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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SHAKESPEARE, RichardII Whether we look to government records, to legal histories, or to theatrical representations, we find ample evidence that treason was perceived as an in creasingly serious threat, policed with a new urgency, ...
My interest is in the intersection of law and literature: in the ways the lawcourt dramatizes legal notions of evidence and persuasion, in the ways it stages assumptions about the possibility of knowing other minds, and in the ways ...
Read dialogically within them— selves and against a range of plays, these trials reveal competing discourses in which fluid categories of “legitimate” citizenship are redefined and reassociated with equally fluid forms of evidence that ...
In cases where a crime left material traces, such as coining or faulty cloth-making, we might assume (wrongly, I would argue) that establishing evidence was a relatively straightforward matter because proof was embedded in an object.
Words, then, might be the crime or they might be evidence of the crime in any given prosecution. What these trials illuminate is that in Tudor legal practice, what counted as an “overt act” was unpredictable and frequently turned.
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