Geoffrey Chaucer, best renowned for his work in The Canterbury Tales, was a patron and personal friend of John of Gaunt. Lancaster and Chaucer became brothers-in-law at the end of their lives. Geoffrey's father died when he was a young man, and he was brought up by his uncle, Thomas Chaucer. He began writing poems at the age of 30 and continued for the rest of his life. Most scholars believe that The Canterbury Tales was completed around 1357 or 1358. It is an anthology of thirty-three French tales told by pilgrims on their way to Canterbury Cathedral for the annual festival. Chaucer decided which parts of the journey would be told from each pilgrim's point of view, and he assigned them to different speakers in order to show how diverse people are. The original version of The Canterbury Tales included no names of persons or places; it was not published until 1465, nearly twenty years after Chaucer's death. However, many modern adaptations have included details about real people involved with the story.
John of Gaunt was one of the most powerful men in England during Chaucer's time. He inherited the throne at the age of twenty-five, when his father Henry III died without children. Young John married Catherine of Valois, the daughter of the French king, and they had three children together.
The characters in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales are drawn from Chaucer's life experiences and are most likely amalgams of people he knew (though some, like Harry Bailey the Innkeeper, are historical individuals), and Chaucer's use of Middle English to tell their stories is particularly effective because he is able to narrate their stories in both English and Middle English. In addition, writing in Middle English allowed him to include references and allusions that would not have been possible if he had used Latin or French.
Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales during the reigns of four different English kings: Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, and Edward IV. He may have intended them as political satire aimed at those rulers, but others have read into them more personal comments on the failings of various public figures of the time. For example, many believe that the Miller's Proverbs represent an attack on John Wyclif (c. 1330-1384), who was criticized by some members of the clergy for advocating a return to the Bible alone for guidance on religious matters.
There are also poems within The Canterbury Tales that reference events or people far away in time or place. For example, the Franklin's Prologue tells how King Francis I of France once imprisoned him for taking part in a rebellion against his rule, and then released him after hearing his poetry praise the king's daughter, Margaret of France.
The Book of the Duchess, Chaucer's first significant work, is an elegy mourning the death of Blanche, John of Gaunt's first wife. It was probably written between 1359 and 1363, but not published until 1386. It is an open question whether or not it was directly inspired by Blanche's death, but there are many similarities between the two women that make them likely candidates for inspiration.
They were both young, beautiful princesses who married powerful men late in life. Blanche was betrothed to Louis IX of France when she was just nine years old, and she died before the marriage could be consummated. She was only twenty-one years old when she died. John of Gaunt married her when he was fifty years old, after already being married to Katherine of Valois for eighteen years. He was so devastated by her death that he never remarried. He died four years later, alone and childless.
Chaucer wrote about a fictional duchess, but there are hints that he knew his subject matter might one day be his own death. The Book of the Duchess was probably written during a time of great political turmoil in England, with disputes over the succession to the throne.
Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales is a framing narrative composed in Middle English around 1387–1400 by Geoffrey Chaucer. The tales themselves date from between 1350 and 1450. They were originally independent pieces of literature, but many of them were joined together later by the author who also named him/herself as "admin" or "director".
The collection contains fifty-three poems (in modern terms, "tales") about one week in the life of a group of pilgrims on their way to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas à Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. The poems were first published in 1380 and again in 1464. The original title page names the poet as "Geffrey Chaucier", but most later editions substitute "Geoffrey Chaucer" for this word and add an adjective to distinguish him from other poets with the same name.
Chaucer was born about 1342 into a wealthy family that had lands near London. He entered the service of the Duke of Lancaster at age nineteen and spent the next twenty years traveling throughout Europe. It was during these travels that he wrote The Canterbury Tales.
Upon his return to England in 1366, Chaucer settled down to marry a wealthy widow with properties in Kent and produce children.
The Canterbury Tales are regarded Chaucer's masterwork and are among the most important works of medieval literature for numerous reasons, including their description of the various social groups of the 14th century CE, as well as clothes worn, diversions enjoyed, and language/grammar. The tales also mark a decisive transition between ancient and modern literature: while they retain many elements characteristic of ancient poetry (such as alliteration and meter), they also contain strong elements of realism and narrative drive that are absent from ancient poems but common in later works.
Canterbury Tales is an anthology or collection of short stories or poems written by Geoffrey Chaucer about 39 years after the Battle of Hastings in which William the Conqueror defeated King Harold II of England to become king himself. The collection includes 34 separate pieces written by different authors over a period of about 15 years. The original version of the collection was completed in 1354 with the help of several colleagues and friends. It was first published in 1881 by Henry Bradshaw with additional material from subsequent editions included. The Modern Library edition published in 1957 contained all 134 lines of the original poem along with an introduction and notes by S. K. Chambers. This edition has been widely read and studied since its publication, and it remains one of the most important sources for studying Chaucer's work. A new edition was published in 2013 by John Hammond and Andrew Galloway with additional material from subsequent editions included.
Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales" is a narrative about a group of people on a trip to view the shrine of a martyr. It was the late 14th century, and England was in upheaval at the time of this narrative. The Black Death had just killed half of Europe's population, so life was difficult for most people.
Chaucer wrote "The Canterbury Tales" during his career as a court poet, which meant he worked for various noblemen. He traveled around southern England writing poems for them to read at celebrations and other events. These poems were often about royal affairs or war stories.
People love reading about adventures, so poetry that describes real-life events is popular. Poets also use their imagination to create new things, so stories about magic and monsters are also popular subjects. "The Canterbury Tales" is a collection of 50 poems written by Chaucer about different people traveling down the English coast in search of pleasure and profit.
Each poem is told from the point of view of one of the travelers. Some of these characters are historical figures such as King Edward II or fictional characters created by Chaucer such as "the Pardoner". Others include people you might find in modern cities such as tourists or gang members: innkeepers, priests, squires (knight-errantors), and merchants.