Saving Satire after Arundel’s Constitutions: John Audelay’s “Marcol and Solomon”
The voice of Audelay’s ‘Marcol and Solomon’ is a voice under pressure, as are many of the voices of PPl; but in Audelay’s poem the pressures of draconian punishment for discursive infringement are much more explicit. The menacing environment of events after De heretic comburendo of 1401 is clearly reigstered, and in response to this menace Audelay develops extremely skilful formal resources. This essay proposes to consider first what Audelay says, before turning to the more revealing an dstriking matter of how he says it. Simpson’s primary argument is that Audelay’s remarkable text attempts to preserve a space for orthodox yet trenchant vernacular ecclesiological satire and theology in unpropitious circumstances. His secondary argument is that Audelay harnesses the energies of PPl in his effort to preserve such a discursive space. If Pierce the Ploughman’s Crede is evidence that Lollards had ‘Langlandian sympathies’, Audelay’s ‘Marcol and Solomon’ reveals that orthodox yet dissenting readers also found inspiration in L’s text. (JS; adapted from pp. 389-90)
In Text and Controversy from Wyclif to Bale: Essays in Honour of Anne Hudson, ed. by Helen Barr and Ann M. Hutchison (Turnhout: Brepols, 2005), 387-404.