John Lydgate (c.1370-1449) was born in the village of Lidgate, Suffolk. In 1382, he entered the Benedictine abbey at Bury St. Edmunds as a boy and was ordained priest in 1397. He remained in the abbey for the rest of his life with short interruptions. He spent some time in London, Oxford and Paris and was prior of Hatfield Broadoak, Essex, from 1421-1432. He was an admirer of Geoffrey Chaucer and a friend of his son, Thomas Chaucer. Noble people like Henry V, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and Henry VI were his patrons.

His work comprises well over 100.000 lines and shows a great variety in content and style: from long translations to brief occasional poems and a short prose work on Julius Caesar. He is best known for his translations from French and Latin, like The Troy Book (1412-21), The Pilgrimage of the Life of Man (1426) and The Siege of Thebes, where he presents himself as a Canterbury pilgrim, who is asked by Chaucer's pilgrims to tell his tale. His indebtedness to Chaucer is shown in his allegories. e.g. The Temple of Glass (modeled on The House of Fame, The Complaint of the Black Knight (after The Book of the Duchess.

His work was very influential and in the 15th century he was considered equal to Chaucer and Gower, but today he is especially criticized for his verbosity.


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John Lydgate