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date: 01 December 2021

Nationalism in the Renaissance

Abstract and Keywords

Although an influential school of thought locates the origins of nationalism in the late eighteenth century, the Tudor era has long been associated with the rise of English national consciousness. This chapter surveys recent studies of sixteenth-century nationalism and argues that the national community imagined in Tudor literature was in many respects more British than English. Whether or not a developed nationalist ideology was present in sixteenth-century England, the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries have been crucial to the development and expression of national consciousness in later eras. Indeed, it is precisely where early modern literary texts look forward to the nation as something yet to come that they speak most powerfully to nationalist sensibilities.

Keywords: nationalism, nationalist, Renaissance, Britain, England, Shakespeare, English, British, Tudor, sixteenth century

As Richard Helgerson observed in a seminal study of the Elizabethan nation, “nationalism and individualism … are … deeply implicated in one another.”1 The point holds true despite—or, indeed, because of—the tendency in nationalist rhetoric to pit the interests of the collective against those of the self-interested private subject. (From Shakespeare’s Coriolanus down to President John F. Kennedy, the genuine patriot must acknowledge that “his country’s dearer than himself” [Coriolanus, 1.7.72]).2 Given this interdependence, it is unsurprising that recent academic debates regarding the origins and essence of nationalism have tended to mirror debates over the origins of the individual. According to one powerful strain of scholarship, both the nation and the autonomous subject are quintessential products of the early modern period (and perhaps of Shakespeare’s plays in particular). An opposing strain argues that nationalism and individualism are both much older than the Renaissance, with important precursors in the medieval period.3 Scholars who suppose that nations and subjects have been around since time immemorial tend to credit them with an actual if not inevitable existence; by contrast, those who point to their emergence at some point in the sixteenth century tend to see them as either marvellous discoveries or sinister fabrications. The question of what kind of nation existed in Elizabethan England thus quickly widens onto much larger issues of historical causation, the specific character of modernity, and, indeed, the nature of the human.

The standoff within nationalism studies between “modernists” and “primordialists” rests as much on divergent definitions of the nation as it does on the shape of history. Influential modernists such as Benedict Anderson, Ernest Gellner, and Eric Hobsbawm, for all of whom nationalism emerges in the later eighteenth century, rely on definitions of nationalism that emphasize a mass public culture and some notion of equality among citizens; primordialists, on the other hand, emphasize the importance of ethnic identity and common myths, traditions, and language.4 On the face of it, the state of the nation in the sixteenth century would seem to be largely irrelevant to this debate, being altogether too recent for the primordialists and too early for the modernists. Yet at least one much-cited scholar of nationalism has gone so far as to locate the origins of nationhood tout court in Tudor England. Liah Greenfeld’s stirring proclamation that the emergence of nationalism in sixteenth-century England marked not only the birth of a single nation but “the birth of nations, the birth of nationalism” could hardly fail to find a receptive audience among specialists in Elizabethan literature.5 Although it would seem difficult to argue that the nation was born both in the 1500s and the 1700s, these variants on the modernist position can be partially reconciled by the proposition that a sense of the nation emerged first among members of a small educated class in the sixteenth century before spreading to the masses in the eighteenth.6 Although strict modernists might insist that without the masses there can be no nation, Daniel Woolf retorts that “If there is national sentiment in the histories written [in the sixteenth century], then there must have been something to be sentimental about, and therefore some concept, however inchoate, that amounts to a proto-nation.”7

If it is a proto-nation that we encounter in the literature of sixteenth-century England it is also, by the standards of the Atlantic Archipelago, a belated one. Under the pressure of English expansionism, Scotland and Wales had developed distinctive and defiant nationalist discourses from the twelfth century onward. Gerald of Wales’s Old Man of Pencader, who reportedly prophesied in the face of Henry II that the Welsh would retain their native land and language down to the day of judgment, remains a touchstone for Welsh nationalism in the twenty-first century.8 Scottish nationalists look back to the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320 for its articulation of the principle that sovereignty rests with the Scottish people, as well as for its stirring rhetoric. (“As long as a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be subjected to the lordship of the English. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom alone.”9) If there is national sentiment to be found in medieval English texts, by contrast, it is not of the sort that has resonated strongly with patriots in more recent eras.

The tardiness of England’s entry into the British league of nations owes something to the fact that, through all the offensive and defensive wars of the later Middle Ages, its survival was rarely perceived as being under threat. Although Edward III warned his subjects more than once that the French were plotting to exterminate the English language, there is little to suggest that his warnings—delivered in French—struck a popular chord.10 Only after Henry VIII’s break with Rome did the real possibility of England being conquered and subsumed by a hostile foreign power loom large in English minds. At the same time, the rhetoric of Reformation encouraged the English to perceive the medieval centuries as ones in which England had been under precisely such outside domination in the form of the Roman church. The sense that England had only recently thrown off the shackles of foreign rule undoubtedly helps account for what Jodi Mikalachki has described as the “oddly colonized quality” of English writing about the nation in this period.11

The English had waited centuries for a nation, only for two to come along at once. Writing the nation in post-Reformation England involved a choice between two distinct imagined communities. One of these was the nation we would today recognize as England: the state bounded by the Tweed and the Wye (or similar borders), populated by descendents of the Anglo-Saxon settlers, proud of its legal heritage and its English tongue. This nation is clearly discernible in the work of a generation of historically minded churchmen and antiquaries associated with Archbishop Matthew Parker, including William Lambarde, Laurence Nowell, and John Joscelyn.12 In the 1560s and early 1570s, great strides were made in the study of Old English and the law and literature of the pre-Norman era. English nationalism of this distinctive stripe is arguably reflected in some historical dramas of the 1590s, such as Edmund Ironside and Fair Em.13 On the whole, however, bona fide English nationalism seems to have been a minority and specialist interest even within the community of Elizabethan writers dedicated to fostering an image of the nation in print and on the stage.

This may at first seem surprising. In the popular imagination, as well as in a good deal of academic history and criticism, the Tudor period in general and the Elizabethan period in particular are strongly associated with the “discovery of England” (although scholars today might prefer to speak of an “invention” rather than a “discovery”). Images of Elizabeth, Henry VIII, Shakespeare, and Hampton Court lie very near the heart of what is presented in tourism and heritage discourse as the timeless English nation.14 Unforgettable passages such as the opening declaration of the Statute in Restraint of Appeals (1533) (“that this realm of England is an empire, and so hath been accepted in the world”) and Elizabeth’s speech to the troops at Tilbury (“I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too”) can still stir the blood. Above all, the vociferous English patriotism typical of many of Shakespeare’s histories, which seems to verge on self-parody in a play such as Henry V (in which the words “England” and “English” occur more than one hundred times), still resonates in the ears of English nationalists (not least the conservative-leaning readers of This England magazine).15 We are entitled to question, nonetheless, to what extent the most famous expressions of Tudor nationalism are really addressed to or concerned with an English nation, whatever name it goes by.

Arguably, the main thrust of nationalism in post-Reformation England was not English, but rather British. Even when the nation celebrated in plays and speeches goes by the name of England, we find that many of the qualities with which it is most firmly associated belong more properly to Britain. The nation to which sixteenth-century English patriots pledged their hearts and fortunes was ancient, insular, and imperial—qualities that could not be ascribed with any accuracy to the English state. The Reformation statute that defined England as an empire appealed to the authority of “divers sundry old authentic histories and chronicles”—but these texts, to the extent that they ever existed, dealt not with the Anglo-Saxons but with the ancient Britons in the form of the conquering King Arthur and the Emperor Constantine (understood to be British by birth).16 As the Duke of Norfolk proposed to ambassador Chapuys as early as 1530, Henry VIII “had a right of Empire in his kingdom and recognized no superior. There had been an Englishman who had conquered Rome, to wit Brennus. Constantine had reigned here and the mother of Constantine was English.”17 As for John of Gaunt’s “This England” speech from Richard II, no national quality receives more lavish attention here than insularity (“this sceptered isle … This fortress built by Nature for herself … This precious stone set in the silver sea,/Which serves it in the office of a wall … England, bound in with the triumphant sea … “[2.1.40, 43, 46–47, 61]). Neither in the fourteenth century nor the sixteenth could England be described as an island, least of all perhaps in a play in which the Welsh prove conspicuously disloyal to the English crown. Nor was England “wont to conquer others” (2.1.65) with anything like the imperial ambition attributed in the chronicles to Brennus, Arthur, and Constantine. John of Gaunt’s understanding of England is essentially that expressed by John Bale in the 1550s: “our relme in those days called Britain [is] now named Englande.”18 If this can be read as a boast of successful English appropriation, it also signals an absorption of England and Englishness within a larger geographical entity and national identity.

Nor did British nationalism always shroud itself beneath reference to England. The 1530s and 1540s saw an efflorescence of interest in and identification with British antiquity, driven partly by Reformation anxieties. Protestant Reformers looked to the pre-Saxon British Church (founded, according to some accounts, by Joseph of Arimathea; according to others by the legendary second-century British King Lucius) as embodying a quasi-apostolic purity to which the English Church could and should return. Enthusiasts such as John Leland understood the Reformation itself as part of a larger parcel of reforms aimed at restoring the ancient British church and state. The Earl of Surrey caught the mood when he praised the late Sir Thomas Wyatt (d.1542) as ever striving after works of fame “to turn to Britain’s gain.”19 In the 1540s, the propaganda campaign associated with the drive to subdue Scotland took on an explicitly British hue. Whereas in the conflicts of previous centuries England had usually laid claim to suzerainty or feudal superiority over Scotland, now it presented itself as “the onely supreme seat of th’empire of Great Britaigne”; the Scots were urged by Protector Somerset to relinquish their sense of difference along with their independence and to “take the indifferent old name of Britons again.”20 The Rough Wooing of the Scots may have faltered and failed, but the vision of the “restitucion of the name and Empire of Great Briteigne”—the vision of an island united as a single nation, without difference between regions and founded on ancient tradition—echoed down the later decades of the sixteenth century.21 Well before the union of the British kingdoms under a single monarch, the island was regarded as the natural subject of topographical and historical inquiry in texts such as Humphrey Llwyd’s Commentarioli Britannicae descriptionis fragmentum (1572), translated into English as The Breviary of Britain (1573), and William Camden’s Britannia (1586). Paradoxically, enthusiasm for a united Britain seems to have been dampened rather than heightened by the accomplishment of coronal union under James VI and I in 1603. English politicians found themselves setting new store by ancient English liberties, whereas Scots remembered that Britain had always been a byword or code for southern domination.22 We should not underestimate the extent to which nationalism, in the past as in present, feeds on discrepancies between the ideal nation and the existing state. When Elizabeth’s small realm included only part of the island of Britain, nationalists dreamed of a united island and a British empire; when the island was united under James I, the main focus of national sentiment turned to such “little England” themes as the common law and the Norman yoke.23

Early modern nationalism emerged as a key theme in history and literary criticism from the early 1990s—not coincidentally, perhaps, the period that saw a resurgence of nationalist politics in central and eastern Europe with the breakup of the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union. Richard Helgerson’s Forms of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England (1992) had a galvanizing effect, and the book remains both useful and influential. Helgerson attributed the emergence of the English nation—or, at least, of a powerful and long-lived discourse of nationhood—to a single generation of writers born in the 1550s and early 1560s, including William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, Michael Drayton, William Camden, Edward Coke, Richard Hooker, and Richard Hakluyt. Working in fields as disparate as drama, poetry, topography, law, theology, and the documentation of overseas adventures, these men all turned to the English nation for both their subject and their audience. Locating the rise of nationhood firmly in the final years of the sixteenth century and the first years of the seventeenth, and taking the Englishness of the writers in question largely as read, Helgerson’s study shared features with the older “Elizabethan discovery of England” narrative championed by A. L. Rowse.24 The same could be observed of Claire McEachern’s Poetics of English Nationhood, 1590–1612, which followed in 1996 with its more extensive and focused readings of the national triumvirate of Shakespeare, Spenser, and Drayton. Yet the influence of a contemporary scholarly movement, the New British (or Four Nations) History, was soon felt in the study of early modern nationalism.25 David Baker’s Between Nations: Shakespeare, Spenser, Marvell, and the Question of Britain, although focusing on English writers, was concerned with wider British ambitions and identities. Ensuing studies by Willy Maley, Andrew Hadfield, and Philip Schwyzer have explored how complex and competing visions of nationhood emerged out of Tudor England’s fraught relationships with Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.26

As the focus has shifted outward from the English heartland, it has also shifted backward from the Elizabethan heyday to explore the earlier Tudor period as a crucible of nationalism. McEachern acknowledged that John Bale had written in an unmistakably nationalistic vein in the midst of the Henrician Reformation; but, she argued, “one man, however prescient, does not a nation make … besides, no one would read [a book about Bale].”27 Yet, in Writing the Nation in Reformation England (2004), Cathy Shrank identified the tumultuous 1530s and 1540s as decisive for the development of a distinctively early modern national discourse. More recently, Stewart Mottram has turned to the same period while reasserting the importance of an inward-looking, nonimperial, genuinely English nationalism.28 In addition to Bale, who brought “widow England” on to the stage in his prototypical history play King Johan (1538), John Leland, Thomas Smith, and Nicholas Udall have emerged as figures centrally concerned with the imagining of England’s nation in the crucial two decades following the break with Rome.

Recent work in early modern studies has tended to shy away from large questions of ideological shifts in favor of more close-grained analysis of particular texts, objects, and networks. The study of nationalism has followed this trend. Although the debate between modernists and primordialists is still frequently referenced, it shows no sign of being resolved, nor do today’s scholars seem particularly concerned as to whether it is possible to speak of nationalism per se in the period, provided it can be shown that a national community is being imagined in a given text. Growing academic interest in print culture and the material book has been linked in interesting ways with the history of nationalism by Matthew Day.29 Perhaps unsurprisingly, in the era of the United Kingdom Independence Party, attention has turned to how English national identity was shaped in relation to nations overseas. Anna Suranyi has noted the emergence of a sense of English nationhood in the genre of early modern travel writing, whereas Christopher Highley has explored how English Catholics, many of them writing in exile, imagined the English nation along strikingly different lines from their Protestant contemporaries.30

Some of the most interesting recent work on nationalism and the literature of the English Renaissance focuses on how that literature was received, understood, and appropriated in later, more unimpeachably nationalistic eras. Shakespeare is inevitably the key figure here. In the eighteenth century, his plays were seen to offer an irresistible blend of native (bourgeois) values and English nationalism; audiences turned to Shakespeare for aid in “rebuilding a national character that had existed in his time but that had been eroded by French influence.” 31 In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries, Michael Dobson observes, the fad for outdoor productions of woodland plays like As You Like It and Midsummer Night’s Dream seemed to embody “the woody, folksy, nationalist underside” of modernism.32 Lynne Walhout Hinojosa has explored the perception and perversion of Shakespeare and his contemporaries in the same era. Amid the patriotic fervor of World War I, Hinojosa shows, Shakespeare emerged as a “warrior saint” whose plays, Professor Sir Walter Raleigh insisted, would always be intuitively understood by the plucky Cockneys in the trenches although stubbornly eluding the comprehension of the most advanced German scholars.33 Reception studies such as these create a vitally important context for understanding the recent and ongoing appropriation and invocation of Shakespeare for nationalist and militaristic purposes. The battlefield orations of Shakespeare’s Henry V were invoked by British commanders at the launch of both the first and second Gulf Wars.34 A still more debased Shakespearean inheritance can be heard in the words of Sergeant Alexander Blackman (jailed for war crimes in 2013), in the act of murdering a wounded Afghan: “There you are, shuffle off this mortal coil. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us, you cunt.”35 Somewhere behind Blackman’s utterance is the assurance that Shakespeare’s plays underwrite the violent adventures of Englishmen abroad, as they have for at least two and a half centuries.36

Scholarly work on the nationalist reception of Shakespeare and his contemporaries generally starts from the assumption that Elizabethan drama does not, in fact, distil the essence of a timeless and immediately recognizable national spirit. These studies, in other words, are at least as concerned with what eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century patriots read into sixteenth-century literature as with what they might really have found there. This is sensible enough. Had Shakespeare, Spenser, and Drayton never written, some other triumvirate of poets and playwrights (Heywood, Daniel, and Dekker?) would undoubtedly have come to embody the national spirit of Elizabethan England. Yet to acknowledge this is not quite to endorse Ernest Gellner’s dismissal of nationalist history, in which he argues “The cultural shreds and patches used by nationalism are often arbitrary historical inventions. Any old shred and patch would have served as well.”37 Henry V’s speech at Agincourt is more than an old shred or patch. There is quite clearly an element in certain literary works of the Tudor and early Stuart era—including several of Shakespeare’s histories, The Faerie Queene, Poly-Olbion—that, if it does not reflect an actually existing nationalism by the modernist definition, seems to look forward to its emergence.

This slightly uncanny imagining in Renaissance literature of the nation as something to come (or come back) should serve to remind us that the nation is by definition a multitemporal phenomenon. As Benedict Anderson remarks, the nations of nationalist imagining “always loom out of an immemorial past, and, still more important, glide into a limitless future.”38 A nation that exists right now but did not yet exist a few years ago and will have vanished a few years hence is all but unimaginable, at least from a nationalist’s perspective. By contrast, a nation that lacks full realization in the present but which once existed and which will rise again in the future is not only imaginable, but is among the most common forms of nationalism’s imagined communities. This is to say that the nation is a classic instance of the polychronic object or phenomenon that, like a crumpled or folded handkerchief, “reveals a time that is gathered together, with multiple pleats.”39 We find such pleating in famously dense form in Shakespeare’s history plays, wherein we in the twenty-first century look back on Shakespeare in the late sixteenth looking back on fourteenth- and fifteenth-century kings who gaze back on still earlier predecessors. The nation’s origins lie deep in the mists of time, yet its endlessly iterable essence is here in the pleated “now” of the histories—“now” when Henry V triumphs at Agincourt, “now” when Shakespeare imagines him doing it, “now” when the play is enacted before us, “now” in the future when all of this will be remembered and enacted again. There are numerous passages in the histories (as well as in several of the tragedies) in which the audience’s present is foretold as the time of happiness, the time in which the sufferings of the past will be redeemed and make sense. The audience is thus placed in the position described by Walter Benjamin of those who both can and must save the dead through fidelity to the (in this case) national cause.40

Yet, as noted earlier, nationalism rarely locates its chief satisfactions in the present. Henry V’s Crispin’s Day speech is, as Jonathan Baldo has reminded us, in part a condemnation of English national culture at the close of the sixteenth century. Contrary to Henry’s confident prediction, “there was no annual observance of Agincourt,” and the oration would have served less to remind audiences of past glories than to put them in mind of present shortcomings.41 The speech thus looks to the Elizabethan present but also past it, toward a future wherein the failings and betrayals of the present will at last be redeemed. Nor is this a unique moment in the literature of the period.

A comparable deferral of national (and poetic) redemption into the distant future is found in George Wither’s remarkable commendatory poem prefixed to the second part of Poly-Olbion (1522). Where some might be tempted to describe Drayton’s long topographical poem as belated, an Elizabethan project sorely out of place in a Jacobean literary world, Wither instead ascribes its disappointingly poor reception to an England that is not yet ripe to receive it:

  • Those that succeed us, Draytons Name shall love,
  • And, so much to this laborious Peece approove;
  • That such as write heerafter, shall to trim
  • Their new Inventions, pluck it limbe from limbe.
  • And our Great-Grandsonnes childrens-children may,
  • (Yea shall) as in a Glasse, this Isle survay,
  • As we now see it: And as those did to,
  • Who lived many hundred yeares agoe.
  • For, when the Seas shall eat away the Shore,
  • Great Woods spring up, where Plaines were heretofore;
  • High Mountaines leveld with low Vallyes lye;
  • And Rivers runne where now the ground is drie:
  • This Poeme shall grow famous, And declare
  • What old-Things stood, where new-Things shall appeare.42

Wither’s vision of drastic topographical upheaval resonates powerfully with our own sensitivity to the unfolding consequences of climate change. Such concerns are, we tend to assume, specific to our historical moment, making it is all too easy to imagine that Wither is talking to us and investing us, in particular, with both the responsibility and the capability of valuing Poly-Olbion as it should be valued. It could be retorted that anxiety about alterations in the English landscape and its uses have been fairly constant from Drayton’s day down to our own; nevertheless, a good deal of current criticism of Poly-Olbion draws vigor from the notion that we are the ones this poem has been waiting for.43

A still more arresting appeal to the national future occurs in Samuel Daniel’s Musophilus, whose eponymous speaker defends the scorned literary arts as the means whereby “th’unborne shall have communion/ Of what we feele, and what doth us befall.”44 What Musophilus foresees is not only redemption for the undervalued poetic productions of the present, however, but an unfolding of events that will lend transcendent meaning to the English language and its speakers:

  • who in time knowes whither we may vent
  • The treasure of our tongue, to what strange shores
  • This gaine of our best glorie shal be sent
  • T’inrich unknowing Nations with our stores?
  • What worlds in th’yet unformed Occident
  • May come refin’d with th’accents that are ours?
  • Or who can tell for what great worke in hand
  • The greatnes of our stile is now ordain’d?
  • What powres it shall bring in, what spirits command,
  • What thoughts let out, what humours keep restrain’d,
  • What mischiefe it may powrefully withstand,
  • And what faire ends may thereby be attain’d?45

The reference to a “great worke in hand” echoes contemporary ideas of England as an elect nation charged with a divine mission, but here the achievement is at once utterly vague and perfectly open to contemporary application by readers of English in any future era. Not, however, in every era; the cleverness of the passage lies in the way that it seems to look forward to a specific future point, when a great mischief will be withstood and fair ends achieved. It is as difficult to read this now as it must have been in 1750 or 1900 without the sense of a torch being passed to the present generation.

In his widely cited and profoundly influential study of nationalism, Benedict Anderson argued that among the preconditions for the “imagined communities” of modern nations was the emergence of “homogenous empty time” (in Walter Benjamin’s phrase), as opposed to the variegated temporalities of the medieval calendar.46 More recently, however, scholars of nationalism have begun to take note of the ways in which the time of the modern nation remains multiple and heterogeneous. Writing of nineteenth-century America, Thomas Allen has argued that “temporal heterogeneity … becomes central to the experience of modern collective belonging”; national unity in the present depended on a collective focus on “a utopian horizon in the future where the nation’s horizons would resolve themselves into a coherent republic.”47 English nationalism, too, has long resolved its contradictions and rifts with reference to the future, a future in which we find Shakespeare paradoxically at home. Such is the theme of John Drinkwater’s poem “For April 23rd 1616–1916,” which marks the three-hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare’s death against the bitter backdrop of World War I. Drinkwater finds neither glory nor meaning in the present conflict, only the hope “when this bitterness of blood is spent … That in her home, where Shakespeare’s passion grew/ From song to song, should thrive the happy-willed/ Free life that Shakespeare drew.”48 As John Lee argues, the sacrifices of World War I could be imagined as being made in the name of a “Shakespearean future” to be built in peacetime by a generation of “New Elizabethans” (a phrase current in England decades before the beginning reign of the current queen).49 Such multitemporal maneuvers are at once deeply characteristic of nationalism and deeply characteristic of Shakespeare (and at least some of his contemporaries).

Textual moments such as these complicate if they do not obviate the old debate about the origin of nations and nationalism. Arguably, there is no time of the nation, inasmuch as the characteristic move of nationalist writing is to disclaim the nation’s presence, deferring its arrival to a future moment of consummation while referring to the glorious past. The nation is anytime but now. It is this intuition that makes the literature of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries of such enduring interest both to nationalists and to scholars interested in nationalism. Shakespeare, Daniel, Drayton, and Wither speak to future patriots most profoundly not when they praise the nation (be it England or Britain), but when they lament its failure to arrive.

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Smith, Anthony D. Myths and Memories of the Nation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.Find this resource:

String, Tatiana C., and Marcus Bull, eds. Tudorism: Historical Imagination and the Appropriation of the Sixteenth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press/British Academy, 2013.Find this resource:

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Woolf, Daniel. “Of Nations, Nationalism, and National Identity: Reflections on the Historiographic Organization of the Past.” In The Many Faces of Clio: Cross-cultural Approaches to Historiography, Essays in Honor of Georg G. Iggers, edited by Q. Edward Wang and Franz L. Fillafer. New York: Berghahn Books, 2007: 71–103.Find this resource:

Notes:

(1) Richard Helgerson, Forms of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 122.

(2) All references to Shakespeare’s works are to The Norton Shakespeare, edited by Stephen Greenblatt et al., 2nd ed. (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008).

(3) For the classic statement of this argument with reference to the individual subject, see David Aers, “A Whisper in the Ear of Early Modernists; or, Reflections on Literary Critics writing the ‘History of the Subject,’” in Culture and History, 1350–1600: Essays on English Communities, Identities and Writing, edited by David Aers (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1992), 177–202; for the equivalent position with regard to nationalism, see Adrian Hastings, The Construction of Nationhood: Ethnicity, Religion, and Nationalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

(4) Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, revised ed. (London: Verso, 1991); Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism, 2nd ed. (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008); Eric Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990). Few modern scholars accept the label of “primordialist,” but for influential refutations of the modernist position see Hastings, Construction of Nationhood; Anthony D. Smith, Myths and Memories of the Nation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

(5) Liah Greenfeld, Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992): 23. See the discussions of Greenfeld’s claim in Jodi Mikalachki, The Legacy of Boadicea: Gender and Nation in Early Modern England (London: Routledge, 1998), 1–2; Jacqueline Vanhoutte, Strange Communion: Motherland and Masculinity in Tudor Plays, Pamphlets, and Politics (London: Associated University Presses, 2003), 175, 180. Claire McEachern, although distancing herself from Greenfeld’s thesis that “the English nation was the first nation, ever” (p. 7), argues for a late Tudor/early Stuart moment of national origin in The Poetics of English Nationhood, 1590–1612 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

(6) For versions of this argument, see Andrew Hadfield, “The Nation in the Renaissance,” in Reading the Nation in English Literature, edited by Elizabeth Sauer and Julia M. Wright (London: Routledge, 2010), 135–143; Philip Schwyzer, Literature, Nationalism, and Memory in Early Modern England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 8–10.

(7) Daniel Woolf, “Of Nations, Nationalism, and National Identity: Reflections on the Historiographic Organization of the Past,” in The Many Faces of Clio: Cross-cultural Approaches to Historiography, Essays in Honor of Georg G. Iggers, edited by Q. Edward Wang and Franz L. Fillafer (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007), 77. See also Andrew Escobedo, “No Early-Modern Nations? Revising Modern Theories of Nationalism,” in Reading the Nation, edited by Sauer and Wright, 203–210.

(8) Gerald of Wales, The Journey through the Wakes/ The Description of Wales, translated by Lewis Thorpe (London: Penguin, 1978), 274.

(9) In the run up to the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, the Scottish National Party repeatedly invoked the Declaration of Arbroath; see www.snp.org/media-centre/news/2012/jan/parliament-urged-restate-claim-right.

(10) Anne Curry, Adrian Bell, Adam Chapman, Andy King, and David Simpkin, “Languages and the Military Profession in Later Medieval England,” in The Anglo-Norman Language and Its Contexts, edited by Richard Ingham (Woodbridge, UK: York Medieval Press, 2010), 75.

(12) Rebecca Brackmann, The Elizabethan Invention of Anglo-Saxon England: Laurence Nowell, William Lambarde, and the Study of Old English (Cambridge: D. S Brewer, 2012).

(13) Curtis Perry, “‘For they are Englishmen’: National Identities and the Early Modern Drama of Medieval Conquest,” in Shakespeare and the Middle Ages, edited by Curtis Perry and John Watkins (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 172–195.

(14) See many of the essays in Tatiana C. String and Marcus Bull, eds., Tudorism: Historical Imagination and the Appropriation of the Sixteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press/British Academy, 2013).

(15) The reference to John of Gaunt’s speech in Richard II is underlined in the magazine’s motto: “For all who love this green and pleasant land.”

(16) See Richard Koebner, “‘The Imperial Crown of this Realm’: Henry VIII, Constantine the Great, and Polydore Vergil,” Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research 26 (1953), 29.

(17) See Koebner, “Imperial Crown,” 40. It is not clear whether the description of figures who were obviously British as English was Norfolk’s error or Chapuys’. Brennus, the fabled conqueror of Rome, was understood to have reigned in the fourth century bc, some eight hundred years before the advent of the Anglo-Saxons.

(18) John Bale, The Vocyacyon of Johan Bale in the Bishoprick of Ossorie in Irelande (Wesel, 1553), 44. See the discussion in Cathy Shrank, Writing the Nation in Reformation England, 1530–1580 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 71.

(19) Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, “Wyatt resteth here, that quick could never rest,” in Sixteenth Century Poetry: An Annotated Anthology, edited by Gordon Braden (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), 75.

(20) Nicholas Bodrugan, An Epitome of the Title that the Kynges Majestie hath to the Sovereigntie of Scotlande, in The Complaynt of Scotland, edited by J. A. H. Murray (EETS, 1872), 250; [Somerset], Epistle or Exhortacion to Unitie and Peace, in The Complaynt of Scotland, 241.

(22) Sybil M. Jack, “National Identities within Britain and the Proposed Union in 1603–1607,” Parergon 18 (2001), 75–101; Roger A. Mason, ed., Scots and Britons: Scottish Political Thought and the Union of 1603 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).

(23) See Colin Kidd, British Identities Before Nationalism: Ethnicity and Nationhood in the Atlantic World, 1600–1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 75–98; J. G. A. Pocock, The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law: A Study of English Historical Thought in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1957); Janelle Greenberg, The Radical Face of the Ancient Constitution: St Edward’s ‘Laws’ in Early Modern Political Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

(24) A. L. Rowse, The England of Elizabeth (London: Macmillan, 1950).

(25) The origins of the New British History can be traced to articles written in the early 1970s by J. G. A. Pocock, including “British History: A Plea for a New Subject,” Journal of Modern History 47 (1975), 601–621; the movement did not really take off until the 1990s, however.

(26) Willy Maley, Nation, State, and Empire in English Renaissance Literature: Shakespeare to Milton (London: Palgrave, 2003); Andrew Hadfield, Shakespeare, Spenser, and the Matter of Britain (London: Palgrave, 2004); Schwyzer, Literature, Nationalism, and Memory.

(28) Stewart Mottram, Empire and Nation in Early English Renaissance Literature (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2008).

(29) Matthew Day, “Hakluyt, Harvey, Nashe: The Material Text and Early Modern Nationalism,” Studies in Philology 104 (2007), 281–305.

(30) Anna Suranyi, The Genius of the English Nation: Travel Writing and National Identity in Early Modern England (Newark: University of Delaware, 2008); Christopher Highley, Catholics Writing the Nation in Early Modern Britain and Ireland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).

(31) Kathryn Prince, “Shakespeare and English Nationalism,” in Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century, edited by Fiona Ritchie and Peter Sabor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 285.

(32) Michael Dobson, “Shakespeare Exposed: Outdoor Performance and Ideology, 1880–1940,” in Shakespeare, Memory and Performance, edited by Peter Holland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 256–277, at 257.

(33) Lynne Walhout Hinojosa, The Renaissance, English Cultural Nationalism, and Modernism, 1860–1920 (London: Palgrave, 2009), 175.

(35) “Royal Marine must serve at least 10 years in jail for Taliban murder,” The Guardian, December 6, 2013. Blackman’s remarks and actions were recorded on the helmet-mounted camera of a fellow soldier.

(36) For the regularity with which Henry V in particular has been revived in times of war, see Gary Taylor, “Introduction,” in William Shakespeare, Henry V (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982), 39.

(39) Michel Serres with Bruno Latour, Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time, translated by Roxanne Lepidus (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995), 60.

(40) Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” in Illuminations, edited by Hannah Arendt, translated by Harry Zorn (London: Pimlico, 1999), 247.

(41) Jonathan Baldo, “Wars of Memory in Henry V,” Shakespeare Quarterly 47 (1996), 137.

(42) George Wither, “To his Noble Friend, Michael Drayton, Esquire, upon his Topo-chrono-graphicall Poeme,” in The Works of Michael Drayton, vol. IV, edited by William J. Hebel (Oxford: Blackwell, 1961), 396, ll. 61–74.

(43) Sukanya Dasgupta, “Drayton’s ‘Silent Spring’: Poly-Olbion and the Politics of Landscape,” Cambridge Quarterly 39 (2010), 152–171; Todd Borlik, Ecocriticism and Early Modern English Literature (London: Routledge, 2010); and, with reservations, Andrew McRae, “Tree-Felling in Early Modern England: Michael Drayton’s Environmentalism,” Review of English Studies 63 (2012), 410–430. For the counter-position see Sara Trevisan, ‘The murmuring woods euen shuddred as with feare’: Deforestation in Michael Drayton’s Poly-Olbion,” The Seventeenth Century 26 (2011), 240–263.

(44) Samuel Daniel, Musophilus, in Poems, and A Defence of Ryme, edited by Arthur Colby Sprague (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965), ll. 193–194.

(45) Daniel, Musophilus, ll. 957–968.

(47) Thomas M. Allen, A Republic in Time: Temporality and Social Imagination in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008), 11, 23.

(48) The Collected Poems of John Drinkwater, Volume 1: 1908–1917 (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1923), 172.

(49) John Lee, “Shakespeare and the Great War,” in The Oxford Handbook of British and Irish War Poetry, edited by Tim Kendall (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), esp. 140, 144–145.