By Richard McCoy
Conventional notions of sacred kingship turned either extra grandiose and extra difficult in the course of England's turbulent 16th and 17th centuries. The reformation introduced by means of 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 adjustments all started a spiritual controversy in England that may result in civil battle, regicide, recovery, and finally revolution. Richard McCoy exhibits that, amid those occasionally cataclysmic adjustments of kingdom, writers like John Skelton, Shakespeare, John Milton, and Andrew Marvell grappled with the assumption of kingship and its symbolic and significant strength. Their creative representations of the crown exhibit the fervour and ambivalence with which the English considered their royal leaders. whereas those writers differed at the primary questions of the day -- Skelton was once a staunch defender of the English monarchy and conventional faith, Milton used to be a thorough 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 actual 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 fantastic Revolution, McCoy plumbs the depths of English attitudes towards the king, the kingdom, and the very notion of holiness. He finds how older notions of sacred kingship extended throughout the political and spiritual crises that remodeled the English country, and is helping us comprehend why the conflicting feelings engendered through this enlargement have confirmed so chronic.
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Extra resources for Alterations of State: sacred kingship in the English Reformation
English eagerness to “spende their hart blode” gives their esprit de corps an almost sacramental power, as does the advance of this “hoost royall” under “Sainct Cutberdes banner” (–). This banner had once been the corporal or altar cloth of St. Cuthbert, founder of Durham Abbey nine centuries earlier. The saint appeared in a dream to the abbey’s prior in and told him to attach the cloth to a spear and carry it into the Battle of Neville’s Cross in order to protect the monastery and assist the English force against a Scottish invasion.
3 Henry VI is recalled today, if at all, as the hapless victim of Richard III’s villainy in Shakespeare’s early history plays, and his vision of Henry Tudor as “England’s hope” is his most distinctive contribution to that saga: If secret powers Suggest but truth to my divining thoughts, This pretty lad will prove our country’s bliss. His looks are full of peaceful majesty, His head by nature fram’d to wear a crown, His hand to wield a sceptre, and himself Likely in time to bless a regal throne.
Wyth cry unreverent, Before the sacrament, Wythin the holy church bowndis, That of our fayth the grownd is. ) Henry VII Chapel Copyright: Dean and Chapter of Westminster McCoy_Ch2 4/10/02 3:45 PM Page 24 ’ I n building Westminster Chapel, Henry VII, the founder of the Tudor regime, created its most enduring and magniﬁcent dynastic monument. 2 The centerpiece is a marble sarcophagus supporting beautiful bronze efﬁgies of Henry and his queen carved by Pietro Torrigiano (ﬁgure ).