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The Plantagenets - History, Literature



William the Conqueror his death in 1087. Then his sons became kings and his great grandson was Henry II the first Plantagement king of England. The period religion was very important the Christian church was rich and powerful, and abbeys and monasteries were important centres of learning 424e41e . Bishops were very powerful and they often quarrelled with the king.


The greatest poem in Middle English was Geoffrey Chaucer who wrote the first original work ever written in the language. If we want to get a picture of medieval life in Britain we can read the Prologue of his Canterbury tales. He grew up with the royal family. He became a diplomatic agent of the crown. Travelling to the continent. In Italy he became interested in Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio he read Virgil. He died in 1400 and he was the first poet to be buried in Westminster Abbey. The Canterbury tales (a general Prologue where the pilgrims are introduced and 24 tales).

Chaucer wanted to give his countrymen a book that should be a true mirror of England and which they could really recognize themselves.   So, when he began his masterpiece, he turned for inspiration to the many people he had met in his life and whose images he had stored in his memory for years. But he needed a framework inside which to put them, and once more he turned to his European culture for help. He probably remembered Boccaccio's Decameron, and borrowed from it the idea of a social event as a pretext for bringing various people together.

This event was to be typically English, so he thought that the traditional pilgrimage to Canterbury, which took, place every year.

PLOT→ He imagined that on an April day, in the Tabard Inn, at Southwark in London, 29 pilgrims met before setting out on at pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket at Canterbury.

The pilgrims can be divided into three main groups.

A first group still connected with the declining feudal word (a

Knight, a Squire, a Yeoman, a Pardoner); a second group

associated with religious life (a Prioress, a Monk , a Nun, a Friar,

a Parson, etc.) a third group including townspeople (a Wife from

Bath, a Merchant, a Student from Oxford, etc.)

Language Middle English

The Norman's were French in language and civilisation. For many years after the conquest all the important positions in church and state were held by Norman's, so the influence was strong. The ruling classes used Norman French, while the conquered talked in their native Anglo-Saxon language. They were in large majority and that's the reason why old English was presented. As a consequence today it is possible to recognise in the language spoken by the Norman's it was from the blend of French, Anglo-Saxon and Latin, used by the church, that Middle English originated. 


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