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-abasement and self-advancement in the hierarchy of power and favour. The main contention of this analysis is that the convergence of female pleading with the hidden operation of divine providence or fateful coincidences lays the bedrock for a political partnership that will ultimately deliver justice and preferment for the persecuted Jewish diaspora. Getting to grips with the Book of

in Biblical women in early modern literary culture 1550–1700
A context for The Faerie Queene

Edmund Spenser and the first readers of The Faerie Queene routinely heard their national concerns—epidemics, political plotting, recent Tudor history—discussed in biblical terms. This book samples contemporary sermons, homilies, and liturgies to demonstrate that religious rhetoric, with its routine use of biblical types (for Elizabeth, the Spanish threat, and Mary Stuart, among many others) trained Spenser’s original readers to understand The Faerie Queene’s allegorical method. Accordingly, the first three chapters orient the reader to allegorical and typological reading in biblical commentary, occasional liturgies, and sermons. This pulpit literature illuminates many episodes and characters within the poem, and subsequent chapters discuss some of these. For instance, the genealogies Guyon and Arthur discover in Book Two parallel sermon lists of Elizabeth’s kingly forebears as well as biblical commentary on the genealogies provided for Jesus in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Florimell’s adventures in Books Three and Four, like contemporary marriage sermons, develop an allegory of the superiority of marriage over the single state. Likewise, the preachers’ treatment of the Northern Rebellion and the threat posed by Mary Stuart show biblical typology in the service of nationalism, much as the allegory of Book Six finds a way to celebrate Elizabeth’s execution of her cousin. In these cases, as in the Souldan episode, Book Six’s analysis of courtesy, and the Mutability Cantos, Elizabethan religious rhetoric lends support to traditional readings of the poem, indicating that Spenser’s original readers probably found The Faerie Queene less conflicted and subversive than many do today.

Genealogy in biblical exegesis and the Legend of Temperance

political, social, or materialistic concerns, in remembering their ancestors Elizabethans were continuing the practice of biblical heroes and patriarchs. Many chapters of the Bible are given over to genealogies of the Old Testament worthies and of Christ. Thus, two useful parallels to Spenser’s “chronicle history” canto, viewed from a genealogical standpoint, are biblical genealogies and sermon references to the Queen’s family tree. Elizabethan discussion of biblical genealogies The 1560 Genevan commentators asserted the spiritual lessons of genealogy from the earliest

in Spenserian allegory and Elizabethan biblical exegesis
Scriptural tradition and the close of The Faerie Queene

lesson from the New Testament.8 Thus Queen Elizabeth in obedience to her own Act of Uniformity daily gave thanks for spiritual fulfillment and renounced her earthly life. Some Elizabethans considered their queen’s political expropriation and rote liturgical invocation of the nunc dimittis inadequate, among them her court preachers (most notably Anthony Rudd) and Spenser 4 J. E. Neale, Elizabeth I and Her Parliaments, 2 vols. (NewYork: St. Martin’s Press, 1958), 1:108. 5 Ibid., 1:127. 6 See also Ibid., 1:149, 367; 2:100, 129, 321, 389, 391. 7 “Nunc dimittis,” New

in Spenserian allegory and Elizabethan biblical exegesis
Abstract only
A context for The Faerie Queene

Court: Politics and Religion in Elizabeth and Jacobean Preaching (Cambridge, 1998), The English Sermon Revised: Religion, Literature and History 1600–1750, co-edited with Lori Anne Ferrell (Manchester University Press, 2000), and The Oxford Handbook of the Early Modern Sermon, co-edited with Hugh Adlington and Emma Rhatigan (Oxford University Press, 2011). 4 4 Introduction: a context for The Faerie Queene text subject to this kind of reading, although the extent to which it was properly read as allegorical was hotly debated in the sixteenth century. Accordingly

in Spenserian allegory and Elizabethan biblical exegesis
Mercilla and other Elizabethan types

’s behavior by presenting typological parallels. They expect their audience to hold more than one story in mind at a time, and to relate them allegorically:  the Bible to current English issues, or Books I and V to recent English events. 19 Ibid., sig. K3. 20 Peter E. McCullough, “A Calendar of Sermons Preached at Court During the Reigns of Elizabeth I and James I,” a diskette included with Sermons at Court: Politics and Religion in Elizabethan and Jacobean Preaching, Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). 21

in Spenserian allegory and Elizabethan biblical exegesis
Abstract only
Sermon contexts for Spenser’s Book VI

shortage of preacherly attacks on courtly vices, many published Elizabethan sermons discuss courtesy in theological terms, while others analyze or celebrate figures like Abraham, an exemplary host in a pastoral setting, and Nehemiah, an exemplary courtier – analogues of figures embodying courtesy in Spenser’s poem.4 Spenserians of the past eighty years have disagreed about whether the courtesy celebrated in Book VI of The Faerie Queene is a political strategy, a social grace, a Christian virtue, or all three,5 but comparing contemporary religious rhetoric with The Faerie

in Spenserian allegory and Elizabethan biblical exegesis

audience, the moral message, once established, could inhere in the historical reference. In officially sanctioned religious texts, at least, the Peasants’ Revolt evoked such a negative response that participants’ names could be brought to bear against the evils of ambition or, as we will see, the attempted “innovation” of Essex. Since kings ruled by the will of God, the example of an unsuccessful rebellion of any magnitude held, at least in Elizabethan sermons, negative moral value. The failure of such revolts was thus a moral and spiritual, as well as a political

in Spenserian allegory and Elizabethan biblical exegesis
Florimell and the sea

it haue but one hole where it leaketh, it may make shipwracke of faith and a good conscience.15 A single fault may have disastrous spiritual consequences. So fragile is the soul’s poise, in fact, that only a seafaring image can suggest adequate peril. Sophocles, Horace, and Cicero had compared the political fate of a state to a storm-tossed ship. For England as an island nation, this conventional figure was especially pointed:  preachers used it to symbolize foreign threats like the Armada, as John Prime did in a 1588 Queen’s 13 Sic (perhaps) for “supplie.” But

in Spenserian allegory and Elizabethan biblical exegesis
Allegories of the Armada

(Aldershot, England; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006). 82 John N. King, Spenser’s Poetry and the Reformation Tradition (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990), 133, 229; David Norbrook, Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance, 2nd edn (1984, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002); Richard Mallette, Spenser and the Discourses of Reformation England (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1997). 153 Allegories of the Armada 153 an overarching providentialist view of history, which takes in the entire Bible and all of secular history as its material

in Spenserian allegory and Elizabethan biblical exegesis