Shakespeare, Ralegh, Essex, Middleton and the Theatre of War, 1588-1618

Lead Research Organisation: Bangor University
Department Name: Sch of English

Abstract

This enquiry brings to fruition a major re-evaluation of early modern perceptions of war and conflict resolution which Hiscock has been researching for five years. It develops from his recent publications and aims to provide an in-depth analysis of debates surrounding the justification of, engagement in, and effective management of war in order to protect or further perceived English religious, political or imperial interests. This project concentrates upon a key formative moment for the nation with vigorous debate at court, in Parliament, in the theatres, in publications and in private correspondence concerning the merits or otherwise of military engagement, and will be governed by three axes: chronological (representations of warfare over time); geographical (representations of warfare across three European cultures - England, France and Spain); and cultural (close comparative readings of the textual genres adopted by Shakespeare, Ralegh, Essex and Middleton). It extends chronologically from the Spanish Armada (1588) to Ralegh's execution and the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War (1618) - a watershed moment in James VI/I's weakening hold on the belligerence of many of his subjects, and on the title of 'rex pacificus' in Europe. This declaration of hostilities forms a natural terminus for the consideration of the previous three decades in English cultural debates on religious, political, and/or colonial militarism. These debates acknowledged the influences of earlier humanist writings, were enriched during the period by meditations such as Gentili's treatises, and were summarised and refined at the close of the proposed timespan of this project by Grotius.

Due attention is paid to key classical/medieval legacies (e.g. Vegetius, Frontinus, Augustine, Aquinas, chronicles) and humanist writings (e.g. Erasmus, More, Machiavelli) which often shaped later debate concerning: the just war; the war commander; effective policy-making; and the protection of collective interests. Existing scholarship, though often extremely influential, has not studied the four chosen figures on an equal footing and has often neglected the diversity of genres which they exploited - history play, history, erotic poetry, prefaces, colonial pamphlets, letters of advice, strategy papers, speeches, religious polemic, translation, pageants. This enquiry considers Essex's diplomatic correspondence in French with Henri IV and de Mornay, and James I's correspondence with the Spanish Court (notably through Count Gondomar). Rather than limiting Ralegh's appreciations of warfare to his colonial pamphlets and chronicle (as is so often the case), this project links his essays on questions of foreign policy, military logistics and imperial ambition directly to his meditations on 'the just war'. Due attention is also devoted to correspondence to and from Essex and his political intimates, and to Middleton's ongoing concern with the role of the military in civilian society as represented in his pageantry, city comedies and tragedies (supported by the enormous resources now made available by the Oxford Middleton). These three substantial areas of research will inevitably offer fresh occasions to reflect upon the ways in which Shakespeare's second tetralogy explores issues of: usurpation; the obligations of sovereignty; the just war; and the introduction of military hostilities into civilian society. The twentieth and twenty-first centuries have not remained foreign to the meditation of and engagement in large-scale military campaigns, and thus it remains unsurprising that early modern literary and historical scholarship has gravitated repeatedly to these concerns. This debate remains as lively in our own times as it was 400 years ago and the documents of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century offer valuable opportunities to interrogate our own continuing cultural investment in, management of and promotion of war as a primary mode of political intervention.

Planned Impact

Impact Summary

In addition to the constituencies of academic beneficiaries acknowledged above:

A : Information concerning forthcoming events, bibliographical details and archive resources and useful e-links generated by this research will be communicated to interested readers and researchers via webpages prepared at Bangor University and linked to the sites of IMEMS, and via the academic research network which Hiscock co-ordinates: Cultures of War and Conflict Resolution (www.culturesofwar.bangor.ac.uk - for further details, see 'Objectives' and 'Academic Beneficiaries'). The provision of bibliographic details will add to network's existing activities, and respond to the expressed desire of the extensive network membership around the globe, offering yet another significant service facilitating intellectual exchange to a diverse number of constituencies, academic, scholastic and independent.

B : This research project will also be communicated to the general public via speaker presentations by Hiscock as part of: annual IMEMS series (video-conferenced to Welsh university sites and open to the general public); Hiscock's attendance at (at least) 3 major conferences during award period (for further details, see 'Objectives' and 'Academic Beneficiaries'); Bangor University's activities for sixth formers and FE colleges; Bangor University's annual 'Reaching Higher, Reaching Wider' series of outreach initiatives to non-academic communities in the region. Hiscock has participated in these activities already throughout his period of employment at Bangor University.

C : In 2012 a 'Cultures of War' conference ('War and Civil Society in the Early Modern Period') will be accompanied by a Bangor University Library exhibition (advertised in regional press and University webpages) of early modern publications linked to the debate of warfare in Europe with specific reference to the early modern print culture and the experience of war (e.g. recruitment, textual/dramatic representation, legal debate, defense preparations, returning troops) in early modern civilian society. This exhibition will offer an explanatory guide and opened with an introductory talk by Hiscock. Images of some of the exhibited items will also appear on relevant University webpages. Where appropriate, items and publications from the important Mostyn and Bangor Cathedral Library collections will be exhibited - thus, enabling many different constituencies (esp. schools and colleges as well as general public) throughout the region to engage with this lively debate of warfare in the early modern, and indeed modern, periods.

D : The general public will be able to access information about this important period of early modern culture through Hiscock's monograph (80k) and related publications (e.g. peer-reviewed journal article 8k, publication in collection or journal format of conference papers, for further details see 'Objectives' and 'Academic Beneficiaries') to be available through the open-access Bangor University e-repository (see http://dspace.bangor.ac.uk/dspace/)

Thus, this research enquiry will not only address numerous constituencies regionally, nationally and internationally through a variety of different media, it will engage directly with an urgent and ongoing cultural debate more generally concerning the recourse to war which is being pursued at all levels of British society and beyond on an almost daily basis. This project would certainly offer the opportunity for Bangor university collections to showcase many of their resources which are not currently on display. Moreover, this comparative study could serve as a model for exploring closer links between university research interests and those of the general public by investigating common areas of debate.

Publications

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Title Conference Exhibition 
Description This exhibition drew upon archives and resources in the Bangor University Archive & Manuscript Collection and in the Bangor Cathedral Archive Collection to offer an insight to the many and different ways in which warfare was experienced and reported in the medieval and early modern periods. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact This exhibition was open to delegates of the 'Representation and Reportage in medieval and early modern conflict' conference which I organised in June 2012 at Bangor University. Free access to the exhibition was also offered more generally to the Bangor University academic community and to the general public. 
 
Title Conference Exhibition 
Description This exhibition drew upon materials and archives from the Bangor University Manuscripts and Archives Collection and the Bangor Cathedral Manuscripts Collection and offered visitors a range of perspectives of the ways in which Shakespearean texts have been published, read and performed from the 17th to the early 19th centuries. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact This exhibition was open to delegates of the 'Early Shakespeare: on Stage and Page1590-1790' conference which I co-organised with Dr. Stephen Colclough in December 2012. The exhibition was also open more generally to the Bangor University academic community and to the general public. The exhibition also received visits from schools. 
 
Description My research from this funded AHRC Research Fellowship has focused and continues to focus upon the status and function of violence in our understanding of early modern (and indeed modern) cultural life. Drawing upon the analysis of the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries as well as materials in historical archives and libraries concerning the cultural debate of conflict and conflict resolution at the English and European courts, this period of funded study continues to feed published research and academic debate devoted to early modern cultural life.
Exploitation Route My findings continue to be disseminated at conferences, invited speaker events, schools visits and in published research.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Other

 
Description Following on from previous submissions to Researchfish, I have had the opportunity to share my research with visiting schools groups, in exhibitions established at the university and in sharing my research at public events in the region.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Education,Other
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description Academic Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact I was invited to join a panel of presentations devoted to the subject of memory and the early modern period for the The Renaissance Society of America's annual conference in April 2013 in San Diego, California. My own presentation linked directly with the research I developed during my funded period of study as an AHRC Research Fellow and focused upon the cultural debate of memory and armed conflict in Shakespeare's History Plays. The panel was attended by c. 30 delegates.

This panel brought together scholars working in the field of early modern memory from across the globe who have remained in contact in formulating further academic projects and meetings to develop this field of enquiry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.rsa.org/?page=Pastmeetings
 
Description Invited Speaker 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact I was invited to give the 2011 Annual Address on Renaissance Studies sponsored by the Society for Renaissance Studies and the University Paul Valery-Montpellier III. The address was delivered in French to an audience of some forty people. The subject of the address focused upon aspects of Shakespearean drama and its reception in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

In the intervening time, this research was further developed and submitted for publication in The Ben Jonson Journal where in 2014 it was awarded the 2014 Ben Jonson Discoveries Award.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.euppublishing.com/toc/bjj/21/2
 
Description School Visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Some 30 pupils attended talk and there was a question and answer session after my presentation.

I have maintained links with the school and have been invited back again to work in this way.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description School Visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A group of some thirty pupils attended my presentation and then a question and answer session followed.

Links have been maintained with the school community and I continue to be invited back to organise this kind of workshop experience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description invited academic conference seminar co-organizer 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Members of the Shakespeare Association of America subscribed to the designated seminar and prepared their research (in co-ordination with the seminar co-organizers) over a 12-month period with a view to scholarly discussion at the 2013 Toronto meeting.

As a consequence of this seminar activity, I was approached by an academic press to co-edit a collection devoted to the subject of Shakespeare and Memory which is in process with a view to publication in 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013
 
Description invited speaker 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact I was invited as a speaker at the inaugural meeting of the AHRC-sponsored research network entitled 'Memory and Community in Early Modern Britain'. This colloquium took place on 18-19 January 2013 and was hosted at Birkbeck College. This presentation allowed me to draw and develop research conducted during my funded period of research as an AHRC Research Fellow and focused on the cultural debate of memory and conflict throughout the early modern period. This conference was attended by 20-30 delegates and both the audience and speaker programme was international in profile.

The network co-organizers are planning towards select publication of network proceedings.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://memory-earlymodern.org/symp.php?1.1