"This is a refreshing and engaging book... that despite its controversial conclusions manages to restore the life and spirit of the period"
A ground-breaking historical whodunnit about the mysterious death of England's greatest medieval writer
In this enthralling work of historical speculation Terry Jones investigates the mystery surrounding the death of Geoffrey Chaucer over 600 years ago. A diplomat, and brother-in-law to John of Gaunt - one of the most powerful men in the kingdom - Chaucer was celebrated as his country's finest living poet, rhetorician and scholar: the pre-eminent intellectual superstar of his time. And yet nothing at all is known of his death.
In 1400 his name simply disappears from the record. We don't know how he died, where or when; there is no official confirmation of his death and no chronicle mentions it; no notice of his funeral or burial. He left no will and there's nothing to tell us what happened to his estate. He didn't even leave any manuscripts. How could this be?
What if he was murdered? What if he and his writings had become politically inconvenient in the seismic social shift that occurred with the overthrow of the liberal Richard II by the reactionary, oppressive regime of Henry IV. Would the dogs of suppression, unleashed by Archbishop Arundel, have been snapping at the heels of a dangerous poet?
Written with a team of international Chaucer scholars, Terry Jones' daring and controversial hypothesis is the introduction to a remarkable reading of Chaucer's writings as evidence that might be held against him, interwoven with a brilliant portrait of one of the most turbulent periods in English history, its politics and its personalities. Combining revelatory scholarship with the flair for narrative that marks all his work, the result is an absorbing synthesis of history and literary analysis that is sure to be essential reading for years to come.
'Fascinating, highly readable and authoritative'
'Remarkable...a miraculous blend of history and literary reappraisal that is both light-hearted and entertaining'
The Good Book Guide
'A meaty, hugely enjoyable read... Let's hope that it will stimulate many readers to revisit Chaucer's writings, read about the background, and make up their own minds'