The History of Leather Part 7 – Chaucer

Posted on 16/07/14

Why Geoffrey Chaucer owes his entire existence to leather (1343 to 1400)

Geoffrey Chaucer, best known for his seminal work “The Canterbury Tales” and widely regarded to be the father of English Literature owes a lot to leather, funnily enough.

His father and grandfather were both London wine merchants who made their fortunes not only in wine, but in leather too. The Chaucer family name, in fact, derives from “chaussure” – the French word for “shoemaker”.

In an incredibly long-winded and tenuous stream of logic, you can even argue that without the Chaucer family’s success in the sale of leather and wine, Geoffrey Chaucer might never have existed. Bear with me here, you probably won’t see this argument in any of the so-called “scholarly” history textbooks. This theory that you’re about to read is a world first. I don’t want to say it’s ground-breaking, but it’s ground-breaking.

Here goes…

In a bizarre turn of events in 1324, Geoffrey Chaucer’s father, John Chaucer, was kidnapped by his aunt. The idea was that she’d marry John to her daughter, with a view to avoiding losing her property in Ipswich. The aunt was subsequently imprisoned and the Chaucer family was charged a £250 fine. This fine is crucial to our overall theory - the amount suggests that the Chaucer family was financially secure, which we already knew, and the fact that the Chaucer family were able to pay it without being financially crippled adds more credence to the suggestion.

Now here’s where things get… unsubstantiated…

If the Chaucer family couldn’t pay that £250 fine (and without the family’s success in leather and wine trading, they wouldn’t have been able to), John Chaucer wouldn’t have been as attractive a match, financially speaking, for the Copton family. Without the marriage of Agnes Copton and John Chaucer, we wouldn’t have benefitted from the magnificent birds-and-the-bees amalgamation of genes, DNA and science gubbins that made Geoffrey Chaucer the man that he was.

In short, without leather, there is no Geoffrey Chaucer, and without Geoffrey Chaucer, there is no “The Canterbury Tales”, and without “The Canterbury Tales”, we wouldn’t be able to make statements like this to describe our ground-breaking theory: “I think we can all agree, that any academic rigour is absent from this theory. In fact, it borders on a dishonest and outrageous misuse of intellect.” – because all of the words in bold are words that were written for the first time in Chaucer’s manuscripts.

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