This book explores, from a variety of critical perspectives, the playwright's place in Scotland and the place of Scotland in his work. The influence of Scotland on William Shakespeare's writing, and later on his reception, is set alongside the dramatic effects that Shakespeare's work had on the development of Scottish literature. The Shakespeare's work of Scottish literature stretches from the Globe to globalisation, and from Captain Jamy and King James to radical productions at the Citizens' Theatre in Glasgow. Shakespeare have strong Scottish connections by virtue of his theatre company's being brought under the sponsorship of the Scottish king James VI immediately after his accession to the English throne in 1603. Jonathan Goldberg and Alvin Kernan have traced the impact of royal patronage on Shakespeare's work after the Union, finding Scottish themes at play not just in Macbeth, but also in Cymbeline, King Lear, Hamlet, and in other plays. Then, the book outlines some of the issues and problems raised by Scotland and Scottish history for English readers in the last decade of Elizabeth's reign. Shakespeare wrote his English plays in Elizabeth's reign and his British plays after 1603, though Henry V, first performed in 1599, might be regarded as a proto-British play. Unlike Henry V, Shakespeare's most English play, where national identity is of the essence, in Macbeth, Scotland is a blot on the landscape. Shakespeare's political drama moves from a sense of England and Scotland as independent kingdoms into an alignment with the views of Unionist King James.
Sir Walter Raleigh's literary legacy consists of a highly fragmented oeuvre including many unprinted or pirated poems and works of disputed authorship. No collection of Raleigh's poetry produced under his own direction or that of a contemporary, either in print or in manuscript, exists. This book is a collection of essays by scholars from Great Britain, the United States, Canada and Taiwan that covers a wide range of topics about Raleigh's diversified career and achievements. Some essays shed light on less familiar facets such as Raleigh as a father and as he is represented in paintings, statues, and in movies. Others re-examine him as poet, historian, as a controversial figure in Ireland during Elizabeth's reign, and looks at his complex relationship with and patronage of Edmund Spenser. The theme of Raleigh's poem is a mutability that is political: i.e., the precariousness of the ageing courtier's estate, as revealed by his fall from eminence and the loss of his privileged position in court. The Cynthia holograph engages in complex ways with idealistic pastoral, a genre predicated upon the pursuit of otium (a longing for the ideal and an escape from the actual). The Nymph's reply offers a reminder of the power of time and death to ensure the failure of that attempt. There were patrilineal imperatives that might have shaped Raleigh's views of sovereignty. Raleigh's story is an actor's story, one crafted by its own maker for the world-as-stage.
Ireland began Elizabeth's reign as a kingdom under the English Crown, and ended it as a quasi-colony. Fortifications provided a military solution to a political problem. Military technology evolved prodigiously in the sixteenth century, and the new regime in Dublin benefitted from advances in Renaissance warfare. In her own country, Elizabeth fortified Berwick against the Scots, sought to control the main sea passages with forts in the Channel Isles off Normandy and the Scilly Isles off Cornwall, and erected defences in the southeast against Spanish forces should the Armada prove successful.
Late in Elizabeth's reign and well into James's, some members of the elite chose to erect what they termed ‘castles’, structures superficially fortified in a style that has been labelled ‘Spenserian’ after the poet of Elizabethan chivalry, Edmund Spenser. The question posed in this chapter is whether the continued tradition of defended residences in Ireland was related to this English ‘chivalric revival’ in aristocratic architecture. Moreover, the houses built by the elite in Ireland during the Plantation Period no doubt projected power and status, but a firmer understanding of this elite depends upon whether they saw themselves as a colonial or an imperial ruling class.
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.
This chapter first outlines some of the issues and problems raised by Scotland and Scottish history for English readers in the last decade of Elizabeth's reign. It then shows how closely engaged William Shakespeare was with questions generated by his understanding of Scottish history, concentrating especially on Hamlet, a play that has already been persuasively read as a work informed by an understanding of Scottish affairs and politics. Hamlet's last action before he dies is to kill Claudius, showing that his soliloquy has a prophetic purpose in the plot. Claudius's reign bears striking similarities to that of Kenneth III. A key reign in George Buchanan's History of Scotland was that of Kenneth III, who ended the long tradition of elective monarchy in Scotland. Buchanan's sense of the significance of Kenneth's reign is encapsulated in the version narrated in Raphael Holinshed's Chronicle of Scotland.
The motivations that animated the conflict that marked the final nine years of Elizabeth's reign in Ireland are obscure. This chapter argues that political brinkmanship related to the royal succession played a very prominent role in shaping the conflict, a role hitherto unappreciated. The succession informed the strategic thinking of many of the most prominent actors in the ‘Nine Year's War’ at critical junctures. It is argued that Tyrone and Essex each sought to gather around himself a wider interest among the Irish aristocracy and gentry in the hope of using that political capital to advance his own aim in the context of a foreseen Jacobean succession. The battle lines of the conflict hid the strategic games being played in the context of anticipated dynastic change.
The fall of the Earl of Essex and manuscript circulation
The Earl of Essex was one of the most prominent courtiers of Elizabeth's reign but in the later 1590s he was increasingly absent from the court itself, the central venue of power politics. Absence from court increasingly shaped the textual output of Essex and his followers. It also informed the use of manuscript circulation in cultivating a textual following for the earl that continued to flourish throughout the seventeenth century. A decisive moment in Essex's courtly career came at the end of June 1598 when disagreements over strategy in Ireland erupted into a major incident between the earl and the queen. These disagreements resulted in Essex's self-imposed exile from the court. One of the challenges in tracing the circulation of Essex-related material is the very success of its dissemination in manuscript form. The connections between the earl's letter and Richard Mynshall's poem illustrate the impact of Essex texts in circulation.
This chapter explore the ways in which the woman known as Sidney's 'Stella' involved herself in the seismic power struggles, intervening in the court factionalism, which shaped the most volatile period in Queen Elizabeth's reign. Lady Rich was a highly active member of the coterie of scholars and politicians who became closely associated with her brother, contributing decisively to the intellectual and cultural ethos which emerged from the Essex circle. In Lady Rich's hands the world-weariness which animates conventional renderings of the melancholy courtier or lovelorn hero of Romance fiction becomes a stimulus to pointed political agitation. The collective anxieties of Essex and his associates bespeak the potential reach of Lady Rich's influence. Lady Rich's letter contains striking similarities to both the Tacitean and Aristotelian models. It offers political advice to the queen through a series of powerful and allusive sententiae which mirror the aphoristic style.
This chapter probes the pairing of Elizabeth I with Deborah the Judge, the Bible figure most often used to describe Elizabeth's gynecocracy. It is also used to view the cultural constructs of the Hebrew woman who stood in both political and religious authority within Scriptures, and to link those constructions to the era's representations of the English queen. The Italian reformer Pietro Martira Vermigli's argument supports Elizabeth, whom he backed as a defender of Protestantism, while reinforcing Deborah's exceptionality. Deborah was discussed in the print dialogue concerning women prior to Elizabeth's reign, although there was a marked increase in the number and types of references to the female Hebrew judge during and even after the British gynecocracy. Although many of the writings on Elizabeth as Deborah attempted to restrain her authority and contain her, perhaps her own example helped disrupt the male mythology of kingship.