James Doelman
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To ‘Silence Slanders toungue’
Elegies on George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham
in The daring muse of the early Stuart funeral elegy
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This chapter considers how the deep unpopularity of the royal favourite George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, led to an exceptional number of poems on his 1628 death. Some of these can be described as ‘mock elegies’, which celebrated the assassination or at least were sympathetic to John Felton, the assassin. However, there were also many sincere elegies that, in commemorating the Duke, were compelled to adopt new rhetorical strategies of a primarily defensive nature to counter both general public perception and particular instances of satiric attack upon him. These elegies are far more combative than any other examples of the genre, and frequently they attack the ‘detraction’ of poems against Buckingham and ironically invoke norms of commemoration and elegy to do so. The chapter focuses on a number of individual poems, including the widely circulating ‘Yet were Bidentalls sacred’ and a series of poems unique to a single Edinburgh manuscript.

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