The Making of a Social Ethic in Late-Medieval England: From Gratitudo to ‘Kyndenesse.
WL expands the semantic range of kynde beyond “compassionate,” “natural,” and “that which pertains to one”s kin or to God” to include “grateful”; in so doing the poem develops a concept of social and economic community. Unkyndenesse in B.9.80-89 is defined as the failure to fulfill the natural unity of Christian community by economic means. Wit further politicizes the concept by advocating it to the comune, here referring to the entire citizenry. The Samaritan’s notion of kyndenesse (B.17.220-65) “sacralizes an ethos of secular social cohesion, a community figuratively warmed and illumined by its shared knowledge as much as its common goods. . . .”