Geoffrey Chaucer and his Effect on the English Language
Geoffrey Chaucer and his effect on the English Language
Geoffrey Chaucer has been called the Father of the English language. He did for the English narrative what Shakespeare later did for drama. He was the first writer to use lines of poetry that had an appeal to those interested in nature and books. His writing was very modern for his time, even more modern than the writings of others after he died, but he stayed within the traditions of medieval poetry.
Chaucer was born in London, no one knows exactly what date but sometime between 1340 and 1344. Chaucer’s father, John Chaucer, was a wine merchant although his last name from the French word chaussier indicates that his ancestors were shoemakers. He would sometimes hold positions in the royal administration and he was a significant member in the business community. Chaucer and his parents were lucky to escape the plague during the times of the Black Death, the epidemic that was spread to European lands from the Middle East. In June of 1348 it entered the coastal towns of England and within a few months two million out of five million inhabitants were dead. At this time, Chaucer was four to eight years old and very fortunate to not have been infected.
Any details concerning Geoffrey Chaucer’s career in civil service come from contemporary documents. Records indicate that in 1357 Chaucer was serving as a page in the household of King Edward’s son Prince Lionel and his wife Elizabeth. Because he held this position he was given rights that most Englishmen did not have, such as the right to bear arms and fight for the king. Along with those rights he was given the title of valettus. Chaucer took some time away from the royal family and went to school, whose name remains unknown. The next seven years of his life are very indefinite. He had many other jobs in government service. Over his lifetime he served King Edward III, The Countess of Ulster, King Richard II, and The Earl of Derby, who later became King Henry IV. He also fought from 1359 to 1360 in the Hundred Years War that took place between England and France. While he was in battle, he was captured by France, taken prisoner and ransomed for 16 pounds. In 1366 he...