1. M. C. Seymour refers to this work as Hoccleve's "sequence of poems" (Selections
from Hoccleve [Oxford, 1981], pp. xiv, xvii, 132); it is nevertheless likely that the term
used by Eleanor Prescott Hammond in her English Verse between Chaucer and Surrey
(1927; repr. New York, 1969), p. 57, will remain standard.
2. For annotated bibliography, see Jerome Mitchell, Thomas Hoccleve: A Study in
Fifteenth-Century English Poetic (Urbana, 1968), pp. 125-45, supplemented by his "Hoccleve
Studies, 1965-81," in Fifteenth-Century Studies: Recent Essays, ed. Robert F. Yeager
(Hamden, Conn., 1984), pp. 49-63; see further William Matthews, "Thomas Hoccleve," in A
Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050-1500, ed. Albert E. Hartung, vol. 3 (New
Haven, 1972), pp. 746-56, 903-8.
3. On the modern preference for Hoccleve's more personalized texts, see Stephen
"Inner and Outer," in The Later Middle Ages, ed. Stephen Medcalf (London, 1981), pp.
123-40, especially p. 140; Derek
Literature (London, 1983), p. 133; David Lawton, "Dullness and the Fifteenth Century,"
English Literary History 54 (1987), 761-99 at p. 763.
4. Ed. Frederick J. Furnivall and I. Gollancz, revised Jerome Mitchell and A. I. Doyle,
Hoccleve's Works: The Minor Poems, Early English Text Society, E.S. 61, 73 (London,
1892, 1925, rev. ed., one vol., 1970); see further Mary Ruth Pryor, "Thomas Hoccleve's
Series: An Edition of MS Durham Cosin V iii 9" (Ph.D. thesis, University of California,
5. D. C. Greetham, "Self-Referential Artifacts: Hoccleve's Persona as a Literary Device,"
Modern Philology 87 (1989), 242-51, at p. 242.
6. "Hoccleve's Series: Experience and Books," in Fifteenth-Century
ed. Yeager, pp. 259-73, at pp. 262-63.
7. All references to the Series will be to Mitchell and Doyle's revised edition by
and, in the case of the verse texts, line.
8. See also John M. Bowers, "Hoccleve's Huntington Holographs: The First 'Collected
Poems' in English," Fifteenth-Century Studies 15 (1989), 27-51, at pp. 39-40.
9. J. A. Burrow, "Autobiographical Poetry in the Middle Ages: The Case of Thomas
Hoccleve," Proceedings of the British Academy 78 (1982), 389-412, at p. 404.
10. Burrow, "Hoccleve's Series," pp. 260, 268.
11. Benjamin P. Kurtz, "The Source of Occleve's Lerne to Dye," Modern
Language Notes 38 (1923), 337-40.
12. On the relation between these works, see Eric Colledge, "The Büchlein der
ewigen Weisheit and the Horologium sapientiae," Dominican Studies 6 (1953), 77-89.
scholars now agree the vernacular work preceded the one in Latin: see Pius Kunzle, O. P.,
Heinrich Seuses Horologium sapientiae, Spicilegium Friburgense 23 (Freiburg,
1977), pp. 28-54. The chapter is the second of the second part of the Horologium (ed.
Kunzle, pp. 526-40).
13. On its fortunes in England, see A. I. Doyle, "A Survey of the Origins and Circulation
theological writings in English in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and early sixteenth centuries with
consideration of the part of the clergy therein," 2 vols. (Ph.D. thesis, University of Cambridge,
1953), 1, pp. 212-18; Roger Lovatt, "The Influence of the Religious Literature of Germany and
Low Countries on English Spirituality c. 1350-1475" (D.Phil. thesis, Oxford, 1965), part of
discussion now appears in his "Henry Suso and the Medieval Mystical Tradition in England," in
The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England. Papers read at Dartington Hall, July 1982
(Exeter, 1982), pp. 47-62.
14. Lovatt suggests Hoccleve must have been using "some form of ars moriendi
anthology which happened to include this particular chapter" ("Henry Suso," p. 55); for the view
followed here, see Elizabeth Psakis
Suso's Horologium sapientiae: A Recently Discovered Excerpt," Manuscripta 12
15. A reduced version of the Horologium, but one including the whole of its
moriendi chapter (apart from some insignificant omissions), appeared in English prose
late in the fourteenth-century, and certainly before 1419, as The Seven Points of True Love
Everlasting Wisdom (ed. K. Horstmann, "Orologium sapientiae or The Seven
Poyntes of Trewe Wisdom, aus MS. Douce 114, Anglia 10 , pp. 323-89); on its
probable date, see Lovatt, "Henry Suso," p. 48. This text circulated fairly widely in the fifteenth
century, as did its version of the Ars moriendi chapter, the latter sometimes in anthologies
such material (as, for example, in Cambridge, University Library MS Ff. v. 45 or London, British
Library MS Harley 1706 and Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Douce 322). The fifteenth century
saw at least two further English prose renderings of this chapter. One of these, in Lichfield
Cathedral MS 16 (first half of the fifteenth century), is preceded in the manuscript by a copy of
Suso's chapter in Latin and renders it faithfully. The other, in Glasgow, Hunterian MS 496
late fourteenth century) and Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Bodley 789 (first half of the fifteenth
century), partly abandons Suso's personal mode, coming from a homilist addressing "Thou redere"
(MS Bodley 789, fol. 123v), and in it Suso's Disciple features first as a hypothetical "vnprofitable
counfortour" (fol. 126v), and later as "sum freend" (fol. 129v) and "another freend" (fol. 136v) of
16. On at least two occasions, brief extracts from the Horologium were rendered
into English verse (Lovatt, "Henry Suso," p. 53); normally, however, renderings of this work
prose. For an early fifteenth-century poem in English on how to die, see Twenty-Six Political
and Other Poems from the Oxford MSS. Digby 102 and Douce 322, ed. J. Kail, Early English
Text Society O.S. 124 (London, 1904), pp. 27-31. As Sister Mary Catharine O'Connor notes
John Skelton wrote such a work; this is likely to have been in verse (The Art of Dying Well:
Development of the Ars moriendi [New York, 1966], p. 179).
17. The best-known account of this fifteenth-century concern and its possible causes is J.
Huizinga's in The Waning of the Middle Ages (1924, English translation New York,
especially pp. 138-51. Useful recent accounts include Rosemary Woolf, The English Religious
Lyric in the Middle Ages (Oxford, 1968), pp. 67-113, 309-55; Kathleen Cohen,
Metamorphosis of a Death Symbol: The Transi Tomb in the Late Middle Ages and the
Renaissance (Berkeley, 1973), pp. 1-11, 48-95; Philippa Tristram, Figures of Life and
in Medieval English Literature (London, 1976), pp. 152-83; Philippe Ariès, The
Hour of Our Death (L'Homme devant la mort), trans. Helen Weaver (New York, 1981), pp.
106-39. On the history and dissemination of the genre, see Rainer Rudolf, Ars moriendi: von
kunst des Heilsamen Lebens und Sterbens,
Forschungen zur volkskunde, 39 (Cologne, 1957); on its history in England, see Nancy Lee
The Craft of Dying: A Study of the Literary Tradition of the Ars moriendi in England
Haven, 1970); Adele Chene-Williams, "Vivre sa mort et mourir sa vie: l'art de mourir au XVe
siecle," in Le Sentiment de la Mort au Moyen Age, ed. Claude Sutto (Montreal, 1979),
171-82; David William Atkinson, The English ars moriendi, Renaissance and Baroque Texts
Studies 5 (New York, 1992), pp. xi-xxv.
18. On the Tractatus, see O'Connor, Art; O'Connor speculates that it was
composed in Latin at the Council of Constance in 1414-18, and that it reached England shortly
this (p. 54). On its responsibility for establishing the genre see Beaty, The Craft of Dying,
1; Atkinson, The English ars moriendi, p. i. All references to The Book of the Craft of
Dying will be to the edition by C. Horstman in Yorkshire Writers: Richard Rolle of
and his Followers, 2 vols. (London, 1896), 2: 406-20; it has also been modernized by Frances
M. M. Comper in The Book of the Craft of Dying and Other Early English Tracts concerning
Death (London, 1917), pp. 2-51, and edited by Atkinson in The English ars moriendi,
pp. 1-20. It is relatively well known to those interested in medieval English literature because it
regularly been referred to in conjunction with Everyman: see, for example, Donald F.
Duclow, "Everyman and the Ars moriendi: Fifteenth-Century Ceremonies of
Fifteenth-Century Studies 6 (1983), 93-113; Phoebe S. Spinrad, "The Last Temptation of
Everyman," Philological Quarterly 64 (1985), 185-94. For a discussion of this
that refers to other Artes moriendi, including those being discussed here, see Helen S.
Thomas, "Some Analogues of Everyman," Mississippi Quarterly 16 (1963),
19. In what may be a Wycliffite version of the Visitatio infirmorum, a text
such a injunction (ed. from Oxford, University College MS 97 by Horstman, Yorkshire
Writers, 2, pp. 449-53), the sick man is enjoined to remember that the image is not God (pp.
20. For fuller descriptions of this text, see Beaty, Craft, pp. 7-34; Duclow,
"Everyman," pp. 94-103; Spinrad, "Last Temptation," pp. 186-88.
21. O'Connor, Art, p. 5.
22. On its influence on the Tractatus, for example, see O'Connor, Art, pp.
18-20; in its Latin version it traveled with other Artes moriendi in, for example, Oxford,
Merton College MS 204 and University College MS 4.
23. Except where otherwise indicated, all references to Suso's chapter will be to
rendering, ed. Mitchell and Doyle. See n. 4, above.
24. Ariès remarks on the many supernatural beings normally present in the
(Hour, p. 108); Beaty notes how the author transfers his attention from the dying man to
"the Christians now presumed to have gathered around the deathbed" (Craft, p. 6). On
point, see further
Duclow, "Everyman," p. 97.
25. Greetham, "Self-Referential Artifacts," p. 247.
26. Burrow, "Hoccleve's Series," p. 265; "The Poet and the Book," in Genres,
Themes, and Images in English Literature from the Fourteenth to the Fifteenth Century, The
A. W. Bennett Memorial Lectures, Perugia, 1986, ed. Piero Boitani and Anna Torti (Tubingen,
1988), pp. 230-45, at pp. 243-44.
27. On the relationship between old and new in Chaucer's dream poems see Piero Boitani,
"Old books brought to life in dreams: The Book of the Duchess, the House of
the Parliament of Fowls," in The Cambridge Chaucer Companion, ed. Piero
and Jill Mann (Cambridge, 1986), pp. 39-57; see also Michael D. Cherniss, Boethian
Apocalypse: Studies in Middle English Vision Poetry (Norman, Oklahoma, 1987), especially
pp. 228-29; and Robert R. Edwards, The Dream of Chaucer: Representation and Reflection in
the Early Narratives (Durham, NC, 1989), especially pp. 68-73, 130-34.
28. On Hoccleve's use of a similar strategy in his Regement of Princes, see Judith
Davidoff, Beginning Well: Framing Fictions in Late Middle English Poetry (Rutherford,
1988), pp. 93-4; Anna Torti, The Glass of Form: Mirroring Structures from Chaucer to
Skelton (Cambridge, 1991), pp. 87-106.
29. Lillian Feder finds Hoccleve closer to Boethius than to Isidore of Seville, the author
the book he does finally describe; see Madness in Literature (Princeton, 1980), pp.
30. For discussion of how medieval dreamers work through their troubles see, for
Davidoff, Beginning Well, pp. 60-80, 101-125; J. Stephen Russell, The English Dream
Vision: Anatomy of a Form (Columbus, Ohio, 1988), pp. 5, 115-17.
31. Pryor, for example, refers to it as "a supposed book" and notes that it looks as if it
imagined ("Hoccleve's Series," pp. 25, 72).
32. A. G. Rigg, "Hoccleve's Complaint and Isidore of Seville," Speculum
33. For Isidore's text, see PL 83: 825-68; as Rigg demonstrates ("Hoccleve's
Complaint," p. 570), Hoccleve stops following this in col. 834. For responses by the man
Reason see, for example, cols. 837, 839.
34. In the part of Durham MS Cosin V. iii. 9 supplied by thesixteenth-century chronicler,
John Stowe, a marginal note identifies this man as Thomas (leaf 7v).
35. On the relation between these collections, see further Bowers, "Hoccleve's
Holographs," and the same author's "Hoccleve's Two Copies of Lerne to Dye:
for Textual Critics," Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 83 (1989), 437-72.
36. Bowers, "Hoccleve's Huntington Holographs," pp. 38-42.
37. For discussion of the need for such a "revisionary reading process" in a dream poem,
Donald W. Rowe, Through Nature to Eternity: Chaucer's "Legend of Good Women"
Neb., 1988), especially p. 135.
38. On the wide distribution of lists of questions see O'Connor, Art, pp. 33-36.
39. See further J. A. Burrow, The Ages of Man: A Study in Medieval Writing and
Thought (Oxford, 1986), pp. 70-71.
40. Such undertakings seem regularly to have been considered in this way; see Olive
"Chaucer's 'Retractions': The Conclusion of the Canterbury Tales and its Place in Literary
Tradition," Medium Ævum 40 (1971), 230-48, at p. 238; Lee W. Patterson, "The
'Parson's Tale' and the Quitting of the Canterbury Tales," Traditio 34 (1978),
at p. 380. On the compilation of a florilegium of tracts on the art of dying associable with
author's entry into the Carthusian order in c. 1458, see Roger Lovatt, "John Blacman: Biographer
Henry VI," in The Writing of History in the Middle Ages: Essays Presented to Richard
Southern (Oxford, 1981), pp. 415-44, especially pp. 426-28.
41. Until Eva M. Thornley demonstrated the conventionality of Hoccleve's Male
Regle in "The Middle English Penitential Lyric and Hoccleve's Autobiographical Poetry,"
Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 68 (1967), 295-321, readers tended to accept those parts
Hoccleve's poetry featuring himself as spontaneously autobiographical. Later readers questioned
this: see, for example, Penelope B. R. Doob, Nebuchadnezzar's Children: Conventions of
Madness in Middle English Literature (New Haven, 1974), pp. 226-29; Feder,
pp. 101-9. Given recent findings about how conventional all our self-representations tend to be
for example, Autobiography: Essays Theoretical and Critical, ed. James Olney (Princeton,
1980); Susanna Egan, Patterns of Experience in Autobiography (Chapel Hill, 1984),
however, it is hardly surprising that recent readers of Hoccleve have been seeking compromises:
for example, Medcalf, "Inner and Outer"; Burrow, "Autobiographical Poetry"; Stephan Kohl,
than Virtues and Vices; Self-Analysis in Hoccleve's 'Autobiographies'," Fifteenth-Century
Studies 14 (1988), 115-127.
42. Pryor, "Hoccleve's Series," p. 75.
43. Burrow, "Autobiographical Poetry," p. 404.
44. The topic of friendship is prominently treated in the section on dying in Jean Gerson's
Opusculum tripartitum (written before 1408), the most important source of the
Tractatus: for the relevant passage, see Comper, Book, pp. 89-90; it is also
treated in later works. On the treatment of this topic in a related work, see John Conley, "The
Doctrine of Friendship in Everyman," Speculum 44 (1969), 374-82.
45. Ariès, Hour, pp. 128-39.
46. Ariès, Hour, p. 130.
47. The Art and Craft to Know Well to Die, ed. Comper, Book, p. 87.
48. On this point, see further O'Connor, Art, pp. 5-7.
49. On this replacement, see Thomas F. van Laan, "Everyman: A Structural
Analysis," PMLA 78 (1963), 465-75, at p. 468 and n. 12.
50. The Book of the Craft of Dying, p. 412.
51. On these illustrations, see further O'Connor, Art, pp. 115-24.
52. See, for example, The Lamentation of the Dying Creature, ed. Comper,
Book, p. 152.
53. Study conventionally leads to melancholy madness; see Doob, Nebuchadnezzar's
Children, p. 225.
54. Like the debate over whether the "Complaint" is autobiographical that Hoccleve
anticipates at the beginning of the "Dialogue," he here anticipates a debate over whether his
Letter of Cupid is anti-feminist. John V. Fleming argues that it preserves the
anti-anti-feminism of its source: "Hoccleve's 'Letter of Cupid' and the 'Quarrel' over the Roman
Rose," Medium Ævum 40 (1971), 21-40. Diane Bornstein claims that Hoccleve
has so undermined his source as to produce an antifeminist work: "Anti-Feminism in Thomas
Hoccleve's Translation of Christine de Pizan's Epistre au dieu d'amours," English
Language Notes 19 (1981-82), 7-14.
55. On Hoccleve's treatment of the Gesta Romanorum, see Pryor, "Hoccleve's
Series," pp. 95-113; Mitchell, Hoccleve, pp. 43-47 (on the version of the
Gesta used), and 86-95.
56. On the effect here, see further Burrow, "Hoccleve's Series," p. 266.
57. Doob, Nebuchadnezzar's Children, p. 213.
58. Kurtz, "The Relation of Occleve's Lerne to Dye to its Source," PMLA
(1925), 252-75, at p. 270; see also Mitchell, Hoccleve, p. 42, and Woolf, English
Religious Lyric, p. 331-32. For sympathetic discussion of the translation, see Pryor,
Series," pp. 85-95.
59. As does Lovatt, who thinks Hoccleve's version accurately mirrors his remorseful later
years ("Henry Suso," p. 47), or Burrow, who sees in Suso's description of the dying man a
of the poet's own sense of isolation ("Hoccleve's Series," p. 269).
60. Perhaps inspired by the death in 1489 of a Maud Caxton who may have been his wife,
Caxton seems to have suspended work on The Fayttes of Arms until he had finished
Arte and Crafte to Knowe Well to Dye (1490); see O'Connor, Art, p. 1, n. 2. Caxton
then seems to have worked on a shorter version of The Arte and Crafte to Knowe Well to
Dye, the Ars moriendi (1491), and then (the last book he seems to have printed) his
Boke of Divers Ghostly Matters (1491), in which he placed a copy of the Middle English
prose adaptation of Suso's Horologium sapientiae. Like Hoccleve, however, he seems to
have been unable to keep this activity up until the end: according to Wynkyn de Worde it was a
translation of the Vitae patrum that he finished on the day he died (see further Edmund
Childs, William Caxton. A Portrait in a Background [London, 1976], pp. 179-80).
61. Including this may not have been quite as arbitrary as he makes it seem: in Oxford,
Bodleian Library MS Add. A 268, for example, a version of the Tractatus is followed by a
text on the joys of heaven.
62. On Hoccleve's treatment of his source here, see Benjamin P. Kurtz, "The Prose of
Occleve's Lerne to Dye," Modern Language Notes 39 (1924), 56-57.
63. Kurtz, "Prose of Occleve's Lerne to Dye," p. 57.
64. On this structure in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Knight's
Tale, see Helen Cooper, The Canterbury Tales (Oxford, 1989), pp. 73-75.
65. Durham University Library MS Cosin V. iii. 9, leaf 95. As Furnivall points out, Lady
Westmoreland was probably Joan, the daughter of John of Gaunt by Katherine Swinford
(Hoccleve's Works, p. xxv).
66. It has been suggested, as by Seymour, that it was in consequence of Hoccleve's
sent a copy of the Series to the Duke of Gloucester that he received a corrody tenable at
priory of Southwick, Hants., on 4 July 1424 (Selections, p. xiv). If Hoccleve did indeed
a copy to the Duke, and if this copy contained all the works by Hoccleve I have been discussing, it
would seem that the death the Series implies did not take place immediately after
wrote the moralization to the "Tale of Jonathas." As Pryor points out, however, the Duke's copy
could have appropriately contained only the material up to the end of Lerne for to Dye
its prose additions ("Hoccleve's Series," pp. 83-84), in which case the implied death in the
Series might have coincided more closely with Hoccleve's real one. On 1426-27 as the
probable date of Hoccleve's death, see A. L. Brown's notice of H. S. Bennett's Six Medieval
and Women (1955) in Review of English Studies, n. s. 8 (1957), 217-18, and Richard
Firth Green, "Three Fifteenth-Century Notes," English Language Notes 14 (1976-77),
14-17, at p. 14.
67. In Durham the first part is missing and is supplied in John Stowe's hand. The five
non-autograph manuscripts are Oxford, Bodleian Library MSS Arch Selden supra 53 (second
the fifteenth century); Bodley 221 (mid fifteenth century); Laud misc. 735 (second half of the
fifteenth century); Coventry Corporation Record Office MS Accession 325/1 (middle or third
quarter of the fifteenth century; on this manuscript and for the dates of Laud and Bodley, see A. I.
Doyle and George B. Pace, "A New Chaucer Manuscript," PMLA 83 , 22-34); and
Yale University Library MS 493 [c. 1440]; on this manuscript see A. S. G. Edwards, "Hoccleve's
Regiment of Princes: A Further Manuscript," Edinburgh Bibliographical Society
Transactions 5, Part 1 , 32). I am grateful to the keepers of manuscripts in the
and Beinecke Libraries for granting me access to their collections and to Professor Anne Hudson
answering my further questions about the Bodleian manuscripts.
68. The version of Lydgate's Dance Macabre that appears in these manuscripts has
been edited by Hammond, English Verse, pp. 124-42, from which I quote; for the different
versions, see The Dance of Death, ed. Florence Warren, with introduction, notes, etc. by
Beatrice White, Early English Text Society, O.S. 181 (London, 1931), pp. 2-77. On Lydgate's
poem and its tradition see, for example, Woolf, English Religious Lyric, pp. 347-52;
Pearsall, John Lydgate (London, 1970), pp. 177-79.
69. Doyle notes that in the Coventry manuscript the place for Lydgate's name is here left
blank (Doyle and Pace, "A New Chaucer Manuscript," p. 24).
70. In Bodley, Laud, and Yale. Burrow observes that this is true of all five of these
manuscripts ("Hoccleve's Series," p. 273, n. 12); Hudson has observed that the lay-out in
Selden could imply that Lydgate's poem is a new work (private correspondence).
71. Lovatt suggests that he was making a "brief English verse anthology" treating death;
"Henry Suso," p. 56.
72. For the suggestion that a medieval compiler might have treated Chaucer's
Tales similarly, see David Lawton, "Chaucer's Two Ways: The Pilgrimage Frame of The
Canterbury Tales," Studies in the Age of Chaucer 9 (1987), 3-40, at p. 21.
73. Tristram, Figures of Life and Death, p. 182.