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By Richard McCoy

Conventional notions of sacred kingship turned either extra grandiose and extra difficult 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 warfare, regicide, recovery, and finally revolution. Richard McCoy indicates that, amid those occasionally cataclysmic adjustments of kingdom, writers like John Skelton, Shakespeare, John Milton, and Andrew Marvell grappled with the assumption of kingship and its symbolic and noticeable strength. Their inventive representations of the crown exhibit the fervour and ambivalence with which the English considered their royal leaders. whereas those writers differed at the basic questions of the day -- Skelton used to be 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 genuine 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 fantastic Revolution, McCoy plumbs the depths of English attitudes towards the king, the country, and the very suggestion of holiness. He unearths how older notions of sacred kingship improved in the course of the political and spiritual crises that remodeled the English state, and is helping us comprehend why the conflicting feelings engendered by means of this growth have confirmed so continual.

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Sample text

With al diligence and spede” for , to be said “within our said Monastery, our Citie of London, and other places next adjoinyng to the same, for the remission of our synnes, and the weale of our Soule . . whereof we wol CXV bee saied in the honour of the Trinitie, MMCV in the honour of the V wounds of our Lord Jhu Crist, MMCV in the honour of the V Joies of our Lady, CCCL in the honor of the IX orders of Aungells, CL in the honour of the Patriarches, CVI in the honour of the XII apostellis, and MMCCC, which maketh up the hool nombre of the said MX masses, in the honour of All Saints” (Will, ).

McCoy_Ch2 4/10/02 3:45 PM Page 23   Sacred Space John Skelton and Westminster’s Royal Sepulcher This worke devysed is For suche as do amys, . . Wyth cry unreverent, Before the sacrament, Wythin the holy church bowndis, That of our fayth the grownd is. )   Henry VII Chapel Copyright: Dean and Chapter of Westminster McCoy_Ch2 4/10/02 3:45 PM Page 24                         ’               I n building Westminster Chapel, Henry VII, the founder of the Tudor regime, created its most enduring and magnificent dynastic monument.

52 Moreover, Foxe’s massive work reveals the inherent ambiguity and instability of Protestant notions of sacred kingship. Tudor theories of royal supremacy finally could not completely relocate the sacred in the monarchy, and Foxe and his sources skeptically dismiss attempts to do so. Henry VIII eagerly embraced the role of supreme head up through the end of his reign. ” The theme of his speech was charity, and his text was Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter , which he used to rebuke his subjects for their enthusiasm for sectarian controversy.

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