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    News from the East

    Bale, Anthony (2023) News from the East. Studies In The Age of Chaucer 45 (2023), pp. 3-33. ISSN 0190-2407.

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    The first dateable English printed document is an indulgence to raise money against the Turks. In this essay I take this indulgence, printed by Caxton at Westminster in 1476, as a starting-point to consider fifteenth-century English literary and cultural representations of Rhodes and the advancing Ottoman Turks. I place this in the context of the ‘emergence of contemporaneity’, to use Brenden Dooley’s phrase, as a facet of later medieval media. John Kay’s Siege of Rhodes, probably printed in 1482, reflects the interest in current affairs both at Edward IV’s court and at the humanist Italian courts where Kay had spent time. I consider Kay’s status as ‘laureate’. I then introduce a letter from John Paston, describing a Turk in his household, and the fifteenth-century poem The Turke and Sir Gawain, to consider how the Turkish male body is represented. I argue that representations of the Turk in later medieval England reveal admiration, fear, and a sense of proximity and similarity. Such representations show how the Turk was frequently discussed in cultural discourse, and inaugurate the ‘Turk’ as a discursive representation in the English imagination. I argue that the recent turn to the ‘Global Middle Ages’ must globalise according to a time-bound and changing senses of the wider world; we should therefore acknowledge the importance of the growing Ottoman empire to fifteenth-century England. This reveals how much English culture was actively and urgently involved with contemporary ‘newesse’ (news) and timely reports of the parlous state of Christian lands in the Eastern Mediterranean.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Research Centres and Institutes: Medieval and Early Modern Worlds
    Depositing User: Anthony Bale
    Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2024 06:15
    Last Modified: 10 Jan 2024 15:36

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