This book approaches the rich and diverse figure of the earl by looking at a wealth of diverse visual and textual manifestations of Essex produced during the sixteenth century and up to the present day. It resituates his life and career within the richly diverse contours of his cultural and political milieu. Included in the discussion are not just those texts of which Essex is the subject, such as poems, portraits or films, but also those texts produced by Essex himself, including private letters, poems and entertainments. The book first offers important insights into the composition and ethos of the Essex circle. It then provides an important intervention in the debate about the relationship between Essex and the theatre and Essex and Shakespeare, considering his role as a patron of a company of players. The book also explains Essex's use of non-professional theatrical entertainments at court in 1595 to promote an agenda he had shared with Sidney by campaigning for an increased level of English involvement in international affairs. It deals with a frequently neglected entertainment called the device of the Indian Prince, referred to here as Seeing Love as it dramatises the story of the blind Indian prince. Finally, the book offers a detailed examination of Essex's relationship with another dangerously public discourse, 'politic history', by tracing the influence of a range of competing texts.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book addresses the full range of the queen's extraordinary iconographical repertoire, focusing specifically on its development during Elizabeth I's forty-five-year reign. It looks at the diverse range of religious and quasi-religious images that were employed by Elizabeth. The book turns to one of the major enterprises of the Elizabethan era, the attempt to colonise the New World, during which the eastern seaboard of America was renamed Virginia in celebration of the Virgin Queen. It considers the development of the iconography of Elizabeth as a collaborative enterprise, through the examination of some of the most famous paintings of Elizabeth, paying particular attention to The Ditchley portrait, the Siena Sieve Portrait and the Rainbow Portrait. The book notes that a good deal has been written on the subject of Elizabeth's identification with Petrarch's Laura.
Domestic tragedy, on the face of it the simplest and most unpretentious of tragic forms, is in fact potentially one of the most ambiguous. Domestic is set at home, both in the sense of taking place in England rather than being set abroad and also in that it is located in one or more private houses rather than in the public space of the court. At the same time as the genre foregrounds the private house, though, it calls into question how private it truly is: the plays constantly remind us how many aspects of Elizabethan and Jacobean culture construed the domestic situation as a mirroring in miniature of the hierarchical ordering of the state as a whole. Moreover many domestic tragedies have two plots, whose respective endings are often of very different tonalities. In Yarington’s(?) Two Lamentable Tragedies one plot is set in Italy and the other in England, but they mirror each other in so many ways that we are in effect asked not only what difference there is between the two countries, but to what extent Italy may generally serve in Renaissance drama as a transparent proxy for England.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book describes the rich and diverse figure of the earl by looking at a wealth of diverse visual and textual manifestations of Essex produced during the sixteenth century and up to the present day. It traces the critical assessment of the earl's decision to undertake a campaign in Ireland and considers the suggestion that his political enemies considered it politically expedient to have the earl personally embroiled in a foreign war. The book also describes the biographical commonplace that Essex identified himself with the chivalric code valued by Sir Philip Sidney and actively fashioned an identity for himself as Sidney's heir. It presents Essex's use of non-professional theatrical entertainments at court to promote an agenda he had shared with Sidney by campaigning for an increased level of English involvement in international affairs.
This collection of essays explores tragedy, the most versatile of Renaissance literary genres, revealing its astonishing thematic, stylistic and emotional range. Each chapter consists of a case study, offering not only a definition of a particular kind of Renaissance tragedy but also new research into an important example of that genre. There is only one chapter on Shakespeare; instead contributors attend to subgenres of tragedy – biblical tragedy and closet drama, for example – in which Shakespeare did not engage and others in which the nature of his influence is interrogated, producing original critical readings of individual plays which show how interventions in these subgenres can be mapped onto debates surrounding numerous important issues, including national identity, the nature of divine authority, early modern youth culture, gender and ethics, as well as questions relating to sovereignty and political intervention. The chapters also highlight the rich range of styles adopted by the early modern tragic dramatists and show how opportunely the genre as a whole is positioned for speaking truth to power. Collectively, these essays reassess the various sub-genres of Renaissance tragedy in ways which respond to the radical changes that have affected the critical landscape over the last few decades.