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Chaucer's Official Life
by James Root Hulbert
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Most interesting with relation to Chaucer... is the employment of esquires on missions abroad. Apparently certain individuals were assigned especially to this kind of business and many of these were kept almost constantly engaged in it. For example, George Felbrig, in 51 Edward III, was sent on the King's secret business to John Duke of Brittany in Flanders. -from "The Esquires of the King's Household" This 1912 Ph.D. dissertation is a classic interpretive biography of Geoffrey Chaucer, author of, most famously, The Canterbury Tales. As a member of the courts of Edward III and Richard II, did Chaucer receive any special favors from the kings because of his position? How important was the patronage of John of Gaunt, whom earlier Chaucer biographers emphasized while ignoring or glossing over Chaucer's standing as a courtier? By comparing the careers of Chaucer's professional associates in the kings' households with Chaucer's itself, Root unravels the intrigue of royal patronage to explore Chaucer's reputation during his life... and how it may be responsible for his legacy as the first great writer in the English language.
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