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.
... of revealing an elusive self and a loyal subject.11 Conventionally, drama was granted only a peripheral claim to truthtelling in such formulations as Sir Philip Sidney's in “An Apology for Poetry”: the poet “nothing aflirms.
The general concept that rulers received their authority from God extended back at least to the Middle Ages, and as the Tudors strengthened the power of the royal office in the sixteenth century, their supporters heightened the claims ...
... competing notions of subjectivity.38 This proliferation of selves was cause enough for legal intervention: the law claimed the territory of “imaginings” as its field of investigation, claiming to penetrate the intent of the accused.
51 This theory of plain-spoken truth extended outside the church to political writing, in which claims to plainness are claims to truth, to its selfauthenticating nature (people recognize it as familiar) and to its implicit ap— peal to ...
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