In this work of historical speculation Terry Jones and a team of international scholars investigate the mystery surrounding the death of Geoffrey Chaucer over 600 years ago. An important public figure, a diplomat and the 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. We have a great deal of information about his life. 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 the ruthlessly ambitious Archbishop Arundel, have been snapping at the heels of a dangerous poet?
This 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 Terry Jones' work, the result is an absorbing synthesis of history and literary analysis that is sure to be essential reading for years to come.
*"This is a refreshing and engaging book that despite its controversial conclusions manages to restore the life and spirit of the period." Peter Ackroyd, The Times* "Fascinating, highly readable and authoritative." The Scotsman* "Remarkable...a miraculous blend of history and literary reappraisal that is both light-hearted and entertaining." 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." Independent*