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Raluca Radulescu

This chapter examines Cambridge, University Library MS Ff.2.38. When this paper household manuscript has been addressed in scholarship, it has been found remarkable for its representative qualities as a marker of the devotion and ‘modest’ intellectual accomplishments typically assumed to belong to the provincial gentry audience with whom so many fifteenth-century household books can be associated. Radulescu takes issue with this point, arguing that the inclusion of two popular texts in the Cambridge book—the penitential romance, Roberd of Cisely and Pety Job, a Middle English retelling of the Lessons of the Dead—indicates the connections existing between the ‘microcosm’ of the Leicestershire household associated with the manuscript and the ‘macrocosm’ comprising national developments in political poetry that linked expressions of penitence with assertions of royal power. Indeed, Radulecu points out, the particularly Job-like portrayal of king Roberd in the Cambridge text of the poem suggests that the poem was selected, or doctored, in response to the contemporary vogue for Job-like portrayals of royalty. The ‘provincial’ household audience of Cambridge MS Ff.2.38 is thus shown to be well connected with cultural developments taking place concurrently in the metropolitan London milieu.

in Household knowledges in late-medieval England and France
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Raluca Radulescu

Since romances were read alongside other literary, historical, political and religious texts, and since their audience was both noble and gentle, this chapter aims to identify gentry concerns in the different texts available to them. Among the most well-known Middle English texts dealing with the topic of gentility are Chaucer's poem 'Gentilesse' and his 'Wife of Bath's Tale'. The portraits of the Knight and the Franklin in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales have also been used by literary critics and historians when discussing fourteenth-century society and its stratification in relation to Chaucer's own reflections on this topic. Instructional texts appear in miscellaneous manuscripts alongside romances, religious tracts and other items, including recipes and medical remedies. In the composite manuscripts many copies survive of the Brut chronicle, Thomas Hoccleve's Regiment, John Lydgate's Secrets, chronicles, genealogical chronicles and advice literature alongside romances.

in Gentry culture in late-medieval England

After many years at the margins of historical investigation, the late medieval English gentry are widely regarded as an important and worthy subject for academic research. This book aims to explore the culture of the wide range of people whom we might include within the late medieval gentry, taking in all of landed society below the peerage, from knights down to gentlemen, and including those aspirants to gentility who might under traditional socio-economic terms be excluded from the group. It begins by exploring the origins of, and influences on, the culture of the late medieval gentry, thus contributing to the ongoing debate on defining the membership of this group. The book considers the gentry's emergence as a group distinct from the nobility, and looks at the various available routes to gentility. Through surveys of the gentry's military background, administrative and political roles, social behaviour, and education, it seeks to provide an overview of how the group's culture evolved, and how it was disseminated. The book offers a broad view of late medieval gentry culture, which explores, reassesses and indeed sometimes even challenges the idea that members of the gentry cultivated their own distinctive cultural identity. The evolution of the gentleman as a peer-assessed phenomenon, gentlemanly behaviour within the chivalric tradition, the education received by gentle children, and the surviving gentry correspondence are also discussed. Although the Church had an ambivalent attitude toward artistic expression, much of the gentry's involvement with the visual arts was religious in focus.

Raluca Radulescu and Alison Truelove

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book begins by exploring the origins of, and influences on, the culture of the late medieval gentry, thus contributing to the debate on defining the membership of this group. It considers the gentry's emergence as a group distinct from the nobility and looks at the various available routes to gentility. Through surveys of the gentry's military background, administrative and political roles, social behaviour, and education, the book provides an overview of how the group's culture evolved, and how it was disseminated. It offers a broad view of late medieval gentry culture, which explores, reassesses and indeed sometimes even challenges the idea that members of the gentry cultivated their own distinctive cultural identity.

in Gentry culture in late-medieval England