The Age of Chaucer: History of English Literature Unit 1

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12 Questions

What title is Geoffrey Chaucer commonly referred to as?

Father of English Literature

What was Chaucer's occupation besides being a poet?

Courtier, diplomat, and member of parliament

Where was Chaucer taken prisoner in 1359?


Who did Chaucer possibly meet during his diplomatic missions to Italy?

Petrarch and Boccaccio

Where is Chaucer buried?

Westminster Abbey

At what age did Chaucer receive a court appointment as page to the wife of the Duke of Clarence?


What is Geoffrey Chaucer famous for?

A collection of stories told by fictional pilgrims

What is the name of the century in which Chaucer lived?

The 14th century

What was the social and economic impact of the Black Death?

It caused poverty, unrest, and revolt among the peasants

What is the name of the dialect that has become the standard English tongue?

The East Midland speech

What is the characteristic of the literary features of Chaucer's age?

A sharper spirit of criticism and a more searching interest in man's affairs

What is a notable feature of the authors of the time?

Many of the texts still lack named authors, but the greater number of the books can be defined

Study Notes

Geoffrey Chaucer's Life

  • Born in 1340 and died in 1400
  • Lived through the reign of Edward III, Richard II, and Henry IV
  • Considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages
  • Known as the "father of English literature" or "father of English poetry"
  • First writer to be buried in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey
  • Had a career in the civil service as a bureaucrat, courtier, diplomat, and member of parliament

Chaucer's Career

  • At 17, received a court appointment as page to the wife of the Duke of Clarence
  • Fought in the English army in France, taken prisoner, and later ransomed
  • Became valet of the king's chamber after returning to England
  • Often entrusted with diplomatic missions on the continent, including Italy
  • Brought into direct touch with Italian culture during the early Renaissance
  • May have met Petrarch and Boccaccio during his travels

The Age of Chaucer

  • The 14th century is known as the Age of Chaucer
  • A time of transition from medieval to modern times
  • A great age of Enlightenment and Prosperity
  • Initially, people in England were dissatisfied with religious, political, and social principles

Historical Background

  • The period includes the reign of Edward III and the French wars
  • Accession of Richard II in 1377 and the revolution of 1399
  • Deposition of Richard and the foundation of the Lancastrian dynasty
  • Social and intellectual movements of the period, including the Black Death and the growth of the spirit of inquiry

Literary Features of the Age

  • The standardization of English, with the East Midland speech becoming the standard language
  • Amalgamation of French and English to form the standard English tongue
  • A sharper spirit of criticism and a more searching interest in man's affairs
  • Less childlike faith in, and a less complacent acceptance of, the established order
  • The vogue of the romance is passing, and the drama is being foreshadowed
  • The age of anonymity is passing away, with more named authors appearing

Learn about the life and works of Geoffrey Chaucer, considered the father of English literature. This unit covers Chaucer's life, his poetry, and his significance in English literature.

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