Originally published in 2005. While several recent studies have investigated the political dimensions of sixteenth-century English drama, until now there has not been a monograph that tells the story of how and why royal marital selection was examined. By linking court interludes, neoclassical university tragedies, and popular plays by late Elizabethan dramatists Christopher Marlowe, John Lyly, Thomas Kyd, and William Shakespeare to the inflammatory topic of Tudor marriage, Michael Winkelman demonstrates their cultural centrality. This new work interrogates the symbolic, allusive, and mimetic aspects of marital relationships in such plays. Winkelman argues that they were crucial battlegrounds for a series of consequential debates about the future of the monarchy, especially during the reigns of the oft-married King Henry VIII and his unmarried daughter, the Virgin Queen Elizabeth I. Marriage, as a critically important political metaphor as well as a pressing realpolitik quandary, was the subject of major debate in the drama and government of Tudor England. Royal conduct in the domestic sphere had a tremendous impact on the entire English social order, and in an age before widespread freedom of speech, court drama was often the only venue where the voicing of criticism was tolerated. The fascinating soap-opera story of Tudor marriage thus provides the author with a reference point for an interdisciplinary study of sixteenth-century theatre and politics. Drawing on evidence from playbooks and historical chronicles as well as contemporary work in gender studies, audience-response theory, and anthropology, this book explores how during a time of anxiety-inducing change, playwrights discussed controversies and propounded remedies; theatre played a pivotal role in shaping society.
Preface; Introduction: A little scene to monarchize; The pageantry of establishment; The king's great matter; or, Super utroque regis coniugio; Respublica: England's troubles about Mary; Scotland and Lady Sensuality; Vivat Regina!; Queen's games; Majesty disrobed in the late Elizabethan theatre; Conclusion.
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