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Because there was no equivalent in Renaissance England to the Roman Forum and Senate, the stage actor was free to inherit the mantle of Cicero and Quintilian. I shall ask in this chapter how far stage actors did in practice follow a path mapped out by the ancient orators. Italian accounts of the actor’s art: De Sommi, Cecchini and Scala were Italian stage directors who contested appropriation of the rhetorical tradition by intellectuals, and the improvisatory tradition placed them as makers of embodied speech. Erasmus and the act of speaking: although Erasmus fostered a culture of the book, his sense of language was grounded in orality. Vives offers a vivid account of the fleshiness of the spoken word. A case study from ‘Merchant of Venice’ illustrates how Shakespeare wrote for different rhetorical registers. Sacred rhetoric: Erasmus straddled a tension between the Catholic tradition that emphasized form and the nascent Protestant tradition that required the preacher to be driven by the spirit. Donne and Alleyn: I focus on the relationship between England’s greatest preacher in the early seventeenth century and his son-in-law, who had been England’s greatest stage actor, bringing out the different conceptions of rhetoric.
Historians have characterized the prosecution of adultery in early modern Geneva in two different ways that, at first glance, seem to be at odds with one another. Some argue that women were prosecuted more vigorously than men due to a traditional patriarchal understanding of marriage that deemed a woman’s sexual loyalty to be paramount; others maintain that Geneva was a special case, distinct from most of early modern Europe, because men were prosecuted as intensively and as violently for adultery as women. Some scholars go so far as to argue that Geneva was a “paradis des femmes” because husbands were also held accountable for their sexual wanderings. This chapter demonstrates, however, that Geneva was far more typical in its prosecution of sex crimes than most Reformation historians admit. For a brief period, the male lovers of adulterous wives were prosecuted aggressively in Geneva. But if we enlarge our temporal focus to encompass a larger period, and consider the gender and marital status of those punished, it becomes clear that, even in Geneva and even during the Reformation, errant wives were the primary target of adultery prosecutions.
In the early seventeenth century, cannibalism became associated with a startling range of political and social transgressions in England. Since the term ‘cannibal’ developed out of European travel and expansion, especially in the Caribbean and South America, scholars have often viewed this term as an imperial trope designed purely to justify invasion. The lurid tales of physical incorporation that appeared in European travel writing, however, do not sufficiently explain why indigenous rites of violence pervaded post-Reformation English anxieties over the nature of civil society and state authority to the extent they did. A consideration of Tupi and Carib warfare becomes important for understanding why cannibalism became such a salient metaphor to discuss religious error, factionalism, rising litigations, and the breakdown of trust in Jacobean communities. The language of cannibal violence, with its specific connotations of indigenous belief, places the socio-political climate of London on the eve of the Thirty Years’ War within emerging English ambitions in the Atlantic.
This chapter considers the financial management of the English convents in Catholic Europe. It places the convents’ economic dealings in the context of their overall history, underlining just how vital this aspect of convent life was to their very survival and function. This chapter starts by briefly considering the nuns’ devotion to poverty, before exploring some of the necessary expenses accrued by the foundations. The different economic income strands exploited by the English convents is then outlined, before some of the problems they experienced in their finances are explored. The chapter finishes with a consideration of whether the convents were ever able to separate completely from their English roots as far as finances were concerned. Though the English convents adopted similar approaches to financial management as their continental equivalents and were frequently the model of Tridentine economic behaviour, they did face additional problems as a result of their nationality. Ultimately, the English convents existed in a precarious economic zone that could easily fall prey to both domestic and international fluctuations in more than just the economic environment.
The introduction opens by detailing the development of the conventual movement, giving an overview of the two-hundred-year lifespan of this exile initiative. The chapter then discusses archival survival rates, as well as recent historiographical trends that have seen the English convents in exile become a major area of interest. This literature is explored with the intention of contextualising the English convents in Catholic Europe, opening up wider themes relating to religious and national identity in the convents. As well as providing the context for the chapters of the monograph, the nuns’ adherence to the edicts of Trent are also placed in the broader context of the Catholic Reformation and Catholic Europe. Each chapter is then summarised, with an explanation that, rather than a linear, chronological approach to the convents, the book explores the English convents in exile thematically. The chapters have been ordered to take the reader through the experience of a nun, from entry into the convent to life in enclosure, from what the nuns’ surroundings looked like to how the whole enterprise was funded, from what nuns did all day to their wider place within the Catholic world.
The second chapter considers the exile English convents’ commitment to a core tenet of the Council of Trent’s teaching on female religious life: the implementation and maintenance of full enclosure. It opens by detailing the convents’ initiation rites, through the ceremonies of clothing and profession of vows. This chapter considers the relationship between English women religious and enclosure as a touchstone indicator of commitment to the initiatives of the Catholic Reformation. In their dedication to such a major Catholic identifier, it is argued that the English convents did not just match their continental equivalents but even outstripped them, gaining a reputation for their full commitment to this aspect of religious identity. In short, English nuns were committed to the tenets of the Council of Trent, especially those surrounding enclosure. This dedication allowed the nuns to place themselves in the vanguard of new Catholic Reformation initiatives, though this in itself reveals a paradox: for all that they embraced enclosure, the communities were not cut off from the wider world or its perceptions but remained involved with it.
Chapter 3 explores the material world of the nuns as part of the intense rebuilding and architectural remodelling programmes embarked upon in mainland Europe after the Council of Trent. Again, the English convents sought to engage with the wider secular world, in this instance using the decoration of their public churches, as well as the vessels and fabrics used in the celebration of the liturgy, to convey how they wished to be viewed by the surrounding populace. Though they used their outward liturgical faces to support their national identity, far more stress was placed on their strong identification with their Order, emphasising their role as part of the universal Church. Material culture in each institution was aimed at developing the nuns’ spiritual lives in adherence with Tridentine rules on behaviour and management. The second half of the chapter focuses on the more private spaces in which the enclosed inhabitants lived their daily lives, yet, as was the case in other early modern European convents, the secular permeated enclosure through various material reminders. It is argued that exile did not mean poverty of material culture.
Chapter 1 examines recruitment, looking at questions surrounding a postulant’s choice of convent and how they managed to travel there. The very foundation of each exile convent was based on national identity: these were, after all, English convents. Yet this insistence on Englishness did not only emanate from the women religious themselves but was fundamental to their gaining permission to establish convents in the first place. Nevertheless, it is argued that particular religious identities affected the process of joining a convent. It takes as its case study convent recruitment from the county of Essex to argue that women chose particular convents based on an interplay between home and abroad, as well as clerical and familial patronage. It highlights the effect of one clerical movement – the Jesuits – on convent recruitment patterns, yet these issues of competing spiritualities were not, despite first appearances, solely products of particular national contexts but part of wider developments in Catholic Europe. They show the formation of the English convents as part of the European – and even global – Catholic Reformation rather than presenting them as isolated national enclaves.
The conclusion reflects more broadly on the significance of a gendered reading for understanding early modern political thought. It also offers a brief take on the Reformation, a topic most important for early modern politics and marriage. The focus on the Reformation is tied up with one of the most important reflections that this Conclusion offers, namely an engagement with the idea of patriarchal political thought. Earlier scholarship has assumed that ‘patriarchalism’ was the dominant take on the family in early modern political thought. This book however has offered a comprehensive re-examination of this trope and has shown that more important to Renaissance political thought than the father–king analogy was the wife–citizen connection. The Conclusion gives some explanation of the changes that the seventeenth century saw and in which, indeed, fathers became lords, and citizens degraded from a wife-like status to their early modern incarnation as child-like subjects.
This chapter examines the liturgical and spiritual life of the convents. It opens by outlining the daily routine within enclosure, exploring the devotional life of the women religious. This is followed by consideration of the spiritual ethos of different convents before focusing at greater length on the nuns’ attitudes towards relics and martyrdom, which was an especially strong devotional strain within the convents. The English convents considered themselves very much part of the English mission, and were committed to eventually replanting female religious life in their homeland, something very much central to the missionary impulse of early modern Catholicism. As such, though they had a natural interest in the fate of their persecuted fellow Catholics back home, the nuns in no way neglected the significance of martyrs from further afield, or relics more indicative of the wider Church, underlining their relationship with mainland European religious and spiritual trends.
The conclusion asks whether the exile women religious were English women who happened to be Catholic, or were they Catholic women who happened to be English? It argues that there is a far stronger case for the latter interpretation. Yes, they kept an English element of identity but this was as part of the transnational Church. It challenges a historiographical approach to the English convents and women religious that prioritises their position as communities of women or interprets them through a lens of nationality, considering them simply as communities of English. It stresses that there is a need to reorientate our understanding of the convents towards Catholic Europe and its centres, with Rome predominant but also acknowledging the importance of Spanish and French religious trends. The English convents were self-consciously Catholic communities, not isolated but fully committed parts of the universal Catholic Church and this is the core identifier that underlined their very existence.
The book’s sixth chapter focuses on the convents’ role within the wider English and Catholic Mission. It considers the convents’ contact with other exile institutions from the western peripheries of Catholic Europe. This chapter asks whether the exile convents and colleges were concentrated only on their own survival or were male and female expressions of the Catholic Reformation bound by national interest? It is argued that the English convents were fully part of the English Catholic endeavour, the nuns overcoming traditional gender boundaries to act as committed partners in the exile enterprise; they were not isolated institutions defined by insularity. The final part of this chapter examines whether Catholic identity trumped national interests. It asks whether archipelagic Catholic identities were formed in the Catholic diaspora through the relationship of the English convents with the continental Irish and Scottish colleges. It is evident that national allegiances won out. In this, the English convents were not behaving any differently to the rest of Catholic Europe: this national approach to mission and Catholic renewal was part of Catholic Reformation methodology.
The high ideals of the faith to which medieval Latin Christians were repeatedly exhorted had rendered ideas and initiatives of reform virtually coextensive with Christendom for centuries before the Protestant Reformation. The imitation of Christ through the practice of the virtues was not so much hard to understand as it was difficult to enact, whether among lay Christians, members of the secular clergy, or those men and women whose solemn vows in religious orders obliged them, at least in theory, self-consciously to pursue this virtuous imitation. “You must be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect”; “Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors”; “None of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.” Such admonitions were all but guaranteed to produce a gap between prescription and practice. No sooner were Jesus’s commands proclaimed than Christians more often than not failed to realize them, whether they were members of the unlettered rural laity, skilled artisans and merchants in Western Europe’s burgeoning cities, parish priests scraping by on meager benefices, or powerful prelates whose positions offered constant opportunities to indulge sinful desires. No medieval Christian with the scantest grasp of the faith could have doubted that sins abounded in Christendom.
With his flight from Paris to Strassburg and arrival in Basel in January 1535, Calvin entered the sphere of the Swiss and South German Reformation.1 Geographically, the Reformed towns of the Swiss Confederation lay within this area: Zurich, Bern (with its strong influence reaching west to Lausanne and Geneva), Biel, Basel, Schaffhausen, and St. Gallen, joined by a number of South German towns such as Mülhausen, Strassburg, and Constance. These towns all experienced the Reformation as an urban Reformation, introduced by elected town councilors.2 The guilds often had significant influence. The town councilors believed themselves responsible for the construction of a Christian church in accord with the Word of God within the area covered by their political authority. Communications networks on various levels linked the towns with each other. Thus, variously constituted gatherings met regularly or as needed and, additionally, information was exchanged, the position of other towns on important questions was ascertained, and letters of recommendation for urban reformers or scholars were supplied. While the towns were conscious of their confessional bonds, each retained its full autonomy and went its own way when it came to the implementation and organization of the Reformation. The Zurich urban reformation served as a model, but as a source of inspiration not a type to be copied wholesale. Disputations often preceded the introduction of the Reformation in these towns, as had been the case in Zurich, with various Reformers from the Swiss and South German network participating.3 The Reformers’ role was to suggest how the reformation of the Christian community might be accomplished, but the political authorities rarely followed such suggestions without reservation, and discussion and conflict were the order of the day. However much they supported a reformation of Christendom, the political authorities were always concerned to retain decision-making rights, including in church affairs, in their own hands.
This chapter introduces the central claim by grounding it in a range of contexts, beginning with the use of the word ‘Englishes’ by John Florio in 1598. The first section discusses the post-reformation struggle over the ‘property’ of ‘our English’ in the sense of defining character and ownership, a struggle conducted around practices in theatre and translation. The phrase ‘our English’ features only once in the Shakespearean canon, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, where it is set against ‘the King’s English’. This opposition finds echo in staged confrontations, notably around Shakespearean instances of the word ‘reformation’. These anticipate future cultural history and critical responses to Shakespearean practice, beginning with Ben Jonson whose alignment with cultural reformation ideology is highlighted. The exclusionary character of this ideology is pointed out and Shakespearean resistance to it in plays of the 1590s introduced. Specifically, the welcoming of (linguistic and human) strangers urged by Shakespeare is discussed in relation to his status as ‘Englishman forren’, while his inclusive vision of ‘our English’ is considered in relation to the present as well as the past.
In contrast to the transcendent image eliding idolatry through immateriality or dematerialization, the transgressive image courts sin to transcend the self. Through the Abrahamic story of the prophet Joseph and Zuleikha, transformed from Judaic and Islamic exegesis to poetry and painting, Chapter 8 explores the trope of the transgressive image. Development of the story from the Talmud into the Bible and subsequent interplay between Jewish and Islamic commentaries suggests close interreligious communication. The story’s fifteenth-century romantic popularization in Persian poetry, first by Sa’di and then by Jami, used tropes of dreams and idols to transform the story into a parable describing the path to divine union. Combining text with image, Bihzad’s famous rendition of the climactic scene responds to the poem’s intermediality. Comparison with the transgressive dream vision central to the tale of Shaykh Sam’an in Attar’s Language of the Birds underscores a broader recognition of idolatrous transgression as a path to salvation. The chapter concludes by contrasting the mystical, humanizing interpretation embodied in these tales with depictions of the same romance in Europe. Recognizing the independence of European painting from text as an inappropriate paradigm for manuscript paintings embedded in texts, the chapter suggests the need for contextual critical reading of poetry through theology as well as politics to ascribe visual meaning.
In no other period in the German-speaking lands was so much written about, and in the service of, religion as from 1450 to 1700. The chapter is divided into four sections. The first discusses the literature of exhortation and polemic. Before the Reformation this included The Ship of Fools (1494) by Sebastian Brant and the writings of Erasmus. From 1517 on it meant the religious debate spearheaded by Martin Luther. The second section demonstrates how drama was used for polemical and edificatory purposes in Reformation satire, Protestant Biblical drama, and both Catholic and Protestant historical drama. The third section analyses a cautionary tale from each side of the confessional divide: the Lutheran History of Dr John Faustus (1587) and the Catholic Grimmelshausen’s Simplicissimus (1669). The fourth section discusses the religious poetry of the seventeenth century, including that of Andreas Gryphius, the hymns of Paul Gerhardt and mystical poetry from Jakob Böhme to Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg.
This chapter analyzes how and why the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires were militarily powerful but economically uncompetitive and intellectually stagnant. It emphasizes that out of the three technologies Western Europeans used effectively – the printing press, nautical compass, and gunpowder – these three Muslim empires employed only gunpowder effectively. The chapter explains this situation by the dominance of the military and religious classes and the marginalization of the intellectual and bourgeois classes in the Muslim world. In Western Europe, by contrast, the intellectual and bourgeois classes were influential; they played crucial roles in overlapping processes of the Renaissance, the printing revolution, the Protestant Reformation, geographical discoveries, and the scientific revolution, which led to the “rise of Western Europe.” The chapter critically evaluates alternative explanations to both the decline of the Muslim world and the rise of Western Europe.