Thomas Hoccleve or Occleve (1368–1426) and his famous works

Among the English Chaucerians, Thomas Hoccleve stands as a literary companion of John Lydgate. Hoccleve is particularly noted for his Regiment of Princes, based on the Latin work De Regimina Principum. The poem of course a long one contains some 5500 verses dealing with the matters of varied interests-political, ethical, ecclesiastical, and so on. The work, possibly written to please Henry, Prince of Wales, has a long introductory passage, in which the author pays rich tributes to his masters—Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower. The poem reveals his gift of story telling, imitated from Chaucer. There are, no doubt, some dissertations, with illustrations, that make the work didactic. The verses are fairly smooth and correct, but tedious. Hoccleve’s didacticism, as revealed in the work, is reminiscent of Gower than of Chaucer. This is of little value as literature.

His earliest dated poem, a translation of Christine de Pisan’s L’Épistre au dieu d’amours, appeared in 1402 as “The Letter of Cupid.” He also wrote the poem La Mâle Règle ( “The Male Regimen”) in 1406. Some of his poetry claims to describe (not without literary artifice) the events of his own life, as in ‘La Male Regle de Thomas Hoccleve’ (1405–6), the prologue to The Regiment of Princes (1411–12), and in two poems from the late sequence known as the Series(1420): ‘The Complaint’ and ‘The Dialogue with a Friend’.

Hoccleve’s other works include two verse-stories from the French work Gesta Romanorum-The Emperor Jereslauu’s Wife and Jonathas–and a fine poem, Ars Sciendi Mori.

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