"Betwen tuo stoles": The Western Schism and the English Poetry of John Gower (1378-1417).

Stone, Zachary E.

"Betwen tuo stoles": The Western Schism and the English Poetry of John Gower (1378-1417).

Stone, Zachary E.. "'Betwen tuo stoles': The Western Schism and the English Poetry of John Gower (1378-1417)." New Medieval Literatures 19 (2019): 205-43.

Stone's title hardly does justice, either to the wide ground his essay covers, or to the significant erudition underlying it. (Nor can a summary of this brevity account for so rich a ramble.) For Stone, "the negotiation of the [Western] Schism is one of, if not 'the,' major through line [sic] uniting Gower's 'oeuvre.' Likewise, we might wonder if Gower's views of kingship were a function of the church rather than the other way around" (243). He concentrates primarily on the CA and to a lesser degree, "In Praise of Peace," while occasionally glancing at the MO. His argument proceeds in three parts. In the first he discusses "Gower's most extended discussion of the Schism: the Confessio Prologue's account of the 'statu cleri'" (209-10)--the spiritual state of the clergy under the Avignon "antipape" Clement IV. In the second he connects "this discussion of the crisis to the last two tales of Book II: the 'Tale of Boniface' and the 'Tale of Constantine and Sylvester'" (210). These, he argues, show Gower's view of the Schism "as a crisis of representation, a question of institutional and personal bodies through which Gower explores the political theologies of the papal bodies at the centre of the crisis" (210). In the third, he argues that charity, "Gower's putative solution to the Schism" is "in fact . . . the root of the vices that caused the Schism" (210)--a position that erroneously suggests an awkward resemblance to Wyclif's views on ecclesiastical property and papal "dominium," as a comparison with the "Lollard Chronicle" demonstrates (210 and 235-7). Finally, in a section aptly named "Towards a Conclusion," Stone comments on Gower's "conciliar poetics" and empathy with constitutionalism, as evident in "In Praise of Peace." [RFY. Copyright. The John Gower Society. eJGN 38.1.]


Gower Subjects
Confessio Amantis
In Praise of Peace