Wynnere and Wastoure and the Influence of Political Prophecy

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Abstract

This article examines the debt of the Middle English debate poem Wynnere and Wastoure to a long-lived culture of political prophecy with particular utility during the reign of Edward III. It explores the poet’s familiarity with a prophetic tradition endorsing the authority of the kings of England, which ultimately derived from the writings of Geoffrey of Monmouth. Alongside other sources, the Wynnere poet is understood to be acquainted with the prophecy of the Last Six Kings to Follow John and variations on this by poets such as Laurence Minot and the Anglo-Scottish border prophet Thomas of Erceldoune. Awareness of the Wynnere poet’s engagement with prophetic traditions challenges prior scholarly understandings of his attitude toward royal authority, as well as critical commonplaces about the oppositional function of political prophecy, for underlying Wynnere and Wastoure is a vision of the imperial prowess of Edward III.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-448
JournalChaucer Review
Volume49
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015