By Marion Turner
Chaucerian clash explores the textual atmosphere of London within the 1380s and 1390s, revealing a language of betrayal, surveillance, slander, treason, uprising, fallacious idealism, and corrupted compaignyes. Taking a strongly interdisciplinary method, it examines how discourses approximately social antagonism paintings throughout other forms of texts written at the moment, together with Chaucer's residence of status, Troilus and Criseyde, and Canterbury stories, and different literary texts similar to St Erkenwald, Gower's Vox clamantis, Usk's testomony of affection, and Maidstone's Concordia. Many non-literary texts also are mentioned, together with the Mercers' Petition, Usk's allure, the guild returns, judicial letters, de Mezieres's Letter to Richard II, and chronicle accounts.These have been tumultuous a long time in London: the various conflicts and difficulties mentioned contain the Peasants' riot, the mayoral rivalries of the 1380s, the cruel Parliament, slander laws, and modern suspicion of city institutions. whereas modern texts try and carry out wish for the longer term, or think an past Golden Age, Chaucer's texts foreground social clash and antagonism. although such a lot critics have promoted an idea of Chaucer's texts as basically socially confident and congenial, Marion Turner argues that Chaucer provides a imaginative and prescient of a society that's necessarily divided and damaging.
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Extra resources for Chaucerian Conflict: Languages of Antagonism in Late Fourteenth-Century London (Oxford English Monographs)
See Pamela Nightingale, ‘Capitalists, Crafts and Constitutional Change in Late Fourteenth-Century London’, Past and Present 124 (1989): 3–35, esp. 6–7 and 26–31, and Bird, Turbulent London, p. xxii. ⁶ See Richard Firth Green, A Crisis of Truth: Literature and Law in Ricardian England (Philadelphia, 1999). The idea of a ‘crisis of truth’, which Green himself modiﬁes in his introduction to Crisis of Truth (p. xiii) in order to stress the ‘chronic’ nature of the phenomenon, is in some ways misleading.
The petition must have been written after 16 March 1387, on which date the Common Council decreed that the Jubilee Book was ⁴⁰ Westminster Chronicle, 310–12. ⁴¹ It was, of course, customary to blame not the king himself but his advisers for misleading him. The mercers emphasize the idea that the king does not know what is being done in his name, and will be horriﬁed when he realizes the iniquities of the rule that he has been sponsoring. Similarly, the rebels of 1381 roundly asserted that they were acting with the king and against his evil ministers.
They are hoping not so much for a different kind of government as for a government sympathetic to them. The mercers frequently use phrases which imply that the lords themselves act purely according to their own desires: ‘if it lyke to yow’, ‘by yowre leue’, ‘lyke it to yow’, ‘if it lyke to yow’, ‘that it lyke to yowre lordeship’(33–4, 36, 37). Such language does not appeal to moral rectitude or to the rule of law, simply to a set of desires different from those of Brembre and Richard. ⁴¹ But the petitioners are really men who were strongly attached to Northampton’s faction, who know that they are allying themselves with an ascendant group of nobles, and who are hoping for a change in the balance of power in the country as a whole and in the city.