The Elizabethan era is generally understood to coincide with the blossoming of English language - it was the age of Shakespeare, Sidney, and Marlowe. Yet it is known also as a period of brutality and repression: saying or writing anything against the state, the queen, or its governors might result in hanging, fines, or the loss of limbs. Defaming neighbours could and frequently did result in a day in court, with slander emerging as a byword for unacceptable speech and writing.
Academic interest has long been divided into studies which focus on the power relations underpinning literary production, the ways in which authorities sought to suppress and censor transgressive material, or the role slander played in religious polemic. This book will explore the legal backdrop which helped and hindered the production and curtailment of slanderous and seditious material across multiple sites. In so doing, it will seek to uncover exactly how slander and sedition were defined, regulated, punished, and, ultimately, negotiated by those who grappled over control of discourse.
Through examination of the legal, theatrical, and religious conditions of the age of Elizabeth, this study will provide an explanation of the rise of the flagrantly slanderous political discourses of the seventeenth century.
"Much-needed analysis of a sinister sibling rivalry" - Marie Macpherson, author of The First Blast of the Trumpet
Mary Queen of Scots is one of history’s most famous monarchs. A sovereign almost from birth, her life has been subject to intense scrutiny. So too have her relationships, from those she shared with her three husbands to that with the sixteenth-century’s other famous queen, her cousin Elizabeth.
There remains, however, a relationship that has been little explored: that between the Scottish queen and her base-born brother, James Stewart, the earl of Moray. Theirs is a drama of suspicion, political intrigue, religion, and entitlement. It is the story of siblings torn apart by their own desires, their relationship tested to breaking point by the greed and influence of others.
Born into a masculine world of majesty and power, it was up to Mary and James Stewart to forge a partnership in which the sister wore the crown and her brother held the reins.
United, they presented the Stewart dynasty as an equal to that of their Tudor cousins.
Divided, they fell into war, rivalry, hatred, and imprisonment.
Drawing on letters, state papers, and the wealth of conflicting scholarly studies of Mary Queen of Scots, Steven Veerapen uncovers a world of intrigue, secrecy, and ruthless ambition. In doing so he reveals the true natures of Mary and James Stewart. She is a shrewd, politically-astute queen regnant who ruled from the head but was beset by physical and mental illness; he was a cautious, religious convert who sought power but feared responsibility.
The story of Mary Queen of Scots remains as enigmatic and beguiling as ever. By looking at the most significant relationship in her life, Blood Feud provides an exhilarating new perspective on the woman behind the icon.
“A sensitive and lively account of one of the most politically significant relationships of the Elizabethan age”. Professor Lisa Hopkins, editor of Essex: The Life and Times of an Elizabethan Courtier.
Elizabeth I is England’s most iconic queen. Born to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and declared illegitimate at two, she was also one of its unlikeliest monarchs. Though she never married, her relationships have been the stuff of Hollywood movies, biographical studies, and historical fiction.
Famously a Virgin Queen, Elizabeth faced rumour, innuendo, and scandal both during her life and in the centuries since. Her relationship with her last courtly lover, however, remains mystifying. The glamorous Earl of Essex, thirty years her junior, became her inseparable companion, wrote loving letters and poetry to her, and dominated the last decade of her reign. But did he love her, or was he simply taking advantage of a vain, ageing woman?
As the fabric of her reign unravelled, Elizabeth fought to keep her court under control. Using a curious system of power, patronage, and politics that had served her for decades, she struggled to maintain her hard-won sovereignty against the incursions of idealistic and factious young men.
But the story of Elizabeth and Essex is not one of cynicism, and nor is it one of vanity or ambition. It is the tale of a younger man’s possessive love for a woman who had to refashion herself as a new queen in an old kingdom.
Theirs was a tragic game of passion, jealousy, resentment, and division.
He shone in the light of the Elizabethan age, and she was its fading sun.
Drawing on letters, legal records, poetry, and scholarly debates, Steven Veerapen reveals a saga of courtly love, political machination, and simmering power struggles. In doing so, he recovers Elizabeth and Essex from the mists of rumour and speculation and reveals them as they were. Essex was neither fool nor cynical manipulator, but the era’s last folk hero. She was not a white-painted harridan, but an astute and beguiling woman whom time was leaving behind.
The story of Elizabeth I’s last years requires reassessment. By re-framing her as a woman forced into the role of history’s Virgin Queen and Essex as the loving and beloved star which threatened her eclipse, Elizabeth and Essex provides a new perspective on England’s most famous queen.