Pembroke College (1569–74)
in The early Spenser, 1554–80
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Chapter 3 describes the conflict at Cambridge between Thomas Cartwright, Lady Margaret lecturer in divinity, and John Whitgift, future Archbishop of Canterbury. Cartwright, a gifted lecturer, threatened the establishment by supporting the election of bishops on scriptural grounds. As an undergraduate, Spenser witnessed the ‘takeover’ by Whitgift and Andrew Perne, who ‘reformed’ the university statutes, making them more restrictive than they had been under Catholic Mary Tudor, to oust Cartwright. Heads of colleges had to approve degrees before they could be awarded. A spin-off from these conflicts affected Gabriel Harvey’s receipt of the M.A. in 1573. Since Spenser received the B.A. from Pembroke College in 1573, Harvey cannot have served as Spenser’s tutor. His M.A. was not awarded until after Spenser had graduated, and it required the intervention of John Young, Master of Pembroke College, for the degree to be awarded.

The early Spenser, 1554–80

‘Minde on honour fixed’

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