Article

Thomas Hoccleve

Andrew Galloway

in Medieval Studies

ISBN: 9780195396584
Published online May 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0037
Thomas Hoccleve

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)
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  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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Of all Chaucer’s “literary associates,” Thomas Hoccleve (b. c. 1367–d. 1426) claims the closest knowledge of, and even poetic instruction from, Chaucer (in the Regiment of Princes, lines 2,077–2,079), though in date and literary purposes he may seem to stand the furthest away. Although Hoccleve was often disparaged in the 19th and early 20th centuries, from the mid-20th century on, his works have found increasingly stronger appreciation; in part, for the same reasons that led to disparagement earlier, especially his peculiarly intimate (if arguably somewhat conventional) confessional and desperate self-portraits in his poetry. Critics have focused on the conventional and broadly social implications of his works, especially their relation to the Lancastrian kings and princes from whom he often sought patronage, and also on how Hoccleve decries his personal failures in many pursuits, especially professional and monetary ones as a clerk at the Privy Seal. His portrayal of a long period of profound depression or madness in his late Series, and the social opprobrium that followed it, is of unique interest both as self-revealing and self-fashioning. His major works include the popular Regiment of Princes, written in c. 1410–1411 (5,464 lines), and a late, loosely linked set of poems (about 3,800 lines plus prose) from 1419 to 1421, describing the author’s conversation with a friend leading to telling tales, now known as the Series, that include the Complaint, the Dialogue, Jereslaus’ Wife (with prose moralization), Learn to Die (with prose passage on the joys of heaven), and Jonathas and Fellicula, with another prose moralization. Hoccleve also wrote many short ballads, poems of praise of various patrons or nobles, and, especially, devotional poems (such as a lyrical “Complaint of the Virgin” from Guillaume de Deguileville’s Pèlerinage de vie humaine, from which Chaucer also translated a lyric passage, the “ABC”). His smaller works include his early translation of Christine de Pisan’s Letter of Cupid (1402), denouncing the abuses inflicted on women by men, and his dashing La Male Regle de Thomas Hoccleve (1405–1406). No poetry by Hoccleve survives that is datable to the lifetime of his “dere maistir,” Chaucer (d. 1400).

Article.  7523 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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