Geoffrey Chaucer, Cecily Chaumpaigne, and the Statute of Laborers: New Records and Old Evidence Reconsidered

This article introduces two records that clarify the relationship between Geoffrey Chaucer and Cecily Chaumpaigne. The new documents also demonstrate the relevance of a known Chaucer life-record that previously had not been associated with this case. Our findings offer a radically different understanding of the documentary evidence and establish that Chaucer and Chaumpaigne were not opponents but belonged to the same party in a legal dispute with Chaumpaigne’s former employer, Thomas Staundon, who had sued them both under the Statute of Laborers. Chaumpaigne’s quitclaims for Chaucer offered the most expedient legal path under the Statute of Laborers for both Chaucer and Chaumpaigne to demonstrate that she had left her employment with Staundon voluntarily, as opposed to being coerced or abducted (raptus), before commencing work for Chaucer.

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The Chaucer Review

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