The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Ferris, Sumner. "Chaucer at Lincoln (1387): The Prioress's Tale as a Political Poem." 15 (1981): 295-21.
The length and opening of the Prioress's Tale make it a perfect piece to complement a gathering. Chaucer wrote the tale for Richard II to use in convincing John Buckingham, bishop of Lincoln, to support his cause. The Prioress's Tale refers to four saints and to the Virgin Mary, all related to Lincoln in some way. Mary, Nicholas, John the Evangelist, and John the Baptist are not specifically connected to Lincoln, but Saint Hugh is, and Buckingham tried unsuccessfully to promote St. Hugh. By changing a few lines to refer to the Prioress, Chaucer disguises the original occasion of the Prioress's Tale.
Hanrahan, Michael. "Seduction and Betrayal: Treason in the Prologue to the Legend of Good Women." 30 (1996): 229-40.
In the prologue to the Legend of Good Women Chaucer addresses the issue of treason or betrayal in love. His treatment, however, differs from the standard treatment of this topic since it is informed by the charges of the Lords Appelant that Richard was being mislead by his treasonous council. Chaucer demonstrates a similar concern in the Nun's Priest's Tale. In the Legend of Good Women Alceste accuses the narrator of treason not by heretical deeds, but by writings. The definition of treason Alceste ultimately presents "opposes any sectarian determination of the crime" (239).
Lenaghan, R. T. "Chaucer's Circle of Gentlemen and Clerks." 18 (1983): 155-60.
Most court poets held other offices at court such as clerk or customs officer. These official duties were more important than writing poetry. Because of the political atmosphere in which a number of powerful noblemen were jockeying for rulership of the king's household, administrative skills were highly valued. Each group of officials also became a social structure. The poems Chaucer wrote to Scogan and Bukton reveal a sense of social equality. Even in writing to the king, Chaucer develops a sense of equality, as is seen in "Lak of Stedfastness" and the "Complaint of Chaucer to His Purse."
Scattergood, John. "Social and Political Issues in Chaucer: An Approach to Lak of Stedfastnesse." 21 (1987): 469-75.
Though some of Chaucer's other poems have clear political referents, "Lak of Stedfastnesse" is not easily connected to a specific political personage. Chaucer camouflages his political agenda behind "traditional genres" and "generalized statements" (474). The poem can be connected to Richard II, but the specific situation is difficult to ascertain because the number of events leading to a fear of instability is numerous.
Zatta, Jane Dick. "Chaucer's Monk: A Mighty Hunter before the Lord." 29 (1994): 111-33.
The Monk's Tale addresses political issues current in Chaucer's time, particularly tyrannical abuses. For his material, the Monk draws on Augustinian political views revealed in De civitate dei. The Monk's material follows the same pattern of examples as used by other writers such as Thomas Aquinas, John of Salisbury, Boccaccio, Dante, Boethius, Lydgate, Jean de Meun and Guillaume de Lorris. Surprisingly, however, all of the Monk's heros are tyrants. The political subtext becomes most plain in the vignettes, but the Monk lacks the ability to interpret these stories for the benefit of his audience. The tale of Nimrod, characterized as "a mighty hunter before the Lord" (Genesis 10:9) is particularly appropriate to Richard's court. Chaucer presents similar political views in the Parson's Tale.