The College Arts & Humanities Institute presents:
Meet the Author: Rosemarie McGerr
A Lancastrian Mirror for Princes:
The Yale Law School New Statutes of England
Thursday, February 21, 2013
5:00 – 6:30pm
College Arts & Humanities Building
1211 East Atwater Avenue, Bloomington
What do fifteenth-century English law books have in common with devotional works, political pageants, and courtly romances? This study explores the benefits of reading medieval and early modern legal texts in the forms in which they circulated among readers. Using the example of one of the most beautifully decorated fifteenth-century copies of the New Statutes of England, McGerr uncovers how fifteenth-century English legal manuscripts interweave religious, literary, and legal discourses to frame the reader’s perception of English law and royal power. Taking internal and external evidence into account, her study suggests that the Yale statutes manuscript was made for Prince Edward of Lancaster, student of Sir John Fortescue, transforming a legal reference work into a book of instruction in kingship, as well as a means of celebrating the Lancastrians’ rightful claim to the English throne during the Wars of the Roses. A Lancastrian Mirror for Princes also explores the role played by The New Statutes of England as a commentary on parliamentary power and a source of legal arguments for removing unjust kings.
Rosemarie McGerr is a Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of the Medieval Studies Institute at Indiana University Bloomington. She is author of Chaucer’s Open Books: Resistance to Closure in Medieval Discourse and The Pilgrimage of the Soul: A Critical Edition of the Middle English Dream Vision.