Margaret Christian
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"a goodly amiable name for mildness"
Mercilla and other Elizabethan types
in Spenserian allegory and Elizabethan biblical exegesis
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The 1570 "Homelie against Disobedience" and court sermons responding to the Northern Rebellion and the threat posed by Mary Stuart employ biblical figures to develop a spiritual interpretation of current events. Public sermons in 1587, the year of Mary Stuart’s execution, and in 1589 likewise use biblical typology which shades into nationalism. Recent critics see the Mercilla episode, in its idealization of Elizabeth’s attitude and inaccurate presentation of Mary Stuart’s trial, as evidence of Spenser’s bad faith or a sophisticated critique of power. Rather, his allegory recalls preachers’ use of typology to spiritualize recent events and present them as reflecting well upon Elizabeth and God’s care of England.

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