The Counsele of Philosophy: The Kingis Quair and the Medieval Reception History of the Consolation of Philosophy in Vernacular Literature
This thesis examines the relationship between the fifteenth-century Kingis Quair and the text which it cites as its inspiration, Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy, finding analogues for the poet's response to this authoritative material in vernacular literature. The Quair is perhaps best known for its association with James I of Scotland, and an analysis of the connection between the king and the poem is employed as a means of demonstrating the extent to which his identity shapes the meaning of the work and is, in turn, reformulated within it. The Quair's treatment of the Consolation is a vital part of this transformation , as the poem establishes a parallel between James and Boethius, articulating the sense that his experience repeats that of the auctor. The medieval craft of memory is considered as a precedent for this treatment of literature and personal history as texts which are subject to revision. Analysis of several texts illuminates the tradition of Boethian adaptation which informs the Quair. The popularity of the Consolation made the image of Boethius as an exemplary politician a commonplace of medieval literary culture, and through association with his experience, exile and imprisonment become trials which confer philosophical wisdom upon their subjects. Against this background, the Quair emerges as a sophisticated engagement with the medieval reception history of the Consolation, which reimagines James I as the model of the perfect prince.