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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My own argument is not fundamentally author-driven, although it may be in any specific instance. I assume that dramatists and legal practitioners respond to and influence their contemporary discourses, in particular those associated ...
'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.
As unstable as the notion of nationhood itself, even the term “treason” comes into use in legal rhetoric not to describe a specific act, but to single out a position relative to others and to competing ideas about the emerging English ...
... it could, for example (as my argument implies throughout), help condition ideological forms of gender, affiliation, and homeland as well as lend imaginative credibility to specific versions of “permissible” death.
What a jury saw in the behavior of a defendant reflected its expectations of what was appropriate to a specific person.” 58 These social and rhetorical variables contribute to the epistemological uncertainty that characterizes trials.
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