Hoccleve, Thomas

Hoccleve, Thomas
(ca. 1368–ca. 1426)
   A poet and disciple of CHAUCER, Thomas Hoccleve is best known as the author of the Regement of Princes (ca. 1409–12), a book of advice for Prince Hal, the future King Henry V of England. Recently, critics have been interested in Hoccleve’s candid discussion of his mental breakdown of 1417, the only such discourse in MIDDLE ENGLISH. Perhaps Hoccleve received his name from Hockliffe, a village in Bedfordshire where he may have been born around 1368.He seems to have received a good education, and he says in one poem that he sought to become a priest, but being unable to receive a benefice, he opted to marry in about 1411. In another poem he speaks of leading a dissolute life as a youth, drinking, gambling, and chasing women—a situation that seems to have turned around with his marriage.Whether these things are true or simply a part of Hoccleve’s poetic persona is impossible to determine. We do know that at about the age of 19,Hoccleve became a clerk in the Office of the Privy Seal, and that he continued in that office for some 35 years. In 1399, Hoccleve was granted an annuity of 10 pounds per year for life, a grant that was increased to 20 marks (something over 13 pounds) in May of 1409. Despite this income Hoccleve complains in a number of poems about his difficult financial situation. Still records show that he was paid regularly on a semiannual basis. He was also, at this point, at the height of his literary career, beginning his composition of the Regiment of Princes.
   Sometime around 1417, Hoccleve suffered an emotional disorder, which he says made him lose the substance of his memory. He never says how long his illness lasted, but in his Complaint (1422), he describes his efforts to readjust to normal life, and tells of the actions of his friends, at the Privy Seal and elsewhere, who mistrust his recovery and try to avoid him. The last official references to Hoccleve in government documents come in 1426, and it is likely that he died shortly after that. Hoccleve’s earliest poem, The Letter of Cupid (1402), is based on a French poem by CHRISTINE DE PIZAN called Epistre au Dieu d’Amours. Other minor poems include a controversial Address to Oldcastle (1415)—a poem supporting orthodoxy against the LOLLARD heresy addressed to the famous Lollard knight (and eventually martyr) Sir John Oldcastle; an admired poem in praise of the virgin entitled The Mother of God; and a number of “begging” poems, like The Balade to King Henry V for Money, bewailing his financial straits. Hoccleve’s major works begin with La Male Règle (1406), a didactic poem in which he describes his misspent youth. The Regement of Princes (1409–13) follows, describing do’s and don’ts for rulers and addressed to Prince Henry. Then, after his mental illness, appears a group known as the “Series” poems (1422): These include the aforementioned Complaint as well as the Dialogue with a Friend, Jereslaus Wife, Learn to Die, and The Tale of Jonathas. These five poems are linked by dialogues between a speaker and a friend who gives literary advice.
   For many readers Hoccleve is most important as a follower of Chaucer. Indeed, the best-known passages of the Regement of Princes are Hoccleve’s lament for Chaucer’s death and praise of Chaucer as his “maister.” Particularly important is the portrait of Chaucer that appears in the British Museum Harley manuscript of the poem, which Hoccleve says he has included so that people will not forget what his master looked like. The Hoccleve portrait seems to have been the model for all subsequent portraits of Chaucer that have come down to us. Whether Hoccleve actually knew Chaucer or simply revered him as his greatest poetic predecessor is a matter of some debate. However, Hoccleve clearly uses Chaucer as the model for his verse.Most of his poetry, including the Regement, is in Chaucerian RHYME ROYAL stanzas. His first major work, La Male Règle, is in eight-line stanzas rhyming ababbcbc—a stanza form Chaucer invented for The MONK’S TALE. Hoccleve alludes to The LEGEND OF GOOD WOMEN in The Letter of Cupid and to The WIFE OF BATH’S TALE in his Dialogue with a Friend.
   Hoccleve’s poetry is generally regarded as conventional and uninspired. It is, however, quite representative of its time, and Hoccleve is important as a link between Chaucer and his Tudor successors such as Skelton. But for readers the most interesting aspects of Hoccleve’s poetry are his autobiographical passages, with his frank discussions of his youthful transgressions and his ill health, which make him an individual in the readers’ eyes.
   ■ Blyth, Charles R., ed. Thomas Hoccleve: The Regiment of Princes. Kalamazoo:Western Michigan University for TEAMS, 1999.
   ■ Knapp, Ethan. The Bureaucratic Muse: Thomas Hoccleve and the Literature of Late Medieval England. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001.
   ■ Mitchell, Jerome. Thomas Hoccleve: A Study in Early Fifteenth-Century English Poetic. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1968.

Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.

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  • Hoccleve, Thomas — ▪ English poet Hoccleve also spelled  Occleve   born 1368/69, London died c. 1450?, Southwick, Eng.  English poet, contemporary and imitator of Chaucer, whose work has little literary merit but much value as social history.       What little is… …   Universalium

  • Hoccleve,Thomas — Hoc·cleve (hŏkʹlēv ) or Oc·cleve (ŏkʹ ), Thomas. 1369? 1450?. English poet known for his detailed descriptions of life in medieval London. * * * …   Universalium

  • Thomas Hoccleve — Hoccleve (right) presenting his work The Regement of Princes (1411) to Henry, Prince of Wales (later Henry V of England), from Arundel MS. 38 Thomas Hoccleve or Occleve (c. 1368–1426) was an English poet and clerk. Contents …   Wikipedia

  • Thomas Occleve — (or Hoccleve) (c. 1368 ndash; 1426), English poet, was born probably in 1368/9, for, writing in 1421/2 he says he was fifty three years old ( Dialog, i. 246 ).Like his more voluminous and better known contemporary John Lydgate, he has an… …   Wikipedia

  • Thomas Occleve — ou Hoccleve est un poète anglais né vers 1369[1] et mort en 1426. Il a connu Geoffrey Chaucer et lui rend hommage à plusieurs reprises dans son œuvre la plus populaire en son temps, le Regiment of Princes de 1412[2]. Sommaire 1 Biographie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Hoccleve —   [ hɔkliːv], Thomas, englischer Dichter, Occleve, Thomas …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Thomas Occleve —     Thomas Occleve     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Thomas Occleve     (Or Hoccleve)     Little is known of his life beyond what is mentioned in his poems. He was b. about 1368; d. in 1450. The place of his birth and education is unknown. When about …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Hoccleve, or Occleve, Thomas — (1368? 1450?)    Poet, probably b. in London, where he appears to have spent most of his life, living in Chester s Inn in the Strand. Originally intended for the Church, he received an appointment in the Privy Seal Office, which he retained until …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Hoccleve — or Occleve biographical name Thomas 1368(or 1369) circa 1450 English poet …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Hoccleve — /hok leev/, n. Thomas, 1370 1450, English poet. Also, Occleve. * * * …   Universalium

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