Theory and Theology in George Herbert's Poetry: Divinitie, and Poesie, Met

By Elizabeth Clarke | Go to book overview

4
Reading Herbert Reading Valdés: Antinomian Disruption, The Hundred and Ten Considerations, and The Temple

Like Savonarola, the Catholic reformer Juan de Valdés was incorporated into the Protestant project to construct a pedigree for their Reformed Church, despite the fact that he remained within the Catholic Church throughout his life.1 In an elegy by Daniel Rogers on the death of Bishop Jewell in 1571 he is praised along with a number of eminent Reformers, including those with whom George Herbert aligned himself in Musae Responsoriæ: Calvin, Beza, and Bucer.2 The first name on both Rogers' and Herbert's lists is Peter Martyr Vermigli, through whom the English people may well have heard of Valdés, for Peter Martyr, as well as being a prominent figure in the English Reformation, had been a disciple of Valdés in his informal community at Naples.3 Juan de Valdés was a biblical scholar and teacher who had fled from Spain to Italy in the early 1530s. He died in 1540, ten years before his major work was first published, in Basle. The Hundred and Ten Considerations reached England in its Italian version in the sixteenth century, but the first English edition was not published until 1638, when a translation by Nicholas Ferrar was finally passed for publication in Oxford. George Herbert's reputation had grown in stature since 1633, when there had been some discussion about whether his own volume of poetry should be

____________________
1
See A. Milton, "'The Church of England, Rome, and the True Church: The Demise of a Jacobean Consensus'", in K. Fincham (ed.), The Early Stuart Church 1603-1642 ( London, 1993), 187-10 for a discussion of the differences between Puritan and Laudian constructions of the origins of the Church of England.
2
George Herbert, The Works of George Herbert, ed. F. E. Hutchinson ( Oxford, 1945) 398.
3
See P. McNair, Peter Martyr in Italy: An Anatomy of Apostasy ( Oxford, 1967), 139-79. A recent study controversially claims that Valdés was the disciple of Peter Martyr rather than the other way round: see F. James, "'Praedestinatio Dei: The Intellectual Origins of Peter Martyr Vermigli's Doctrine of Double Predestination'" (Univ. of Oxford D.Phil. thesis, 1993), 216-17.

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