Monarchy and Incest in Renaissance England: Literature, Culture, Kinship, and Kingship

By Bruce Thomas Boehrer | Go to book overview

Notes
Introduction
1. The most overt form of this position appears in seventeenth-century arguments for paternal absolutism. From James I on, the familial/political relation gets drawn more and more clearly as a chronological and causal one, and this development has been extensively documented by Gordon Schochet ( 1975), whose arguments will figure in the final chapter of this book. The rise of official royal paternalism thus produces historical narratives such as those of Salmasius (see Chapter 4), who specifically insists that royal sovereignty develops as a later, secondary extension of family patriarchalism.
2. More recently, scholars like Louis Montrose have employed similar arguments to suggest that traditional distinctions between historical/nonfictional and belletristic/imaginative literature may therefore be suspect. Montrose argues that literature comprises a set of "culture-specific discursive practices" ( History7) -- that it is a field for exploring what cultural/historical texts can mean and how they may be used to promote particular values or interests. This position seeks to privilege neither historical actuality nor poetic narrativity in the production of culture, but to recognize the two categories as symbiotically interrelated, to view narrative as historically grounded and history as linguistically determined. From this standpoint, it becomes one task of the literary scholar to discern homologies and intersections between various political narratives, while recognizing that the distinctions between such narratives as history and fiction must in a basic sense be formal and conventional rather than static or natural, for all such narratives are managed through the formal/conventional structures of language itself. The result is to render the borders between historical fact and literary fiction fluid and unstable, and to emphasize the ways in which such categories interact so as to form and reform themselves; as Frank Lentricchia has argued, "The historian's effort must be not merely to note and isolate difference, as is the case with the various formalisms, as if the levels [of social activity] were truly autonomous, but to think difference through the mediations to the contexts (any and all other levels) that define it by their difference.... We [must] integrate as much as we segregate" (122-23).
3. The subject of the king's two bodies, as it informs Renaissance cultural politics, has attracted a good bit of recent commentary. Ernst Kantorowicz's very important thematic study defines the doctrine of the king's two bodies as a "legal fiction" that postulates the monarch's existence on two distinct and separable levels: that of the physical individual and that of the royal principle. For Kantoro wicz, late medieval and Renaissance monarchy claims its authority as an enduring

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Monarchy and Incest in Renaissance England: Literature, Culture, Kinship, and Kingship
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • I- Henry VIII and the Political Uses Of Incest Theory 19
  • 2. Incest and Tudor Literary Politics 42
  • 3- James I and the Fabrication Of Kinship 86
  • 4. the End of Kingship? 113
  • 5- Conclusions: the Politics of Incest Theory 138
  • Afterword 157
  • Notes 159
  • Bibliography 173
  • Index 185
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