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Chaucer's Official Life   By: (1884-1969)

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CHAUCER'S OFFICIAL LIFE

BY

JAMES ROOT HULBERT

NOTE

In making reference to books and manuscripts, I have attempted to use abbreviations which seem, reasonably clear. Perhaps the least intelligible are C. R. which stands for Close Rolls, and L. R. which stands for Life Records of Chaucer (Chaucer Soc.) Wherever possible, I have referred to prints rather than to original manuscripts because the printed calendars are much more accessible. In a work which has involved the copying of innumerable references, many of which are to documents in the Public Record Office not available to me as I revise my copy, it is too much to expect that there should be no inaccuracies. Therefore, if the reader discovers erroneous references, I must ask his leniency.

For their courtesy and assistance in making books and documents accessible to me, I wish most heartily to thank J. A. Herbert, Esq., of the Manuscript Department, the British Museum, and Edward Salisbury, Esq., and Hubert Hall, Esq., of the Public Record Office. To my friend and colleague, Dr. Thomas A. Knott, of the University of Chicago, I am deeply indebted for his kindness in reading over parts of my manuscript and trying to make their style clearer and more readable. My greatest obligation, however, is to Professor John M. Manly, not only for encouragement and specific suggestions as to the handling of this subject, but for a training which has made possible whatever in my results may be considered of value.

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION: Statement of the problem THE ESQUIRES OF THE KING'S HOUSEHOLD: Their Families Appointment Classification Services Rewards Marriage Careers of the Esquires of 1368 THE JUSTICES OF THE PEACE THE CUSTOMS SIR JOHN DE BURLEY SIR EDWARD DE BERKELEY SIR THOMAS DE PERCY SIR WILLIAM DE BEAUCHAMP RICHARD FORESTER HENRY SCOGAN OTO DE GRAUNSON BUKTON CHAUCER'S CAREER AND HIS RELATION TO JOHN OF GAUNT CHAUCER'S RELATION TO RICHARD II SOME GENERAL POINTS

INTRODUCTION

The researches of Sir Harris Nicolas, Dr. Furnivall, Mr. Selby and others have provided us with a considerable mass of detailed information regarding the life and career of Geoffrey Chaucer. Since the publication of Nicolas's biography of the poet prefixed to the Aldine edition of Chaucer's works in 1845, the old traditional biography of conjecture and inference, based often on mere probability or the contents of works erroneously ascribed to Chaucer, has disappeared and in its place has been developed an accurate biography based on facts. In the sixty five years since Nicolas's time, however, a second tradition connected in some way with fact, to be sure has slowly grown up. Writers on Chaucer's life have not been content merely to state the facts revealed in the records, but, in their eagerness to get closer to Chaucer, have drawn many questionable inferences from those facts. Uncertain as to the exact significance of the various appointments which Chaucer held, his engagement in diplomatic missions and his annuities, biographers have thought it necessary to find an explanation for what they suppose to be remarkable favors, and have assumed cautiously in the case of careful scholars but boldly in that of popular writers that Chaucer owed every enhancement of his fortune to his "great patron" John of Gaunt. In greater or less degree this conception appears in every biography since Nicolas. Professor Minto in his Encyclopedia Britannica article [Footnote: Ed. Scribners 1878, vol. 5, p. 450.] says with regard to the year 1386: "that was an unfortunate year for him; his patron, John of Gaunt, lost his ascendancy at court, and a commission which sat to inquire into the abuses of the preceding administration superseded Chaucer in his two comptrollerships. The return of Lancaster to power in 1389 again brightened his prospects; he was appointed clerk of the King's works," etc... Continue reading book >>




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