Wynnere and Wastoure and the Influence of Political Prophecy
This article examines the debt of the Middle English debate poem Wynnere and Wastoure to a long-lived culture of political prophecy with particular utility during the reign of Edward III. It explores the poet’s familiarity with a prophetic tradition endorsing the authority of the kings of England, derived from the writings of Geoffrey of Monmouth. Alongside other sources, the Wynnere poet is understood to be acquainted with The Prophecy of the Last Six Kings to Follow John and possibly variations on this in the poetry of Laurence Minot, as well as prophetic material ascribed to the Scottish border prophet Thomas of Erceldoune. Awareness of the Wynnere poet’s engagement with prophetic traditions challenges prior scholarly understandings of his attitude toward royal authority, as well as critical commonplaces about the oppositional function of political prophecy, for underlying Wynnere and Wastoure is a vision of the imperial prowess of Edward III.