Chaplaincy and verse in early seventeenth-century Oxford
Richard Corbett was the royal chaplain early in his ecclesiastical career, then the Bishop of Oxford from 1628 until 1632, and subsequently the Bishop of Norwich until his death in 1635. Corbett exemplifies both of the aspects of Christ Church life and their many connections, namely, Church and poetry. Corbett's other chaplain, William Strode, was a poet every bit as productive, as widely read, and at least as distinguished as Corbett himself. The connection between their poetic careers predated the period of Strode's chaplaincy; Strode's Latin 'Oratio', for instance, headed 'In Admissionem Decani Corbett', commemorated Corbett's receipt of the deanship of Christ Church in 1620. The significance of chaplaincy for the transmission, and the holding back, of verse arises in two poems that date from Corbett's time as a royal chaplain. One of the two poems was written partly about him and the other was written by him.
Ralph Knevet's Supplement of the Faery Queene (1635) is a narrative and allegorical work, which weaves together a complex collection of tales and episodes, featuring knights, ladies, sorcerers, monsters, vertiginous fortresses and deadly battles – a chivalric romp in Spenser's cod medieval style. The poem shadows recent English history, and the major military and political events of the Thirty Years War. But the Supplement is also an ambitiously intertextual poem, weaving together materials from mythic, literary, historical, scientific, theological, and many other kinds of written sources. Its encyclopaedic ambitions combine with Knevet's historical focus to produce an allegorical epic poem of considerable interest and power. This new edition of Knevet's Supplement, the first scholarly text of the poem ever published, situates it in its literary, historical, biographical, and intellectual contexts. An extensive introduction and copious critical commentary, positioned at the back of the book, will enable students and scholars alike to access Knevet's complicated and enigmatic meanings, structures, and allusions.
Ralph Knevet’s Supplement survives in a single autograph manuscript, Cambridge University Library MS Ee.ì.¢ì, apparently prepared as a fair copy for printing. The full title of the work, as given on the manuscript's title page, is A Supplement of the Faery Queene in three Bookes.This chapter examines the authorship and the format of the manuscript, before discussing the editorial decisions made for the present edition.
As recorded in the annotations in this section, and noted in the introduction, Knevet’s language employs a Spenserian vocabulary, making copious allusion to The Faerie Queene, as well as Spenser’s other writings. It is frequently archaic (often repeating Spenser’s own Chaucerian diction), and also employs a dense lexicon of chivalric, heraldic, and courtly terms. In those annotations, the editors have refrained from glossing every instance of some of Knevet’s more commonly used terms and phrases; instead they are listed in this glossary section.
This section contains the full text of A Supplement of the Faery Queene, produced and annotated by Christopher Burlinson and Andrew Zurcher. The aim in producing the present edition of the Supplement is to give a wider readership access to a seventeenth-century manuscript poem of considerable interest and importance. In this edition, the editors have not sought to erase or to reform the poem’s presentation in its single textual witness, but to record that appearance in a way that will be legible and intelligible to modern readers.
This chapter discusses the life of Ralph Knevet, a member of the Norfolk gentry and client of the Knevet and Paston families, and his earlier works Stratiotikon (1628) and Rhodon and Iris (1631). It also examines the contexts and contents of his Supplement of the Faery Queene including its conformity to the Spenserian model, its narrative structure, and its suppression of Spenser’s visual forms of representation.