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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

Chapter 15 - The Italian Tradition

from Part II - Books, Discourse and Traditions


Chaucer’s two recorded visits to Italy in the decade of the 1370s is the starting point for considering vernacular literature at a point of transition: the middle of the decade is marked by the death of Petrarch and Boccaccio, and the beginning of the Chancellorship of Coluccio Salutati, a key figure in Florence’s incipient humanism. This chapter briefly examines some of the most important Italian influences on the work of Geoffrey Chaucer, namely: Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), and in particular the Comedìa; Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375), whose Decameron, Filostrato and Teseida were so important for Troilus and Criseyde, the Knight’s Tale, as well as the Canterbury Tales more generally; and Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374), who is attributed in the Clerk’s Tale as the source for the story of Griselda (his Latin translation of Boccaccio’s story comprises the seventeeth of his letters of old age, the Res seniles), and whose sonnet from the Rerum vulgarium fragmenta is included in Troilus and Criseyde.