Alterations of State: sacred kingship in the English by Richard McCoy

By Richard McCoy

Conventional notions of sacred kingship grew to become either extra grandiose and extra complicated 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 resulted in the suppression of the Mass, because the host and crucifix have been overshadowed by means of royal iconography and pageantry. those alterations started a non secular controversy in England that will bring about civil battle, regicide, recovery, and finally revolution. Richard McCoy indicates that, amid those occasionally cataclysmic adjustments of nation, writers like John Skelton, Shakespeare, John Milton, and Andrew Marvell grappled with the belief of kingship and its symbolic and considerable strength. Their inventive representations of the crown demonstrate the fervour and ambivalence with which the English considered their royal leaders. whereas those writers differed at the basic questions of the day -- Skelton was once a staunch defender of the English monarchy and standard faith, Milton was once 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 genuine 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 wonderful Revolution, McCoy plumbs the depths of English attitudes towards the king, the kingdom, and the very concept of holiness. He finds how older notions of sacred kingship elevated throughout the political and non secular crises that reworked the English country, and is helping us comprehend why the conflicting feelings engendered by way of this growth have confirmed so continual.

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According to monastic records, this “holie reliqe & Corporax cloth . . having a red crosse of read velvett on both sydes over ye same holie Reliqe most artificiallie and cunyngly compiled & framed” was once “carried to any battell as occasion should serve, and . . (never) caryed or shewed at any battell, but by ye especial grace of god almightie, & ye mediacion of holie St. ”35 Skelton obviously shares the monks’ faith in the talismanic power of this Eucharistic relic. At the same time, Skelton’s attitude toward relics, miracles, and even the Eucharist itself is oddly ambiguous.

Christ himself looms above the sacrament and the altar, but for these learned and saintly believers, as for the more humbly devout (including those who view this scene from  McCoy_Ch1 4/10/02 3:42 PM Page 6   Albrecht Dürer, Drawing of a Procession-Bier with an Allegory of the Triumph of Christ Copyright: Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin. Photograph: Jörg P. Anders McCoy_Ch1 4/10/02 3:42 PM Page 7   Albrecht Dürer, Mass of St. Gregory The Metropolitan Museum of Art McCoy_Ch1 4/10/02 3:42 PM Page 8   Raphael, Disputa Musei Vaticani McCoy_Ch1 4/10/02 3:42 PM Page 9                           beyond the picture’s frame), the exalted vision of the host suffices.

Saint Michaell, Saint John Baptist, Saint Johan Evuangelist, Saint George, Saint Anthony, Saint Edward, Saint Vincent, Saint Anne, Saint Marie Magdalene, and Saint Barbara” (Will, ). “Avowries” were celestial advocates and protectors for their earthly clients, pleading their cases at the Last Judgment. 17 The most urgent pleas in this will are addressed to his heirs and executors, as Henry reminds them “howe necessarie, behoofull, and howe profitable it is to dede folks to bee praied for, entirlye requiring theim” to arrange for various people “to praie for us and the weale of our Soule, soo that oure Soule may fele that as thei loved us in our life, soo thei may remember us after our deceasse; and for the true execucion hereof, we charge their conscience as thei woll aunswere therefor before God” (Will, ).

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