Geoffrey Chaucer: The 3 Ways He Impacted The World

Born1340’s AD
Died25th of October, 1400
Famous Quote“Time and tide wait for no man.”
Known ForCreating the modern English language, writing The Canterbury Tales, establishing the modern Valentines Day
Region of WorldEngland, 14th century

The 14th century author Geoffrey Chaucer remains one of the most impactful writers in the history of the world. He is credited with creating over 2,000 English words throughout the corpus of his text. However, there are 3 other major ways in which Chaucer has forever impacted the world.

The 3 ways in which Geoffrey Chaucer impacted the world are by establishing the modern English language, writing The Canterbury Tales, and establishing the modern holiday of Valentine’s day. From these impacts Chaucer would be called the father of English literature.

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Without further ado, here are the 3 ways in which Geoffrey Chaucer impacted the world.

Geoffrey Chaucer Established The Modern English Language

One of the main ways in which Geoffrey Chaucer impacted the world was by establishing the modern English language.

Before the time of Chaucer there were two types of English spoken across England and portions of Europe. This was English of the commoner and the more elite Latin English that existed among the clergy and nobility.

Geoffrey Chaucer was born into an educated family in the emerging 13th century English middle class. His father more than likely was a wine merchant as Chaucer refers to him as a “Vinter.” This indicates that Chaucer was born into a family that would have bridged the gap between the nobility and commoner of English.

From this family Chaucer would be educated in law at the Inner Temple and would become a member of the royal court of King Edward III.

This background of family wealth and connections to the nobility of England would prove vital in Chaucer’s construction of the modern English language.

Throughout Chaucer’s texts he manages to combine the English of the common man. In his books Chaucer would combine the common English dialects of Kent, London, and the Midlands to create a modern English language that everyone in England could understand.

From this new dictionary comes several words that we recognize today. These are English words such as absent, resolve, scissors, snort, nod, dishonest, princess, vulgar, universe, and wallet.

In fact, Chaucer’s work is one of the few English texts from the 14th century that most people could read today. It is because of these words that Chaucer helped to create.

Over 1.5 billion people today speak English today. As such the creation of the modern English language remains today one of the main ways in which Geoffrey Chaucer impacted the world.

Chaucer Wrote The Canterbury Tales Providing A Critique Of English Society

One of the main ways in which Geoffrey Chaucer impacted the world was through the creation of his famous text The Canterbury Tales.

This book details a story of a group of English pilgrims on their journey from London to the cathedral of Canterbury. During these travels the Pilgrims encounter various obstacles that outline the nature of their characters.

On the surface Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales seems to be a simple text that seeks to entertain the reader through outlandish tales. However upon closer inspection it becomes clear that Chaucer is providing a societal critique of English society during the middle ages.

Each pilgrim in the Canterbury Tales is representative of a portion of the English population. There is the noble knight, the downtrodden cook, the corrupt friar, the honorable physician, and the corrupt alchemist.

Each of these characters faces a moral dilemma that seeks to outline the nature of their reason for the pilgrimage from London to Canterbury. This is a subtle critique of English society during the 14th century.

Chaucer was writing during a monumental change in English society, in the 14th century the English began to restructure their society to become more egalitarian. From this book Chaucer impacted the world by providing a witty account of how backwards English life was during the 14th century.

In 1381, while Chaucer was writing his Canterbury Tales, the Peasants Revolt exploded across England. This revolt sought several societal reforms throughout the English world. The major of which was the abolition of serfdom. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in many ways is a societal critique of the power dynamic in the English world.

From The Canterbury Tales Chaucer gave an account of the societal struggle for equality. This forever impacted the world as it demonstrated for subsequent authors how powerful a single piece of text could become to critiquing a society. From this we get modern national novels.

Geoffrey Chaucer Created The Modern Valentines Day

One of the major ways in which Geoffrey Chaucer impacted the world was by creating the modern version of the holiday of Valentine’s day.

Before Chaucer’s time the holiday Valentines Day simply did not exist in the modern context. We have primary source evidence from the 8th century Christian liturgy book Gelasian Sacramentary that outlines a feast in remembrance of the Christian martyr of Valentine. However, the connection between love and modern Valentine’s day was not made until Chaucer’s publication of Parliament of Fowls.

Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls outlines a dream Chaucer had about a group of fowls holding a celebration of love on Valentine’s day. During this day the birds would dedicate the day towards their mate. This poem was so influential that it is the reason that we have the modern holiday of Valentine’s Day today.

Today billions of people around the world have been impacted by Chaucer’s creation of the holiday of Valentine’s Day. This holiday remains one of the few that is celebrated by nearly all cultures across the world.

As such, Geoffrey Chaucer has impacted billions of people worldwide through the creation of the modern holiday of Valentine’s Day.

Conclusion

There you have it, an entire article dedicated towards the 3 ways Geoffrey Chaucer impacted the world.

Geoffrey Chaucer would die on the 25th of October, 1400 from unknown causes. Historians are unsure of the date of his death because the only known account comes from 100 years later. There exists much speculation on the nature of Chaucer’s last days since he often found himself at odds with the king of Henry IV. Prospective graduate students will find much material on Chaucer’s later life that could be studied in depth.

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Until next time,

Nick