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Being as the most fundamental intentional state. Being as a matter of “being-there,” where the “there” is determined by metaphors. Sovereign states and sovereign individuals in early modern Europe. The uncertain ontological status of both subjects. Theater and theory as ways to make both subjects beholdable and indisputably there. Dance as a way to come into being. Social ontologies based on dance metaphors – the world-stage and the social interaction of resident ambassadors.
‘ The inns of court man that never was studient’ argues that the contemporary stereotype of the idle and dissolute young inns of court gallant with more interest in playgoing than reading law reports, while doubtless exaggerated for moral and satirical effect, is corroborated by an abundance of biographical evidence. It also reflects two prime causes of student delinquency and disinclination for legal studies: lack of supervision and the intractability of the common law as a subject of study. ‘Guides to Method’ surveys the legal literature available to students, concluding that it offered little assistance to those attempting to navigate the law’s complexities. ‘Lay and Professional Legal Knowledge’ emphasises the gulf between the practising barrister’s expertise and the kinds of legal knowledge which most laymen were likely to need or possess.
Yet members acquired and exercised a remarkably wide range of non-legal accomplishments and skills. ‘Accomplishments and the Decline of Creativity’ argues that the inns did little to encourage such activities, especially after c.1615. ‘Varieties of Learning’ surveys the remarkably diverse intellectual life of the early modern inns, while the closing section ‘Achievements, Failures, Prescriptions’ evaluates their diverse roles as educational institutions, and the few contemporary proposals for their reform.
The nature of whatever ‘Political Education’ was imparted to students at the inns is difficult to determine. While possibly enhancing their political awareness, it did not simply operate in one direction. Historians have been impressed by links between the inns and parliament, but contemporaries were probably more aware of their ties with the royal court. ‘Court Connections’ were manifest in masques presented at court, and associations between prominent courtiers and the inns, as well as between the central government and the inns’ rulers. The most spectacular demonstration of this affinity was the 1634 joint masque, The Triumph of Peace, an extravaganza presented by all four inns in repudiation of William Prynne and his alleged libel against women actresses, including Queen Henrietta Maria.
But ‘Towards Civil War’ shows that the rapprochement between the inns and Charles I’s court was never complete. The inns lay low during the political struggles before the outbreak of hostilities, although an armed band of 500 students offered their services to the king just before his attempted arrest of the 5 members in January 1642. When war did come, the inns’ allegiance was effectively determined by their location in parliamentarian London.
This chapter investigates how the prestige of the court and its genres were deployed in school-based contexts. Alignment with the court and its glamour took many forms. Elaborate polyphonic service music, pageants for visiting dignitaries, and masques performed by students evoked the performative specter of dancing courtiers, the progresses of Elizabeth I, the Chapel Royal, the royal body itself. The students’ imitation of performative behaviors that originated in other contexts served the needs of ambitious schoolmasters, drawing attention to the skills of talented pupils, the training they received, and the institution’s alignment with powerful people. Yet the same performances also established temporal connections between past and present, as the specter of the court, with all its religious, political, and class complexities haunted the pedagogical space of the schoolroom, sometimes in unexpected ways. Students overturned established hierarchies even as they co-opted behaviors of the court, as their singing, dancing, and acting exerted control over the passions of those who would rule them.
In chapter 14, John H. Astington considers the building put up at Whitehall Palace in 1606/7, and destroyed by fire early in 1619. Planned in the first few years of the king’s reign, the design of the interior in particular seems to have aimed to create a new style at Whitehall Palace. The architect was probably Robert Stickells. For plays, the king and his family might have wanted to be nearer to the actors; a royal seat brought forward to nearer the middle of the hall would have allowed space for rising ranks of seating to the rear. For masques, the area in front of the scenic stage was required for both orchestra and singers, and principally for the dancers, who performed in the area formed by the central floor of the building. Besides, Astington explains, the room was also used for court ceremonial of one kind and another: it was the largest gathering place within Whitehall Palace. Finally, Astington’s chapter also deals with what is known about the disposition of audience and performance space for these varying events, and suggests some conclusions about the role of the Banqueting House as a multiple-use space at a particular historical moment.