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From Courtesy to Urbanity in Late Medieval England

From: Parergon
Voume 29, Number 1, 2012
pp. 27-46 | 10.1353/pgn.2012.0046



In Middle English courtesy poetry of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, guidelines for courtly manners and mannerisms became more complex. In this article, I examine a variety of medieval manuscripts from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. These manuscripts preserve texts intended for a diverse and increasingly urban group of readers who are urged to cultivate proper manners and to develop a rhetorical, ethical, and literary awareness of their cultural heritage. My reading demonstrates that manners began to migrate towards the non-noble classes as early as the fifteenth century as a means of social mobility and as a component of urban, non-agrarian social norms.