Chaucer's poetry reflects both the medieval spirit and the Italian Renaissance, which was making its first impression in England at the time. That is why he has been referred to as the first of the great moderns and the renaissance's morning star. His work did much to transform English literature by introducing a new style of writing that was natural, simple, and expressive. He also introduced many elements from foreign cultures, such as French language and Roman law, which became essential parts of the English language and legal system.
In addition to being one of the most important poets of his time, Chaucer wrote essays on politics, philosophy, religion, and science. He attacked many abuses that existed in his day, such as usury (interest paid on loans) and other forms of greed, and promoted ideas such as justice and honesty. He also had an interest in scientific discoveries and often used his works as a forum to discuss issues surrounding his time. For example, he wrote a poem about the discovery of America. He also helped to spread knowledge of mathematics by writing a book on arithmetic.
Finally, Chaucer worked hard to promote literacy. Until his time, education in Europe was offered primarily at university campuses. However, Chaucer wrote several poems about education, including "The Wife of Bath's Prologue" in which she praises learning but warns against becoming too absorbed by it.
Although Chaucer is traditionally considered a medieval poet, his epic poem displays affinities with early Italian Renaissance writers such as Giovanni Boccaccio. One of these expeditions may have taken him to Italy, where he met Boccaccio and Petrarch. Their travels together would have provided Chaucer with an opportunity to learn about new ideas and literature from people who had recently seen so much of Europe that they wanted to know more about other parts of the world.
Chaucer was well-versed in Latin, but he also knew Greek and French. He used these languages in his works - The Canterbury Tales, Troilus and Criseyde, and the General Prologue to Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain - which shows that he was not limited to writing in English.
In addition to being a poet, Chaucer was also a courtier, lawyer, diplomat, and administrator. In 1380, he was appointed Clerk of the King's Works, a position he held until his death in 1400. This means that during his lifetime, Chaucer helped design and build many of the royal castles and buildings that can be found across England.
He also played an important role in the administration of his country. As Secretary for Wales, he wrote laws that were then passed by parliament. He also worked with Queen Elizabeth I to negotiate peace treaties with France and Spain.
Italian poetry became the dominant influence on Chaucer's work after the 1370s. Boccaccio, who was obviously familiar with Dante and Petrarch's writings, was an important source. So were various Latin poets. But it was an Italian poet who had the most profound effect on Chaucer: Petrarch.
Petrarch is known for his love sonnets, but he also wrote philosophical works, religious poems, and political pamphlets that use rhetorical questions to express their authors' views on government and society. This last genre especially influenced Chaucer who used questions throughout The Canterbury Tales to suggest possible answers to those seeking wisdom from others or themselves.
In addition to these classical writers, Chaucer may have been aware of some French poets such as courtly lovers like Pierre de Corbie and Phillippe du Val. But the main language he used to compose his works was now becoming more and more formalized version of English rather than French or Latin.
Chaucer took words from many languages and adapted them to create a new one that could express thoughts and ideas about life in the 14th century.