Abstract

John Skelton's Collyn Clout may appear to be aimed at a wide variety of contemporary targets, lay and clerical alike. The present article argues, however, that the poem is directed throughout at just one target: at the bishops (including Cardinal Wolsey). All the faults that Skelton notices elsewhere, in the lower clergy and in the laity at large, are treated specifically as having their source in a corrupt and negligent episcopacy, which has set a bad example for everyone. So clerics neglect essential duties such as preaching, and laymen fall away from the Church.

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