MARY Wroth bases her prose romance Urania (1621) and its manuscript sequel (in this essay, Urania 2) on a rich variety of sources. In addition to the Sidney family project, Arcadia, Wroth includes material from Shakespeare's plays, Spenser's Faerie Queene, and Cervantes’ Don Quixote.
Wroth also draws from less famous sources, including Margaret Tyler's Mirror of Princely Deeds and Knighthood (1578). This work is a popular translation of an even more popular Spanish romance. Josephine A. Roberts identifies Tyler as one of Wroth's sources. However, Roberts only takes the time to point out a single connection: a shared setting, “the Monastery of the River” in Hungary. Tyler features this monastery in the early part of the Mirror. A Hungarian princess named Briana lives in the monastery with her son, Rosicleer, one of the Mirror's knightly protagonists. The monastery is also an emblem for the faith, honor, and chastity that both Briana and Rosicleer display. In Urania 2, Wroth uses this setting as a retreat for the widowed queen of Hungary (Melasinda, 2.401.17). In addition, Wroth describes the monastery as “a most sweet and ever-renowned place for pleasure and Chastetie” (2.401.17–18). This description suggests that Wroth was familiar with Tyler's work and its major themes. Despite this connection between Urania and the Mirror, few scholars have gone on to explore Tyler's influence on other episodes in Wroth's romance. In fact, Tyler remains relatively unknown to many of Wroth's readers.
In this article, I examine a longer episode in Urania 2, looking for connections that demonstrate Tyler's influence. In this episode, a young prince named Clavarindo disguises himself as a lady to defeat a tyrannical enemy. I argue that this episode in Urania 2 is based on one of Rosicleer's adventures from Tyler's Mirror. Establishing Tyler's influence explains a few of Wroth's unusual narrative and stylistic choices in the Clavarindo episode. Furthermore, examining the differences between Tyler's version and Wroth's illuminates the process by which Wroth adapted her source material for Urania. Connecting these two works solidifies both Tyler's influence on Wroth and the larger chain of literary inspiration that created the early modern romance.
Tyler's Influence on Wroth's Plot and Character
Clavarindo, the protagonist of Wroth's episode, is the banished prince of Thessaly.