In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

REVIEWS to her grief; she is not a talking doll with three inches of prerecorded tape in her sawdust." Peck's "exhilaration" and "glee" in his work (Preface) show through at every opportunity. A minor quibble is an occasional nod in proofreading, which is, however, generally excellent throughout. In addition to various errors in the preliminary pages found in earlier copies and an­ nounced as corrected in later copies, I have turned up the following: "Hunamities" for "Humanities" and "apperaing" for "appearing" (p. xi); the archaic "nones" for "nonce" (no. 66); "oathes" for "oaths" (no. 95); and really to strain after gnats, a few wrong divisions of words, for example, vi-vidness (no. 60) and unk-nown (no. 393). The bibliography is a necessity for all scholarly libraries. LORRAYNEY. BAIRD-LANGE Youngstown State University V. J. SCAITERGOOD and). W. SHERBORNE, eds., English Court Culture in the Later Middle Ages. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1983. Pp. x, 220. $27.50. This book collects papers given at a seminar sponsored by the Coleton Research Society at Bristol University in the spring of1981. While the papers show the disparities that such joint efforts always produce, cross-references throughout call attention to concur­ rences-as well as differences-in interpretation. Of the ten well­ known medievalists who took part in the symposium, four write about English literature, including manuscripts; five about history, including art, education, and architecture; and one about music and poetry. We might have expected much more disagreement over the terms of their brief than these scholars in fact display. However various the subjects, there is a remarkable consensus about the implications of our knowledge of court culture in late-medieval England. As all the authors stress, that "knowledge" is seen through a glass 219 STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER darkly because of the patchiness of the surviving evidence. In fact, the first three words of their-title indicate three of their four focal difficulties. First, since England was a client culture of French and Burgundian art, music, pageantry, fashion, and literature, the Englishness of their subject is not always straightforward. Second, they explicitly use "court" as an elastic term to mean the king and famtlia regis, the aristocracy, and courtiers in the broadest sense. This last is of crucial importance where literary patronage is con­ cerned. It seems clear that, whether or not the English monarchs read or collected books, at the fringe of their circle literate "civil servants" were reading and writing for each other. Whether such persons should count as "court" is not clear. Third, the authors display a tacit acceptance of "culture" as restricted to what we might characterize as "high culture"; there is no definition of what they understand "culture"to consist of. It is instructive to see how similar the problems are in the recent Profession, Vocation, and Culture in Later Medieval England (Liverpool, 1982), intended as a festschrift for the late A. R. Myers, which deliberately excludes the court. One chapter ofEnglish Court Culture, quite clearly aimed at dispelling once for all Terry Jones's myth of Chaucer's Knight, elegantly demonstrates cultural values and shared beliefs in its consideration ofthe status ofcrusading among aristocrats. How far the aristocratic models extended is-rightly-left unresolved. This raises the fourth difficulty that -all these essays confront. Was "English" "court" "culture" (however defined) a model, for itself, for other courts, for people who aspired to courtliness? That is, the difficult business of assessing influence is an inescapable part of the enter­ prise of this book. There are nine substantive essays (J. A. Burrow contributes only a brief preface; J. S. Sherborne, a miscellaneous introductory essay). Maurice Keen's exemplary essay on crusading as an ideal combines remarkable knowledge of the sources with great interpretative as­ surance. Nicholas Orme, writing about medieval education with his usual breadth of reference, develops scanty evidence into a spec­ ulative essay on what must have existed. Like his companion essay on schoolmasters in the Myers festschrift, this one builds a wide­ ranging description upon the most fragmentary survivals. It is, 220 REVIEWS however, surprising that Orme's wide net seems to have missedJ. H. Hexter's classic essay on...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 219-223
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.