Plays of Persuasion: Drama and Politics at the Court of by Greg Walker

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By Greg Walker

A close examine of the interplay among drama and politics within the reign of Henry VIII. the topic is addressed either often phrases and during a chain of case-studies of person early Tudor performs. via its cutting edge use of dramatic texts as old resource fabric, the publication offers illuminating insights into the political and cultural heritage of the Henrician interval, and into the perceived personality of the King himself. It specializes in the stricken spiritual and political historical past of the reign, the tradition of the court docket, and the character and governmental type of its head. In doing so the e-book argues for a reassessment of the reign, which locations the King once again on the centre of affairs, and recognizes the settling on impact which this egotistical, charismatic yet, exceptionally, pragmatic monarch exercised at the inventive tradition, up to at the politics, of the court docket. The booklet additionally demonstrates the shut and particular hyperlinks among the drama and the politics of the reign, via an in depth learn of a couple of key works, hyperlinks that have hitherto been seen basically as common or peripheral.

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Much, if not all, of the evidence cited above has been drawn from dramatic performances at the Henrician Court and in its environs. And this will remain the focus of the chapters which follow. This concentration upon the political centre is not acciden­ tal, but it raises important questions which need to be addressed before we proceed further. Is this focus perhaps unnecessarily exclusive ? Recent literary scholarship has tended to stress the popular, even radically popu­ lar, implications of much late medieval literature.

It had 64 Hall, p. 719. P. IV (ii) 2854. 66 Hall, p. 719. 34 Plays of persuasion evidently been written some years before. But Queen Elizabeth was under no illusions about its contemporary significance. 'I am Richard II. Know ye not that', she is reported acidly to have remarked to the Lincoln's Inn jurist, William Lambarde. 67 For the Gray's Inn lawyers to revive a play such as that described by Hall, in which a popular tumult unseated ministers called Dissipation and Negligence, only months after royal demands for the Amicable Grant had been abandoned in the face of popular risings, strongly suggests a contem­ porary political purpose.

They took them into the centre of political affairs. Their plays were designed for performance before those individuals who wielded power and influence in the Realm, and they sought, not to protest or to confront those individuals, but to sway and persuade them; to join a debate at the political centre. For it was there that the decisions were taken which would most readily effect the crucial political and religious concerns of the moment. An understand­ ing of this fact has important implications, not only for the way we view the production of drama at Court, but also for our conception of Tudor politics generally.

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