Gower Bibliography

Gower's 'Confessio' and the 'Nova Statuta Angliae': Royal Lessons in English Law

McGerr, Rosemarie. "Gower's 'Confessio' and the 'Nova Statuta Angliae': Royal Lessons in English Law." ES: Revista de Filología Inglesa 33.1 (2012), pp. 45-65. ISSN 0210-9689


McGerr introduces a new possible model for the discussion of kingship in Book 7 of the CA. The "Nova Statuta Angliae" ("New Statutes of England") is a compilation based on the Rolls of Parliament beginning with Edward III's first Parliament in 1327. It opens with an account of the deposition of Edward II meant to justify his removal from the throne that emphasizes his violation of the terms of his coronation oath in his failure to uphold the laws protecting the clergy, the nobility, and the commons. This document circulated widely, McGerr notes, among the same audience that might have read the CA (including a copy owned by King Richard himself), and Gower "was certainly familiar" with the text (54). Gower would have found in the account of Edward II's deposition an exemplum on bad kingship of the sort that he himself constructs. He would also have found a model for the emphasis upon the king's duty to uphold the law as a condition of his right to rule that runs through the discussion of kingship in Book VII, several passages of which might well have reminded his readers of Edward II's fate. And finally, McGerr suggests, Gower would have found in this section of the "Nova Statuta" a model of the type of "hybrid discourse" that he himself practices in Book VII: "Both texts interweave discourses of legal argument, romance narrative, mirrors for princes, and religious exemplum in ways that strengthen their representation of the English king's sacred obligation to uphold the laws of the land" (59). [Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 32.1]

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:This special issue of ES is also titled "Gower in Context(s): Scribal, Linguistic, Literary and Socio-historical Readings," edited by Laura Filardo-Llamas, Brian Gastle, Marta Gutiérrez Rodríguez, and Ana Saez-Hidalgo.
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Confessio Amantis

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