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From Caedmon to Caxton. Thomas Honegger http:// www. content/top/ index.xml History of English. Richard II (1367-1400, reigned 1377-1399). Richard II. Richard II was the second son of Edward the Black Prince (who was the eldest son of Edward III).

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from caedmon to caxton

From Caedmon to Caxton


richard ii
Richard II
  • Richard II was the second son of Edward the Black Prince (who was the eldest son of Edward III).
  • Richard’s elder brother Edward (*1364) died already 1371, so that he became heir to the English throne after the death of the Black Prince (1376).
  • He became king after the death of Edward III in 1377.
richard ii1
Richard II
  • Even though he was coming of age only in 1389, no Regent or Lord Protector was installed.
  • Proved his courage when he confronted the revolting peasants in 1381 before London.
chaucer s self description
Chaucer’s self-description

He in the waast is shape as wel as I;This were a popet in an arm t’embrace For any womman, smal and fair of face. He semeth elvyssh by his contenance, For unto no wight dooth he daliaunce.

He is in the waist as well-shaped as I am;this puppet would fit into the arms of any womanpetite and pretty, to be embraced.Judging by his expression, he seems to come from another world,since he does not converse with anyone.

geoffrey chaucer a life 1
Geoffrey Chaucer: A Life 1
  • 1340 born as son of John and Agnes Chaucer, wine merchants (vintners). Date of birth calculated from disposition made in 1386: ‘Geffray Chaucere esquier del age de xl ans et plus armeez par xxvii ans’
  • Black Death 1349 => Chaucer’s parents inherit lands and houses from deceased relatives => Chaucer’s family well-to-do.
geoffrey chaucer a life 2
Geoffrey Chaucer: A Life 2
  • Early years (no documentary evidence) probably spent in house of parents in London. Comes into contact with many foreign merchants and foreign languages.
  • Schooling: no evidence survives. Maybe St. Paul’s school.
  • Education: would be taught his prayers in English and the alphabet (hornbook) not long after learning to talk. Would learn to read and write, first training in Latin.
geoffrey chaucer a life 3
Geoffrey Chaucer: A Life 3
  • Grammar school from age 7 onwards. Or parents teach him.
  • Latin (reading, writing, speaking)
  • Classics (Virgil, Ovid, Aesop) in form of excerpts (florilegia = anthologies) => shared common knowledge of a classical canon among educated people
  • 14th century education not enforced by state or society.
geoffrey chaucer a life 4
Geoffrey Chaucer: A Life 4
  • French - whether taught formally or not - of great importance.
  • by 1370, Chaucer also knew Italian.
  • 1357 earliest record mentioning Chaucer (as page): household account of the court of Elizabeth, Countess of Ulster, wife of Lionel, son of Edward III. Account fragmentary (1356-59), survived in the binding for another book.
geoffrey chaucer a life 5
Geoffrey Chaucer: A Life 5
  • Pages: given board, lodging, clothes in exchange for service. ‘Education’ in the ways of polite society.
  • Chance to listen to/read works of literature (mainly French, but also Latin and some Italian [Dante])
  • Meets Philippa Pan (?Roet?), elder sister (?) of Katherine de Roet, mistress and later wife of John of Gaunt (a son of Edward III and father of Henry IV Bolingbroke).
geoffrey chaucer a life 6
Geoffrey Chaucer: A Life 6
  • 1359 yeoman; with Lionel in France; captured but ransomed 1 March 1360 for £ 16.
  • Speculations about time spent at Court of Inns and Court of Chancery (evidence of legal knowledge in his poems)
  • Septem artes liberales = humanities
the heavenly spheres
The Heavenly Spheres
  • Terra (with spheres of water, air and fire)
  • Luna
  • Mercurius
  • Venus
  • Sol
  • Mars
  • Jupiter
  • Saturnus
  • firmamentum
  • primum mobile
geoffrey chaucer a life 7
Geoffrey Chaucer: A Life 7
  • 1362 Parliament opened in English for the first time; English established as official language of law courts.
  • 1365 Chaucer marries Philippa Roet (attached to Constance of Castile => were often separated when travelling with their employers)
  • 1366 Father John Chaucer dies; mother remarries. Chaucer travels through Navarre. Secret mission?
chaucer in secret mission
Chaucer in Secret Mission
  • ‘in eisdem secretis negotiis ipsius domini regis’ (on those same secret negotiations of the lord king himself; document of 1370)
le roman de la rose
Le Roman de la Rose
  • late 1360s Chaucer translates all or some of Le Roman de la Rose as The Romaunt of the Rose.
  • Le Roman originally composed by Guillaume de Lorris (first 4,000 lines between 1225-1230) and Jean de Meung (remaining 18,000 lines between 1269-1278)
  • Medieval bestseller with over 200 copies
le roman de la rose1
Le Roman de la Rose
  • Allegorical protagonists: the Lover, Courtesy, God of Love, Hope, Pleasant Thoughts, Pleasant Looks, Pleasant Conversation, Fair Welcome, Reason, Jealousy, Evil Tongue, False Seeming etc.
geoffrey chaucer a life 8
Geoffrey Chaucer: A Life 8
  • 1367 Chaucer esquire in the royal household, granted 20 marks annuity. His son Thomas born.
  • 1368 abroad on King’s service; death of Blanche, wife of John of Gaunt.
  • 1368-72 Chaucer writes The Book of the Duchess.
geoffrey chaucer a life 9
Geoffrey Chaucer: A Life 9
  • 1369-72 several times in France with John of Gaunt and on military campaigns.
  • 1372-73 travels to Italy (Genoa and Florence) on diplomatic business. Possible first encounter with the poetry of Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarch.
boccaccio s influence
Boccaccio’s Influence
  • Filostrato (1335): story of Troiolo who is in love with Criseida => Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde
  • Teseida (1340-41): story of Arcite and Palemone => Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale
  • Decamerone (1349-51): 100 novellas told during 10 days by 10 people who fled from the pest in Florence => ideas for Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
geoffrey chaucer a life 10
Geoffrey Chaucer: A Life 10
  • 1374 Chaucer was granted a gallon of wine per day for life; rent-free life-long lease of property in Aldgate; controller of customs; 10 £ annuity from John of Gaunt.
  • 1376 death of Edward the Black Prince
  • 1376-77 again in France on King’s business
geoffrey chaucer a life 11
Geoffrey Chaucer: A Life 11
  • 1377 death of Edward III; Richard II king
  • 1378 Great Schism (two popes elected). Chaucer in Milan; writes House of Fame; successfully petitions conversion for 1374 wine grant to be commuted to cash (20 marks)
geoffrey chaucer a life 12
Geoffrey Chaucer: A Life 12
  • 1380 Cecily Champaign (unsuccessfully) accuses Chaucer of rape (Lat. raptus); son Lewis born; writes Parliament of Foules and Palamon and Arcite (> Knight’s Tale)
  • 1381 death of Agnes Chaucer, his mother; peasants’ revolt; Troilus and Criseyde; Boece (translation of Boethius’ De Consolatione Philosphiae)
  • 1382 controller of Wool and Petty Customs
geoffrey chaucer a life 13
Geoffrey Chaucer: A Life 13
  • 1385 leaves London for Kent; member of peace commission in Kent = Justice of Peace.
  • 1386 gives up lease of Aldgate property; MP for Kent (Knight of the Shire); testifies in a court case in which he describes himself as being more than 40 years old; resigns from Customs; Legend of Good Women.
  • 1387 death of Philippa, his wife; Chaucer in Calais
the canterbury tales
The Canterbury Tales
  • c. 1387 Chaucer begins The Canterbury Tales.
  • Basic idea: a group of pilgrims (29 plus the host, who acts as ‘guide’) travel from London (Southwark) to Canterbury (shrine of St Thomas à Beckett). To pass the time, they agree on a story-telling competition. Each pilgrim tells two stories on the way to Canterbury and two on the way back to London (cf. Decamerone).
list of pilgrims
List of Pilgrims
  • bellatores: knight, squire, yeoman
  • oratores: prioress, second nun, nun’s priest, monk, friar
  • laboratores/middle class: merchant, clerk, man of law, franklin, 5 guildsmen, cook, shipman, physician, wife of bath
  • ideal personae: parson & plowman
  • ‘churls’: miller, manciple, reeve, summoner, pardoner, Chaucer himself
the canterbury tales1
The Canterbury Tales
  • Theoretical number of tales: 29 x 4 = 116
  • Extant number of tales: 24 (one of which fragmentary)
  • dramatic principle: tales are chosen so that they match their tellers; tales and tellers interact with each other => break with strict hierarchy
  • Knight’s Tale – Miller’s Tale – Reeve’s Tale
  • Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale – Clerk’s Tale – Merchant’s Tale – Franklin’s Tale