The 15th century reflected as a transitional period in the political and social era. This period is seen as comparatively barren in the field of literature meanwhile only a few productive works were written during this period. There were few reasons liable for the unproductiveness of literary production during this age, like; the demise of Geoffrey Chaucer, and the deadly ‘War of Roses’ were affecting the whole scenario badly. There was no motivation for poets to write as best as Chaucer since no one had the talent to carry the Chaucerian custom forward with great glory.
This is the period known for the invention of the Printing Press. Printing machine was first invented by Gutenberg in 1450 and was introduced in 1477 in England by William Caxton. William Caxton later introduced a printing press with the name ‘Westminster’, situated in central London, which made the accessibility of books easy, and large in amount, which results in developing people’s interest to read the great works of poets and dramatists. Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘The Canterbury Tales’ was the first book to be published by Caxton.
No extraordinary work has been found during this period. The 15th century period was in misery from; the death of Chaucer, the clasp of conflicts, discontent, confusion, and in a state of disorder due to the disregard of law. But there were such groups or imitators of Chaucer came together which we know as English and Scottish Chaucerians. Poetry during this era was only kept flourishing by these gatherings of writers. They were the writers who penned their verses after the death of Chaucer at 1400 AD to the Renaissance and tried their best to maintain the richness of poetry during this very period.
It is great knowing the fact that Chaucer’s countless supporters were Scots. King James I, Robert Henryson, William Dunbar, and Gavin Douglas were the prominent writers considered as Scottish Chaucerians. The 15th century proved the Golden period for Scottish Chaucerians.
ROLE OF SCOTTISH CHAUCERIANS
- The fifteenth-century writer, basically called the imitators of Chaucer, liked to write in allegory. These poets are called the imitators of Chaucer because whatever they had written had no uniqueness of their own, they tried to print the ideas, and the norms of Geoffrey Chaucer.
- Eclogue and pastoral poetry were cherished for the first time by Robert Henryson; the Scottish Chaucerian, and Barclay; the English Chaucerian in the 15th century.
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- The 15th-century poets were specialised in writing satire. William Dunbar was seen as the most satirist poet among the Scottish Chaucerians and Dunbar had the same range and extent of writing like Langland.
- The poetry of the 15th century was furnished with a moral tone.
- The coral is a kind of verse that grew productively in the fifteenth century. The two most well-known verses of the fifteenth century are ‘The Coventry Carol’, ‘Hayle, Comely and Clene’.
- Ballads were very common in use to represent works written in short stanzas with refrain and repetition to enlighten emotional situations which were often tragic. The folk ballad and minstrel ballad were also very popular during the 15th century.
PROMINENT POETS OF SCOTTISH CHAUCERIANS
KING JAMES I (1566-1625)
King James I of England (1394-1437) or James VI of Scotland. James VI was one of the greatest poets among Scottish Chaucerians. The very popular love allegory written by James I is “King’s Quair”. This is a semi-autobiographical work of King James where he talked about his love with Lady Jane Beaufort, the niece of Henry V, with whom he was latterly married in 1424. Kingis Quair is written in complete Chaucerian memoirs and used the Chaucerian rhyme royal in the ABABBCC rhyme scheme.
King James I is also known for his translation of Authorised version of Bible which was published in 1611.
ROBERT HENRYSON (1403-1506)
Henryson comes under the best Chaucerian among all. He gained popularity through one of his best poems “Testament of Criseyde”, which is a continuance of Chaucer’s work “Troilus and Criseyde”. Henryson represented himself as a moralist which can be understood after reading his work “Testament of Criseyde”, where he has presented Cressida as a moralist while Chaucer in “Troilus and Cressida”, chosen best to cover the life of heroine by putting a mask after her reduction.
Some other notable works by Henryson are; “Orpheus and Eurydice”, “Robene and Makyne”, “The Morall Fabillis of Esope the Phrygian”.
WILLIAM DUNBAR (1460-1530)
Born in the late 15th century Dunbar shows himself as an amorist, a moralist, and a satirist. His passion of love for beauty can be seen in his various works. He was the poet who put humour and show the power of expression in his poems.
Some of his very famous love allegories are “Golden Barge” and “Thistle and the Rose”. “Thistle and the Rose” is written to rejoice in the marriage of James IV with the daughter of Henry VII, Margaret Tudor.
Dunbar had also penned some satirical works like “Tidings from the Sessions” which was a written attack on the law courts. “Satire on Edinburgh”, a satirical work where he satirised the dirty conditions of the city. Some more satirical works of Dunbar are; “Dance of Seven Deadly Sins”, “The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie”, “The Visitation of St. Francis”, and “The Two Mary Women” in which he satirised the women who are habituated to drinking.
GAVIN DOUGLAS (1474-1522)
Douglas has started his career by writing an allegory named “Palace of Honour” which is an imitation of Chaucer. Palace of Honour is full of moralising art and Douglas wrote this work with moral purposes. Douglas is very famous for his translation of the twelve books of “Aeneid”.
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