Cambridge Literature Timeline

A timeline of writers, historical figures, events and literary contexts related to the Cambridge English Tripos.

1000-02-01 00:00:00


Epic poem composed by anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet between 8th-cent and 11th-cent.

1066-10-14 00:00:00

The Battle of Hastings

The Battle of Hastings, leading to the Norman conquest of England.

1079-12-01 00:00:00

Pierre Abelard

1080-09-16 01:01:27

William of Malmesbury

Historian and hagiographer.

1086-04-16 23:39:35

Domesday Book completed

A record of the great inquest or survey of the lands of England made by order of William the Conqueror in 1086.

1100-01-01 12:58:13


Norman poet. (c. 1100-after 1171)

1100-12-01 00:00:00

Geoffrey of Monmouth

Author of a Latin history of Britain and Bishop of St Asaph, Wales.

1128-01-13 03:55:31

Alan of Lille

French theologian and poet.

1179-02-16 14:59:43

Snorri Sturluson

Icelandic historian, author, poet, scholar, and politician.

1203-10-30 21:12:28

Layamon (early c13th)

Priest and poet. Writer of the Brut chronicle, one of the longest Middle English poems (over 16,000 lines).

1215-06-05 20:38:02

The Vulgate Cycle

A group of Arthurian romances in French prose.

1215-06-05 20:38:02

King John seals Magna Carta

The Magna Carta established for the first time the principle that everybody, including the king, was subject to the law.

1230-04-19 03:42:35

Ancrene Wisse (early c13th)

Also know as the Ancrene Riwle. A treatise on the rules and duties of monastic life. Written for three sisters by a chaplain in about 1230.

1265-08-13 01:14:15


Italian poet, writer of the Divine Comedy.

1291-05-05 10:47:53

Chretien de Troyes (late c12th)

Writer of courtly romances, lived in northern France in the second half of the twelfth century.

1292-06-06 10:27:49

Marie de France (late C12th)

12th century French poet.

1304-03-14 18:37:24

Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca)

Italian poet and humanist Francesco Petrarca, known in English as Petrarch.

1313-12-01 00:00:00

Giovanni Boccaccio

Italian poet and writer of treatises and prose works.

1325-11-28 07:56:02

John Gower


1332-12-01 00:00:00

William Langland


1343-01-01 05:01:45

Geoffrey Chaucer

Poet. Author of The Book of the Duchess, The House of Fame, The Legend of Good Women, Troilus and Criseyde, and The Canterbury Tales.

1343-02-15 07:59:29

Julian, of Norwich

English anchoress and mystic. Author of a text known as Revelations of Divine Love, or The Showings of the Love of God, the first book in the English language known to have been written by a woman.

1347-06-05 20:38:02

The Black Death

The first two waves of plague, between 1347 and 1352 and then in the years around 1360, cut the population of Europe by roughly one-third, and it stayed low for a century afterwards.

1370-06-05 20:38:02

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th-century Middle English chivalric romance. It is one of the best known Arthurian stories, with its plot combining two types of folklore motifs, the beheading game and the exchange of winnings.

1370-12-01 00:00:00

Thomas Hoccleve


1373-10-14 00:43:58

Margery Kempe (born c.1373)

Author of The Book of Margery Kempe (although dictated to two priests). The first autobiography in English.

1378-09-02 02:05:17

The Cloud of unknowing (latter half c14th)

An anonymous work of Christian mysticism written in Middle English in the latter half of the 14th century.

1395-08-23 08:39:25

Pearl Poet

The unknown author of a manuscript known as 'Cotton Nero A.x'. The manuscript contains a collection of Middle-English poems, including Pearl, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Patience, and Cleanness.

1415-12-01 00:00:00

Sir Thomas Malory (died 1471)

Author of Le Morte Darthur.

1430-12-01 00:00:00

Robert Henryson

One of the Scottish 'makars' or poets celebrated by William Dunbar.

1454-06-05 20:38:02

Gutenberg Bible

First book printed with movable type. Copies were available in 1454 or 1455.

1459-02-18 12:16:22

William Dunbar

Scots medieval poet.

1466-12-01 00:00:00

Desiderius Erasmus

Dutch humanist and theologian.

1469-05-03 00:00:00

Niccolo Machiavelli

Italian Renaissance historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist, and writer.

1478-02-18 23:19:26

Sir Thomas More

English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and Renaissance humanist. Utopia, published in 1516,

1483-11-10 00:00:00

Martin Luther

Catalyst of the Protestant Reformation. Protestant theologian and religious reformer.

1485-12-01 00:00:00

Reign of Henry VII


1489-01-01 00:00:00

Thomas Cranmer

Leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and, for a short time, Mary I.

1500-01-01 00:00:00

Nicholas Ridley

Bishop of London and protestant martyr. Burned at the stake as one of the Oxford Martyrs during the Marian Persecutions.

1503-01-01 00:00:00

Sir Thomas Wyatt


1509-07-10 09:50:26

John Calvin


1509-12-01 00:00:00

Reign of Henry VIII


1512-02-15 14:25:34

Katherine Parr

Queen of England and Ireland, sixth consort of Henry VIII. Author of the first English prose work to be published by a woman under her own name.

1514-12-31 00:00:00

Andreas Vesalius

Flemish/Netherlandish anatomist, physician, and author of De humani corporis fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body). Founder of modern human anatomy.

1515-01-01 00:00:00

Roger Ascham

English humanist & writer.

1526-06-05 20:38:02

William Tyndale’s Bible the first printed in English

Translated by William Tyndale (c. 1494–1536). Tyndale was the first to translate the New Testament into English from the Greek text.

1529-01-01 00:00:00

George Puttenham

English writer, poet, and literary critic.

1530-01-01 00:00:00

George Gascoigne

English court poet.

1536-11-29 23:39:37

Dissolution of the Monasteries

Thomas Cromwell (1485–1540) served as chief minister to King Henry VIII of England from 1532 to 1540, and was a key figure in the English Reformation.

1545-08-29 10:38:35

The Council of Trent affirms the Vulgate as official Latin translation

The Vulgate, St. Jerome's fourth-century Latin translation of the Bible, affirmed as official Latin Bible by the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent (1545–63).

Cambridge Literature Timeline

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