4.8. Poverty in the Life of the Gawain-Poet

The Gawain-Poet hints in Patience that he might have had to undergo a period of enforced poverty, 


Bot syn I am put to a poynt þat pouerté hatte,
I schal me poruay pacyence and play me with boþe

  --Patience 35-36

although this immediately follows his adaption of Matthew 5, 3-10


Thay arn happen þat han in hert pouerté
For hores is þe heuen-ryche to holde for euer;
Þay ar happen also þat haunte mekenesse,
For þay schal welde þis worlde and alle her wylle haue;
Thay ar happen also þat for her harme wepes,
For þay schal comfort encroche in kythes ful mony;

  --Patience 13-18

and the conflation of worldly and moral patience with poverty may not necessarily apply directly to the Gawain-Poet.

There is certainly no convincing evidence of enforced poverty in the life of James Cottrell, unless his appointment by the Infante Dom Henrique to the position of Mordomo-Mór in the Order of Christ could be seen as an enforced move from the high life of the royal court to a poorer life in a religious institution.  It is hard to see much real poverty in an important role in a very wealthy Order, but the knights of the order were required to take the usual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.  It is at least conceivable that James Cottrell would have regarded the life at the Order of Christ as one of enforced relative poverty compared with the high life at court.