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The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. Background of these tales. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote this story in the late 1300’s but never finished it. He wrote in the native language or vernacular of the Medieval period in Britain called Middle English. The Story.

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The canterbury tales by geoffrey chaucer

The Canterbury Talesby Geoffrey Chaucer


Background of these tales
Background of these tales

  • Geoffrey Chaucer wrote this story in the late 1300’s but never finished it.

  • He wrote in the native language or vernacular of the Medieval period in Britain called Middle English.


The story
The Story

  • Twenty nine people that represent all aspects of Medieval society go on a pilgrimage to the cathedral at Canterbury in southeast England.



The story format
The story format Church of England. The shrine to the martyr Saint Thomas a Becket is located at this cathedral.

  • Chaucer’s characters are going to pay respects to this shrine as a part of a religious pilgrimage. They all meet at a tavern to begin their journey.



Some of the characters
Some of the characters in 1170 he was martyred by some knights of the king of England, Henry II, who was overheard complaining about Becket’s loyalty to the church at Rome over his loyalty to his king.

  • The host of the tavern or innkeeper is the man who suggests that the pilgrims each tell a story on the way to entertain the group. Chaucer intended for each to tell 2 stories, but he only got to write one apiece.





Format of the poetry
Format of the poetry squire

  • The Canterbury Tales are called a frame story, meaning that there are many stories “framed” in the larger story of the pilgrimage to Canterbury.


1: squireWhan that aprill with his shoures soote 2: The droghte of march hath perced to the roote, 3: And bathed every veyne in swich licour 4: Of which vertu engendred is 8: Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne, 9: And smale foweles maken melodye, 10: That slepen al the nyght with open ye 11: (so priketh hem nature in hir corages); 12: Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages, 13: And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes, 14: To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes; 15: And specially from every shires ende 16: Of engelond to caunterbury they wende, 17: The hooly blisful martir for to seke, 18: That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke. 19: Bifil that in that seson on a day, 20: In southwerk at the tabard as I lay 21: Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage 22: To caunterbury with ful devout corage, 23: At nyght was come into that hostelrye 24: Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye, 25: Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle 26: In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle, 27: That toward caunterbury wolden ryde.


  • Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote squire                  When April with its sweet-smelling showers2         The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,                 Has pierced the drought of March to the root,3         And bathed every veyne in swich licour                 And bathed every vein (of the plants) in such liquid4         Of which vertu engendred is the flour;                 By which power the flower is created;5         Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth                 When the West Wind also with its sweet breath,6         Inspired hath in every holt and heeth                 In every wood and field has breathed life into 7         The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne                 The tender new leaves, and the young sun8         Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne,                 Has run half its course in Aries,9         And smale foweles maken melodye,                 And small fowls make melody,10         That slepen al the nyght with open ye                 Those that sleep all the night with open eyes11         (So priketh hem Nature in hir corages),                 (So Nature incites them in their hearts),12         Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,                 Then folk long to go on pilgrimages,13         And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,                 And professional pilgrims to seek foreign shores,14         To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;                 To distant shrines, known in various lands;15         And specially from every shires ende                 And specially from every shire's end16         Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,                 Of England to Canterbury they travel,17         The hooly blisful martir for to seke,                 To seek the holy blessed martyr,18         That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.                 Who helped them when they were sick.


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