...I think some of Chaucer belongs to his time and that much of
that time is dead, extinct, and never to be made alive again.
What was alive in it, lives through him.
century. It was neither rich or poor, happy nor sad.
was the intermingling of these, a mixture of splendor and
poverty, displaying both worldly desire and spiritual purity.
civil service, shaped his writing, offering the readers of today
a brief glimpse into the world in which he lived.
Chaucer lived from approximately AD 1340 to 1400.
The world in
which he lived was not one of peace or stability.
Born the son
of a London vintner, he remained a Londoner for most of the rest
Aside from brief visits into other countries or areas
writing was immense.
London of that time was not the London of today.
It was a
walled city, guarded against invasion, but long enough time had
passed since such a threat had approached that the defenses had
Houses perched upon the walls, and Chaucer in fact,
lived for a time in a house built over Aldgate, (one of the gates
of the city).
London was a city less than three-quarters of a square mile in
size: It ran east and west along the Thames less than one and a
half miles, and extended northwards less than half a mile.
20,000 people were packed into this small area
the diversity of
the inhabitants was overwhelming.
Londoners ranged from wealthy
to impoverished, from small to large, from shoemaker to
blacksmith to minstrel to priest.
The city was thus fairly
Stone building mingled with tile, wood, and thatch.
While the major streets were fairly wide, small shops and stands
often spread out into the road, effectively narrowing it by up to
home to a multitude of homes and shops, perched on top of the
span to conserve space.
Waste was disposed of simply.
It was emptied out the windows
into the alley or street and slaughtering was done in he streets
as well, with scraps being tossed underfoot.
Hogs were often
used to keep the streets clean, but were assisted by wild dogs
and scavenger birds. Open sewers ran through the streets and into
king of England.
Here a startling change was apparent.
filth of the streets disappeared, to be replaced by the splendor
Geoffrey Chaucerhs world was the Europe of the fourteenth
Chaucerhs travels through it, mostly on hthe Kinghs business,_ or
of his life, leaving the city only on hthe Kinghs business_.
The city of London was thus Chaucerhs environment for most of