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By Richard McCoy

Conventional notions of sacred kingship turned either extra grandiose and extra troublesome in the course of England's turbulent 16th and 17th centuries. The reformation introduced via Henry VIII and his claims for royal supremacy and divine correct rule ended in the suppression of the Mass, because the host and crucifix have been overshadowed by way of royal iconography and pageantry. those alterations all started a spiritual controversy in England that will bring about civil conflict, regicide, recovery, and finally revolution. Richard McCoy exhibits that, amid those occasionally cataclysmic changes of country, writers like John Skelton, Shakespeare, John Milton, and Andrew Marvell grappled with the belief of kingship and its symbolic and noticeable strength. Their inventive representations of the crown show the fervour and ambivalence with which the English seen their royal leaders. whereas those writers differed at the basic questions of the day -- Skelton was once a staunch defender of the English monarchy and standard faith, Milton was once an intensive opponent of either, and Shakespeare and Marvell have been extra equivocal -- they shared an abiding fascination with the royal presence or, occasionally extra tellingly, the royal absence. starting from regicides actual and imagined -- with the very genuine specter of the slain King Charles I haunting the rustic like a revenant of the king's ghost in Shakespeare's Hamlet -- from the royal sepulcher at Westminster Abbey to Peter Paul Reubens's Apotheosis of King James at Whitehall, and from the Elizabethan compromise to the fantastic Revolution, McCoy plumbs the depths of English attitudes towards the king, the kingdom, and the very inspiration of holiness. He unearths how older notions of sacred kingship improved in the course of the political and spiritual crises that reworked the English country, and is helping us comprehend why the conflicting feelings engendered through this growth have confirmed so power.

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Skelton’s reaction to these sacrilegious insults is completely inscrutable. He proclaims his outrage in stentorian tones and ponderously declares his didactic intentions in the poem’s opening lines: This worke devysed is For such as do amys And specyally to controule Such as have cure of soule.

After making his hawk fly “streyght to the sacrament” (), he strips the high altar of its cloth and leaps atop it to shout directions to his birds and “horrible othes/before the face of God” (–). The altar is further profaned when the hawk kills a pigeon on it and devours it as “its blode ran downe raw/Upon the auter stone” (–). This pollution of the temple culminates with the hawk shitting “Upon my corporas face” (), and when rebuked, the offender adds blasphemous insult to injury by threatening to repeat the desecration during Mass: And that he wysshed withall That the dowves donge downe myght fall Into my chalys at mas When consecratyd was The blessyd sacrament.

F. v McCoy_Ch2 4/10/02 3:45 PM Page 28   Order of Indentures, Henry VII and Abbot Islip By permission of the British Library; MS. Harley , f. r McCoy_Ch2 4/10/02 3:45 PM Page 29                         ’               of the sacred, the pilgrim would attempt to touch the tomb or at least to come as close to the saint’s remains as possible. Often he or she would pass the night near the tomb, [and] . . ”10 The remains of Henry VI were expected to continue working as a magnet for pilgrims, and supplicants drawn by hopes for healing and intercession to his shrine would also pray for its founder, Henry VII.

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