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date: 02 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In the sixteenth century, both Sir Thomas Wyatt and Sir Francis Bryan were elevated as models of one or another virtue. However, the characterizations of both men were flawed. Wyatt was perhaps the country's most important poet since Chaucer, but he was not quite the figure of honour portrayed by the Earl of Surrey. Bryan was hardly a poet at all: his one known piece of extant verse is clumsy and derivative even by the standards of early Tudor imitation, and there is little evidence that he authored any of the anonymous poems in Tottel's Miscellany. Nevertheless, Tudor commentators got one thing right: as writers, Wyatt and Bryan epitomized two models of early Tudor ‘virtue’ in an age of profoundly shifting ethical value systems. These two models play out most dramatically in the shifting, ironic voices of Wyatt's third satire, ‘A spending hand’, dedicated to Bryan.

Keywords: poets, writers, early Tudor virtue, ethics, satire

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