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Additional resources for Lordship and Literature: John Gower and the Politics of the Great Household
18 Equally, letting notions of the ‘state’ obscure the importance of the royal household as in many ways the true centre of the realm’s government can distort our sense of centralization. In particular, geographical Wxity is an uncertain measure of centralization. The two can coincide, but need to be distinguished. Thus, chancery’s settling in Westminster, as the result of huge growth in its business, was a symptom of administrative centralization, yet the same change simultaneously pulled in a diVerent direction.
Gaunt’s charge of disnaturesse features in Galloway, ‘Making of a Social Ethic’, 374–6. ) In fact, great households were signiWcantly commercial operations. Their self-presentation, however, privileged non-commercial modes for the highest proWle social activity, for exchanges that decisively converted resources (however accumulated) into political capital. 42 Competing with reciprocalism within its own territory, meanwhile, were ‘magniWcent’ habits of household-based ‘free’ exchange that more aggressively voided assumptions about mutual obligation, essentially by disabling counter-exchange.
The horse promises the miracle of the ruler’s being everywhere at will with sole control (CT 5. 313–34). This high culture is about power (as is the knight’s magical sword) and surveillance. It is unburdened by discourse of justice or the common good. 52 Moreover, the benefactor knight’s secret tutoring and the court’s overextended and Wnally obstructed curiosity intimate that Genghis Khan’s subjects (however mighty) are to be excluded from his new mode of power. The courteous, exotic knight manages to create with his wondrous gifts an insulated, isolating relationship with the king—a kind of political community of two (‘ ‘‘bitwix us two’’ ’; 5.