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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Perhaps Sidney's emphatic delineation was in part precipitated by his growing awareness of the ways other nascent early modern disciplines, law among them, were impinging on the poet's conceptual space. In his Arte ofRhetorique, written ...
22) protected Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn by making into treason deeds or written or printed words imperiling the king's person or prejudicing or slandering his recent marriage. In November 1534, another act (26 Hen. VIII c.
VIII c.7) spoken words became actual treason, as deeds and written words had been in the earlier act. All these new laws are related to a fascinating recurring theme of Henrician treason legislation: matrimonial arrangements.
Writing for the popular audience in the 1580s, Holinshed expressed a similar understanding of the crime: Oh with what severitie did the ancients punish offenses of this nature! And not without cause. For besides that nothing is more ...
13), which included spoken words along with written or printed words as deeds that in themselves could constitute treason. Words, then, might be the crime or they might be evidence of the crime in any given prosecution.
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