I'm sure you're wondering why you should care... I have no idea, but here's 7 random facts about Geoffrey Chaucer, the 14th century poet that is one of the forefathers of modern English.
1. Geoffrey Chaucer is my 17th great uncle... really! Here goes: Me > my dad > Margie Hallmark > Carl Monroe Hallmark > John Booker Hallmark > James Minet Hallmark > Mary Ann Pruitt > Jacob Pruitt > Mary Martin > Mary Knight > Mary English > Mary Waters > Richard Waters > Phebe Manning > George Manning > John Manning > Hugh Manning > John Manning > John Manning > Catherine Chaucer = sister of Geoffrey Chaucer. I think that's right... it's something like that.
2. Not only was he the father of English literature, he was a soldier too.. In 1359, during the Hundred Years' War, Edward III invaded France and Chaucer travelled with Lionel of Antwerp as part of the English army where he was captured during the siege of Rheims. King Edward paid £16 for his ransom, a remarkable sum for the day, indicating his talents were valuable to the throne. He continued to travel on behalf of the military on and off over the next 15 years.
3. Kafka's Soup, a literary pastiche in the form of a cookbook, contains a recipe for onion tart à la Chaucer. I have no idea what any of that means, but it's an interesting tribute... plus, who doesn't love the word "pastiche"?
4. Geoffrey's father, John, was kidnapped when he was 12 years old by an aunt who wanted him to marry her daughter to secure their property ownership. She was caught and fined £250. John eventually married Geoff's mom, Agnes Copton.
5. In 1374, Chaucer is granted a pitcher of wine daily by the King. Lucky bastard!
6. It is possible that Chaucer was accused of rape, although it's not completely certain. He was mentioned in law papers of May 4, 1380, involved in the raptus of Cecilia Chaumpaigne. The incident occured during his tenure as Comptroller of the Customs of London and seems to have been resolved quickly with little fanfare. I'll refrain from a truly tasteless joke here about how she must have been asking for it with a name like champagne...it was the 1300s after all.
7. Chaucer is buried in Westminster Abbey - in a section that is now referred to as Poet's Corner.