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A context for The Faerie Queene

directed to the laity. Although Tacitean and other more skeptical modes of history were in competition with popular providentialism in Renaissance England,8 in pulpit discourse, God was usually understood to be responsible for all events, those of secular as well as biblical history.9 Oneself and one’s contemporaries no less than biblical figures were characters in God’s story. The traditional Christian approach to biblical exegesis was already well established when Nicholas of Lyra applied the label “four-fold method” to the range of readings (the four are the literal

in Spenserian allegory and Elizabethan biblical exegesis
Literary memory and defloration

Virgin) gives way to sin with stark sexual suggestion. Focusing on ‘where our Ladye sate’, indeed, makes the contest between the two figures a competition over Mary’s ‘seat’. The seat giving way, Mary and her seat in Walsingham – the two are by now synonymous – are violated. The Mary of ‘The Wracks’, then, raises with an intensity not to be ignored

in Biblical women in early modern literary culture 1550–1700