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Peter Iver Kauffman (ed.), Leadership and Elizabethan Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

Peter Iver Kaufman (ed.), Leadership and Elizabethan Culture (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).  ISBN: 978-1-137-34335-2, 237 pp. £60,00.

Reviewed by Nadia T. van Pelt


[1] Leadership and Elizabethan Culture is a collection of papers that addresses government and leadership during the reign of Elizabeth I from a range of cultural, political and literary viewpoints. Aside from discussing the mechanisms of Tudor leadership, from matters of state and church rule to economic exchange, the chapters in this volume examine a number of historical sources including the Cecil papers, correspondence between Francis Bacon and his patron the first Earl of Essex, Puritan tracts, educational books on leadership and plays by William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Dekker and Thomas Heywood. Interdisciplinary, sometimes cross-disciplinary in nature, the articles in this volume reconsider the mechanisms of late Tudor governance, and seek to re-evaluate public participation in rulership during, what Patrick Collinson has termed, the ‘monarchical republic’ of Elizabeth I (Collinson, 2003). As such the collection offers a fresh perspective on the distribution of leadership, as well as leadership strategies, under one of England’s most illustrious monarchs.

[2] The first essay is an appraisal of Queen Elizabeth I’s monarchical leadership by Susan Doran, who explores Elizabeth’s management capacities and acclaims her ‘proficiency at team-building’, her ‘ability to communicate effectively’, her ‘command of image and performance’, and finally, ‘her mastery of creative deceit’ (p. 13).These qualities, Doran explains, led to a relatively stable reign, in which the Queen united personal charm, Ciceronian rhetoric, a strong system of patronage, the performance of royal majesty and propaganda to her advantage. Also concerned with management tactics, Norman Jones’ contribution studies ‘Tudor management literature’, the works through which young noblemen were educated to become competent leaders (p. 24), such as John of Salisbury’s Policraticus (1159); Thomas Elyot’s The Book Named the Governor (1531) which was dedicated to Henry VIII; Humphrey Brahma’s The Institution of a Gentleman (1555) and Henry Peacham’s The Compleat Gentleman (1622). ‘Management’, Jones observes, ‘was about the skills of working together in a mannerly way, thinking wisely about the sources and solutions to problems, taking initiative, modeling behavior, and sticking with the job’ (p. 34). ‘Honour’ and ‘courtesy’ were the key concepts underlying these skills, referring to ‘a state of being rather than a particular action’ (p. 34). For courtiers seeking political power and advancement – as Charlotte Bolland observes in the next essay – it was often achieved through the workings of patronage. Bolland analyses Charles Medbury’s dedication to Queen Elizabeth which he phrased in Italian, considering the cultural context that encouraged Medbury to produce the volume and to address his Queen in a foreign language.

[3] The following two contributors address Tudor diplomacy in relation to the governance of neighbouring countries. In Chapter 4, K.J. Kesselring appraises the extent to which Mary, Queen of Scots, was involved in or supported the Northern Rebellion in November 1569, concluding that the nature of her complicity needed to remain unclear so that Elizabeth could ‘preserve the dignity and inviolability of queenship’, while at the same time being able to dispose of a rival queen (p. 67). In ‘Elizabeth’s Leadership Abroad’, Peter Iver Kaufman critically examines the diplomacy behind Elizabeth’s collaboration with Dutch Calvinists during the 1570s. Kaufman observes that Elizabeth did not share William of Orange’s desire for an ‘international Calvinist collaborative’ (p. 83), but that she employed cunning political strategies that enabled her to keep ‘wars from her shores’ by supporting Dutch rebel mariners to put off the French and the Spanish (p. 83).

[4] The next four essays explore the leadership strategies of William Cecil, Robert Devereux, first Earl of Essex, Francis Bacon and Henry Herbert. In her chapter, Janet Dickinson covers the last decade of Elizabeth’s reign, and studies the degree to which Cecil and Essex were duty-bound to cooperate as loyal servants to the Queen. In ‘Imagination and Leadership’, Todd Butler analyses the advice given by Francis Bacon in a letter to his patron, the Earl of Essex, in terms of ‘image management’ (p. 112): a means to secure political power. Bacon urged Essex to think about the competing – negative – images of himself that other courtiers presented to the Queen ‘by dismissing his merits, laughing at his fashions and manners, and pushing him toward unwanted offices and obligations’ (p. 109). In a letter, Bacon warned Essex that such competing images, in combination with Essex’ own conduct, could have harmful political consequences: ‘But I say, whensoever the formerly-described impression is taken in any King’s breast towards a subject, these other recited inconveniences must, of necessity of politic consequence, follow’ (p. 109). The following chapter, by Neil Younger, claims that Henry Herbert, the second Earl of Pembroke, who was in charge of the government of Wales, employed a type of leadership that relied on the ‘personalized rather than the bureaucratic’, and created followership by speaking to local authorities in terms that they understood and valued, such as ‘honour, credit, and fear of punishment’ (p. 135). In his chapter, ‘Swingebreeches and Schollers’, Timothy Scott McGinnis ventures into the realms of the Elizabethan puritans Anthony Gilby, George Gifford and Arthur Dent, who wrote dialogues in which they expressed criticisms towards ‘poorly qualified ministers’ and church leaders showing themselves ‘uninterested in implementing further reform’, and which expressed an urgent concern about the future of the church (p. 142). These dialogues on pastoral failings show the power of words to ‘dress down’ authority’ (p. 142). The four essays in this section give an insightful view into the hierarchies of Elizabethan rulership, and the workings of advice-giving and social and political patronage between the queen and her advisors, as well as addressing ecclesiastical and local leadership. As such these essays expand the focus of the study of Elizabethan leadership into a wider realm outside the court, opening up a new field of discussion.

[5] The final essays are concerned with various kinds of leadership expressed in drama performed during Queen Elizabeth’s reign. In ‘Commerce and Community’, Ritchie D. Kendall considers the nature of commercial leadership through a reading of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (1596), Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta (1590), Thomas Dekker’s The Shoemaker’s Holiday (1599) and Thomas Heywood’s If You Know Not Me, You Know Nobody, or The Troubles of Queen Elizabeth (1604). These plays begin ‘to imagine the possibility of community and leadership grounded in emergent forms of economic exchange’ and explore ‘anxieties about the disruption of traditional forms of power’ (p. 171). Meg Pearson, in ‘The Perils of Political Showmanship’, studies Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great, Parts 1 and II as critiques towards the Tudor affinity with ‘the spectacular’. She suggests that we might read these plays as ‘metatheatrical cautionary tales’ (p. 175) in which Marlowe warns both the architects of political shows and playwrights that ‘spectacle cannot be routinized’ because it undermines imperial agendas (p. 186). ‘Shifting audiences and aesthetics’, as Pearson observes, could be disastrous for the long-reigning Elizabeth, whose motto ‘semper eadem’ (always the same) signals the problem that she met in the later stages of her reign, when the spectacle of her queenship no longer attracted the same kind of admiration in her spectators. The next chapter addresses ‘servant leadership’ in Shakespeare’s King John in relation to Elizabethan government. Highlighting the monarch’s reliance on loyal servants with leadership qualities, Kristin M.S. Bezio studies the character of the Bastard in King John. This character’s actions in the play indicate the ‘power and significance of the Elizabethan servant leader not only to guide the monarch in ruling (well), but also in helping to shape policy, legislation, and even the future of England’ (p. 206). In the volume’s final chapter, Karen Bruhn demonstrates that Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure (1604) offers a model for leadership in which ‘authentic leadership’ is imagined as ‘a mature and complete self-understanding and reflected in action that works for a greater good’ (p. 224). Kaufman, in his introduction, observes that playwrights, portraitists and patrons of the arts greatly influenced the way in which the queen was portrayed ‘in miniatures, on canvas, and into history’ (p. xii). Indeed, he observes that the representations of kingship, rulership or any kind of governance on stage, directly or indirectly contributed to what Louis Montrose in The Subject of Elizabeth (2006) has referred to as the Elizabethan ‘cult formation’: images collectively produced to the greater glory of the Queen. Montrose observes that these images could be employed to the material, social or political benefits of other influential Elizabethans (Montrose, p. 90). For Kaufman, quoting Montrose, this summarizes the workings of Tudor leadership: the veneration of the monarch could bring influential courtiers power and affluence, as could the patronage of writers, artists, and other makers of imagery. The construction of late Tudor leadership at national, local and ecclesiastical levels appears to have taken as its example the queen’s managements skills, as observed by Susan Doran, favouring rhetoric, the use of image and performance, effective communication, propaganda, and a strong system of patronage. Thus, while many studies have observed how the Queen demonstrated her authority, this collection of essays also shows how her subjects, at various social levels, were concerned with their own images of leadership and desire for power.

[6] There is no doubt that the well-documented and fascinating essays in Leadership and Elizabethan Culture make a valuable contribution to the fields of leadership studies, early modern diplomacy, and images of monarchy, adding to our understanding of the ideas and mechanisms behind English government of this period. The essays in this volume explore the governance by the Queen and her advisory bodies at court, but also study local, ecclesiastical and commercial leadership. The papers are well-linked and the volume is well-balanced, although the collection would benefit from further supplementary papers that study religious leadership, to balance out the papers on monarchical and governmental rule. As Susan Doran has observed, corporate strategists in recent years have used Elizabeth as a ‘model for good leadership’ (p. 13). Entrepreneurs and moguls could learn much from the management tactics examined in these essays. It is to be hoped then that this eye-opening volume will inspire its readers to expand the field, further elucidating the diverse workings and images of Tudor leadership.

University of Leiden, September 2014

Andrew Hadfield (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of English Prose 1500-1640 (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Andrew Hadfield (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of English Prose 1500-1640 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013). ISBN: 978-0-19-958068-2, 768 pp. £95.00.

Reviewed by Patrick J. Murray


[1] The study of sixteenth and seventeenth century literature, especially at school and undergraduate university level, is often concentrated on the period’s poetry and drama. With practitioners such as William Shakespeare, John Milton, Thomas Wyatt, Christopher Marlowe and Edmund Spenser not only figuring as supreme poets and dramatists, but also representing some of the most skilled users of the English language, such a focus is understandable. However, adeptly guided by the editorship of Andrew Hadfield, The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Prose 1500-1640 draws our attention to the rich, multifaceted and fascinating corpus of the period’s prose. Moreover, it tackles the multi-layered social, intellectual, political and cultural discourses surroundings its production and dissemination. If scholarship should engage, inform and entertain, this anthology is a scholarly triumph.

[2] The book is divided into six broadly-defined sections. Part 1 addresses ‘translation, education, and literary criticism’, focusing primarily on the dynamic interface of budding English with the more established Latin and Romance languages in sixteenth-century publishing. Peter Mack’s study of Michel de Montaigne and his Anglo-Italian translator John Florio is representative, considering a specific moment of engagement between non-English and English prose and what it reveals about the emergent form of the essay in English literature (p. 77-90). In a similar vein, Helen Moore’s examination of English versions of the French romance narrative Amadis de Gaule (p. 59-76) and Gordon Braden’s study of translation from classical sources explore how English writers approached foreign language texts, manipulating them to particular ends. Alexander Samson’s analysis of the reception of the Lazarillo de Tormes (121-136) is a particular highlight, tracing the genesis of the anonymously-authored Spanish picaresque in English translations and its reception among readers such as Edmund Spenser, Thomas Nashe and Robert Greene. Suggesting that Lazarillo had a ‘significant impact on the early modern English literature imagination’ (135), Samson investigates how sectarian divisions between Catholic and Protestant influenced renditions of this famously anti-prelatical farce, and how its emphases and central themes were varied across the evolution of the text in another language. Moore, Mack, Braden, Samson and others show how translation, implicitly necessitating a translator, is accompanied by an array of socio-cultural and political imperatives.

[3] In the second section, named writers are afforded particular attention. Thus, the likes of Greene, Nashe, Philip Sidney, Richard Hakluyt, Raphael Holinshed, Mary Wroth and George Gascoigne are the subject of individual studies. In ‘“Turn Your Library to Your Wardrope”: John Lyly and Euphuism’ (p. 172-187) Katherine Wilson explores the important contribution of Lyly and his ‘fluid and dynamic’ euphuistic style to the development of the rich English Renaissance literary canon. Furthermore, Lyly’s writing is given context as well as conspicuousness. While Wilson argues that ‘euphuism was a new way of dressing up language and writing for fun’, she also signals Lyly’s congruence with the cultural changes of his time: ‘Euphuism is about infinite expansion,’ Wilson observes, ‘a single thought can breed analogies, anecdotes, intellectual choices, and printed pages. It is thus ideally suited to the rapidly developing print cultures of the late sixteenth century’ (p. 173).

[4] This adroit segue from the stylistic microcosm to the socio-political macrocosm is a recurring trait throughout the volume. A real strength of the Handbook is its author-specific studies, which contextualise individual writers and show how they register, reflect, distort, ironize and even transform the medium in which they work and indeed wider contemporary debates. For example, John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments is interrogated by Thomas S. Freeman and Susannah Brietz Monta, who note the putative author’s primary role as an anthologizer of Protestant martyrologies and what such a relationship between text and compositor says about early modern ‘authorship’ (p. 522-543). Caroline Erskine, in a timely intervention, reflects upon John Knox and George Buchanan’s respective roles in the formulation of a Scottish literary, religious and national identity (p. 631-645). R. W. Maslen, meanwhile, explores Robert Greene’s own unique output, making a convincing case for his status as a writer of transformative significance. ‘Before [Greene] started to write,’ observes Maslen, ‘no English writer had dedicated his entire career to prose fiction, or written so many varieties of it, or demonstrated to the same extent its unparalleled flexibility as a medium, its capacity to function as a vehicle for such an astonishing range of contrasting styles, plots, narrative forms, and points of view’ (p. 188). Tracing Greene’s writing career from his emergence from obscurity in the second half of the seventeenth century, Maslen takes the reader through an oeuvre as prodigious in scale as it is in variety. Romance narratives rub shoulders with satirical translations; quasi-historical accounts emerge from the same pen as comic dramas; and pseudo-autobiographies accompany scurrilous pamphlets, including famously one aimed at the most revered figure in all of English literature, the upstart crow William ‘Shake-scene’. In Maslen’s account, there emerges a distinctly proto-Middletonian aspect to Greene, a writer who played around not only with language, but with genres, forms and subjects both sacred and profane. Symbolic of early modern prose’s diversity, Greene may have started as a ‘nobody’ (p. 189), but his substantial and substantive writing ensures he endures as a somebody.

[5] Peter McCullough’s essay on sermons is an important one in the context of an anthology examining literature, for it draws attention to probably the most ubiquitous form of non-liturgical prose in sixteenth and seventeenth century English society. As such, literature beyond the page is given a stage. ‘With the possible exception of the Bible in English and the Book of Common Prayer,’ writes McCullough, ‘no prose works were more widely encountered across all classes of English speakers in the early modern period than sermons’ (p. 561). The new Oxford edition of the sermons of John Donne, complete with website proffering virtual tours around early seventeenth century St. Pauls underscores the recent research into this particular medium. However, while Donne and other prominent orators, such as Launcelot Andrewes, can dominate the critical conversation, McCullough brings to the fore more marginal figures, such as John Wilkins and Joseph Hall, to elucidate prevailing theories around the structure, purpose and oratorical modes of Renaissance sermonising.

[6] An indication of the immensity of primary literature covered in this volume is the number of chapters dedicated to entire genres of early modern English prose as opposed to specific authors or texts. Accordingly, Claire Preston considers ‘English Scientific Prose’ (p. 268-291); P. G. Maxwell-Stuart explores the capacious topics of ‘Astrology, Magic, and Witchcraft’ (p. 346-342); Nicholas McDowell examines ‘Political Prose’ (p. 360—379); while Joad Raymond analyses the nascent form of ‘News Writing’ (p. 396-416). Reminding the reader of the sheer breadth and variety of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century writing, and its fecundity for further scholarship, such chapter-length studies are by necessity often summary in nature. Nonetheless, perspicacious apercus abound. Maxwell-Stuart’s description of astrology’s links to discrete medical and scientific discourses alerts us to the important place of this ostensibly pseudo-science in Renaissance intellectualism (p. 327-333), while Raymond’s account of the translation of news stories from the religious wars in Europe into English from 1589-1640 conveys a publishing environment alive with innovation and indeed adaptation as propaganda swirled around an increasingly fractious national consciousness (p. 406-412).

[7] Pointedly, generic permanence in early modern prose – in a reminder of the persistent coincidences between the post-modern and the early modern – was open to destabilization. This is especially apparent in ‘personal’ literature, such as letters, diaries and life writing. As Alan Stewart, Adam Smyth and Danielle Clarke demonstrate, the division between superficially private writings and public discourse remained slippery. ‘In the early modern period’ writes Adam Smyth in commencing his study of personal journal literature, ‘the term “diary” lacked the generic stability it would later acquire” (p. 434). Opening up the critical purview to a broader canon, generic slipperiness can be a difficult thing to handle. Like the question of authorial attribution in early modern and especially Shakespearean dramaturgy, defining what constitutes a certain typology of writing can prompt some sound and fury, while revealing nothing. Anachronism can be a pitfall: projecting onto the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literary landscape theoretical appellations shaped by centuries of subsequent discourse not only conjures literary conventions where there are none. It also inadvertently standardises texts which should not be standardised, but rather analysed for their subversion and defiance of supposed normative modes. Smyth makes a point of singling out the startling absence of the ‘inner life’ in many early modern diaries: ‘modern expectations of the diary as a form linked with intimacy, candour, and self-revelation are only fitfully present in this period.’ Rather than articulating emotional responses to events, Smyth notes, ‘most early modern diaries were texts as much linked with the recording of actions in the world and public events as they were registers of any kind of inner life.’ (p. 434).

[8] I have touched upon only a small percentage of this volume. Surveying its seven hundred and sixty odd pages, a phrase from the series of anti-ecclesiastical prose pamphlets known as the Marprelate tracts (quoted by contributing author Joseph L. Black) springs to mind: ‘a portable book, if your horse be not too weak.’ If the reader does not have a sturdy horse already, she or he would do well to obtain one. This volume presents a landmark contribution to our understanding of early modern prose and its multitude of themes, subjects and authors.

University of Glasgow, September 2014