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courtly makers, humanism, rhetoric


The eight poems in Latin and English written at the time of the English victory at Flodden Field in 1513 are various combinations of praise, vituperation, satire, and polemic, reflecting the attitudes of their authors. John Skelton, Thomas More, Peter Carmelianus, and Bernard André. These courtly makers, homogeneous in both their humanist background and court employment, see the battle essentially the same way–as an occasion to celebrate their royal employer and to abuse his enemy–thus the differing verse forms and slanted treatments are grounded in a common point of view. However, John Skelton, as author of three of the eight poems, adds another dimension to his office. In one of the poems he seems to be speaking as the king's man to the king's court; however, in another poem, his office is more generalized: he is a popular poet addressing the people of England as their teacher, but also, peculiarly, expressing their own views in his single voice. Finally, in a third poem, he seems to combine these two functions, acting as both king's poet and popular spokesman. We can see this blending of rhetorical stances, perhaps best explained as a blending of medieval and Renaissance perceptions of a poet, by first examining the event of the battle itself, and then by comparing Skelton's literary response to the battle with the responses of his fellow poets.