This book is a study of the English Reformation as a poetic and political event. It examines the political, religious and poetic writings of the period 1520-1580, in relation to the effects of confessionalization on Tudor writing. The central argument of the book is that it is a mistake to understand this literature simply on the basis of the conflict between Protestantism and Catholicism. Instead one needs to see Tudor culture as fractured between emerging confessional identities, Protestant and Catholic, and marked by a conflict between those who embraced the process of confessionalization and those who rejected it. Sir Richard Morrison's A Remedy for Sedition was part of the Henrician government's propaganda response to the Pilgrimage of Grace. Edwardian politicians and intellectuals theorized and lauded the idea of counsel in both practice and theory. The book discusses three themes reflected in Gardiner's 1554 sermon: the self, the social effects of Reformation, and the Marian approaches to the interpretation of texts. The Marian Reformation produced its own cultural poetics - which continued to have an influence on Tudor literature long after 1558. The decade following the successful suppression of the Northern Rebellion in 1570 was a difficult one for the Elizabethan regime and its supporters. An overview of Elizabethan poetics and politics explains the extent to which the culture of the period was a product of the political and poetic debates of the early years of the Queen's reign.
This chapter examines the historiography of the Marian Reformation and looks at number of key cultural and literary issues of the period 1553-1558. As part of the reforming agenda the Marian Reformation produced its own cultural poetics, which continued to have an influence on Mary Tudor literature long after 1558. The chapter discusses three of the themes reflected in Stephen Gardiner's 1554 sermon: the self, the social effects of Reformation, and Marian approaches to the interpretation of texts. It also discusses in detail the work of John Heywood and Miles Hogarde. Heywood's work embodies an anti-Reformation agenda that seeks to escape from the violent cultural effects of the religious changes of the 1530s, 1540s and 1550s. Hogarde's work reflects the other side of the religious agenda of Mary's regime with its insistence on the importance of penance and its constant division of the world into the saved and damned.
This chapter discusses the political culture of the early years of Elizabeth's reign as reflected in the texts as The Mirror of Magistrates. It examines the writing of Barnabe Googe, whose works represent an attempt to produce a specifically Protestant and magisterial combination of Henrician court poetry with Edwardian politics. All the poetry that Googe produced during the 1560s was committed to the creation of a godly Protestant England. Its enemies were an anarchic populace, papist idolatry and Cupido's tyranny. The chapter also discusses John Foxe's Acts and Monuments and George Gascoigne's work A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres. It argues that these two very different works produce similar ideological solutions to the problem of defining Elizabeth's queenship. In the process they illustrate the extent to which the culture of the later Elizabethan period was a product of the political and poetic debates of the early years of the Queen's reign.
In 1583 William Cecil's The Execution of Justice in England and Sir Thomas Smith's De Republica Anglorum were published. These works can be read as exemplary representations of the Elizabethan regime as a via media between Henrician tyranny and Edwardian anarchy. The Shepheardes Calender has been seen as an inaugural text creating a specifically Elizabethan poetic idiom. The July eclogue of The Shepheardes Calender is an argument for a moderate English Protestantism to unite members of the Elizabethan polity, from the magistrates to the churchwardens, against the forces of disorder. The main argument of Cecil's tract is that the Elizabethan regime had turned its back on Reformation politics and poetics. The Execution of Justice in England consistently avoids using the language of religious controversy. Smith's work depicts an English commonwealth in which politics is the bulwark against tyranny and popular anarchy.
The politics of confessionalization can be understood in terms of an increase of state power. The state of religion in pre-Reformation England has been the subject of much recent historical research. Sir Thomas More's use of the word 'frame' to describe Thomas Bilney's construction of his new religion is designed to suggest its mechanical and artificial nature. More's work the Dialogue concerning Heresies has often been seen as the moment when the learned, witty, humanist More transformed into the bigoted, boring, persecutionary More. The Dialogue concerning Heresies was almost certainly written as part of the same campaign that saw the production of John Skelton's A Replycacion. The relationship between the clericalist agenda of men like Edmund Dudley and the world of print as represented in Robert Copland's poetry is played out in the writing of Skelton and William Tyndale. Papistry is the truth's constant counterpart in the work of Tyndale.
The Henrician Reformation created a crisis of legitimation within the Tudor polity that is reflected in the writings of the 1530s at a number of different levels. The existing partial notes from the conference held by the Pilgrims at Pontefract in December 1536 provide important evidence of the Pilgrim's views on the Royal Supremacy and Henrician government. This chapter discusses Sir Thomas Elyot's work The Boke named The Governour. The Governour's valorization of amicitia, of counsel and the importance of reason are all designed at one level to address the problem of tyranny within the commonwealth. The chapter also discusses the Pilgrimage of Grace and the various government responses to it, and Wilfred Holme's poem The fall and euill sucess of Rebellion from time to time. It examines the courtly poems of Sir Thomas Wyatt in the political context. Two themes dominate the Wyatt's poetry, power and ambiguity.
This chapter examines the events of the summer of 1549 in the context of the Edwardian regime's emphasis on counsel and debate. It discusses the numerous polemical works produced by the Edwardian regime to support its religious policy. The chapter develops the idea that the reign of Edward VI represented a profound break with that of Henry VIII by examining the work of its leading poet, Robert Crowley, and William Baldwin's animal fable, Beware the Cat. The 'inkennelling' of the ploughmen had real political costs for the Edwardian regime which are reflected in the work of the period's leading poet, Crowley, and in Baldwin's mediation upon the events of 1549, Beware the Cat. The textual complexity of Beware the Cat, its cynical politics and poetics, reflect the shock to the magisterial Protestant endeavour caused by the events of 1549.