Author of The Testament of Love
Parliament (termed the Merciless Parliament in the work) prosecuted him in 1388 and had him executed. The Testament of Love is an allegorical prose work written in prison to seek aid. Walter Skeat found that the initial letters of the sections formed an acrostic saying, "MARGARET OF VIRTU HAVE MERCI ON TSKNVI." Properly decoded, the last word is "THINUSK," or "thin[e] Usk."
In 1384, he was arrested and released in exchange for informing against Northampton, for he had no desire, he said, to be "a stinking martyr." This earned him the enmity of the Gloucester party.
When they gained power, Usk was sentenced to be drawn, hung, and beheaded, with his head put up over Newgate. John of Malvern gives a description of the execution in his continuation of the Polychronicon, saying that it took thirty blows from the sword to sever Usk's head.
Contemporary of Chaucer
Usk was a Collector of Customs from 1381 to 1384, when Geoffrey Chaucer was the Comptroller of Customs, and he was familiar with Chaucer. In The Testament of Love, the god of Love praises "mine own true servant, the noble philosophical poet in English" who had written a poem on Troilus (i.e. Chaucer).
Lollard Then Catholic
- The Testament of Love Ed. by R. Allen Shoaf. TEAMS Middle English Text Series.
|Wikisource has original works written by or about: