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Timeline 1300-1400:


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King Wenceslas II ascends the throne in Poland.

Birth of Guillaume de Machaut, French musician and poet.

c. 1300 Cursor Mundi written and Marco Polo's Travels.

1300-1400 English displacing French as language of the upper classes and in schools and law courts. Mystery plays increasingly performed by guilds rather than churches--more actors, more spectacles, outdoor stages, comic elements.

1301 Edward I of England invests his baby son Edward as Prince of Wales
1302 Battle of Courtrai: Flemish burghers defeat the flower of French chivalry and save Flanders from French occupation.

Guillaume de Nogaret, emissary of Philip IV of France, kidnaps Pope Boniface VIII and beats him. The pope is rescued by Italians from Anagni, but dies shortly thereafter in Rome, probably as a result of his injuries. His death ends the struggle between Philip IV of France and the pope over papal powers in France.

1304 Francis Petrarch (Franceswco Petrarca), Italian poet born.

Pope Clement V (Bertrand de Got, Archbishop of Bordeaux) claims the Papal See. The "Babylonian Captivity" begins as the Papal See removed from Rome to Avignon, defying medieval custom.

The English capture and execute Scottish rebel William Wallace.


Philip IV expels the Jews from France.

New Scottish rebellion against English rule led by Robert the Bruce. Robert is crowned King of Scotalnd at Scone, rules until 1329. This ends the ten-year interregnum in Scotland.


King Edward dies while on campaign against Robert the Bruce.

Edward II, King of England, rules until 1327.

Dante's Divine Comedy written about 1307-1321

1308 Albert I, Holy Roman Emperor, dies. His replacement: Henry VII, Holy Roman Emperor to 1313.
1310 English barons appoint appoint 21 peers--the Lords Ordainers--to manage Edward II's household and control the country until the king reaches his maturity.

The King of France abolishes the Order of Knights Templar, accusing them of witchcraft.

Birth of Geoffrey Chaucer's father, John Chaucer.

1313 Birth of Giovanni Boccaccio.

Battle of Bannockburn: Robert the Bruce defeats Edward II and makes Scotland independent.

Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor at civil war withhis rival, Frederick of Austria.

Louis X, (Louis the Quarrelsome) King of France to 1316.

1315 Swiss forces beat Leopold of Austria at battle of Morgarten.

John XXII becomes Pope. He holds the papal see until 1334.

The papacy orders eight Dominican friars to travel to Ethiopia in search of Prester John, a legendary Christian emperor.

1317 France adopts the Salic Law, excluding women from succession to the throne.
1318 The Swiss make peace with the Habsburgs.
1320 Tughluk Dynasty in Delhi rules until 1413. Founded in 1320 by the Turk Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluk.
1321 Death of Dante Alighieri shortly after his completion of the Divina Commedia.
1322 Charles IV, the Fair, King of France. (Rules until 1328).
1325 Traditional date of the Aztecs arrival in Tenochtitlán (Mexico City).

The Teutonic Knights go on crusade in Poland and Lithuania. They defeat the Poles in 1333.

Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer sail from France with an army to rebel against Edward II, King of England.


Edward III crowned king. He comes to power at age fourteen after a coup d'état takes place against his father, Edward II. (According to legend, Edward II was killed in a particularly gruesome manner nine months later while in prison.)

Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV invades Italy and declares Pope John XXII deposed.


Edward marries Filipino of Hainault. He is fifteen years old.

Philip VI, King of France ascends to the throne. He is the first king of the House of Valois.

1329 David II, King of Scotland succeeds to the Scottish throne after his father, Robert the Bruce, dies. David II rules until 1371.

Edward, the Black Prince, born as son of Edward IV.

Edward III assumes full royal authority.

Birth of John Gower (dies 1408)

1331 England at war with Scotland and Scotland's French allies.
1332 Edward Balliol, son of John Balliol, attempts to seize the throne of Scotland with the help of the English. The Scots repel his advance and force him back across the border.

Edward III invades Scotland on Balliol's behalf and defeats the Scots at the battle of Halidon Hill.

Emperor Daigo II of Japan overthrows the Hojo family of Shoguns and sets up a period of dictatorship until 1336.

1334 Pope Benedict XII ascends to Papal See. He holds the See until 1342.

Pope Benedict XII issues reforms for the monastic orders.

Boccaccio begins Il Filostrato (source of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde)

1336 Revolution in Japan; Daigo II enters exile.
1337 Birth of Jean Froissart, French poet and chronicler (he dies 1404)
1337-1453 The Hundred Years' War, a conflict between France and England. Edward III, provoked by French attacks on his territories in France, declares himself king of France based on his mother's lineage. His ambition is to recover the territories England used to hold in France. The wars end in 1453.

Declaration of Rense: Electors of the Holy Roman Empire declare the empire to be a separate entity from the papacy.

Treaty of Coblenz forms an alliance between England and the Holy Roman Empire.

Giovanni Boccaccio completes Il Filostrato.


England unsuccessfully attempts to invade northern France (First major military expedition of the Hundred Years' War, often considered the conflict's beginning).Geoffrey Chaucer's father (John Chaucer) participates in the company of Edward III.

1339 Boccaccio begins Il Teseida delle Nozze d'Emilia (source of Chaucer' s "The Knight's Tale")

Naval victory at Sluys gives England the command of the English Channel.

English Parliament passes four statutes providing that taxation shall be imposed only by parliament.

1340, birth of John of Gaunt. Edward III takes title, "King of France."

Birth of Eustache Deschamps, French poet.

1340-1343 Approximate date of Chaucer's birth.

Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca) crowned poet Laureate in Rome.

Boccaccio finishes Il Teseida delle Nozze d'Emilia (source of Chaucer' s "The Knight's Tale")

1342 Clement VI becomes Pope. He holds the Papal See until 1352.

Peace of Kalisch gives Teutonic Knights land cutting off Poland from access to the Baltic Sea.


1344 First known use of the term Hanseatic League.

Battle of Crecy, the first major engagement of the Hundred Years' War. English soldiers defeate a much large number of French under Philip VI near Abbeville in northern France, primarily due to the supremacy of he English and Welsh longbow.

Battle of Neville's Cross--David II of Scotland defeated and captured by the English.

Birth of Eustache Deschamps, French poet (d. 1406).


England captures Calais. Truce between England and France.

Plague arrives in Italy and Cypress, carried there from eastern Asia.

Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, ascends throne. He rules until 1378.

Italian patriot Cola da Rienzi assumes power in Rome, calling himself "tribune." He is quickly overthrown--at least until his return in 1354.

1348 Black Plague strikes England. The outbreak in 1348 marks the most devastating plague outbreak in recorded history for Britain, and deaths continue through 1350.
1349 Persecution of Jews in Germany.

John II, King of France takes throne. Rules until 1364.

Pedro the Cruel becomes king of Castile. Rules until 1369.

c. 1350s "alliterative revival" in West and North-West of England.

1350-1353 Boccaccio writes the Decameron.

Parliament passes the Statute of Laborers to keep down wages in London.

The English refuse to comply with the Pope's power to give English benefices to foreigners.


Boccaccio writes the Decameron.

Statute of Praemunire: English Parliament forbids appeals to the Pope.

1354 Rienzi returns to power in Rome and is killed by his opponents.

English win at the Battle of Poitiers

The Golden Bull--a new constitution for the Holy Roman Empire in Germany--provides for seven electors.

Edward the Black Prince, son of Edward III, defeats the French at the battle of Poitiers, capturing King John II. King John ends up living at English court from 1357-1360.


First record of Geoffrey Chaucer working as a page in the household of the Countess of Ulster (wife of Lionel, Earl of Ulster, second son of Edward III).

The French Estates-General, lead by the merchant Etienne Maarcel, attempts a series of reforms.

The Scots ransom David II from the English.

1358 The Jacquerie, revolt by French peasants. It is suppressed by the French Regent, Charles, son of John II.

May (?): Chaucer attends wedding of John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster. Gaunt becomes Duke of Lancaster.Sept. Prince Lionel's company is part of a a large expeditionary force under the king.

November 3: Chaucer serves Lionel as part of his retinue in the French war.


Chaucer captured by French soldiers at the siege of Reims. King Edward III contributes funding to help pay Chaucer's ransom of sixteen pounds in March, 1360.

Chaucer carries letters to England from Calais to England for Lionel, earl of Ulster, as part of peace negotiations.

Treaty of Bretigny ends the first phase of the Hundred Years' War, ensuring temporary peace between England and France. Edward III gives up the claim to the French throne. The war will not pick up again until 1369.


The Black Prince marries Joan of Kent.

Severe outbreak of plague continues until 1362.

1361-67 Jean Froissart serves in the houshold of Queen Philipa (wife of Edward III).
1362 First version ("the A-text") of Piers Plowman, the first major literary work to be written in the English language since the Norman conquest.

Philip the Bold, son of John II, becomes Duke of Burgundy.

Timur the Lame (Tamerlane) begins campaigns to conquer Asia.


Charles V, the Wise, becomes King of France after his father John II dies in English captivity. Charles the Wise rules until 1380.

c. 1364-1366 William Langland begins writing the 'A'-text of Piers Plowman.


c. 1365-66, Chaucer marries Philippa Roet, "Damoiselle" of Queen Philippa herself. Philippa is the eldest daughter of the Flemish knight Sir Paon de Roet, and sister of Katherine Swynford.

Later that year, Chaucer's father, John Chaucer dies and his mother Agnes promptly remarries.

Chaucer travels to Spain.


Edward, Prince of Wales leads an expedition to Spain in aid of Pedro the Cruel, the deposed King of Castile.

For the first time, the king addresses parliament in English rather than French.

Confederation of Cologne: 77 Hanse towns prepare for struggle with expansionistic Denmark.

Birth of Chaucer's son Thomas. Chaucer serves as a valettus and then squire in the court of Edward III; he is granted an annuity of 20 marks for the rest of his life.

Birth of Richard of Bordeaux (the future Richard II). He is the second and only surviving son of Edward, the Black Prince.


Death of Blanche, Duchess of Lancaster. French war intensifies.

Chaucer travels to the continent on "the king's business."

Birth of Thomas Hoccleve, a young poetic friend of Chaucer who will be one of the 15th century "Chaucerians."


Timur the Lame becomes king of Samarkand.

Another outbreak of Plague.

Assassination of Pedro the Cruel of Castile.

Queen Philippa dies in August 1369.

Hostilities resume in the Hundred Years' War, marking the second major phase of military engagement. Chaucer serves with John of Gaunt's armies in France.


Peace of Stralsund establishes the power of the Hanse towns, with the right to veto Danish kings. Edward the Black Prince sacks Limoges.

Gregory XI becomes Pope. He holds the Papal See until 1378.

Chaucer again serves with John of Gaunt's armies in France during another military campaign.

Birth of John Lydgate, an imitator of Chaucer and one of the fifteenth-century "Chaucerians." He will die 1449.


Gaunt marries Princess Costanza of Castile, daughter of Pedro the Cruel.

Robert II, King of Scotland, takes Scottish throne. He rules until 1390 as the first Stuart monarch in Scotland.


Britain faces setbacks in Hundred Years' War. French troops recapture Poitou and Brittany. Naval battles at La Rochelle allow French to regain control of the English Channel.

Chaucer's wife, Philippa, serves in the houshold of John of Gaunt's wife.
Chaucer travels to Italy (Genoa and Florence) on a diplomatic mission.


Gaunt goes to French wars. He leads a new English invasion.


April 10: Gaunt returns from French wars. He takes control of the government while Edward III shows signs of increasing senility. The Black Prince falls ill.

Death of Petrarch in Italy.

Chaucer granted a gallon pitcher of wine daily for life by the King. John of Gaunt grants Chaucer an annuityof 10 pounds.

Chaucer appointed comptroller of customs for hides, skins, and wool in London Port. He takes a lease on a dwelling over Aldgate.


Outbreak of Plague.

Death of Boccaccio in Italy.

Truce of Bruges temporarily ends hostilities between England and France.

Chaucer and Otho de Graunson receive financial grants from John of Gaunt. (Otho de Graunson is a French knight and poet whose poems inspired Chaucer's "The Complaint of Venus.")


Edward the Black Prince calls the Good Parliament to convene. The Good Parliament introduces many long overdue reforms of government.

Death of Edward the Black Prince at age 45.Edward III's succession will fall to Richard at this point upon Edward III's death (though Richard is only ten years of age).

Parliament impeaches royal servants belonging to the faction of John of Gaunt, the king's fourth son.

The Civil Dominion published by Oxford don, John Wycliffe, calling for reforms in the church.


Death of Edward III, unofficial accession of his grandson Richard II, still only 11 years old.

Poll tax levied.

Pope Gregtory XI condemns the doctrines of John Wycliffe. The Lollard movement grows.

Under Gregory XII, the papacy returns to Rome from Avignon, where it had resided for decades.


June 22: death of Edward III and accession of his grandson, Richard II, age 10. Government controlled by John of Gaunt.

The Great Schism: Pope Gregory XI dies. The French-dominated College of Cardinals is intimidated by the Roman mob into choosing an Italian candidate, Pope Urban VI, as head of the church. Urban upsets the cardinals, who declare him deposed, and elect a Frenchman, Clement VII. Clement sets up papal court in Avignon, but Urban continues holding court in Rome. England, Scandinavia, Germany, and northern Italy support the Roman Pope. France, Scotland, Naples, Sicily, and the kingdoms in Spain support the French Pope. This schism will remain unreconciled until a truce in 1409 and reunion in 1417.

Urban VI, Pope at Rome. He holds the Papal See in Rome until 1389.

Clement VII, antipope at Avignon. Holds the Papal See in France until 1394.

Wenceslas IV becomes Holy Roman Emperor. He rules in Germany until 1400.

First mystery plays in York.


John Wycliffe, an advocate of religious reform, is forced to stop his teaching at Oxford.

Charles VI becomes King of France. He rules until 1422.

Chaucer accused and acquited of the raptus of Cecily Champain.


Wat Tyler's Peasant Revolt (June 1381) begins in Southwest Essex. Its cause was the proclamation of a poll tax, but the fires fueled by corruption among government officials.

Death of Agnes Copton, Chaucer's mother.


Richard II marries Anne of Bohemia.

John Wycliffe and his Lollard followers complete the first full English translation of the Bible. Wycliffe expelled from Oxford because of his opposition to Church doctrines and his views officially condemned as heresy. A later version of the Wycliffite Bible follows in 1388.

John I becomes King of Portugal. He rules until 1433, founding the Avis Dynasty.

The Scots, along with a French army, attack England.

Richard II marries Anne of Bohemia.

(1382-1386) Chaucer write Troilus and Criseyde, Legend of Good Women

1384 John Wycliffe dies.

Richard II and his uncle, John of Gaunt, undertake a fruitless military campaign in Scotland.

Political struggle between Gaunt and his brother, Thomas of Woodstock. September: death of Joan of Kent.


Battle of Sempach--Swiss beat Austrian army and kill Leopold III of Austria.

John of Gaunt leads an expensive and unsuccessful military expedition to Spain in an effort to win the crown of Castile, which he claims by right of marriage to his second wife. He is eventually beaten in 1388.



Scottish Parliament at Otterburn.

The Lords Appellant and Parliament impeach several of King Richard II's favorite courtiers. These include close supporters of the king such as Thomas Usk, one of Chaucer's "disciples" in literature.



Truce halts fighting between England, Scotland, and France.

Richard II assumes power as an adult at age 22.

Boniface IX becomes Pope at Rome. He holds the Papal See until 1404.


Robert III becomes King of Scotland. He rules until 1406.

Outbreak of Plague.

Turks complete their conquest of Asia Minor.

John Gower distributes first version of his Confessio amantis.


The I Dynasty in Korea. (Lasts until 1910 CE).

Charles VI of France goes insane.


Richard II campaigns in Ireland. Returns to England in 1395.

Death of Queen Anne.

Benedict XIII antipope at Avignon. He holds the Avignon Papal See until 1423.

Prince Henry the Navigator born (son of John I of Portugal).

1395 Richard marries Isabella of France. 

John of Gaunt marries longtime mistress, Katherine Swynford.

Richard II marries Isabella of France. Isabella is seven years old.

Ottoman Turks conquer Bulgaria.



Absolute rule of Richard II.

Tamerlane ravages kingdom of Dehli, massacres 100,000 prisoners. He returns home in 1399.


Richard II overthrown. Henry Bolingbroke (Henry IV) lands in Yorkshire with 40 followers, and soon has 60,000 supporters. He takes control of government and is "elected" regent.

Death of John of Gaunt.


Richard II, the deposed English king, is murdered in his prison at Pontefract Castle.
Chaucer writes "The Complaint of Chaucer to His Purse."

Outbreak of Plague.

Owen Glyndwr proclaims himself Prince of Wales and rebels against England.

Holy Roman Emperor Wenceslas IV is deposed for drunkenness.

Chaucer's traditional date of death given as October 25th, 1400.

These timelines are intended as a rough guide for students seeking historical context rather than an authoritative research source. I consulted the following works while preparing this list. When sources differed on estimated dates, I used my best judgment to select an accurate date, but I will bow to the correction of professional historians.


  • Baugh, A. C. and Thomas Cable. A History of the English Language. 3rd edition. NJ: Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1978. [Now superseded by a sixth edition]
  • Cooke, Jean et al. History's Timeline: A 40,000 Year Chronology of Civilization. Ed. Fay Franklin. NY: Barnes and Noble, 1981. Updated 1996.
  • Crow, Martin and Virginia E. Leland. "A Chronology of Chaucer's Life and Times." As condensed and reproduced in Larry Benson's The Canterbury Tales, Complete. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. xxiii-xxv.
  • Englebert, Omer. The Lives of the Saints. Trans. Christopher and Anne Fremantle. NY: Barnes and Noble, 1994.
  • Haywood, John. The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings. London: Penguin Books, 1995.
  • Lau, D. C., ed. "Chronological Table." Tao Te Ching. London: Penguin Books, 1963.
  • McEvedy, Colin. The New Penguin Atlas of Medieval History. London: Penguin Books, n. d.
  • Schafer, Edward H. Ancient China. Ed. Russelll Bourne, et al. Great Ages of Man Series. NY: Time-Life Books, 1967. Reprint 1976.
  • Urban, Linwood. A Short History of Christian Thought. Revised edition. NY: Oxford University Press, 1995.




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