Letters of Old Age: The Advocacy of Peace in the Works of John Gower and Philippe de Mézières.
- Kobayashi, Yoshiko.
- Letters of Old Age: The Advocacy of Peace in the Works of John Gower and Philippe de Mézières.
- Kobayashi, Yoshiko. "Letters of Old Age: The Advocacy of Peace in the Works of John Gower and Philippe de Mézières." In Russell A. Peck and R. F. Yeager, eds. John Gower: Others and the Self. Publications of the John Gower Society XI (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2017), pp. 204-22.
- This essay focuses on Gower's "In Praise of Peace," which Kobayashi seeks "to situate in a cross-channel movement committed to the promotion of peace in Europe" (204-05). As her frame for comparison, she uses Philippe de Mézières' "Epistre au roi Richart" (1395) and "Songe du vieil pelerine" (1385), both of which offer advice to kings through the author-persona of "an old sage" (205) much like the self-construction of John Gower. After tipping his hat to just war theory in defense of Henry's usurpation, the English poet proceeds to his major preoccupations: the Christian-versus-Christian bloodshed between England and France, and the conflict of pope versus pope, the true source of disharmony between Christian nations (207-08). The resulting chaos leaves Christendom vulnerable to incursion by non-Christians (209). Remarkably similar themes are expressed in de Mézières' "Epistre": Christendom is diseased at the top, so Richard II and Charles VI must intervene to heal the schism by arranging a truce between England and France and proceeding to "rescue" the Holy Land (212-14). The poet Oton de Grandson, a courtier to John of Gaunt, may well have been a conduit for peace-promoting ideology between de Mézières and Gower (214-15). Another commonality with Chaucer and Gower is de Mézière's treatise defending marriage and married women (215).Both Gower and de Mézières share in the vilification of Alexander as the prototype of tyrants (218-22). A notable difference between the two authors is their opinion of crusading: de Mézières promoted it by founding a new chivalric order meant to recapture Jerusalem, while Gower was much more reserved, preferring to convert the misbelievers through preaching rather than warfare (216-17, 220-21). [LBB. Copyright. John Gower Society. JGN 36.2].
- Gower Subjects
- In Praise of Peace
Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations