Thursday, July 24, 2014

Chaucer's England by Diana Childress

Publisher: Shoe String Press/Linnet Books 2000
Genre: Non-fiction, Life in England during Geoffrey Chaucer's era, England, 14th Century,
Format: Hardcover
Age: 12 and up
Pages: 136
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Library copy

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I'm surprised there has not been any reviews at the book retail sites. It is possible this little gem has been over-looked. For a person that is heavily researching 14th century England, this book would not have enough information. But, for a reader, age twelve and up, who wants to read a short book packed with interesting tidbits about life during Geoffrey Chaucer's era, this book is a perfect choice.

Summary:
Chaucer's England, explores 14th century England: from traveling to food, from housing to money, from "social hierarchy" to the religious order, from Parliament to medicine, from marriage to "leisure" activities.
Geoffrey Chaucer, was born in London, England, about 1340, and died 1400. There are "500 official documents" which contain information about Chaucer, "many of them brief records of payments made to him by his employers." Three English kings ruled during Chaucer's life. Edward III (ruled 1327-1377), and Richard II (1377-1399). Henry IV, began his reign late in 1399.
Geoffrey Chaucer's, notable work is Canterbury Tales. He also wrote Troilus and Criseyde, The Romaunt of the Rose, The Plowman's Tale, The Pilgrim's Tale, and more.
From Wikipedia

From the British Library. 
My Thoughts:
I've read The Canterbury Tales twice, once in college, and again in my early 40s. The second time I read it I fell in love with a few of the stories. A British literature professor told me, "people either love the tales, or they hate them." The tales are meant to be humorous stories, and to not take them seriously. I'm a serious girl and often I'm too serious. Reading The Canterbury Tales, requires me to put on a "different" mind-set. If you've never read The Canterbury Tales, maybe try and read one of them, for example: The Nun's Priest Tale. 

Chaucer's England, is a quick read yet packed with information.
A favorite aspect of reading history is how people lived during another era. I enjoyed reading about social customs, for example, the marriageable age for 14th century was age fourteen for boys and age twelve for girls. Marriage during this period was not considered a romantic decision (although they enjoyed reading romantic stories). It was a "economic and social arrangement." Most often boys were in their twenties when they married, girls in their teen years.
The three estates of social class were peasants, knighthood, and clergy. In more than one section in the book these classes will be expounded on.
Over-all, this is a splendid book that can be used for reference, as well as interesting reading material.

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