Langland’s Rats Revisited : Conservatism Commune, Commune
Examining four narratives of the ‘Good Parliament’ of 1376, this essay explores the shifting meanings of commune in late medieval English political writing. Considering the ways in which each harnesses the rhetoric of community reveals a late fourteenth-century anxiety about political communities, unanimity, and competing systems for classifying different types of persons. The texts — PPl, the Anonimalle Chronicle, Thomas Walsingham’s chronicle, and the parliamentary rolls — present very different accounts of what the commune was, who was included, who was excluded, and who was invisible. Using the crisis of 1376 as an example, the article also argues that the use of modern political terms such as conservative and radical may hide rather than illuminate the political stakes and categories of the period, obscuring how complex and varied the responses to a changing system of government were at this time. (NL, from the journal’s abstract)
Viator, 39 (2008), 127–55.