Back to top

Medieval English Political Writings: Preface


1 For an airing of the issues, see Thomas J. Elliott, "Middle English Complaints Against the Times: To Contemn the World or to Reform It?," Annuale Mediaevalia 14 (1973), 22–34; Rossell Hope Robbins, "Dissent in Middle English Literature: The Spirit of (Thirteen) Seventy-Six," Medievalia et Humanistica, New Series 9 (1979), 25–51; Siegfried Wenzel, Preachers, Poets, and the Early English Lyric (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), chapter 6; and George Kane, "Some Fourteenth-Century 'Political' Poems," in Medieval English Religious and Ethical Literature: Essays in Honour of G. H. Russell, ed. Gregory Kratzmann and James Simpson (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1986), pp. 82–91. Kane particularly objects to Robbins's alleged romanticizing of politics and dissent in "Middle English Poems of Protest," Anglia 78 (1960), 193–203.

2 War, Justice, and Public Order: England and France in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford: Clarendon, 1988), pp. 269–70.

3 Barbara A. Hanawalt, The Ties That Bound: Peasant Families in Medieval England (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986).

4 See Isabel S. T. Aspin, ed., Anglo-Norman Political Songs, Anglo-Norman Texts 11 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1953), pp. 67–68, and the poem Trailbaston. The OED s.v. Trailbast­on, in its full linguistic account, first defines the term as "a class of evil-doers in the reign of Edward I," and adds: "also applied to their system of violence, for the suppression of which special justices were instituted in 1304–05; thence contextually applied also to the ordinances issued against them (ordinatio de trailbastons), and to the inquisitions, trials, courts, and justices (justices sur les traylbastouns), appointed for their suppression. In living use from 1304 to c 1390; afterwards only a historical term, often misunderstood." Reasons for the confusion may be found in Aspin's note to line 5 of Trailbaston, pp. 76–77.

5 Walter Ullmann, A History of Political Thought: The Middle Ages (Baltimore: Penguin, 1965), pp. 178–80. Ullmann argues that Thomas created the science of politics through his idea of the state as a social, political system of human organization (pp. 178–79). Throughout his book Ullmann distinguishes between the "descending" (or feudal/theocratic) and "ascending" (or popular) theories of government and law. For further introductory remarks concerning medieval political science, see Ullmann's Principles of Government and Politics in the Middle Ages (London: Methuen, 1961).

6 The Fourteenth Century 1307–1399 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1959), p. 203.

7 Respectively: Robert E. Lerner, The Age of Adversity: The Fourteenth Century (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1968); and Charles Muscatine, Poetry and Crisis in the Age of Chaucer (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1972).

8 Barbara W. Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century (New York: Ballantine, 1978).
This edition contains selected poems and documents — some not printed since the nineteenth century, others often reprinted — which help illuminate political issues in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England. It makes available to teachers and students representative political poems and documents ranging from a Latin poem on the venality of judges (reign of Edward I) to an antifraternal, macaronic lyric of about 1490. Here one hears, represented, voices of the overtaxed farmer, the outraged or fearful cleric, and the somber prophet, voices which reveal the persistent concerns of educated classes, especially the clergy. None of these is optimistic about England's future. The authors of the poems and documents, mostly anonymous or pseudonymous, speak in the traditional language of complaint and satire; but the outlines of their anxiety are fairly clear. They worry about misuses of power (especially in the Church), about their wealth and taxes, and about declines in moral standards. Sometimes they attack the king — particularly Richard II, who governed a troubled realm from 1388 (when he reached majority) to 1399 (when Henry of Lancaster deposed him) — but more often they censure the king's ministers or powerful barons of the realm.

The volume contains five sections representing subcategories of medieval English political writings: Poems of Political Prophecy (which forecast the imminent demise of England based on ominous foreshadowings); Anticlerical Poems and Documents (which record the passions swirling around clerical abuses, mendicancy and the uses of poverty, and Lollardy); Literature of Richard II's Reign and the Peasants' Revolt (which chronicle the schemes of rebel leaders and the woes of Richard's kingdom); Poems against Simony and the Abuse of Money (which reveal the depths of avarice in the Church and in courts of law); and Plowman Writings (which register the ostensible complaints of tenant farmers and peasants against their oppression by overlords). This selection of poems and documents reflects a variety of English political concerns. I include writings especially that tell a story, such as the poems and documents centered in Richard II's turbulent career (which witnessed the Peasants' Rising of 1381), or the poems about ideal plowmen or writings about corrupt clerics; and I regard this material as companion pieces to my previously-published Six Ecclesiastical Satires. For want of space I have excluded panegyrics to rulers and elegies (such as the well-known verses on the death of Edward III from the Vernon manuscript or the Agincourt carol beginning "Owre kynge went forth to Normandy") as well as documents and poems satirizing women (misogynistic writings), or contemning sumptuous clothing.

The largest section concerns anticlerical poems and documents because the chief political issues of the later Middle Ages involved abuses within the ecclesiastical hierarchy. The late medieval Church, in England as well as on the continent, was a highly politicized institution, from the Avignon papacy and the Great Schism (beginning in 1378) to the English statute of 1401 permitting the civil authorities to burn heretics (De haeretico comburendo) and Arundel's Constitutions (drafted 1407, promulgated 1409), which prohibited unlicensed preaching and the unauthorized production of Holy Scripture in English. Most of the authors of medieval political literature were clerics — regular, secular, or heterodox — and their writings naturally reflect their interests. But even so, much of what passed for political controversy in the later Middle Ages concerned ecclesiastical issues: what it means to be poor (and whether friars or Lollards adequately represented poverty in their life); who should have access to the Bible and under what circumstances; what measures authorities should take against Lollardy; how rural officials (many of them clerical) should treat vulnerable churls. Even problems of lordship and dominion (governance and property rights) were debated chiefly by clerks; and the question of gentilesse — does true nobility reside in inherited wealth or in the soul? — had theological as well as political ramifications in fourteenth-century England.

Scholars have increasingly challenged the genuineness of these writings as witnesses to political events, claiming that they are conventional satires or complaints expressed in commonplace language. Literary works that seem to contain political material may shade into formulaic language, owing more to Latin and vernacular complaint genres than to contemporary material conditions.1 A poem on statecraft such as Treuthe, reste, and pes may include contemporary references (the statute De haeretico comburendo) together with proverbial sayings and commonplace sentiments ("The world is like a fals lemman"; "The world is like a chery fayre"). Similarly, Song of the Husbandman contains valuable portraits of regional oppression but also abstract moralizations: "Thus wil walketh in lond." Perhaps medieval writers felt that they could make sense of political events only by framing them in conventional moral statements; perhaps they regarded moral pronouncements, proverbs, gnomic utterances, and apocalyptic warnings as essential features of their poetic style. Richard W. Kaeuper argues that medieval writers were unsophisticated as regards statecraft and that they knew only local conditions:
Not only are the sources painfully inadequate, the very abstraction, state, was scarcely conceived by men who saw, experienced, and wrote about only particular rulers, officials, and courts, and whose critical acumen ran more along the lines of moral denunciations of particular orders in society, rather than analyses of institutions which were often thought to be immutable, even while they were changing rapidly and with powerful effect.2
A plausible explanation for the forms of medieval political complaint is that writers analyzed and understood their political situations through general statements and that they provided specific instances to illustrate universal formulations. They recognized and represented local injustice, if at all, with the help of timeless commonplaces.

A good example of the intertwining of politics and morality occurs in the beginning of the Wycliffite tract The Lanterne of Light. The anonymous author first mentions "thise daies of greet tribulacioun," which sounds conventional and formulaic, since Christ alludes to the "greet tribulacioun" in Matthew 24. But then the author claims that "manye" apparently virtuous people — Lollards — have "fallen from her holi purpose, dredyng losse of worldli goodis and bodili peyne," probably an allusion to the persecutions of Lollards after De haeretico comburendo (1401) and Arundel's Constitutions (1409). According to the Constitutions of 1409 a heretic's "worldli goodis" were confiscate; and the 1401 statute allowed ecclesiastical authorities to hand over heretics and schismatics to the state for burning ("bodili peyne"). Finally, the Lollard author cites Christ's words in Matthew 24:12: "Quoniam habundabit iniquitas, refrigescet caritas multorum. That is to seie: 'The greet plenté and habundaunce of wickidnesse schal kele or make coolde the charité of many."' Medieval exegetes regularly understood this scriptural statement as an instance of senium mundi, the commonplace notion that the world has grown old, sick, and morally corrupt in preparation for Christ's second coming. The Wycliffite author of The Lanterne of Light regards the persecution of Lollards as an instance of the world's moral cooling prior to Christ's return as Judge in the days of great Tribulation. In other words, politics are interpreted against a backdrop of cataclysmic moral decline.

The larger question in many of these issues — though one seldom treated straightforwardly in medieval writings — was the uneven distribution of wealth and unequal applications of the law. Fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England had an agrarian economy, with a system of bondsmen, husbandmen, and tenant farmers attached to manors; and most medieval English people spent their lives within the vill and the parish, relying on ties of mutual obligation and customary services.3 For the most part the villein class and their struggles went undepicted in the literature. But in moments of historical crisis versions of their stories could emerge, especially as poets and chroniclers represented — and misrepresented — their plights. The prophetic writers attacked lords and priests and present times generally, under the guise of predicting the future, while anticlerical, Lollard, and antisimoniac authors assailed wealthy friars, the established church (with its pomp, arrogance, and ruthless disregard of material deprivation), and the unethical use of money. Political writers could offer critiques of statutory laws or systems of governance, as do poems on the articles of trailbaston (1304–05 to the reign of Richard II), which permitted, among other things and contrary to common law, indictments without oaths of twelve jurors as well as powers to assess heavy financial damages.4 Thirteenth- and fourteenth-century poets frequently complained that ordinary citizens were overtaxed but that the monies never reached the king. In political prophecies as well as in venality satires, they decried the elevation of churls or bastards into positions of social prominence to the detriment of state and church; and they deplored the collusion, extortion, and oppression of rural officials — the greedy, unaccountable deans, beadles, constables, summoners, bailiffs, woodwards, reeves, and friars who preyed upon the poor. The topic of money became especially important in fifteenth-century England. The poets who wrote about the abuse of money and the importance of meed in contemporary affairs seemed by turns dumbfounded and outraged at these new circumstances.

The science of politics did not exist in the Middle Ages, at least in our disciplinary sense of the term. Universities did not recognize politics as a separate category or discipline; and the analysis of political theory arose chiefly in theological discussions, especially as regards kingship versus the papacy. The origins of medieval politics may be sought in St. Augustine's The City of God, in which he posited two especially significant institutions: the earthly city (for Augustine embodied in Rome) and the city of God (the Christian Church, more specifically the "saints"). For Augustine, as for many later medieval thinkers, the city of man must be subordinate to the city of God; earthly institutions should be used (not enjoyed) for the greater glory of God. The prevailing theory was the doctrine of the two swords, an allegorical interpretation of Luke 22:38, whereby God is said to have authorized two institutions to govern humans: kingship (imperium) and the papacy (sacerdotium). Even John of Salisbury (1110–80), distinguishing between the just and the unjust ruler, who may be resisted (Policraticus 10.8), believed that the king derives his earthly sword from the priest. Thomas Aquinas harmonized Aristotle's focus on man as a political animal with descending theocratic formulations of kingship characteristic of the earlier Middle Ages. He developed the concept of the "political government (regimen politicum)" and reconciled it with the "regal government (regimen regale)"; and his definition of the state — "the State is nothing but the congregation of men" — had its counterpart in his concept of the Church as "a mystical body."5 Giles of Rome, in his influential De ecclesiastica potestate (1301), argued that the ruler must be a loyal servant of the Church in order to be considered a just king; these ideas found expression in the papal bull of Boniface VIII, Unam sanctam (1302). Dante Alighieri, in De monarchia (perhaps written 1312–13), challenged the papal interpretation of the "two swords" passage, maintaining that a universal emperor should have sole authority in the earthly sphere while the priesthood should govern in spiritual matters, while John of Paris argued that the king governed by the will of the people. In Defensor pacis (1324), Marsiglio of Padua contended that the king (the pars principans or "ruling part" of the community) derives his authority from the people — that is, people of prominence and substance — while the priesthood governs by virtue of secular authority. Politics also emerged in medieval theories about the polity: the so-called three estates. Estates theory emphasized an ordered hierarchy of knights, or those who fight (bellatores), clerics, or those who pray (oratores), and peasants, or those who work (laboratores). By the fourteenth century, this crude scheme, though often invoked in complaint and satire, had become obsolete, wholly inadequate as a description of the English commonwealth and its citizenry. The third estate was by the mid to late fourteenth century a congeries of arriviste gentry, prosperous (and not so prosperous) merchants, craftsmen, burgesses, yeomen, villeins, and serfs. Simply put, the peasant class consisted of all those who were not noble and not clerics; and many of the middle strata of the third estate — those who did not take an active role in governance — participated in the misnamed "Peasants' Revolt" of 1381. By at least 1376 and the Good Parliament, the Commons were an integral part of Parliament and of government. They promulgated statutory law, suggested tax policy, and impeached ministers. They could no longer be ignored or taken for granted, as they once were. Richard II's kingship was a constitutional and limited rather than a feudal monarchy.

The fourteenth century in England was a time of political and economic crisis. From the disappointing reign, mortifying deposition, and probable murder of Edward II toward the beginning of the century through the dethronement and murder of his great grandson, Richard II, in 1399–1400, the period experienced turbulence and misery. Edward III (reigned 1327–77) enjoyed some military success in campaigns against the French — at Sluys (1340), at Crécy (1346), and at Poitiers (1356) — but at home there was lawlessness and chaos. As May McKisack has said of this period:
The evidence at our disposal makes it abundantly plain that fourteenth-century England, for all its multiplicity of courts, statutes, and justices, was not a law-abiding country and that those responsible for the maintenance of order were faced with obstacles beyond their power to surmount.6
The problems have been explained in terms of economic contraction and of decline;7 and one historian has argued that the fourteenth century generally provides a "mirror" of our own times.8

Some of the events that help define the century as calamitous include anxieties concerning the papacy; wrangling between barons and parliament, on one hand, and the crown, on the other; crop failures and famines; devastating plagues which created labor shortages, price gouging, and crime waves; urban riots and a general Rising that included many elements of the commonalty; criminal gangs which operated with impunity; a corrupt judicial system; wars against Scotland, Ireland, and France, which provided a constant drain on the treasury; a bloody "crusade" against Flanders on behalf of the Roman pope Urban VI; and a growing threat of heresy along with measures to suppress it. In 1309 the papacy removed to Avignon, France, in order to escape civil unrest in Rome. Meanwhile, England was at war with France — though not continuously — from 1337–1453 (the Hundred Years' War); and when the papacy divided into two popes, with dual bureaucracies — at Avignon and Rome, beginning in 1378 (the Great Schism) — England supported Rome. At home the monarchy waged frequent, often bitter power struggles with magnates intent on strengthening their positions.

Disputes between barons or commons and the crown occurred with alarming frequency, including prior to and during 1311, when the Lords Ordainers challenged Edward II; in 1340–41, when the populace refused to pay Edward III's ninth (a tax) for his French wars and when parliament forced concessions regarding Edward's Walton Ordinances of 1338; in 1351 and 1352, when Edward issued militant statutes on laborers and on treason; in 1376, when the Good Parliament, led by the speaker, Peter de la Mare, challenged the duke of Lancaster and the lords concerning new taxes, impeached Lord William Latimer and Richard Lyons over the wool Staple, confronted the aged Edward III, and condemned his influential mistress, Alice Perrers; in the Gloucester parliament, 1378, when the restless Commons again defied Lancaster (representing the crown), and protested the need for further taxes; in the Wonderful Parliament of 1386, when the duke of Gloucester, Thomas of Woodstock, Thomas Arundel, and others forced Richard (not yet in his majority) to dismiss his Chancellor and Treasurer and hinted at deposition; in December, 1387, when Gloucester and the Appellant Lords confronted and apparently threatened Richard in the Tower; in the Merciless Parliament of 1388, when the Appellants managed to execute as traitors a number of Richard's faction, including Robert Tresilian, Chief Justice of the King's Bench; Nicholas Brembre, formerly mayor of London who had quarreled often and violently with the present mayor; Simon Burley, Richard's tutor; John Beauchamp, Steward of the Household; and John Salisbury, Knight of the Chamber. The 1390s were filled with political ferment and crisis, leading to Richard's deposition and death. On these years, see the Introduction to Richard's Reign, below pp. 119–27.

Fifteenth-century England was also troubled, at least in part because of Richard's government and his downfall. Serious challenges to and revolts against Henry's reign began almost immediately after he assumed the kingship — so many that the early fifteenth century might be characterized as a period of crisis management. The Appellants of 1397 mounted an unsuccessful rebellion in 1400; and Richard, in confinement at Pontefract, died (probably murdered) shortly afterwards. The Northumberland Percies crushed a Scottish invasion at Homildon Hill, 1402, but in the following year these same Percies, who now supported the earl of March as Richard's true heir, defied Henry and were defeated at the battle of Shrewsbury. Meanwhile, in 1402 and again in 1404, the Commons demanded oversight of taxation for the war efforts. Henry repelled other challenges from anti-Lancastrian forces in 1405; and he and his son, the future Henry V, contained the Welsh nationalism inspired and led by Owen Glendower during the period 1400–16. Henry IV died in 1413. Next year the new king, Henry V, was forced to suppress a feeble but troubling rebellion by a Lollard knight, Sir John Oldcastle. (See the Introduction to Anticlerical Poems and Documents, p. 37.) In August, 1415 — the year of Henry's great victory over the French at Agincourt — Henry put down another magnate plot on behalf of the earl of March, executing Richard, earl of Cambridge, Henry, Lord Scrope, and Sir Thomas Grey. When Henry died in 1422 of complications from dysentery after the protracted siege of Meaux, he left as heir his infant son, Henry VI. Because Henry V had been recognized as king of France in the treaty of Troyes, 1420, the succession of the very young Henry VI precipitated a crisis of command, when the rule of France and England was divided between the surviving brothers of Henry V — John, Duke of Bedford, serving as regent of France, and Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, serving as protector of Henry and regent of England. Gloucester was opposed at home by magnates jealous of his power in the realm. His special adversary was the wealthy and politically capable cardinal Henry Beaufort, chancellor of England in 1403–05, 1413–17, and 1424–26, who jockeyed with him for power from the 1420s into the 1440s. In 1425 Bedford returned from France to mediate between the disputing protector and the cardinal with the result that Gloucester's power was limited.

Opposed to the abuses of the age was the humble plowman or husbandman, a figure representing the right use of poverty, who rebuked the grasping friars or wealthy prelates by his form of living. If "Bishop Golias" of the Latin satirical poets was a negative norm — drinking, jangling, gambling, scheming — the plowman offered a positive standard of virtue and right conduct. But the husbandman was also a political figure, as John Ball and rebellious peasants recognized, since his virtue was in part a function of his lack of power and wealth. The plowman became a modern-day surrogate for Christ in Langland's poem: Petrus id est Christus. Chaucer characterizes his pilgrim Plowman as "A trewe swynkere and a good," who labors "For Cristes sake, for every povre wight" (I.531, 537). He tacitly repudiates the worldly Monk, whose chief passion is hunting, and the devil-may-care Friar, who refuses contact with the poor and sick — the "poraille" or riff-raff — on the grounds that distressed folk will not serve his cause. The anonymous author of Piers the Plowman's Crede emphasizes Piers's indigence, for this plowman, who teaches the narrator his Apostles' Creed when four orders of friars cannot, plows in the muck with tattered clothing, barefoot on the bare ice, so that "the blode folwede" (line 436). When Piers denounces the sumptuous hypocrisy of fraternal orders and reminds the narrator of St. Francis's humility, he speaks with authority as one who knows Christian poverty through experience.

Biblical translations unless otherwise noted are from the Douay version. The following abbreviations appear throughout the volume: Alford, Glossary = John A. Alford, Piers Plowman: A Glossary of Legal Diction (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1988); EETS = Early English Text Society; Index = The Index of Middle English Verse, ed. Carleton Brown and Rossell Hope Robbins (New York: Columbia University Press, 1943), cited by entry numbers; Supplement = Supplement to the Index of Middle English Verse, ed. R. H. Robbins and John L. Cutler (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1965); RHR = Rossell Hope Robbins, ed., Historical Poems of the XIVth and XVth Centuries (New York: Columbia University Press, 1959); Robbins, "Poems" = Rossell Hope Robbins, "XIII. Poems Dealing with Contemporary Conditions," A Manual of the Writings in Middle English 1050–1500, gen. ed. Albert E. Hartung, vol. 5 (New Haven: The Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1975), pp. 1385–1536, 1631–1725; Scattergood, Politics = V. J. Scattergood, Politics and Poetry in the Fifteenth Century (London: Blandford; New York: Barnes and Noble, 1971); STC = Short Title Catalogue; UMI = University Microfilms International (with reel numbers); Whiting, Proverbs = B. J. Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968); Wr PPS = Thomas Wright, ed., Political Poems and Songs, Rolls Series 41.1 (1859); Wr PSE = Thomas Wright, ed., Political Songs of England (Camden Society, 1839). Citations from Piers the Plowman's Crede (PPC), The Plowman's Tale (PlT), Jack Upland (JU), Friar Daw's Reply (FDR), and Upland's Rejoinder (UR) are from my edition of Six Ecclesiastical Satires (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1991).

It remains to thank David Wallace, who conceived the original idea for this volume and who generously advised me on it; Mary P. Richards, who read the entire edition in manuscript and offered important suggestions; Lawrence Duggan, who read the introductory sections; Paul F. Schaffner, Ruth Karras, Siegfried Wenzel, Thomas O. Calhoun, George H. Brown, and Philip Flynn, who furnished valuable, timely help on various matters; Leo Lemay, who forwarded material to me from the British Library; Richard Kaeuper, who provided suggestions for works included in this volume; and especially Russell A. Peck, general editor of the Middle English Texts Series, who corrected errors and offered suggestions at every stage; and Alan Lupack, associate editor, who checked the volume in its final draft. For the preparation of this volume and of Six Ecclesiastical Satires I am fortunate to have had his broad experience and deep learning. Richard Firth Green and Elizabeth Revell, along with Thomas Hahn and Harry Butler, have puzzled over the Latin passages in On the Times; I am indebted to them all, but especially to Richard Firth Green for his numerous suggestions regarding that difficult poem. Thomas Seiler carefully copyedited both volumes, Karen Saupe and Jennifer Church helped shape them into camera-ready copy, and Richard Duggan provided valuable technical assistance on matters of style and format. The preparation of both volumes has been aided by a University of Delaware General Research grant and by summer research-assistant grants from the Department of English. I have profited from the research skills of Hugh P. Campbell, William Frost, Stephen Palley, and Lisa Kochanek.

I wish to acknowledge the following institutions and people for furnishing manuscript reproductions: Stuart O. Seanóir, Assistant Librarian, Manuscripts Department, Trinity College Library, Dublin, for supplying a paper copy from microfilm of MS 516 fol. 115r and a microfilm copy of Trinity College Dublin 516 fols. 108–10; Michael Boggan, Executive Officer in Chief, Photography, The Manuscript Collections, and The British Library for supplying electrostatic prints of MSS Harley 913 fols. 59r–v; Harley 2253 fols. 64r and 127r–v; Harley 2324 fols. 1r–4r, 5v–13r; Lansdowne 762 fols. 5r–6v; Arundel 57 fol. 8v; Cotton Cleopatra B. ii fols. 63v–65v; and Cotton Vespasian B. xvi fols. 2v–3r; Miss J. A. Ringrose, Under-Librarian of the Department of Manuscript and Archives, Cambridge University Library, for supplying photostatic copies of MSS Kk. 1. 5 (4) fols. 33r–34r; Dd. 14. 2 fol. 312r; and Peterhouse 104 fols. 210r–212r; Mrs. E. M. Coleman, Assistant Librarian of the Pepys Library, and the Master and Fellows, Magdalene College, Cambridge, for supplying a glossy black and white photograph of MS Pepys 1236 fol. 91r; the Sub-Librarian of Trinity College, Cambridge, for supplying an electrostatic copy of Trinity College Cambridge MS 1144 fol. 58v; Mrs. G. Cannell, Assistant Librarian of The Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, for supplying electrostatic prints of Corpus Christi College Cambridge MS 369 fol. 46v; Miss E. A. Quarmby, Assistant Library, Special Collections, of St. John's College, Cambridge, for supplying electrostatic enlargements of MS 195 (G. 28) fols. 1v–2r; and the Keeper of Western Manuscripts, Bodleian College, Oxford, for supplying electrostatic prints of MSS Bodley 48 fols. 325v–331r; Ashmole 59 fol. 78r; Archbishop Selden B. 26 fol. 19r; and Digby 102 fols. 100r–101r. Finally, I wish to thank the National Endowment for the Humanities for its support in the completing of the volume.

Go To Chronology of Political and Literary Events

General Bibliography

Coleman, Janet. Medieval Readers and Writers 1350–1400. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981.

Dean, James. Six Ecclesiastical Satires. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1991.

Dobson, R. B. The Peasants' Revolt of 1381. 2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1983.

Hudson, Anne. The Premature Reformation: Wycliffite Texts and Lollard History. Oxford: Clarendon, 1988.

Jacob, E. F. The Fifteenth Century 1399–1485. The Oxford History of England, 6. Oxford: Clarendon, 1961.

Kaeuper, Richard W. War, Justice, and Public Order: England and France in the Later Middle Ages. Oxford: Clarendon, 1988.

Mann, Jill. Chaucer and Medieval Estates Satire: The Literature of Social Classes and the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973.

McKisack, May. The Fourteenth Century 1307–1399. The Oxford History of England, 5. Oxford: Clarendon, 1959.

Pearsall, Derek. Old English and Middle English Poetry. The Routledge History of English Poetry, Vol. 1. London: Routledge, 1977.

Peter, John. Complaint and Satire in Early English Literature. Oxford: Clarendon, 1956.

Robbins, Rossell Hope. "XIII. Poems Dealing with Contemporary Conditions." A Manual of the Writings in Middle English 1050–1500. Vol. 5. Gen. ed. Albert E. Hartung. New Haven: The Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1975. Pages 1385–1536, 1631–1725.

Scattergood, V. J. Politics and Poetry in the Fifteenth Century. London: Blandford, 1971.

Taylor, John. English Historical Literature in the Fourteenth Century. Oxford: Clarendon, 1987.

Thomson, John A. F. The Transformation of Medieval England 1370–1529. Foundations of Modern Britain. London and New York: Longman, 1983.

Ullmann, Walter. Principles of Government and Politics in the Middle Ages. London: Methuen, 1961.

Yunck, John A. The Lineage of Lady Meed: The Development of Mediaeval Venality Satire. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1963.