Sunday, December 30, 2007

Whither social history?

In updating the "Historians' Debates" sections of the social and cultural history chapters for the 2nd ed. of Sources and Debates in English History, 1485-1714, we discovered a wealth of new studies. We list those at the end of chs. 1, 5, and 9. There appear, however, to be two general critiques of the directions taken by current soc/cult history.
  • First, it is increasingly common to reject any binary like elite/popular (or perhaps a multiplicity of those binaries). Ultimately, however, this comes down very much to insisting that there is also a middling sorts.
  • Second, new cultural history often means a search a la James Scott for hidden transcripts--how the non-elite worked secretly or obliquely to modify the public transcripts. The latter is what is in most records (e.g. State Papers, Quarter Session records) and is how the elite wants the relationship to be seen (there is irony in the attempt to denigrate elite/popular, while letting it reappear as a way to talk about these things). So the public transcript is always in contestation, is always being challenged, and the only way to get at this challenge, the hidden transcript is to read the pubic transcript obliquely. Years ago, USA Republican VP Spiro Agnew attacked effete, impudent snobs (those who didn't like the government's approach) because the silent majority was really on his/Nixon's side. Hidden transcripts, like the silent majority's intention, is essentially in the eye of the beholder.
  • The new social/cultural history is probably correct in its general assessments. And it can be very exciting for students (like approaching history through borderlands, or margins, or transgressions). But isn't it also in some sense constructed, instead of flowing from the record?
  • A corollary of the weapons of the weak/hidden transcripts argument: is that the people were decidedly political (pretty much in a timeless fashion) but were too bright to confront power directly (oh and to look at crowds and incipient political belief is wrong because they are already political--this one confuses me a bit)--and earlier historians are wrong for insisting that village rioters could ever have been pre-political.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tilbury speechless?

This painting on wood in a church is of Elizabeth at Tilbury. Underneath the painting is printed a version of the following speech that another person recorded in a sermon of 1612:

  • Come on now my companions at armes, and fellow Souldiers, in the field, now for the Lord, for your Queene, and for the kingdome[.] [Flor what are these proud Philistines, that they should revile the Hoast of the living God? I have been your Prince in peace, so will I be in warre[;] neither will I bid you goe and fight, but come and let us fight the battell of the Lord[.] [Tlhe enemie perhaps may challenge my sexe for that I am a woman, so may I likewise charge their mould for that they are but men, whose breath is in their nostrels, and if God doe not charge England with the sinnes of England, little doe I feare their force.... Si deus nobiscum quis contra nos?
Compare this version of the speech she gave with that in Early Modern England and in Sources and Debates. The one in the text, dates from 1623 and is first printed in 1654.

See also: S. Frye, “The myth of Elizabeth at Tilbury,” Sixteenth Century Journal, 23, 1 (1992) [use of Tilbury Speech by the English (in word and image) ever since it “appeared” in 1623]; J.M. Green, “‘I my self’: Queen Elizabeth I's oration at Tilbury Camp,” Sixteenth Century Journal 28 (1997) [re-asserts that the traditionally accepted text is genuine]

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Thomas Cromwell Portrayed: Not

Patrick Collinson, Short Oxford History of The British Isles: The Sixteenth Century (Oxford, 2002), xiv, gives a good reading of a portrait of Thomas Cromwell (see left). Unfortunately, I find the identical portrait accompanying the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article of George Neville, third Baron Bergavenny (c.1469-1535). Which is correct?  Inquiring minds want to know? Is the Oxford History or the Oxford DNB correct?

Dr. Philip Carter, Publication Editor, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, was kind enough to respond to my query:
  •  "it appears that the image we use is correctly identified as Holbein's pencil sketch of Neville, despite the addition of 'Lord Cromwell' in the bottom left of the image.  Roy Strong, Artists of the Tudor Court (183), p. 21 identifies the portrait as Neville and notes that the reference to 'Lord Cromwell' and 'Holbein' was added later; J.Rowlands Holbein: Portraits of Hans Holbein the Younger, complete edition (1985) also identifies the portrait as of Neville."

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Reformation England: the bibliography

Bibliographies covering the 16th-century Reformations (Dickens, Scarisbrick, Haigh, Duffy, MacCullough, etc.)

Friday, November 30, 2007

loves and fishes?

Roger Martyn notes that "on the Monday one way, on the Tuesday another way, on the Wednesday another way, praying for rain or fair weather as the time required; having a drinking and a dinner there upon Monday, being fast day; and Tuesday being a fish day [when Catholics were required to abstain from meat] they had a breakfast with butter and cheese, etc., at the parsonage, and a drinking at Mr. Clopton's by Kentwell, at his manor of Lutons, near the ponds in the park, where there was a little chapel...." Were Anglicans required to abstain as well in the 16th century? Butchers and Fishmongers: Their Historical Contribution to London's Festivity; AU : Billington, Sandra; SO : Folklore; VO : 101; NO : 1; DA : 1990; PP : 97-103, points out that Protestant England wanted to increase the number of fish days for economic reasons, although Puritan figures of fun in late-Eliz/early-Jac. plays often sat down to a dinner of flesh on Fridays.

Friday, November 16, 2007

bible title page, 1540

Tatiana C. String, “Henry VIII's Illuminated 'Great Bible',” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 59 (1996): 315-324, notes that Holbein's woodcut for the Coverdale Bible (1535) was superseded by that (artist unknown but probably Lucas Horenbout--which I think the world does not need to know) for the Great Bible (1540). Cool article: the 1541 ed. has a big circle on the right where Thomas Cromwell's arms are removed! (And, indeed, there is a colored version of same.) So the claim that the frontispiece to Henry VIII’s Great Bible was a Hans Holbein woodcut is probably erroneous. Thomas Cromwell ordered it purchased by every parish church in September 1538.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Who Loves Liz?

The following on the role of Sir Walter Raleigh (and Hatton too, for that matter--he would have been better in the movie, but no one has heard of him) in Elizabeth's court from von Wedel's Journey, 1584-5 is not included in either edition of our sourcebook, but is quite valuable:
  • The queen is served at dinner by a very young gentleman in black, who carves; the drink is handed to her by one in green, almost of the same age, who has to kneel while she drinks. Afterwards he rises again and takes the cup from her. To the right side of the table stand the gentlemen of high rank, as Lord Howard, called Chamberlain, in Germany he would be taken for a mareschal, also Lord Leicester, Master of the Horse, with whom, as they say, the queen for a long time has had illicit intercourse, now he is married; the treasurer of the State and the count Hertford, who, they say, is the next to the crown in England. He had deflowered one of the queen's ladies, and, against the queen's wish, married another, which brought him into disgrace, but now he had recovered his character; and Christopher Hatton, the captain of the guard, whom the queen is said to have loved after Leicester. They all had white sticks in their hands and were fine old gentlemen....
  • The queen, as long as the dance lasted, had ordered old and young persons to come and converse with her, who, as I have mentioned, were all obliged to kneel on their knees before her. She talked to them in a very friendly manner, making jokes, and to a captain named Ral [Sir Walter Raleigh] she pointed with her finger in his face, saying he had some uncleanness there, which she even intended to wipe off with her handkerchief. He, however, prevented her and took it away himself. It was said that she loved this gentleman now in preference to all others; and that may be well believed, for two years ago he was scarcely able to keep a single servant, and now she has bestowed so much upon him, that he is able to keep five hundred servants. [“Journey Through England and Scotland Made by Lupold von Wedel in the Years 1584 and 1585,” trans. Gottfried von B├╝low, TRHS n.s. 9 (1895): 250-1, 258-65.]...
  • "She had in her time four principal favorites: namely, the Earl of Leicester, Sir Christopher Hatton, Sir Walter Raleigh, and the Earl of Essex. All these successively enjoyed her grace in the highest measure, being men of very comely personage, and adorned with all outward gifts of nature, but much differing one from another in the disposition of their minds.
  • “The Earl of Leicester, after his restitution in blood, which had been corrupted by his attainder in Queen Mary's time, was created Baron of Denbigh and Earl of Leicester, and afterwards advanced to the offices of Master of the Horse and Steward of her household. He was very graceful in behavior, of a liberal diet, and much addicted to sensual pleasures. He was commonly accounted a good courtier, which in other terms is called a cunning dissembler. Eager he was of revenge where he intended it, as being very hardly reconciled where he had once conceived offense. Leicester was no great soldier, his nature being more inclinable to ease and delights of the court than to "service in the field; though now and then for ambition or hope of gain he would undertake great attempts, as may appear by his wars in the Low Countries, where he spent a great part of the time of his abode in shows of triumph and feastings. He was ill beloved of the people, who thought that he abused the Prince's favor for his own private advantage to the hinderance of the public good. He lived many years in great estimation with the Prince, and dying left no posterity to succeed him. His end, if report may be believed, was hastened by means of some sinister practice, and his lands extended for the payment of great sums of money wherein he was indebted at the time of his death.
  • “Sir Christopher Hatton, being a young student in an Inn of Court, was first made known to the Queen in a show or device presented before her at a festival time; whereupon being called to her service, she made him one o£ her pensioners, then Captain of her Guard, and afterwards Vice-chamberlain, and of her Privy Council; continuing and increasing her favor toward him, till in the end she advanced him to the Chancellorship of England. And it hath been thought he was the more gracious for that he lived unmarried. Touching his gifts of mind, they were neither altogether ordinary nor excellent. Premeditated speeches he would deliver in public with good grace. He was very passionate and, being provoked, a violent and implacable enemy. In household expenses he was magnificent and attended with many followers, whereof some he used for their advice and direction in matters belonging to his office, and others for ministerial places, now and then observing formality to shadow greater defects. Being much indebted to the Queen and inwardly discontented in mind, he ended his life.
  • “Sir Walter Raleigh was descended of an ancient gentleman's house and well allied, howbeit, as it falleth out for the most part with younger brethren, unprovided of maintenance which by his own industry he was to supply; having thereto as many helps as nature herself could afford. For touching his shape and lineaments of body, they were framed in so just a proportion and so seemly an order, as there was nothing in them that a man might well wish to have been added or altered. In such gifts of the mind as the world generally esteemeth, he not only excelled the most, but matched even the best men of his time. His first employment was in the wars of Ireland occasioned by the rebellion of the province of Munster, where he had the charge of a company and served with good commendation. Afterwards, returning into England, he followed the Court there in hope of preferment, and by his wit and diligence in observing such persons as were then of most inward credit with `` the Queen, he wound himself by little and little into her knowledge and good opinion. He held as places of trust and reputation the Captainship of the Guard, and the Wardenry of the Stannaries in the west parts of the realm, enriching himself by continual gifts and rewards, which he received of the Prince's bounty; till at the last, by the course of` fate, his fortunes being then at the highest, he fell into open disgrace; by reason whereof many years together he was sequestered from the Court. Howbeit, partly by the mediation of his friends there and partly by the inclination of the Queen herself, who never sought utterly to ruin those whom she had once favored, he was in the end admitted to her presence and after that, obtained the government of the Isle of Jersey. He was a man of a very bold spirit and of a quick conceit, in adversity not altogether dejected; insolent in prosperity and ungrateful to such as had supplied his wants in his first and mean estate. He was commonly noted for using of bitter scoffs and reproachful taunts which bred him much dislike. He was so far from affecting popularity, as he seemed to take a pride in being hated of the people, either for that he thought it a point of policy, or else that he scorned the approbation of the multitude. He was commonly reputed an atheist, by reason of his profane speeches, perverting the words and sense of Holy Scripture. But whether they proceeded from a desire to maintain argument only and to make show of wit, or from a corrupt judgment in matter of religion I will not take upon me to censure. For he would dispute very subtly of such matters as came in question by way of discourse even with expert men in their own professions. His manner of speaking was for the most part confident, and his writing, judicial. Valiant he was, and well experienced in military affairs, whereof he ofttimes made proof in his services both by sea and land. He had in him all those parts which, having been well used, might have availed much for the general good of the realm, and for the assurance of his own private estate.
  • “The Earl of Essex, differing in quality of degree from the two last remembered, as being noble by birth and descent, was first brought into favor by the Earl of Leicester, his father-in-law, under whom he was a while trained up in the wars of the Low Countries, where, being but yet of the age of eighteen years, he was made General of the Horse. Upon the resignation of the Mastership of the Horse by the Earl of Leicester he succeeded in that office, and after the victory of Cadiz he was created Earl Marshal of England. Many voyages by sea for desire of glory he undertook, not all with like success. He was naturally of a very good disposition; no flatterer nor dissembler, as being either an open friend, or an open enemy. To fleshly wantonness he was much inclined and overmuch swayed by the bent of his will; being more stiff in his own opinions than was thought convenient for a man of his employment, that had ofttimes the chief commandment and direction of mighty armies. He was a great lover of learning and was well learned himself, as might well appear by divers letters and discourses which he wrote with great elegancy and judgment. Soldiers for the most part he esteemed; some of best desert upon emulation he envied. He a obtained of the Queen many great suits, the benefit whereof he communicated with his followers, reserving the least part to himself. He was generally as much beloved as Sir Walter Raleigh, his predecessor, was hated: two affections that in the multitude are commonly extreme, but to great men not always dangerous alike. This popular affection he won for the most part by his courtesy and affability, having by that means the fortune to enjoy at one time both the favor o£ the Prince and the good will of the people: which two very seldom meet together, either for that favorites, taking advantage of the time for their peculiar benefit, do seek for the most part to enrich themselves by the hurt of the Commonwealth; or, transported with opinion of their greatness, neglect and condemn the vulgar sort; or else, doubting the danger of popularity, suppose it a safer course to want the people's love than to incur the jealousy of the prince. Free he was of expense and, somewhat above the proportion of his estate, liberal, either for that naturally he was so inclined as bounty commonly accompanies true nobility, or else that his wants were continually supplied by great gifts of the Queen, with whom he would sometimes in violent manner expostulate (the cause of his discontentment proceeding from delays and crosses in such suits and actions as he undertook), provoking thereby her displeasure, and by little and little diminishing her favor towards him. So far was he from soothing and simulation, that he would not use it even at those times when it might have most availed him. At his return from Ireland, whither he had been sent as Lieutenant of that kingdom to suppress the rebellion there, Essex fell into open disgrace and was committed to safe custody for a time; but afterwards recovering some liberty, as a man not altogether insensible of the injuries which he conceived had been offered him, and pricked forward by some of his followers, whose hopes depended upon his fortunes, he resolved to seek a speedy remedy by procuring his personal access to the Queen; but taking the wrong way in attempting it, he failed of his purpose, and unfortunately lost both himself and them.” [BL, Add. MS. 22,925; printed in Evelyn Plummer Read and Conyers Read, eds., Elizabeth of England: Certain Observations Concerning the Life and Reign of Queen Elizabeth by John Clapham (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1951), 85-6.]


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