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In 1359, as we learn from his deposition in the Scrope suit, Chaucer went to the war in France

In 1357 Geoffrey is found, apparently as a lad, in the service of Elizabeth, countess of Ulster, wife of Lionel, Duke of Clarence

Middle English literature

In December 1376 he was sent abroad on the king's service in the retinue of Sir John Burley

On the 1st of March 1360 the King Edward III contributed £16 to his ransom, and by a year or two later Chaucer must have entered the royal service, since on the 10th of June 1367 Edward granted him a pension of twenty marks for his past and future services.

In the grant of his pension Chaucer is called "dilectus vallectus noster," our beloved yeoman

The Book of the Duchesse

• a poem of 1334 lines in octosyllabic couplets

In June 1370 he went abroad on the king's service

Le Roman de la rose

• a poem written in some 4000 lines by Guillaume Lorris about 1237 and extended to over 22,000 by Jean Clopinel, better known as Jean de Meun, forty years later

he translated this poem, and the extant English fragment of 7698 lines was generally assigned to him from 1532, when it was first printed, till its authorship was challenged in the early years of the Chaucer Society

the Canterbury Tales

• The pilgrims whom he imagines to have assembled at the Tabard Inn in Southwark, where Harry Bailey was host, are said to have numbered "wel nyne and twenty in a company," and the Prologue gives full-length sketches of a Knight, a Squire (his son), and their Yeoman; of a Prioress, Monk, Friar, Oxford Clerk, and Parson.

Chaucer. "Litel Lowis my son"

• Litel Lowis my son," a treatise on the use of the Astrolabe, its short prologue being the prettiest specimen of his prose

• The wearisome tale of "Melibee and his wyf Prudence," which was perhaps as much admired in English as it had been in Latin and French, may have been translated at any time

• Chaucer's service to the English language lies in his decisive success having made it impossible for any later English poet to attain fame, as Gower had done, by writing alternatively in Latin and French. The claim which should be made for him is that, at least as regards poetry, he proved that English was "sufficient."

The Canterbury Tales have always been Chaucer's most popular work, and, including fragments, upwards of sixty 15th-century manuscripts of it still survive.

The Canterbury Tales were subsequently printed in 1492 (Pynson), 1498 (de Worde) and 1526 (Pynson); Troilus in 1517 (de Worde) and 1526 (Pynson); the Hous of Fame in 1526 (Pynson); the Parlement of Foules in 1526 (Pynson) and 1530 (de Worde) and the Mars, "Venus" and Envoy to Bukton by Julyan Notary about 1500

• In 1561 a reprint, with numerous additions, edited by John Stowe, was printed by J. Kyngston for J. Wight, and this was re-edited, with fresh additions by Thomas Speght, in 1598 for G. Bishop and again in 1602 for Adam Islip. In 1687 there was an anonymous reprint, and in 1721 John Urry produced the last and worst of the folios.

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