscar

    Posted by hermitsdoor | July 13, 2012, 11:58

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