Date of Graduation

5-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

English

Advisor

William A. Quinn

Committee Member

Joseph Candido

Second Committee Member

Joshua B. Smith

Keywords

Canterbury tales, Geoffrey Chaucer, Crusading, John Gower, William Langland, Pacifism

Abstract

This study reads some Middle English poetry in terms of crusading, and it argues that the most prominent English poets, namely Geoffrey Chaucer, William Langland, and John Gower, were against the later crusades regardless of their target. However, since the anti-crusade voice of Gower and Langland has been discussed by many other scholars, this study focuses on Chaucer's poems and their implicit opposition of crusading. I argue that despite Chaucer's apparent neutrality to crusading as well as other sociopolitical and cultural matters of England, his poetry can hardly be read but as an indirect critique of war in general and crusading in particular. Thus, to prove such a claim, this study consists of five main chapters. The first chapter discusses the dominance as well as nature of crusading in fourteenth-century England. The second chapter reads Gower's Confessio Amantis and Langland's Piers Plowman as anti-crusade poems. The third chapter reads Chaucer's poems written before the Canterbury Tales as a critique of crusading. The fourth chapter argues that one of the central themes of the Canterbury Tales is to indirectly denounce crusading and mock crusaders. The fifth chapter revisits Chaucer's bibliography and uses it to explain why his critique of crusading is indirect. Finally, this study concludes that Chaucer is an anti-crusade poet, but his heavy reliance on the English court as a main source of power, prestige, and income explains the main reason of his indirect opposition of crusading.

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