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The poem, though filled with traditional French flourishes, develops its originality around the relationship between the narrator, a fictionalized version of the poet, and the mourner, the Man in Black, who represents Gaunt. The talkative Eagle guides the naive “Chaucer” just as the naive Dante is guided by the gossipy Virgil.The Eagle takes “Chaucer” to the House of Fame (Rumor), which is even more the house of tales.After visits to Genoa and Florence in 1372-1373 and to Lombardy in 1378, Chaucer developed an interest in Italian language and literature, which influenced his poem (1307) and from Petrarch’s love for Laura as manifested in the sonnets.

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Of all the Canterbury pilgrims (and there is a “Chaucer”), the one who most closely approximates his situation is the social-climbing Franklin, a man heartily concerned with the gentility of his son.

Chaucer’s own son, Thomas, became one of the richest men in London, and great-grandson (who died on the battlefield) was named heir apparent to the throne of England.

At this time, Chaucer made the acquaintance of the man who would most deeply influence his political career: John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.

Chaucer and Gaunt married the daughters of the French Knight Sir Paon de Roet—Gaunt in order to legitimize his sons by the Roet’s daughter, who had been his mistress for some time (all the English kings after Henry VI came from this line), and Chaucer to enter the world of the aristocracy.

The same change occurs in Troilus after the absence of Criseyde.

Through his trials Troilus learns, as have Dante and Petrarch before him, that loving a real woman is the only real love. The pretext for storytelling in Boccaccio is a plague in Florence which sends a group of ten nobles to the country to escape the Black Death. Each day’s tales are grouped around a common topic or narrative subject.

Although Chaucer was close to Gaunt, he was always on the fringes of the world of courtly political intrigue of this time, a period Shakespeare dramatized in , or language which would not change, and most of the upper-class English spoke French.

Chaucer himself often used French translations of Latin texts; that he chose the language of the lower-class Saxons rather than Norman nobility has perplexed readers and scholars for centuries.

Geoffrey Chaucer was born in 1343, the son of John and Agnes (de Copton) Chaucer.

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