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The famous Jerusalem chamber scene of Henry IV part 2 involves the king’s realization that, instead of dying in Jerusalem as had been foretold, he will in fact die on English soil. Shakespeare’s re-centring of Jerusalem as the dramatic focus of Westminster Abbey (where the scene takes place) is a post-Reformation response to its embodiment of the sacral power of England’s monarchy. After the break from Rome there is only one holy city: God’s city, Jerusalem. Biblical allusions to David’s city and Davidic kingship throughout the second tetralogy partake in post-Reformation typological hermeneutics in that they perform England’s aspiration to inhabit the mantle of the New Jerusalem. This essay draws on post-Armada sermons and other texts to produce a fresh reading of the biblical language of the Henriad and place the play within the context of the theological and homiletic claim that England was the New Jerusalem.
This book explores the fall of Jerusalem and restores to its rightful place one of the key explanatory tropes of early modern English culture. Showing the importance of Jerusalem's destruction in sermons, ballads, puppet shows and provincial drama of the period, Beatrice Groves brings a new perspective to works by canonical authors such as Marlowe, Nashe, Shakespeare, Dekker and Milton. The volume also offers a historically compelling and wide-ranging account of major shifts in cultural attitudes towards Judaism by situating texts in their wider cultural and theological context. Groves examines the continuities and differences between medieval and early modern theatre, London as an imagined community and the way that narratives about Jerusalem and Judaism informed notions of English identity in the wake of the Reformation. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, this volume will interest researchers and upper-level students of early modern literature, religious studies and theatre.