Gower's stated intention at the beginning of Book III of the Vox Clamantis to survey the three degrees of the world, i.e. the clerics, knights, and farmers, is not forthcoming in exactly the manner he specifies. Instead, he delivers a lengthy critique of the clergy in Books III and IV and then an account of the secular world apart from the nobility in Book V. This book deals with the rural and urban components of late fourteenth-century English society, that is, the gentry and the bound and free agricultural workers on the one hand and the merchants, artisans, and plebs that comprised the inhabitants of the city on the other. This element of the poet's world is best described as the commons, that component of both society and parliament that has begun to appear by his day. Gower's presentation is accordingly an important early description of a key political, sociological, and economic element in late medieval English society.
Meindl, Robert J.
"The Community of the Realm: Gower's Account of the Commons in Book V of the Vox Clamantis,"
Accessus: Vol. 6
, Article 2.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/accessus/vol6/iss1/2