Monday, May 7, 2007

1387 to 1400

Canterbury Tales. Continued.

"Tale of the Melibee": Forgives his enemies who beat his wife and killed his daughter.

"Monk's Tale": The falls of illustrious men; examples of reverses of fortune from the Bible, myth and history.

"Nun's Priest's Tale": Chaunticleer persuades fox to open his mouth to taunt his pursuers and escapes.

"Second Nun's Tale": St. Cecilia, struck in the neck three times in her bath, continues to preach and convert for three days before dying.

"Canon's Yeoman's Tale": Canon, an alchemist, dupes a priest who helps him in converting quicksilver and copper to silver; he then disappears.

"Manciple's Tale": The white, sweet-singing crow tells his master of his wife's infidelity; the master turns the white crow black and raucous.

"Parson's Tale": Last tale. Long prose sermon on penitence; exposition of the seven deadly sins; ends with Chaucer's retraction.

1388. The first complete English translation of the Bible is completed by John Purcey on the basis of work begun by the late John Wycliffe in an effort to reach the people directly with a bible they can read for themselves.

1391. Seville has a pogrom in June that spreads throughout Andalusia as Spaniards seek scapegoats for the Black Death. Castilian sailors set fire to the Barcelona ghetto, August 5, and for four days a mob rages out of control, killing hundreds. Many Spanish Jews will accept conversion in the next few years.

1392. Playing cards, designed by French court painter Jacques Gringonneur, will be employed for centuries to come in various games. The 52 cards are divided into four suits, each representing one of the four classes of French society: spades stand for pikemen or soldiery, clubs for farmers and husbandmen, diamonds evoke the diamond-shaped hats worn by artisans, and hearts represent the clergy, the word coeur evolving from the word chorus meaning the clergy.

1393. Baghdad falls to Tamerlane, whose Tatar horsemen overrun Mesopotamia.

1397. Parliament demands that England's Richard II submit a financial accounting.

1398. England's Richard II moves the country toward totalitarian government.

1398. Tamerlane leads his Tatar hordes through the passes into northern India after having conquered Persia, Mesopotamia and Afghanistan. He massacres 100,000 Hindu prisoners at Delhi, December 12, sacks Delhi, December 17, and moves on.

1398. Merchant Richard Whittington is made lord mayor of London.

1399. John of Gaunt dies at 59. Richard II confiscates his Lancaster estates, and John's son Henry of Bolingbroke returns from exile, landing at Ravenspur in July while Richard is in Ireland. When Rchard returns, he is defeated and captured by Bolingbroke and deposed by Parliament, which acclaims the usurper Bolingbroke king. He will reign until 1461 as Henry IV, founding the house of Lancaster. Richard is imprisoned in the Tower of London, In February of 1400, Richard II dies in the Tower, possibly at the hands of a murderer, but more probably of illness in the cold, damp tower.

1399. London's population reaches 50,000.

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