By Richard McCoy
Conventional notions of sacred kingship turned either extra grandiose and extra not easy in the course of England's turbulent 16th and 17th centuries. The reformation introduced via Henry VIII and his claims for royal supremacy and divine correct rule ended in the suppression of the Mass, because the host and crucifix have been overshadowed through royal iconography and pageantry. those alterations begun a spiritual controversy in England that might bring about civil struggle, regicide, recovery, and eventually revolution. Richard McCoy indicates that, amid those occasionally cataclysmic changes of country, writers like John Skelton, Shakespeare, John Milton, and Andrew Marvell grappled with the belief of kingship and its symbolic and great strength. Their creative representations of the crown display the fervour and ambivalence with which the English seen their royal leaders. whereas those writers differed at the primary questions of the day -- Skelton used to be a staunch defender of the English monarchy and conventional faith, Milton was once an intensive opponent of either, and Shakespeare and Marvell have been extra equivocal -- they shared an abiding fascination with the royal presence or, occasionally extra tellingly, the royal absence. starting from regicides genuine and imagined -- with the very actual specter of the slain King Charles I haunting the rustic like a revenant of the king's ghost in Shakespeare's Hamlet -- from the royal sepulcher at Westminster Abbey to Peter Paul Reubens's Apotheosis of King James at Whitehall, and from the Elizabethan compromise to the wonderful Revolution, McCoy plumbs the depths of English attitudes towards the king, the kingdom, and the very concept of holiness. He unearths how older notions of sacred kingship accelerated through the political and non secular crises that remodeled the English kingdom, and is helping us comprehend why the conflicting feelings engendered by means of this growth have confirmed so power.
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Additional resources for Alterations of State
The need to sanctify places, things, institutions, and rulers proved hard to shake even during the earthquakes caused by the Reformation. Nevertheless, Protestant attacks on papist fantasies of a “local presence” combined with recurrent alterations of state shook things hard, and the tremors led to civil war and revolution. McCoy_Ch2 4/10/02 3:45 PM Page 23 Sacred Space John Skelton and Westminster’s Royal Sepulcher This worke devysed is For suche as do amys, . . Wyth cry unreverent, Before the sacrament, Wythin the holy church bowndis, That of our fayth the grownd is.
57 A major treatise on government composed during her reign, Sir Thomas Smith’s De Republica Anglorum, advances a mystical theory of sovereignty in which courtly protocol verges on the liturgical: “The prince is the life, the head, and the authoritie of all thinges that be doone in the realme of England. ”58 In Smith’s account, the presence chamber becomes a kind of tabernacle, and the royal presence, like the real presence, is venerated even in the monarch’s absence. ”59 McCoy_Ch1 4/10/02 3:42 PM Page 19 Elizabeth as Constantine; John Foxe, Acts and Monuments By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library McCoy_Ch1 4/10/02 3:42 PM Page 20 Nevertheless, the mystical pretensions of Tudor sovereignty were regarded skeptically and even resisted by some of its most ardent allies.
The means by which the faithful approached the saints’ relics was essentially the same by which their polytheistic ancestors had approached sites of healing: after preparation by prayer, fasting, and the essential pilgrimage from the normal world to that McCoy_Ch2 4/10/02 3:45 PM Page 27 Miracles of Henry VI Copyright: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford; MS. Bodl. , f. v McCoy_Ch2 4/10/02 3:45 PM Page 28 Order of Indentures, Henry VII and Abbot Islip By permission of the British Library; MS.