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H. Aquile Pullus


ABBREVIATIONS: CA: Gower, Confessio Amantis; CB: Gower, Cinkante Ballades; Cronica: Gower, Cronica Tripertita; CT: Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales; CVP: Gower, Carmen super multiplici viciorum pestilencia; IPP: Gower, In Praise of Peace; Mac: Macaulay edition; MO: Gower, Mirour de l'Omme; TC: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde; Thynne: William Thynne, printer, The Works of Geffray Chaucer (1532) [prints IPP from Tr]; Traitié: Gower, Traitié pour essampler les amantz marietz; VC: Gower, Vox Clamantis.

All biblical citations are to the Vulgate text, and, unless otherwise noted, all biblical translations are from the Douai-Rheims. For a list of manuscript abbreviations, please see Manuscripts in the Introduction.


The marginal Latin glosses, identified by a capital L in the left margin next to the text, are transcribed and translated in the notes and can be accessed by clicking on the L at the corresponding line.

H. aquile pullus: Conceivably the last written of the "laureate" poems; perhaps (as suggested by Fisher, John Gower, p. 99) intended for the coronation, 13 October 1399, but more probably the stanza addresses the elevation of the future Henry V to Prince of Wales on 15 October, or his creation as duke of Aquitaine on the twenty-third -- or (most likely) both. Resembling the prophecy they render, the four lines culminate in a reference to the prince; nor would Gower likely have known of the "oleum" (Richard having kept it on his person) prior to the coronation, when it was used ostentatiously to anoint Henry IV, by way of countering publicly Richard's sacral kingship. See O recolende, note to line 9, above.

In three MSS (G, H, and H3), these four lines follow Cronica and are themselves followed by two quotations from the Bible: Vulgate Psalm 88:23 ("Nichil proficiet inimicus in eo, et filius iniquitatis non apponet nocere ei" ["The enemy shall have no advantage over him: nor the son of iniquity have power to hurt him"]) and Vulgate Psalm 40:3 ("Dominus conseruet eum, et viuificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius" ["The Lord preserve him and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth: and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies"]). In Tr, however, these lines are attached to the end of O recolende, itself used to introduce CB. In the remaining manuscripts, the poem appears independent of direct association with another work.

H. aquile pullus is written in Leonine hexameter; the text presented here is based on S. Other versions survive in C, H, G, H3, and Tr.

1 H. aquile pullus. Beside this line, the scribe of S has entered the word Prophecia ("Prophecy") in the margin. It is likely more than one prophecy was intended, as the poem makes reference to two. Here the reference is to the "Prophecy of the Eagle," a thirteenth-century offshoot of the Merlin prophecies (compare Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britannie VII), which among Lancastrian supporters associated Henry IV with an eaglet (pullus aquilae) who comes from across the sea to depose a white king (rex albus -- i.e., Richard, whose badge was a white hart). Henry was supposed the eagle because the symbol of John the Evangelist, namesake of his father, John of Gaunt, was an eagle, and because the badge of Edward III, his grandfather, was an eagle also -- little notice was given to Edward's status as Richard's grandfather also. The association of Henry as an eagle became quite common in the early fifteenth century; see, for example, Richard the Redeless 2.9. Compare Macaulay 4.416 and Usk, Chronicon, pp. 50-53. Prophecy was a part of the Lancastrian propaganda effort to substantiate their claims to the crown: see Strohm, England's Empty Throne, pp.1-31.

2 colla. So Mac, emending from C, H, H3, and Tr. S: bella. As Macaulay notes (4.416), however, the S reading seems to be working from VC VI.xii.876, "where our author in borrowing from the Aurora substitutes 'bella' for 'corda' or 'colla.'"

3 H. aquile. Henry of Grosmont, first duke of Lancaster, who, legend had it, "captured" the oil (oleum) in France and gave it to Edward the Black Prince for use in his coronation.
oleum. A legendary and prophetic oil, given first to Thomas à Becket by the Virgin Mary during his exile in France. Intended to anoint a future king who would, without bloodshed, recover England and the lost Aquitaine, the oil was purportedly left in the Tower by the Black Prince, where Richard discovered it too late for his own anointing -- although he did approach Archbishop Thomas Arundel about a second ceremony, but was rebuffed. See note to line 2, above, McKenna, "Coronation Oil," and Saul, Richard II, pp. 423-24.

4 Sic veteri . . . uncta. Compare Cronica III.352-55, where the allusion is to Prince Henry, Gower's passage describing the ceremony confirming him as Prince of Wales on 15 October 1399:
Henrici natus Henricus, honore beatus,
Est confirmatus heres Princepsque vocatus:
Sic pars abscissa, summo de iudice visa,
Arboris est vncta veteri stipitque reiuncta.

(Henry the son of Henry[, blessed in honor,] was confirmed as heir and named Prince. Thus the part of the tree which had been cut off was anointed in the sight of the highest Judge and rejoined to its former trunk -- trans. Stockton.)


9. H. aquile pullus

H. aquile pullus, quo nunquam gracior ullus,
Hostes confregit, que tirannica colla subegit.
H. aquile cepit oleum, quo regna recepit;
Sic veteri iuncta stipiti nova stirps redit uncta.
9. H. Son of the Eagle

H. son of the eagle, than whom no one is ever more graceful,
Has broken his enemies, and subjugated tyrannical necks.
H. the eagle has captured the oil, by which he has received the rule of the realm;
Thus the new stock returns, anointed and joined to the old stem.
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Go To Quicquid homo scribat (In fine)