Age of Chaucer(1343-1400)

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Age of Chaucer (1343-1400)


1st Modern Age/ Medieval Period/ Age of Contrast

PERIOD-1343-25th Oct 1400

STARTED- From 1343 because it was around 1343 when Chaucer was born.

ENDED-At last 25th Oct 1400


The period, 14th century called the “Age of Contrast” as the country people were facing problems socially, politically and emotionally. So, 14th century was the most active, complicated, distressed, and entangled period of English Literature.

People were not even allowed ‘to learn’.

This age witnessed the meeting ground of the two divergent and incongruous periods- the Old and the New, the Medieval and the Renaissance.

The Age of Chaucer witnessed the rapid growth in trade and commerce.

Women were thought inferior to men.

The era witnessed the “foundation of an English Prose Style”.

“The Age of Anonymity”, later authors did not give out their names, they publish books anonymously, but authors of the age of Chaucer were in favour of revealing their identity.


Comparison to the writers present at 14th century, Chaucer is rightly regarded as the supreme narrative poet of his country, and his Canterbury Tales is a standing monument of his genius as a narrator in verse. Other writers have greater monuments, but nobody has Chaucer’s excellence of narration in verse.

“Chaucer is known to everybody as the World’s three or four story-tellers’, says Lowell. He further says, “Chaucer is known to everybody as the prince of storytellers”.

Chaucer is also known as “The Morning Star of Renaissance”.

Chaucer is a ‘great narrator’ because he infuses humor in his stories and never allows them to become dull and dreary. The humorous touches and personal comments at the end of the story make the stories lively and entertaining.


Age of Chaucer has rightly been phrase as “The Age of Transition”.


The Age of Chaucer(14th century) has rightly been phrased as The Age of Transition as it makes the end of medievalism and the birth of the modern age.

Chaucer made notable contribution to the English language and versification.

In 1360 English was split in four dialects. Chaucer popularized, reshaped and reformed the East Midland dialect and gave it a form of the standard tongue. He imparted to his native tongue smoothness and suppleness which it had not known since the Norman times and breathed into this dialect a high poetical life.


Commonly regarded as “the Father of English Language/Poetry”, Chaucer is the most representative poet of the 14th century. It is said that ‘with him is born our real poetry’.

His poetry is marked with features like realism, wit, humor, pathos and what not.

He also experimented with the metre and versification. He is considered the greatest story-teller in verse. His unfinished work “The Canterbury Tales” in particular “The Nun’s Priest’s tale” substantiates all these observations.

Chaucer invented Rhyme Royal and introduced heroic couplet (2 rhyming lines of same metre).

Chaucer is a liberal comedian. As Lowell says, “Long before Balzac, Chaucer conceived and exhibited the Human Comedy”.

Chaucer found English a dialect and left it a language.


Troilus and Criseyde, The House of Fame, The Canterbury Tales (24 tales 29/30/31 pilgrim- Canterbury-

Tabard Inn- East Midland Dialect), Legend of Good Women, The Book of the Duchess, Parliament of Fowls.


The most significant political event of this age, “The Hundred Years War” (116 years), fought between England and France, broke out in the year 1337 and ended in 1453. It released and strengthened the feeling of nationalism and patriotism both in England.

In 1348, England experienced the horror of Plague three times within a period. Almost a half of the population fell victim to these epidemics.

Consequently, there was scarcity of labors for the first time. Bitter conditions and oppressive taxations aggravated the growing discontent among the peasants and finally took place the famous Peasant Revolt of 1381.


Geoffrey Chaucer, William Langland, John Gower, John Barbour, John Wycliffe, Thomas Hoccleve

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