Writing to the King: Nation, Kingship and Literature in England, 1250-1350

Overview

In the century before Chaucer a new language of political critique emerged. In political verse of the period, composed in Anglo-Latin, Anglo-Norman, and Middle English, poets write as if addressing the king himself, drawing on their sense of the rights granted by Magna Carta. These apparent appeals to the sovereign increase with the development of parliament in the late thirteenth century and the emergence of the common petition, and become prominent, in an increasingly sophisticated literature, during the ...

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Overview

In the century before Chaucer a new language of political critique emerged. In political verse of the period, composed in Anglo-Latin, Anglo-Norman, and Middle English, poets write as if addressing the king himself, drawing on their sense of the rights granted by Magna Carta. These apparent appeals to the sovereign increase with the development of parliament in the late thirteenth century and the emergence of the common petition, and become prominent, in an increasingly sophisticated literature, during the political crises of the early fourteenth century. However, very little of this writing was truly directed to the king. As David Matthews shows, the form of address was a rhetorical stance revealing much about the position from which writers were composing, the audiences they wished to reach, and their construction of political and national subjects.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'... this book is to be welcomed for its ambitious contribution to the history of political writing in the century before the great Ricardian poets.' The Review of English Studies

'David Matthews's new book constitutes an important and stimulating contribution to and extension of the burgeoning scholarship on the literary manifestations of a 'public sphere' in high and late medieval England ... Matthews has given us a monograph of uncommon erudition, insight, and acumen. Writing to the King represents an important step forward in the understanding of English political thought as reflected through the literary artifacts of the later Middle Ages. All scholars - whether of a literary or historical bent - interested in the complex interplay between writing and politics in medieval England are in his deepest debt.' Cary J. Nederman, Modern Philology

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Product Details

Meet the Author

David Matthews is Senior Lecturer in Middle English Literature and Culture at the University of Manchester.

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Table of Contents

1 Defending Anglia 29

2 Attacking Scotland : Edward I and the 1290s 52

3 Regime change 81

4 The destruction of England : crisis and complaint c. 1300-41 108

5 Love letters to Edward III 135

Envoy 156

App The tail-rhyme poems of Langcroft's chronicle 161

Notes 167

Bibliography 205

Index 217

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