‘A comely gate to so rich and glorious a citie’: The Paratextual Architecture of the Rheims New Testament and the King James Bible
This chapter examines Miles Smith’s King James Bible preface, ‘The Translators to the Reader’, excavating the polemical, hermeneutic, and literary contexts that frame the preface and determine its rhetoric, style, and tone. Smith’s preface took shape in response to successive installments of the Catholic Douai-Rheims translation and the Sistine Vulgate of 1590, and drew on classic Protestant principles of argument and exegesis. At stake in these debates was the question of a textual and doctrinal return ad fontes, as both Reformed and Roman polemicists claimed the authority of the early church for their cause. In a detailed examination of the paratexts of the Rheims New Testament and the King James Bible, a compelling case study of the debates surrounding reform and interpretation is provided.
This chapter explores the inaugural moment for the English Reformation, and for the rendering of the scriptures in English within a national church. In May 1530, Henry VIII began to suggest that it was his duty to cause the New Testament to be translated into English for his subjects, marking a hesitant and reluctant shift towards a possible translation of the Bible. The King’s suggestion was met with opposition from senior churchmen on the one hand, and frustration by English evangelicals on the other, and Henry subsequently imposed legislation that limited Bible reading. This chapter examines the complex issues involved in the protocols that governed how scripture was disseminated to the laity.
Kim Ian Parker
This chapter deals with the largely neglected field of political Hebraism. Biblical citations are ubiquitous in virtually all political discussion in the seventeenth century, yet the political uses of Hebraic scholarship have been more or less absent from scholarship until recent years. The post-Reformation era, with its emphasis on sola scriptura, placed the Bible squarely in the centre of culture. One of the main issues for early modern political theorists was whether God approved or disapproved of a monarchy, based on their interpretation of Deuteronomy 17 and I Samuel 8. This chapter discusses the influence of political Hebraism on some influential seventeenth-century thinkers in England and argues that the Bible played an influential role in the formation of early modern political thought in the West as transmitted through the idea of the rebirth of the Hebrew Republic.
The divorce tracts, which consist of four prose pamphlets published between August 1643 and March 1645, represent a significant and underappreciated development in John Milton's theorizing of liberty. His arguments raise issues not only of family harmony, but also of political commitment. This article explores the emotional and political breakthroughs and sunderings visible in, and prompted by, these texts. Milton's tracts became the centre of a storm of anti-sectarianism, and were held up for ridicule as a harbinger of anarchy. They also engaged the stricken political realm. In recontextualizing Milton's divorce writings, the article places his analysis of irremediable difference, both on a personal and political level, in relation to the practical political work of the day. It also helps to explain the larger, both more local and more philosophical, significance of Milton's analogy between the marriage contract and the contract of civil obedience to the magistrate.
The sketch of prosodic theory presented in this article helps to clarify how the blank verse of Paradise Lost is virtually a new beginning and transmits a quite un-Shakespearean energy. Prosodic analysis shows that John Milton ranges freely within his chosen limits: there is no iambic jog-trot, and the rhythms are endlessly varied. The verse of Paradise Lost is distinguished by the sustained length of its sentences, which are on average about ten lines long, despite the frequent use of short sentences for rhetorical effect. Its blank verse is a deliberate and distinctive creation, influenced by but antithetical to late Shakespeare, through working within a strict discipline. Prosody and syntax are almost inseparable in effect in Paradise Lost.
Ann Baynes Coiro
John Milton put A Maske presented at Ludlow Castle in the middle of his authorial identity when he announced that he was an important writer. A Maske has often been linked with Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue. John Fletcher's The Faithful Shepherdess was one of Milton's favourite plays and reading it can feel like a phantasmagoric encounter with Milton's Maske. The points of intersection between Coelum Britannicum and A Maske show the difference between the sceptical courtier and the romantic humanist. A Maske is the crucial nexus of Milton's two great English influences: Spenser's pastoral romance and Shakespeare's richly human drama. The most fascinating feature of the masque is the Lady. The masque's reversion to a conventional deus ex machina (Sabrina, or, if necessary, Heaven) only underscores retrospectively the boldness of Milton's most original creation in A Maske, a real woman acting nobly in the world.
This article focuses on the Ranters, who have been described as ‘forming the extreme left wing of the sects’, both theologically and politically. Combining a ‘pantheistic mysticism and a crudely plebeian materialism’ with a ‘deep concern for the poor’ and a ‘primitive biblical communism’, the ‘Ranter Movement’ spectacularly manifested itself in late 1649, peaked the next year, and then splintered under the hammer of ‘savage repression’ Special attention is given to Abiezer Coppe (1619–72?), whom some contemporaries regarded as a fiery sectarian preacher turned diabolically possessed mad libertine. So blackened was Coppe's name that in the late eighteenth century he was still remembered as one of the wildest enthusiasts of a fanatical age. Nineteenth-century critics concurred with this verdict, calling Coppe a ‘strange enthusiast’ and the ‘great Ranter’.
This article discusses the satires of Samuel Butler, Andrew Marvell, and John Dryden. All three authors convey a strongly satirical take on the volatile Zeitgeist — its mood of damaged and shaky authority — but their modes of rejection are politically and stylistically distinct. Butler tends toward a poetics of the absurd that drains recent events of larger meaning. Marvell's satirical processing of historical reversals emphasizes a piquant element of the perverse. Dryden favours a counterpoint of the grotesque and baroque. Each of the three satirists tends to pit the small and the domestic against the overblown. All three reject what they see as brainless attitudes toward recent history, narcotized manifestations of the oblivious, the forgetful, and the soothingly dull. There can be no question in their satires of merely rehabilitating the mystique of olden times. And though their satires reject present-day chaos, they do so by way of trying out newly domesticated and denaturalized configurations of authority.
When Quince first meets his actors in A Midsummer Night's Dream, he tells them who they will be playing and a little about their fictional characters. He also distributes to the actors their ‘parts’, the pieces of paper on which their words are written. Walking away from the meeting, the actors take their paper parts with them for memorising at home: by the time they next gather together, each player must be word-perfect. So the players are going to learn from a text that is only ‘part’ of the play — an idea so strange to scholars that it is still regularly called into question. Passages in plays of the time referring to what is rehearsed often suggest that the verbal content of a play is not the emphasis of collective rehearsal; that a general rehearsal is largely intended to determine action that affects the group. Parts had their effect on the way a performance was watched. With parts informing so fundamentally the way actors performed and audiences watched, they must also have affected the way playwrights wrote.
Despite the fact that the London theatre companies were suspended from playing by order of Parliament in September 1642, an inhibition that lasted (with minor infractions) down to 1660, the seventeen years of theatrical activity during the Caroline period was a time of comparative prosperity and stability. The stability of Caroline playing was in some respects more apparent than real, since before the onset of the political crisis there were various factors that troubled theatrical activity (plague, competition between companies, conflicts between companies and managers, complaints from local residents). Nonetheless, around 1630 the total theatrical economy had achieved what we might think of as a steady state. When in that year the Salisbury Court playhouse in Whitefriars was opened as a new venture, the number of theatres and playing companies operating was at its peak and would remain stable for the next decade. During this period, five companies were active, performing at six venues. The dominant company was the King's Men, who alternated between two playhouses.
Two pivotal events bookend the decade 1583–1593 in Elizabethan theatre history. In March 1582 to 1583, the careers of several leading acting companies were disrupted by the formation of a large new company with a formidable list of principal players. No actor would have resisted the casting call by Edmond Tilney, Master of the Revels, acting under the direction of Sir Francis Walsingham, Principal Secretary to Elizabeth I. And none of the patrons of these acting companies would have questioned the departure of their players to join the new Queen's Men, a company that was to dominate the court's annual festive revels as well as the provincial performance calendar across the country for most of the following decade. Available evidence suggests that 1583–1593 was a period of transition in business practices of adult playing companies in England. There was some resilience in patronage of acting companies after the initial shock to the system in 1583. There are several primary sources to consider in piecing together information about company repertories, including the Revels accounts of performances by acting companies at court.
Roslyn L. Knutson
By any measure, 1593 was a very bad year for the playhouse business in England. The late summer outbreak of plague in 1592 continued in the suburbs of London. Adult playing companies took to the road, visiting towns as widespread as Newcastle upon Tyne, Lyme Regis in Dorset, and Norwich. Strange's Men mounted a tour in the summer of 1593 along a route apparently plague-safe and financially rewarding. The company of Pembroke's Men was not so lucky. Also, companies were geographically estranged from their playwrights, who for the most part stayed in London. One in particular, William Shakespeare, apparently considered a change of focus for his skills from drama to poetry. No one therefore could have predicted that the business of playing would enjoy unprecedented commercial success and expansion in the next decade. Theatre historians construct differing narratives about this decade in the theatrical marketplace, but they generally agree that the salient issues are the companies' business models; patrons and political critics; playing venues; the repertory; the book trade; and audiences.
The year 1603 ushered in a new chapter in the history of early modern theatre companies in England. First, it marks the end of one reign and the beginning of another: Elizabeth died on March 24, and James was crowned on July 25. More specifically, as far as the adult playing companies were concerned, it brought a wholesale change in theatrical patronage. These changes of patronage had significant repercussions for the playing companies over the decade that followed. This article examines patronage in relation to other factors that affected the companies' business structures and commercial fortunes between 1603 and 1613, notably the security that two of the companies enjoyed at their playhouses from the turn of the century, the revival of the children's companies around the same time, and the prevalence of plague throughout much of the decade. It also looks at the companies' core product, the plays in their repertories, identifying two further and conflicting influences on dramatic production: the need for playing companies to be competitive, and the evolution of distinctive company styles.
James J. Marino
On June 29, 1613, at the first performance of William Shakespeare and John Fletcher's All Is True, the Globe playhouse burned to the ground. The destruction of this iconic theatre might be imagined as a conveniently catastrophic mark for the end of an era. But the conflagration led to nothing more than a piece of colorful London news and a substantial expense for the actors who owned the Globe; none of the audience was hurt, and nothing fundamental about the Jacobean theater changed. The Globe was promptly rebuilt, and improved, while the King's Men continued performing in their Blackfriars venue. The King's Men's consolidation of its dominance limited the prospects for the other adult playing companies, and oddly diminished the general level of competition between the London playhouses. This article traces the history of adult playing companies in England for the period 1613–1625. It looks at playhouse repertories, the causal relationship between the decline and the loss of patronage, boy companies, clowning on the Jacobean stage, and the decline of Palatine's Men and Queen Anne's Men.
W. R. Streitberger
In March 1583, Elizabeth I's Principal Secretary, Sir Francis Walsingham, asked Edmond Tilney, then Master of the Revels, to choose a new company of players to serve under the Queen's patronage. Tilney drafted players from several sophisticated companies to create the largest and most talented playing company of the era, one that dominated in the Queen's Revels throughout the 1580s and continued to play in the provinces until the end of her reign. Professional theatre in England dates from as early as the fourteenth century, when groups of players who earned their livelihood from their performances travelled the countryside in search of audiences. Some early playing companies were independent, known by the names of their leading players, but by the late fifteenth century others were under community sponsorship. Between 1572 and 1583, there were at least thirty-five companies with known patrons, but the adult playing companies that offered all fifty-six plays in the revels during this period were patronised by only ten of them, all members of the Queen's family or close personal friends.
John Bourchier, Lord Berners, stands at the boundary between the medieval and early modern, his compositions hovering at their nebulous threshold. While it is recognized that Arthur of Little Britain (1560?) and Huon of Bourdeaux (c.1515) are written in the tradition of the medieval chivalric romance and that Castle of Love (1548?) reflects new, humanist trends in the genre, it is less frequently observed that these two strands of romance were both avidly read, reprinted, and adapted throughout the Tudor period. Readers looked to romance for entertainment, education, and advice. Despised and feared by moralists, it provided children, merchants, gentlemen, women, and nobles with models of exemplary and daring behaviour, rhetorical and chivalric prowess, and political theory. Straining against the tide of continued and widespread moral condemnation, chivalric and humanist romance fiction remained popular with male and female readers across the social spectrum. In order to illuminate the dominance of the romance throughout the period, this article provides an overview of sixteenth-century romance production, dissemination, and readership. It takes a close look at Lord Berners, whose literary output reflects the evolution, enduring popularity, and continued relevance of the genre through the Tudor period and beyond.
Kevin Killeen and Helen Smith
The introduction explores the centrality of the Bible in early modern England, demonstrating its importance to devotional life, scholarship, political thought, and everyday experience. It explores existing scholarship on early modern biblical culture, and presents a brief history of the printing and circulation of the Bible in English, as well as the numerous forms in which the scriptures were encountered. The introduction argues for the particularity of the ‘English’ Bible, and describes the scope and ambitions of the Handbook. It argues that the ‘English’ Bible was, in many ways, an international phenomenon, created by translators and scrutinised by scholars; inspired by the debates of the European Reformations; and indebted to continental fashions in printing and publishing.
In early modern England, the psalms were understood as the Bible in miniature, offering concise versions of biblical teachings and teaching individuals how to converse with God. The psalms had a very long history of translation into the vernacular, and this chapter charts some of the varied ways in which the psalms were appropriated not only as devotional aids but as modes of poetic and musical expression. The musicality of the psalms was understood to create pleasing harmony, between the soul of the individual believer and God, and amongst the body of the congregation. Nonetheless, debates around the genre of the psalms, the propriety of singing, and the politics of reproduction introduced notes of dissonance into post-Reformation discussions of liturgical practice and godly living. This chapter explores these controversial subjects, paying particular attention to the bodily and social forms of psalm reading and singing.
This article focuses on Spenserian allegory. Comparable to Dante in his importance for allegory, Spenser creatively expanded its potential throughout his literary life. But the experimental vigor of his endeavor is too little acknowledged. While assimilating and building on medieval precedents, the poet's engagement with allegory subsumed diverse influences from the ancients to his own contemporaries in a unique new formulation. The consummate expression of Spenser's allegorical poetic, The Faerie Queene samples and redevelops myriad literary and other texts, forms, and discourses to manifest its own poetic world. Few books read like no others, and this poem's profound allegorism ensures it is one of them.
This article discusses how Amoretti and Epithalamion singly and together clear a space in late Elizabethan poetry. The Amoretti and the Epithalamion establish themselves in relation to an actual event, Spenser's marriage to Elizabeth Boyle of 11 June 1594, more than any other sequence of the period. The Amoretti is unique in representing a courtship that demonstrably leads to a marriage, while the wedding takes place not out of the reader's sight but immediately after the sequence, within the same volume of 1595. The Epithalamion is one of the most successful wedding songs in any European vernacular. The process of the Epithalamion is to narrate the wedding day not only as an event in itself but as an intersection of social and mythological significance, as though Edmund Spenser's marriage to Elizabeth Boyle mattered equally to the townspeople, distant merchants, and classical figures such as Hymen and Hesperus.