- The Queen's Majesty's Passage and Related Documents
Germaine Warkentin's edition of the primary source text of Elizabeth I's royal entry to the City of London on 14 January 1559 is a particularly welcome contribution to the growing number of studies on early modern continental and English ceremonies and spectacles. This concise edition fills a gap in the extensive literature on Elizabeth I and provides an excellent supplement to the forthcoming volumes of John Nichols's The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth. In accordance with the format and goals of the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies' Tudor and Stuart Texts series, Warkentin presents a modernized text of the official pamphlet of the entry, hitherto accessible only in facsimile, in a critical edition aimed both at a scholarly audience engaged with Tudor history and European festivals, and students of Elizabethan literature and theatre. The annotated bilingual (English and Latin) text of The Queen's Majesty's Passage, attributed to the humanist scholar Richard Mulcaster, is accompanied by informative secondary material including translations of Latin passages (prepared with the assistance of John Carmi Parsons), a series of illustrations, a glossary and gazetteer, and a comprehensive bibliography. In addition, a group of related documents locates the narrative account within the context of civic pageantry staged specifically for a monarch's coronation.
Directed with a strong propagandistic overtone both to a popular and a learned audience, The Queen's Majesty's Passage was the first English news pamphlet ever to publish a description and interpretation of the entry alongside the English and Latin verses recited or displayed at the pageants. Warkentin's thoroughly researched and insightful introduction offers a lively reading of Elizabeth I's rather precarious debut on the politically and religiously charged public stage of sixteenth-century England, following her brother Edward VI's devoutly Protestant then her sister Mary I's turbulent Catholic rule. She sensitively delineates how the uncertainty posed by the ascension of the young unmarried Queen regnant influenced the overall design of the entry and the carefully orchestrated encounter of Queen and her people within the ritual space of London. Apart from the conventional themes of royal entries, Warkentin draws special attention to the political imagery specific to Elizabeth I's entry: the receiving of the English Bible by the Queen, the pageant of Truth as the daughter of Time, and the aptly biblical antecedent of Deborah and her counsel (with its veiled advice about collaborative rule) that signalled the firmly Protestant agenda promoted by the municipal authorities and the evangelical circles around the Queen. Furthermore, Warkentin underscores the ironies of the continuity of Tudor power manifested not only in the reappropriation of [End Page 252] the Marian image of the decayed and flourishing commonwealth in the pageant at the Little Conduit and the alteration of Mary I's robe for Elizabeth's entry (the record of which is included in the appendix and famously preserved on Elizabeth's 'Coronation Portrait'), but also in the symbolic rehabilitation of Anne Boleyn at the Gracious Street pageant.
In the appendix, the edition usefully prints the Italian Aloisio Schivenoglia's court-centred report to the Catholic Castellan of Mantua, which is interestingly juxtaposed with the pronounced civic interest and evangelical views of Mulcaster's pamphlet. Moreover, the accounts of contemporary English chronicles and the miscellaneous records, ranging from the documents of the City's governing bodies to those of court officials, provide illuminating details of the complex organizational process and well illustrate the broad variety of available sources.
Apart from offering inspiration for further research, the edition, which my upper-level undergraduate students found extremely helpful in a course on Renaissance festivals, pointedly calls attention to the marginalized texts of royal entries and lord mayor's shows written by such prominent playwrights as Nicholas Udall, Ben Jonson, Thomas Dekker, Thomas Middleton, John Webster, and Anthony Munday. More importantly, it highlights the need to integrate such source texts not only in university courses on...