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
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
The Mary of ‘The
Wracks’, then, raises with an intensity not to be ignored