Spanish in Abraham Fraunce's Arcadian Rhetorike and the Political Context of the Summer of 1588

By Crumme, Hannah Leah | Studies in Philology, Spring 2017 | Go to article overview

Spanish in Abraham Fraunce's Arcadian Rhetorike and the Political Context of the Summer of 1588


Crumme, Hannah Leah, Studies in Philology


Abraham Fraunce's (1558-1593) The Arcadian Rhetorike went to press as the Armada approached England's shores. Usually studied as a conduit for the circulation of Renaissance poetry, Fraunce was the first to publish excerpts of Sir Philip Sidney's (1554-1586) writing that had circulated previously only in manuscript. This article asks: is Fraunce's excerption of Sidney driven by more than his search for patronage? Is it instead patriotic? The Arcadian Rhetorike's juxtaposition of languages, and particularly English and Spanish poetry, reveals an underlying concern with the nationalist fervor that characterized England in 1588. Rather than a mere pedagogic and at times pedantic manual, The Arcadian Rhetorike may also be propaganda--a call to arms advocating for emulation of Spanish verse that, counterintuitively, resists Spain's martial advancements. Printed just two years after England's role in the Netherlands expanded and Fraunce's patron, Sidney, was killed as he fought against the influence of Philip II, The Arcadian Rhetorike signals its relevance to the growing English antipathy for Spain from the moment it invokes the name of Arcadia. Continuity between three seemingly unrelated aspects o/The Arcadian Rhetorike reflects upon the tense moment in which it was printed: its publication of Sidney's writing; the passages it excerpts from Garcilaso de la Vega's (1501-1536) poetry; and its apparent reliance on the nationalist edition of Obras de Garci Lasso (1580) of Fernando de Herrera (1534-1597)--a patriotic Spanish poet known for his verse celebrating contemporary military leaders. Thus this article will establish Fraunce's political motivations and expand understanding of Sidney's posthumous importance as a political symbol in the developing English conflict with Spain.

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ABRAHAM Fraunce's (1558-1593) The Arcadian Rhetorike went' to press for the first time in the summer of 1588. (1) Printed as the U. JL Armada approached, this language guide reflects a heightened sense of the significance of the English vernacular in light of the threat of Spanish imperialism. Often studied as a conduit for the circulation of Renaissance poetry, Fraunce was the first to publish excerpts of Sir Philip Sidney's (1554-1586) writing that had circulated previously only in manuscript. This article asks: is Fraunce's excerption of Sidney driven by more than his search for patronage? Is it instead patriotic? The Arcadian Rhetorike's juxtaposition of languages, and particularly English and Spanish poetry, reveals an underlying concern with the nationalist fervor that characterized England in 1588. Rather than a mere pedagogic and at times pedantic manual, The Arcadian Rhetorike may also be propaganda--a call to arms advocating for emulation of Spanish verse that, counterintuitively, resists Spain's martial advancements. Demonstrating the proximity between English and Spanish, Fraunce suggests that England might rival Spain in its rhetoric and, perhaps, its military power. Excerpts of Sidney's poetry included in The Arcadian Rhetorike demonstrate that by adopting the classical rhetorical forms found in contemporary Italian, French, and Spanish poetry, English can compete with--and perhaps outdo--its vernacular rivals in the same way that England might best Spain during the impending battle.

The Arcadian Rhetorike sets Sidney's poetry and prose alongside examples of French, Italian, Spanish, Greek, and Latin literature as it lists literary tropes and provides a brief example of each. While Fraunce's inclusion of Spanish among his collection of European poetry necessarily approaches contemporary politics in its analysis of vernacular rhetoric, its Spanish-language passages are not inherently contentious. Yet The Arcadian Rhetorike is not neutral in its internationalism. Printed just two years after England's role in the Netherlands expanded and Fraunce's patron, Sidney, was killed as he fought against the influence of Philip II, The Arcadian Rhetorike signals its relevance to the growing English antipathy for Spain from the moment it invokes the name of Arcadia. …

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