Exploring some of the fashion of Renaissance England at the V&A Museum in London.
Since neither of the most significant early Arthurian pseudo-histories go so far as to place Arthur in Greenland, America, or the Arctic—although Geoffrey’s account prefigures such claims by extending Arthur’s conquests to the farthest known northern and western limits of European civilization—we must therefore turn to Dee’s own manuscripts for some illumination as to where this idea came from and how it developed.
By revisiting the recent past of Henry’s reign, the plays construct the events as a historical past, distinct and separate from the present. Early modern performance presents, reshapes, and diverges from the collective memory of a diverse socio-economic populace. Plays about recent history offer both a form of remembrance and construction of a memory for the historical moment brought to life on stage.
Playing dead, however, is not merely a staging issue, though performance of a single character in two simultaneous but separate locations is a legitimate concern, both metaphysical and staging, since playing dead also poses eschatological and ontological challenges to neoplatonism, stoicism, and Christian theology, frameworks within which many Jacobean and revenge plays are conceived.
This complex web of interests and principles produces individual ironies, and the paper contrasts the activity of Haddington’s one-time schoolmaster and play director, James Carmichael, who, as he reformist minister of the town, was chosen to subdue the author of a local May play (here named for the first time).
Parliament, in the modern sense as a permanent body, has existed only since the late seventeenth century. In Elizabethan England there were parliaments (plural). They were infrequent. In 1509-1603 there were 43 years during which parliaments were not called at all, and 26 of these occurred during Elizabeth’s reign. When parliaments did meet, moreover, they were short-lived.