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Chaucerian ConflictLanguages of Antagonism in Late Fourteenth-Century London$
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Marion Turner

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199207893

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199207893.001.0001

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Urban Treason: Troilus and Criseyde and the ‘Treasonous Aldermen’ of 1382

Urban Treason: Troilus and Criseyde and the ‘Treasonous Aldermen’ of 1382

(p.31) 2 Urban Treason: Troilus and Criseyde and the ‘Treasonous Aldermen’ of 1382
Chaucerian Conflict


Oxford University Press

This chapter compares some letters written in 1382 accusing London aldermen of betraying the city to the rebels in 1381, with Geoffrey Chaucer's poem about urban betrayal, Troilus and Criseyde. The deployment of the language of truth and treason is a particular focus. Both the accusations of the aldermen (namely John Horn, Walter Sibyl, and Adam Carlisle) and Troilus and Criseyde serve to illustrate the changing allegiances and betrayals that dominated London politics in the 1380s. By reading these texts side by side, Troilus and Criseyde can be situated within contemporary discourses of treason and urban fragmentation, discourses that were under particular pressure in the closing decades of the 14th century. The chapter also explores the differing ways in which both texts deal with ideas of social antagonism, betrayal, and stasis. Ultimately, the chapter offers a reading of Troilus and Criseyde as a poem about the inevitability and omnipresence of social fragmentation and betrayal.

Keywords:   Geoffrey Chaucer, London, betrayal, treason, aldermen, Troilus and Criseyde, social antagonism, stasis

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