Categories: English Literature

Regiment of Princes

Chaucer portrait: Thomas Hoccleve,
Regiment of Princes
British Library MS Harley 4866, fol. 88r
Language: English (Southeast Midland)
Manuscript date: ca. 1411

Portraits of Geoffrey Chaucer appear in the Ellesmere Canterbury Tales and in a few other Thomas Hoccleve Regiment manuscripts (see the image of an Ellesmere page, “Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales,” p. 137). Hoccleve wrote the Regiment of Princes for Henry, Prince of Wales, in the years preceding 1413, the date of his accession as Henry V. A mirror for princes and begging poem, it survives in over forty manuscripts. Hoccleve asserts that he knew Chaucer, and he states in these lines (4990–5017 in printed editions) that he is afraid others will forget his “worthy maistir.” He also compares the mnemonic function of his portrait to why saints are depicted in churches, which has resonances for Lollardy (see “Plays and Representations,” p. 262).


Primary documents and further reading

Carlson, D. R. (1991) “Thomas Hoccleve and the Chaucer Portrait.” Huntington
Library Quarterly 54: 283–300.
Hoccleve, T. (1999) The Regiment of Princes, ed. C. R. Blyth. Kalamazoo, MI:
Medieval Institute.
Knapp, E. (2001) The Bureaucratic Muse: Thomas Hoccleve and the Literature of
Late Medieval England. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.
Krochalis, J. (1986) “Hoccleve’s Chaucer Portrait.” Chaucer Review 21: 234–45.
Seymour, M. C. (ed.) (1981) Selections from Hoccleve. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Spielmann, M. H. (1900) The Portraits of Geoffrey Chaucer. London: Kegan Paul,
Trench, Trübner.
Spurgeon, C. F. E. (1960) [1908–17] Five Hundred Years of Chaucer Criticism and
Allusion, 1357–1900, 7 vols. Repr. 3 vols. New York: Russell and Russell.


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