Singing the News : Ballads in Mid-Tudor England book cover
1st Edition

Singing the News
Ballads in Mid-Tudor England

ISBN 9780367667054
Published September 30, 2020 by Routledge
282 Pages

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Book Description

Singing the News is the first study to concentrate on sixteenth-century ballads, when there was no regular and reliable alternative means of finding out news and information. It is a highly readable and accessible account of the important role played by ballads in spreading news during a period when discussing politics was treason. The study provides a new analytical framework for understanding the ways in which balladeers spread their messages to the masses. Jenni Hyde focusses on the melody as much as the words, showing how music helped to shape the understanding of texts. Music provided an emotive soundtrack to words which helped to shape sixteenth-century understandings of gendered monarchy, heresy and the social cohesion of the commonwealth. By combining the study of ballads in manuscript and print with sources such as letters and state records, the study shows that when their topics edged too close to sedition, balladeers were more than capable of using sophisticated methods to disguise their true meaning in order to safeguard themselves and their audience, and above all to ensure that their news hit home.

Table of Contents

List of Tables

List of Figures



Editorial Note

A Note on Musical Analysis

Chapter 1 Introduction - now lesten a whyle & let hus singe

Chapter 2 ‘Lend listning eares a while to me’ – the production and consumption of sixteenth-century ballads

Chapter 3 ‘I praye thee mynstrell make no stoppe’ – the music of the mid-Tudor ballads

Chapter 4 ‘Sung to filthy tunes’ – the meaning of music

Chapter 5 ‘Ye never herd so many newes’ – the social circulation of information in ballads

Chapter 6 ‘Of popyshnes and heresye’ – political ballads and the fall of Thomas Cromwell

Chapter 7 ‘Lyege lady and queene’ – discourses of obedience in the reign of Mary I

Chapter 8 ‘Some good man, for the commons speake’ – scribal collections and social criticism

Conclusion ‘one hundred of ballits’


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Jenni Hyde is Associate Vice-President of the Historical Association. A former music teacher, folk singer and classically-trained soprano, she holds a doctorate in history from the University of Manchester and a PGCE in music from Edge Hill University College. She is Honorary Researcher in History at Lancaster University and an Associate Lecturer at Liverpool Hope University. She has published articles for both journals and popular magazines.


This is a significant book.

David Atkinson - Folk Music Journal