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Richard IIManhood, Youth, and Politics 1377-99$
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Christopher Fletcher

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199546916

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199546916.001.0001

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The Language of Manhood II: ‘Humanitas’, Decorum, and Largesse

The Language of Manhood II: ‘Humanitas’, Decorum, and Largesse

(p.45) 3 The Language of Manhood II: ‘Humanitas’, Decorum, and Largesse
Richard II

Christopher Fletcher

Oxford University Press

This chapter continues the investigation into the language of manhood by examining one area in which the associations of ‘manhood’ and ‘manly’ activity with personal honour overlap with a slightly different set of values organised around the classical and Christian concepts of ‘humanitas’. Although moralists attempted to restrict the associations of ‘manly’ gift-giving to the charitable behaviour recommended by Christian morality, and although they attempted to limit it further with the Aristotelian notion of the mean, they were unsuccessful in expunging the associations between ‘manly’ generosity and the largesse necessary to demonstrate a certain social status. The tensions created by this state of affairs are particularly relevant to the reign of Richard II, in which the pressure for the king to establish his manhood through the manly expenditure associated with his household estate clashed with the desire to reduce costs and increase revenue in times of socio-economic and military crisis.

Keywords:   manly, honour, humanitas, gift-giving, largesse, status, expenditure

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