Dark ModePress for Light Mode
Click to visit Librarius homepage
© Librarius
All rights reserved.

L i b r a r i u s

Chronology of Geoffrey Chaucer's life and times

Arrow Chaucer's life Arrow Arrow Historical events Arrow

c. 1312-1313
Birth of Geoffrey Chaucer's father, John Chaucer.
Birth of Giovanni Boccaccio, Italian poet.

Death of Dante Alighieri, Italian Poet, soon after the completion of the Divina Commedia.

Accession of Edward III, aged 14.

Boccaccio writes Filocolo.

c. 1340-1345
Birth of Geoffrey Chaucer.
The Hundred Years' War between England and France.
The English had held land in France for a long time, but lost Normandy in 1204. In 1337 Edward III declared himself king of France based on his mother's lineage. His ambition was the recovery of territories England used to held in France. His declaration was the onset of a long period of wars.

Completion of Giovanni Boccaccio's Il Filostrato.

Birth of Eustache Deschamps, French poet.

Boccaccio's finishes Teseide delle Nozze d'Emilia.

English victory at the battle of Crecy.

The Black Death wipes out one third of the population of England.

Early 1350s
Revival of alliterative poetry in the West and North-West of England.

English victory at the battle of Poitiers. King John of France is captured and lives at the English court from 1357 until 1360.

Chaucer became page in the household of Elizabeth de Burgh, Countess of Ulster. (She is the wife of Lionel, Earl of Ulster, second son of Edward III.)
The earliest known document in which Geoffrey Chaucer is named is a household account book kept for the Countess (June 1356 - April 1359). The account book mentions purchases for Geoffrey Chaucer in April 1357: a short jacket, a pair of red and black hose (stockings) and a pair of shoes.

In September 1359 King Edward and his sons were invading France with a large expeditionary force. Prince Lionel went into the king's army and Chaucer served in the retinue of Lionel in the war in France.

Chaucer is captured by the French at the siege of Reims. In March 1360, he is ransomed for 16 pounds.

In October 1360 peace negotiations were arranged at Calais. Prince Lionel paid Chaucer for carrying letters from Calais to England. These diplomatic errands and messenger services were the first of many journeys.

Treaty of Bretigny which provides peace between England and France until 1369.
Jean Froissart, the French chronicler and poet attends in the household of Queen Philippa, wife of Edward III.

Death of King John of France.
Accession of Charles V

Chaucer marries Philippa Roet who serves in the Queen's household. Philippa is the eldest daughter of the Flemish knight Sir Paon de Roet, and sister of Katherine Swynford.

Death of Chaucer's father. His mother remarries shortly.

William Langland begins the writing of Piers Plowman (the 'A'-text).
Chaucer travels to Spain.
Chaucer entered service as an esquire in the household of Edward III. Chaucer is first recorded as a member of the royal household on 20 June 1367 when he was granted a royal annuity for life of 20 pounds.

Birth of Chaucer's son, Thomas.

Richard of Bordeaux, later Richard II, is born in January. He is the second and only surviving son of Edward, the Black Prince (eldest son of Edward III).
The Black Prince supports Pedro of Castile in the battle of Najera.
The King addresses Parliament for the the first time in English.
c. 1367-1370
Chaucer translates parts of Romaunt of the Rose. He also writes poetry in French.
Chaucer writes the Book of the Duchess about the death of Blanche, Duchess of Lancaster.
Blanche, Duchess of Lancaster, dies in September. She was the first wife of John of Gaunt, who is the third son of Edward III.
Chaucer travels to Northern France and serves in the army of John of Gaunt.
Assassination of Pedro of Castile. Renewal of the war with France.
Queen Philippa dies in August 1369.
Chaucer travels to the Continent (France probably) on the King's service.
Sack of Limoges in the final campaign of the Black Prince.
Birth of John Lydgate, admirer and imitator of Geoffrey Chaucer.
Chaucer writes "Fragment A" of the Romaunt of the Rose, probably many poems in French and English, now lost, and such poems as The Complaint unto Pity and The Complaint to His Lady.
Chaucer again serves with the army in France.
c. 1370
Katherine Swynford becomes the mistress of John of Gaunt.

John of Gaunt marries Constanza (Constance) of Castile, daughter of Pedro of Castile.

c. 1372-1377
Chaucer writes the poems later adapted as the Second Nun's Tale and the Monk's Tale in The Canterbury Tales

Chaucer's wife Philippa in service in the household of John of Gaunt's wife.

Chaucer travels to Italy on a diplomatic mission. He goes to Genoa to establish an English port for Genoese trade and to Florence to negotiate a loan for the King.

Chaucer is appointed Controller of the Customs for hides, skins and wool in the port of London; he is granted a lease on a dwelling above Aldgate. Also, Chaucer is granted a pitcher of wine daily by the King. John of Gaunt grants Chaucer an annuity of 10 pounds.
Death of Petrarch.
Both Chaucer and Otho de Graunson receive grants from John of Gaunt. (Otho de Graunson is a French knight and poet on whose poems Chaucer drew for his Complaint of Venus).
Death of Giovanni Boccaccio, Italian poet.
Several journeys to France and Flanders to negotiate for peace and the marriage of Richard with a French princess.
The Black Prince dies in June.

Edward III dies in June.
Accession of Richard II, aged 10

Pope Gregory XI condemns doctrines of John Wycliffe.
However, the lollard movement grows.

Chaucer travels to Italy Milan on a diplomatic mission. John Gower and Richard Forester have Chaucer's power of attorney while he travels abroad.
The "Great Schism": rival Popes in Rome (Urban) and Avignon.
First mystery plays in York.
Richard II confirms Edwars III's annuity of 20 pounds and establishes a second annuity of 20 pounds.
William Langland revises Piers Plowman (the 'B'-text).
c. 1378-1381
Chaucer writes Saint Cecelia, The House of Fame, Anelida and Arcite and Palamon and Arcite later adapted as The Knight's Tale.

Accused, and acquited of the 'raptus' of Cecily Champain. Cecily Champain (Chaumpaigne) signs a document releasing Chaucer from all actions in the case of her rape or abduction ("de raptu meo").

Birth of Chaucer's second son, Lewis.
Chaucer writes The Parliament of Fowls.

Death of Agnes Copton, Chaucer's mother.
Richard II marries Anne of Bohemia (May 1381).

The Peasants' Revolt (June 1381).
The rebellion started in Southwest Essex. Its cause was the proclamation of a poll tax, but a recurrent decline of law and order caused by corruption among the officials contributed to the inflammation of the revolt. A tax commissioner named John Bampton was driven from the village Brentwood. Villagers in the area heard the news and the rumour spread that the government planned a collective and exemplary punishment. A widely supported revolt was the result. The peasants lead by Wat Tyler marched via Canterbury, where Archbishop Sudbury was executed and the sheriff caught. They reached London on the 10th of June. Wat Tyler requested a meeting with King Richard who was 14 years old and met him on the 14th of June.
Tyler's first demands, the general pardon of the rebellions and freedom from serfdom to the men of Essex, were granted. But then Tyler overestimated his power and asked in a second meeting the abolition of lordship (except the king's lordship), the handing over of the goods of the church to the parishioners and the reduction of the number of bishops to only one. Tyler was killed in the following fight. The king then addressed himself to the peasants with the following words: "Your leader is dead. Follow me, I am your leader."

Controllorship of the customs is renewed, with permission to have a deputy.

Chaucer writes Boece and Troilus and Criseyde.

c. 1381
William Langland revises Piers Plowman (the 'C'-text).

Queen Anne arrives in England.
The heretical views of John Wycliffe are officially condemned.

Chaucer granted a permanent deputy in the Customs.
Eustache Deschamps sends Chaucer a poem of praise, hailing him as "great translator, noble Geoffrey Chaucer."
Death of Joan of Kent, mother of Richard II.
Chaucer serves as Justice of the Peace for Kent.
Chaucer becomes a Member of Parliament for Kent. Chaucer retires from Controllership of Customs. As the lease on the house in Aldgate was relinquished, he probably moved.
Richard II suffers a loss of power. A group of noblemen forced themselves on the king as governing council thus reducing the power of certain advisers outside the royal circle.
Chaucer writes The Legend of Good Women. Some parts have been written earlier and the prologue is revised later.
c. 1386
John Gower writes his English poem Confession Amantis. It contains a passage in praise of Chaucer.
Death of Philippa Chaucer, Geoffrey Chaucer's wife.

Chaucer begins The Canterbury Tales.

Some of Richard's closest supporters are removed and executed by the Lords Appellant.
Among the executed men were John Beauchamp, John Salisbury and James Berners. Thomas Usk, an admirer and imitator of Chaucer, was also executed.
On 12 July 1389, Chaucer is appointed clerk of the Works at Westminster, Tower of London, and other royal estates. This was probably his most arduous position. The clerkship represented a heavier and more direct responsibility than the controllership. As a royal clerk he supervised a great number of craftsmen and property. The arrangement of the purchase, transportation and storage of supplies was Chaucer's responsibility.
Richard II regains power.
As Clerk of the works, Chaucer has scaffolds built for jousts in Smithfield.
Chaucer is appointed Commissioner of Walls and Ditches, responsible for works on the Thames between Woolwich and Greenwich.
Chaucer is robbed of horse, goods, 20 pounds, 6 shillings, 8 pence at Hatcham (Surrey). The robbers were caught, tried and convicted.

Chaucer is robbed twice. Robbers take away 10 pounds at Westminster and 9 pounds, 43 pence at Hatcham. This brings the total number of robberies to three. However, the legal records differ widely and it is impossible to determine whether there were three robberies or only one.

Chaucer retired from Clerkship of the King's works. In June 1391 he is appointed Deputy Forester of the Royal Forest of North Petherton, Somerset. In late medieval England forests were sources of revenue. The forestership was a responsible position which demanded skill in handling money and men.

Chaucer writes The Treatise of the Astrolabe (with additions in 1393 and later) for his son Lewis.

Most of The Canterbury Tales, including probably "The Marriage Group."

Chaucer is awarded 10 pounds by the King for services rendered.

Chaucer is granted an annuity for life of 20 pounds by the King.
Death of Queen Anne in June.
Chaucer's son Thomas marries the heiress Maud Burghersh.
Envoy to Bukton, in which he is urged to read The Wife of Bath.
John of Gaunt marries Katherine Swynford.

Richard II marries princess Isabel of France daughter of King Philip VI in order to bring an end to the wars with France.

Chaucer writes the latest of The Canterbury Tales, including probably The Nun's Priest's Tale, The Canon's Yeoman's tale (though parts probably earlier), and The Parson's Tale and several short poems, including Scogan, and Bukton.

Chaucer is granted a tun (252 gallons) of wine a year by the King.

Henry IV confirms Chaucer's financial rights and privileges granted by Richard II, with an additional annuity of 40 pounds. On 24 December Chaucer leases a tenement, for 53 years, in the garden of the Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey in London.
Henry Percy is exiled for high treason.
John of Gaunt who is the father of Henry Percy (Henry IV) dies in February 1399 and Richard seizes all his properties. Henry raised an army and returned to England. His campaign was successful and Richard was arrested and imprisoned. In September Henry IV had himself crowned and ascended the throne.
Chaucer writes The Complaint of Chaucer to His Purse.

Chaucer's Death on 25 October. He has been buried in Westminster Abbey in London. A tomb, erected by an admirer in the fifteenth century, marks his grave and his remains were subsequently moved. He was the first who was buried in what we now know as the 'Poets Corner' in Westminster Abbey.

Go Up
Back to top
Librarius Home
© Librarius
All rights reserved