Gower Bibliography

Robert Payn and Juan De Cuenca, Translators of Gower's Confessio Amantis

Russell, P. E. "Robert Payn and Juan De Cuenca, Translators of Gower's Confessio Amantis." Medium AEvum 30 (1961), pp. 26-32.


As Russell points out, the CA was translated "first into Portuguese prose by Robert Payn, an Englishman attached to the household of Queen Philippa – John of Gaunt's daughter – and thence into Castilian by Juan de Cuenca" (26). The terminus ante quem for the Portuguese translation must be 1438, for Philippa's eldest son, King Duarte, had a copy in his library when he died in that year. Duarte also mentions the CA in the prologue to his Leal Conselheiro. It may be from the latter work that Juan de Cuenca first heard of Gower's poem. Of Juan de Cuenca little is known. He came from Huete, and Russell points out that the town was part of the settlement of John of Gaunt's Castilian claims in 1388. Of Robert Payn we know that he was a significant figure at the court of Philippa, and we know that he was still alive at the end of 1430. He probably made his translation after leaving the Queen's service and taking on an ecclesiastical office. We also know of a Thomas Payn who may have been Robert's father, and the quality of Robert's translation makes it seem likely that the family were not fresh arrivals in Portugal but belonged to the well-established English colony in Lisbon. Russell feels that the dedication to Richard II in the first recension – used for the translation – would have given little offense to a Portuguese audience, even after Richard was deposed. Yet the translation was likely made before 1399 or after 1415. Russell favours the latter possibility. He ends with some comments on the possible influence of Gower on later Iberian literature. [CvD]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Facsimiles, Editions, and Translations
Confessio Amantis
Influence and Later Allusion

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