Marriage War, War, and Good Government in Late-Fourteenth-Century Europe: The De Regimine Principum Tradition in Langland, Mézières, and Bovet’, and Bovet’
This essay compares the work of three contemporary writers, WL, Philippe de Mézières, and Honorat Bovet, who confront the upheaval of their times—pestilence, schism, the Ango-French war, failed crusades—by engaging a pair of apparently divergent issues: warfare and matrimony. ‘A text as complex as PPl can hardly be reduced to being called an “anti-war” or “pacifist” text; nevertheless, nothing in any of the discourses by diverse speakers’—Meed and Conscience, who clash on the subject of war, and Anima, who enjoins bishops to convert Muslims and Jews—’can be taken as support for war, either between nations or between faiths […] L’s writings suggest instead that, given the failure and futility of human efforts at reform, one must look instead to eschatology’ (pp. 331-32). Marriage has a symbolic value for L: the treatment of Meed and the condemnation of bad marriages in B passus 9 show his indebtedness to the de regimine principium tradition. Unlike the other writers considered here, though, L ‘seems to have put no faith in the ability of human institutions to bring about reform’ (p. 346).