Gower Bibliography

Arguing from Foreign Grounds: John Gower's Leveraging of Spain in English Politics

Peebles, Katie. "Arguing from Foreign Grounds: John Gower's Leveraging of Spain in English Politics." ES: Revista de Filología Inglesa 33.1 (2012), pp. 97-113. ISSN 0210-9689

Review

Peebles maintains that while he may simply have been following his source, Gower's choice to set his "Tale of the Three Questions" in Spain establishes a direct connection to issues arising out of debates concerning England's engagement with Spain during the late 1380s, when she presumes the story to have been written. Much of the essay is concerned with England's relation with Spain, beginning with Edward I's marriage to the sister of Alfonso X in 1254. More immediately relevant is John of Gaunt's involvement with the Spanish succession, which, Peebles points out, "began and ended with marriages" (106). The costs and even the necessity of England's Iberian engagement was the subject of repeated and fractious parliamentary debate, which Gower also addresses through the tale, offering a model less for the king than for those who would advise him. "The pointed advice that the tale offers is that members of a court should avoid direct challenge or pacifying acquiescence in favor of calming voices expressing an insistent logic that the king can accept. . . . Gower is using the Spanish setting of the tale to gain leverage for advisors not, perhaps, possessing great innate power [in their relationship with the king]. . . . He imagines and communicates a situation in which the strategy works, and that imaginative power offers a way to reframe the Spanish political situation and domestic politics in a way that suggests a more acceptable set of choices: intermarriage, alliance, and realignment instead of the absolutism of either conquest or avoidance. Thus, the Spanish setting of the 'Tale of the Three Questions' both reframes the political argument over Lancastrian Castilian engagements and models a role for counsel in domestic concerns" (110). [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:Backgrounds and General Studies
Confessio Amantis

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