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Geoffrey Chaucer and Medieval England


... to the use of the longbow (technology was improving), the English defeated ... Too make a long story short. ... just hanging out, trying to make a living. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Geoffrey Chaucer and Medieval England

Geoffrey Chaucer and Medieval England
  • The Canterbury Tales

Chaucers life
  • The known facts of Chaucers life are fragmented
    and based almost entirely on official records.
  • Born in London between 1340 and 1344.
  • Son of John Chaucer- a vintner.
  • 1357 became a page in the household of Prince
    Lionel, later the duke of Clarence.

  • 1366-married Philippa Roet-lady-in-waiting to
    Edward IIIs queen.
  • 1370-1378- frequently was sent on diplomatic
    missions to the Continent.
  • 1374-held a number of official positions
  • Died- October 25, 1400 and is buried at
    Westminster Abbey.

Chaucers time
  • King Edward II was on the throne.
  • This was a troubled rule
  • the Scots defeated him at Bannockburn in 1314.
  • His real lover was banished by dad to France but
    was later executed because he attempted to return.

  • Remember sweet Isabella in Braveheart?
  • Well, it seems that in real life
  • She found a lover, Roger Mortimer, and together
    they plotted to overthrow Edward II!
  • They led an invasion in 1326 and imprisoned poor
    Edward (no doubt they executed him)
  • What a sweetheart,huh?

Edward III
  • So, guess who comes to the throne?
  • It seems that ol Isabelle and Edward II did have
    a son.
  • At the ripe old age of 15, he became king.
  • But Im sure mom was not excited about this
    because. . .

Edward getting crowned
BECAUSE. . He avenged his fathers death by
executing Roger Mortimer in 1330. (There goes
Moms lover boy)
  • Then (much to the dismay of the Scots) won an
    important battle against them in 1333.
  • This made him a bit war happy because he began a
    life long career of military aggression (like
    grandpa (Longshanks), like grandson)

  • 1338 after the death of his mothers brother,
    Philip IV, he declared himself king of France and
    began the hundred years war.(Just couldnt leave
    well enough alone.)
  • He wanted to reclaim lands in Normandy that once
    belonged to England.
  • However, thanks to the use of the longbow
    (technology was improving), the English defeated
    the larger French force in 1346 and peace
  • for a time.

Tax Problems-
  • The rebellion of 1381 began in South-Wessex when
    a tax commissioner (the result of Williams
    Doomsday Book - the the Middle Ages IRS!!!) was
    driven out of the village of Brentwood

King Richard
Too make a long story short. . .
  • Revolt broke out when they heard about the
    government intending to make an exemplary
    punishment. Wat Tyler became a leader who led
    the rebels to Canterbury to the Archbishop and
    executed him , seized the sheriff and burned the
  • The king (Richard) met Tyler on June 14th to
    grant pardons and freedom.
  • HOWEVER. . .

  • 140-160 Flemish (not English) textile workers
    were killed. This upset our man Tyler who met
    the king AGAIN on June 15 with some heavy demands
    like abolishing all lordships but the king
  • Well, a mere scuffle ensued and Tyler was killed
    and King Richard stepped up and said, Your
    leader is dead. Follow me I am your leader.
  • Pretty impressive for a 14 year old, dont you

More Kings??
  • As we have learned, those kings just cant seem
    to stay out of trouble-
  • Richard married Isabel of France (here we go
    again with the French) Poor Isabel was only 8 at
    the time. This marriage was opposed by Thomas of
    Gloucester and indirectly led to Richards death
  • Richard was informed of a plot by Thomas to
    remove and imprison him. Richard then imprison
    and murdered Gloucester, exiled Bolingbroke and
    seized Henrys property
  • This course of action helped charges of tyranny
    against Richard which led to his deposition and

Culture of the time. . . .
  • Meanwhile, the ordinary people were just hanging
    out, trying to make a living.
  • They were STILL under a feudal system- you would
    think they would update!!! This is the 1300s- we
    know this system started at the beginning of the
  • By this time they were nationalistic at least.

  • Manors-not villages- were the economic social
    units of life.
  • A manor consisted of a manor house, one or more
    villages and up to several thousand acres of land
    divided into meadow, pasture, forest and
    cultivated fields.
  • The fields were further divided into strips 1/3
    for the lord- less for the church and the
    remainder for the peasants and serfs.

Half the work week was spent on the land
belonging to the lord and the church. Time might
also be spent doing maintenance and on special
projects such as clearing land, cutting firewood
and building roads and bridges. The rest of the
time the villagers were free to work their own
  • The fare at the lords table was full of variety.
  • Peasants were sparse.
  • Meat, fish, cabbage, turnips, onions, carrots,
    beans, and peas were common as well as fresh
    bread, cheese and fruit.

At a feast spitted boar, roast swan, or peacock
might be added. Wine or ale was drunk-never
water. Water was suspect- might have known
better since there was no purifying systems. Ale
was the most common drink. It was not the heavy
alcoholic drink we have. It was thin, weak and
drunk soon after brewing. This had little effect
on sobriety. Fruit juices and honey were the only
sweeteners known until after the Crusades.
Table Manners
  • Meat was cut with daggers and all eating was done
    with the fingers from trenchers, or hollowed out
    husks of bread.
  • One trencher was used by two people.
  • There was one drinking cup.

Scraps were thrown on the floor for the dogs to
finish. There were no chimney and the fireplace
was in the middle of the hall. Smoke escaped by
way of louvers in the roof.
The House Layout
  • The manors had a great hall, a huge, multipurpose
    chamber safely built upon the second floor.
  • Halls were dimly lit, due to the need for massive
    walls with small windows for defense.
  • In the 14th century the hall was built on the
    ground floor and windows grew in size. The
    family room was always on the first floor.

Hall life decreased as trade increased. Trades
specialized and tradesmen and women moved out of
the hall. Communal living declined and families
became more private. The Canterbury Tales
portrays this society.
Peasants Life
  • A village consisted of 10-60 families living in
    rough huts on dirt floors, with no chimneys or
  • Often at one end of the hut was livestock. (Ill
    bet that smelled nice!)
  • Furnishings were sparse, three legged stools a
    trestle table beds on the floor softened with
    straw or leaves.

Okay, so now you know all that …. Whats the big
Geoffrey Chaucers Canterbury tales
  • This is a long poem consisting of a general
    intro- the Prologue and a series of stories told
    in verse by across section of English men and
  • The stories are framed-or linked together by the
    narrative of a journey approximately 50 miles.
  • The pilgrims take this journey one April from the
    Tabard Inn in London to the city of Canterbury
    and its cathedral.

  • Because they journey to a sacred place, this is
    known as a pilgrimage
  • This journey is to pay tribute to the Christian
    martyr Archbishop Thomas aBecket, archbishop of
    Canterbury who was killed in 1170.
  • By order of King Henry II
  • This was an attempt to shock the religious world
    into recognizing the importance of the secular
    royal house of England.

The tales
  • The tales were told by each pilgrim to help pass
    the time.
  • Chaucer originally planned a framework of 120
    tales- two by each pilgrim on the trip going and
    two on the return trip.
  • However, Chaucer died before completing the 120
    tales , leaving 22 complete ones and 2 fragments
    of tales.

So- Lets go on a Pilgrimage