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ii ?». 4A beggar's book Outworths a noble's blood' The Politics of Faction in Henry VIII Stuart M. Kurland Seeking to encourage investment in a Scottish gold mine early in his reign in England, King James I offered to reward investors with specially designated knighthoods: if twenty-four substantial gentlemen would venture £300 sterling apiece, each was "to have the honour of Knighthood bestowed uppon him, and so for ever to be called the Knight of the Golden Mynes, or the Golden Knight." Supporters of the plan, associates of the projector Bevis Bulmer, expressed confidence that "the King's Majesties Plott" would make James "the richest Monarch in Europe, yea in the Worlde"—and for no cost "but only a stroke with his sword upon the shoulder of man."l Others were understandably skeptical. Dudley Carleton, dismissing the King's surveyor of mines as "Bulmer the alchemist ," wrote in early 1604 that there was "little hope of this new discovery, though the Scotchmen compare it at least with the Indies, and the knights of the mine must needs go forward."2 To many people, it was "against all humane reason," as one of the supporters acknowledged, that gold could "engender in so cold a clymate" as Scotland's. And, as it happened, James spent£3,000 at Crawford Moor to gain less than three ounces of gold. Only one "knight of the mines" was created, an investor who had already ventured (and lost) £500, though Bulmer— in his time "the accepted Croesus amongst industrial speculators "—was himself knighted about 1604.3 STUART M. KURLAND, Assistant Professor of English at Duquesne University, is the author of prior articles on Shakespeare in Comparative Drama, Shakespeare Studies, and Studies in English Literature. He is currently working on Shakespeare's romances and Jacobean politics. 237 238Comparative Drama Bulmer was not the only "gentleman" to attain a knighthood under James: the early years of the reign saw practically wholesale distribution of honors, often under questionable circumstances . Honors frequently went to unworthy persons, often, it was assumed, as a result of bribery. If Elizabeth had been too sparing in her creations, leaving the achievements—and ambitions —of many of her greater subjects inadequately acknowledged , James moved in the opposite direction and created knights on an unprecedented scale. Such actions potentially undermined the entire system of honors.4 In the first four months of the reign, James created 906 new knights; by December 1604, there were 1,161, "which means that the order had suddenly been increased almost three-fold."5 On his way south for the coronation, James knighted "the chief gents in every shire commended to him by the nobles and favorites about him," a total of "300 knightes at the lest made, never knowen but by report to his maiestie."6 Stopping at Belvoir, James named forty-six knights one morning before breakfast. On coronation day, which came to be known as the "great day" or the "grand day" of new creations, three peers deputized for the purpose dubbed 432 new knights.7 And James soon came to use knighthood "to reward anyone who took his fancy," including the royal goldsmith, knighted in 1605 "for making a Hole in the great Diamond the King doth wear."8 Philip Gawdy relayed several jests made at the expense of the new knights, including one about a suitor who followed the court for so long that "he and his men wer so lousye as it was most wonderfull, and yet in the end (paying well for it) he was made a lowsy K." In a more serious vein, Gawdy observed how, on "that great day" of the coronation, when "a number of worthy and very choyse knightes" were made, there were "with them (lyke cokle amongst good corne) a skumm of suche as it wolde make a man sycke to thinke of them." From rural areas "ther wer Sheapreues, yomans sonns knighted" and from London "dyuers pedlers sonns."9 Before the coronation, a "thronge at Courte" seeking knighthoods "evermore swarmed about his maiestie at every back gate & privie dore, to his great offence."l0 Although James suspended creations, he soon "opened the flood-gates," in July...


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