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The Words of the Middle Ages: Chaucer & Edward III

Let’s take a look at the words of the infamous Geoffrey Chaucer of the Canterbury Tales fame and Edward III, who enjoyed a rather lengthy rule over England. These figures during the Middle Ages are explored in this installment of famous quotes of this time period.

Geoffrey Chaucer (~1343 , 1400)

In his lifetime, Geoffrey Chaucer was a man of many talents, as he held many different positions as an English author, poet, philosopher, courtier, and diplomat. Even though he penned numerous works, he is best connected to his unfinished Canterbury Tales. Many scholars look up to Chaucer, who is often seen as the “father of English literature.” He is thought of as being the initial author to master the artistic ins and outs of the English language, rather than rely on Latin or French.

The first major work of Chaucer was called The Book of the Duchess and contained an elegy for Blanche of Lancaster, who passed away in 1369. The background on the work is that her husband possibly commissioned it, as he most likely received £10 annuity in 1374. Two other early works associated with Chaucer are Anelida and Arcite, and the House of Fame. Over the years, he would write many different pieces of literature, especially when he held the position of customs comptroller for London between 1374 and 1386. This time period would produce, the Legend of Good Women, Troilus and Criseyde, and Parliament of Fools.

In the end, it would be the Canterbury Tales , started within the early part of the 1380s that would gain such acclaim. This collection of stories traced the world of fictional pilgrims that traveled a path to the cathedral located in Canterbury. It was these tales that aided the development of English literature. A few quotes from this memorable work of art include:

1) “He was as fresh as the month of May.”

2) “And what is better than wisedoom (wisdom)? Woman. And what is better than a good woman? Nothing.”

Edward III (1312 , 1377)

During the Middle Ages, Edward III became one of the most successful of English monarchs. He was able to bring back the royal stronghold that his father Edward II shattered after his reign. He uplifted the Kingdom of England into a respected military force throughout Europe. During his rule, the legislature and government took a turn for the better, especially when it came to positive changes within the English parliament. Edward III made quite the impact during his 50 years on the throne, which was a feat accomplished by no other English monarch since Henry III. This legacy would continue until George III took over England in later years.

Crowned at the age of 14, Edward blossomed into a grand leader , leading his first coup at the age of 17 against his regent (Roger Mortimer). While he was known as a man with many temperaments, he also gained the reputation as a lenient man at times. His reign was viewed as conventional , keeping an eye on the warfare aspect of his country. A common quote associated with the monarch was “Let the boy win his spurs.” When referring to the Black Prince at Crecy, he was quoted as saying in 1346 – “Also say to them, that they suffer him this day to win his spurs, for if god be pleased, I will this journey be his, and the honor thereof.”