Connie Brim

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




G. Roebuck


This thesis presents the results of an investigation of antifraternal materials produced in France during the thirteenth century and in England during the fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and early seventeenth centuries. Primary materials include theological tracts such as William of Saint Amour's De periculis novissimorum temporum and De phrarisaeo et publicano and Richard FitzRalph's Defensio curatorum and vernacular works such as several of Rutebeuf's dits, Jean de Meun's continuation of The Romance of the Rose, John Gower's Vox clamantis, Chaucer's Summoner's Talc, John Skelton's "Collyn Clout," Thomas More's Utopia, John Heywood's The Pardonner and The Friar, Robert Greene's Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, and Thomas Fuller's "Chaucer."

These materials collectively confirm that, during the late Middle Ages following FitzRalph's influential attack on friars, a particularly British body of antifraternal literature, distinct from its French progenitor, emerged. The distinctly British treatment of friars, marked by its emphasis on fraternal oratories and friars as peddlers, continued until the Reformation when it faded away as the friars themselves silently dissolved into the rapidly changing British religious landscape. Despite the appearance of antifraternal motifs and images in post-Reformation literature, this body of literature lacks a particularly British colouring.

Any study that fuses Medieval and Renaissance ingredients runs the risk of granting more weight to one period than to another. Although I have attempted to be always aware of this problem, an imbalance does remain. Chapters one through four address various medieval aspects of the antifraternal tradition while Chapter five and the Epilogue examine antifraternal literature of the early Renaissance and Renaissance. The Prologue looks at both periods. I can only hope that the light shed on the ghostly Renaissance antifraternal figure, a figure infrequently discussed in scholarly criticism, partly rights the imbalance.

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