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6. Monarchy, Parliament and Government
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the role of the king, parliament, and government in 14th-century England, focusing in particular on: (i) the reigns of the three kings that Chaucer lived under – Edward III, Richard II and Henry IV – and Chaucer’s relationship with each of these kings; (ii) the role of the civil service in 14th-century England, and Chaucer’s work as a civil servant; (iii) the importance of Parliament in 14th-century England and Chaucer’s work as member of the House of Commons; and (iv) Chaucer’s writings about the workings of Parliament, including the satirical poem, The Parliament of Fowls, and the parliamentary scenes in Troilus and Criseyde and The Knight’s Tale.
In this course, Professor Marion Turner (University of Oxford) explores the historical, literary and cultural context for Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. In the first module, we think about the literary and linguistic culture of 14th-century England, focusing in particular on the languages that people read and spoke, and what each language was most commonly used for. In the second module, we think about the kind of books Chaucer read – in Latin, English, French and Italian. In the third module, we think about everyday life in Chaucer’s England – what did people eat and drink? what did they wear? what kinds of things did they have in their homes? – before turning in the fourth module to consider the extent to which Chaucer’s works reflect a historical reality. In the fifth module, we think about the role of religion and the church in 14th-century England, before turning in the sixth module to the role of the king, parliament and government – and Chaucer’s own role in relation to each of these.
Marion Turner is Associate Professor of English at Jesus College, University of Oxford. She is the author of a ground-breaking biography of Chaucer: Chaucer: A European Life (Princeton, 2019).
This biography focuses on Chaucer as an international figure, exploring his travels, his multicultural influences, his multilingual identity, and the global aspects of medieval London.
Her other books include Chaucerian Conflict (Oxford, 2007) and, as editor, A Handbook of Middle English Studies (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), and she has published many articles on Chaucer and other aspects of late medieval literature. Marion has received research funding from the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, and the Wellcome Trust. She often speaks in the media, including Radio 4, BBC1, Channel 4, and ITV. She has a particular interest in outreach, taking part in Chaucer Days at the Ashmolean Museum and the Weston Library, aimed at sixth form students of Chaucer, and often speaking at schools and colleges.
Cite this Lecture
Turner, M. (2020, April 04). Chaucer: Historical, Literary and Cultural Context - Monarchy, Parliament and Government [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/chaucer-historical-literary-and-cultural-context/monarchy-parliament-and-government
Turner, M. "Chaucer: Historical, Literary and Cultural Context – Monarchy, Parliament and Government." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 04 Apr 2020, https://www.massolit.io/courses/chaucer-historical-literary-and-cultural-context/monarchy-parliament-and-government