Title Background

Reformist Intellectual Culture in the English and Irish Civil Service: The Modus tenendi parliamentum and its Literary Relations

Reformist Intellectual Culture in the English and Irish Civil Service: The Modus tenendi parliamentum and its Literary Relations

The Modus, a text describing (and implicitly advocating) parliamentary structure based on “reformist” and “socially generous” principles dated variously across the fourteenth century, can best be seen to have originated in the circle of the royal bureaucrats in Westminster during Edward III’s reign; it was later significant in the context of new kinds of parliamentary reportage and new emphases on “the Commons” and church reform, including disendowment, appearing from the Good Parliament on and including an important role in early fifteenth-century Anglo-Irish efforts at analogous reform. These milieux and ideological features parallel PPl and its early contexts, from the texts’ shared attention to the “commons,” royal obligations, and disendowment, to evidence of government scribes in the iconic signs in the C manuscript of PPl, Huntington Library MS 143, to the similar appearance in Anglo-Irish contexts of both the Modus and the PPl manuscript, Bodleian Library MS Douce 104, to L’s own possible evocation of those royal bureaucratic manuscript icons, e.g. a pictogram for “church reform” in Exchequer documents of a cleric being struck on the head with a sword may have inspired L to declare that abbots “Shal haue a knok vppon here crounes” (C.5.177).

Volume

Traditio 53 (1998): 149-203.

Author

Kerby-Fulton, Kathryn and Steven Justice