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Geoffrey Chaucer Timeline

How It All Went Down


Chaucer Born

Geoffrey Chaucer is born to upper-middle class parents, John and Agnes Copton Chaucer. Scholars believe he was born in London, but the exact place and year of his birth is unknown.


Becomes a Page

A teenage Chaucer gets a job as a page to the Countess of Ulster.


Joins the Army

Edward III invades France during the Hundred Years' War between France and England. Chaucer fights in the English Army.



Chaucer is captured during the Seige of Rheims in northeastern France. He is ransomed for sixteen pounds (by the way, that's money and not weight).



Geoffrey Chaucer marries Philippa de Roet, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Philippa of Hainault. They have three or four children, the first of whom - a son named Thomas - is born about a year later.

Jun 20, 1367

Becomes a Member of Court

Chaucer becomes a member of the royal court as a valet to King Edward III.


Begins Book of the Duchess

Chaucer begins work on the Book of the Duchess, an elegy for noblewoman Blanche of Lancaster that is commissioned by her husband. It is completed by 1374, when her widower John of Gaunt pays Chaucer for the book.


Second Tour of Duty

Chaucer completes his second tour in the English Army, after spending one year fighting in France under John of Gaunt.


Travels to Italy

Chaucer visits Genoa and Florence. He reads Italian medieval poetry, an influence on his own creative work.

Jun 8, 1374

Becomes Comptroller

Chaucer is appointed to the lucrative job of Comptroller of Customs for the Port of London. In the twelve years during which he holds this position, he writes most of his poetic works.


Anelida and Arcite

Around this time, Chaucer begins work on the poem Anelida and Arcite. Like most of Chaucer's works, it's impossible to know the exact date at which the poem was written. Scholars believe the poem was composed in the late 1370s.


Change of Kings

King Edward III dies. His grandson Richard II takes the throne. He is the nephew of Chaucer's political patron, John of Gaunt, which is good news for Chaucer's career.


The House of Fame

Chaucer begins The House of Fame, a poem with 2,000-plus lines. It describes a vision he received in a dream, and is completed the following year.

May 4, 1380

Accused of Crime

Chaucer appears in a legal document in connection with the raptus - either rape or kidnapping - of Cecilia Chaumpaigne. The legal matter is evidently resolved fairly quickly, since there is no other mention of it in Chaucer's records.


Troilus and Criseyde and Parlement of Foules

Chaucer composes the 700-line poem Parlement of Foules (also spelled Fowles). Around this time, Chaucer also begins work on the epic poem Troilus and Criseyde. Scholars believe Troilus and Criseyde was composed between 1382 and 1388.


Justice of the Peace

Chaucer takes a four-year position as a Justice of the Peace in Kent, where he now resides.


Joins Parliament, Writes Poem

Geoffrey Chaucer resigns as Comptroller and becomes a member of Parliament, representing Kent. He also begins work on The Legend of Good Women, a poem completed between 1386 and 1388.


Wife Dies

Philippa Chaucer dies. The causes (and exact date) of her death are unknown.


Begins Canterbury Tales

Chaucer begins work on his masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales. The collection of stories about religious pilgrims is written over a period of about ten years, between the late 1380s and the late 1390s.

Jul 12, 1389

Receives Royal Appointment

Chaucer is appointed Clerk of the King's Works, a job akin to chief overseer for all royal building projects. In this capacity, he oversees jobs at the Tower of London, Westminster Palace, Windsor Castle, and St. George's Chapel.

Sep 1390


Chaucer is robbed while at work. Records show that he may have been injured during the robbery.

Jun 1391

Changes Jobs

Chaucer leaves the King's Works job and begins working as a Deputy Forester in the royal forest of North Petherton.


Completes Canterbury Tales

As the end of the 1390s approaches, Chaucer ceases work on The Canterbury Tales.

Oct 25, 1400

Chaucer Dies

Geoffrey Chaucer dies of unknown causes.


Tomb Moved

Chaucer's remains are moved to a more elaborate tomb in a different part of Westminster Abbey. He is the first resident of what is now called Poet's Corner, a section of the abbey reserved for writers.

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