Some Fourteenth-Century ‘Political’ Poems.
Criticizes as unhistorical the familiar classification of a number of fourteenth-century poems as “poems of protest and dissent”; such a classification does not take into account the conservative nature of estates literature, which does not question the general principle of authority and explains social and political evils on the basis of human failure. The Simonie is a theodicy demonstrating that present sufferings are divine visitations for sins. Although PPCrede complains of the friars’ persecution of Wyclif, it insists on the truth of the Apostles’ Creed and is unfazed by Wyclifs heterodoxy. Mum and the Sothsegger is really two incomplete poems, perhaps by a single author: one that aims to justify Richard’s deposition through conventional recommendations (after the fact) for better government, another that argues for speaking out against abuses familiar to estates satire. Both fragments are royalist, authoritarian, and unrevolutionary.