restricted access Spanish in Abraham Fraunce’s Arcadian Rhetorike and the Political Context of the Summer of 1588

Abraham Fraunce’s (1558–1593) The Arcadian Rhetorike went to press as the Armada approached England’s shores. Usually studied as a conduit for the circulation of Renaissance poetry, Fraunce was the first to publish excerpts of Sir Philip Sidney’s (1554–1586) writing that had circulated previously only in manuscript. This article asks: is Fraunce’s excerption of Sidney driven by more than his search for patronage? Is it instead patriotic? The Arcadian Rhetorike’s juxtaposition of languages, and particularly English and Spanish poetry, reveals an underlying concern with the nationalist fervor that characterized England in 1588. Rather than a mere pedagogic and at times pedantic manual, The Arcadian Rhetorike may also be propaganda—a call to arms advocating for emulation of Spanish verse that, counterintuitively, resists Spain’s martial advancements. Printed just two years after England’s role in the Netherlands expanded and Fraunce’s patron, Sidney, was killed as he fought against the influence of Philip II, The Arcadian Rhetorike signals its relevance to the growing English antipathy for Spain from the moment it invokes the name of Arcadia. Continuity between three seemingly unrelated aspects of The Arcadian Rhetorike reflects upon the tense moment in which it was printed: its publication of Sidney’s writing; the passages it excerpts from Garcilaso de la Vega’s (1501–1536) poetry; and its apparent reliance on the nationalist edition of Obras de Garci Lasso (1580) of Fernando de Herrera (1534–1597)—a patriotic Spanish poet known for his verse celebrating contemporary military leaders. Thus this article will establish Fraunce’s political motivations and expand understanding of Sidney’s posthumous importance as a political symbol in the developing English conflict with Spain.