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  Robert P. Miller, ed., 'Chaucer: Sources and Backgrounds'
Chaucer: Sources and Backgrounds. Ed. Robert P. Miller. Oxford, 1977. 507pp. A collection of primary source texts, illustrating the political, religious, and literary background to Chaucer's poetry. Includes readings on courtly love, chivalry, women, marriage, medieval Christianity, and medieval literary theory. This book is available from Amazon and, in Europe, from Amazon UK.

Background: History
18 July 2008

Jane Zatta
Some Important Events in the Fourteenth Century
A gem. Potted history of Chaucer's century (including the Hundred Years War, the Peasants' Revolt, and the abdication of Richard II), with illustrations from a fifteenth-century copy of Froissart.

Michael Hanly
Notes on Fourteenth-Century History
Outline notes on the Hundred Years War (beginnings, battles), the Black Death (chronology, death toll, social consequences), the Papal Schism, and Chaucer's political career. Includes an appendix listing the kings of England and France in the fourteenth-century.

Lawrence Warner
Fourteenth-Century Political and Social Upheaval
Bibliography, links to information on labor strife and the plague; Wycliffe and the Lollards; the Peasants' Revolt of 1831; and political history. Part of the William Langland Home Page.

Bonnie Duncan
A Chaucer Chronology
An excellent example of the genre: fills in the historical background, gives approximate dates for the poetry, and incorporates information from the Life Records.

Lee Patterson
Text of an introductory lecture on the Canterbury Tales, which argues that the political upheavals of the 1380s "shook Chaucer loose from an aristocratic culture that he was already finding less and less satisfactory as a context for both artistic production and for life."

James L. Matterer
The Pestilence Tyme
A longish essay in nine sections ("Unheard of Tempests," "The Great Mortality," "The Seeds of the Terrible Pestilence," "Not a City, Not a Town, Not a Hamlet," "This Is the End of the World," "The Foul Death of Engelond," "The Most Terrible of All the Terrors," "The Sovereign Remedy," and "The People Remaining") on England during the plague of 1348-1350. Well-illustrated, with bibliography.

A. Compton Reeves, Laura Blanchard
Late Medieval England: A Guide to Online Resources
Primary sources (including chronicles), bibliographies, resources for teaching. Links are well-selected, lightly annotated.

Steve Muhlberger
Tales from Froissart
"For centuries, Froissart's Chronicle has been recognized as the chief expression of the chivalric revival...of fourteenth-century England and France, and as a key to the aristocratic self-image of the time. His history is also one of the most important sources for the first half of the Hundred Years' War, and certain events of the era, such as the battles of Crecy and Poitiers and the English Peasant Revolt of 1381, are best known through his accounts of them." Includes excerpts, thematic index, images.

J. Siebold
Cartographic Images
Digitized maps from the early and late medieval periods; cartographic monographics, bibliographies, and databases. Also includes maps from antiquity and the renaissance.

Please send comments to David Wilson-Okamura at