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Ventas filia Temporis: Apocalyptic Polemics in the Drama of the English Reformation Dawn Massey "Time tries the truth"; "Time brings the truth to light"; "Truth is Time's Daughter."1 The idea framed by the last of these proverbial expressions is integral to the allegorical structure of William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale (c. 1609-10). The Latin form of the motto, Veritas filia Temporis, appeared on the title page of Robert Greene's Pandosto: The Triumph of Time (c. 1588), the narrative prose work which served as the principal source for Shakespeare's play.2 These prominent uses of the motto suggest its substantial cultural currency in sixteenth-century England. As Fritz Saxl's pioneering study suggests, Veritas filia Temporis held a prominent place in an intense religious-political dispute by virtue of the distinct providential implications which gradually came to be associated with the motto's use.3 During the English Reformation it was not unusual for virtually identical rhetoric to be employed by radically distinct political and religious groups.4 Consequently, Protestant and Catholic reformers in England invoked various permutations of Veritas filia Temporis as evidence that God was on their side in the struggle to liberate religious truth from the heretical forces which would seek to suppress it.5 Protestants, in particular, used the motto as part of a program to forge a new national religious consciousness with a distinctly apocalyptic vision. Specifically, Protestant polemics of the period present an apocalyptic belief in their united congregation's duty to endure religious persecution until the coming of an avenging monarch, who would restore the True Church of England. Submission to religious persecution, including possible martyrdom, thus came to be regarded as a socially symbolic act. Individual narratives of human suffering were thereby understood within the totalizing narrative of the Protestant struggle for the establishment of the True Church.6 The purpose of the present study is to examine how the Veritas filia 146 Dawn Massey147 Temporis motto figured in this struggle, especially as apocalyptic polemic in dramatic and other writings of early modern England. Veritas filia Temporis had already been associated with the Continental reformers when it made its first known appearance in England as a political slogan in 1535.7 Only two years earlier, Henry VIIFs Parliament had enacted the Act in Restraint of Appeals . This act, drafted by Thomas Cromwell and based on the Erastian doctrine of Marsiglio of Padua's Defensor Pads (c. 1363), declared the monarch's sovereign authority over and against the competing jurisdictional claims of Rome: "This realm of England is an empire . . . governed by one supreme head and king . . . furnished, by the goodness and sufferance of Almighty God, with plenary, whole, and entire power . . . without restraint or provocation to any foreign princes or potentates of the world."8 As part of his program to disseminate Erastianism, Cromwell commissioned one of his supporters, the printer and writer William Marshall, to publish the first English translation of Marsiglio 's work under the title Defender of Peace (1535).9 Marshall published a "newly corrected" Goodly Prymer in Englyshe in the same year. On the verso of the title page of the primer and facing the prefatory "An admonition to the reder" is a woodcut which depicts a winged Time rescuing his vulnerable and naked daughter , Truth, who is shown emerging onto an open field of flowers from a cave where she has been imprisoned by the serpentine figure of Hypocrisy (fig. 1). Truth's imprisonment in a cave further alludes to Psalm 84:12 (AV: 85:12), "Veritas de terra orta est" ("Truth is sprung out of the earth"), suggesting truth's blossoming after long dormancy.10 Marshall vigorously articulates the primer's polemical stance by warning the reader of the "peryllous prayers"" which have previously deceived the people; these "blasphemous prayers . . . have flowed, and come from the cursed & wycked byshops of Rome, that heretofore haue ben, and are but lyes and vanities, as it is recognised by the hole churche of Englande, bothe spirituall and temporall."12 Within the context of Cromwell and Marshall's Erastian and anticlerical initiative, Marshall's woodcut thus represents "the liberation of Christian Truth . . . from her...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 146-175
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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