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Evil LordsTheories and Representations of Tyranny from Antiquity to the Renaissance$
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Nikos Panou and Hester Schadee

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199394852

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199394852.001.0001

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A Crooked Mirror for Princes

A Crooked Mirror for Princes

Vernacular Reflections on Wenceslas IV ‘the Idle’

(p.157) 9 A Crooked Mirror for Princes
Evil Lords

Pavlína Rychterová

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the growing importance of the vernacular languages during the later Middle Ages in shaping the form, content, and audiences of political discourse. It presents a famously wicked king of the late Middle Ages, Wenceslas IV (1361–1419), as a case study and traces the origins of his bad reputation to a group of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century writings. These have often been dismissed as fictions or studied solely as literature, but in fact they represent new modes of articulating good and bad kingship. The chapter shows that, in the context of an increasingly literate bourgeois culture, especially in university cities, these vernacular works transformed Latin theological approaches to monarchy, while rendering mirrors for princes and related literatures accessible to an unprecedented audience.

Keywords:   vernacular literature, mirror for princes, Wenceslas IV, Bohemia, Michael of Prague

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