- Figuring the Dangers of the “Greet Forneys”: Chaucer and Gower’S Timely (Mis)Reporting of the Peasant Voice
- Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies
- Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, UCLA
- Volume 46, 2015
- pp. 75-97
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- Additional Information
The pilgrim Miller of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is arguably the most disruptive of the company. As a loud, vulgar character who disrespects the set order and will not hold his tongue on anyone’s account, one feature of his description stands out as the key to likening him to the historical rebel peasants of the 1381 uprising: his large furnace-like mouth. This article will focus on how the chroniclers of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt reported or constructed the rebels’ voice and how Gower’s account of the same event in Book 1 of the Vox clamantis relates to these. Showing how much emphasis these authors give to the destructiveness of rebel voices and the particular use of fire-breathing in their descriptions, Chaucer’s Miller will in turn be reappraised for how he both signals the dangers of reporting rebel words and comically plays with the freedom of literature to portray dissenters.