Gower Bibliography

Criticism of Crusading in Fourteenth-Century England

Siberry, Elizabeth. "Criticism of Crusading in Fourteenth-Century England." In Crusade and Settlement: Papers read at the First Conference of the Society for the Study of the Crusades and the Latin East and presented to R.C. Smail. Ed. Edbury, Peter W.. Cardiff: University College Press, 1985, pp. 127-34.


Wyclif, Langland, and Gower have all been cited by historians attempting to demonstrate that enthusiasm for crusading had completely died out by the end of the fourteenth century. By setting their remarks in context, Siberry attempts to show that support for the crusades remained undiminished. Wyclif's criticism was restricted to the Norwich Crusade of 1383, and Langland's advocacy of missions to convert Muslims was not inconsistent with military crusading. Gower's remarks on the crusades, actually spoken by Amans, in CA 3.1620-33, 1656-82, 2241-44, and 2484-2515 "should not be taken at . . . face value" (p. 130): they were dictated to some extent by the demands of courtly love, and "may also have been intended to be ironical, highlighting the absence of chivalric values amongst the knightly class" (p. 130). They would not have pleased Gower's patron, Henry earl of Derby, moreover, and are inconsistent with the sentiments expressed in VC Book 3, in "In Praise of Peace," and in "De lucis scrutinio," in which Gower asserts the Christian's right to the Holy Land, laments the decline of chivalry and crusading zeal, and urges his fellow Christians to turn their attention from fighting among themselves to defeating the Muslims. Siberry concludes by citing the large number of Gower's contemporaries who took part in crusades, including of course Henry. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 8.2]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Vox Clamantis
Minor Latin Poetry
Confessio Amantis

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