A Brief Chronology of Chaucer's Life and Times


1300 Dante's Divine Comedy.

1300 Birth of Guillaume de Machaut, French musician and poet (died 1377).

1304 Birth of Francis Petrarch (died 1374).

1313 Birth of Giovanni Boccaccio (died 1375).

1321 Death of Dante Alighieri (b.1265).

1330 Birth of John Gower (died 1408).

1335 Boccaccio's Filostrato (source of Troilus).

1336-38 Boccaccio's Filocolo (possible source of The Franklin's Tale).

1337 Hundred Years War begins (ends 1453).

1339 Boccaccio begins Il Teseida delle Nozze d'Emilia (source of The Knight's Tale).

1340-45 Birth of Chaucer.

1346 Birth of Eustache Deschamps, French poet (died c. 1406).

1346 English victory at Crecy; see Jean Froissart, on the Hundred Years War (1337-1453).

1348-50 The Black Death; see the chilling description of the Plague in Boccaccio's Decameron, the introduction to the First Day.

1349-51 Boccaccio's Decameron.

1356 English victory at Poitiers; see Jean Froissart, on the Hundred Years War (1337-1453).

1357 Chaucer a page in the household of the Countess of Ulster.

1359-60 Chaucer serves in the war in France.

1360 Chaucer, captured by the French, is ransomed (for 16 pounds).

1360 Peace with France, Treaty of Bretigny (lull in Hundred Years War; resumes in 1369).

1361-62 Severe recurrence of the Plague.

1360's Langland's Piers Plowman (The "A text").

1361-67 Jean Froissart, French poet and chronicler (c. 1337-1404) serves in the household of Queen Phillippa.

1366 Chaucer marries Philippa Roet, a lady-in-waiting in the Queen's household.

1366 Chaucer travels to Spain.

1366 Death of John Chaucer, Chaucer's father.

1367 Birth of Chaucer's son, Thomas.

1367 Chaucer serves as a "valettus" and later as a squire in the court of Edward III; granted a payment of 20 marks per annum for life.

1368 Chaucer travels to the continent (France probably) on "the King's service."

1368 Birth of Thomas Hoccleve (died 1450), who wrote poems as a "disciple" of Chaucer.

1368-72 Chaucer writes "Fragment A" of the Romaunt of the Rose, The Book of the Duchess, probably a good many lyrics in French and English, now lost, and such lyrics as The Complaint unto Pity and The Complaint to His Lady.

1369 Chaucer serves with John of Gaunt's army in France.

1370 Birth of John Lydgate, admirer and imitator of Chaucer (died 1450).

1370 Chaucer again serves with the army in France.

1372 Chaucer's wife Philippa in the household of John of Gaunt's wife.

1372 Chaucer travels to Italy (Genoa and Florence) on a diplomatic mission.

1374 Death of Petrarch.

1374 Chaucer granted a gallon pitcher of wine daily for life.

1374 Chaucer is appointed controller of the customs; granted a lease on a dwelling over Aldgate.

1375 Death of Boccaccio.

1375 Chaucer and Otho de Graunson (French knight and poet on whose poems Chaucer drew for his "Complaint of Venus") both receive grants from John of Gaunt.

1376-77 Several trips to France, negotiating for peace and the marriage of Richard.

1377 Edward III died; Richard II becomes king.

1377 Pope Gregory XI condemns doctrines of John Wycliffe (1335/38-1384); Lollard movement grows.

1378 The "Great Schism" -- rival Popes in Rome (Urban) and Avignon (Clement); See Deliberations of the University of Paris. The schism ends 1409.

1378 Chaucer travels to Italy (Milan) on diplomatic mission.

1378 John Gower and Richard Forester have Chaucer's power of attorney while he travels abroad.

Late 1370's Chaucer writes Saint Cecelia (possibly later); The House of Fame, Anelida and Arcite.

1380 Cecily Chaumpaigne signs a document, releasing Chaucer from all actions in the case of my rape ("de raptu meo").

1380 Birth of Chaucer's second son, Lewis.

1380 Chaucer writes The Parliament of Fowls.

1381 The Peasants' Revolt; see the accounts in Gray's Scalacronica and the Anonimalle Chronicle.

1381 Death of Chaucer's mother, Agnes Chaucer.

1382-86 Chaucer writes Boece, Troilus and Criseyede.

1382 Chaucer's controllorship of the customs is renewed, with permission to have a deputy.

1382 The Bible is translated into English (The "Wyclifite Bible"; a later versions is made in 1388).

1385 Chaucer is granted a permanent deputy in the customs.

1385 Eustache Deschamps sends Chaucer a poem of praise, hailing him as "great translator, noble Geoffrey Chaucer." See Chaucer's Reputation.

1385-87 Chaucer writes "Palamoun and Arcite" (later used as The Knight's Tale); " The Legend of Good Women (though some parts are probably earlier and the prologue was later revised).

1385-89 Chaucer serves as justice of peace for Kent.

1386 Chaucer gives up the house in Aldgate; resigns from customs.

1386 Chaucer serves as member of Parliament for Kent (where he now probably lives).

1386/87 (Perhaps earlier) Chaucer is praised as a poet of Love and Philosophy by Thomas Usk, a younger contemporary (1350-88), author of The Testament of Love.

1387-90 John Gower's Confessio amantis (first "published" 1390; later revised).

1387-92 Chaucer begins The Canterbury Tales.

1388 Some of Richard's closest supporters removed by the Lords Appellant; some (including Thomas Usk, an admirer and imitator of Chaucer) are executed.

1389 Chaucer is appointed clerk of the works at Westminster, Tower of London, and other royal estates.

1390 As clerk of the works, Chaucer has scaffolds built for jousts in Smithfield.

1390 Chaucer is robbed of horse, goods, 20 pounds, 6 shillings, 8 pence at Hacham, Surrey (perhaps robbed again a bit later).

1391-92 Chaucer writes Treatise of the Astrolabe (with additions 1393 and later).

1392-95 Chaucer writes most of The Canterbury Tales, including probably "The Marriage Group."

1394 King Richard II grants Chaucer an annuity of 20 pounds a year,

c. 1396 Chaucer writes "The Envoy to Bukton," in which the addressee is urged to read "The Wife of Bath."

1396-1400 Chaucer writes the latest of the Tales, including probably The Nun's Priest's Tale, The Canon's Yeoman's Tale (though part is probably earlier), the Parson's Tale, and several short poems, including the envoys to Scogan and Bukton and the "Complaint to His Purse."

1398 Chaucer is granted a tun of wine a year.

1399 Richard II is deposed; Henry IV becomes king.

1399 Chaucer leases a tenement, for 53 years, in the garden of the Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey.

1399 King Henry IV confirms, and adds to, Chaucer's royal annuities.

1400 "The Complaint of Chaucer to His Purse."

1400 Chaucer's death (on 25 October, according to tradition).


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Last modified: July 27, 2000
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