Gower Bibliography

John Gower's Legal Advocacy and ‘In Praise of Peace'

Barrington, Candace. "John Gower's Legal Advocacy and ‘In Praise of Peace'." In John Gower, Trilingual Poet: Language, Translation, and Tradition. Ed. Dutton, Elisabeth, and Hines, John, and Yeager, R.F. Cambridge: Brewer, 2010, pp. 112-25.


Barrington argues that in order to understand Gower's strategies of advice to Henry IV in "In Praise of Peace," one must see him not merely in the role of royal advisor but also as legal advocate. The poem is marked, she maintains, by habits or word and thought deriving from Gower's own training as a man of law. She counts no fewer than 125 words in the poem that belong to the legal vocabulary of the day and that have a precise legal meaning, and 25 instances in which, following a practice common in Middle English legal documents, a legal term derived from Anglo-Norman is paired with one derived from Anglo-Saxon (on the model of "null and void"). Procedurally she finds echoes of a writ in the Latin proem, and more interestingly, of the typical form of common law pleadings in what she sees as an alternation of voices in the sections marked off by large initials in the only surviving copy of the poem. Finally, she points to the poet's "elocutionary gestures," by which he establishes his own position as the king's counselor while also positioning Henry in the role of judge, consistent with the most significant bit of advice to the king, that he adhere to his promise to restore the rule of law. [PN. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 30.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Language and Word Studies
In Praise of Peace
Biography of Gower

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