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Verse Libel In Renaissance England And Scotland EXCLUSIVE



In Renaissance England and Scotland, verse libel was no mere sub-division of verse satire but a fully-developed, widely-read poetic genre in its own right. This fact has been hidden from literary historians by the nature of the genre itself: defamation was rigorously prosecuted by state and local authorities throughout the period. Thus most (but not all) libelling, in verse or prose, was confined to manuscript circulation. This comprehensive survey of the genre identifies all sixteenth-century verse libel texts, printed and transcribed. It makes fifty-two of the least familiar of these poems accessible for further study by providing critical texts with glosses and explanatory notes. In reconstructing the contexts of these poems, we identify a number of the libellers, their targets, the circumstances of attack, and the workings of the scribal networks that disseminated many of them over wide areas, often for decades. The book's concentration on poems restricted to manuscript circulation throws substantial new light on the nature of Renaissance scribal culture. As poetic technicians, its practitioners were among the age's most experimental and creative. They produced some of the most popular, widely read works of their age and beyond, while their output established the foundation upon which the seventeenth-century tradition of verse libel developed organically.




Verse libel in Renaissance England and Scotland



Alan Bryson is a Research Fellow in the Humanities Research Institute, Sheffield University, working on the correspondence of the mercer and financier Sir Thomas Gresham. He is a sixteenth-century British historian, specialising in the reigns of Henry VIII during the 1530s and 1540s and of his son Edward VI, with a particular interest in relations between the crown and the nobility and gentry. He also works on mid-Tudor Ireland and on sixteenth-century English and Scottish verse libel and manuscript culture, and has published with colleagues from the fields of Archaeology, Art History, English Language, and English Literature. He is writing a monograph titled Lordship and Government in Mid-Tudor England.


"May and Bryson hope to demonstrate that the early modern verse libel was something more than "an insulting song or terse and temporary posting on a slip of paper"." - Juliet Fleming, Times Literary Supplement


Within this network of sovereign power, the most conspicuous agent apart from the Queen is not Essex, who was absent from all of these proceedings, but Lord Treasurer Burleigh. It was Burleigh and his faction who came to Marlowe's rescue when he was accused of defecting to the Catholic seminary at Rheims in 1587; Burleigh who interrogated, and then released, Marlowe and Baines upon their return from Flushing in 1592; and Burliegh who oversaw the heresy hunt that brought Marlowe into harm's way. Cholmley was in the service of Burleigh's son Sir Robert Cecil during the months leading up to the Spring of 1593 and gave a "very scandalous report" of his employer to Drury. Cholmeley alleged that Cecil had given him a copy of Father Southwell's Epistle of Comfort and urged him to "frame verses and libels in commendation of constant priests and virtuous recusants." Moreover, Cholmely "repented him of nothinge more then that he had not killed my Lord Treasurer with his owne hands." Marlowe's case resembled that of his ally Cholmeley in several key respects. Burleigh and the Council had protected him in the recent past; he gave scandal; he needed to be silenced; a formal trial was fraught with hazard.[19] 041b061a72


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