The Man and His Work

1340 -1400

Chaucer was a man of importance: so much so that when he was taken prisoner in 1359, King Edward paid an enormous ransom of £16 for his return.  He was a courier in peace negotiations, related by marriage to royals and had a £20 pension and an annual butt of wine  Moreover, he was a JP, a controller of Customs and Clerk of the King’s Works.  He enjoyed the patronage of Edward III, Richard II and Henry IV

His work was read aloud at court and manuscripts were commissioned by the wealthy.  There would be gatherings where there would be readings of the work.  Chaucer writes in a courtly style with words via French from Latin e.g.: ‘mesurable, ‘habitacioun’, ‘maladye’, ‘superfluytee’. He uses such structural elements as rhyming couplets and the iambic pentameter of English poetry rather than the alliterative provincial, Anglo Saxon style of Langland and the Gawain poet where there were three stressed alliterated sounds to the line as in this example:

‘Sheer sheds the rain in showers full warm.’

The fourth stressed syllable (in this case ‘warm’) would be used for the alliterated syllables of the next line.

Contrast this with Chaucer’s rhyming pentameters:

‘Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote

The Droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote’

Bibliography to all work on Chaucer on this website:

Chaucer The Pardoner’s Tale             C W R D Moseley      Penguin Critical Studies

Chaucer                                               Brian Stone                 Penguin Critical Studies

The Pardoner’s Tale                            Geoffrey Lester          MacMillan Master Guides

The CanterburyTales                          Helen Cooper             OxfordGuides to Chaucer

Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales           ed J J Anderson          Casebook Series

Other Recommended Sites:

Very useful website giving insights into many aspects of the text, including a commentary on the significance of phrases:’s-Prologue-and-Tale/12/0



You are free:
  • to Share — to copy, distribute and transmit the work
  • to Remix — to adapt the work
Under the following conditions:
  • Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified, as above, by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
  • Noncommercial — You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
With the understanding that:
  • Waiver — Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.
  • Public Domain — Where the work or any of its elements is in the public domain under applicable law, that status is in no way affected by the license.
  • Other Rights — In no way are any of the following rights affected by the license:
    • Your fair dealing or fair use rights, or other applicable copyright exceptions and limitations;
    • The author’s moral rights;
    • Rights other persons may have either in the work itself or in how the work is used, such as publicity or privacy rights.
  • Notice — For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. The best way to do this is with a link to this web page.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s