When we think of exemplary models illustrative of the nature of courtly literature and culture in Renaissance England, the early court of Henry VIII is not always the first to come to mind. By sheer force of voluminous scholarship alone, one...
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When we think of exemplary models illustrative of the nature of courtly literature and culture in Renaissance England, the early court of Henry VIII is not always the first to come to mind. By sheer force of voluminous scholarship alone, one might be more drawn to that of his daughter Elizabeth I and, once there, persuaded to consider those who assisted in the process of shaping the literary life of her court in a model suited to its monarch, and literary representations of that monarch in terms suitable to the court. Of this, there are many illustrations, among them the Cynthia of Edmund Spenser’s Colin Clout; the Britomart, Glorianna, and Belphoebe of The Faerie Queene; Sir Philip Sidney’s judicious judge at the centre of his Lady of May; and the figure—constructed and interpreted by Spenser, Mary Sidney, William Shakespeare, George Peele, John Davies, and others—of Astrea.2 What emerges from consideration in such a vein is the nature of the social fiction that is constructed and elaborated in literary terms by these literati and, when viewed in the larger context of court activity, the way in which literary constructions are reflected in (and, themselves, reflect) themes and trends in the larger fabric of court life.
Original publication information:
Originally published in Early Modern Literary Studies 14.3
Date: January 2009
Original citation: Ray Siemens. "Revisiting the Text of the Henry VIII Manuscript (BL Add Ms 31,922): An Extended Note". Early Modern Literary Studies 14.3 (January, 2009) 3.1-36 http://purl.oclc.org/emls/14-3/Siemhenr.html.