Medieval Studies Thomas Hoccleve
by
Andrew Galloway
  • LAST REVIEWED: 10 December 2014
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 August 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0037

Introduction

Of all the London and Westminster writers somehow personally associated with Chaucer (including John Gower, Henry Scogan, and John Clanvowe [see entries]), Thomas Hoccleve (b. c. 1367–d. 1426) claims the closest knowledge of Chaucer, claiming even some poetic instruction from him (which Hoccleve claims he was too “dul” fully to absorb: see Regiment of Princes, lines 2,077–2,079 in Blyth 1999, cited under Editions). Although Hoccleve was mostly overlooked in the Renaissance and often disparaged in the 19th and early 20th centuries, his works have found increasing appreciation. In part this is for the same reasons that led to his earlier disparagement, especially his confessional or desperate self-portraiture. Critics have focused on the conventional and social implications of his works, including their relation to the Lancastrian kings and princes from whom Hoccleve sought patronage, but critics have also examined his disarmingly vulnerable accounts of professional and personal struggles and failures. His portrayal of a long period of profound depression or madness in his late Series, and the social opprobrium that followed, are of unique interest. His major works include the popular Regiment of Princes, written in c. 1410–1411 (5,464 lines), and the Series (about 3,800 lines plus prose) written 1419–1421, announcing and demonstrating the author’s fitness to return to writing poetry. The latter, beginning with the confessional Complaint and Dialogue, is a loosely linked set of works surviving in only six copies, one made by Hoccleve himself. Hoccleve also wrote ballads, poems praising various patrons or would-be patrons and condemning Lollards, and devotional poems (such as a “Complaint of the Virgin” from Guillaume de Deguileville’s Pèlerinage de vie humaine, from which Chaucer also translated a section, the “ABC”). Hoccleve’s works include a translation of Christine de Pisan’s Letter of Cupid (1402), denouncing the abuses inflicted on women by men, and a description of his life as a slightly pathetic bon vivant in London: La Male Regle de Thomas Hoccleve (1405–1406). Despite or possibly because of the importance of his relationship to Chaucer, no poetry by Hoccleve survives from before Chaucer’s death in 1400.

Reference Works and Bibliographies

Thanks largely to the repeated studies of John Burrow, a number of guides now exist. Burrow 1994 is essential. Matthews 1972 remains useful, especially for its concision and for its summaries of the contents and sources of each of Hoccleve’s works. Bibliographies on Chaucer and Gower (as in The Essential Chaucer, the Chaucer Bibliography Online, and the Gower Bibliography) as well as on 15th-century poetry often contain information on Hoccleve. Mitchell 1968 presents a somewhat dated selection, mostly superseded by Matthews 1972 and Burrow 1994.

  • Allen, Mark, and J. H. Fisher, eds. The Essential Chaucer.

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    A “selective, annotated bibliography of Chaucer studies from 1900–1984,” valuable for its organization and annotation; includes Hoccleve studies under “Contemporary English Literary Relations.”

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    • Burrow, John A. Thomas Hoccleve. Authors of the Middle Ages 4: English Writers of the Late Middle Ages. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 1994.

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      Concise, authoritative guide to life and works, including summaries or excerpts from sixty-eight life records (mostly grants and payments from the Chancery and the Exchequer). The most authoritative bibliographical, biographical, and textual guide.

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      • Chaucer Bibliography Online.

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        Combines in a searchable form the annual annotated bibliographic entries in Studies in the Age of Chaucer from 1975 to the present (updated annually). Routinely includes entries on Hoccleve.

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        • Gower Bibliography. Designed and implemented by Mark Allen, Shashi Pinheiro, Emilio Cantu, Elaine Wong, and Nicole Provencher.

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          Online bibliography of materials from 1980 to the present (updated annually), with a growing number of entries pre-1980. Includes entries on Hoccleve, in which Gower is also mentioned.

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          • Matthews, William. “Thomas Hoccleve.” In A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050–1500. Vol. 3. Edited by Albert E. Hartung, 746–756. New Haven: Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1972.

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            See also pp. 903–908. Brief summary of life and works, including a critical bibliography, but only to 1968 (ending with Mitchell 1968). Chronologically arranged.

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            • Mitchell, Jerome. Thomas Hoccleve: A Study in Early Fifteenth-Century English Poetic. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1968.

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              Includes annotated bibliography (pp. 125–145); many works from before 1950.

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              Biography

              The most-important reassessments of Hoccleve’s life and the dates of his works are Burrow 1995 and Burrow 2004; for extensive excerpts and summaries of the life records, see Burrow 1994 (cited under Reference Works and Bibliographies). Tout 1929 presents an authoritative historian’s overview of the professional world Hoccleve inhabited; Brown 1971 provides further detail on this world.

              • Brown, A. L. “The Privy Seal Clerks in the Early Fifteenth Century.” In The Study of Medieval Records: Essays in Honour of Kathleen Major. Edited by Donald A. Bullough and Robert L. Storey, 260–281. Oxford: Clarendon, 1971.

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                Scrutiny of records pertaining to Hoccleve’s career shows, among other things, that he died in 1426 (not previously known). Includes incisive look at the office of the Privy Seal, which fostered literary and intellectual culture.

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                • Burrow, John A. “Thomas Hoccleve: Some Redatings.” Review of English Studies n.s. 46.183 (1995): 366–372.

                  DOI: 10.1093/res/XLVI.183.366Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                  Adroit demonstration (elaborating Burrow 1994, cited under Reference Works and Bibliographies, pp. 26–29) that Hoccleve began writing the Series in November or December 1419, and that a stanza evidently written in 1421 was a stray postscript. Reveals new dates for many events in Hoccleve’s life, including his birth (calculated now to 1367), his mental breakdown and sudden recovery (now datable to 1414 instead of 1416), and the date that he wrote the Dialogue (now 1420).

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                  • Burrow, John A. “Hoccleve, Thomas (c. 1367–1426).” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 27. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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                    Terse, expert summary by the major expert on Hoccleve. Available online by subscription.

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                    • Tout, T. F. “Literature and Learning in the English Civil Service in the Fourteenth Century.” Speculum 4.4 (1929): 365–389.

                      DOI: 10.2307/2847070Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      Key essay for establishing the context of medieval administrative service as the setting for much medieval literary production. Situates Hoccleve and Chaucer in a tradition of professional service for the state through the 14th century: shows the need to bridge administrative and ecclesiastical history in order to track the history of such careers, which involve church officials in the first part of the century and then shift to an increasingly learned laity.

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                      Editions

                      Editors of Hoccleve have an unusual advantage over editors of most other medieval poets, who must struggle to reconstruct original texts from masses of scribal alteration, in that several of Hoccleve’s poems survive in copies that he made himself. However, not all of his poems survive in his own hand, and, because Hoccleve was not initially considered an author of sufficient significance to generate a carefully edited “collected works,” editions of his works present different editorial theories and different levels of quality. No single modern volume presents the best edition of all his surviving works. Furnivall and Gollancz 1970 and Furnivall 1897 present the first modern edition of the complete works, in two volumes (originally three), but only portions of that edition remain currently authoritative. Burrow 1999 replaces part of Furnivall and Gollancz 1970, presenting again the first two long parts of the Series, known as the Complaint and Dialogue, a large opening section that no longer survives in Hoccleve’s own hand but that can be used to emend the scribal copies of that portion. The rest of the Series is available in Hoccleve’s own copy, for which Furnivall and Gollancz 1970 presents an accurate edition (pp. 140–242), as the authors do for a set of short poems from another autograph manuscript (pp. 271–312). No portions of the Regiment survive from Hoccleve’s own hand; thus, although Furnivall 1897 presents the Regiment of Princes, it leaves intact serious scribal errors (further confused by the editor’s misunderstandings). The best edition of the Regiment is Blyth 1999, which applies the same principles as Burrow 1999 to emend the text by using Hoccleve’s ascertainable meter and language in copies of texts he wrote to emend works that survive only in copies by scribes. For student use, well-annotated and carefully edited selections appear in Seymour 1981 and, fuller and more up to date, in Ellis 2001. A facsimile of the three late copies that Hoccleve made of his own works is also available in Burrow and Doyle 2002. Some other works may be those of Hoccleve; he is clearly the author of a plangent “Complaint of the Virgin” (Ellis 2001, pp. 53–63), elaborating a passage from the French Pèlerinage de vie humaine and found within Hoccleve’s autograph manuscripts but also found within a prose English translation of the Pèlerinage, along with a number of other English poetic translations of parts of that work. The other poems in which parts of the Pèlerinage are translated (available in Furnivall 1897, pp. xxiii–lxii) are likely not those of Hoccleve (if nothing else they ignore final “e” in rhymes, as he does not: see Burrow 1994, p. 24 [cited under Reference Works and Bibliographies]), but it is possible that the prose translation is by Hoccleve, made—like the “Complaint of the Virgin”—for Joan, Countess of Hereford, the mother of Henry IV’s wife, Mary Bohun. The full text of that prose translation is edited only in an unpublished dissertation by Merrel D. Clubb Jr., “The Middle English Pilgrimage of the Soul, from MS Eg 615,” PhD diss., University of Michigan, 1953.

                      • Blyth, Charles R., ed. Thomas Hoccleve: The Regiment of Princes. Kalamazoo: Western Michigan University Press, 1999.

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                        Excellent, well-annotated edition of Hoccleve’s longest unified poem, offering “advice to princes” prefaced by a long “prologue” in which the author discusses with an old man how he should prove his recovery from madness and his personal knowledge of Chaucer. Text based on the theories in Greetham 1985 and Greetham 1987 (cited under Textual and Metrical Scholarship) that reconstruct authorial spellings as well as substantive readings, guided by metrical considerations of Blyth 1996 and Jefferson 1987 (cited under Textual and Metrical Scholarship).

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                        • Burrow, J. A., ed. Thomas Hoccleve’s Complaint and Dialogue. Early English Text Society 313. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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                          Authoritative commentary on an edition of the portions of Hoccleve’s Series not surviving in Hoccleve’s own handwriting, with full discussion of the metrical, linguistic, codicological, and stemmatic editorial issues relevant to reconstruct the verses to follow Hoccleve’s typical usage. Supplements and updates Furnivall and Gollancz 1970 and provides the most careful edition of any portion of Hoccleve’s poetry, with importance for all study of his works.

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                          • Burrow, J. A., and A. I. Doyle. Thomas Hoccleve: A Facsimile of the Autograph Verse Manuscripts. Early English Text Society 19. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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                            Large, high-resolution facsimile of all the surviving copies of Hoccleve’s poetry that the poet wrote with his own hand: Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino (California), MSS HM 111 and HM 744; and University Library, Durham (England), MS Cosin V. III. 9. The important introduction surveys book construction, Hoccleve’s handwriting, the glosses and signs of later ownership, and the historical connections among the three copies.

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                            • Ellis, Roger, ed. Thomas Hoccleve: ‘My Compleinte’ and Other Poems. Exeter, UK: University of Exeter Press, 2001.

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                              Excerpts from a range of Hoccleve’s poetry, with useful introductions to each work and up-to-date bibliography and critical discussion. Excellent means to sample Hoccleve’s poetry.

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                              • Furnivall, Frederick J., ed. Hoccleve’s Works: Part III: The Regement of Princes . . . and Fourteen of Hoccleve’s Minor Poems. Early English Text Society 72. London: Kegan Paul, 1897.

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                                Generally careful transcription of one copy of the Regiment, with sparing comparison to three other copies of that work (from the forty-three copies surviving). Some errors in punctuation; otherwise useful for presenting directly one copy of the poem; however, for most purposes replaced by Blyth 1999. Includes pp. xxiii–lxii, poetic translations from a translation of the Pèlerinage de vie humaine, but these are probably not Hoccleve’s.

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                                • Furnivall, Frederick J., and I. Gollancz, eds. Revised by Jerome Mitchell and A. I. Doyle. Hoccleve’s Works: Parts I and II; The Minor Poems. Early English Text Society 61, 73. London: Oxford University Press, 1970.

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                                  As revised by Mitchell and Doyle, presents clear and useful version of Hoccleve’s Series and his minor poems, most of which remain in copies written by Hoccleve and are directly transcribed here. However, the first part of the Series, the Complaint and Dialogue, are lost from Hoccleve’s personal copy, so for that portion of the volume here (pp. 95–140), Burrow 1999 presents a more carefully edited replacement.

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                                  • Seymour, M. C., ed. Selections from Hoccleve. Oxford: Clarendon, 1981.

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                                    Reedited and well-chosen excerpts, with brief, helpful introduction for a general orientation to Hoccleve.

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                                    Textual and Metrical Scholarship

                                    No copies of The Regiment of Princes, Thomas Hoccleve’s most popular poem, survive from Hoccleve’s own hand, but copies exist that were probably supervised by him. Most of his other works do survive in autograph copies. These offer a special wealth of data for editing his poetry and for insight into Middle English poetic production generally. Seymour 1974 surveys most of the known manuscripts of the Regiment. However, additions and corrections to Seymour 1974 are necessary (as noted in Perkins 2001, pp. 151–191), which also discusses the range of forms in which later scribes and readers approached that work. Burrow and Doyle 2002 (cited under Editions) offers a much more detailed assessment of his three surviving autograph manuscripts. The autograph manuscripts help assess the care taken by Hoccleve in his choice of words and meter, a crucial topic for editing. Schulz 1937 stresses that Hoccleve made the same kinds of careless errors as any scribe when copying his own works, and Bowers 1989 reopens and emphasizes this claim. But Jefferson 1987 has shown that Hoccleve’s meter is so regular that this alone can be used as a crucial check on all textual decisions. Others have generated word forms that Hoccleve likely used. Greetham 1987, Blyth 1996, and Burrow 1999 (the latter cited under Editions) all marshal evidence to argue for (and Blyth and Burrow, to apply) the theory that Hoccleve’s known copies provide the principles for correcting copies of his poems for which we do not have copies from his own hand. As a professional scribe, Hoccleve is also notable in producing the works of other English poets. Doyle and Parkes 1978 shows definitively that Hoccleve contributed to a collaborative copy of Gower’s Confessio Amantis, and it provides a basis for all further consideration of the ad hoc arrangements of English bookmaking even into the early 15th century. Hoccleve likely knew the exemplar of the famous Ellesmere copy of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales as well (Perkins 2001, pp. 158–159).

                                    • Blyth, Charles R. “Editing The Regiment of Princes.” In Essays on Thomas Hoccleve. Essays from a conference held March 2004 at the Centre of English Studies, University of London. Edited by Catherine Batt, 11–28. Westfield Publications in Medieval Studies 10. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 1996.

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                                      Outlines the plan for Blyth 1999 (cited under Editions), synthesizing the plans outlined in Greetham 1985 and Greetham 1987 with other reasons for adopting a system of reconstructing the author’s spelling, mainly for metrical reasons as described in Jefferson 1987. Also assesses the flaws of the only previous edition, due to that editor’s overreliance on the existing copies rather than on critical editing. Generally incorporated into Blyth 1999 (cited under Editions).

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                                      • Bowers, John M. “Hoccleve’s Two Copies of ‘Lerne to Dye’: Implications for Textual Critics.” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 83.4 (1989): 437–458.

                                        DOI: 10.1086/pbsa.83.4.24303116Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        Using Schulz 1937 as a starting point, Bowers argues that Hoccleve could change the minor readings of his own poetry at almost any point, as any scribe might. Sampling authorial variations and textual stemmata, he argues that “final intention” cannot be a goal in editing Hoccleve, or any poet whose changes constitute less than a major revision (such as Gower or Langland). However, Burrow 1999 (cited under Editions) rejects this as exaggerated.

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                                        • Doyle, A. I., and M. B. Parkes. “The Production of Copies of the Canterbury Tales and the Confessio Amantis in the Early Fifteenth Century.” In Medieval Scribes, Manuscripts and Libraries: Essay Presented to N. R. Ker. Edited by Malcolm B. Parkes and Andrew G. Watson, 163–210. London: Scolar Press, 1978.

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                                          Classic essay defining the ad hoc mode of scribal production of an early-15th-century Gower manuscript in relation to other copies of Gower’s and Chaucer’s works, showing how a group of scribes included Thomas Hoccleve, who copied a portion of Gower describing the fall of Troy. The indications of how the labor was informally arranged and shared suggest work that was not made on speculation, as in a bookshop, but for bespoken copies.

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                                          • Greetham, D. C. “Normalisation of Accidentals in Middle English Texts: The Paradox of Thomas Hoccleve.” Studies in Bibliography 38 (1985): 121–150.

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                                            The technical basis for the editing views in Greetham 1987 and Blyth 1996, and ultimately Blyth 1999 (cited under Editions). Because no manuscript of the Regiment is directly from Hoccleve’s hand but many other poems are, his “norms” of spelling can be ascertained and inserted into the copy text, along with substantive textual emendations. Defines the computer programs used to verify the statistical frequency of elements of Hoccleve’s spelling.

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                                            • Greetham, D. C. “Challenges of Theory and Practice in the Editing of Hoccleve’s Regement of Princes.” In Manuscripts and Texts: Editorial Problems in Later Middle English Literature. Edited by Derek Pearsall, 60–86. Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 1987.

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                                              Fundamental essay for Blyth 1999 (cited under Editions), describing the plan to edit Hoccleve’s Regiment by reconstructing the best readings from a range of manuscripts and, more innovatively, reconstructing authorial spelling based on holographs of other poems. Includes an important genealogy for forty-two copies of the Regiment, proving the importance of British Library MS Arundel 38 and Harley 4866.

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                                              • Jefferson, Judith A. “The Hoccleve Holographs and Hoccleve’s Metrical Practice.” In Manuscripts and Texts: Editorial Problems in Later Middle English Literature. Edited by Derek Pearsall, 95–109. Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 1987.

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                                                Demonstration that Hoccleve aimed for ten syllables rather than four stresses in his poetic lines, with a consistency of syllable count that outweighs even clear iambic stresses. The results are so clear that they can be used for many further important issues, such as determining authorship or even speculating about Chaucer’s comments to Hoccleve.

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                                                • Perkins, Nicholas. Hoccleve’s Regiment of Princes: Counsel and Constraint. Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 2001.

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                                                  Full and valuable wide-ranging discussion of the Regiment, including a comprehensive discussion of the manuscripts of that work (pp. 151–191), correcting and supplementing Seymour 1974 as well as showing the kinds of reading programs indicated in the scribal assemblages of the copies.

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                                                  • Schulz, Herbert C. “Thomas Hoccleve, Scribe.” Speculum 12.1 (1937): 71–81.

                                                    DOI: 10.2307/2848662Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    Comments on features of Hoccleve’s copying and professional life: stresses the scribal (rather than authorial) nature of Hoccleve’s errors in and changes to his own works; pursues the date of his death, using topical allusions.

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                                                    • Seymour, M. C. “The Manuscripts of Hoccleve’s Regiment of Princes.” Transactions of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society 4.7 (1974): 255–297.

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                                                      Descriptive catalogue of the manuscripts of Hoccleve’s most popular poem; to be supplemented by A. S. G. Edwards, “Hoccleve’s Regiment of Princes: A Further Manuscript,” Transactions of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society 5.1 (1978): 32, and to be used with caution. Use with Perkins 2001.

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                                                      Illustrations in Hoccleve Manuscripts

                                                      Medieval copies of Hoccleve’s Regiment of Princes have two pictures of special interest. Both appear intact in two copies, BL MS Harley 4866 and BL MS Royal 17 D VI, and one of the pictures is also preserved in a further copy, BL MS Arundel 38. None of these copies were made by Hoccleve, but both were evidently intended by the poet to accompany his work (similar pictures were apparently cut out from other early copies: see Pearsall 1992, pp. 285–305; Perkins 2001, pp. 155–159). The first, most discussed picture is that of Chaucer, whose portrait is made part of Hoccleve’s poem: “heere his liknesse” (line 4995). Its “realistic” portrayal of Chaucer in the two copies in which it survives is evident by its similarity to other early portraits of Chaucer, and Carlson 1991 notes that such realism serves Hoccleve’s own purposes of authorizing his writing among patrons who also favored Chaucer. Because it is placed in a discussion condemning heretical iconoclasm, the Chaucer portrait also may serve to emphasize the religious orthodoxy of the intended recipient of the poem, Prince Henry (later Henry V), as Pearsall 1994 argues. To some it looks like a funerary bust, which was its likely model; McGregor 1977 notes that, like a saint’s image, it is explicitly meant to serve as a prompt for memory and inspiration, not adoration in itself. The other picture of interest in three copies of the Regiment displays a kneeling figure presenting the poem to Prince Henry. This figure may be intended, in both copies, to be Hoccleve, though that conclusion remains somewhat unsettled; one copy with the picture was made for the Earl of Mowbray (as Harris 1984 showed), and it may be the earl who is offering the book of advice to the prince (as Erler 2003 theorizes, building on the work of Kathleen Scott). But Perkins 2001 notes that Mowbray was very young, whereas the figure is older; Wright 1992 (pp. 199–200) notes a similarity to other images of Hoccleve. Those images are in the remarkable Bedford Psalter Hours, which was made for Prince Henry’s younger brother (see Wright 1992), and in which Hoccleve is portrayed along with a number of writers deemed supporters of the House of Lancaster.

                                                      • Carlson, David. “Thomas Hoccleve and the Chaucer Portrait.” Huntington Library Quarterly 54.4 (1991): 283–300.

                                                        DOI: 10.2307/3817852Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        Emphasizes Hoccleve’s motives for making the portrait of Chaucer lifelike: this would support his legitimacy in seeking the king’s patronage, which he directly describes in the Series. The portrait’s realism is, therefore, both reliable in detail and part of an agenda.

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                                                        • Erler, Mary. “Hoccleve’s Portrait? In British Library Manuscript Arundel 38.” In Special Issue: Tant d’Emprises—So Many Undertakings: Essays in Honour of Anne F. Sutton. Edited by Livia Visser-Fuchs. The Ricardian: Journal of the Richard III Society 13 (2003): 221–228.

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                                                          Provides support for the view (from Kathleen Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, 1390–1490, Vol. 2 [London: Harvey Miller, 1996], p. 158) that the figure presenting a book to Prince Henry in Arundel 38 is not Hoccleve but John Mowbray. The fathers of Mowbray and Henry had famously quarreled, and the Mowbrays initially contested Henry IV’s legitimacy, but the sons reconciled. The book of Hoccleve’s poetry could be a gift celebrating their harmony.

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                                                          • Harris, Kate. “The Patron of British Library MS Arundel 38.” Notes and Queries 31 (1984): 462–463.

                                                            DOI: 10.1093/nq/31-4-462Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            Shows that the armorial bearings on this important manuscript indicate that it was made for John Mowbray (Earl Marshall), second Duke of Norfolk.

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                                                            • McGregor, James H. “The Iconography of Chaucer in Hoccleve’s De Regimine Principum and in the Troilus Frontispiece.” The Chaucer Review 11.4 (1977): 338–350.

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                                                              Describes the “funerary” style of the Chaucer portrait and notes its intended use for memory and inspiration, as the context both of the praise of Chaucer’s rhetoric and of the mention of saints’ images suggests.

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                                                              • Pearsall, Derek. The Life of Geoffrey Chaucer: A Critical Biography. Oxford: Blackwell, 1992.

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                                                                Appendix on “The Chaucer Portraits” (pp. 285–305), in which Hoccleve’s “audacious” use of a portrait of Chaucer in his Regiment is discussed and its relation to other portraits of Chaucer and other copies of Hoccleve’s work is described.

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                                                                • Pearsall, Derek. “Hoccleve’s Regement of Princes: The Poetics of Royal Self-Representation.” Speculum 69.2 (1994): 386–410.

                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/2865088Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  Amid discussion of the likelihood of Prince Henry’s having commissioned, or at least encouraged, Hoccleve’s making of the Regiment in 1410–1411, argues that the Chaucer portrait was specifically a blow against the iconoclast heresy of the Lollards and was intended to support Prince Henry’s particular efforts in this period to represent himself as impeccably orthodox.

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                                                                  • Perkins, Nicholas. Hoccleve’s Regiment of Princes: Counsel and Constraint. Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 2001.

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                                                                    Full discussion of the Regiment, with various comments on the pictures. Argues (pp. 116–121) that the presentation portrait in Arundel MS 38 depicts Hoccleve (not Mowbray), and that the Chaucer portrait depicts an ideal “advisor,” just as Hoccleve would present himself. Proposes connections to portraits of Genius in manuscripts of John Gower’s Confessio Amantis (pp. 120–121), and to the Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (pp. 158–159).

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                                                                    • Wright, Sylvia. “The Author Portraits in the Bedford Psalter-Hours: Gower, Chaucer and Hoccleve.” British Library Journal 18.2 (1992): 190–201.

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                                                                      Identifies the faces portrayed in British Museum MS Add. 42131 (Psalter-Hours for the Duke of Bedford, Henry V’s brother) as English writers associated with the Lancastrian regime, including Chaucer, Gower, and Hoccleve. Two depictions of Chaucer are by the artist of Arundel MS 38, Hoccleve’s Regiment. The portraits of Hoccleve in the Bedford Psalter-Hours resemble the kneeling figure in Arundel 38, a “recognizable triangular facial type” (p. 199).

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                                                                      Critical Studies

                                                                      Criticism of Hoccleve up to the 1980s was, necessarily, defensive, such as the protection of the poet against “the common response, which seems to have in it something of the herd’s reaction to a wounded animal” in Burrow 1984 (p. 270; see under The Series (Complaint; Dialogue with a Friend; Learn to Die; etc.)). The field has matured, thanks in no small part to Burrow’s own resourceful defenses of Hoccleve’s poetic complexity, to the point that defenses are no longer so necessary. A wide range of ways have emerged for exploring Hoccleve’s achievements, ranging from assessing the relationship of his works to Chaucer to issues of his political partisanship to various thematic elements of his context (from royalist ideology to gender to monetary history) and to poetics more structurally and formally considered. The following include General and Thematic Studies, which includes a range of studies encompassing all or several of Hoccleve’s works, and Criticism of Particular Works, which includes studies, from small to major, focusing mainly on one work.

                                                                      General and Thematic Studies

                                                                      Both small and large studies display some of the range of approaches taken in discussions of Hoccleve’s works. Framing these, Mitchell 1968 and Knapp 2001 present general overviews of his works and context—Mitchell 1968 is organized by genre, source, and theme; Knapp 2001, by career context and literary biography. Burrow 1982 defines the most important turning point toward serious cultural and poetic study of Hoccleve’s self-portrayals as an original and deeply complex writer. Other works stress more thematically focused studies that encompass more than one of Hoccleve’s works: from traditional intellectual or cultural history (Medcalf 1981) to his political fortunes (Bowers 2002) to thematic study of his frequent attention to money (Meyer-Lee 2001) to gender studies (Davis 2007; Knapp 2001, pp. 45–75) to culturally inflected literary history (Lawton 1987). In all these treatments, cultural and political contextualizing has often prevailed over literary contextualizing. In large part this is because Hoccleve so clearly follows his “maister dere” Chaucer, and also because critics find him responding less to “convention” (in the terms of Mitchell 1968) than to the volatile cultural, psychological, and political settings in which he found himself. As Burrow 1982 emphasizes, the opposition between “convention” and “lived experience” is a false one; the two categories are never separate in life or poetry. Yet, the emphasis on nonliterary contemporary contexts has tended to direct attention away from Hoccleve’s responses to literary models and traditions. Those models may extend beyond Chaucer to poets such as John Gower, whose works Hoccleve is known to have helped copy, or satirists, such as William Langland, or perhaps writers, such as Thomas Usk. Although such literary affiliations have rarely been extensively explored, in general, Hoccleve’s responses to previous writers and styles are more often discussed in the focused studies presented in Criticism of Particular Works.

                                                                      • Bowers, John. “Thomas Hoccleve and the Politics of Tradition.” The Chaucer Review 36.4 (2002): 352–369.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1353/cr.2002.0007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        Valuable summary of Hoccleve’s political fortunes, assessing why he failed to maintain the role of “favored poet” for the royal court after Chaucer’s death had left a “poet vacuum.” Focuses on the problem of having a mentally unstable poet represent the court during a period of political instability, and on Hoccleve’s attention to Prince Henry (in the Regiment) during the period when the prince was at odds with his father.

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                                                                        • Burrow, John A. “Autobiographical Poetry in the Middle Ages: The Case of Thomas Hoccleve.” Proceedings of the British Academy 68 (1982): 389–412.

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                                                                          Seminal study of Hoccleve’s self-portrayals, and the ability of “this remarkable, though uneven, writer” to capture such diversity of self-portrayals. Argues against opposing “conventional” to “autobiographical” categories, because lived identity uses both; aligns Hoccleve’s confessional, conspiratorial, and petitionary poses with his bureaucratic contexts. Here, Hoccleve is shown worth exploring in terms both of cultural identity and of poetics emerging in medieval criticism in the 1980s.

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                                                                          • Davis, Isabel. Writing Masculinity in the Later Middle Ages. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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                                                                            Shows how the idea of labor in late-medieval literature and culture was defined by masculine identity. In the Regiment, Male Regle, and Series Hoccleve sustains a clerically originating, misogamist tradition while fusing that to secular contexts and literary labors. He views the body as contamination and disorder, pursues male bonding in the office of the Privy Seal and the taverns, and sees marriage as his downfall.

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                                                                            • Knapp, Ethan. The Bureaucratic Muse: Thomas Hoccleve and the Literature of Late Medieval England. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001.

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                                                                              Detailed contextual study tracing Hoccleve’s works through a series of thematic issues, all pointing to the paradoxes of the bureaucratic culture Hoccleve inhabited, the underside of court culture. Links lay clerical culture to gender tensions in Cupid, royal propaganda to self-portraiture in Regiment, and ambivalence in Hoccleve’s presentation of “father” Chaucer to Prince Henry’s uneasy relationship with King Henry IV. The first comprehensive monograph on Hoccleve since Mitchell 1968.

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                                                                              • Lawton, David. “Dullness and the Fifteenth Century.” English Literary History 54.4 (1987): 761–799.

                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/2873098Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                Influential study of the strategic uses of a posture of dullness employed by 15th-century poets, especially Hoccleve: for these poets, this posture denied any elevated “literary” status and allowed their poetry to function in a more socially and politically applied way, establishing a kind of “public sphere” of social discourse in the 15th century.

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                                                                                • Medcalf, Stephen. “Inner and Outer.” In The Later Middle Ages. Edited by Stephen Medcalf, 108–171. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1981.

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                                                                                  Synthetic and suggestive essay surveying the intellectual and cultural bases for “interior” and “exterior” ideas of late-medieval identity. Focuses on Hoccleve on pp. 123–140, especially his mental breakdown and confessional style. Argues that Hoccleve was realistic in the description of his breakdown (the Series) and dissolute life (the Male Regle), but also that late-medieval views of inner and outer identity were less separable than later.

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                                                                                  • Meyer-Lee, Robert J. “Hoccleve and the Apprehension of Money.” Exemplaria 13.1 (2001): 173–214.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.1179/104125701790499272Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    Situates Hoccleve’s anxieties both about the value of money and about the authenticity of language in a setting of rapidly devalued currency. Many passing observations showing how subtly these issues emerge into, and drive, La Male Regle and the dialogue of the Regiment of Princes especially, as well as parts of the Series.

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                                                                                    • Mitchell, Jerome. Thomas Hoccleve: A Study in Early Fifteenth-Century English Poetic. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1968.

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                                                                                      Discusses each of Hoccleve’s works around generic issues, framed by the relationship between “convention” and “realism.” Tends to find Hoccleve driven by “convention,” even in specific claims he makes about his life. Still useful, though should be supplemented by more-recent discussions, editions, and biographical information (e.g., dates Hoccleve’s death at c. 1430, whereas Brown 1971, p. 270 [see under Biography] shows he died in 1426).

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                                                                                      Criticism of Particular Works

                                                                                      Like the criticism of many poets considered minor, criticism of Hoccleve’s poetry has begun with broad discussions and general studies. But as Hoccleve’s works have been the subject of better editions and closer scrutiny, and as the range and divisions of his oeuvre have become clearer, the distinctive features of particular works and their place in Hoccleve’s circumstances and development serve as the occasion for important criticism—even as the leading edge of a burgeoning interest in a writer who is no longer subject to judgments that long relegated him to “minor” status. Discussions are grouped under Short Poems, Regiment of Princes, and The Series (Complaint; Dialogue with a Friend; Learn to Die; etc.).

                                                                                      Short Poems

                                                                                      Recent work on Hoccleve’s short, separate poems well displays the increasing vitality and diversity of interest in his writings. Some examples of recent work on these small poems are particularly important in the breadth of scope applied to them, often including reconsiderations of the general history of Hoccleve criticism and his work as a whole; for example, on the Letter to Cupid (Ellis 1996), on the Male Regle (Perkins 2007), on the Complaint of the Virgin (Bryan 2002), and on The Remonstrance against Oldcastle (Johnston 2001).

                                                                                      • Bryan, Jennifer E. “Hoccleve, the Virgin, and the Politics of Complaint.” PMLA 117.5 (2002): 1172–1187.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1632/003081202X60260Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Approaches Hoccleve’s style of personal complaint as a cultural economy of making the personal into public property: uses his translation of the Complaint of the Virgin (from Guillaume de Deguileville) to illustrate the pattern more often noted in the original poetry, such as the Series.

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                                                                                        • Ellis, Roger. “Chaucer, Christine de Pizan, and Hoccleve: The Letter of Cupid.” In Essays on Thomas Hoccleve. Essays from a conference held March 2004 at the Centre of English Studies, University of London. Edited by Catherine Batt, 29–54. Westfield Publications in Medieval Studies 10. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 1996.

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                                                                                          Careful overview of the critical controversy about the degree to which Hoccleve’s translation upholds, or undermines, Christine de Pizan’s intentions, with careful reassessment of the indications in “tone.” Provides a passing but precise discussion of sources, including the crucial but more general influence of Chaucer on Hoccleve’s subtle revoicing of Christine’s poem, parts of which come out sounding multitonal.

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                                                                                          • Johnston, Andrew James. Clerks and Courtiers: Chaucer, Late Middle English Literature, and the State Formation Process. Heidelberg, Germany: C. Winter Universitätsverlag, 2001.

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                                                                                            Marxist-inflected analysis of the interests revealed in the poetry produced in the late-14th-century civil service, during the establishment of the administrative nation-state. Hoccleve’s Remonstrance against Oldcastle (c. 1414) (pp. 272–358), denouncing the Lollards who had appropriated English for their religious reforms, is an example of the effort by the administrative clerical world to enlist the king in supporting the administrative intelligentsia and their own appropriation of English.

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                                                                                            • Perkins, Nicholas. “Thomas Hoccleve, La Male Regle.” In A Companion to Medieval English Literature and Culture c. 1350–c. 1500. Edited by Peter Brown, 585–603. Oxford: Blackwell, 2007.

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                                                                                              Revisits views about how traditional models of self-presentation interact with the vitality of “colloquial” and vernacular speech and life; includes useful and up-to-date bibliography on a range of current critical topics concerning Hoccleve.

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                                                                                              Regiment of Princes

                                                                                              Thomas Hoccleve’s most popular work in its time, an advice poem for Prince Henry, is now often probed for the question of its propagandistic purposes. The debate has become increasingly subtle in assumptions and results, but some clear “positions” are visible, and these guide most of the studies on the work. Pearsall 1994 argues, in providing the most historical detail, the “propagandistic” (or “politically conservative”) position. Others see a more dissident or subversive Hoccleve in the Regiment; see Hasler 1990, Simpson 1995, and Perkins 2001. Still others see a Hoccleve who is subservient or “conservative” as an apologist for the Lancastrian regime, yet who also, willy nilly, exposes the paradoxes of Lancastrian authority (see Scanlon 1990 and Strohm 1998). Interestingly, none of these positions limits the richness of the arguments that develop from them—evidence that, whatever the political valence of Hoccleve’s poem, its force is greater than mere propaganda or dissent. Source study enters into some of these discussions; Aster 1888 is an early but still-useful guide. Here too, the details of usage and change are more complex than direct identifications. Another key issue is the nature of Hoccleve’s confessional mode of self-display. Little 2006 focuses on this issue in the Regiment, and so it is cited here; other critics take up that question in other works, and so their works are cited elsewhere (see especially Burrow 1982, cited under General and Thematic Studies).

                                                                                              • Aster, Friedrich. Das Verhältniss des altenglischen Gedichtes “De regimine principum” von Thomas Hoccleve zu seinen Quellen . . . . Leipzig: Oscar Peters, 1888.

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                                                                                                Considers the three main sources of the Regiment in succession, section by section. Useful parallel presentation, but for a more-detailed discussion, see Perkins 2001, pp. 85–125.

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                                                                                                • Hasler, Antony J. “Hoccleve’s Unregimented Body.” Paragraph 13 (1990): 164–183.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.3366/para.1990.0013Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  A rare Lacanian-inflected description of the process of subject formation that Hoccleve undergoes in fashioning the authority to offer an advice poem to Prince Henry. Stresses the unruly bodily and psychic energies that Hoccleve’s long prologue of the Regiment shows he must discipline to enter “the symbolic” world of language and representation. That achievement is indicated by the announcement of his status as a follower of Chaucer.

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                                                                                                  • Little, Katherine. Confession and Resistance: Defining the Self in Late Medieval England. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                    Short but wide-ranging study of how versions of confession in Chaucer and in his contemporary and succeeding literary associates define forms of selfhood and vice versa. Chapter 4 includes Hoccleve’s different approaches to the power and psychic structures of confession: Hoccleve’s mode of confession in the Regiment hollows out its ability to guide the penitent; thus, it ends up (in spite of adamant criticism of Lollards) “mirroring” Wycliffite views of confession.

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                                                                                                    • Pearsall, Derek. “Hoccleve’s Regement of Princes: The Poetics of Royal Self-Representation.” Speculum 69.2 (1994): 386–410.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/2865088Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Argues Hoccleve’s poem fulfills Prince Henry’s ideal self-image in 1410–1411, when the Regiment was written: a time of stresses between the prince and Henry IV, between Lancastrians and those who upheld the memory of the deposed Richard II, and between Lollards and the orthodox Christians. The close fit of Hoccleve’s poem to these needs suggests that the prince commissioned the poem, although Hoccleve presents it as a spontaneous bid for favor.

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                                                                                                      • Perkins, Nicholas. Hoccleve’s Regiment of Princes: Counsel and Constraint. Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 2001.

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                                                                                                        Closely focused on the Regiment but learnedly wide ranging in pursuit of that work’s range of poetic effects, complex cultural and political posture, and use of sources, plus the history of readers’ remakings and responses, in a careful survey of manuscripts. The carefully detailed approach builds toward the view that the work is not only political propaganda but also a provocative critique of the Lancastrian regime.

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                                                                                                        • Scanlon, Larry. “The King’s Two Voices: Narrative and Power in Hoccleve’s Regement of Princes.” In Literary Practice and Social Change in Britain, 1380–1530. Edited by Lee Patterson, 216–247. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                          Adroit description of how the Regiment critiques but also supports royal ideology. The personalized “counsel” to Henry in the Regiment is exemplary of the role of subjects who let a king be silently powerful while bespeaking his interests. Hoccleve’s exemplum of the deadly Phalarean Bull epitomizes this royal appropriation of subjects’ voices. Reappears in Narrative, Authority, and Power: The Medieval Exemplum and the Chaucerian Tradition (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 299–322.

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                                                                                                          • Simpson, James. “Nobody’s Man: Thomas Hoccleve’s Regement of Princes.” In London and Europe in the Later Middle Ages. Edited by Julia Boffey and Pamela King, 149–180. Westfield Publications in Medieval Studies 9. London: Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Queen Mary and Westfield College, 1995.

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                                                                                                            Argues that Hoccleve’s presentation of his circumstance shows him alienated both from patronage and from the ethical traditions that he tries to appropriate, especially Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy. His unraveling of any comforting ties results, in part, from his “extraordinary” sensitivity to “the conditions of discursive exchange” (p. 158).

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                                                                                                            • Strohm, Paul. England’s Empty Throne: Usurpation and the Language of Legitimation, 1399–1422. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                              Amid a culturally inflected Lacanian view of the creation of Lancastrian ideology out of a vacuum, considers Hoccleve’s contributions as efforts to uphold the Lancastrian claims, yet unconsciously displays their emptiness, epitomized by the empty chest of the father in the tale of John of Canace in the Regiment (pp. 208–214).

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                                                                                                              The Series (Complaint; Dialogue with a Friend; Learn to Die; etc.)

                                                                                                              John Burrow has shaped much of the critical work on the Series in the late 20th and early 21st centuries (Burrow 1984). It is no surprise that a scholar who edited parts of Thomas Hoccleve’s Series (Burrow 1999, cited under Editions) and presented facsimiles of its autograph manuscripts (Burrow and Doyle 2002, cited under Editions) has also produced the most important critical work on it. What is more surprising is that so few other critics have focused on the Series, Hoccleve’s “boldest and most interesting” poem (Burrow 1984, p. 259). Other discussions of importance appear in the studies grouped under General and Thematic Studies, especially Knapp 2001.(cited under General and Thematic Studies). But, in general, more works, and by many more critics, have appeared on the Regiment than the Series, whose originality, difficulty, and sprawling formal condition of various small poems have proven challenging to assess. The reading of the Series in Burrow 1984 governs most responses, including the author’s own later elaborations. He sees it chiefly as Hoccleve’s effort at social and literary redemption. Greetham 1989 follows this line astutely. Nolcken 1993, however, opens a different perspective, based on medieval concerns with making a good death, which the health and age of Hoccleve led him to consider within a few years. Source study has been fruitful, as Rigg 1970, Burrow 1998, and Kurtz 1925 all show. Such proof of Hoccleve’s very close use of texts further supports the claim in Burrow 1984 that the Series is particularly concerned to show Hoccleve as a reader as well as a writer, and as highly conscious of the nature of social meaning and judgment in the uses and making of books. Burrow 1988 takes up directly that topic of Hoccleve’s self-conscious bookishness as a product of his cultural moment.

                                                                                                              • Burrow, John A. “Hoccleve’s Series: Experience and Books.” In Fifteenth-Century Studies: Recent Essays. Edited by Robert F. Yeager, 259–273. Hamden, CT: Archon, 1984.

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                                                                                                                Describes the Series, Hoccleve’s “boldest and most interesting” poem, as a nervous meditation on the social uses of books, filled with concern about Hoccleve’s own return to literary writing and publication after a debilitating and humiliating period of madness. Establishes the basic point of the Series as a bid for social and literary rehabilitation.

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                                                                                                                • Burrow, John A. “The Poet and the Book.” In Genres, Themes, and Images in English Literature from the Fourteenth to the Fifteenth Century. Edited by Piero Boitani and Anna Torti, 230–245. The J. A. W. Bennett Memorial Lectures, Perugia, 1986. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr, 1988.

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                                                                                                                  Comparative treatment of late-medieval authors’ conception of linked series of short poems in single “book” form, by the most sensitive and learned critic of Hoccleve. Focuses on Hoccleve’s Series, which (like some continental parallels) frames short works in a narrative describing how the works were composed. The fiction of being in the presence of the author as he makes the book exploits the realities of manuscript culture.

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                                                                                                                  • Burrow, John A. “Hoccleve’s Complaint and Isidore of Seville Again.” Speculum 73.2 (1998): 424–428.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/2887159Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Shows that the source identified in Rigg 1970 also circulated in an abbreviated form much closer to Hoccleve’s selections from it. Demonstration of the immediate form shows how much more closely Hoccleve followed it than has been suspected. Bolsters the view in Burrow 1984 that the Series is highly focused on showing Hoccleve as a reader of books involved in the process of making one of his own.

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                                                                                                                    • Greetham, D. C. “Self-Referential Artifacts: Hoccleve’s Persona as a Literary Device.” Modern Philology 86.3 (1989): 242–251.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1086/391702Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      Builds on Burrow’s attention (Burrow 1982, cited under General and Thematic Studies, and Burrow 1988) to Hoccleve’s postures of autobiography: argues that the structural complexity both of Hoccleve’s Regiment of Princes and of his Series poems is due to the central place both give to the writer’s own act of composition, making the actual “tales” he tells seem like digressions from his main focus on his own writing. Thus, the Series is “structurally, the Canterbury Tales inside out” (p. 247).

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                                                                                                                      • Kurtz, Benjamin P. “The Relation of Occleve’s Lerne to Dye to Its Source.” PMLA 40.2 (1925): 252–275.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.2307/457223Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        Detailed consideration of the changes Hoccleve made to Henry Suso’s Horologium, including close attention to metrical effects.

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                                                                                                                        • Nolcken, Christina von. “‘O, why ne had y lerned for to die?’: Lerne for to Dye and the Author’s Death in Thomas Hoccleve’s Series.” Essays in Medieval Studies 10 (1993): 27–51.

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                                                                                                                          Argues that Learn to Die is central to the Series and presents the point of the entire Series: rather than a set of poems seeking to rehabilitate the poet into good society after his bout with madness (the common view), Hoccleve’s last set of poems constitutes his preparation for death, and his effort to prepare his readers as well. An important and provocative variant on the critical consensus.

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                                                                                                                          • Rigg, A. G. “Hoccleve’s Complaint and Isidore of Seville.” Speculum 45.4 (1970): 564–574.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/2855669Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            Precise and definitive display of a central source (Isidore’s Synonyma) and Hoccleve’s translation methods of it. But see Burrow 1998 for a refinement of the argument about the particular recension of Isidore available to Hoccleve.

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