Title Background

<i>Images of Kingship in Chaucer and his Ricardian</i><i> Contemporaries</i>

Images of Kingship in Chaucer and his Ricardian Contemporaries

Chapter 2 (pp. 35–60) analyses the B text of PPl with special attention to images of kingship and their place in episodes expressing the tensions between the individual and the society, spirituality and the politics. It summarizes many scenes from the Visio to the Vita — not all of them having to do with kingship — but also offers arguments about several key passages that tie in directly to the book’s theme. In the Prologue, the passages ranging from the procession of King, commons, and Kind Wit through to the Belling of the Cat fable reinforce the idea that ‘[t]he monarch’s task is to exemplify and maintain [. . .] [social] order’ (p. 40). Reason’s sermon in passus 5 addresses the sin of individuals and does not concern matters of kingly rule (the King in this scene is mute). And in the Vita entire, the individual’s role in interpreting divine law is emphasized, and given meaning through Christ, especially in passûs 18–20: L ‘sees the incarnate Christ as king while on earth, and it is this image that he stresses rather than Jesus the man’ (p. 52). Ultimately, however, L, like his Ricardian contemporaries, directed his imagination away from kings and kingship toward the effort of each individual of every station to obey the law of God.

Rev. by: 
  • Rebecca Davis, YLS, 23 (2009), 310-15; 
  • Siân Echard, Review of English Studies, 60 (2009), 483-84; 
  • Don Hoffman, Arthuriana, 19 (2009), 148-49; 
  • Robert J. Meyer-Lee, The Medieval Review, 09.06.17 [http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.baj9928.0906.017];
  • María Bullón-Fernández, Speculum, 85 (2010), 187-79; 
  • Elliot Kendall, Studies in the Age of Chaucer, 32 (2010), 460-62;
  • Elizabeth Evershed, Medium Ævum, 80 (2011), 138-39.


Cambridge: Brewer, 2008.


Rayner, Samantha J.