Gower's Governmentality: Revisiting John Gower as a Constitutional Thinker and Regiminal Writer.
- Giancarlo, Matthew.
- Gower's Governmentality: Revisiting John Gower as a Constitutional Thinker and Regiminal Writer.
- Giancarlo, Matthew. "Gower's Governmentality: Revisiting John Gower as a Constitutional Thinker and Regiminal Writer." 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. 225-59.
- Giancarlo's argument begins by examining Gower's admonitory "regimen" for kings in general, including the mirror for princes in Book VII of the CA, and how the poet creatively reworked his sources, especially the "Secretum Secretorum" and the regiminal material in Brunetto Latini's "Livres dou Tresor." In so doing, the poet addressed "the pragmatics of governmentality," a term derived from the political theory of Foucault (228). The regiminal tradition was "constitutional" in that it theorized the king's power not as absolute, but always predicated on justice and the just rule of law (230-45). Following the English tradition enshrined by Bracton, Gower "made the relation of the king and the law one of mutual conditioning" (234). In an exemplum from the CA's mirror for princes, the wise sovereign Lycurgus gave his people a just law, then disappeared, never to return; the moral is that good law is necessary for good government, while the person of a king is not (242, citing CA VII.3002-07). Next, Giancarlo discusses Gower's regiminal theory as he expressed it in his writings addressed to the new king Henry IV, both the Latin encomia and the English "In Praise of Peace." All are "constitutional" (250) in specifying limits on the king's power, not through institutional checks and balances as in a modern democracy (246), but grounded in the voice of the people, justice, and law; if Henry violates the principle of "ius," he will incur both evil fame and the destruction of his rule (245-54). In "In Praise of Peace," Gower praised Henry, advised him, and expressed hope for his reign, while (constitutionally) affirming his loyalty to Henry's regal estate, not to his person (258, citing IPP 372-78). [LBB. Copyright. John Gower Society. JGN 36.2].
- Gower Subjects
- Confessio Amantis
Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Minor Latin Poetry
In Praise of Peace