Use the links under the images below to find out more about the "Roman Road to Canterbury."

I. ROMAN BRITAIN

The Romans called it Britannia, and its human history goes back long before Caesar's Roman forces ever set foot upon its shores. Yet, we begin our survey of its history with the Roman era in order to provide a background for our study of Chaucer as a student and a patron of the classical world.


461px-Roman_Roads_in_Britannia.png
Roman Roads in Britain


Julius Caesar's Invasion of BritainClaudius' Victory Agricola's Leadership
Roman Roads and the Watling Street
Roman Canterbury


II. CHRISTIANITY AND THE ANGLO-SAXONS

Tertullian, writing around 200 A.D., confirms that by then Christianity was known in Britain, as he writes: "...All the limits of the Spains, and the diverse nations of the Gauls, and the haunts of the Britons--inaccessible to the Romans, but subjugated to Christ..." (
Adversus Judaeos, 7.4). Christianity is at the very heart of Britain's history, linking the Romans to Chaucer and the Middle Ages.



augustine_abbey_ruins_MERGE.jpg
St. Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury


St. Augustine the Lesser and Aethelbert
The Anglo-Saxons
The Venerable Bede
Viking Cruelty and Celtic Christianity
Alfred the Great



III. NORMAN BRITAIN THROUGH THE 12th CENTURY

When William I of Normandy ("The Conqueror") defeated the Saxons at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the result was that Britain came under the foreign rule. The effect of Norman conquest of England was that France would be England's great rival for centuries to come. The impact of French language and customs on the English people was significant, and particular to our study is how Chaucer's life and literature were influenced as a result.


Bayeux_Tapestry_WillelmDux.jpg
Bayeaux Tapestry

The Battle of Hastings, 1066
William I and the Other Norman Kings
Norman Architecture: Castles and Churches
Henry II and Thomas Becket


IV. THE 13th AND 14th CENTURIES

The events closest to Chaucer's time are important context for the study of his life. Edward III was king when Chaucer was born; Richard II was king when he died. Chaucer's death around 1400 came near the half-way mark of the Hundred Years' War. The politics of kings provided the historical backdrop for the lives of all their lesser contemporaries, while plague constantly reminded medieval people of the death that awaited all men.



Chaucer as a pilgrim from the Ellesmere Manuscript, 15th century
Chaucer as a pilgrim from the Ellesmere Manuscript, 15th century


Crusades
Life and Black Death
Hundred Years' War
Chaucer: Biography