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date: 06 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article looks at the hazards of the Jacobean court and John Donne's role therein. The relative stability of the early years of Jacobean court politics ended in 1610–12, and was followed by a period of intensified factional fighting and alliance-building as rivals jostled for power and place. Following the accession of James I, Robert Cecil had emerged as the King's principal adviser, and by 1608 had acquired all three major offices of state, as Secretary of State, Master of the Court of Wards, and Lord Treasurer. Although pre-eminent among English politicians, Cecil was obliged by James I to work quite closely, although not always harmoniously, with Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton and Lord Privy Seal. Into this increasingly polarized politics came John Donne in a renewed and belated search for preferment, first secular and then ecclesiastical. By 1613 he had acquired three patrons, all Scottish and all connected with the royal bedchamber.

Keywords: Jacobean court, John Donne, Robert Cecil, Henry Howard, court politics, Lord Privy Seal

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