2Geoffrey Chaucer Born around 1340, died 1400, in London Among the first writers to show that English could be a respectable literary languageJoined the king’s army to fight against the French in the Hundred Years’ War and was captured by the French.Enjoyed royal favor; king paid his ransom; married Philippa, a lady in waiting to the queen
3Uncommon HonorChaucer was buried in London’s Westminster Abbey, when an admirer erected an elaborate marble tomb for his remains. This was the beginning of the famous Poets’ Corner, where many other great English writers have since been buried.Both an asteroid and a lunar crater have been named for Chaucer.He is often considered the “father” of English literature.
6Background of The Canterbury Tales Chaucer planned 120 tales, but only completed 22 stories plus 2 fragments…died before he could finish.Medieval “best-seller”– more manuscript copies of the poem exist than any other poem of its day83 known manuscripts with minor variations in each. Some speculate the differences are due to copyists’ errors, or Chaucer revising it as the copyists were working.No official, unarguably complete version of the Tales exists and no consensus has been reached regarding the order in which Chaucer intended the stories to be placed.
7More Background…Group of travellers going on a pilgrimage to Canterbury from LondonA pilgrimage is a religious journey undertaken for penance and grace.Pilgrims traveled to visit the remains of Saint Thomas Becket, in Canterbury Cathedral, where they thanked the martyr for having helped them when they were in need.
8So Who Was Saint Thomas Becket? Friend of King Henry II, who eventually made him Archbishop of Canterbury.The king was hoping this would give him some leverage over the churchThe church was in charge of trying their own people for crimes, and would often acquit them, even for murder.Becket’s alliance shifted from the court to the Church, and he took a stand against the kingBecket fled to France, where he remained in exile for 6 years
9Thomas Beckett’s Death The two seemed to have resolved their dispute in 1170But Becket had excommunicated Bishops of London and Salisbury for their support of the king, and refused to absolve them.This outraged the king, which then inspired three knights to hunt down the ArchbishopThe knights found him praying at the Altar in the cathedral of Canterbury, and drew their swords and began hacking away at him until he died.
13The PhysiognomistsIn the Middle Ages, a “science” called physiognomy became popular.It was based on the idea that the mental and emotional characteristics of an individual could be determined from physical characteristics like physique, hair, and voice quality.
14PhysiognomistsThe Pardoner, for example. In medieval physiognomical lore, sparse yellow hair, soft and long, was a token of effeminacy, cunning, and deceptiveness.To a fourteenth- century audience, the fact that the Wife of Bath’s teeth were set wide apart might indicate that she was envious, irreverent, bold, deceitful, and fond of luxury.
15Canterbury Tales Narrator Narrator is Chaucer, but don’t confuse “pilgrim Chaucer” with “author Chaucer”Narrator is acting as a reporter of what others say, not adding/removing.Pretends to be unaware of irony or satire
16Why Should You Care?Accurate depiction of life in the middle ages (class levels, interactions between the classes)First story about lower classesSatire & humor for social / political / religious commentary.“The Canterbury Tales” point out problems within society.
17Language Changes English is divided into three periods: Old English/Anglo-Saxon (ca )BEOWULFMiddle English (ca )THE CANTERBURY TALESModern English (ca )SHAKESPEARE
18Language Changeschiknes chickenskoude couldlondoun Londonpye pieshyne shindaggere daggerhoote somer hot summerbroun brownChaucer could see the language change, even in his lifetime: He wrote: "and certaynly our language now vsed varyeth ferre from that whiche was vsed and spoken whan I was borne”
19Listen to it!This website allows us to learn some background about the time period, as well as get to hear the sounds of Medieval English.
20Whan that aprill with his shoures soote The droghte of march hath perced to the roote, And bathed every veyne in swich licour Of which vertu engendred is the flour; Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth Inspired hath in every holt and heeth Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne, And smale foweles maken melodye, That slepen al the nyght with open ye (so priketh hem nature in hir corages); Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages, And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes, To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes; And specially from every shires ende Of engelond to caunterbury they wende, The hooly blisful martir for to seke, That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.Of which vertu engendred is the flour; Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth Inspired hath in every holt and heeth Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne, And smale foweles maken melodye, That slepen al the nyght with open ye (so priketh hem nature in hir corages); Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages, And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes, To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes; And specially from every shires ende Of engelond to caunterbury they wende, The hooly blisful martir for to seke, That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.