Background on Agenst Garneshe

Connected Background



Introduction and Background to

The only manuscript witness of this poem is London, British Library Harley 367, ff. 101-109v. The poem is probably dated after 25 September 1513 as Sir Christopher Garnesche was knighted at this day and Skelton constantly jeers at this title (Scattergood 424). Edwards supposes that the lines “Now upon thys hete / Rankely whan ye swete (iii ll. 133-4) suggest that the poem was written during the summer of 1514, before 29 August when Sir Garnesche left for Europe (424).

The title refers to Sir Christopher Garnesche. Garnesche, after service in France became one of Henry VIII’s gentlemen ushers in 1509 and was lavishly rewarded with manors and money (424). In 1513, Garnesche became Sergeant of the King’s Tents and he was knighted later that year. This poem is a reaction to Garnesche calling Skelton a knave: “So curryshly to beknave me in thy kynges place?” (i l. 9) and a challenge set by Henry VIII invited Skelton to write a retort to Garnesche (Scattergood 424). These flytings were common in courts in the fifteenth and sixteenth century. This poem, as Fish observes, is a ‘lesser’ form of Why Come Ye Nat to Courte? as it is less ambitious (this also goes for Howe the Douty Duke Of Albany); the name and grievance change, but the pattern is the same (Fish 208).