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The Middle Ages (or medieval times) began from the 5th to the 15th centuries in Europe’s history. The Medieval period started when the Western Roman Empire collapsed and became part of the Renaissance and Exploration era. Most people living during the Middle Ages lived in the country and worked as farmers. Usually, there was a local lord who lived in a large house called a manor or a castle. Local peasants would work the land for the lord. The peasants were called the lord’s ‘villains’, which was like a servant. The peasants worked hard all year long. They grew crops such as barley, wheat, and oats. They also had gardens where they grew vegetables and fruits. They also sometimes had a few animals such as chickens for eggs and cows for milk. City life was very different from country life, but it wasn’t much easier. The cities were crowded and dirty. A lot of people worked as craftsmen and were members of a guild. Young boys would serve as apprentices for seven years learning a craft. Other jobs in the city included servants, merchants, bakers, doctors, and lawyers. Although we often think of pictures of large castles when we think of the Middle Ages, most people lived in small one or two-room homes. These homes were very crowded and usually, everyone slept in the same room. In the country, the family animals, such as a cow, may also live inside the home. The home was usually dark, smoky from the fire, and uncomfortable.

Most peasants wore plain clothing made from heavy wool to keep them warm during the winter. The wealthy, however, wore much nicer clothes made from fine wool, velvet, and even silk. Men generally wore a tunic, woolen stockings, breeches, and a cloak. Women wore a long skirt called a kirtle, an apron, woolen stockings, and a cloak. In order to separate the nobles from the peasants, laws were passed called ‘sumptuary’ laws. These laws stated who could wear what types of clothes and what materials they could use. Peasants during the Middle Ages did not have a lot of variety in their food. They mostly ate bread and stew. The stew would have beans, dried peas, cabbage, and other vegetables sometimes flavored with a bit of meat or bones. Other foods like meat, cheese, and eggs were usually saved for special occasions. Since they didn’t have a way to keep their meat cold, they would eat it fresh. Leftover meat was smoked or salted to preserve it. The nobles ate a wider variety of food including meats and sweet puddings. Very few people attended school in the Middle Ages. Most peasants learned their jobs and how to survive from their parents. Some children learned a craft through apprenticeship and the guild system. Wealthy children often learn through tutors. They would go to live in the castle of another lord where they would work for the lord, learning about how a large manor was run. There were some schools run by the church. Here students would learn to read and write Latin. The first universities also began during the Middle Ages. University students would study a wide range of subjects including reading, writing, logic, math, music, astronomy, and public speaking.

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One of the most important or famous people during the Medieval era was Geoffrey Chaucer from “The Canterbury Tales”. Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London between 1340 and 1345 and died in 1400. It was during the last ten years of his life that Chaucer worked on his masterpiece that touched all phases of English life: The Canterbury Tales, which describes nearly every type of person that could be found in medieval England in different social classes, trades, and professions. was the ‘Father of English Poetry,’ and the greatest narrative poet of England. He was the man who made a distinct advance in literature. With him, the old alliterative poetry died. In most of his poems, he used the heroic couplet, which is a verse having five accents with the lines rhyming in pairs. Chaucer’s greatest work is the Canterbury Tales.

The finest part of the Canterbury Tales is the Prologue; the noblest story is probably the Knight’s Tale. Chaucer expresses, in the truest and liveliest way, the true and lively things which are set before him. He first gave to English poetry that force, vigor, life, and color which raised it above the level of mere rimed prose. All the best poems and histories in Latin, French, and Italian were well-known to Chaucer. The Tales of Canterbury is one of English literature’s best-loved plays. Written in Middle English, the tale is pursued by pilgrims from London to Canterbury Cathedral on their long journey. Chaucer leaves the London inn and says that each pilgrim during the trip will share two stories to help spend the time. Upon his return, he says the best storyteller will be celebrated with a free dinner. Chaucer provides us with an ample array of figures: carpenter, cook, knight, monk, clerk merchant, and very busty miller. These characters come from every area of culture in the 14th century and provide Chaucer with the opportunity to speak in different voices Some of the adventures of the characters are flowing, cruel, and disrespectful, while others are noble and respectful.

Chaucer decided to write Canterbury Tales in English instead of French which made him a very important poet. French was spoken by those in authority in the years after the Norman invasions. The Tales of Canterbury was one of the first significant books of English literature. History research is important because we can learn about our history and consider our present. We must look to history to find answers if we want to learn why our world today is like this. Many people say that ‘history repeats itself,’ but if we analyze the accomplishments and shortcomings of the past, we will hopefully learn from our mistakes and prevent them in the future. Studying history will give us insight into our societies and cultures that we may not be acquainted with and so improve our awareness and understanding of each other. In this case, Chaucer’s work is very important to us because if he did not write poets people would not be able to understand how they were before and what changed. Chaucer resonated with a lot of aspects during the Medieval era such as courtly love, the corruption of the church, and men’s dominance over women. These are some of the major things that Chaucer was trying to resonate with people about the things that happened or people’s lives during the Medieval era.

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