Imaginary Betrayals: Subjectivity and the Discourses of Treason in Early Modern England
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013 M05 29 - 224 páginas
In 1352 King Edward III had expanded the legal definition of treason to include the act of imagining the death of the king, opening up the category of "constructive" treason, in which even a subject's thoughts might become the basis for prosecution. By the sixteenth century, treason was perceived as an increasingly serious threat and policed with a new urgency. Referring to the extensive early modern literature on the subject of treason, Imaginary Betrayals reveals how and to what extent ideas of proof and grounds for conviction were subject to prosecutorial construction during the Tudor period. Karen Cunningham looks at contemporary records of three prominent cases in order to demonstrate the degree to which the imagination was used to prove treason: the 1542 attainder of Katherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII, charged with having had sexual relations with two men before her marriage; the 1586 case of Anthony Babington and twelve confederates, accused of plotting with the Spanish to invade England and assassinate Elizabeth; and the prosecution in the same year of Mary, Queen of Scots, indicted for conspiring with Babington to engineer her own accession to the throne.
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... and writers for the stage in early modern England.3 Both the legal and the literary disciplines are devoted to representing ways of “knowing” the English subject, and both claim to represent the truth about that inscrutable figure.
'0 For Helgerson, those signs are apparent in the varied, generationally specific writings of such figures as Edmund Spenser, William Camden, Iohn Speed, Michael Drayton, Richard Hakluyt, William Shakespeare, and Richard Hooker.
13 Reserving his highest commendation for his last figure, Sidney clears a unique space in the realm of imaginative discourse: “Only the poet, disdaining to be tied to any such subjection, lifted up with the vigor of his own invention, ...
In the stories told in trials, the traitor is a figure accused of seeking to supplant one ideal of a homeland with another. He or she is brought into being by a dominant culture and is positioned as one who implicitly ...
Yet although the Crown brought charges and ran the courts, no single figure or office wholly controlled proceedings. Under the Tudors, the monarch's authority was perceived as absolute in some realms and as lim— ited in others.
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