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Renaissance Retrospections

Tudor Views of the Middle Ages


Publication Year: 2013

The Middle Ages provided an important, if complex, set of literary and historiographic models for early modern authors, although the early modern authors responded to the alien political, religious, and cultural landscape of medieval England through their more present ideological concerns. From Shakespeare’s manipulation of his medieval source material to Protestant responses to medieval Catholicism, this collection of essays explores the ways that early modern English writers responded to the medieval English literary and historical record, dealing with topics such as historiographic bias, print history, intertextuality, and cultural history. The volume is an important participant in the ongoing reshaping of professional ideas about periodization and cultural identity.

Published by: Medieval Institute Publications

Series: Studies in Medieval Culture

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

I would like to express my appreciation to the Medieval Institute for the 2004 Visiting Fellowship where I began work on this collection, and to Medieval Institute Publications for their support through the process of collecting and editing the essays. My particular thanks go to David Matthews, who was a meticulous and insightful reader of the manuscript, ...


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pp. ix-x

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Introduction: The Body and the Book in Early Modern Readings of the Medieval English Past

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pp. 1-15

Like Hollywood screenwriters who create movies based on television shows, comic books, and video games, writers in the premodern and early modern periods mined antecedent texts for narrative models. For medieval and Renaissance authors, writing very frequently meant rewriting. Some adaptations and revisions obscure their own origins, but some openly reveal their intertextual affiliations. ...

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The Resurrected Corpus: History and Reform in Bale’s Kynge Johan

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pp. 16-36

John Bale’s Kynge Johan is frequently recognized as the earliest extant play to stage a representation of an English king—in fact, of two English kings.1 Recognized far less often is that the play is also one of the earliest to stage an English historian—in fact, two English historians. The first of these is the character Veritas, who enters after the historical plot has concluded with John’s assassination, ...

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When Polemic Trumps Poetry: Buried Medieval Poem(s) in the Protestant Print I Playne Piers

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pp. 37-69

The ways in which Tudor Protestants appropriated Piers Plowmanand turned William Langland’s work to their own purposes have increasingly gained scholarly interest in recent years. Piers has proven to be a remarkably adaptable character: first presented in the mid-fourteenth century by Langland as a primarily orthodox figure through which to criticize abuses within the church, ...

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The Work of Robert Langland

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pp. 70-92

If medievalists recall Robert Langland at all, they probably remember him as a mistake. Along with his neighbors John Malvern and William Langley, Robert Langland was one of the many possible candidates for authorship of Piers Plowman.2 Unlike his neighbors, however, it took him four hundred years to die.3 ...

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The Monkish Middle Ages: Periodization and Polemic in Foxe’s Acts and Monuments

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pp. 93-110

Milton’s Satan, journeying toward earth, alights on the outer sphere of the created universe, an empty place that will in time to come be known as the paradise of fools; in it will accumulate “all things vain and all who in vain things / Built their fond hopes.”2 The description that follows catalogs not only “painful superstition” and “blind zeal” ...

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“That auntient authoritie”: Old English Laws in the Writings of William Lambarde

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pp. 111-126

No one in Tudor England knew more about Anglo-Saxon law than William Lambarde. He edited the Archaionomia,1 a facing-page edition of Old English laws and Latin translations, and authored several other influential legal handbooks and histories; the first history of an English county, the Perambulation of Kent, also came from his pen. ...

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The Rebel Kiss: Jack Cade, Shakespeare, and the Chroniclers

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pp. 127-140

In the summer of 1450 the rebel leader Jack Cade camped on Blackheath and demanded governmental reform. Chief among his rebels’ complaints were the regular extortions practiced by local and royal officials, a lack of free elections for knights of the shire, and the increasingly onerous labor laws that were felt to impinge on long-standing tenant rights. ...

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At Hector’s Tomb: Fifteenth-Century Literary History and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida

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pp. 141-173

A number of recent monographs have argued for the importance of the fifteenth century in the development of authorship, humanism, and the formation of the English literary book.1 These studies have complicated the easy division between medieval and early modern literary cultures. ...

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Owning the Middle Ages: History, Trauma, and English Identity

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pp. 174-198

In the Tudor period history was a hot commodity, and the history of the medieval past proved to be an especially valuable tool for asserting political legitimacy. Occasions calling for such assertion arose repeatedly throughout the Tudor era, appearing with particular frequency during Elizabeth I’s rule. ...


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pp. 199-216

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Notes on Contributors

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pp. 217-218

Rebecca Brackmann is Assistant Professor of English at Lincoln Memorial University. She is the author of The Elizabethan Invention of Anglo-Saxon England. She has also published articles on topics such as Old English law, Anglo-Saxon poetry, and J. R. R. Tolkien. ...


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pp. 219-234

Back Matter, Back Cover

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pp. 245-246

E-ISBN-13: 9781580441858
Print-ISBN-13: 9781580441735

Page Count: 244
Illustrations: 8
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1
Series Title: Studies in Medieval Culture