The European Sun: Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Scottish Language and Literature, University of Strathclyde, 1993

By Graham Caie; Roderick J. Lyall et al. | Go to book overview

C. MARIE HARKER


27. ‘Chrystis Kirk on the Grene’: Dialoguic Satire
in Fifteenth-Century Scotland

The anonymous Middle Scots poem known as ‘Chrystis Kirk on the Grene’ has been known primarily as the object of a long-standing controversy concerning its authorship and date. What little critical attention it has attracted has been largely content to admire its rollicking, slapstick comedy. A small proportion of the commentary has suggested that the work – a burlesque treatment of a country fair, probably dating from the second quarter of the fifteenth century1 – is informed by class-specific satire, in which the social pretensions of peasants are mocked by an aristocratic narrator. However, this fails to acknowledge the dialoguic nature of the work, in which a variety of competing fifteenth-century subject-positions critique one another. This is a polyvocal work, whose referential object is the heterogenous world of the late medieval Scottish burgh, with its increasingly excluded craftsmen, its ascendant merchant class, and its largely absent aristocrats. ‘Chrystis Kirk on the Grene’ speaks the social agon of urban Scotland in a period of considerable flux; its satiric voices present a carnival bringingtogether of the high and the low.

Obscured by the broadly visual ‘Punch-and-Judy’ comedy of a village mêlée, with screeching wives and groaning champions, ‘Chrystis’ satire is so understated as to have been generally ignored.2 When noted, its satire has been read as a simple containment of an undifferentiated lower class—‘a good-natured burlesque of peasant customs and peasant character, written by a conscious and intellectual artist, and addressed to an upper-class audience’.3 This is satire informed by a binary paradigm of the nobles versus the commons:

… the alleged belligerence of the lower orders was a welcomed argument
for the propertied classes… the upper classes could keep their hegemony

1 Attributed to both James I (1406–37) and James V (1513–42), the evidence, while equivocal, supports the former. David Irving, The History of Scottish Poetry, ed. J. A. Carlyle (Edinburgh, 1861), pp. 134–5, points out that in 1521 the historian Major detailed James I’s literary achievements: an ‘artifciosum libellum de regina’ (‘Kingis Quair’), ‘Yas Sen,’ and ‘At Beltayne.’ Alexander Lawson, The Kingis Quair, (London, 1910), p. Hi, notes that ‘Chrystis Kirk’s companion poem, ‘Peblis to the Play’ begins with ‘At Beltane…’, while ‘Yas Sen’ is a likely corruption of ‘Chrystis Kirk”s ‘Was nevir… sene.’ Dating from the last quarter of the fifteenth century, the sole exemplar of ‘Kingis Quair’ attributes that work to James I (Bodl. Arch. Selden Ms B. 24); the most authoritative witness of ‘Chrystis Kirk’ attributes it also to James I.

2 John Speirs, The Scots Literary Tradition (London, 1940), p. 98; and Roderick Watson, The Literature of Scotland (London, 1984), p. 52.

3 Allan H. MacLaine, ‘The “Christis Kirk” Tradition: Its Evolution in Scots Poetry to Burns,’ Studies in Scottish Literature, 2 (1964–5), p. 13.

-300-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The European Sun: Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Scottish Language and Literature, University of Strathclyde, 1993
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 544

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.