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English 406 Lecture Notes

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ENGL 406
Jacqueline Jenkins

Sept 27, 2012 English 406-01 Images Shown: Chaucer the Pilgrim, from the Ellesmere MS (manuscript) f. 153v Chaucer Reading to Court of Richard II Potrait of Chaucer from Thomas Hoccleve’s (c. 1368-1450) Regiment of Princes Lecture: - Chaucer is what people think about when they think of Medieval Period o Paradox – have little information about Chaucer the man and the poet; have lots of information about Chaucer the public servant  Little info on his personality and his poetry/poems  Lack info about education, childhood, personal interests, have no records about his life as a writer o But we, today, think of Chaucer primarily as poet not as a public servant even though he have more info about his being a public servant o Not an explicitly political writer o Records of his life tell us that he was a upwardly moving servant, not part of nobility o “Gentil”  person who embodies the characteristics of gentiles (honour, nobility, moral, if you’re a women to be beautiful) o was an ambassador o was close to the Duke of Lancaster o Book of Duchess copies French style and the French metric o Was working on the Canterbury Tales at the end of his life o Chaucer died without any wealth to pass down o Only son of a prosperous wine merchant o His writing frequently reflects the mood of the environment that he lived in - There were lots of wars going on during this time o War with the Welsh, also the 100 year war with France - Edward the III – Richard the II o Eight kings were either killed by their councilors, public, family member o Important as the monarchy is suppose to be untouchable and divinely ordained; but if you can kill your king and put someone else up there, everything is up for grabs  If the king isn’t always going to be the king, then a serf doesn’t always have to be a serf - Plague played important role o Because of the erosion of the working class, peasants could argue for better wages, etc. - Leads to the Peasants revolt Events leading up to Peasant’s Revolt: 1. increase in anti-clergy sentiments 2. dissatisfaction with the cost of war 3. effect on population of the recurrent plague 4. poor taxes to support the wars 5. changes in social positions and changes in expectations of social positions - new tax followed the poor tax o was a schilling per head o resulted in revolt  rebelled against people that they thought should be protecting them; ex. Clergy, - workers from all around London formed a march o destroyed churches, broke people out of prisons o resulted in the a camp out - tradespeople and merchants were finding great opportunity and wealth o emergence of ‘middle class’ o wealth with power but not nobly born o another nail in feudalism  as feudalism depends on birth right, and these people aren’t born nobly but gain wealth in other ways - were times of great devotion and were expressed in anti-church ways - Lollordy – followed example of John Wittcliff o Scripture knowledge should be with the public o Desire to have Bible not in latin  Clergy seen as selfish as they are holding on to the Bible o Women were encouraged to learn and teach - valettus = salary - Chaucer’s family, within 4 generations, we
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