Political Poems and Subversive Songs. The Circulation of ‘Public Poetry’ in the Late Medieval Low Countries

Jan Dumolyn, Jelle Haemers


This article establishes a link between the flourishing study of Middle Dutch literature as a broad cultural history on the one hand and the increasing attention of political historians to questions of ‘communication’ and ‘political culture’ on the other. It studies some ‘historical songs’ (as they have traditionally been called) or ‘political songs’ (a better term) with the aim of reflecting on the intense relationship among literature, society and politics in the medieval Low Countries. We argue that these intriguing texts should be classified as what medievalists now generally call ‘public poetry’, a ‘genre’ defined by the ideological contents, functions, and audiences of literary texts, to transcend the research that mainly targets on generic distinctions between different types of poems, songs, and tales made by past scholars.


Political Song; Historical Songs; Subversive Speech; Orality

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