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date: 18 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In 1590, Edward Allde printed a slim quarto of thirty-six leaves containing John Lydgate’s The Serpent of Devision (1422) and Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville’s Tragedye of Gorboduc (first performed in 1561). This article examines the extent and nature of the “cultural reformations” that occurred in late medieval and Tudor England, using the joint publication of the two works as a useful starting point. It considers three types of community: the national communities – Gorboduc’s Britain and Caesar’s Rome – that these texts depict; the imagined communities of readers/spectators that they address; and the Elizabethan political community that they envisage. It also discusses the often interrelated processes of religious, social, political, technological, and cultural change witnessed in the period and analyses the ways in which these processes can be traced through the revisions made to the fifteenth-century Serpent for its publication in 1590.

Keywords: The Serpent of Devision, Gorboduc, Edward Allde, John Lydgate, Thomas Norton, Thomas Sackville, England, Rome, political community, prose style

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