1. The phrase "Literary Group" is taken from Alan T. Gaylord,
"Sentence and Solaas in Fragment VII of the Canterbury Tales: Harry
Bailly as Horseback Editor," PMLA 82 (1967), 226. See also my "Chaucer's 'Literary
Group' and the Medieval Causes of Books," English Literary History 59 (1992), 269-287.
2. Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, in The
Riberside Chaucer, 3rd ed., gen. ed. Larry D. Benson (Boston, 1987), VII.3438-39. I use
this edition of Chaucer's works throughout, giving references to Troilus and Criseyde,
Boece, and the Nun's Priest's Tale parenthetically. Although Gower studies are
enjoying new popularity, John Fisher's observation that "the special resemblances between
[Chaucer's] works and Gower's have occasioned little comment" still holds true. Indeed, although
both Vox clamantis and the Nun's Priest's Tale deal explicitly with the Peasant's
Revolt, critics (including Fisher) have failed to compare the two, perhaps because, as Fisher notes,
"To modern readers, Chaucer's and Gower's treatments of the same material are so different that
comparison appears fruitless, if not downright wrongheaded" (John Gower, Moral
Philosopher and Friend of Chaucer [New York, 1964], p. 206). Among the more recent
books on Gower, see Russell A. Peck, Kingship and Common Profit in Gower's "Confessio
Amantis" (Carbondale, 1978); R. F. Yeager, John Gower's Poetic: The Search for a New
Arion (Cambridge, 1990); and R. F. Yeager, ed., John Gower: Recent Readings
3. On the question of authorial self-definition in Fragment VII, see
Lee Patterson, "'What Man Artow?': Authorial Self-Definition in The Tale of Sir Thopas
and The Tale of Melibee," Studies in the Age of Chaucer 11 (1989), 117-75; C.
David Benson, "Their Telling Difference: Chaucer the Pilgrim and His Two Contrasting Tales,"
Chaucer Review 18 (1983-84), 61-76.
4. The Prologue to the Man of Law's Tale is generally
regarded as some kind of Chaucerian comment on Gower's Confessio Amantis. See
Patricia J. Eberle's discussion of the scholarship in Benson, ed., Riverside Chaucer, p.
854. Fisher (John Gower, pp. 204-302) devotes a chapter to the personal relationship
between Chaucer and Gower and their mutual literary influence, noting that "as the 14th century
drew to a close, their literary interests grew further and further apart," as Gower "grew more and
more absorbed in political pamphleteering for the Lancastrian cause" (p. 302).
5 John Gower, Vox clamantis, in The Major Latin
Works of John Gower, trans. Eric W. Stockton (Seattle, 1962), p. 282. I use this translation
throughout, giving page references parenthetically. For the Latin text, see G. C. Macaulay,
The Latin Works, in The Complete Works of John Gower, 4 vols. (Oxford,
6. See "The Former Age," "Fortune," "Truth," "Gentilesse," and
"Lak of Stedfastnesse," in Benson, ed., Riverside Chaucer, pp. 650-654. I quote from
"Lak of Stedfastnesse," lines 5, 7, 14, 19, 21, 28.
7. See Fisher, John Gower, pp. 104-05. Fisher refers to
Walsingham's report that the Archbishop of Canterbury preached on the text Vox populi, vox
Dei "when Edward II replaced the deposed Edward II on the throne" (p. 105).
8. Fisher, John Gower, p. 105. Fisher mentions William of
Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester; William Courtenay, Bishop of London; Simon Sudbury,
Archbishop of Canterbury; Thomas Brunton, Bishop of Rochester and royal confessor; Ralph
Erghum, Bishop of Salisbury; and others of the "Caesarian" clergy.
9. Yeager, John Gower's Poetic, p. 205.
10. See n.2 above.
11. For a treatment of Chaucer's sources, see Robert A. Pratt,
"Three Old French Sources of the Nonnes Preestes Tale," Speculum 47 (1972),
12. For Chaucer's use of Wisdom materials, see Kate O. Petersen's
classic study, On the Sources of the Nonne Prestes Tale, Radcliffe College Monograph
No. 10 (Boston, 1898; repr. New York, 1966); Robert A. Pratt, "Some Latin Sources of the
Nonnes Preest on Dreams," Speculum 52 (1977), 538-70. For Gower's knowledge of
dream lore, see George C. Fox, The Medieval Sciences in the Works of John Gower
(New York, 1966), pp. 95-113.
13. For a treatment of the attack on the Flemish, see Rodney
Hilton, Bondmen Made Free: Medieval Peasant Movements and the English Rising of
1381 (London, 1973), pp. 195-98.
14. P. M. Kean, Chaucer and the Making of English
Poetry, 2 vols. (London, 1972), 2: 133.
15. Larry Scanlon, "Sweet Persuasion: The Subject of Fortune in
Troilus and Criseyde," in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde: "Subgit to Alle
Poesye," ed. R. A. Shoaf (Binghamton, 1992), p. 212.
16. Kean, Chaucer and Poetry, 2: 131.
17. Scanlon, "Sweet Persuasion," p. 217.
18. This passage, translated by Stockton, appears in Gower's
Preface to Cronica Tripertita. As Fisher notes, Gower revised the Vox clamantis
and the Cronica Tripertita to "become a unified commentary on the tragic course of
Richard's rule from 1381-1400, with a prologue (the Visio), a midpoint (the Epistle) and
an epilogue (the Cronica)" (p. 114).
19. Rodney K. Delasanta, "'Namoore of This': Chaucer's Priest and
Monk," Tennessee Studies in Literature 13 (1968), 123, 120.
20. Kean, Chaucer and Poetry, 2: 135.
21. Charles S. Watson, "The Relationship of the `Monk's Tale' and
the `Nun's Priest's Tale'," Studies in Short Fiction 1 (1964), p. 287.
22.. Books 2-7 of Vox clamantis, which contain a critique
of the three estates, were begun about 1378, shortly after Gower completed his Mirour.
Book 1 was added later, presumably not long after the Revolt in 1381. See Stockton, Major
Latin Works, pp. 11-12; Yeager, John Gower's Poetic, p. 204.
23. For an excellent survey of this tradition, see the references
under "cock" in Francis Klingender, Animals in Art and Thought to the End of the Middle
Ages, ed. Evelyn Antal and John Harthan (Cambridge, 1971). See also William Durandus,
The Symbolism of Churches and Church Ornaments, trans. Rev. John Mason Neale and
Rev. Benjamin Webb (London, 1893), pp. 22-23. The text of "Multi sunt presbyteri," which
explicates the cock-allegory in popular terms, appears in The Oxford Book of Medieval Latin
Verse, ed. Stephen Gaselee (Oxford, 1946), pp. 178-80. For other sources, see n. 24 below.
24. See Donald N. Yates, "Chanticleer's Latin Ancestors,"
Chaucer Review 18.2 (1983), 116-26; Charles Dahlberg, "Chaucer's Cock and Fox,"
Journal of English and Germanic Philology 53 (1954), 277-90; Lorrayne Y. Baird,
"Christus Gallinaceus: A Chaucerian Enigma; or the Cock as Symbol of Christ," Studies in
Iconography (1983), 19-30; Judson B. Allen, "The Ironic Fruyt: Chaunticleer as Figura,"
Studies in Philology 66 (1969), 25-35. According to Susan Gallick, "it is the cock as
preacher that Chaucer was most interested in developing" ("A Look at Chaucer and His
Preachers," Speculum 50 (1975), 475).
25. Kenneth Varty points to a "considerable gap of about 225 years
from Marie de France's fable to Chaucer's 'Nun's Priest's Tale'," which was bridged on the
continent by numerous imitations and translations of Pierre de St. Cloud's 1175 Roman; in
England, by an oral tradition evidenced in numerous drawings and carvings, especially in
churches. See Varty, Reynard the Fox: A Study of the Fox in Medieval English Art
(Leicester, 1967), esp. pp. 31-42, 51-59.
26. For instances in which medieval preachers compare themselves
to cocks, see G. R. Owst, Preaching in Medieval England: An Introduction to Sermon
Manuscripts of the Period, c.1350-1450 (New York, 1965), pp. 6-7, 30. For general
references to the homiletic use of exempla, bestiaries, fables, and marvels, see esp. pp.
299-302, 313. See also Stephen Manning, "The Nun's Priest's Morality and the Medieval Attitude
Toward Fables," Journal of English and Germanic Philology 59 (1960), 403-16.
27. See Dolores W. Frese, "The Nun's Priest's Tale: Chaucer's
Identified Masterpiece?" Chaucer Review 16 (1982), 330-43. Gower introduces his own
name in Vox clamantis via an anagram that may be similar to Chaucer's own. See
Gower's Latin signature in the Prologue to Book 1, lines 21-24.
28. For a treatment of Edenic imagery in the tale, see Bernard S.
Levy and George R. Adams, "Chauntecleer's Paradise Lost and Regained," Mediaeval
Studies 29 (1967), 178-92.
29. For a study of Chauntecleer's self-seduction, see John Block
Friedman, "The Nun's Priest's Tale: The Preacher and the Mermaid's Song," Chaucer
Review 7 (1973), 250-66. As a comment on Chauntecleer's relationship with Pertelote,
consider Book 7.1 of Vox clamantis, where Gower singles out two main causes "for
which this world has now ceased to be good." The second cause is avarice, which spawns envy
and warfare; the first is the lust of women "of the very first rank" who inspire "laziness and dull
repose" in knights and clerics alike, rendering "sluggish in arms" the knights whom they caress
with love in their bedrooms (p. 255).
30. In his almost fatal attempt to "countrefete" (VII.3321) the
singing of his father, Chauntecleer, as an allegory of the poet, may be said to reflect on Chaucer's
own self-conscious efforts to emulate and excell poets like Virgil, Ovid, Statius, Dante, Petrarch,
31. This sort of historical allegory is, of course, considerably
different from that proposed by J. Leslie Hotson in his "Colfox vs. Chaunticleer," PMLA
39 (1924), 762-81.