History 367 Society and Ideas in Shakespeare’s England



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John Knox’s First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women [Geneva] 1558

Divine Right Theory: History 04

  • Buchanan was James VI’s tutor; the King reacted violently against him and his ideas;

  • Buchanan wrote a standard history of Scotland, which was probably a source of Macbeth.

  • In the French Religious Wars, Protestants justified resistance to the crown, especially after the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacres (August 24 1572).

Divine Right Theory: History 05

  • In 1584, a Protestant (Henry of Navarre) became heir to the French throne; Catholics (the Holy/ Catholic League) now began to argue for resistance, and Protestants against it.

  • The Spanish invaded France on the Catholic side; they threatened England with invasion (Armada 1588).

  • In France and England, national feeling fused with ideas of strong central government and non-resistance.

Divine Right Theory: History 06

  • 1590s: John Whitgift and Richard Bancroft mount propaganda campaign against Protestant and Catholic resistance theory;

  • 1593 de Imperandi Authoritate of Adrian (/Hadrian) Saravia: sovereignty; Divine Right.

  • 1598: James VI: The True of Free Monarchies; 1599: Basilicon Doron: Divine Right; non-resistance; parliaments purely advisory.

Shakespeare, Kingship and James VI & I - 01

  • 1595: Richard II portrays the deposition and murder of a King; 1601: the Earl of Essex revolted against Elizabeth I; the day before the revolt, Essex’s supporters bribed Shakespeare’s company (the Lord Chamberlain’s Men) to act the play; one of Shakespeare’s colleagues was questioned about this by the Privy Council.

  • 1603: succession of James I: he took over patronage of Shakespeare’s Company (it became the King’s Company).

Sir John Hayward, The First Part of the Life and Raigne of King Henrie the IIII., 1599 (this one really 1629)

Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton (1573-1624)

Shakespeare, Kingship and James VI & I - 02

  • After 1603, Shakespeare made sure not to contradict James’s ideas;

  • Macbeth (1606) reflects James’s views on witchcraft, and whitewashes his ancestor Banquo’s actions (as co-murderer of King Duncan).

  • Shakespeare’s plays were often performed privately at court for James; twenty plays were performed at court in the Christmas season of 1612-13, eight were by Shakespeare.

An official list of plays performed at court, early in 1605; it records that “the Marchant of Venis” by “Shaxberd” was performed on 10 February, and again – by the king’s command – two days later.

James I and Divine Right in Theory and Practice

  • James I not only held Divine Right ideas in theory, but also put them into practice;

  • He saw parliament as a consultative institution; he thought he, and not parliament made law (though he chose to consult the two Houses in doing so);

  • He held that monarchs are not bound by the law, and can ignore it in emergencies, for example by taxing without consent.

James I (1603-25), Charles I (1625-49), and Divine Right

  • Elizabeth bequeathed financial problems to James; parliament was reluctant to vote him taxes; so he resorted to extra-parliamentary financial expedients – especially impositions (1608 on).

  • Many clergy, dependent on the King for promotion, echoed Divine Right views; e.g. Lancelot Andrewes, John Donne.

  • Charles I enforced Divine Right ideas still more tactlessly than James.

Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) and John Donne (1572-1631)

Divine Right: Charles I to Charles II 01

  • Charles I: impositions; tonnage and poundage; Forced Loan (1626-7); Ship Money; religious divisions (Arminianism; puritanism); Civil War; the execution of the King (1649).

  • Revival of Divine Right under Charles II (1660-85).

  • Divine Right ideas in books, especially by clergy;

Divine Right: Charles I to Charles II 02

  • God and the King 1615; meant to be read by all schoolchildren; reissued 1662.

  • Sermons in support of Forced Loan 1627: Roger Maynwaring; Robert Sibthorpe (Locke later attacked; Sibthorpe uses terms (anti-) royalist).

  • Maynwaring impeached by parliament 1628; pardoned by the King (1628) and made a Bishop (1636).

Divine Right Theorists

  • Saravia; Sir Robert Filmer; Hobbes (partially).

  • French theory: indefeasible hereditary right through Salic Law.

  • England; idea that Providence can change dynasty and form of government; or that monarch can alter succession: Saravia; Filmer; Hobbes.

  • But some royalists asserted indefeasible hereditary right 1640s, 1670s-80s.

Divine Right: the last stage

  • 1679-81: the Exclusion Crisis; James, Duke of York; James Scott, Duke of Monmouth; Exclusion parliaments; Whigs (exclusion; limited government; toleration); Tories (intolerance; Divine Right; no exclusion);

  • Locke v. Filmer.

  • 1685: James II succeeds, but alienates Tories; removed 1688 by Whigs and Tories; Divine Right falls out of fashion; 1701 Succession Act: parliament makes monarchs.

Monmouth beheaded 1685

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