“Stonde Manlyche Togedyr in Trewthe”: Lyric and Rebellion Among Late Medieval Men

  • Katharine W. Jager
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This chapter examines the ways by which two of the Rebel Letters, the Miller lyrics from the Littera Johannis Balle (BL Royal MS 13 E ix fol 287r.) and the Addresses of the Commons (BL Cotton Tiberius C. VII fols 174v–174r), represent vernacular poetry as a performative political medium. Brief, multimodal lyrics, the Rebel Letters are preserved in several historiographic chronicles, and thus have been primarily read by their contemporaries and by later critics through an evidentiary, material lens. Historicist approaches to the Letters have perceived them as actual letters or as mass-produced broadsides, yet the Letters themselves corral the sonic, metrical effects of lyric to make clear their political aims. This chapter deploys, therefore, an approach that Marjorie Levinson has described as “activist new formalist,” a critical method that considers the production of aesthetics and literary forms as inseparable from the historical moments in which they were made. It argues the Miller lyrics are performative representations of noise designed to produce a community of men who might “stonde manlyche togedyr in trewthe.”



I would like to gratefully acknowledge Glenn Burger, Steven F. Kruger, Pamela Sheingorn, David Greetham, Anne Stone, Steven Justice, Chuck Jackson, Jack Shuler, and Emily Houlik-Ritchey for generously and productively reading earlier iterations of this chapter.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharine W. Jager
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Houston-DowntownHoustonUSA

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