Volume 83, Number 3  Autumn 2020




Introduction: Ancient Rome in English Political Culture, ca. 1570–1660
Paulina Kewes

Ancient Histories of Rome in Sixteenth-Century England: A Reconsideration of Their Printing and Circulation

Freyja Cox Jensen

This essay addresses the printing and circulation of ancient histories in England before 1600. A detailed case study in the context of wider European printing trends, it focuses on the significance of historians of Rome in particular, drawing on a new statistical analysis of the printing of ancient historians across Europe derived from the Universal Short Title Catalogue. Demonstrating new patterns of print popularity, the essay provides a nuanced understanding of the role histories of Rome played in early modern political culture and aims to facilitate more precise studies of the importance and popularity of individual historians, such as Livy, Plutarch, and Tacitus—both in England and in Europe.

Translations of State: Ancient Rome and Late Elizabethan Political Thought
Paulina Kewes

This essay reconsiders late Elizabethan political thought by scrutinizing the significance of the Roman state in the passionate controversy about the royal succession. It explains the varied and often contradictory polemical utility of Roman history in contemporary discussions in England and Europe of monarchy and imperial expansion, and then analyzes its deployment in the most daring contemporary succession tract: the Jesuit Robert Persons’s A Conference about the Next Succession to the Crowne of Ingland (1595). While A Conference has been traditionally under-stood to advocate limited elective kingship, this essay demonstrates that its theoretical first part, in which the Roman example underpins a case for popular sovereignty, was open to far more radical readings. Persons’s treatise attracted widespread charges of antimonarchism and, in the following century, served republican and Whig enemies of the Stuarts

Roman Law and Roman Ideology in Alberico Gentili
Annabel Brett

Alberico Gentili (1552–1608) is associated with two different aspects of the political heritage of Rome in early modern England: first, with the English reception of Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy, and thus with republican-ism in a Roman idiom; second, with the absolutist revival of Roman civil law under James VI and I. This essay argues that we cannot understand this apparent contradiction within a purely English context. We need to broaden our lens to the international arena, which is where Gentili situated both his jurisprudence and his politics. It is the confrontation between these that is Gentili’s ultimate concern, and this essay suggests how he negotiated the divide in a new style of legal writing.

Ben Jonson, the Earl of Clarendon, and the Conspiracy of Catiline
Blair Worden

This essay illustrates the subterranean presence of classical writing in seventeenth-century English political thinking. It shows how Ben Jonson’s Catiline his Conspiracy (1611), a dramatization of Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae, penetrated the mind of one of Jonson’s disciples, the eminent statesman and royalist historian Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon. Over the decades after Jonson’s death, the play helped Clarendon, as well as other followers of Charles I, to make sense of the nation’s descent into civil war and revolution.

Volume 83, Number 2  Summer 2020


The Last Early Modern Epyllion: William Sampson’s Love’s Metamorphosis, Or: Apollo and Daphne 
Emanuel Stelzer

William Sampson’s Ovidian epyllion Love’s Metamorphosis, Or: Apollo and Daphne, written after 1645, has remained in manuscript only (Harley MS 6947, no. 41, fols. 318–36, British Library) and has received virtually no scholarly attention. It is a willful archaism modeled on Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis. The poem was dedicated to Margaret Cavendish, perhaps on the occasion of her return from her exile on the Continent in 1651. This essay considers why Sampson chose this genre, what his relationship with the Cavendishes was, how he expected the poem to be received in the context of the Civil War and Interregnum, and what the dedication to Cavendish tells us about female readership.


Did Shakespeare Use a Manuscript of Samuel Daniel’s Civil Wars to Write Richard II ? 
David S. Weiss

Evidence indicates that Shakespeare may have used a scribal version of Samuel Daniel’s The Civil Wars, rather than the first printed edition, while writing Richard II. There are two extant manuscripts of portions of Daniel’s epic poem. A never-printed stanza in one manuscript employs imagery similar to Shakespeare’s to describe the same invented episode. To investigate possible influence, this essay assesses the dates of the manuscripts, analyzes variants from the printed edition, evaluates the shared imagery, and considers how Shakespeare’s possible use of a manuscript impacts the dating of Richard II. It also identifies social connections between the authors that explain how the playwright could have obtained access to an early version of the poet’s work. 

“Be as a Planetary Plague”: Pestilence and Cure in Timon of Athens
Jodie Austin 

In William Shakespeare and Thomas Middleton’s problem play, Timon of Athens, the fate of the city hangs in the balance as the eponymous character threatens it with literal and figurative diseases from outside its walls. Strikingly, the plague itself is evoked thirteen times throughout the play, rendering the drama itself exceptional in boldly referring to the disease that ravaged London in 1603, the approximate year in which the play was first performed. Jodie Austin examines the theme of plague in Timon of Athens to argue that Shakespeare and Middleton produced a radical representation of the plague as a force for good—more specifically, as a force designed to scourge the ailing body politic of disorder. Ultimately, her aim is to promote discursive alignment between early modern literary studies and disciplines related to the history of medicine through a close examination of a relatively rare dramatic treatment of plague from the seventeenth century. 

The Context for the Text: The Masque Entertainments of the Egerton-Hastings Family 
Vanessa Wilkie

Vanessa Wilkie argues that the Egerton-Hastings family had a long-established practice of literary patronage that involved commissioning and hosting masque entertainments in their homes to signal major legal victories and familial career advancements. John Marston’s Entertainment at Ashby marked the 1607 Act of Parliament that ended a major inheritance lawsuit, John Milton’s 1631 Arcades celebrated the family’s victory in the Castlehaven trials, and Milton’s Comus served as the entertainment at the Earl of Bridgewater’s installation as president of the Marches of Wales. This essay introduces Marston’s 1607 masque as part of what should be considered a trio of masques, not just a duo of Miltonic masques, and thus more accurately frames all three occasions and texts. The essay also narrows the possible date range of the performance of Milton’s Arcades. This reading expands our understanding of the genre and function of elite household entertainments and masques.


Writing Time: Charting the History of Clock Time in Seventeenth-Century Diaries 
Daniel Patterson

In this essay, Daniel Patterson explores the representation of time in early modern diaries. In particular, he examines the presence and significance of clock time in a previously unknown seventeenth-century diary—that of an unassuming schoolmaster and customs official named George Lloyd (1642–1718). This source is examined alongside well-known diaries by Ralph Josselin, Samuel Pepys, and Constantijn Huygens. Taking the view that all diaries are innately temporal texts, the essay demonstrates that different temporal regimes can be discerned in each of these examples, from the mysterious, providential conception of time presented by Josselin to the quasi-realist narrative mimesis of Pepys. Lloyd, ultimately, was the first diarist to incorporate the new reality of accurate, widely available mechanical time as a fundamental feature of quotidian existence and self-narrative. 


“The Cursed Jew Priest That Ordered the Woman and Her Child to Be Burnt”: Rumors of Jewish Infanticide in Early Modern London 
Emily Vine

In this essay, Emily Vine traces the emergence, re-emergence, and impact of a distinct anti-Semitic narrative of Jewish infanticide and sacrifice by fire that appeared in print in London several times between 1674 and 1732. She identifies and links the versions of this specific narrative and directly connects the re-emergence of the narrative to outbreaks of anti-Semitic violence against the London Jewish community. This essay considers the published accounts themselves alongside evidence of their reception, situating this narrative within the context of the Jewish readmission to England (after 1656) and a wider proliferation of anti-Semitic literature. It analyzes the origins of this rumor, suggests ways in which the accusation was fueled by the misinterpretation of Jewish rituals, and demonstrates the direct effect that it had on Judeo-Christian relations in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century London. It argues that the repeated resonance of this particular narrative, unlike other anti-Semitic literature, lay in the geographical immediacy of the events described, events purported to take place within the streets and alleyways of London, in domestic spaces that ostensibly coexisted with the homes of Christian readers.


Alexander Pope and a Carracci Venus at the Court of James II and Mary of Modena 
Timothy Erwin

When Alexander Pope published the 1714 Rape of the Lock, he included a frontispiece that recalls a seated Venus associated with the Carracci Accademia degli incamminati during the seventeenth century. The same iconography informs the author’s description of Belinda at her dressing table and appears in the headpiece for the poem in Pope’s Works (1717). Dating to antiquity, the Venus-adorned theme represents the Carracci academy’s aim to reconcile diverse artistic practice to a theory of formal design. Carracci-school images of the goddess often feature a braid of hair, symbolizing the creation of the beautiful. Via an engraving by Etienne Baudet, Francesco Albani’s Venus at Her Toilet, or The Air (1621–33), served Pope as a prime source of poetic imagery. Timothy Erwin argues that the iconography reaches Pope mediated by figures with ties to James II and Mary of Modena—above all, Anne Finch. Sharing a symbolic order with the braid of Venus, Belinda’s lost lock comes to represent the cultural disappearance of an ideal composite beauty celebrated by the Stuart court of James and Mary. 


New Life Records for John Skelton as Rector of Diss, Norfolk (1514 and 1516) 
Sebastian Sobecki

This note introduces three new life records for the poet John Skelton. These documents shed light on his life between 1512 and 1516, and they show that Skelton remained in Diss in Norfolk into 1514, and left Norfolk at or shortly before the beginning of 1516. All three documents are plea entries from the Court of Common Pleas. In the first record, Skelton submits a plea of debt against the goldsmith John Page of Bury St. Edmunds in Hilary Term of 1514, and in the second two, the poet appears as a defendant in two suits of debt dating from Hilary Term 1516, filed by the executors of Sir William Danvers. Sebastian Sobecki reproduces, transcribes, and translates all three documents in this note.


Volume 83, Number 1  Spring 2020



"Longe Stories a Woord May Not Expresse": Tables of Contents in Lydgate's Fall of Princes
J. R. Mattison

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.

Civic Catholicism, Military Humanism, and the Decline of Justice in Thomas Lodge's The Wovnds of Ciuill War (1594)
D. Alan Orr

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 The Mayor of Garret without the Election: What Promptbooks Can Tell Us about Provincial Theater
Jane Wessel

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.

The Palimpsest Captive: Narratives of Islam, the Essex, and Her Boy in Early Republican Culture
James R. Fichter

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.


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
Humberto Garcia

Alexander Bevilacqua
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

Daniel O'Quinn
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.

"Lingua Eius Loquetur Mendacium": Pietro Aretino and the Margins of Reformation Diplomacy
William T. Rossiter


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 and the Construction of Diplomatic Thought in Elizabethan England
Tracey A. Sowerby


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.

Killing the Messenger: Diplomatic Translators in Late Elizabethan Culture
Edward Wilson-Lee


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.

The Literary Glocal: Sir Walter Aston between Staffordshire and Madrid
Alexander Samson


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.

Diplomacy, Poetry, and Publics in the Late Seventeenth Century: Elegies for Mary II by George Stepney and Matthew Prior
Joanna Craigwood


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
John Watkins


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