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T. Demetriou and J. Valls-Russell (eds), Thomas Heywood and the classical tradition (Manchester University Press, 2021)

Tania Demetriou and Janice Valls-Russell (eds), Thomas Heywood and the classical tradition (Manchester University Press, 2021), ISBN 9781526140234, 344 pp., £80.00 HB.

Reviewed by Chloe Renwick

Book cover image[1] While much has been written on the classicism of William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, the writings of Thomas Heywood have received little comparable attention. Although it has long been recognised that Heywood was an avid classicist, until the appearance of Thomas Heywood and the classical tradition there had been no prolonged study on the subject. Despite appearing in many studies of his works, discussions of Heywood’s classicism have, until now, been diffuse and disconnected – much like the publication history of his canon. With this edited collection, though, the subject is united by twelve chapters that illustrate the complexities in Heywood’s use of the classical tradition, particularly regarding women and how Heywood combines source texts. The volume approaches a wide variety of Heywood’s writing, with the essays reading across genres and addressing some of his more neglected works. In so doing, this collection not only consolidates previous research on Heywood’s classicism, but establishes its importance across many of his texts, even those where we may least expect it.

[2] Janice Valls-Russell and Tania Demetriou’s introduction draws upon Heywood’s most celebrated play, A Woman Killed with Kindness, to illustrate how even his non-classical plays can shape and be shaped by the classical tradition. The analysis of Anne Frankford captures how ‘women are often at the centre of Heywood’s traffic with the classics’ (4), setting the stage for the following essays. In chapter one, Katherine Heavey focuses on another of Heywood’s women to show how in Oenone and Paris, Heywood destabilises both classical and contemporary source texts to create a ‘sensitive treatment’ of Oenone by granting the ‘traditionally marginalised figure a new kind of power’ (33). A similar effect is found in the third chapter, as Valls-Russell demonstrates that Heywood dramatised Callisto and Lucrece (in The Golden Age and The Rape of Lucrece respectively) in a way that invited ‘audiences to discover the two women unmediated’ (85). Valls-Russell examines how Heywood utilised various source texts in order to give the women ‘a voice and physical immediacy’ (85). It is not only Heywood’s verse or drama that contains such treatments of women, as M.L. Stapleton argues that Heywood’s translation Loves Schoole ‘strove to present an Ovid relieved of his misogynist reputation’ (54). Even where we may expect to find misogyny, as in The Brazen Age’s treatment of Hercules’s affair with Omphale, instead we see women who contribute to the ‘troubling’ (124) depiction of the hero, as explored by Richard Rowland.

[3] What these treatments of women demonstrate is a calculated use of diverse classical texts, tropes and themes within Heywood’s writing. Yves Peyré, in chapter four, assesses how such elements come together in Heywood’s treatment of the story of Jupiter and Alcmene in The Silver Age. Peyré finds a ‘coherent poetic design’ (101) which ‘reveals its cohesion by not attempting to hide the seams’ (102), as Heywood amplifies his disparate source texts. The multiplicity in Heywood’s works is expanded upon by Charlotte Coffin who highlights the necessity of a more ‘inclusive definition of the classical tradition’ (142). Coffin calls for medieval sources to be recognised as part of the ‘chain made of multiple intermediary links’ (139) that she believes constitutes the classical tradition. Tania Demetriou illuminates another neglected link in this chain, as her reading of Heywood’s Gynaikeion reveals how the Roman poet Ausonius ‘becomes [Heywood’s] route to Homer’ (186). Similarly, Camilla Temple reads The Hierarchie of Blessed Angells, Pleasant Dialogues and The Silver Age to chart Lucian’s influence on Heywood. Temple proposes that Lucian’s style, which ‘brings different genres and models together’ (210), provided Heywood with a pattern to create ‘productive dissonance’ and devise scenes ‘that he shapes for his own dramatic purposes’ (224). The analysis supports Peyré’s assertion in chapter seven, that Heywood ‘trained himself to gather a multiplicity of texts’ and was ‘alert’ to their ‘difference in emphasis and contrariety’ (168). It is elements such as these which comprise the ‘porousness’ (12) that is so characteristic of Heywood’s use of the classical tradition.

[4] These aspects also provided Heywood with a way to assimilate the past and present, particularly in the realm of acting and performance. In chapter ten, Tanya Pollard studies Heywood’s ‘distinct perspective’ (232) in An Apology for Actors. While it is not unusual to connect the history of drama with Greece, Pollard explores how Heywood aligns these elements with popular playhouses through his focus on the ‘ephemeral arena of acting’ (232) and its ‘transformative’ potential (237). Chloe Preedy subsequently draws upon the alignment between classical past and contemporary present, too, when she investigates the presence of ‘spatial markers of continuity’ in both the treatise and the Ages plays. Preedy discusses how Heywood considered performance more authentic than publication, which led to his ‘innovative deployment of spatial, temporal and even elemental coordinates to theorise present-day theatrical experience’ (249). The final chapter also emphasises the significance of physicality in Heywood’s classical works, as Valls-Russell investigates Heywood’s ‘three-dimensional engagement with the classics’ (268) through a study of A True Description of his Majesties Royall Ship. The work, an ‘iconological programme’ (266) of Charles I’s ship, the Sovereign of the Seas, captures ‘Heywood’s drive to mythologise and emblematise power by reconnecting with classical material’ (286) – an impulse evident throughout the volume and his canon.

[5] This edited collection revitalises research on Heywood by drawing together studies which elucidate important themes and practices that inform all his many writings. Alongside these significant findings are intricate details and close readings that illuminate neglected works and highlight their sophistication. Such a focus, though, does not limit the scope of the volume; rather, it testifies to the pervasiveness and complexity of his classicism. In doing so, Thomas Heywood and the classical tradition establishes itself as an indispensable resource for anyone who studies Heywood or the reception of classical literature and culture in early modern England, and provides a firm base for future research.

Northumbria University, October 2021

Harry Newman, Impressive Shakespeare: Identity, Authority and the Imprint in Shakespearean Drama (Routledge, 2019)

Harry Newman, Impressive Shakespeare: Identity, Authority and the Imprint in Shakespearean Drama (London: Routledge, 2019), xvi+199 pp., ISBN 9781472465320, £105.00 (hbk).

Reviewed by Juliet Fleming

[1] Impressive Shakespeare, which grew from a meticulously researched dissertation, gathers power and becomes more provocative as it proceeds. Following some introductory remarks, three early chapters detail ‘the language of impression’ (that is, Shakespeare’s use of the terms and images of stamping, sealing, coining, and printing) in Coriolanus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Measure for Measure respectively. Already this is more than a study in Shakespearean imagery, for Newman is arguing that, because metaphors ‘impress,’ metaphors of impression are designed to draw attention to the ways in which theatrical efficacy depends on the series of technologies that may be subsumed under the concept of ‘impression’. As a result, each chapter allows Newman to gain new purchase on the play in question.

[2] For example, investigating the ‘impressive’ power lent to the figure of Coriolanus by the injuries he will not reveal in public, Newman inverts critical consensus by suggesting that, rather than revealing Coriolanus’s humanity, his wounds can be read as a display of the replicable marks that create a theatrical character and endow it with the power to make an impression on audiences. Similarly, Newman argues that a marked and deliberative concern with wax sealing is used in A Midsummer Night’s Dream to ‘advertise its own poetry as impressive and transformative’ (81); while ‘the motif of counterfeit coinage in Measure’ is working to label the play as ‘a counterfeit comedy coined by the King’s Men (158).’

[3] So, as he explains in his final chapter, Newman’s first argument in his book is that Shakespeare deploys the language of imprinting/impression ‘as a self-reflexive trope in order to advertise the “impressiveness” of his plays to audiences and readers’. His second, equally audacious argument, is that this strategy worked: ‘consciously or not critics have reproduced the logic of this trope, appropriating the language of impression to capture the value of Shakespearean drama in relation to ideas of character, poetry, genre and literary authorship.’ Indeed, to the extent that ‘these ways of thinking and writing about Shakespeare have persisted,’ Shakespeare can be said to be still ‘participating in his own canonization as an “impressive” dramatist’ (158). Newman’s penultimate chapter makes a focused and compelling case for this last claim by arguing that not only Heminges and Condell, but also Digges and Jonson, seem to have had The Winter’s Tale in mind as they prepared the prefatory material for the First Folio. Pointing out that in late 1623 the King’s Men had just re-licensed the play, and were then preparing to revive it for a court performance early in the new year, Newman notes that The Winter’s Tale is ‘deeply invested’ in the tropes and metaphors of printing and prefacing, and argues that it ‘offered rhetorical models to Ben Jonson and the Folio’s other prefatory writers as they negotiated the collective transition of Shakespeare’s plays from stage to page, and constructed the “printed worth” of Shakespearean drama on a kind of ‘paper-stage’ (120).

[4] Impressive Shakespeare thus sits very nicely within Routledge’s Material Readings in Early Modern Culture. Newman’s readings of his four chosen plays are at once meticulous and suggestive, and they clearly open new space for thought there. But the conceptual framework that has produced these local readings is probably not secure enough to be a paradigm for future work. Many readers will find themselves wondering why Newman chose these four plays for his investigations, and not any of the others that spring to mind as bearing an equally heavy freight of ‘impressive’ terms. The reason these other works seem to be calling for attention is that the concept of impression is ubiquitous, not only in the work of Shakespeare and his fellow dramatists, but also, from Plato’s tupoi [imprints, casts] onwards, in our entire philosophical tradition, where it functions as an only slightly specialized way of registering relations between mind and body, and even, before that, of cause and effect. Newman’s claim that early modern writers ‘increasingly deployed’ the languages of stamping, sealing, coining, and imprinting can be neither proved nor disproved: for how, across the myriad, overlapping, and sometimes interchangeable technologies of impression, and the metaphors that are taken from them, could we hope to quantify their use at any given historical moment? The fact that ‘impressive’ language is everywhere doesn’t lessen the achievement of Newman’s local readings; but it does upset his claim that early modern writers deployed it ‘figuratively to represent impressions of mind, body and soul, yet almost always with an awareness that they were applying a technological lexicon to human experience’ (3). Can the lexical play that Newman has revealed really be regarded and explained as a matter of authorial intention? And what becomes of his own ambition to ‘focus on the relationship between language, materiality and history’ (7) when this relation is repeatedly, and bathetically, understood as the deliberate ‘application’ of a ‘technological lexicon’ to ‘human experience’? Here the concept of impression, which might illuminate the ‘relationship’ between language and ‘materiality’ by suggesting that these are not in fact distinct, is used only to reiterate an unexamined distinction between them.

[5] In fact, what Newman’s exemplary attention to the chain of linked terms that are his focus reveals is something of more general significance than the arguments he lays claim to: which is that these terms comprise a system that is so wide-spread and ramified that they cannot be taken individually any more than their concatenated presence can be explained as resulting from the intentions of this or that author. The language of impression is, as Newman himself has shown, inordinately rich, but it is so rich that its individual figures are necessarily overdetermined – at any given moment its motifs, which are all versions of each other, will appear at once ancient and new, familiar and strange, natural and technological. Used by writers, including Shakespeare, who may or may not have seen, and who may or may not have intended others to see, the semantic corridors that link each meaning to its others (corridors that remain open whether or not they are being used at any given instance) the language of impression constitutes a semantic field bristling with interpretative possibilities that can never be closed.

[6] To read Shakespeare ‘responsibly’ (if that is still our aim, and if we knew with some precision what we meant by it) might well require the demanding work of reconstituting the semantic networks which make his writing reverberate wherever it is touched. To do this well, as Newman has done, will always require principles of selection and limitation: and it is to this problem that he turns in his last chapter. Beyond the scope of Newman’s work, but necessarily within the plays he studies, Shakespeare’s ‘impressive’ language implicates a series of more ‘oppressive’ social practices than those that are his own focus, such as the impressing of vulnerable youth into military and sexual services, and the torture, still on the books when Shakespeare wrote, of peine forte et dure. Newman does not go there, but in his final pages he turns to consider what a less sunny reading of Shakespeare’s ‘impressive’ language might have revealed, noting that its terms ‘engage with ethical debates, and [are] sometimes ethically dubious’ (164). His worry is that ‘morally questionable’ figures of impressive thought or speech can pass from Shakespeare’s text into the language of his critics, and there shape the terms of his reception: so for Newman the fact that ‘Shakespeare’s dramatization of “printer’s tales” seems to have shaped ideas about the reproduction of Shakespeare as a literary father in the First Folio and beyond is a cause for concern’ (164-65). But the use of the figure of paternity to describe the relation between author and text, and its survival to the present moment, cannot be ascribed to or reserved for Shakespeare alone. At the end of Impressive Shakespeare Newman seems anxious to recant some of his earlier critical gestures, or at least recalibrate their mood: ‘My suggestion is not that rhetorical transmission between Shakespeare’s corpus and criticism of that corpus is ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ but that it involves a two-way ethical mingling of Shakespeare and the critic which makes it more difficult to distance ourselves morally from Shakespeare than from his contemporaries. Metaphors can achieve important critical work, but in making Shakespeare’s metaphors our own, we make ourselves part of their complex moral histories.’ (167) Here, Shakespeare’s metaphors are imagined to be exceptionally impressive, and also his sole property, as if he was the first and last writer to use them. The work of an ethical Shakespeare criticism might be conducted more smoothly outside such assumptions.

New York University, March 2021

Giovanna Guidicini, Triumphal Entries and Festivals in Early Modern Scotland: Performing Spaces (Brepols, 2020)

Giovanna Guidicini, Triumphal Entries and Festivals in Early Modern Scotland: Performing Spaces (Turnhout: Brepols, 2020), ISBN: 9782503585413, 349 pp. EUR 90.00.

Reviewed by Michael Bath

[1] This account of more than a dozen royal entries into Edinburgh that are recorded in historical documents identifies eight successive ‘performative spaces’ – specific sites within the city where particular types of dramatic performance, artistic display, and ceremonial activity structured each entry. Because these locations repeatedly became the pausing points for particular ceremonies or static displays, they become keys to the wider political, social and commercial relationships between court and city – or between the monarch and his or her subjects – at this period. They also illustrate the wider relationship between politics and the creative and performance arts, and their historical interest thus extends much further than their ephemeral nature might tempt us to assume. For this reason, Dr. Guidicini’s book deserves to be brought to the attention of a wider readership than the scholarly circle of specialists in royal entries in particular, or European festival studies more generally, that have been pursued in recent years.

[2] Guidicini identifies eight locations in the city that structured the progress of such entries: they are successively the West Port, Overbow, Butter Tron, Tolbooth, St Giles Kirk and Market Cross, Salt Tron, and Netherbow – these became the focal points in successive entries, and the way each site functioned on these occasions is studied in successive chapters of the book. That sequence structures its argument, which thus becomes primarily geographical rather than historical. Deploying nevertheless a remarkable body of historical and documentary evidence, much of it fugitive, Dr Guidicini accompanies her readers on a scholarly reconstruction of those ancient royal progresses and their ‘imaginary’ spaces whose civic functions and symbolism become ceremonially revealed or displayed. The eleven entries in the period between 1503 and 1633 included successive monarchs: Margaret Tudor (wife of James IV), Madeleine of Valois and Mary of Guise (James V), Mary Queen of Scots, James VI, Anna of Denmark and Charles I. Those held later for George IV in 1822 and for Victoria and Albert in 1842 were, of course, historical revivals.

[3] These successive focal points begin at the West Port which, as a reinforced gateway, symbolised the opening of the city to its ruler, requiring the reassurance of trust and friendship between city and court which was signalled by an exchange of gifts and the delivery of keys. ‘Performing this ceremony at the city gate’ writes Dr Guidicini, ‘made skilful use of spatial significance to remind the royal guest that the welcome was freely given to a legitimate, well-disposed, and religiously compliant ruler’ (p.92). The fact that in Edinburgh the royal court was located outside the walls – either in the castle on its hill to the west or later at Holyrood to the east – meant that the royal party had to take a roundabout route before beginning its processional entry; from that point onwards, however, the theatrical, historical and ‘imaginary’ representation of civic spaces begins, with tapestries depicting legendary, traditional or classical scenes that transform the streets into symbolically suggestive settings. The rich textiles often used for hangings were matched by the splendid canopies and costumed bearers that accompanied the royal person: in 1590, for instance, Queen Anna’s entry was attended by ‘picturesquely attired moors’ (p.95) – a type of exotic orientalised performers that have been noted as playing a significant role more widely elsewhere in theatrical entertainments of this period. The fact that the next focal point, the Overbow, had formerly also been a gateway, although in an earlier and narrower boundary of the city, gave it a similar significance to the West Port, which its function as commercial tollgate confirmed. Its structure (Scots ‘bow’ means an arched gateway) clearly also established its potential to imitate those antique triumphal arches that became such a characteristic feature of ceremonial entries both here and elsewhere. That classicising impulse is shown to have been influenced by the antiquarian and historicising writings of such authors as Hector Boece, Gavin Douglas, David Lindsay and George Buchanan, in which the nation’s identity was becoming defined. The place of the monarchy in that history was signalled by the inclusion in entries on several occasions of family trees illustrating the monarch’s ancestry.

[4] As it moved down the Royal Mile to the Butter Tron, however, the procession reached a location in the city most appropriate for signalling the relations between monarchs and merchants, or possibly between the nobility and the bourgeoisie. Focus on those relations has suggestive parallels with other European cities, such as London, Paris, Lyon, Bruges, and Antwerp, with which Edinburgh shared trading relations – indeed foreign visitors, such as the Danish chronicler who described Queen Anna’s 1590 entry, make particular mention of the Butter Tron in their accounts, noting its commercial function as the site of the public weighbeam (tron being the Scots word for that civic amenity). Mercantile activities extended right down the High Street from this point to the Salt Tron at the entrance to Canongate, and during the welcome for Mary of Guise in 1538 particular traders were named as responsible for making each of the successive stations on this route ready for the procession, although unfortunately records of the particular activities or displays they put in place have not survived. The periodic rebuilding of facades to buildings down the High Street, however, with timber frontages, stone arcades and ashlar facades being added to domestic dwellings, is likely to have been motivated, at least to some extent, by their situation on the route of such royal processions. Records of preparations for several entries, such as Mary of Guise’s in 1538 or James’s in 1579, include documents which specify the dress codes, textiles and colours to be worn by different guild members on these occasions: they were evidently meant to be suitably attired whilst on parade, not as mere spectators but as participants in a civic performance. Comparisons with similar processions elsewhere in Europe are instructive at this point, and the banning of unwanted spectators, such as convicted criminals and beggars, ensured the presentation of Edinburgh ‘as an established and prosperous ideal mercantile burgh’ (p.172).

[5] In the following Chapter 6 we arrive at a site comprising three core buildings – the Tolbooth, St Giles’s Kirk and the Market Cross – that bring together the issues not only of relations between monarch and merchants but also the relationship of both of these to the wider question of religion. The fact that this has such a fundamental importance for Scottish history suggests why this chapter is in some ways the most interesting part of Dr. Guidicini’s book. As she says:

Urban geography became the battleground for confessional conflict, and the rules of social order and social experience had to be renegotiated. How religious changes would be addressed during triumphal entries through the different roles of sacred spaces is of particular interest in a Scottish context, given the overlaps between Catholic, Presbyterian, and Episcopalian beliefs at this period. In addition, rulers doubling up as heads of the Church of England had to find a new role for themselves in an emerging pan-British confederation. (pp.179-180)

The Tolbooth was home to the law courts, described in 1593 as ‘the supreme hous [sic.] of justice within this land’ and seat of the Convention of Royal Burghs, a forum protecting the interests and privileges of not only of Edinburgh but also of Aberdeen, Dundee and Perth, and with a similar role to English guildhalls, from which their Scottish identity was most notably distinguished architecturally ‘by the retention of forestairs’ (p.180). The positioning of St Giles kirk, adjoining the Tolbooth, suggests why this was the location where ceremonial entries reflected most clearly the contentious intertwining of religious and secular values within the city, and the particular tensions which the recurrent differences and disputes between monarch and citizens over doctrinal issues introduced into these festivities. The extensive alterations to which the church itself was subjected in order to accommodate not only the changing rituals and values of the Reformation but also the different requirements of successive Catholic, Episcopalian and Presbyterian congregations, are shown to have influenced the staging of entries at this point. The Market Cross occupied a central position next to the Tolbooth, signalling the city’s right to hold a market and serving as the platform from which heralds read royal proclamations and acts of parliament. It was also the place in which sentences such as flogging, branding or shaming were publicly executed on criminals. This therefore was the place where royal entries often presented allegorical figures of the Virtues and/or Vices, identified by their traditional attributes. Sometimes they were associated with the figure of Justice, or in 1579 with ‘ane fair wirgin, callit Fortoune’, and this association of Justice and Fortune is shown to have some interesting parallels with the pairing of Virtus and Fortuna on the painted ceiling at Pinkie House on which I myself have written. For Anna’s entry in 1590 the five Virtues delivered their speeches directly to the Queen and again suggested their dependence on the wheel of fortune. These reminders seem most apposite to a Scottish context in which the succession of a female or of a comparatively young and inexperienced monarch was in question. The accession of monarchs who were not only female but also, after the Reformation, Roman Catholic raised further issues for the staging of royal entries which have often been noted by Scottish historians: in 1561 for instance it was at the Butter Tron that Mary was given a Scots translation of the bible and a book of Psalms which were ‘signified … to be emblems of her defending the Reformed Relligion’ as a contemporary historian describes them, and in the years immediately preceding or subsequent to the 1603 Union of the Crowns it was the monarch’s position as head of the Established episcopal Church of England that caused inevitable problems for the conduct of royal entries at this point in the progress. In 1633 Religion was shown, in William Drummond’s description of this Entertainment, as trampling on Superstition and celebrating the primitive independence of the Scottish Church from Rome and ‘its preference for simplicity over the Laudian-papistical, antiquated ceremonies which the King supported’ (p.204). Charles’s attempts to transfer the religious parts of his entry from St Giles to the refurbished royal chapel in Holyroodhouse met with strong resistance from the civic authorities.

[6] The proximity of Tolbooth and St Giles’ Church to the Market Cross introduces a less controversial and more festive note to the Entries at this point however, associated here as elsewhere across Europe with fountains of wine. The first of these to be recorded were in 1503 at a ‘new painted’ cross that was close to ‘a Fontyayne, castynge forth Wyn’, and in 1558 the burgh purchased wine in abundance to ‘run apon the Croce’, employing workmen to make pipes conveying the wine, presumably from its barrels, to the fountain. Dramatic performances in later entries featured the figure of Bacchus serving glasses of wine to the populace, accompanied in 1590 by an actress costumed as Ceres serving nuts, sugared sweets and bunches of grapes, all signifying the state of the city as a place of abundance. The same two classical deities greeted King Charles at the Cross in 1633.

[7] The succeeding Chapter 7 brings us to the Salt Tron, where we learn from William Drummond of Hawthornden’s Entertainment booklet, describing the highly classical ceremonies in 1633 for Charles I’s entry, that the scenography on that occasion displayed a model of Mount Parnassus with Apollo and the Muses. The strongly classical iconography of this particular entry provides the opportunity for Dr. Guidicini to offer a more extended exploration at this point not only of the wider use of classical mythography in these Scottish entries but also its parallels with other entries and courtly ceremonies at home and abroad: these are relevant to nearly all of the locations discussed in previous chapters, and this material lies the heart of the book. The international context is evident in the triumphal arches, whose elaborate decoration with mythography, emblems and mottoes is familiar enough from well-known studies of Dürer’s 1515 triumphal arch for Emperor Maximilian, or from the London entries which greeted Charles in 1604 after the Union of crowns, for which we have Stephen Harrison’s engravings and Ben Jonson’s well-known descriptions. Royal entries shared much of the same iconography with other courtly ceremonies, including tournaments and royal baptisms including, in Scotland, the 1694 baptism of Prince Henry, and this chapter includes a wide-ranging and well informed discussion of these, together with some fascinating discussion and illustrations of other Scottish artistic media that make use of the same classical, allegorical and emblematic iconography, including architectural carvings, painted ceilings, and memory theatres and music. As she says, ‘Considering Scottish triumphal entries in the context of both foreign ceremonies and courtly events can do justice to the complexity and level of refinement of Scottish celebratory culture.’ (p.248)

[8] On reaching their terminus at The Netherbow at the eastern end of the High Street royal entries passed through another arched gateway, demolished in 1764, that historically separated the city from the neighbouring borough of Canongate. As the terminal place for farewells and parting predictions the iconography here, as elsewhere in Europe, focussed on forecasting the ruler’s predestined achievements and capabilities for carrying them out. This predictive mood determined the use of celestial and astrological symbolism at this point, whether of classical tropes such as those associated with ideas of Augustan imperial triumph and renewal, or of biblical iconography based on Old Testament prophecy and the Book of Revelation. These served to confirm the anticipated outcome of the moral and political counselling that the preceding ceremonies had advocated, and the astrological content of several of the displays at this location shadowed the astronomical findings of Tycho Brahe or of Thomas Seget. The book ends with accounts of the few extramural occasions when either Leith in 1590 or Holyrood Palace, where the University (which was itself located on the South Bridge outside the accepted route for royal Entries), staged welcoming ceremonies for the monarch. Finally the later entries staged for George IV in 1822 and Queen Victoria in 1842 are shown to reflect both the many geographical and historical changes which had by then transformed both their settings and their focus, whatever antiquarian motives may have prompted such revivals.

[9] Involving all the arts – painting, tapestries, drama, poetry, tableaux vivants, emblematics, and music – this is a meticulously researched and copiously documented study which not only brings together and amplifies the preceding work in its field but places it in a context which clarifies its wider cultural significance in an essentially European context. Required reading for all future students of Renaissance festivals or the Scottish court in particular, its interest extends much more widely than the urban history of Edinburgh or the narrow confines of the processional route to which royal entries confined themselves within the city, to embrace significant areas of Scotland’s political, religious, musical, dramatic and artist history at this period in a fully European Renaissance context.

University of Strathclyde, Emeritus; University of Glasgow, January 2021

Andrew McRae and Philip Schwyzer (eds), Poly-Olbion: New Perspectives (Boydell & Brewer, 2020)

Andrew McRae and Philip Schwyzer (eds), Poly-Olbion: New Perspectives (Cambridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2020) ISBN 978-1-84384-548-5. 269pp. $120 HB, $25 e-PDF

Reviewed by Sukanya Dasgupta


This POEME shall grow famous, And declare
What old-Things stood, where new-Things shall appeare.
___(George Wither, ‘To His Noble Friend, Michael Drayton, Esquire’)

[1] Wither’s commendatory verses appended to Michael Drayton’s Poly-Olbion Part II  insist that this poem will survive the ravages of time because of its historical content, but also subtly suggest that landscape change lies at the heart of the text. Poly-Olbion: New Perspectives is a timely addition to early modern scholarship, not only because it is the first volume of essays to be devoted exclusively to this often underrated poem, but also because it addresses two modern critical concerns in Drayton’s ‘Herculean toyle’: concepts of nationhood in the poem’s engagement with the historical past of Britain, and the poem’s potential as a rich hinterland for ‘green studies’ in literature. As the editors Andrew McRae and Philip Schwyzer point out in their comprehensive introduction, the volume has been deliberately divided into three sections to offer new angles to Poly-Olbion criticism. These focus upon the generic complexity of the text, the ecological perspectives it offers, and its focus on the British past.

[2] The first part, ‘The Project of Poly-Olbion’, focuses on the generic and literary origins and the rhetorical tropes inherent in Drayton’s poem. In the opening essay Angus Vine interestingly argues for the subtle interaction of the local and the national and how what seems to be particularly local is ultimately part of a larger national perspective. Examining the catalogues and lists that constitute a large part of Poly-Olbion, Vine interlaces the humanist concept of copia with the genre of chorography, insisting convincingly enough that the long, digressive local catalogues ultimately constitute a pluralistic vision of national identity. In the other essay in this section, Sjoerd Levelt introduces a fresh and unusual element in his analysis of the visual aspects of the poem’s first edition: examining the materiality of the book, Levelt weaves a complex matrix between Drayton’s verse, Hole’s engraved maps and Selden’s observations, resulting in a metatextual reading of the poem.

[3] Comprising five essays on the environmental and ecological concerns of the text, the second section charts new territory and offers new perspectives on hitherto neglected areas. Poly-Olbion’s imaginative projection of a landscape is seen to be teeming with personified geographical features but curiously depopulated. Given the fact that most scholarly criticism has highlighted Drayton’s bitter tirades against the destruction of the pristine landscape by human hands, Andrew McRae’s succinct essay chooses to argue against the grain and focus on one of the relatively rare instances when Drayton does indicate a fundamental interaction between human beings and nature: the interaction with the nation’s soil. Concentrating on Song 23, McRae’s close reading of the text suggests ‘an ethics of human engagement with the natural world’ that may indicate a sensitivity towards a kind of environmental sustainability (p. 82). Todd Andrew Borlik’s chapter applies the modern environmental term ‘bioregion’ to Poly-Olbion, arguing that by exploring the inherent tensions between individual counties and the nation, the poem offers an example of bioregional consciousness.Reflections on sustainability are continued further in Andrew Hadfield’s innovative essay on the place of fish in Poly-Olbion. Drayton’s preoccupation with fish ranges from the description of the wild salmon’s astounding leap in Wales–untrammelled by human intervention–to fishing in the Fens and in the Stour. While sea fishing alerts one to the presence of foreign sea powers and the need to preserve national boundaries (which fish can transcend), freshwater fish were  imperative for healthy early modern diets and angling was an established, relaxing pastime. Hadfield draws attention to Drayton’s awareness that fish can be a diminishing resource that needs to be nurtured for future generations.With Drayton’s continuous awareness of Albion as an island in Poly-Olbion, it is only natural that two more essays, those by Shannon Garner and Bernhard Klein, should focus on the element of water. Garner highlights the female personification of rivers within the island and how the human and non-human engage with each other to produce a gendered effect; Bernhard Klein attempts to balance the plethora of discussions of Poly-Olbion as a chorographical poem about land and landscape by focusing on the neglected maritime dimensions of both the text and the engraved frontispiece. Klein concludes with an interesting and suggestive discussion of the figure of the sea-god Neptune as a political operator, a violent natural force and a judicial adjudicator, suggesting that for Drayton this may have been a way of expressing a subversive political stance during the reign of James I.

[4] The third section of the volume highlights Drayton’s treatment of history and the tensions generated between the author’s verse and Selden’s commentary. Daniel Cattell explores the significance of Britain’s religious past, viewing Poly-Olbion as a ‘discursive antithesis of more customary modes in the period for the dissemination of this history, such as the polemical’ (p. 186). While Cattell cites William Oldys’ description of Drayton as being held in equal regard by ‘Men of all Parties’, a slightly more nuanced reading could have been attempted by taking cognisance of Drayton’s Puritan leanings during the reign of James I. In her essay, Sara Trevisan argues that the symbol of the Welsh bard is central to Drayton’s poem and that the connection between the bards and national memory as told in genealogical form is fundamental to Poly-Olbion. Trevisan attempts to refute Helgerson’s argument about the chorographical nature of the text and concludes that Drayton borrows from Welsh royalist discourse to embrace a new British identity that reconciles the history of the land to the history of its kings: a more persuasive argument is required, however, to suggest that the gap between land and monarch is lessened by Drayton’s image of the Welsh bards as historians, since Drayton clearly invests the personified geographical features with values that are absent in the existing monarch and his court. The concluding chapter by Philip Schwyzer brilliantly identifies the ‘collegial and combative relationship’ between Drayton and Selden and reads their ‘dialogue’ as an attempt to carve out common ground in an appreciation of what in modern parlance may be called ‘Deep Time’ (p. 213).

[5] This volume of essays would perhaps have been further enriched had Poly-Olbion been seen as representative of Drayton’s unique poetic-political strategy through the presentation of the ‘country’ in its most fundamental and pristine state and the landscape as representing the ethos and ideology of the Country party. Nevertheless this collection is a valuable and scholarly addition to Drayton studies and for this often marginalized poet, a timely rescue from oblivion.

Loreto College, University of Calcutta, December 2020

Baird Tipson, Inward Baptism: The Theological Origins of Evangelicalism (Oxford University Press, 2020)

Baird Tipson, Inward Baptism: The Theological Origins of Evangelicalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), ISBN 978-0197511473, 205 pp., $99/£64.

Reviewed by Ryan Shelton

[1] Baird Tipson calls his new study, Inward Baptism, a helicopter ride—an apt metaphor to describe a narrative pace of 250 years in 176 pages. Despite the altitude, Tipson resists the abstract flyover all too common in a doctrinal history by ‘swooping down’ (p. 7) at a few well-chosen episodes, giving his tour colour and punch. The charter of Tipson’s flight will interest students of the Northern Renaissance interested in the changing social and religious landscape of the early modern Atlantic world, as he argues the Protestant Reformation provoked by Martin Luther in the sixteenth century predictably and inevitably led to the evangelical revivals of the eighteenth century. To defend his claim, Tipson traces an evolving tension in the regeneration theology of Martin Luther and his protestant offspring between the exterior sacrament of baptism and the interior need for faith (p. 49). Given this tug, Baird postulates that evangelicalism’s emphasis on inward baptism was unavoidable.

[2] The first episode, chapter 1, begins in 1503 Bremen, during Cardinal Peraudi’s north German indulgence tour. Tipson describes the late-medieval “conversion” theology of sacramental penance (p.16). The elaborate system of indulgences, which Protestants so often cartoon, existed within a devotional theology ecosystem that fronted caritas in Christian conversion, turning the heart away from the self and toward God and neighbour (p. 27). An evolving lay practice of inward devotional piety was already emphasizing Christian conversion outside the institutional church and in the hearts of individual Christians (p. 33). Chapter 2, then, hovers over a central Protestant backlash, namely, when Luther rejected do ut des as a valid framework for God’s grace toward humans. Tipson corrects the reductio that the late-medieval tradition Luther protested was simply a works-based salvation. Rather, the Protestant piety Luther pioneered concentrated ‘on faith rather than love’ (p. 39). But Luther’s revolt created new problems, especially related to the sacrament of baptism, which Luther called an act of faith in God’s promise (p. 47). What about those who participated in the sacrament without faith? This tension in Luther spawned two competing tribes: the first, represented by Jacob Andreae of the Lutheran mainstream, who underlined the water’s efficacy in spite of personal faith; the alternative, represented by Jacob Spener of the pietist camp, repudiated any ex opere operato overtones and insisted on belief for efficacious washing.

[3] This paradox in Luther propels the plot to chapter 3, describing the Colloquy at Montbéliard between Andreae, again, and Theodore Beza, a prominent Reformed leader. The thorny issue of infant salvation served as a catalyst toward articulating two opposing understandings of baptism. Could grieving parents take comfort in their perished child’s eternal security from her water baptism? It was one thing for Martin Luther as an adult man to remember his baptism when tempted, but for infants whose faith was never even tested, how could baptism be an ‘appeal to God for a good conscience’ (1 Peter 3:21)? For Beza and the Reformed, the pastoral thrust pushed consolation away from the sacramental water and toward the sovereign will of God. To Beza, ‘by ascribing to the baptismal water the power to forgive sin and cleanse the heart, Lutherans had turned water into an idol and were thus idolaters’ (p. 69). Following the lead of Calvin, Beza insisted on God’s complete sovereignty in predestined election, and could not be bound by human sacramental mechanics. The relationship between water and spirit was a sign and not a cause of grace. Thus, the focus continued to move away from the objective, external sacrament toward subjective, internal moves of the Spirit. William Perkins, therefore, becomes Tipson’s next persona in chapter 4, which investigates the ‘conscience religion’ that becomes foundational among seventeenth-century Puritans. ‘The visible sacraments, so central to late-medieval piety, did not disappear. Only now they were signs and seals of the changes God had already made or eventually would make to the human heart and mind’ (p. 93). Perkins extrapolated from Beza an evidence-based method of assurance based on the con-scientia, or ‘second knower, resident within a person’s mind’ who kept ‘careful track of his or her thoughts and actions’ (p. 95). Tipson is careful to distinguish the Puritan conscience from an overly anxious ethic, a la Max Weber, but instead sees the dominant thrust of piety in this season as introspective, yet hopeful (p. 105). Temperament could, of course, vary. Tipson emphasizes, however, that the germane development in Perkins’ school of divinity is looking inward for falsifiable signs of spiritual life.

[4] Tipson pauses the unidirectional narrative in chapter 5 with something of a necessary detour. Choosing Richard Baxter as the ‘Elisha’ to William Perkins’ ‘Elijah,’ the helicopter tour takes a panoramic view of the later-seventeenth-century Puritan rhapsody on conscience religion (p. 110). Troubled by the extremes of antinomianism among Cromwell’s New Model Army, Baxter pushed the piety of introspection among the ‘strict Calvinists’ toward an assurance that required proof in holy living to inform conscience’s register (p. 114). In other words, just as Luther took comfort from his outward baptism, Baxter worried many ‘thought they could take comfort by recalling their inward baptism’ (p. 118). During the Restoration, certain episcopal commentators likewise emphasized godly living in the form of religious behavior, such as Samuel Parker and Richard Allestree. They decried the conscience religion of Perkins, which was increasingly transformed by Baxter and Richard Alleine into what the Restoration church saw as exhausting and strenuous enthusiast moralism. The emerging Anglican alternative advocated rest in the comforts of religious ritual. It is precisely in this powder keg of rival poles, between comfortable religion and what T. Dwight Bozeman has called the ‘precisionist strain’ of Puritan nonconformity, that the evangelical revivals would ignite a spark. Chapter 6, ‘The Outbreak of Evangelicalism,’ presents the crest of this long interiorization of faith. By this point, the mysterious work of inner baptism adopted the same kind of punctiliar, ‘instantaneous’ character as did the church sacrament (p. 140). But along with the emphasis on the immediate regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, this lay-focused revival came with ‘contempt for the unconverted minister’ and sustained critique from the religious caste. The theological defense of Wesley and Edwards both, in their own ways, connected this singular period of religious enthusiasm to the protestant tradition outlined in the previous chapters of the volume.

[5] Tipson’s study is creatively presented, well written, and persuasively argued, though not without reproach. The most obvious weakness—if it can be called that—derives precisely from its strength: it covers so much time in so few pages that one cannot help but wonder occasionally about editorial caprice. Why one character rather than another? What connects these exact episodes apart from Tipson’s tale? This editorial choice, of course, is a necessary feature given the limits, but readers may wonder at the lacuna of key figures. John Owen, for example, might have served as a connecting figure between Perkins and Edwards, rather than Baxter. A stray excursus on the ‘numinous’ in Rudolf Otto seems to add little to the flow of chapter 4, except to provide an asynchronous foil to Perkins’ conscience divinity. Aside from a few such negligible criticisms, this doctrinal history offers readers a compelling story with expert comprehension, remarkably unburdened by minutiae, of how a theology of inward baptism unfurled from Luther to Beza, from Beza to Perkins, from Perkins to Baxter, and from Baxter to Whitefield, Wesley, and Edwards. Given the centrality of religious discourse during the Renaissance, Tipson’s study deserves attention by those looking to connect the world of ideas with the lived experiences of early modern subjects.

Queen’s University Belfast, December 2020


Joshua Calhoun, The Nature of the Page: Poetry, Papermaking, and the Ecology of Texts in Renaissance England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020)

Joshua Calhoun, The Nature of the Page: Poetry, Papermaking, and the Ecology of Texts in Renaissance England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020), ISBN 978-0812251890, 288 pp., $55.00/£45.00.

Reviewed by Meaghan Pachay

[1] Endeavoring to bring together two fields of literary scholarship ‘not typically linked,’ book history and the environmental humanities, in The Nature of the Page Joshua Calhoun directs our attention to the oft-overlooked medium of the media we study: the page itself (p. 3). He traces handmade paper from its roots to its replacement by machine-produced tree pulp in the late 1800s. In doing so, he seeks to broaden our understanding of what the text is – not just at the moment it is held in human hands, but in its past lives as seed, plant, fiber, rag, and toward its future in an era of climate change. In the process, Calhoun aims not just to change our understanding of Renaissance texts but also to expand our field of view in order to incorporate the ecosystemic relationship that has always underpinned the material instantiations of human ideas. The Nature of the Page offers a timely extension of D.F. McKenzie’s ‘sociology of texts,’ instead envisioning an ‘ecology of texts’ that accounts for the natural matter that makes books, and arguing that accepting natural resources as a given rather than a variable impoverishes our understanding of the literature we study and distorts the histories we tell about Renaissance books.

[2] The Nature of the Page is guided by three overarching questions: ‘(1) How has scarcity of nonhuman matter altered human communication? (2) How have humans creatively imagined or reimagined the textual possibilities available to them in a given ecosystem? (3) How has human communication been altered by the corruptibility of the nonhuman matter used to make texts?’ (p. x). To answer these questions, Calhoun divides his five chapters into two sections: ‘Legible Ecologies,’ which examines how Renaissance writers, readers, and printers made use of local ecologies in producing books, and ‘Illegible Ecologies,’ which extends an ecological reading to account for aspects “that were less visible to the average sixteenth and seventeenth-century book user and that are nearly invisible to us now” (p. 14). Chapter 1 narrates a history of paper in reverse chronological order, largely through a close reading of Matthias Koops’s Historical Account of the Substances which have been used to Describe Events, and Convey Ideas (1800), a book printed on paper made from straw. In this chapter, Calhoun develops his argument regarding the role of scarcity in the history of books, showing how local ecosystems drove how paper was made, from the exploitation of natural resources to the labor of slaves. The second chapter, born out of a 2011 PMLA article, picks up a reading of Henry Vaughan’s ‘The Book’ begun in the Introduction to offer a methodology for reading plant fibers and their rhetorical effects in the varied colors and qualities of paper used in printing English vernacular Bibles. This methodology suggests the ‘poetics of paper’ is one of corruptibility as words are recorded on slowly decaying substrates (p. 47).

[3] Together, the two chapters that make up ‘Legible Ecologies’ sketch out a broader ecology of the text as visible to Renaissance readers and writers; the last three chapters turn to less apparent aspects of book ecology. Chapter 3 uses one of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s First Folios as a case study to consider how to read imperfections, be they a stain on a page of 2 Henry IV or any of the forms of correction used by Renaissance printers. Reading both metaphorically and materially, Calhoun argues that interpreting a page of text as mixed media deepens our understanding of how book users recorded and revised history and challenges standard book historical wisdom about the pursuit of the ideal copy. Moving from stains to sizing, Chapter 4 demonstrates the continued significance of animals in paper books through the role of gelatin sizing in book survival. In this chapter, Calhoun makes his sharpest intervention into book historical practice: he argues that current scholarly data on book use and survival is skewed because it fails to account for differential survival rates in sized and unsized paper. Recognizing the animals present on pages made from plant fibers will produce more reliable data for future work. Following this thread on book survival and book loss, Calhoun concludes The Nature of the Page by turning to the future: Using Donne’s ‘A Valediction: Of the Book’ and Shakespeare’s Sonnets, he considers the ethics of the archive and natural resource consumption in the midst of climate change by examining how Renaissance writers and Renaissance scholars imagine book biodeterioration.

[4] As the above may suggest, The Nature of the Page casts a wide net. To make an argument about how we study English Renaissance books, Calhoun draws together Vaughan and Shakespeare and Donne with everything from Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac to articles in mSystems and Frontiers in Microbiology. In the process, he makes a convincing case for widening the scope of book historical work to consider a text’s ecology, what it was before it was a book and what it will become after. He argues that when we study the lives of Renaissance books, we also study the lives of the plants, animals and minerals made to carry human ideas. Notwithstanding the forestalling of decay created by our archives, the fragility and corruptibility of Renaissance handmade paper must force us to reckon with the ecosystemic relationship between human immaterial idea and nonhuman material book. If at times the boundary between what is ‘legible’ and ‘illegible’ both then and now is blurred, it is in the service of a methodological intervention that both opens new territory for our scholarship and reminds us of the precarity of the work we can do. For as Calhoun reminds us, ‘there is little chance that Shakespeare’s Sonnets will endure in this paper format for another four hundred years. The truth is more poetic’ (p. 144).

Ohio State University, October 2020

Michael Bath, Emblems in Scotland: Motifs and meanings (Brill, 2018)

Michael Bath, Emblems in Scotland: Motifs and Meanings (Leiden: Brill, 2018), ISBN 9789004364059, xxviii+346 pp., $150.00

Reviewed by Crawford Gribben

[1] Mike Bath is one of the world’s leading scholars of Renaissance emblem books, a distinguished contributor to this journal (here and here and here) whose work has pioneered the study of these complex visual texts across multiple geographies and literary genres. In this book, Professor Bath presents exciting new work together with revised and updated versions of some of his most important earlier publications addressing the contexts of early modern Scotland – a significantly under-studied field. This is why this book is so important. Hardly any emblem books were produced in Scotland or by Scots – in fact, while Esther Inglis’s version of Emblemes Chrestiens (1624) shows what could be achieved by Scottish literary artists working in manuscript, the two books published in London in 1638 by Robert Farley might be “the only known emblem books written by a Scottish author.” Nevertheless, emblem books were a staple of the literary culture of the northern Renaissance, as the world’s largest archive of these items, the Stirling Maxwell Collection at the University of Glasgow, attests. And, as Professor Bath argues, the importance of emblem books ranged far beyond print culture, into the decoration of stately homes, and far beyond the early modern, into the textual and visual work of Scottish modernism through the achievements of Ian Hamilton Finlay. Professor Bath approaches his subject with authority and verve. His survey of the field, Speaking pictures: English emblem books and Renaissance culture (1994), has become a defining work, and essential reading for anyone thinking about the combination of visual and literary forms in the period of early print. He has focused on the architectural influence of emblems in Renaissance decorative painting in Scotland (2003), and, in Emblems for a Queen: The needlework of Mary Queen of Scots (2008), showed how these visual texts were developed by a single individual, whose work he recognises as “undoubtedly the richest, most extensive, and perhaps also the most sophisticated historical artefacts to use emblems in a Scottish context.” Lavishly illustrated, and with some two hundred mainly colour plates, Emblems in Scotland: Motifs and Meanings is a defining statement of analysis and criticism in the important but often difficult genre through which complex combinations of images and ideas circulated in the northern Renaissance.

[2] Emblems in Scotland does a thorough job of describing and analysing its sources. In many ways, the small number of Scottish emblem books is surprising. These books were incredibly popular across early modern Europe, and one of the few genres that transcended its confessional politics (while still being put to confessional and other forms of sectional use). Around six thousand of these books are identified as discrete items in the most recent bibliographical work. But the influence of emblems extended far beyond the printed page. The genre’s combination of Latin motto, symbolic picture, and a “more-or-less explanatory moralising epigram” can be traced in very surprising locations. These locations include the Church of St Marnock, in Fowlis Easter, Angus, in which there is preserved a fifteenth-century painting that includes a figure of a jester in a scene of the crucifixion, which demonstrates, among other things, the strong connections between visual traditions in Scotland and across Europe. Professor Bath also comments upon the visual texts in Huntingtower, formerly Castle Ruthven, near Perth, the site of the “Ruthven raid,” in which the young James VI was kidnapped and the protestant reformation secured, the description of which by the Covenanter historian David Calderwood concludes with an emblematic motto. Alexander Seton’s country house, built in 1613 on lands that had belonged to Dunfermline Abbey, and on the site of the battle of Pinkie that began the period of “Rough wooing,” was designed as part of a larger project of cultural neo-stoicism, with a famous painted ceiling that gestures towards and even reproduces images from emblem books that reinforce the building’s architectural message. This chapter is a tour-de-force exposition of Seton’s interiors, that maps their design elements onto the huge variety of emblem books by which they were inspired, and locates the meaning of these elements within the theological and political disputes of the early seventeenth century. Emblems in Scotland goes on to consider the use made of emblem books by Scottish Presbyterians, participating in a European discourse while articulating specific doctrinal and historical points. After all, Professor Bath explains, Scottish Protestants “associated the circulation of emblems with the promulgation of reformed doctrines.” In fact, for many readers, emblem books were a distinctively protestant genre. Yet emblem work depended upon bricolage, and Professor Bath excels in tracing the surprisingly ecumenical routes by which ideas and images turned up in mottos and symbolic pictures that were put to confessional use. A chapter on court festivals and royal baptisms, for example, works from a case study of the masque performed to celebrate the baptism of the future James VI in 1566 to trace the idea that the English had tails backwards to the Scottish headquarters of the Knights Hospitallar and forwards into Andrew Marvell’s The loyal Scot (1667).

[3]  Emblems in Scotland is an outstanding contribution to the study of a genre that scholars from multiple disciplines often find elusive. This superb achievement consolidates its author’s standing in the field, while opening up some important new questions as to the valency of these enigmatic “speaking pictures.”

Queen’s University Belfast, March 2020

David J. Parkinson (ed.), Gavin Douglas: ‘The Palyce of Honour’, Second Edition (Medieval Institute Publications, 2018)

David J. Parkinson (ed.), Gavin Douglas: ‘The Palyce of Honour’, Second Edition (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2018). ISBN: 9781580443722 (paperback), 9781580443739 (hardback), ix + 222 pp., £19.50 (paperback), £70 (hardback).

Reviewed by Megan Bushnell

[1] The Palice of Honour (c. 1501) is a long dream vision poem (2169 lines), written by the Scottish Makar Gavin Douglas (c. 1475-1522). Often recognised as the pinnacle of the Scottish aureate style, this poem nevertheless is often analysed in relation to works it is associated with or echoes—like Douglas’ later work the Eneados (1513) or Chaucer’s House of Fame (c. 1380). David J. Parkinson’s new edition of this poem, entitled Gavin Douglas: The Palyce of Honour, is an example of a current trend of updated editions of works by Scottish Makars. As with the poem itself, evaluation of this edition is necessarily dominated by comparisons to editions that came before—specifically Priscilla Bawcutt’s edition of the poem in The Shorter Poems of Gavin Douglas (1967, 2003), which was created for the Scottish Text Society, and David Parkinson’s first iteration of this edition (Gavin Douglas—The Palis of Honoure, 1992).

[2] The primary difference between Parkinson’s editions and Bawcutt’s work—and indeed all other modern editions—is that his text is based mostly on the London edition, printed by William Copland (c. 1553), as opposed to the later Edinburgh edition, printed by John Ross for Henry Charteris (1579). Bawcutt, on the other hand, provides the text of both editions for comparison, though gives the Edinburgh edition priority by placing it on the recto side of the page. Parkinson’s reasons for using the London edition largely echoes Bawcutt’s analysis of the two witnesses: the London edition better preserves archaic lexical items, the Edinburgh edition is subject to more editorial intervention, and there is no evidence that the Edinburgh variants carry authorial intent. However, while Bawcutt is reluctant to claim that either witness is more authoritative, Parkinson (1992) favours the London edition, ostensibly because it is an earlier witness. His argument is convincing, although his case for the primacy of the London edition has noticeably softened in this edition compared to his earlier work. The impression is that he is trying to convey the nuance of the complicated textual history of the Palice of Honour. However, such positioning sometimes unnecessarily prolongs and obfuscates his argument.

[3] Aside from this difference in source material, Bawcutt’s and Parkinson’s editions also differ in their purpose. Bawcutt’s was created for the Scottish Text Society, which aims primarily to make Scottish texts available to a wide audience—some of whom may not be interested in the texts as objects of study. By contrast, Parkinson’s editions (both the first and second) are part of the TEAMS Middle English Texts Series, which aim to create editions specifically for students. As such, Parkinson’s introduction is much longer and more comprehensive than Bawcutt’s or even Parkinson’s first edition. This is a benefit as it allows Parkinson to provide extra resources to aid students, like the ‘Language’ section, which formally introduces readers to Medieval Scots. He is also able to update his introduction to reference more recent criticism and discoveries. These include the manuscript fragment Sally Mapstone discovered, which is likely related to the lost edition (probably) printed by Thomas Davidson (c. 1530-50). This is the first edition of the Palice of Honour to include this fragment in its list of textual witnesses.

[4] The glosses, notes, and reference material are the strongest aspects of Parkinson’s editions and are much more robust than what is available in previous editions. Moreover, the content in this edition is almost completely revised from what was featured in Parkinson’s previous one. Many of these revisions are very effective: there are more explanatory and textual notes that are also of greater detail and better formatted for cross-referencing. There is an expanded glossary that references every instance a word appears along with its alternative spellings. There is an index of names that elucidates Douglas’ obscure allusions. All of these are invaluable resources when reading the poem.

[5] While none of the revisions of the paratext are ineffective, they do at times feel unnecessary. For example, Parkinson completely revises the gloss from his earlier edition, but there is no consistent movement towards more condensed, or more concrete, or more informative glosses between the two editions. Similarly, Parkinson scraps most of his footnotes from the 1992 edition and yet goes to the trouble of supplying new ones in the 2018 edition, without building on the old. The result is that he has, quite literally, created a brand-new edition that is almost completely different from the first one—even the spelling of the title has changed. The purpose of this appears to be to create an edition of the text of the Palice of Honour itself, as opposed to one focusing more on the London edition specifically—which seems to be the aim of the Parkinson’s earlier work. This distinction is illustrated by the new title (Palyce of Honour) which is based on Douglas’ practice within the text rather than the title assigned by Copland (Palis of Honoure). However, as this edition is still based largely on the London text, and was achieved through its careful study, this is a subtle distinction that is at times difficult to grasp in Parkinson’s editing process.

[6] Nevertheless, this is an excellent text for students and researchers alike and a useful update on the first edition. The added resources are helpful for anyone new to the study of Douglas’ work. At the same time, Parkinson’s efforts to make the text accessible are not so intrusive that they interfere with the text’s utility for research. Moreover, the availability of the text online complete with introduction, gloss, footnotes, and index (though minus glossary and acknowledgements) and its practical split-screen format makes the text especially approachable (https://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/publication/parkinson-douglas-the-palyce-of-honour). The creation of this edition with its extensive paratext reflects the growing importance of Scots in the medieval canon and the growing respect for the Palice of Honour as an important work itself. It indicates not just a continuation, but an increase of interest in the Scottish Makars and will no doubt facilitate new insights into this text for years to come.

University of Oxford, December 2019

Juanita Feros Ruys, Michael W. Champion and Kirk Essary (eds), Before Emotion: The Language of Feeling, 400-1800 (Routledge, 2019)

Juanita Feros Ruys, Michael W. Champion, and Kirk Essary, eds. Before Emotion: The Language of Feeling, 400-1800 (New York: Routledge, 2019), ISBN 978-0-367-08602-2, 262 pp., $112.00

Reviewed by Jonathan C. Williams

[1] At least since the 2009 publication of Melissa Gregg’s and Gregory J. Seigworth’s  The Affect Theory Reader, the “affective turn” has sustained itself by its continued interrogation of the question of what affect actually is. Affects are not quite the same as emotions, of course, but the two are clearly connected to one another. One of the tasks of affect studies has been to think through the social, cognitive, historical, and linguistic valences of the connections and distinctions between affect and emotion. In this vein, one of the greatest achievements of Before Emotion is its insistence that the question of what affects are (or feelings, or passions, or emotions, or whatever terms we might use to describe these phenomena) is not a new one. As Tomas Zahora notes in an essay on affect and spiritual capital in this collection, we are often conditioned, thanks in large part to Deleuze, to think of Spinoza as the first serious theorist of affect (p. 109), but what this collection accomplishes is to show us that, for more than a thousand years before Spinoza, thinkers were preoccupied by the questions of what affects are, what they do, where they come from, and whether they can be trusted.

[2] These questions, as the contributors to this collection demonstrate, have a wide range of answers, and what this collection proves is that the history of affect is in many ways also a history of debate about how to define affect. For Cicero, as Rita Copeland notes in her essay, affectio is the name for a temporary if powerful emotion and is a hermeneutic device for exploring things like intention (p. 39). For Augustine and for Abelard, as Juanita Feros Ruys shows, affectus guides the will and points one toward heaven (p. 63). And in the work of Hugh of Saint Victor, as Michael D. Barbezat points out, “affectus is the desire of enjoying something thoroughly” (p. 77). None of these definitions (and there are many more in this volume also) are quite the same. Some of these definitions see affect as something that brings one closer to God. Bernard of Clairvaux, for instance, as Constant J. Mews observes, went so far as to suggest that God is in fact “affectivity,” or affectio, itself (p. 88). Other formulations of affect reveal a suspicion of its power. In Elena Carrera’s account, for instance, early modern thinkers, following in the tradition of Augustine and Platonism, saw affectus “as impulses and tendencies that needed to be controlled” (p. 175). And, as many of the authors in the collection point out (Barbara Newman and Kirk Essary stand out in particular), there can be a serious distinction between affectio and affectus.

[3] One of the more recent trends in the field of affect studies (and I use this term in a very broad sense) has been not only to ask after the meanings of bodily affects but also to think about the importance of moods that might pervade a space or a historical moment. As Thomas Pfau and Jonathan Flatley, among others, have considered, moods might not lodge themselves in any one person’s body; instead, moods can detach themselves from individuals and bleed through an entire setting. Moods become a hermeneutic device: a way of interpreting a set of social relations or a given point in history. What the authors of Before Emotion have done is to remind us that affects are also phenomena felt and produced by specific persons whose lives intersect with other persons.

[4] But this collection also does more than just that. One of this collection’s more interesting contributions lies in the ways that it frames its critical interventions. For Michael Champion (one of the editors of the collection), the affective turn originally emerged as a response to the rise and subsequent fall of literary studies’ linguistic turn of the 1970s and 80s. As Champion puts it in the book’s concluding chapter, affect theory originally saw one of its calls as a need to offer a corrective to the insistent discursiveness of movements such as deconstruction. Champion suggests that many proponents of affect theory worried that the linguistic turn went too far and “reduc[ed] human experience to discourse” (p. 244). For Champion, however, the contributors to Before Emotion pursue a vision that, following the work of Monique Scheer, sees affect as neither total discourse nor total embodiment but rather as an intersection of the two that crystallizes in what Champion refers to as “practice” (p. 245). This mode of practice might manifest in Augustine’s practice of piety that Jonathan Teubner expounds in his essay, or in Erasmus’s distinction, discussed in this volume by Kirk Essary, between affectus as “affections of the soul” (p. 164) and affectio as “distress of the body” (p. 164). In bringing spiritual and social elements into the mix, many of the authors in this volume develop a vision of affect that includes the body but that also goes beyond it.

[5] This study is a sprawling account of the long history of affect (as the scope of this review might suggest). I am left with a deeper understanding of the richness and depth of the pre-history of what we refer to as “emotion.” In thinking about the scope of this collection, I also find myself asking about the critical stakes of what we might think of as affect theory or the history of emotions more broadly. As one reads this volume, one gets a clear sense of the reservations that thinkers have long held about affects, feelings, passions, and sentiments. In response, I find myself wanting to know more about some of the social or political consequences of feeling. In our own historical moment, for instance, feelings can be a way of making legible the urgency of the innumerable social and political crises with which we are faced. Similarly, feeling can become a way of registering the power of socially conscious political thought. For a wide range of contemporary thinkers, ranging from Fredric Jameson to Sianne Ngai to Steven Goldsmith, feelings are both the residue and evidence of critical and socially conscious thinking. In this vein, I am drawn to ask what social/critical possibilities might inhere in the kinds of feelings that the authors of Before Emotion explore. How might an understanding of affect’s multiple dimensions register as forms of social consciousness? How does an attention to affect influence our understanding of what Raymond Williams, for one, might refer to as “lived experience”? How might an attention to affect enrich the ways that we think about bodies and the social spaces that they inhabit? It is a testament to the richness of this work that it inspires these questions. More than anything, the breadth and depth of this project have reinforced for me the capacity that affects have to do things in the world. In our own historical moment, in which the demand for praxis seems more urgent than ever, perhaps the question of what affects are is most useful insofar as it opens onto the question of what affects can do.

Bilkent University, October 2019

Leonie James, ‘This Great Firebrand’: William Laud and Scotland, 1617–1645 (Boydell, 2017).

Leonie James, ‘This Great Firebrand’: William Laud and Scotland, 1617–1645 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2017), ISBN 978-1-78327-21, 216 pp., £60.00.

Reviewed by Alasdair Raffe

[1] The title of Leonie James’s rigorous and well-written book could have been William Laud and Scotland: The Case for the Prosecution. Her aim is to convince the reader that Laud, archbishop of Canterbury under Charles I, had a vital influence on the religious policies that provoked Scots to rebel and fight against their king in 1637-40. Her method is to sift with great care the fragments of evidence illustrating Laud’s engagement with Scotland. When the sources suggest that Laud was marginal, she offers the generally convincing argument that the archbishop, fearful of criticism or prosecution, misleadingly minimised his role. Laud was ultimately brought to trial before the Long Parliament in 1644, and the charges assembled against him by commissioners from Scotland provide James with some of her evidence. This fact, together with the precision of James’s analysis, ensures that reading the book gives the feeling of being in a court room, listening to a skillful barrister (or perhaps a Scottish advocate!) pleading against Laud.

[2] The book follows Laud’s career chronologically, from his first experience of Scotland as part of James VI and I’s visit in 1617 to his execution in 1645.  The first two chapters provide much contextual information, including a survey of earlier archbishops’ involvement with Scotland and a helpful assessment of the Scottish episcopate.  In these chapters, James justifies her conclusion that, while Laud ‘was not the first archbishop of Canterbury to take an interest in the Scottish church’, he was the first ‘to be given relatively free rein to intervene in Scottish church affairs’ (p. 169).  In doing so, he made use of his close relations with a group of younger bishops appointed to Scottish sees in the mid-1630s, notably Bishop John Maxwell of Ross.

[3] In the following chapters, James focuses more narrowly on what the evidence can tell us about Laud’s Scottish activities. Chapter three argues that Laud was ‘a dominant figure’ in the drafting of canons and a Prayer Book for the Church of Scotland in the 1630s (p. 80). Given the weight of earlier scholarship on the Prayer Book of 1637, James gives welcome attention to the canons, which reinforced the royal supremacy over the Church and intended to consign general assemblies (and probably presbyteries too) to the past. After the new Prayer Book provoked riots in Scotland, Laud had a crucial influence on the king’s response. Chapter four uses the correspondence between Laud and James, 3rd marquis of Hamilton, Charles’s commissioner, to assess the extent and character of the archbishop’s advice. Laud discouraged Charles from making concessions to the opponents of the Prayer Book, helping to bring about war between the king and his Scottish subjects. By the time we reach chapter five, and Laud’s downfall, James has succeeded admirably in explaining why the archbishop’s demise was engineered as much by his Scottish critics as by members of the Church of England over which he had formal jurisdiction. In Robert Baillie’s Canterburian’s Self-Conviction (1640) and the negotiations prior to the peace treaty of London in 1641, Laud was presented as an ‘incendiary’ who had inflamed animosities between the Scots and their king.

[4] James’s historiographical starting point is the influential essay by John Morrill on ‘Ecclesiastical Imperialism under the Early Stuarts’ (1994). Like others who have responded to the essay, James tends to question Morrill’s argument that James VI and I and Charles I sought ‘congruity’ between the Churches of the three kingdoms, and not simply to anglicise those of Scotland and Ireland. Laud was a force for anglicisation in Scotland and Ireland, though ‘the individual historical trajectories of each church’ and the lack of ‘mechanisms for multi-church reform’ placed limits on how similar the three Churches would become (p. 172). Laud’s instincts were authoritarian, but he and Charles had to accommodate the canons and Prayer Book to at least some Scottish cultural realities. Like Morrill, James often comments on Laud’s interest in Irish affairs. One reason for this is that his letters to the Lord Deputy, Thomas Wentworth, give fuller evidence of his agenda for the three kingdoms than do sources specifically relating to Scotland.

[5] As my comments on James’s source material and arguments imply, the book is concerned largely with the formation of policy and the resulting struggles at court and (at the end of the period) in parliament. James pays some attention to Scottish reactions to the canons and Prayer Book, but largely so as to understand Laud’s next steps. Thus the book adds most to debates about the revolts against Charles I in Scotland and England, and offers less to those interested in the impact of the Kirk in the localities. Kirk session, presbytery and synod records are not among the manuscripts cited by James. She provides judicious accounts of such episodes as the trial for slandering the king of John Elphinstone, 2nd Lord Balmerino and Charles’s defeat in the Bishops’ Wars. Inevitably, however, she leans on the extensive previous scholarship on such matters, and does not claim great originality in her discussions of them. The field is so crowded that it is on the narrow subject of Laud’s roles in Scottish religious policy that ‘This Great Firebrand’ makes a distinctive contribution. It does so thanks to the rigour and clarity of James’s analysis. On Laud’s meddling in Scotland, this is now the essential work.

University of Edinburgh, April 2019

Kevin Killeen,  The political Bible in early modern England  (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Kevin Killeen, The political Bible in early modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), ISBN: 1107107970, xii+310 pp., £75.00.

Reviewed by Crawford Gribben

[1] Over the last ten years, a sequence of articles by Kevin Killeen has offered some of the most stimulating re-readings of the reception of the Bible in early modern literary and political writing. In this volume, Killeen brings together the conclusions of these arguments with new texts and contexts in what will surely come to be recognised as one of the most important literary and historical discussions of the cultures of the early modern Bible.

[2] The religious turn in early modern studies is reflected in a range of recent studies of authors, genres and major texts. Scholarly interest in the political potential of Bible reading in early modern England is, of course, long-standing, with Christopher Hill’s The English Bible and the seventeenth-century revolution (1992) being one of the most widely used works in this field. But this interest has been given an important new stimulus in recent years, as scholars working on the subject have drawn upon new methodologies, including the history of the book, and have addressed new research questions, including questions of gender and orientalist scholarship, while engaging with new historiographical insights, especially in terms of the revisionism that has challenged the older and often Marxist frames of historical interpretation. Some of these issues were brought to the fore in Eric Nelson’s The Hebrew Republic: Jewish sources and the transformation of European political thought (2010), although that work tended to overlook some of the less appealing or less modern uses to which early modern exegesis was put. Literary critics are famously slow to attend to new developments in historical writing, but the new religious turn in early modern studies has brought together literary critics and historians in new ways and to advance new kinds of debate. The cross-disciplinary potential of this engagement was evident in The Oxford handbook of the Bible in early modern England, c 1530-1700 (2015), which Killeen co-edited with Helen Smith and Rachel Willie, and which represented a major new statement of biblical influences in writing from the period, as well as in Victoria Brownlee’s Biblical readings and literary writings in early modern England, 1558-1625 (2018), which has become another important contribution to the debate. But Killeen’s new book moves beyond these other contributions by examining how Old Testament narratives and motifs impacted upon constructions of politics in a period of national and international crisis. Everyone knows that the Bible mattered in early modern England, and that in contexts far removed from the liturgical or theological. But few historians or literary scholars have the equipment to identify allusions beyond the best-known biblical stories, or have the patience to chase down the exegetical traditions through which these familiar stories may become de-familiarised in the process of early modern interpretation. Killeen does both, and more, as he documents how important were Old Testament narratives in framing and challenging assumptions of political power.

[3] Wisely, Killeen’s work limits its points of reference to discussions of biblical kings in seventeenth-century publications. He argues that readings of these kings and their reigns “constitute a major lexicon of early modern political thought,” and that references to these kings were specific and particular, with each monarch representing distinct qualities with which early modern exemplars could be contrasted or compared. In Killeen’s account, the high degree of biblical literacy that was sustained among early modern commentators allowed for an allusive range that could balance an impressive range of connotative power. But Killeen makes this argument while recognising that exegetical traditions were themselves changing through this period, and that the parties that struggled to control the interpretation of Scripture did so by undermining the religious-political claims of their rivals. And so Killeen argues against assumptions in some earlier writing that biblical allusion allowed for a language of code and evasion, as if only one side in the seventeenth-century culture war could recognise an Old Testament reference and understand its suggestive power. If the Bible was ubiquitous, its contents were well-known, and Killeen tracks down the significance of that knowledge in discussions of the character and effect of early modern hermeneutics, while examining among other discourses the reception of biblical civil wars, responses to tyranny, and imaginings of regicide.

[4] The political Bible in early modern England is therefore a major statement on the development of a distinctive rhetoric in political discussion in early modern England. It makes definitive judgements on the power of biblical images while embarking on some important new lines of enquiry related to the relationship of these images to questions of gender. Killeen’s new book is a determined, insightful and very welcome contribution to a discussion that will be pertinent to scholars across disciplines of the northern Renaissance.

Queen’s University Belfast, January 2019



Casey B. Carmichael,  A Continental view: Johannes Cocceius’s federal theology of the Sabbath  (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2018)

Casey B. Carmichael, A Continental view: Johannes Cocceius’s federal theology of the Sabbath (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2018), ISBN 9783525552780, 192 pp., € 64.99.

Reviewed by Crawford Gribben

[1] While the title of this volume does little to suggest its broader significance to scholars of the northern Renaissance across multiple disciplines, its account of the theology of Johannes Cocceius (1603-69) represents one of the most important recent contributions to the study of early modern Protestantism, and is bound to make a decisive intervention in that field, while informing developments in many others.

[2] Cocceius’s name may not be familiar to many scholars working outside the fairly specialist literature that deals with post-reformation Reformed dogmatics, but within that subject area he is widely recognised as being one of the most important Dutch Calvinist exegetes and theologians working in the seventeenth century, whose influence extended far beyond the narrowly theological circles in which his work has been remembered. Cocceius was certainly significant. From his base in the University of Leiden, and especially in the 1650s, he developed a strongly historicised reading of Biblical theology that emphasised the theme of change over time, and which distinguished him and those he influenced from the followers of Gisbertus Voetius, his principal rival for the loyalty of Dutch Calvinists, persuading his contemporaries, if not everyone who has written about their culture, that early modern Calvinism was an often dynamic and geographically differentiated world of ideas.

[3] Competing explanations of the covenants that structured the Old Testament were central to this division within the Dutch Reformed Church. Drawing upon the conclusions of medieval exegesis, and always in conversation with their Catholic and Lutheran contemporaries, Reformed theologians recognised the importance of the covenants that structured the history outlined in the Old Testament. But they tended to read these covenants as being indicative of theological superstructures, rather than of distinct periods of salvation history, and as describing fixed rather than changing circumstances. The mainstream of Reformed theology understood that there existed a covenant of works, which served to condemn fallen humanity, and a covenant of grace, as a result of which fallen humanity could be redeemed. Exegetes and theologians within this tradition tended to view the covenants of the Old Testament as staging-posts in this overarching covenant of grace. As a consequence, they tended to tone down those statements in the New Testament that seemed to criticise the “old covenant,” or that suggested it had been replaced. One practical consequence of this tradition in Reformed theology was a distinctive theology of time. Sabbatarianism, which identified Sunday as the Christian Sabbath, a particularly holy day on which careless behaviour, or non-religious forms of relaxation, should be strictly controlled, became a key marker of the “hotter sort” of protestants in the Stuart kingdoms, as well as in the Low Countries.

[4] This is why Sabbatarianism, as Casey B. Carmichael reminds us in this book, a revision of his University of Geneva PhD thesis, could become such a hotly contested political issue. In England, in 1617/18, James I issued a “Book of Sports” that encouraged those who had attended parish worship on Sunday mornings to spend the rest of the day engaged in profitable exercise and communal recreation. Charles I reissued this declaration in 1633, in a context in which the Sabbatarian commitments of English puritans had notably increased. Consequently, the “Book of Sports” became a key point of dispute in the run-up to the outbreak of civil in 1642, and was symbolically burned by Parliament in 1643, as representing an attempt of the king to over-ride the laws of God. It is only a slightly rhetorical over-reach to claim that many English puritans entered civil war with the purpose of defending the Sabbath.

[5] Nevertheless, as Carmichael’s book reminds us, many Dutch puritans would not have supported the arguments of their English brethren. While the followers of Gisbertus Voetius accepted the Sabbatarian position that became normative among English puritans and Scottish Presbyterians, those who were influenced by Johannes Cocceius took an altogether more relaxed view of the issue. For Cocceius, the old covenant had been abolished, and the ten commandments remained as part of the covenant of grace; but the elements of the sabbath commandment that reflected the ceremonial law of Israel had also ceased. Developing a distinctive and sometimes idiosyncratic reading of covenant theology, and of the Sabbath commandment, he argued that Christians in the new covenant were not bound to the claims of the ceremonial law that had been promulgated by Moses, and therefore that their obligations on Sundays would be satisfied merely by regular attendance at divine worship. Some of his followers developed his arguments to claim that it was permissible for Christians to follow divine worship with a return to weekday work. As the Dutch church split over the issue, the followers of Gisbertus Voetius retained their concern to sanctify the Lord’s day, while the followers of Johannes Cocceius sat knitting in their windows, in a provocative display of Christian freedom.

[6] Carmichael’s new book builds on important advances in the study of Cocceius made in recent years by Willem van Asselt and Brian J. Lee. While historians of early modern Reformed theology have long been aware of the division within the Dutch church, Carmichael’s work is the first to identify the points of contest and to explain what was at stake in the dispute. A great deal of work on the theology of the period is content to reconstruct systems of ideas, as if these ideas had no social or political contexts. But Carmichael learns from Quentin Skinner’s approach to intellectual history to situate disputes about ideas in their social worlds. Cocceius’s arguments about the Sabbath represent “his covenant theology in action,” Carmichael argues. And the results are illuminating. In their disputes about the Sabbath commandment, early modern Calvinists revised their theology of time, for doctrinal disputes could have very practical consequences.

 Queen’s University Belfast, December 2018

Alexander Campbell, The Life and Works of Robert Baillie (1602-1662): Politics, Religion and Record-Keeping in the British Civil Wars (Boydell, 2017)

Alexander Campbell, The Life and Works of Robert Baillie (1602-1662): Politics, Religion and Record-Keeping in the British Civil Wars (St Andrews Studies in Scottish History) (Boydell, 2017). ISBN 978-1783271849, 270 pp., £75.00.

Reviewed by David G Whitla

[1] The welcome resurgence of scholarly work on the history and theology of the seventeenth century Scottish Covenanters has been greatly enhanced by the addition of Alexander Campbell’s fine intellectual biography of one of its most important theologians and public figures, Robert Baillie (1602-62). Campbell’s work significantly furthers the ongoing reassessment of the intellectual landscape of pre-Enlightenment Scotland, arguing that it was in fact ‘a rich, variegated, cosmopolitan and dynamic nation of thinkers’ (p.4). Baillie’s compendious letters and journals have been long-plundered sources for historians of seventeenth century Britain, but with the exception of Florence McCoy’s 1974 work there have surprisingly been no major monographs on Baillie. Campbell has mined the extensive Baillie manuscripts leaving no stone unturned to provide a compelling reassessment of the moderate Covenanter behind the ‘Letters and Journals’ and supplying a fine contribution to our knowledge of early modern Scottish theology and politics.

[2] Campbell’s opening biographical sketch situates Baillie in his context and engages with the new Covenanter historiography that revises both the ‘whiggish’ Presbyterian hagiographies and the modern deconstructionist historiographies that esteem pre-Enlightenment Scotland as something of an intellectual wilderness. Campbell reveals Baillie as a scholar of first rate erudition in a European republic of letters, and a moderate among Covenanters, influenced heavily by his university tutor and lifelong friend, the irenic Presbyterian Robert Blair, and Episcopalian preachers and thinkers like William Struther and John Cameron. His parish ministry at Kilwinning enabled him to initially fly under the radar during the growing ecclesiastical tensions of the 1630s, but he eventually overcame initial misgivings and found himself (perhaps uncomfortably?) among the Covenanting leadership, serving as professor of divinity at Glasgow, a Scottish Commissioner at the Westminster Assembly, and authoring several influential polemical tracts and theological textbooks throughout his career. However, in the ensuing factionalism, he soon became ostracized by the radical Kirk party, siding with the Engagers in 1648 and the Resolutioner party in the 1650s, and eventually accepted the principalship of Glasgow University at the Restoration.

[3] In chapter two, Campbell’s study of Baillie’s views on church-state relations undermines the traditional historiography that there was a strong consensus among the early Covenanters on questions of monarchical power over the church. Baillie did not adopt the Buchanan-Knox-Rutherford politic, thus positioning himself outwith the Covenanter ‘radical mainstream’ and developing a far more conservative political resistance theory in his Laudensium Autokatakrisis (1641). Campbell’s work is groundbreaking in exploring this ‘constitutionalist’ minority report within the Covenanting leadership – a loyalist strain which he calls ‘Presbyterian royalism’ – a view that set Baillie’s intellectual trajectory in the squabbles of mid-seventeenth century Scottish Presbyterianism to firmly ally himself with the Engagers and Resolutioners, with Lauderdale and Sharp, and eventual quiescence with the Restoration establishment, but not at the expense of personal godly zeal or Presbyterian commitment. While aspiring to a ‘British Presbyterian Church settlement’ (p.59) along with the more radical Covenanters he laboured with at the Westminster Assembly, he ultimately considered the church and crown to be mutually self-supporting institutions, affording the crown a far more prominent place in ecclesiastical affairs than proponents of the ‘Melvillian’ ‘two kingdoms’ doctrine. Campbell is perhaps hyperbolic to classify Baillie’s view as verging on ‘Erastian’ (pp. 69-77); certainly, he expected the king to pass civil laws favourable to the Church, to ratify her General Assembly’s reforms and support the censures imposed by her courts – but this was something even the most radical Covenanter aspired to.

[4] Campbell’s third chapter is a welcome addition to a growing body of scholarship that attests to the latent ambiguities within post-Reformation Scottish Protestant ecclesiology. The Covenanter movement has long been portrayed by the ascendant whig historiography as a monolithic movement of Presbyterian radicals seeking religious liberty from Stuart tyranny and a despotic episcopal tyranny of conscience. Campbell’s study of Baillie reveals a prominent Covenanter whose Presbyterian credentials have been erroneously considered impeccable – thanks in part to a selective reprinting of his papers – but who in fact embraced a far more moderate Presbyterianism than many of his colleagues in the Covenanter regime. This ecclesiology, while ‘defy[ing] straightforward categorization’ (p.111), was at heart a form of modified episcopacy, with a strong emphasis on the final authority of the church’s higher courts, that might appropriately include bishops – or at least, which elevated preaching ministers above the office of lay elders (p.107).

[5] This view is juxtaposed with the emerging radical de jure polity of Rutherford and the Gillespies, which ironically opened doors to détente with the English Independents, who were for Baillie a life-long nemesis, and for whom he reserved his own share of polemical venom. Nowhere was this more visible than in the bitter Protester-Resolutioner schism of the 1650s, which revealed the latent fragility of the allegedly monolithic Covenanter hegemony. Building on recent work by Hunter Powell, Campbell navigates well the complexities of the vying Covenanter ecclesiologies. Baillie’s vision on the majority Resolutioner side was of an ecclesia mixta that pragmatically embraced lapsed ‘malignants’ in the interests of a unified national kirk, whereas the Independent-leaning Protesters who sought a purged church containing only the godly – drawing from Baillie the stinging accusation of Donatism (p.110).

[6] However, Campbell’s efforts to recast Baillie as the quintessential moderate need to be read in tension with the diatribes of his polemical writings. Campbell persuasively argues that Baillie’s polemics were written with a generous vision for an inclusive national kirk, which he hoped would walk a via media between the tyranny of Laudian bishops, and the ‘tyranny of conscience’ and proliferation of sects that would result from Congregationalist separatism (p.103). Like his subject, Campbell walks a fine line himself in portraying Baillie as both a man of moderation yet writing in the often acerbic and unforgiving polemical rhetoric of period scholastic debate. But it is a line he walks well, not recoiling from exposing the razor-sharp edge of Baillie’s theological invectives, yet presenting a portrait of the European homme de lettres labouring with his pen to achieve peace in church and state in troubled times: ‘Undergirding his controversial works was a peculiarly irenic vision, rigidly doctrinaire but subtly inclusive’ (p.229). Nevertheless, while Baillie’s nuanced view is presented as far more reflective of mainstream Scottish Presbyterianism in the mid-seventeenth century than the traditional historiography has allowed, Campbell’s case for such widespread theological diversity within the Covenanter ranks would be significantly bolstered by rallying more case studies of committed Covenanters who concurred with Baillie’s theological subtleties.

[7] Campbell contextualizes Baillie’s theological works in their European intellectual context in chapter four, thus recovering them from the largely-discredited ‘Calvin vs the Calvinists’ thesis, but at the same time, perhaps surprisingly, he responds to the ‘blind spots’ of Richard Muller’s counter-thesis, which he contends suffers from a tendency to disregard outliers like Baillie who do not conveniently fit into a ‘Reformed tradition’.

[8] Once again, for Campbell, Baillie’s self-appointed role as champion of Reformed orthodoxy is portrayed as subservient to his overarching irenic vision of Reformed unity in British and European context. It is a challenge to paint a nuanced portrait of an unyielding ‘heresiographer’ driven by a magnanimous vision of British ecclesiastical union. But on occasion, the reader feels that the sheer weight and dogmatism of Baillie’s theological corpus – so brilliantly expounded in this volume – has outbalanced Campbell’s bold narrative of ‘toleration’ and ‘ecumenism’ to describe his subject (p.116, 138), and it feels as if he has perhaps overplayed his hand. It is a narrative made somewhat less convincing when one’s subject routinely assaulted undeniable contemporary irenicists like Baxter and Ussher.

[9] Nevertheless, this chapter does excellent service in finely tuning the Scottish adaptation of the ‘Calvinist consensus’ thesis posited by David Mullan and Margo Todd, revealing that in Baillie’s case at least, there were positions even between the allegedly rigid Arminian/Calvinist dichotomy. Campbell amply illustrates Baillie’s lifelong polemical battle with Arminianism and Socinianism, but in order to bolster his portrayal of the theological moderate, joins an increasing cadre of historical theologians in declaring that Baillie ‘remained ambivalent towards hypothetical universalism’ (p.132). Arguably, however, the evidence presented would instead suggest a generous forbearance towards close friends and theological colleagues like John Strang and James Ussher, who were proponents of this mollification of Calvinism, rather than any personal endorsement of it.

[10] These quibbles aside, Campbell’s exploration of Baillie’s Reformed theology is a welcome rejoinder to the tendency for early modernists to focus on the comparatively few ‘heterodox’ forerunners of Enlightenment thought to the detriment of the culture of the ‘orthodox’ intellectual majority in Baillie’s day, many of whom pursued their own programs of contextualized theological pluralism. Campbell makes a compelling case that the intellectual contributions of these thinkers can no longer be ignored.

[11] The narrative of clerical opposition to royal intrusions on the kirk’s worship from the Five Articles of Perth (1618) to the Laudian Canons and Prayer Book (1636-37) has been portrayed in the dominant confessional historiographies as a story of a comparatively monolithic and unbroken Presbyterian opposition to an equally monolithic Episcopalian establishment. However, in the fifth chapter, Baillie’s example provides evidence that even among the most influential Presbyterian clergy there were significant ambiguities and complexities of theological and ecclesiastical divergence. Campbell reveals Baillie as a considerably more reluctant covenanting leader than the more radical faction led by Gillespie and Rutherford, whose black-and-white reactions to such ‘popery’ were balanced by Baillie’s shades of ecclesiological grey. Campbell helpfully sifts through the massive Baillie literary corpus to explain the nuances in his thought, showing why kneeling at the Lord’s Table was an adiaphoral matter, whereas (after a period of intense study, and sensitivity to its pastoral implications) he concluded that the Prayer Book contained the seeds of popery and Arminianism, and became one of its fiercest critics in contemporary print. Campbell argues that this case study lends weight to the thesis that ‘a façade of presbyterian unity merely cloaked the diversity of beliefs that characterized worship in the Church of Scotland’ (p.167), and that the Covenanters were willing to accommodate a greater diversity of beliefs than has hitherto been assumed.

[12] Chapter six examines Baillie’s defence of the authority and perspicuity of Scripture contained in his posthumous Operis Historici et Chronologici (1663). This important work addressed the philological debate on the origins of the Hebrew vowel points raised by continental theologians engaged in the emerging science of textual criticism. Campbell negotiates this dense material ably, though perhaps with less confidence; e.g. it is unclear whether or not the English transliteration of Hebrew terms from left to right (and not right to left, resulting in actually reading the word backwards), is a publisher’s blunder (p.185). Of particular value is the discussion of the homiletic impact of Baillie’s erudition. There is a dearth of scholarly studies on early modern Scottish preaching, and Campbell’s analysis of Baillie’s homiletic style and critique of the new preaching styles of Leighton and Binning is welcome, though we could wish for a deeper analysis of the wealth of Baillie’s extant sermons in manuscript (admittedly a massive task, by any standard).

[13] Campbell’s study concludes with a fascinating discussion of record-keeping as biography. Since Baillie’s massive manuscript correspondence ‘comprised the building blocks for a history, not the finished edifice’ (p.214), he shows how they have been edited and used in such a way as to ironically obscure their compiler’s own intent behind the collection, and consequently, his own life story. Campbell persuasively argues that the real Baillie has been lost – while his testimony to history has been plundered by successive generations of Presbyterian and Episcopalian historians with their own agendas – and then he attempts to set the record straight. Baillie’s purposes in maintaining a broad correspondence within the Reformed ecumene in the Transatlantic world are explored, and issuing a timely reminder to researchers that ‘the archive itself is not a source of unmediated information and it is crucial to that historians attend to the circumstances that shaped the archive itself’ (p.224).

[14] Campbell’s monograph shows the great value of intellectual biography in unravelling the complexities of the political and ecclesiastical debates of mid-seventeenth century Britain, setting a high standard for the genre, and providing an assessment of Baillie that is not likely to be surpassed for some time. His confident grasp and sane analysis of Baillie’s massive manuscript output places Campbell at the forefront of Covenanter studies. Any serious student of the Covenanting period cannot afford to be unacquainted with Robert Baillie, and consequently, cannot afford to be unacquainted with this important work.

 Queens University Belfast, September 2018

Stefan Lindholm, Jerome Zanchi (1516-90) and the Analysis of Reformed Scholastic Christology (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016)

Stefan Lindholm, Jerome Zanchi (1516-90) and the Analysis of Reformed Scholastic Christology (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016). ISBN: 978-3-525-55104-2, 200 pp., €75.00.

Reviewed by Harrison Perkins

[1] Stefan Lindholm’s impressive work on the Christology of Jerome Zanchi is half history and half philosophy, and forces readers to think through the intricacies of early-modern and contemporary philosophical theology. This book is certainly insightful and Lindholm delved deeply into both disciplines of history and philosophy. Readers should know, however, that that volume certainly tilts more heavily towards doing constructive philosophical theology than it does towards doing analytical historiography. The book falls into three parts. Part one explains the nature of the work and its arguments, and situates it within the literature on early-modern religion as well as analytical philosophy. Part two addresses issues that rise from Zanchi’s discussion of the person of Jesus Christ. Namely, the first chapter in this part deals with philosophical issues associated with conception in connection to the virgin birth. The second chapter in this part discusses complexities involved in traditional notions of Jesus Christ having a divine and human nature that are united in one person. This chapter handles differences between the way Reformed and Lutheran theologians explained this union of two natures. Part three deals with the “implications of the incarnation,” specifically, polemical controversies between Reformed and Lutheran thinkers about the consequences of the hypostatic union. This primarily relates to the issue of ubiquity of Christ’s human nature after it is united to the ubiquitous divine nature.

[2] The major strength of this book is its deep understanding of multiple philosophical contexts. Lindholm does seem to have mastered both the philosophical assumptions of early-modern Aristotelianism and contemporary analytical philosophy. This work does provide fascinating glimpses into the way early-modern thinkers were engaged with a very broad spectrum of ideas. Specifically, the chapter about underlying assumptions involved in the virgin birth of Christ should be interested in scholars of the northern Renaissance. Although the idea of the virgin birth itself may be of mixed relevance to cultural historians, it should certainly be of interest that early-modern theologians were dealing with a wide range of medical theories as they constructed their theology. Zanchi apparently made significant use of Galen’s medical theories about the formation of a human zygote. Galen was a physician from ancient Greece, and that fact that Reformed theologians were appropriating his work to develop their doctrines in the sixteenth century shows the breadth and depth of the recovery and renewed use of sources after the Renaissance period. The issues Lindholm raised in this book should encourage historical scholars to pursue a greater understanding of the ideas that came to renewed interest in the Renaissance and Reformation period. Most studies have highlighted the intersection of medieval, Renaissance, Reformation, and post-Reformation theology and philosophy, properly speaking. Lindholm’s volume indicates there is a need to explore how even medical theories, or other hard sciences for that matter, were adopted in the formulation of philosophical and theological systems. The recovery of ideas that occurred in the northern Renaissance era has many facets that have yet to be explored.

[3] The major weakness of this volume is that, although it is marketed as a volume in historical theology, there is very little of interest to most historians, be they social or intellectual historians. Lindholm does very little to discuss Zanchi’s ideas in their historical, political, or social contexts. This work is far more concerned to see if there are contemporary ways to explain these debates based on revamped philosophical assumptions. There is a growing scholarly endeavor in theological research to reach better understanding of historical theology and adopt it in constructive ways for contemporary theology, and this book fits within this burgeoning discipline of theological retrieval. That, of course, is not a weakness per se, since the work makes clear that it aims to do just that and make grounds in combining analytical theology with traditional categories of Christology. The association it tries to make, however, with the historical discipline appears to be somewhat of a red herring. This, I think, relates more to the publisher who branded it as historical theology than to shortcomings in Lindholm’s work itself, but it is certainly still an issue to note. Lindholm used Zanchi and the other theologians he discussed more as foils in philosophical discussion than as subjects of historical inquiry, which is simply something of which readers should be aware so they know what to expect from this work in terms of proportions of historical and philosophical work. That limitation, however, is relative to the interest of scholars than to the ability Lindholm demonstrated in the pages of this volume. He has a clear mastery of the categories he assessed and is superb at shifting between concepts that were refined in the early-modern period and ways that they can be recalibrated within a contemporary intellectual framework. This work, in its ideas and jargon, will challenge readers to press on to new levels of understanding of ideas that may have been long forgotten by some.

 Queen’s University Belfast, September 2018

Janice Valls-Russell, Agnès Lafont and Charlotte Coffin (eds.), Interweaving Myths in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries (Manchester University Press, 2017)

Janice Valls-Russell, Agnès Lafont and Charlotte Coffin (eds.), Interweaving Myths in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries (Manchester University Press, 2017). ISBN 9781526117687, 304 pp., £75.00.

Reviewed by Chloe Kathleen Preedy

[1] Interweaving Myths in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, edited by Janice Valls-Russell, Agnès Lafont and Charlotte Coffin, is a collection that explores the diverse ways in which authors from the 1580s to 1630s responded to, engaged with, and reworked classical mythology in their writings. As the weaving image used in the title suggests, the contributors are keen to highlight the complex and varied ways through which mythological material was woven into early modern texts, proposing that sixteenth- and seventeenth-century writers made the most of ‘classical mythology’s lability, its potential for versatility and its inherent capacity to invite shifting interpretations’ (p. 2). Informed by Yves Peyré’s 1998 discussion of ‘Iris’s “Rich Scarf” and “Ariachne’s Broken Woof”’ (Bate, Levenson and Mehl: 280-93), the weaving figure is developed most fully in Chapter 8 of the collection, in which Nathalie Rivère de Carles explores the political resonance of allusions to the classical female weavers Penelope and Arachne in Jacobean drama. Along with Roland Barthes’s notion of feuilletage, or multilayering, the concept of interweaving also provides an ongoing theoretical basis for this volume’s attention to the temporal and intertextual nuances of mythological transmission and reception; the significance of the former image is considered in Yves Peyré’s opening chapter on the gendered politics of blushing in literary texts, which moves from Homer, Ovid, and Virgil to Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Spenser (Chapter 1).

[2] The early modern English interest in classical literature and mythology has been well documented, including through important studies of how Ovid and Virgil’s texts were received in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England and work on Shakespeare’s engagement with ancient Roman sources. However, Interweaving Myths distinguishes itself not only through its nuanced attention to the subtleties of mythological reception, with contributors stressing that classical authors were themselves ‘receptors and crafters’ of ‘multi-faceted figures and tropes’ (p. 8), but also through the number of chapters that identify instances of early modern authors engaging with ancient Greek sources; as the volume’s editors Valls-Russell, Lafont, and Coffin note in their introduction, these contributions indicate that early modern English writers had a closer and more important relationship with Greek texts than was once thought, thereby ‘nuancing the picture of classical reception and opening up new perspectives’ (p. 4). The collection as a whole is also comparatively wide-ranging in the range of texts that is analysed, which include dramatic, poetic, and prose examples: while Shakespeare’s plays and poems receive considerable attention from the contributors, works produced by less studied authors (including Richard Barnfield, Jasper Heywood, and Thomas Watson) are explored in detail within individual chapters, illuminating mythological allusions and approaches in the writings of better-known contemporaries such as Thomas Heywood, Christopher Marlowe, and Edmund Spenser.

[3] Although the eleven essays in Interweaving Myths are not subdivided by theme or topic, the introduction provides useful synopses of the individual chapters for readers who might want to pursue a specific line of investigation. The standard of the chapters is consistently good, although some pieces are primarily concerned to reassess the significance of material that may already be familiar to some readers, whereas others more emphatically break new ground. I especially enjoyed Tania Demetriou’s detailed, scholarly reassessment of the so-called ‘Ovidian epyllion’ (Chapter 2), which, through entertaining and illuminating analyses of Barnfield’s Hellens Rape and Watson’s 1586 version of Colluthus’ Abduction of Helen, persuasively establishes that the authors of early modern epyllions were influenced not only by Ovidian mock-epic but also by their familiarity with short ancient Greek epics; Demetriou concludes by demonstrating how an awareness of this context can importantly further our understanding of an especially well-known example of the early modern epyllion: Marlowe’s Hero and Leander. Janice Valls-Russell’s investigation into how events associated with Troy’s fall are echoed in Shakespeare’s English history play King John is another highlight of the volume (Chapter 4): this chapter demonstrates that, in what Valls-Russell evocatively characterises as ‘an aesthetics of shadows’ (p. 86), Shakespeare’s play subtly establishes compelling parallels between the supplicant mothers Andromache and Constance, and the fates of their sons Astyanax and Arthur, without relying on explicit allusions to Troy. Early modern responses to mythological narratives of familial loss are again explored thoughtfully later in the volume, with Katherine Heavey offering an intriguing account of how Medea’s killing of her brother Absyrtus (or Apsyrtus) was received by early modern translators and authors, including Robert Herrick and Shakespeare (Chapter 6); Heavey’s fresh, wide-ranging analysis reflects her extensive familiarity with Medea’s mythological reputation and is likely to be of particular interest to those who shared my enjoyment in reading her recent monograph, The Early Modern Medea: Medea in English Literature, 1558–1688 (2015).

[4] Alongside the chapters that I have already discussed, Interweaving Myths features several survey articles that examine the reception history of a specific myth, figure, or trope in early modern England, including Dominique Goy-Blanquet’s account of how Trojan foundational myths were used to political ends in medieval France and England (Chapter 3); Gaëlle Ginestet’s piece on early modern engagements with the myth of Europa (Chapter 7); and Ruth Morse’s exploration of early modern allusions to Pygmalion, beginning with a reference to this myth in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure (Chapter 11). The remaining chapters focus more closely on the treatment of mythological themes within individual texts, as in Atsuhiko Hirota’s essay on ovine metaphors in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, which examines both this play’s engagement with the classical myth of Jason’s Golden Fleece and its responsiveness to contemporary economic developments (Chapter 5); Agnès Lafont’s thoughtful, nuanced evaluation of how the medieval and early modern context of the querelle des femmes may have influenced Marlowe’s characterisation of Dido in the children’s play Dido Queen of Carthage (Chapter 9); and Charlotte Coffin’s interesting re-evaluation of Thomas Heywood’s classical comedy Love’s Mistress (1634) in light of a developing burlesque tradition that was popular in French salons (Chapter 10).

[5] As these examples indicate, many of the chapters in Interweaving Myths are especially concerned with the gendered or political implications of mythological allusion or patterning in early modern literature. This interest provides an ongoing thread that helps to unite the chapters in this collection, despite the diverse texts and tropes that are considered by its contributors; recurring references to the framing concepts of interweaving and feuilletage, as well as to Shakespeare’s works, further contribute to the collection’s overall coherence. While I found some of the survey chapters slightly less engaging than those chapters which pursued focused analyses of texts or specific forms, which were typically better suited to the short essay format of the volume, this collection contains some excellent articles and offers a wide-ranging, nuanced insight into the literary transmission and reception of classical myths in early modern England. If the print quality of the physical volume does not do full justice to the excellent work contained within it, the chapters themselves are interesting, thoughtful, and well-illustrated through textual examples. With its illuminating attention to the underappreciated significance of ancient Greek sources, Interweaving Myths will appeal to scholars interested in classical reception in early modern England, and the wide-ranging coverage of texts and authors across its chapters (including a sustained engagement with the works of William Shakespeare) ensures that this volume is also likely to be of wider interest to students of early modern literature.

University of Exeter, August 2018


Heavey, Katherine. 2015. The Early Modern Medea: Medea in English Literature, 1558–1688 (Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan).

Peyré, Yves. 1998. ‘Iris’s “Rich Scarf” and “Ariachne’s Broken Woof”: Shakespeare’s Mythology in the Twentieth Century’. In Shakespeare and the Twentieth Century, ed. Jonathan Bate, Jill L. Levenson and Dieter Mehl (Newark, University of Delaware Press): 280-93.