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Thomas Hoccleve as poet and clerk

By H K S Killick


As part of an AHRC-funded interdisciplinary research project, ‘Identification of the Scribes Responsible for Copying Major Works of Middle English Literature’, this thesis re-examines the late medieval poet Thomas Hoccleve in the context of his career as a clerk of the Privy Seal and the history of the late medieval English government administration. Through identification of Hoccleve’s handwriting, it has been possible to search for all the extant documents produced by him for that office now in the National Archives. The evidence drawn from these documents is used to contribute towards a more complete chronology of the poet’s life, and the circumstances under which his poetry was written. Firstly, Hoccleve is used as a case study through which to examine the development of the late medieval English government administration and civil service, and the changing nature of its staff during the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century. Secondly, Hoccleve’s major work, the Regiment of Princes, is examined in the context of his role as a royal clerk, and the proliferation of Middle English political and didactic texts during this period. Finally, the impact of Hoccleve’s use of Anglo-French in official documents and Middle English in his poetry is considered in the context of the mutual culture of influence existing between the two languages. These different approaches to the documentary evidence are used to illustrate the impact of Hoccleve’s position at the Privy Seal on the form and content of his literary work

Publisher: Centre for Medieval Studies (York)
Year: 2010
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