Gower Bibliography

Richard II and the Literary Arts

Eberle, Patricia J.. "Richard II and the Literary Arts." In Richard II: The Art of Kingship. Ed. Goodman, Anthony and Gillespie, James. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999, pp. 231-253.


Eberle provides a valuable list of "all texts known to me which were commissioned by or addressed to" (as opposed to known merely to have been owned by) King Richard II. Her list contains only 14 items. As she discusses them, she notes that they provide a better indication of how Richard might have wanted to see himself than of what he was, but she also provides valuable suggestions on what each work reveals about Richard's own interests and knowledge. Among the recurring themes she finds are an interest in the Secretum Secretorum and an emphasis on sapientia over fortitudo in the description of the king. Among the very small number of works of literary character on this list appear the original version of Book 6 of VC (the second item) and the entire CA (item 3), which "can be read as an extended discussion of the issues raised in the letter to Richard in the Vox Clamantis, combining an exalted view of royal prerogative with an equally exalted ideal of the moral and religious virtues required of the king" (236). The thirteenth item is the volume of his own poetry that Froissart claims to have presented to the king in 1395, a book that has since disappeared. Eberle notes that the loss "demonstrates the danger of assuming that our records of Richard's manuscripts, even of elaborate presentation copies, are at all complete" (249), but on looking over the list of books that are known to have appealed to Richard, one can't help wondering if both Gower and Froissart might not have misjudged the likelihood of the king's interest in their poems [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society: JGN 24.2].

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Backgrounds and General Studies
Vox Clamantis
Confessio Amantis

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