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By Kathleen E. Kennedy (auth.)

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50 Yet, I argue that when viewed within the context of the literature of late medieval England, any text about rape had a sociopolitical context, and that other authors, like Chaucer and Lydgate, were as aware of this fact as Gower. 51 The narrative structure of the story aided Middle English authors in concentrating on a few moments where agency is highlighted: the rape itself, where Tarquin asks Lucretia to choose to be raped, the moment in which Lucretia refuses the pity of her family in favor of suicide, and the decision the family makes to overthrow the Tarquins.

Dorigen rejects him soundly, but adds jokingly that she will be his lover if he can remove all the rocks from the coastline of Brittany, and she swears an oath to this effect. A magician causes the rocks to disappear for Aurelius, in return for a thousand pound payment, so that after Arveragus returns home, Aurelius insists that Dorigen fulfill her oath. She laments, but tells Arveragus. 20 When Dorigen goes to meet Aurelius, she reveals that Arveragus has sent her, and Aurelius, shamed by the nobility of the gesture valuing a promise over his wife’s chastity, releases Dorigen from her oath.

58 This serves as a reminder that lords functioned as a kind of first tier in the developing criminal justice system. In order to be a “good master,” here Plumpton is appealing to a higher authority, even one of an opposing party, on behalf of his men. 59 A plea such as this letter reveals could be an excellent way to assess a new regime: how partisan was John Neville going to be, now that he was Earl? In other words, was he willing to expand his service network to include those under his power who had fought for the other side in order to preserve the local peace?

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