Gower Bibliography

John Gower: Prophet or Turncoat?

Saul, Nigel. "John Gower: Prophet or Turncoat?" In John Gower, Trilingual Poet: Language, Translation, and Tradition. Ed. Dutton, Elisabeth and Hines, John and Yeager, R.F. Cambridge: Brewer, 2010, pp. 85-97.


Saul undertakes to defend Gower once again from the charge of political opportunism that has recently reappeared surrounding his evident switch of allegiance from Richard II to Henry IV. After surveying the chronology of Gower's revisions in VC and CA, comparing the more traditional view to Terry Jones' recent argument that all of the pro-Lancastrian passages date from after 1399, he concludes that Gower would have had insufficient time for extensive rewriting of his work between Henry's accession and the onset of his own blindness and that his revisions must have taken place over a longer period of time. The date is not of major importance, moreover, since Gower's judgments of Richard are completely consistent with a view of kingship that he expressed in all of his major works. Saul traces the roots of Gower's doctrine of kingship to Giles of Rome. The king, in Gower's mind, was entitled to obedience, was answerable only to God, and was entitled to rule with considerable magnificence. This was a view that he shared with Richard and with virtually all of the ruling class of the time. The reason for Gower's abandonment of Richard, according to Saul, was Richard's failure to live up to another of Giles' precepts, on the king's need for moderate self-rule. As evidence of Richard's lack of self-discipline, Saul cites incidents from 1382 and 1385 (not explaining why Gower nonetheless expressed such admiration for Richard in his first dedication of CA) and the king's quarrel with the city of London in 1392, the same incident cited by Fisher.[PN. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 30.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Vox Clamantis
Biography of Gower
Confessio Amantis

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