Gower Bibliography

A Language Policy for Lancastrian England

Fisher, John H. "A Language Policy for Lancastrian England." PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 107 (1992), pp. 1168-1180.


Fisher argues that the replacement of French by English in official circles in England in the early fifteenth century and the sudden appearance of large, elaborately prepared manuscripts of English poetry soon after 1400 are both linked to Henry IV's accession to the throne, and are the result of official Lancastrian policy to encourage the use of English as a means of gaining the support of Parliament and commons for Henry's usurpation. Chaucer is given a central position in his discussion, because of the large number of Chaucer manuscripts that were produced during this period, because of the recognition given to Chaucer soon after his death as the founder of English poetry, and because of Thomas Chaucer's importance in both Henry IV's and Henry V's court. Gower is given somewhat less prominence. Manuscripts of his works too are produced by some of the same scribes that produced Chaucer's during this important period. One manuscript of CA, moreover (Huntington Ellesmere 26.A.17, the "Fairfax" copy), provides evidence of Henry IV's interest in promoting the use of English even before he became king: Fisher uses the armorial insignia on its opening page to argue that it was prepared for presentation to Henry sometime between his return from France (at the end of June 1399), and his coronation (in the middle of October). [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 13.1]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Language and Word Studies
Manuscripts and Textual Studies

Gower Bibliography Editors Only: edit metadata