What three jobs did Geoffrey Chaucer have?

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laurniko eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Geoffrey Chaucer had many jobs in his life, including that of a noblewoman's page, an esquire in the royal court, comptroller of the customs for the Port of London, and clerk of the King's works. He also spent time in the Army.

In 1357, household records list Chaucer as the page to Elizabeth de Burgh, the Countess of Ulster. He obtained the job through his father and it helped him make connections with the royal court, since she was married to the King's second living son.

Ten years and several jobs later, Chaucer became a valet de chambre for the court of Edward III. It's not quite clear exactly what he did, but it likely meant managing the household affairs of the royal family. It was a prestigious appointment. 

In 1374, he became the comptroller for the Port of London. He would have overseen the financial issues and accounting for the port. It's believed that he wrote many of his most popular pieces while he was in this position. 

In 1389, he was appointed to the position of clerk of the King's works. He organized building projects, though no major ones took place while he was in the position. He did oversee repairs on Westminster Palace and Windsor. The job increased his salary by more than 300 percent over what he made as a comptroller. 

Chaucer is remembered primarily as a writer, but he mostly did his writing while he engaged in others jobs. 

lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chaucer was many things in his life. Due to the connections of his father, he became a courtier (court worker) in the court of Edward III.

Chaucer is believed to have studied law, but he became a type of diplomat/bureaucrat in the court of Edward III and later, Richard II. He then became a comptroller (a financial position, similar to an accountant), so, to sum up, he was a government worker.

During these occupations, he was also writing. He wrote poetry and narratives and is considered the "father of the English literature" because he was the first one to write exclusively in the English language, not Latin, French or Italian, thereby establishing English as a worthy language for literature. He also wrote about philosophy.

Some of Chaucer's writing is quite risque, and he also translated some works into English. His most famous work, however, is The Cantebury Tales.

You can read about this work here on enotes.

Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343?-1400), during his life, worked as a page in a royal house, a soldier, a diplomat, and a royal clerk, according to the text book I use to teach Brit. Lit. (Prentice Hall). 

Of course, his most well-known "job" was poet.  For fun, here's a quote from John Gardner's The Life and Times of Chaucer:

IN 1374, IMMEDIATELY AFTER JOHN OF Gaunt's return to England from abroad, honors began falling to the poet thick and fast.  On St. George's Day, the great time of religious and chivalric celebration for the Order of the Garter, the king granted him a pitcher of wine for life, a gift commuted in 1378 to cash.  (204)

On a more serious note, as a soldier Chaucer was once captured and held for ransom, and the reigning monarch actually paid it.