Advertisement

“Stonde Manlyche Togedyr in Trewthe”: Lyric and Rebellion Among Late Medieval Men

  • Katharine W. Jager
Chapter
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

This chapter examines the ways by which two of the Rebel Letters, the Miller lyrics from the Littera Johannis Balle (BL Royal MS 13 E ix fol 287r.) and the Addresses of the Commons (BL Cotton Tiberius C. VII fols 174v–174r), represent vernacular poetry as a performative political medium. Brief, multimodal lyrics, the Rebel Letters are preserved in several historiographic chronicles, and thus have been primarily read by their contemporaries and by later critics through an evidentiary, material lens. Historicist approaches to the Letters have perceived them as actual letters or as mass-produced broadsides, yet the Letters themselves corral the sonic, metrical effects of lyric to make clear their political aims. This chapter deploys, therefore, an approach that Marjorie Levinson has described as “activist new formalist,” a critical method that considers the production of aesthetics and literary forms as inseparable from the historical moments in which they were made. It argues the Miller lyrics are performative representations of noise designed to produce a community of men who might “stonde manlyche togedyr in trewthe.”

Notes

Acknowledgments

I would like to gratefully acknowledge Glenn Burger, Steven F. Kruger, Pamela Sheingorn, David Greetham, Anne Stone, Steven Justice, Chuck Jackson, Jack Shuler, and Emily Houlik-Ritchey for generously and productively reading earlier iterations of this chapter.

Bibliography

  1. Aers, David. 1988. Community, Gender, and Individual Identity: English Writing, 1360–1430. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. ———. 1994. Vox Populi and the Literature of 1381. In The Cambridge History of Medieval Literature, ed. David Wallace, 432–454. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Arner, Lynn. 2013. Chaucer, Gower, and the Vernacular Rising: Poetry and the Problem of the Populace After 1381. State College: Penn State University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Aston, Margaret. 1994. Corpus Christi and Corpus Regni: Heresy and the Peasants’ Revolt. Past and Present 143 (1): 3–47.  https://doi.org/10.1093/past/143.1.3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barker, Juliet. 1381. The Year of the Peasants’ Revolt, 2014. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Barthes, Roland, and Stephen Heath. 2010. Image, Music, Text. London: Fontana Press/HarperCollinsPublishers.Google Scholar
  7. Boffey, Julia. 2006. Forms of Standardization in Terms for Middle English Lyrics in the Fourteenth Century. In The Beginnings of Standardization: Language and Culture in Fourteenth-century England, ed. Ursula Schaefer, Andrew Johnston, and Claudia Lange, 61–70. Frankfurt Am Main: Lang.Google Scholar
  8. ———. 2010. Middle English Lyrics and Manuscripts. In A Companion to the Middle English Lyric, ed. Thomas Gibson Duncan, 1–18. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer.Google Scholar
  9. Boffey, Julia, and Paula Simpson. 2016. A Middle English Poem on a Binding Fragment: An Early Valentine? The Review of English Studies 67 (282): 844–854.  https://doi.org/10.1093/res/hgw074.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bothwell, J.S., P.J.P. Goldberg, and W.M. Ormrod. 2001. The Problem of Labour in Fourteenth-century England. Woodbridge: York Medieval Press.Google Scholar
  11. Bradbury, Nancy Mason. 1998. Writing Aloud: Storytelling in Late Medieval England. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  12. Brantley, Jessica. 2007. Reading in the Wilderness: Private Devotion and Public Performance in Late Medieval England. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. ———. 2013. Reading the Forms of Sir Thopas. The Chaucer Review 47 (4): 416.  https://doi.org/10.5325/chaucerrev.47.4.0416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brownlee, Kevin. 1984. Poetic Identity in Guillaume De Machaut. Madison: Wis.Google Scholar
  15. Bunting, Basil, and Peter Malkin. 1999. Basil Bunting on Poetry. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Burger, Glenn, and Steven F. Kruger. 2001. Queering the Middle Ages. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  17. Burrow, John Anthony. 1971. Ricardian Poetry: Chaucer, Gower, Langland and the “Gawain” Poet. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  18. Butterfield, Ardis. 2007. The Construction of Textual Form: Cross-Lingual Citation in Some Medieval Lyrics. In Citation, Intertextuality and Memory in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. Stefano Jossa, Giuliano Di Bacco, and Yolanda Plumley, vol. 1, 41–57. Exeter: Exeter University Press.Google Scholar
  19. ———. 2015. Why Medieval Lyric? ELH 82 (2): 319–343.  https://doi.org/10.1353/elh.2015.0017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chaganti, Seeta. 2008. Choreographing Mouvance: The Case of the English Carol. Philological Quarterly 87 (1–2): 77–103.Google Scholar
  21. Chuck, D. 1996. Autobiography of MistaChuck. New York: Mercury Records, Polygram, Phillips.Google Scholar
  22. Clanchy, M.T. 1979. From Memory to Written Record: England 1066–1307. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Coleman, Janet. 1981. English Literature in History 1350–1400: Medieval Readers and Writers, 1350–1400. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Culler, Jonathan. 2008. Why Lyric? PMLA 123 (1): 201–206.  https://doi.org/10.1632/pmla.2008.123.1.201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. ———. 2009. Lyric, History, and Genre. New Literary History 40 (4): 879–899.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Dean, James M. 2002. Medieval English Political Writings. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications.Google Scholar
  27. Dobson, R.B. 2008. The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. New York: ACLS History E-Book Project.Google Scholar
  28. Duncan, Thomas. 2010. Middle English Lyrics: Meter and Editorial Practice. In A Companion to the Middle English Lyric, ed. Thomas Gibson Duncan, 19–38. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer.Google Scholar
  29. Dyer, Christopher. 1981. The Social and Economic Background to the Rural Revolt of 1381. In The English Rising of 1381, ed. R.H. Hilton and T.H. Aston, 9–42. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Ebin, Lois. 1984. Vernacular Poetics in the Middle Ages. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications.Google Scholar
  31. Foucault, Michel. 1979. What Is an Author? In Textual Strategies: Strategies in Post-Structural Criticism, ed. Josue V. Harari. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Frantzen, Allen J., and Douglas Moffat. 1994. The Work of Work: Servitude, Slavery, and Labor in Medieval England. Glasgow: Cruithne Press.Google Scholar
  33. Frye, Northrop. 1985. Approaching Lyric. In Lyric Poetry: Beyond New Criticism, ed. Chaviva Hosek and Patricia A. Parker, 31–37. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Galloway, Andrew. 2001. Making History Legal: Piers Plowman and the Rebels of 14th Century England. In William Langland’s Piers Plowman: A Book of Essays, ed. Kathleen Hewlitt, 7–39. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Glissant, Edouard. 1997. Poetics of Relation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Green, Richard Firth. 1997. John Ball’s Letters: Literary History and Historical Literature. In Chaucer’s England: Literature in Historical Context, ed. Barbara A. Hanawalt, 176–200. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  37. ———. 2002. A Crisis of Truth: Literature and Law in Ricardian England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  38. Hilton, R.H. 1977. Bond Men Made Free: Medieval Peasant Movements and the English Rising of 1381. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  39. ———. 1979. The English Peasantry in the Later Middle Ages. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  40. ———. 1990. Class Conflict and the Crisis of Feudalism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  41. Hilton, R.H., and T.H. Aston. 2007. The English Rising of 1381. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Holsinger, Bruce. 2003. Analytical Survey 6: Medieval Literature and Cultures of Performance. In New Medieval Literatures, ed. Wendy Scase, Rita Copeland, and David Lawton, vol. 6, 217–312. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Johnston, Michael. 2016. William Langland and John Ball. The Yearbook of Langland Studies 30: 29–74.  https://doi.org/10.1484/j.yls.5.111394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Jones, Maurice, foreword. 1984. Against All the Odds. National Union Mineworkers.Google Scholar
  45. Justice, Steven. 2005. Writing and Rebellion: England in 1381. New York: ACLS History E-Book Project.Google Scholar
  46. Kerby-Fulton, Kathryn. 2014. The Clerical Proletariat: The Underemployed Scribe and Vocational Crisis. The Journal of the Early Book Society for the Study of Manuscripts and Printing History 17: 1–34.Google Scholar
  47. Kibbee, Douglas A. 1991. For to Speke Frenche Trewely: The French Language in England, 1000–1600: Its Status, Description and Instruction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Knighton, Henry. 1895. In Chronicon Henrici Knighton, ed. J. Rawson Lumby. London: H.M. Stationery Office.Google Scholar
  49. Lerer, Seth. 2004. The Endurance of Formalism in Middle English Studies. Literature Compass 1 (1).  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-4113.2004.00006.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. McSheffrey, Shannon. 1991. Men and Masculinity in Late Medieval London Civic Culture: Governance, Patriarchy and Reputation. In Conflicted Identities and Multiple Masculinities: Men in the Medieval West, ed. Jacqueline Murray. New York: Garland.Google Scholar
  51. Middleton, Anne. 1997. Acts of Vagrancy: The C-Version ‘Autobiography’ and the Statute of 1388. In Written Work: Langland, Labor, and Authorship, ed. Steven Justice and Kathryn Kerby-Fulton, 208–318. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  52. ———. 1999. William Langland’s ‘Kynde Name’: Authorial Signature and Social Identity in Late Fourteenth-Century England. In Chaucer to Spenser: A Critical Reader, ed. Derek Pearsall, 206–245. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  53. Morgan, Alison. 2018. Ballads and Songs of Peterloo. Manchester: Manchester University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Mullett, Michael A. 1987. Popular Culture and Popular Protest in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe. London: Croon Helm.Google Scholar
  55. Nelson, Ingrid. 2017. Lyric Tactics. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ong, Walter J. 1982. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. London/New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Palti, Kathleen. 2013. Representations of Voices in Middle English Lyrics. In Citation, Intertextuality and Memory in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. Giuliano Di Bacco, Yolanda Plumley, and Stefano Jossa, 141–158. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Parkes, Malcolm B. 2016. Pause and Effect: An Introduction to the History of Punctuation in the West. London: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Parsons, Ben. 2018. Trouble at the Mill: Madness, Merrymaking, and Milling. The Chaucer Review 53 (1): 3.  https://doi.org/10.5325/chaucerrev.53.1.0003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Patterson, Lee. 1991. Chaucer and the Subject of History. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  61. Pettitt, Thomas. 1984. ‘Here Comes I, Jack Straw:’ English Folk Drama and Social Revolt. Folklore 95 (1): 3–20.  https://doi.org/10.1080/0015587x.1984.9716292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. ———. 1996. ‘Folk Allegory’ in the Idiom of John Ball. In ‘Divers Toyes Mengled’: Essays on Medieval and Renaissance Culture = Etudes Sur La Culture Europienne Au Moyen Age Et a La Renaissance: En Hommage a Andre Lascombes, ed. Andre Lascombes and Michel Bitot, 55–68. Tours: Publication De L’universite Francois Rabelais.Google Scholar
  63. Phelan, Peggy. 2004. Unmarked: The Politics of Performance. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  64. Prescott, Andrew. 1981. London in the Peasants’ Revolt: A Portrait Gallery. The London Journal 7 (2): 125–143.  https://doi.org/10.1179/ldn.1981.7.2.125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Prescott, A. 1998. Writing About Rebellion: Using the Records of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. History Workshop Journal 1998 (45): 1–28.  https://doi.org/10.1093/hwj/1998.45.1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Prescott, Andrew. 2004. In Prophecy, Apocalypse and the Day of Doom, ed. Nigel Morgan, 321. Donington: Shaun Tyas.Google Scholar
  67. Pugh, Tison. 2000. ‘Falseness Reigns in Every Flock’: Literacy and Eschatological Discourse in the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. Quidditas: Journal of the Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association 21: 79–104.Google Scholar
  68. Rasmussen, Mark David. 2002. Renaissance Literature and Its Formal Engagements. New York: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Rees-Jones, Sara. 2001. Household, Work, and the Problem of Mobile Labour: The Regulation of Labour in Medieval English Towns. In The Problem of Labour in Fourteenth-century England, ed. J.S. Bothwell, P.J.P. Goldberg, and W.M. Ormrod, vol. 141. Woodbridge: York Medieval Press.Google Scholar
  70. Reville, Andre. 1898. Le Soulement Des Travailleurs D’Angleterre En 1381. Paris.Google Scholar
  71. Richmond, Colin. 1988. Hand and Mouth: Information Gathering and Use in England in the Later Middle Ages. Journal of Historical Sociology 1 (3): 233–252.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6443.1988.tb00124.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Robertson, Kellie. 2006. The Laborer’s Two Bodies Literary and Legal Productions in Britain, 1350–1500. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  73. Scanlon, Larry. 2003. Poets Laureate and the Language of Slaves: Petrarch, Chaucer and Langston Hughes. In Vulgar Tongue: Medieval and Postmedieval Vernacularity, 220–266. University Park: Penn State University Press.Google Scholar
  74. ———. 2004. Langland’s England—King, Commons and Kind Wit. In Imagining a Medieval English Nation, ed. Kathy Lavezzo, 191–233. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  75. Scattergood. 1968. Political Context, Date and Composition of “The Sayings of the Four Philosophers”. Medium Aevum 37 (2): 157.  https://doi.org/10.2307/43627427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Sobecki, Sebastian. 2017. Hares, Rabbits, Pheasants: Piers Plowman and William Longewille, a Norfolk Rebel in 1381. The Review of English Studies 69 (289): 216–236.  https://doi.org/10.1093/res/hgx130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Somerset, Fiona, and Nicholas Watson, eds. 2012. Vulgar Tongue: Medieval and Postmedieval Vernacularity. University Park: Penn State University Press.Google Scholar
  78. Spearing, A.C. 1997. A Ricardian ‘I’: The Narrator of Troilus and Criseyde. In Essays on Ricardian Literature in Honor Of, ed. J.A. Burrow, 1–22. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  79. Stock, Brian. 1983. The Implication of Literacy: Written Language and Models of Interpretation in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  80. Strohm, Paul. 2014. Hochon’s Arrow: The Social Imagination of Fourteenth-Century Texts. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  81. Taylor, John Andrew. 2002. Textual Situations: Three Medieval Manuscripts and Their Readers. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Thompson, Edward Maunde, ed. 1874. Chronicon Angliae. RS 64. London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  83. Tiffany, Daniel. 2005. Fugitive Lyric: The Rhymes of the Canting Crew. PMLA 120 (1): 82–96.  https://doi.org/10.1632/003081205x36877.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Turville-Petre, Thorlac. 2010. Political Lyrics. In A Companion to the Middle English Lyric, ed. Thomas Gibson Duncan, 171–188. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer.Google Scholar
  85. Wright, Thomas, and J.O. Halliwell-Phillipps. 1843. Reliquiae Antiquae. Scraps from Ancient Manuscripts, Illustrating Chiefly Early English Literature and the English Language. London: W. Pickering.Google Scholar
  86. Zeeman, Nicollette. 2007. Imaginative Theory. In Oxford Twenty-First Century Approaches to Literature: Middle English, ed. Paul Strohm, 222–240. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  87. Zink, Michel. 1984. Time and Representation of the Self in 13th Century French Poetry. Trans. Monique Briand Walker. Poetics Today, Medieval and Renaissance Representation: New Reflections 5 (3): 611–627.Google Scholar
  88. Zumthor, Paul. 1992. Towards a Medieval Poetics. Trans. Peter Bennett. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharine W. Jager
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Houston-DowntownHoustonUSA

Personalised recommendations