- Thomas Usk
Thomas Usk (died
March 4, 1388) was appointed the under- sheriffof Londonby Richard II in 1387.
Author of The Testament of Love
London, he is the author of "The Testament of Love," which was once thought to be by Geoffrey Chaucer.
Parliament (termed the
Merciless Parliamentin 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."
Usk had been servant to
John Northamptonwhen the latter was Lord Mayor of Londonfrom 1381 to 1383.
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
When they gained power, Usk was sentenced to be drawn, hung, and beheaded, with his head put up over
Newgate. John of Malverngives 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 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
Lollard Then Catholic
Usk had been a
Lollard, but he was brought back to the Roman Catholic Churchwhile in prison.
* [http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/teams/uskintro.htm "The Testament of Love"]
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