Volume 83, Number 1 Spring 2020
John Lydgate's Fall of Princes is one of the longest poems in English, presenting readers—medieval, early modern, and modern—with an expansive sampling of lives of misbehaving monarchs to peruse. The daunting task of approaching this vast text perhaps motivated early readers to employ available technologies of reading to make the process manageable: tables of contents and other content-related lists. Examination of these tables reveals that Lydgate's various readers chose to break the Fall into discrete parts, each table-maker seemingly laying out a different path for reading. One sixteenth-century annotator of the Bodleian Library's MS Rawlinson C. 448 provided the most exhaustive table in manuscript form, not only cataloging his reading habits but also influencing future perusals. Ultimately, these tables represent ways of understanding the complex structure of the poem, departing from the organization imposed by the poem's form in manuscript to develop individual approaches to the literary work.
D. Alan Orr considers Thomas Lodge's The Wovnds of Ciuill War (1594) and its relationship to republican ideas during the "second" reign of Elizabeth I (ca. 1585–1603). Although Andrew Hadfield has argued that the play "contains many of the characteristics of republicanism," Lodge's marked skepticism toward Machiavellian-inspired military-humanist values suggests a more ambiguous relationship with early modern republicanism. Lodge was less the "republican," as Hadfield has asserted, than the Catholic, articulating a "civic Catholicism" in which the public observances and rituals of the "old religion" played an integral role in the maintenance of public morality, civil order, and justice.
"Men Are Lived Over Againe": The Transmigrations of Sir Thomas Browne
Jessica Lynn Wolfe
Jessica Lynn Wolfe considers the various and contradictory positions assumed by Sir Thomas Browne on the subject of metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls, explaining his confusion over the doctrine in terms of his medical, theological, and literary habits of thought. By placing Browne's various discussions of the transmigrations of souls in conversation with other seventeenth-century scientific and religious thinkers, including John Donne, Kenelm Digby, Robert Boyle, and Alexander Ross, her essay seeks to anchor the era's palpable interest in—and its genuine puzzlement over—metempsychosis, in terms of the scientific and medical advances of the late Renaissance as well as more transdisciplinary investigations into the nature of change and perdurance and of community and singularity.
Dialogue and the Church: Beating the Bounds of a Jacobean Via Media?
Joshua Mark Rodda
In this essay, Joshua Mark Rodda reconsiders the early seventeenth-century English Church by way of four dialogues, written by the young conformist Oliver Ormerod and the wayward preacher Henoch Clapham. Within four years, in the first decade of the reign of James I, Ormerod and Clapham each produced a dialogue disputing puritan separation, followed by a matching anti-Catholic work. In their use of form and character, these dialogues demonstrate how the contemporary conscience navigated an unstable settlement, how confessional identity was constructed through encounters with the religious "other," and how the language of moderation was used to characterize and understand the period.
Samuel Foote's farce The Mayor of Garret (1763) satirizes politics and electoral practices by restaging a contemporary parodic event: the mock elections at Garrat. Using two previously unstudied promptbooks for performances in York and Boston, Jane Wessel argues that our understanding of the play is seriously skewed if we look only at the text and the original London performances. These promptbooks reveal that across England and America in the decades following its premiere, the farce was performed without its central satiric scene: the hustings leading up to the election of a mayor. Using the story of The Mayor of Garret without the election as a case study, she argues for the necessity of including provincial performance in the history of British theater and drama.
This essay considers the American encounter with Islam in the Early Republic through the lenses of Americans' stories about the 1806 destruction of the Essex, a New England merchantman trading in the Red Sea, and the subsequent captivity and conversion of the ship's boy, John Poll, at the hands of the alleged "pirate" Sayyid Muhammad ʿAqil. James R. Fichter traces the shifting, sometimes contradictory features of these stories, demonstrating how changing trade and military relations between the United States and Barbary led to them being interpreted in different ways over time. This essay broadens the geography of scholarship of the early national encounter with Islam beyond North Africa to the Indian Ocean.
NOTES AND DOCUMENTS
Viscounts in Virginia: A Proposal to Create American Noblemen (1619)
E. M. Rose
In 1619, the Virginia Company of London considered a proposal to create a hereditary peerage in the colony. E. M. Rose provides a transcription of the proposal, found among the company's business records. She places the proposal in the context of the desperate efforts of the company to raise funds for overseas settlement, the sale of other titles in the early Stuart period, and the attempts to establish a hereditary peerage in America.
Western Europe in the Ottoman World: Media, Mediation, and Intermediaries
The Republic of Arabic Letters: Islam and the European Enlightenment
John-Paul A. Ghobrial
The Whispers of Cities: Information Flows in Istanbul, London, and Paris in the Age of William Trumbull
Engaging the Ottoman Empire: Vexed Mediations, 1690–1815
Volume 82, Number 4 Winter 2019
Introduction: English Diplomatic Relations and Literary Cultures in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
Joanna Craigwood, Tracey A. Sowerby
This introduction to the special issue situates its essays within the emergent field of literary-diplomatic studies. It fully discusses the state of current knowledge, providing the first chronological overview of the developing relationship between diplomacy and literary culture across two centuries of English history. Among the subjects addressed are the new literary milieux accessed by resident ambassadors; the use of the press to diplomatic ends; new diplomatic genres such as handbooks and letter-books; diplomacy and controversy on the public stage; literary wit in Restoration diplomacy; and the widening audiences for diplomatic literatures at the end of the seventeenth century. It draws out the findings of this special issue on the development of political publics in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, outlining a complex and multidirectional relationship between the government and public sphere; the role of self-interest in motivating engagement with publics; and the role of imitation in entering public debate.
This essay examines how Pietro Aretino used the rhetorical practices of ambassadorial exchange to bring the diplomatic periphery into the center. Drawing together a series of episodes in which Aretino had correspondence with, influence on, or direct dealings with the Tudor court and its representatives, William T. Rossiter shows them to be part of a sustained dialogue instigated by Aretino and maintained by his English respondents. Aretino's use of the printing press was a paradiplomatic force that bypassed traditional channels of influence. It gave agency to an individual who would normally be excluded from international negotiations. This demonstrates how the soft powers of paradiplomacy, exercised through the burgeoning print culture of pre-Tridentine Venice with its transnational reach, could serve as effectively as the hard powers of formal negotiations.
Francis Thynne's Perfect Ambassadour, written in 1578, is the earliest surviving English treatise on the role of the ambassador. Thynne's conception of appropriate diplomatic activity was influenced by historical precedent. Thynne drew directly on ancient Greek and Roman authors; he also included information about classical and medieval diplomacy derived indirectly from more recent publications, such as Theodore Zwinger's Theatrum Vitae Humanae. After briefly outlining the content of the treatise, Tracey A. Sowerby assesses the significance of Thynne's method and explains what it tells us about the mediation of diplomatic knowledge. Sowerby then compares it to other early modern diplomatic treatises and Elizabethan ambassadors' understanding of their activities.
Diplomatic Letters as Political Literature: Copying Sir Henry Unton's Letters
Elizabeth R. Williamson
This essay examines the letter-books that record the correspondence of Sir Henry Unton, resident ambassador to Henry IV of France from 1591–92 and again in 1595–96. Several (different) copies of his letter-book survive, raising questions about their origin and their social, political, and antiquarian value. Evidence of textual elision in one copy suggests conscious editing, supporting a theory that diplomatic letters functioned as more than ephemeral carriers of information. The corpus of letters left by an embassy represented its lasting written record, and the compiling of select letters into a discrete collection was one of several reputation management techniques open to the vulnerable aspirant within the competitive political environment of the late sixteenth century.
Edward Wilson-Lee examines the structural role of translators in the early modern period, both in actual embassies and in literary representations of diplomacy, analyzing a series of episodes that involve the erasure (violent or otherwise) of the translator. He argues that translators posed a threat in their ability to act as a conduit between nation states and cultures and that the erasure of these figures was necessary to preserve ideas of sovereign equality that were central to early modern conceptions of statehood. The different modes of erasure also shed light on a balancing act performed by England in the early modern period, defining itself both against supposedly barbaric Others while at the same time articulating its own identity by aligning itself with the same barbarous Others in proud opposition to Catholic Europe.
England's ambassador in Madrid from 1620 to 1624 and from 1635 to 1638, Sir Walter Aston was a fluent speaker of Castilian and convert to Catholicism. His interest in Spanish literary culture, in circulation of poetry in manuscript, and in translation played a key role in his negotiation of the religious and political differences that affected him and his circle personally and divided the state he served. The Astons' ambivalent position made them valuable intermediaries and at the same time vulnerably peripheral. Alexander Samson identifies a key performance witnessed by Aston in Spain on the eve of the Spanish match that is linked with a sonnet found in Secretary of State Edward Conway's papers and with the later translation by Aston's secretary, Sir Richard Fanshawe, of Antonio Hurtado de Mendoza's play Querer por sólo querer.
Growing political concern for public opinion toward the close of the seventeenth century intensified the demands on diplomats to address multiple publics, and it affected the ways in which diplomats produced and circulated poetry. Drawing on elegies for Mary II and related correspondence by two late seventeenth-century diplomats, George Stepney and Matthew Prior, Joanna Craigwood interrogates these increasing pressures. In composing poems commissioned by their Whig superiors for London publication, the two diplomat-writers faced competing demands from their English readerships, who expected highly conventionalized elegy, and from their international political publics, who had a more satirical take on William III's incapacitating grief following his wife's death. Stepney solved the dilemma by adhering to domestic norms but circulating manuscript satire on the Continent, Prior by paratextual reframing that allowed him to bypass the domestic poetic economy of the elegies. Their concerns, vacillations, and eventual solutions expose the extent to which diplomatic poetry was characterized by an almost obsessive concern with the ways in which a specific time, place, and audience placed particular demands and constraints on their words.
Afterword: Diplomats as Readers and Writers
This afterword by John Watkins draws together argumentative threads from across the essays and places them within the longer-term context of English and British diplomats' engagement with literature. From Niccolò Machiavelli to Henry Kissinger, diplomats and writers on diplomacy have drawn on humane literatures. Pointing out that the rise of what we generally think of as modern diplomacy coincided with the humanistic educational and cultural reforms of the Renaissance, Watkins asks what today's devaluation of humane learning within an increasingly technocratic diplomatic sphere means for our diplomatic future.
English Diplomacy and Literary Writing ca. 1500–1700: A Guide to Further Reading
Joanna Craigwood, Tracey A. Sowerby