"such cures as heaven hath lent me": Tending to Broken Bodies in Philip Massinger's The Renegado.
"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ." --1 Corinthians 12:12 (1) Out of a wanton, irreligious madness, [Our captain] ran to the holy man As he was doing the work of grace, And, snatching from his hands the sanctified means, Dashed it upon the pavement. (4.1.29-33) --Philip Massinger, The Renegado (2)
Baptist Goodall's poem The Tryall of Travell (1630) cautions his seventeenth-century English readers against associating with renegades in no uncertain terms:
No Jew or Turk can prove more ruinous Then will a Christian once apostulate thus. Avoid as death a reconciled foe, Nor ever with him reconciled go. The sore smooth'd up not cured out will fly, And soon'st infect a careless stander by. Man of a cross religion do not trust, He hath evasion t'be with thee unjust. (3)
In The Tryall of Travell, apostasy is couched firmly in the language of the bodily. Daniel Vitkus points out that Goodall connects the metaphorical "sore" of conversion--and, relatedly, even the physical sore of the convert's circumcision--to the transmission of a disease "that may recede and go into remission," but may never be healed. He argues that the stigma of apostasy is an incurable, syphilitic-like contaminant, one always with the latent potential to "fly" the individual apostate body and eventually infect the body politic when unwitting persons come into contact with the externally "cured" former renegade. Any attempts to reintegrate the convert into the communal body were doomed to fail. (4) By 1630, however, Goodall's verses were promulgating an already-popular English rhetoric of bodily disease, mutilation, and wounding deployed by writers interested in navigating the religious and sociopolitical stakes associated with the temptation of apostasy. The notion of renegades as "disease-bearing threats to the health of the community" is also expressed in Robert Daborne's stage play A Christian Turned Turk (1612), for example. (5) Daborne's use of the analogy of disease, though--in which a French sea captain declares that English pirates like John Ward "have lain / Upon their country's stomach like a surfeit; / Whence, being vomited, they strive with poisonous breath / To infect the general air"--imagines that the very purgation of the English communal body ultimately desired by Goodall will, in fact, disease the "general air" of the whole Mediterranean maritime, mercantile sphere (2.44-47). (6) If the social reconciliation of the convert will likely poison the body politic and his expulsion from the community will infect the wider commercial body of overseas ventures, how is such a dangerous bodily rift to be healed?
It is often suggested that Philip Massinger's The Renegado (1624) offers an antidote to the dilemma of incorporation posited by Goodall or Daborne as Massinger's text constructs a comic rewriting (and re-righting) of the bodily destruction and social anxiety that permeates the action of a play like A Christian Turned Turk. In Daborne's play, not only is Ward's personal and physical body allegedly wounded via the rite of circumcision and his soul diseased to the point of despair (and finally suicide) by his apostasy, the English sociopolitical body is broken by Ward's acts of piracy. By contrast, claims Vitkus, The Renegado allows both of its converts to escape from Tunis "with bodies and souls intact." (7) Anxieties about the inclusion of new and/or returning converts into the Christian communal body are simply soothed away as Donusa, the Muslim princess, unproblematically forsakes Islam through her marriage to a Venetian gentleman, Vitelli. Grimaldi, the titular renegade, is "[r]estored to Christian virtue" when his "unruly masculinity is recuperated for the service of Christendom, and he aids in the escape plot that concludes the play." (8) In Vitkus' estimation, Massinger's The Renegado reverses the outcome of Daborne's tragedy "by affirming the power of Christianity to 'redeem' and recover both Muslims and renegades." (9) However, the processes by which this recuperation actually happens for the play's converts, especially for the renegade himself--in other words, the manner in which the play stages and rhetorically structures the recovery and redemption of his body and soul--has not yet been fully explored.
Where apostasy, conversion, and the multivalent registers of "the bodily" currently meet most often in critical studies of The Renegado is within conversations interested in the act of circumcision. If The Renegado is to offer a redemptive rewriting of the desecration of souls and bodies at work in other Renaissance travel plays, these critics claim that the violent physical threat conversion to Islam brings with it must be negated. Jonathan Burton, for example, maintains that in the deployment of stage clowns such as Basilisco in The Tragedy of Soliman and Perseda (1599), Clem in The Fair Maid of the West (1602, 1630), or Gazet in The Renegado, the authors of early modern conversion plays "used comedy [...] to mediate what was arguably the most disturbing aspect of Anglo-Islamic relations," the threat of "turning Turk" and its accompanying ritual requirement of bodily modification. (10) "In the case of 'turning Turk,'" Burton argues, it is the comic that becomes "a transformative mechanism by which apostasy itself is converted." (11) So it is through the use of comedy, agrees Vitkus, that playwrights like Kyd, Heywood, and Massinger "stimulated audience anxiety about conversion to Islam but then offered relief from that threat by making conversion the choice of a fool who then becomes the object of laughter and ridicule." (12) Via readings like these, characters affected by the "twofold" Islamic threat--"a combined assault on the male Christian body and soul"--are redeemed through humor. (13)
Relatedly, because conversion to (and from) Islam was understood as a threat to the male Christian's body and soul, critical approaches to The Renegado have increasingly trended towards gender studies as a lens through which to examine the play's dual interest in the bodily and the spiritual and the stakes for individual and communal healing that such a dynamic contains. Jane Hwang Degenhardt, for example, argues that the The Renegado's comic resolutions as indicated by Vitkus and Burton actually reveal "a logic of redemption that differs for men and women." (14) As the play battles the threat of apostasy and its "embodied, sexual, and reproductive consequences," claims Degenhardt, The Renegado "reveals the gendered implications of Islamic conversion by foregrounding the question of whether male and female Christians are equally eligible for spiritual redemption if contaminated by Muslim sexual contact." (15) Degenhardt ultimately decides that Massinger's drama does offer the redemptive ending highlighted by Vitkus and Burton--an ending that allays the danger of reintegrating the renegade and the convert--but she claims that this conclusion is possible only because "the sexual seduction of the Christian hero by a Turkish woman is reversible" (via Vitelli's repentance and willingness to undergo Christian martyrdom) and because the Turkish woman is herself redeemable though marriage to the Christian hero and by the rite of baptism "as spiritual re-virgination." (16)
Such recent criticism of Massinger's play is rightly attuned to the early modern rhetoric of the bodily threading itself through the text but, surprisingly, the significance of the titular renegade's apostasy (as centered on an act of Eucharistic desecration) and reconversion (as centered on the performance of penitential reconciliation) has been largely ignored. While readings of The Renegado that focus their interest on conversion and redemption via explicit dealings with the body such as circumcision (as in the studies by Vitkus and Burton) offer much insight into significant early modern intercultural contexts, they neglect an examination of the thematic centrality of Grimaldi's apostasy--an apostasy that works primarily through a different register of bodily destruction and healing, namely that of the sacramentally interconnected personal and social body. On the other hand, where studies like those by Degenhardt allow for the operation of ceremonies in the redemption of converts--for her, primarily baptism and marriage--beyond the emphasis placed on circumcision by Vitkus and Burton, gender-centered studies also neglect the turning of the eponymous renegade: a turning and returning that is also importantly structured around the re-enactment of ritual.
In a departure from these critical approaches to religious conversion in the play, this essay aims to fill a gap in studies of the community-ritual-body dynamic at work in The Renegado. Where an English religious context informing Grimaldi's apostasy via Eucharistic desecration--and his subsequent redemption through ritual reenactment--has been addressed at any length (as in studies by Michael Neill, Leike Stelling, and Patricia Parker), these moments are repeatedly read within a rather stark historical binary that stresses the differences between Arminian and Calvinist soteriological positions within the late Jacobean Church. (17) These studies have examined the period's preoccupation with the navigation of free will, the works/faith contention, and the doctrine of predestination informing the presentation of conversion in the play. By contrast, this essay asserts that while the Jacobean era was defined by the contentious polarities that existed between Anglican and Puritan, Arminian and Calvinist understandings of salvation, certainly, what those divisions ultimately produce are the pervasive seventeenth-century debates over English ecclesiology and its connections to both political theory and historical thought: it is the debates on ceremonies, and on Eucharistic ceremonies in particular, that are "crucial to our understanding of Jacobean religious conflict" and, subsequently, even the popular stage plays produced to creatively test this dynamic. (18)
I argue that when critical notions of "the bodily" are expanded to encompass early modern understandings of the Eucharist as representative of the body of Christ (personal and singular) and the Body of Christ (the Church and, relatedly, the state), the rhetoric of wounded, broken, and/or diseased personal bodies in both their literal and figurative registers at work in Grimaldi's apostasy and redemption illuminates the danger to, and the necessary ceremonial repair of, bodies that preoccupied James I within the contentious religio-political landscape of seventeenth-century England itself. At home, the Jacobean Church and state were attempting to determine just how elastic its domestic, Christian body could be imagined to be and exactly how that body would convert and incorporate ecumenical "others" beyond its relatively tolerant bounds--most often radical Catholics and Puritans. In one sense, then, Grimaldi's apostasy via ceremonial disruption and redemption via ceremonial reenactment in The Renegado reflects a Jacobean-era desire for a peaceful, coherent Christian state that is always invested in the communal, the ceremonial, and the sacramental as its means of construction and maintenance.
But through that exploration of the interconnectedness of personal and communal bodies (sacramental and civic), The Renegado also assumes a place within an historical discursive tradition of the English corpus mysticum as the play tests the limits of Eucharistically driven social incorporation in order to imagine the ideal inclusion of converted religious "others." (19) The Renegado appropriates the intellectual framework of the corpus mysticum in order to repurpose its rhetorical power of the body (and its particular investment in the Eucharist as symbolic of collective religious and communal bodies) to combat England's new religious and sociopolitical menace--here, the supposedly destructive power of seventeenth-century Islam and the renegades produced as a result of cross-cultural encounter abroad. In another sense, then, the rhetoric of bodies that had been used to for centuries to describe the religious and civic functioning of the English state at home is now being used creatively in The Renegado to test the outcomes of English contact with Islamic North Africa and the Near East.
The inseparability of religious, political, and social bodies demonstrated in The Renegado is not insular to the play (or even to early modernity) but in fact mirrors the conceptualization of different kinds of communal bodies undertaken by both state and Church in the medieval period. As Suzanne Conklin Akbari and Jill Ross rightly suggest, pre-modern conceptions of individual and group identities are best observed in their historical and literary contexts "through images of the body" where "beginnings and endings--both personal and communal--are articulated by reference to corporeal states of being." (20) For example, within the history of medieval thought, the human body often appears "as a microcosm of the greater universe: the four humors correspond to the four seasons of the year, the four physical elements of creation, and so on." (21) Moreover, the human body appears as a microcosm not only of the natural world, but of the social world, as well: pre-modern and early modern permutations of analogies between the living body and political and religious structures came to designate the state as the "body politic" and the Church as the "body of Christ." (22) In fact, says Jennifer Rust, the corpus mysticum or "mystical body" is one of the earliest figures for a specific ideal of Christian community that "conveys the notion that all the faithful are incorporated into a single body of Christ by participation in the sacraments," specifically. (23)
Prior to the early modern era and the religio-political upheavals ushered in by the Protestant Reformation, medieval England operated with what David Coleman calls a "sacramental sociology," an "ideological construct that imagines ritual as a perfect means of regulating individual and communal lives." (24) More specifically, says Coleman, the sacraments of the pre-Reformation Church could even be understood on the anthropological level as rites of passage: baptism welcomed the Christian into the community, confirmation represented a further level of initiation, and extreme unction prepared the individual for the journey to the afterlife. The remaining sacraments worked to maintain the structure of society: matrimony supported the generation of new Christians, holy orders reinforced the hierarchy of the Christian community, and the Eucharist served as a powerful foil to the hierarchisation of holy orders, offering "the promise of a radical leveling of society in line with the ideology of theoretical Christianity, and an opportunity for all subjects to assert a relationship with the divine." (25) Furthermore, in a medieval theological and political context, that same relationship between the individual body and the divine that assumed primacy in Eucharistic theology frequently functioned as the medium through which communal bodies were articulated, tested, and maintained.
According to Irina Metzler, there is a long history of notions that connect the beautiful, properly proportioned body (and, conversely, disproportioned, diseased, or impaired bodies) with proper (or improper) religious and sociopolitical functioning. (26) Importantly, John of Salisbury (c. 1115-80) used the analogy of a hierarchy among different parts of the body to express his views on not only political hierarchies, but on the vision of what creates a unified polity:
For the creative Trinity, the one and true God, has so ordered parts of the universe for the sake of a more firmly joined connection and protective charity that each one requires the assistance of the others and a defect in one is repaired by the others, insofar as each individual part is like a member of the other individual parts. All things are, therefore, incomplete if they are disconnected from one another. (27)
This corporeal principle of bodily construction encompassing the body politic was rooted in a theological framework, of course, and these spheres--the political and the theological--were understood to be mutually implicating. Moreover, Akbari and Ross remind us that not just any body was the pattern for correspondences between the individual and a larger order, but specifically the body of Christ served as a template, a concept observable, for example, in the Ebstorf Map, where Christ's head, hands, and feet protrude as compass points beyond the world itself. On medieval maps, on which the geo-political was encompassed by the divine, "the template of Christ's body as the model for all forms of community" was made manifest in both symbolic and material terms. (28)
The repeated use of Christ's body as a model for the ordered functioning of many disparate parts in an (ideally) unified whole is one way in which bodies in the medieval world appeared as not just symbolic foundations of the body politic, but also of the transcendent body of the Church. Unlike the body politic, which was continually forced to confront change and upheaval as the social and geo-political scene was constantly in a state of flux, "the collective body of the Church could be understood as immutable because its template is the eternal and unchanging form of Christ [in which] the perfect flesh of the Incarnation [...] models the wholeness of the community of the Church." (29) But while the spiritual collective of the Church could be immutable, Sarah Beck with points out that the composition of its earthly body was changeable: So within the contexts of late medieval writing, Christ's body, manifested in the Eucharist, was oftentimes "the arena where social identity was negotiated, where the relationship of self and society, subjectivity and social process found a point of contact and conflict." (30) Within the framework of medieval political theory, the microcosm of the body had the potential to demonstrate metaphorically what happens when the proper order of the macrocosm (political and/or ecclesiastical) becomes upset and disordered.
One of the best examples of the medieval drama's creative engagement with this trope of the corpus mysticum as it could be used to examine both communal disruption and repair is perhaps to be found in the Croxton Play of the Sacrament. (31) Near the beginning of the play, the Host is procured from the church and sold by a Christian merchant to a Jewish merchant in a symbolic breaking of the religious body through the removal of the Host from sacred space and through the Christian Aristorius's profanation of the Host through its sale. After the Host has been obtained by Jonathas the Jew and his associates, the Jews attempt to get the Host to display its miraculous powers on the premise that, if the Host is really Christ, it should react to their torments. The Host is made to reenact Christ's Passion as it is tested and broken, like Christ's physical body, through a number of increasingly grotesque acts of violence. After this violence is enacted upon the body of Christ, though, Jonathas' own hand is miraculously severed. Finally, the image of Christ provides a triumphant Resurrection near the close of the play to seal the faith of the Jews. Jonathas and Aristorius both repent of their errors (healing the religious body), Jonathas's hand is restored (a physical healing), the Jews are willingly baptized (a rebuilding of both the religious and political bodies), and the play concludes with a Corpus Christi procession in which the audience is invited to participate (reconstructing bodies social, religious, and political).
In the Croxton Play of the Sacrament, then, the individual body functions as the medium through which communal bodies are articulated, tested, and maintained. Moreover, the play insists upon a communal unity with defined boundaries, but it also builds a body that has change as part of its nature. The collective body presented and constructed in the play is elastic enough to withstand being quite literally pulled apart--in the Croxton Play of the Sacrament, it is through the breaking of bodies that individual bodies, political bodies, and religious bodies may be made new through acts of regeneration, of change, that mirror the bodily Passion and Resurrection of Christ and are always centered around communal participation in the Eucharist.
So when we think about the construction and composition of the corpus mysticum in late medieval England analogically as a living body, claims Akbari, we have to acknowledge that "mutability was written into the very fabric of the nation, not only in the lived realities of political conflict, but also in the elaborate (and often imaginary) genealogical relationships that underlay medieval European constructions of the nation." (32) Bodily flux, in other words, had to be reckoned with in an effort to even describe the body politic of the medieval period. In this setting, "metamorphosis--that is, bodily change--came to be used as an extended metaphor for other kinds of transformation," particularly historio-political change and its ramifications for the ecclesiastical community. (33) Bodies act as the conceptual foundation on which communities are built and through which they are articulated, but these communities--both the ecclesiastical body and the body politic--are still earthly and imperfect. The continual maintenance of the body politic and the ecclesiastical body depend upon the active participation by all their members in the greater, transcendent, and unified body of Christ, namely through their active participation in the life of the community through the Eucharist, the physical instantiation of Christ's body. As in the late Jacobean drama The Renegado, literal and figurative bodies in medieval political theory become the symbols of social order and the sites around which it is contested.
Phillip Massinger's The Renegado is preoccupied with the navigation of bodies in both their literal and figurative registers, and the vital intellectual heritage of the medieval corpus mysticum asks us to consider the collective body of an early modern Christian community in terms of its explicit connections to both the conversion of the religious "other" and the Eucharist which sits at the heart of the play. Similarly, the complex ways in which early modern English drama adapted the historical discourses of Eucharistic sacramentality--and the significant linking of these issues to apostasy and the body politic--beg examination. If early modern constructions of community were still created through the explicit channeling of sacramentality, as David Coleman suggests, then any dramatic presentations of a sacramentally structured community needs to be explored within a context of the wider anxieties about the scope and impact of sacramentality at work during the period in general, especially since such anxiety was undoubtedly a central feature of the cultural landscape of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. (34) The centrality of the Eucharist and Eucharistic ritual which structures both the destructive and redemptive movements of Grimaldi's apostasy and reconversion should be placed in direct conversation with English discourses on the role of ceremonies--especially of the Eucharist--in Elizabethan and Jacobean civil and ecclesiastical governance.
Eamon Duffy's work, for example, extensively details the ways in which late medieval persons were able to "appropriate, develop, and use the repertoire of inherited ritual to articulate their experience of community and their sense of the larger order and meaning of the world in which they lived," and the theater was certainly one example of the means by which the imagined religious, social, and civic community was created and maintained. (35) Naturally, it often demonstrated the instrumentality of sacramental life in building a collective civic and religious life on a much different scale than the imagining of this action offered in The Renegado: over time, the social and sacramental corpus mysticum of the medieval church gradually began to slide into the more highly politicized body of the early modern commonwealth. (36) However, the English corpus mysticum ultimately resisted "complete colonization by the emergent absolutist politics of early modern England." (37) According to Charles Prior, in comparison with other, older political units--"whether boroughs, guilds, or the wreckage of medieval feudalism"--the post-Reformation English Church "has claims to being, or at least striving to be, the first truly national political association of a scope unique in the English experience," and this meant in turn that political ideas in England were still "profoundly influenced" by religion. (38)
Additionally, where conflict existed in the Reformation- and post-Reformation English church, this conflict was often fueled by differences in the ways in which the individual was imagined to exist in relationship to his community and how the religio-political dynamics of that community should be structured. The Church of England was, by necessity, an "improvisational experiment in sacred community," adds Deborah Shuger, one endeavoring to fashion a visible mystical body out of a series of attempts "to evolve new forms of 'holy neighborliness'" after a radical cultural upheaval. (39) And so, to some extent, the debates and controversies over the sacraments in early modern England, both during the sixteenth century and into the seventeenth century, can be understood as part of an extraordinarily complex process whereby questions about the relationship between the individual and the larger community (whether imagined as a religious and/or political community, national or international body) were explored. As early as 1552, the Second Edwardine Act of Uniformity was able to claim that "due using of the sacraments" (as promulgated by the Edwardian Church) was one of the ways by which "the mercy, favour, and blessing of almighty God is [...] readily and plenteously poured [upon] this realm." (40) Under Edward VI, the sacraments became a means by which the realm, rather than merely the individual, could achieve a state of grace. Edwardian sacramentality "privileged the commonwealth over the individual, rhetorically drawing together the mass of individuals into a unified whole"--sacramentality was part of the nation-building strategies of the Edwardian regime, and it provides an early indication of one of the ways in which sacramental ideologies were "employed at various points throughout the century to configure the relationship between the individual and society." (41) Later, the Act of Uniformity of 1559 proclaimed the Church of England under Elizabeth I to be "the sole conduit of English Christianity and enjoined all living within the Crown's dominions to abide by the 'public' worship of the Church." (42) Thus, in Book V of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (1597), Richard Hooker would later argue for the indispensability of the sacraments, in particular, as a means to shape and reform the outward life of citizens under the Elizabethan settlement which placed a high premium on the establishment and maintenance of civic coherence through outward religious conformity.
According to Hooker, "[i]nasmuch as sacraments are actions religious and mystical [...] and what every man's private mind is we cannot know, [...] the known intent of the Church generally doth suffice, and where the contrary is not manifest, we may presume that he which outwardly doth the work, hath inwardly the purpose of the Church of God." (43) In one sense, claims Hooker, because one cannot know another man's mind and heart for certain, the enactment of ritual as a member of the communal body serves as the only reliable way to demonstrate one's inner quality. In a second and related sense, ceremony does not only reflect a godly community, it helps to foster such community. In The Laws, ritual acts do not merely declare community, they actually create it. This Elizabethan discourse which so closely connects the persona] and the socio-religious body, in much the same way the medieval English imagined the corpus mysticum as a joining of the collective body of the people (Church and nation) through collective participation in Christ's body through the sacraments, lays the earlier cultural background for the emphasis Massinger places on the explicit establishment of the sacramentally-enacted, communal life of Venice at the moment of Grimaldi's initial act of apostasy.
In The Renegado, Grimaldi's apostasy is distinctly set in motion by his disruption of the public celebration of Corpus Christi. In Act 4, prompted by Grimaldi's descent into despair after the confiscation of his ship and good by the Viceroy of Tunis, the master of Grimaldi's crew describes to the uninformed boatswain the inciting incident which led to Grimaldi's defection to the Turks in the first place, the "rude prank he did ere he turned pirate--/ The memory of which, as it appears, / Lies heavy on him" (4.1.15-18). The master's story is worth quoting at length:
MASTER: Upon a solemn day when the whole city Jointed in devotion and with barefoot steps Passed to St. Mark's--the Duke and the whole Signory Helping to perfect the religious pomp With which they were received--when all men else Were full of tears and groaned beneath the weight Of past offences, of whose heavy burden They came to be absolved and freed, our captain-Whether in scorn of those so pious rites He had no feeling of, or else drawn to it Out of a wanton, irreligious madness, I know not which--ran to the holy man As he was doing the work of grace, And, snatching from his hands the sanctified means, Dashed it upon the pavement. (4.1.19-33)
The master's narrative essentially moves the audience through the interconnected levels of religious and civic functioning that was adopted from the medieval ideal of the corpus mysticum and treated with such primacy under the relatively recent Elizabethan settlement. Most obviously Grimaldi violently disrupts the solemn "religious pomp" of public penitence undertaken by the whole body of the Venetian state, during which "all men," even "the Duke and the whole Signory," are united in what is--on the level of the civic--a temporary act of communal cohesiveness in the face of the Sacrament. At the same time, Grimaldi's desecration of the Host during a public feast day not only symbolically wounds the body politic (as the body politic becomes the Body of Christ through participation in the Eucharist), this desecration is especially heinous because it symbolically re-wounds the body of Christ's sacrifice as present in the Eucharist itself. Indeed, the moment Grimaldi disrupts, when the virtuous priest, Francisco, "was doing the work of grace," is likely the moment of the elevation of the Host--the very moment of Transubstantiation when Christ himself is embodied in the bread and wine of the Eucharistic sacrament. (44) Grimaldi's act of apostasy is incredibly invested in the destruction of bodies on the level of both the civic and the religious, and so the stakes associated with his radical act of disruption are raised considerably. The very stability of Church and commonwealth "was predicated upon religious uniformity," and this uniformity made no room for radical dissention; the public enactment of ritual and community held great importance, and "the very act of worship had about it a dimension of political loyalty." (45) This careful picture Massinger crafts would have recognizably established the danger of Grimaldi's act of blasphemous disruption, it being--in the estimation of the boatswain--"a deed deserving death with torture" (4.1.34).
Hooker's Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity casts a long shadow over Anglican conformist texts into the seventeenth century, certainly, but especially over all conversations centered on the interconnectedness of religious ceremony and civic bodies well after its composition. Hence William Wilkes could comment in his 1605 treatise Obedience, or ecclesiastical union that ceremonies "are the Sinewes by which religion and her rites are made of neere neighbours," and that "the continuing distance of Ceremonies will occasion through continuing variation of minds, continual hatred, the mother of sedition." (46) For Wilkes, much like Hooker, the seamless communal enactment of ceremony was necessary for the coherence of the civic body under James I as well, and non-conformity, by contrast, bore the marks of disruption, dissention, and even factionalism. Jacobean conformists assumed that a stable polity was defined by something like a consensus or identity of religious interest--individualism and non-conformity "did not come within their intellectual purview, nor did any notion of a separation of religious and political authority." (47) It is was essentially a medieval-informed, Elizabethan-era discourse of interconnected ecclesiastical and civic functioning that both James I and, later, his Archbishop, William Laud, would adopt and adapt. Moreover, this stressing of performance as indicator of a right relationship to a religious and communal body carries over into English discourses trying to find an appropriate means to deal with the religious outliers created through both English ecumenical infighting and apostasy abroad.
James I always felt that religious difference posed a serious threat to Europe--not only to the coherence and stability of the English Church and state--and James spent a good deal of his time on the English throne devoted to the task of finding a way to secure an international and ecumenical peace for the well-being of Christendom. (48) Even at home in Scotland, and despite his own Scottish Reformed faith and that of most of his countrymen, James did not want to alienate an English or Scottish Roman Catholic presence within his own realm: traditionally Roman Catholic families controlled extensive areas of the north and west, and James wanted to avoid forcing prominent Roman Catholics into alliances with France or Spain with the potential such alliances had for fomenting civil war. (49) Catholics and suspected Catholics were prominent at court and in James's government in Scotland and, even after his ascension to the English throne, James maintained Roman Catholic members of his Scottish administration, hoping that they would help to moderate the influence of ultra-Protestants there. (50) Indeed, during James's Scottish administration in the 1580s and 1590s, he had even allowed the feuding Roman Catholic lords and extreme Protestants in Edinburgh to "play themselves out," ultimately allowing them to discredit themselves by their disruptive activities and receiving back "those who became moderates and were receptive to his leadership." (51) Part of the Jacobean-era, conformist emphasis on the desirability of unity in public doctrine was a "condemnation of independent congregations or individuals who assumed for themselves the spiritual authority that properly belonged to the state." Hence, "those religious groups--whether radical reformists or Catholics--that could not (or would not) conform to public doctrine were perceived as threats to the stability of Church and state," says Charles Prior. (52) Even minor aspects of the Church's practice could take on tremendous political importance: "conformists saw ceremonies, the focus of reformist criticisms, as the elements that bound together the spiritual body politic." (53)
Significantly, then, when James I found himself having to defend the English Church against either Roman Catholic or Puritan attacks on Anglican doctrine, he often turned his defense of the Church of England on a Eucharistic point and, from there, into a plea for unity. For example, James argued that the English Church had not rejected the ideas of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist as alleged by Roman Catholic conservatives, but that it held them "in the sense that the ancients had"--believing Christ's words "This is my body" to refer to the bread of the Eucharist but understanding the service to be a commemoration of Christ's sacrifice (in the more radical Protestant sense) in what was an undeniable aim at a middle ground. (54) Ultimately, James's administration even claimed that, as a way to unity and peace, Christians should "agree to worship together and allow the theologians to sort out the knotty problems of doctrine in an appropriate academic setting": "For the communion of the faithful consisteth much in the publick exercises of pietie: and this is the chiefe bond of vnion so much desired by good men. Wherefore if Christians could but agree about this, why might not all Europe communicate together?" (55) In his dogged pursuit of just such an international, ecumenical vision, James managed to stay on good diplomatic terms with France, Spain, and the Spanish Netherlands, as well as with the Protestant states that were perhaps his more natural allies. (56)
So when negotiations got under way for peace between England and Spain following James I's ascension to the English throne, James characteristically expressed the wish that "all the States and Princes of Christendom" might be included in this peace. (57) Despite whatever his religious and political opponents might allege, James did not exaggerate when he commented in 1604 that he had never been "of a sectarian spirit nor resistant to the well-being of Christendom"--he believed that it was "his vocation to extend the work of religious reconciliation not just to England, but to the rest of Europe," echoing a medieval vision of the corpus mysticum that could come to "encompass imaginatively the whole world of Western Christendom" once again. (58) For example, in 1623, at the height of marriage negotiations with Spain, James decided to show the Spaniards how much their Church had in common with the Church of England: on May 17 he wrote to Charles and Buckingham that he had sent two chaplains to Spain "together with all stuff and ornaments fit for the service of God." (59) James provided instructions for conducting Anglican services in Spain at which the communion was to be celebrated "in due forme" and with "oblations from every communicant." (60) In the sermons, he wrote, there should be "no polemical preaching to invaigh against them [the Spanish] or censure them but onley to confirme the doctrine and tenets of the Church of England by all positive arguments either in fundamentall or morall points and especially to apply ourselves to morall lessons to preach JESUS CHRIST CRUCIFIED." (61) The Jacobean project of English religious self-definition was decidedly not one that was interested in highlighting differences between a "moderate" Church of England and a "conservative," traditional Roman Catholicism. Especially through its interest in comparative sacramentality, the Jacobean Church distinctly departs from Edwardian or Elizabethan imaginings of English identity which maintained the centrality of ritual enactment, certainly, but by no means operated with the more highly ecumenical spirit of James I.
By the 1620s and 1630s, "anti-popery was no longer the ubiquitous rhetoric" of a sixteenth-century English Protestantism but, naturally, this change itself became a contentious subject: "against the once-universal anti-popery of English Protestantism, a new group of English divines was increasingly emphasizing the continuities between England and Rome," an Arminian-inflected movement in the Church of England that would come to be most identified with Archbishop Laud. (62) But while Arminians attempted to narrow the space between Protestant and Roman Catholic belief--arguing for extension of central government powers over clerics, defending church hierarchy, discipline, and uniformity, advocating for reconciliation with Roman Catholic liturgy and ritual practice, maintaining a broad sacramental efficacy, denying double predestination, and defending the freedom of the will--they simultaneously emphasized the difference between Christians and non-Christians. (63) In a period in which the Jacobean church and the political scene of James I's reign sought both to continue an inherited Elizabethan project of constructing an ideologically and religiously coherent English identity and to test the elasticity of that identity in a very ecumenical fashion, the problems associated with such a venture were often creatively projected out towards an "alien identity" that held both "promise and peril" for its incorporation into "emerging formulations of Englishness." (64) Within this context, The Renegado would adopt the bodily rhetoric of a long tradition of discourses centered on the coherence of a religio-political body in order to make sense of a new kind of perilous "other"--the English Islamic renegade.
Unlike Western Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries which was fractured by ever-shifting political divisions and Christian infighting (despite the idealism and continued efforts of James I and his supporters), the Ottoman Empire was a comparative "super-civilization, a frighteningly all-inclusive and all-absorbing system." (65) For renegades, there was "little stigma attached to their status as new Muslims, and though Islamic society was hierarchical, it was highly absorptive at its margins." (66) Early modern Islamic tradition offered conversion through "an extremely simple ritual, and once that rite was performed, very few formal practices or demonstrations of faith were required of English converts who were willing to serve under Islamic rule." (67) Early modern (English) theatrical depictions of this rite, however, ran the gamut from the absurd and flippant to the terrifying and elaborate.
Robert Daborne's A Christian Turned Turk, for example, stages the ritual of the pirate John Ward's conversion to Islam in a manner that undoubtedly strove to dissuade its audience from any imagined desirability associated with apostasy. In what is arguably the climactic scene of Daborne's play, an elaborate dumb show tracks Ward's processional entry on an ass, accompanied by a chief priest and others, with "a confused noise of music" (s.d.). The audience is shown Ward's act of swearing to the "laws of their [the Turks'] damned Prophet," the exchange of his clothes for "the habit of a free-born Turk," and the foreswearing of his Christian name (8.16-23). Ward alters his physical body to resemble the Turks, and ritually abandons the collective body of Christian Europe when he spurns his Christian identity in the forsaking of his name and the staged offer of wine at the hand of "a Christian" (s.d.). Through this highly theatrical rejection of recognizable Christian bodies, the ceremony of Ward's conversion situates the audience within a familiar discourse of spiritual and bodily change. But the most important site of bodily destruction at work in A Christian Turned Turk is certainly the circumcision of Ward himself, an act which seals, and is symbolic of, those other bodily mutations. However, the terror of the scene is immediately undercut by the possibility of Ward's deception in this respect. Danskier's captain,
Sares, reports that he "saw him [Ward] Turk to the circumcision," but that he then "heard he played the Jew with 'em / [And] made 'em come to the cutting of an ape's tail" (9.2-4). The fear of bodily destruction has been negated for the moment (but Ward will, of course, meet a physically violent end by the play's final scene). In any case, if scenes of Christian
conversion to Islam functioned much like scare tactics to discourage apostasy abroad or needed to be drained of their seriousness through irreverence, it was because Christian defection occurred with troubling frequency.
Vitkus reminds us that in an attempt to account for why Christians in the Mediterranean were so frequently "turning Turk," John Pory, the English translator and compiler of the Geographical Historie of Africa (1600), suggested:
The Christians become Turkes, partly upon some extreme & violent passion... [others] abjure the faith to release themselves of torments and cruelties; others for hope of honors and temporall greatnes: and of these two sorts there are a great number in Constantinople, being thought to be Christians in hart: and yet through slothfulnes, or to gather togither more wealth [...] or else through sensualitie, and for that they would not be deprived of the licentiousnes and libertie of the life they lead, resolve not to performe that they are bound unto; deferring thus from moneth to moneth & from yeere to yeere, to leave theis Babylon & sinke of sin. (68)
Instead of acknowledging religio-political stability and ease of cultural integration as motivation for conversion as mentioned above, Pory's text explicitly connects the allure of apostasy with the base impulses of the individual and the bodily. Conversion to Islam is only imaginable for Pory through the pull of sensual desires and, in this respect, the rhetoric at work in Pory's text strikingly resembles the account of Grimaldi's apostasy: through the madness of "extreme & violent passion" and "through [the allure of] sensualitie." We have already examined an attempt to make sense of Grimaldi's catalytic desecration of the Eucharist via the explanation of "wanton, irreligious madness"--his ship's master can only imagine this sort of behavior through the sickness of insanity. But once we meet Grimaldi in the Tunisian marketplace, however, his own description of the attractions of the renegade life tracks closely onto Pory's fear of the bodily and the visceral:
GRIMALDI: Wherefore shake we off Those scrupulous rags of charity and conscience, Invented only to keep churchmen warm, Or feed the hungry mouths of famished beggars, But, when we touch shore, to wallow in All sensual pleasures? (1.3.49-53)
If Daborne's John Ward can doff his Christian identity through the ritual shedding of his name and the changing of his clothes, Massinger's Grimaldi can shed, garment-like, any allegiance to the organizing virtues of Christian society whatsoever in favor of a new socio-religious body (one in which he serves the Viceroy of Tunis) and the highly individual pull of his own physical desires.
Indeed, William Lithgow's 1632 tract Rare Adventures and Painefull Peregrinations cautions against the dangerous individualism demonstrated by Grimaldi, a conceit that improperly allows a primacy to the singular body that should only be afforded to the collective, religiously defined body politic. Lithgow maintains that
the private humor of discontented castaways is always an enemy to public good, who from the society of true believers are driven to the servitude of infidels, and refusing the bridle of Christian correction, they receive the double yoke of despair and condemnation. Whose terror of a guilty conscience, or rather blazing brand of their vexed souls, in forsaking their Faith, and denying Christ to be their Savior, ramverts most of them, either in a torment of melancholy, otherwise in the ecstasy of madness: which indeed is a torturing horror that is sooner felt than known and cannot be avoided by the rudeness of nature, but by the saving grace of true felicity. (69)
When John Deacon worried over Englishmen's "careless entercourse of trafficking with the contagious corruptions and customes of forreine nations" in 1616 his own rhetoric of figurative bodily disease to describe the corrupting influence of foreign contact effectively anticipated Lithgow's later concern for the devolution of the religio-political body via the corrupting influence of the renegades themselves. (70) So while the early modern stage might sometimes try to laugh away the seriousness of apostasy in some cases or attempt to romanticize conversion to Islam "as a spectacular form of deviance from social and religious norms," seventeenth-century polemical culture denounced it as an "irrational" and "unnatural" crime against the joint religious and civic body of the nation and frequently employed the metaphorical power of infection, disease, or debilitating bodily dysfunction to render the crippling stakes of apostasy legible to a wide English readership, (71)
The Renegado literalizes this seventeenth century preoccupation with the figurative diseasing or corruption of the body politic through religious apostasy in its exploration of Grimaldi's descent into the madness of despair after the revoking of his ship and goods by the Viceroy of Tunis, Asambeg. Punished for yet another act of "blasphemy"--in this case, Grimaldi has allegedly "blasphemed the Ottoman power" through an insult to the competence of the Tunisian military--Grimaldi is laid low by his adopted society and is so forced into a radical reconciling with the "black guilt and misery" of his initial act of apostasy (2.5.78, 3.2.62). Grimaldi's guilt is so profound and his despair so nearly sealed ("Though repentance / could borrow all the glorious winds of grace, / My mountainous weight of sins would crack their pinions / And sink them to hell with me," he cries) that the religio-political rhetoric of the Eucharistic body and its destruction by an individual act of bodily disruption examined earlier permutes yet again as Grimaldi turns the language of bodily wounding against himself (3.2.69-72). In a string of imagery striking for its dark reimaging of the medieval conception linking the human body to the harmony of the natural world and the four earthly elements, Grimaldi envisions his own very literal and individual bodily destruction--suicide:
GRIMALDI: I have heard Schoolmen affirm man's body is composed Of the four elements; and, as in league together They nourish life, so each of them affords Liberty to the soul when it grows weary Of this fleshy prison. Which shall I make choice of? (3.2.77-83)
Grimaldi eventually seems to settle on drowning himself in the sea ("The sea? Aye, that is justice. There I ploughed up / Mischief as deep as hell. There'll I'll hide / This cursed lump of clay") in fitting reparation for his crimes committed against the Venetian religio-political body (3.3.91-93). But this fairly expected rhetoric of despair as expressed through a desire for suicide (in which the life-abundant ocean becomes a life-denying "ravenous womb" and an all-devouring "tomb") slips into yet another bodily image (3.3.97-98, emphasis mine).
By Act 4, the register of Grimaldi's preoccupation with the destruction of his individual body takes on a strikingly Eucharistic tenor. Grimaldi begins by pondering a string of Old Testament prescriptions for the reparation of offenses to God and the community--all of which require the wounding of the personal body in either an economic or a physical sense as mandated in Exodus, for example:
GRIMALDI: Oh, with what willingness would I give up My liberty to those that I have pillaged, And wish the numbers of my years, though wasted In the most sordid slavery, might equal The rapines I have made, till with one voice My patient sufferings might exact from my Most cruel creditors a full remission: An eye's loss with an eye, limb's with a limb-A sad account! (4.1.53-61, cf. Exodus 21:23-25)
In his despairing of forgiveness, Grimaldi exclaims that he is willing to "do a bloody justice on [himself]," his threatening culminating in a very literal, bodily chastisement when Grimaldi declares that he will self-inflict punishment and "with this hand cut off / This instrument of wrong, till naught were left me / But this poor bleeding limbless trunk, which gladly /I would divide among them [his victims]" (4.1.66, 69-72). But while the renegade may desire the reparative division and distribution of his physical body in a manner that grotesquely mirrors the sacrificial breaking and distribution of Christ's body during the celebration of the Eucharist, Grimaldi's broken body can never accomplish the communal reconstruction and personal redemption afforded by the sacrament. An Old Testament physical and personal bodily justice must give way to New Testament grace. However, it is on the division of his broken body that Grimaldi's sorrowing turns towards redemption. Here, The Renegado sets the stage for the enactment of its own vision of the healing of the religio-political body rendered diseased and mutilated through the threat of religious difference and the pirate's apostasy.
In the off-stage Jacobean world, the spread of Turkish "contagion" and its ability to transform the inner and out self, made discerning the truthful penitent and "re-integrateable" convert difficult. Additionally, these problems sparked a landslide of pressing questions about how, and if, that reintegration could even be executed successfully. In fact, Jonathan Burton points out that part of the "horror of conversion," whether forced or unforced, was the difficulty of reintegration upon the convert's return: "Because of their treasonous association with the enemies of Christian Europe," says Burton, "known renegades were slain on sight in some parts of Europe, regardless of their desire to return to Christianity." (72) Indeed, when the renegade captain Dansiker seeks pardon in France in A Christian Turk, the citizens of Marseille demand his life (albeit unsuccessfully). Even where those who returned were treated with understanding, "no means was agreed upon to 'uncircumcise' the apostate or erase (either physically or metaphorically) the stigma of conversion." (73) In England, ceremonies were devised at the discretion of local bishops for the public reintegration of apostates (even men whose conversion "came forcefully" were required to perform "some public reclamation" of their faith, demonstrating either their inner constancy or their true repentance), but there was no official, uniform order of ceremonies for reintegration into the Church of England until Archbishop William Laud's "A Form of Penance and Reconciliation of a Renegado or Apostate from the Christian Religion to Turkism" was disseminated in 1637. (74) Until Laud's "Form" was produced, though, it was often to the Apostle Paul's doctrine of circumcision--the metaphorical "circumcision of the heart" of Christian faith--that English preachers directed their focus in an effort to shift attention away from the irreversible circumcision of the body to the interior life of the convert (Romans 2:29, Gal. 5:6). In this case, adds Benedict Robinson, emphasis was placed upon one's inner constancy and true repentance, as opposed to one's actions. (75) The obvious problem that arises from this model, however, is that a purely internal repentance is unverifiable: how does the community diagnose and treat the condition of one's heart?
In its imagining of the healing of the communal body, though, The Renegado essentially bypasses this seventeenth-century sermonic stressing of reintegration and redemption via a reimagining of the circumcised individual body and instead places its conceptual emphasis on reintegration through ritual enactment in the vein of the medieval corpus mysticum, the ecclesiastical polity of Richard Hooker, and the Eucharistically-inflected politics of James I. In such a way, The Renegado anticipates the personal rite of re-conversion later structured by William Laud, a reintegration of the individual that centers on the performance of sacramentality and the healing of the communal body.
Under the Laudian rite promulgated beginning in 1637, "a slight and ordinary sorrow is not enough for so grievous an offence" as apostasy. (76) The penitent must publicly make amends to both God and the socio-spiritual body of the church because his sin of apostasy adversely affects an entire system of relationships: physician-like, the minister of the rite must "lay open and aggravate the heinousness of his [the renegade's] sin both in respect of God, the Church, and his own soul" if the wound is to be properly healed. (77) Laud's prescription for the reintegration of the English renegade is a highly public ritual and involves a series of penitential actions to be performed over several (at least three) Sundays. During each successive phase of the ceremony, the penitent modifies the presentation of his own body when he dons the ceremonial garb of "a white sheet and with a white wand in his hand, his head uncovered, his countenance dejected" and upon his knees outside the church door "humbly crave[s]" the prayers and acknowledgement of the congregation:
There let him penitently kneel [and] make his submission and ask mercy of God in the form of the following: [...] 'O God, forgive me this heinous and horrible sin, with all other my grievous sins against Thee, and let me, upon Thy gracious pardon and infinite mercy, be restored to the sight and benefit of this blessed sacrament which I have so wickedly abjured, and be received (though most unworthy) into Thy gracious favor and the communion of Thy faithful people. (78)
Obviously, the outward, performative, and communal focus of the Laudian rite stands in marked contrast to the kind of primacy placed on sheer interior reformation in older sermonic literature which drew more explicitly upon the Pauline epistles to structure their varying forms of reintegration.
Secondly, and more subtly, the prayer transcribed above (to be recited on the second Sunday of the rite) makes very clear the central role the Eucharist plays in the re-formation of the Christian body enacted through the Laudian form. Laud's rite maintains its emphasis on the multivalent registers of the bodily (penitent's body, Eucharistic body of Christ, communal body of the Church) when on the third Sunday the penitent renegade makes explicit his desire to take up his place as a contributing member in the communal life of the parish, and reiterates that this is a life centered around the sacramental, Eucharistic body:
[B]lessed be the holy Catholic Church, and all you the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ; the name of God be blessed evermore for the assembly of His saints, and of the divine ordinances of His holy word and sacraments, and of His heavenly power committed to His holy priests in His Church, for the reconciliation of sinners unto Himself [...] I humbly beg the assistance of all your Christian prayers [...] receive me into that grace and into the bosom of the Church [...] reconcile me unto the mystical body of Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior. (79)
Indeed, Vitkus notices that the culmination of the final movement of the Laudian "Form of Penance and Reconciliation" is actually a slight modification of the absolution offered in the collect of the Visitation of the Sick: Near the close of the Laudian rite, the spiritually "sick" renegade prays that the Lord will "renew in him [...] whatsoever hath been decayed by the fraud and malice of the Devil or by his own carnal will and frailness" and that He "preserve and continue him in the unity of the Church." (80) After this, instructs Laud, "let him be openly promised that upon any communion day following he shall be admitted to the holy sacrament" and thus fully reintegrated into the collective life of the parish. (81)
We have explored how Grimaldi grievously wounds the sacramentally enacted body of the Venetian Christian community (the Body of Christ) by his desecration of the Eucharist (the body of Christ) in The Renegado and posited that the only way for the repentant pirate to be reincorporated into the Christian sociopolitical body is through the grace offered by that very sacrament. Of course, The Renegado does not stage Grimaldi's reception of the sacrament in an authentic religious setting, but it does stage a healing reenactment of the moment of Grimaldi's mistake. The honorable Jesuit, Francisco--from whom Grimaldi snatched the consecrated Host in Venice--declared that he would "cure the wounded conscience of Grimaldi" upon his observance of the renegade's true remorse: "I'll provide / A lodging for him and apply such cures / To his wounded conscience as heaven hath lent me," he says (3.5.9, 3.3.100-102). And so, near the top of act 4, just after Grimaldi has expressed the mad imagining of a Eucharistic division of his personal body, Francisco enters the scene "in a cope like a bishop" (s.d.). At Francisco's appearance, the sight of the priest launches the renegade into a theatrically-abbreviated version of the penitential movements required for reconversion and reintegration into the Eucharistically organized communal body.
"All I am turned into eyes," remarks Grimaldi--his entire being momentarily becomes an instrument of visual perception as his physical and spiritual sight are retrained in preparation for his re-admittance to the Christian fold. Grimaldi gazes on the ritually attired Francisco and the vision prompts an examination of conscience, exacerbating the grief the renegade bears over his blasphemy: "I look on / A deed of mine so fiendlike that repentance--/Though with my tears I taught the seas new tides--/ Can never wash off (4.1.74-77). The memory of his destructive act of apostasy prompts the further recollection of heinous deeds ("my thefts, my rapes") but all are deemed "venial trespasses compared to what / I offered to that shape" of the priest in his cope, he says (4.1.76-78). Finally, in a moment that blurs the continually flickering boundaries between the civic and the ecclesiastical, Grimaldi now assumes an appropriate penitential posture where he should have before, in communion with the worshippers at St. Mark's in Venice, "a place [...] Where [he] stood bound to kneel" in front of Francisco and the Eucharistic offering (4.1.78-79). Now, however, (Francisco's recreation of) the moment is met by a penitent convert and so it gives Grimaldi a chance to undo his original blasphemy:
FRANCISCO: 'Tis forgiven. I--with this tongue whom, in these sacred vestments, With impure hands thou didst offend--pronounce it. I bring peace to thee: see that thou deserve it In thy fair life hereafter. (4.1.80-84)
Grimaldi must now "purchase" his pardon with "zealous undertakings," actions that will help to restore the newly healed Body of Christ in its sacramentally structured, religio-political form--the Christian community. Michael Questier reminds us that individual conversion, in the long tradition of Christian thought, always comprised both an inward and outward alteration: inward renewal under the influence of grace always required the outward setting aside of former outward standards of behavior. (82) This intimate interconnection between the inward and the outward is especially well demonstrated in Grimaldi's new resolve to "rise up a wonder to the world"-Francisco has "reconciled [him] to [himself]," bringing a cessation to Grimaldi's inner turmoil, and now the newly re-converted former renegade will do something to "witness" his "good change" (4.1.97, 110, 113). In a sweeping act of communal rescue in the face of an encroaching Turkish menace, it is Grimaldi and his crew who spirit away back to Venice the romantic hero, Vitelli, and Vitelli's newly converted bride.
So if Philip Massinger's The Renegado may be said to rewrite and re-right the bodily destruction enacted in other early modern "Turk" plays such as Robert Daborne's A Christian Turned Turk, it does so through its adoption and adaption of the bodily rhetoric of a sacramentally enacted collective of the early modern body politic--a rhetoric that stretches both back and forward along the continuum of English history. The Renegado adopts and redeploys an older, recognizable Eucharistic and bodily rhetoric to that connects to the social and sacramental corpus mysticum of the medieval Church and links forward into the (still sacramental but more highly politicized) mystical body of the early modern commonwealth. The violation of sacred and communal bodies that sparks one of the play's most important conflicts opens a creative space in which to engage with the very real, complex ramifications of religious difference within an (ideally united) sociopolitical body.
The play's investment in the imagery of diseased, mutilated, or impaired bodies of various kinds--and their subsequent healings--can help us situate The Renegado within an historical tradition that includes medieval fashionings of a Christian community's identity, fashionings that made use of a bodily discourse that survived in theological and political writings through the early modern period. Massinger's drama employs the cultural and literary influences of the earlier medieval corpus mysticum imaginatively, reflects late Elizabethan concern for the ceremonial construction of a religiously coherent polity exhibited in Hooker's Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, tests the enactment of a Jacobean desire for Christian unity in the face of interfaith conversion, and anticipates the rhetoric later used to repair the effects of intercultural encounter abroad.
Perhaps this layering of serious religio-political investment with a rollicking adventure story is part of the reason The Renegado had such special sticking power throughout the seventeenth century. Massinger's drama was well received by seventeenth-century playgoers: after its initial 1624 production run at London's The Cockpit, there is evidence that it was frequently performed during the 1630s; for example, The Renegado was still in demand in 1639 when it was deemed worthy of inclusion in a list of plays protected from performance by any other London company. (83) The Renegado was even revived on the Restoration stage by the King's Men who mounted a production in 1662 at Lincoln's Inn Fields. (84) But this pattern of revival attached to Massinger's play also illuminates The Renegado's undeniable ability to demonstrate the creative potential inherent in playing.
In the seventeenth century, the theatre operated as a space that allowed for the creative testing of possible confrontations between English selves and English national identity and the people and cultures encountered via England's overseas ventures. "We think more easily of people as agents and of the things they make or imagine as structures," says Richard Helgerson, "but people themselves, whether individually or in groups, are made and imagined. Their identity--our identity--is a structure, a cultural construct. And those more obvious constructs, texts and nations, are also agents, making things happen in the world." (85) The theatre, then, functions as not only a receptacle for the popular beliefs of an era, but has a hand in shaping them. More specifically, as Jennifer Rust suggests, some early modern drama is profitably understood "as part of a broader cultural response to tectonic shifts in the ways and means of making manifest the mystical body in the period, a response shared across religious boundaries that were often more fluid than we currently credit." (86) So while Daborne's A Christian Turned Turk may offer a vision of conversion and religious difference that produces only irredeemable disjunction in the body politic and destruction of the personal body, Philip Massinger's The Renegado offers an entirely different version of the incorporative powers of the Church and state--through participation in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, the Body of Christ can withstand the wounding inflicted by individual acts of disruption.
(1.) All biblical citations are from the King James Bible, 1611 edition.
(2.) All in-text citations of the play are to Philip Massinger, The Renegado: Or, The Gentleman of Venice, ed. Michael Neill (London: Methuen Drama, 2010).
(3.) Baptist Goodall, The Tryall of Travell (London: 1630), 12 cited in Daniel Vitkus, Turning Turk: English Theatre and the Multicultural Mediterranean, 1570-1630 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 145.
(4.) Vitkus, Turning, 145.
(6.) Ibid. All in-text citations are to Robert Daborne, A Christian Turned Turk, Three Turk Plays from Early Modern England: Selimus, A Christian Turned Turk, and The Renegado, ed. Daniel Vitkus (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000).
(7.) Daniel Vitkus, Three Turk Plays from Early Modern England: Selimus, A Christian Turned Turk, and The Renegado (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), 43.
(8.) Vitkus, Turning, 161.
(10.) Jonathan Burton, "English Anxiety and the Muslim Power of Conversion: Five Perspectives on 'Turning Turk' in Early Modern Texts," Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 2, no. 1 (2002): 35-67, 52.
(11.) Ibid., 51.
(12.) Vitkus, Turning, 124.
(13.) Jonathan Burton, Traffic and Turning: Islam and English Drama, 1579-1624 (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2005), 98.
(14.) Jane Hwang Degenhardt, Islamic Conversion and Christian Resistance on the Renaissance Stage (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010), 122.
(15.) Ibid., 121.
(16.) Ibid., 122, 138.
(17.) See Michael Neill, 'Turn and Counterturn: Merchanting, Apostasy, and Tragicomic form in Massinger's The Renegado," Early Modern Tragicomedy (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2007) and Neill's introduction to Philip Massinger, The Renegado: Or, The Gentleman of Venice, Ed. Michael Neill (London: Methuen Drama, 2010). Leike Stelling, "'Thy very essence is mutability': Religious Conversion in Early Modern English Drama, 1558-1642," The Turn of the Soul: Representations of Conversion in Early Modern Art and Literature, ed. Harald Hendrix, Todd M. Richardson, and Lieke Stellig (Boston: Brill, 2012). Patricia Parker, "Preposterous Conversions: Turning Turk, and its 'Pauline' Rerighting," The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 2 (2002): 1-34.
(18.) While Nicholas Tyacke focuses his analysis of Jacobean and Caroline ecclesiology on doctrinal debates centered on Calvinist versus Arminian soteriology and other explicitly doctrinal debates, Charles Prior argues that critical attention needs to be shifted in a direction of study that rejects such a "narrow" interpretation of religious conflict "dominated by predestination, Arminianism, and the attack on Calvinist soteriology." Charles W. A. Prior, Defining the Jacobean Church: The Politics of Religious Controversy, 1603-1625 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005): 17, 8. See also Nicholas Tyacke, Anti-Calvinists: The Rise of English Arminianism, c. 1590-1640 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990).
(19.) Here, I'd like to distinguish between "ecumenical others" and "religious others." I am using "ecumenical" to signify differences in denomination (Catholic, Puritan, Anglican, etc.) and "religious" to signify interfaith difference (Christian, Muslim, Jew, etc.).
(20.) Suzanne Conklin Akbari and Jill Ross, "Limits and Teleology: The Many Ends of the Body," The Ends of the Body: Identity and Community in Medieval Culture, ed. Suzanne Conklin Akbari and Jill Ross (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013): 12.
(21.) Ibid., 10.
(22.) Jennifer R. Rust, The Body in Mystery: The Political Theology of the Corpus Mysticum in the Literature of Reformation England (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2014): 21.
(23.) Ibid., xi.
(24.) David Coleman, Drama and the Sacraments in Sixteenth-Century England: Indelible Characters (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 8.
(26.) Irina Metzler, Disability in Medieval Europe: Thinking about physical impairment during the high Middle Ages, c.1100-1400 (New York: Routledge, 2006): 51.
(27.) John of Salisbury, "Metalogicon," Medieval Political Theory--A Reader: The
Quest for the Body Politic, 1100-1400, ed. Cary J. Nederman and Kate Langdon Forhan (New York: Routledge, 1993): 28.
(28.) Akbari and Ross, "Ends of the Body," 10.
(29.) Suzanne Akbari, "Death as Metamorphosis in the Devotional and Political Allegory of Christine de Pizan," The Ends of the Body: Identity and Community in Medieval Culture, ed. Suzanne Conklin Akbari and Jill Ross (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013): 283.
(30.) Sarah Beckwith, Christ's Body: Identity, Culture, and Society in Late Medieval Writings (New York: Routledge, 1993), 23.
(31.) The only extant copy of the Croxton Play of the Sacrament--MS. F.4.20 (Catalogue No. 652) in Trinity College, Dublin--is typically dated to the mid-sixteenth century by virtue of the manuscript's handwriting and watermarks. However, the play's composition date was probably late in the fifteenth century, certainly after 1461, the date given at the close of the play as the time when the enacted events were supposed to have taken place in Heraclea. See Coldewey's introduction to Anonymous. "The Croxton Play of the Sacrament." In Early English Drama: An Anthology. Edited by John C. Coldewey. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1993.
(32.) Akbari, "Metamorphosis," 283.
(33.) Ibid., 284.
(34.) Coleman, Sacraments, 5.
(35.) Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580, 2nd Ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005): 7.
(36.) Ibid., 18.
(37.) Rust, Body in Mystery, xi.
(38.) Prior, Jacobean Church, 64.
(39.) Deborah Shuger, "Society Supernatural," Religion and Culture in Renaissance England, Ed. Claire McEachern and Debora Shuger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 134.
(40.) Quoted in Coleman, Sacraments, 62.
(41.) Coleman, Sacraments, 63.
(42.) Prior, Jacobean Church, 24.
(43.) Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book V. The Works of that Learned and Judicious Divine, Mr. Richard Hooker: With an Account of His Life and Death by Isaac Walton, Vol. II, ed. John Keble (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1865), 261.
(44.) Jane Degenhardt shares this observation. For more information on Degenhardt's reading of Transubstantiation as metamorphosis, see Jane Hwang Degenhardt, "Catholic prophylactics and Islam's sexual threat: preventing and undoing sexual defilement in The Renegado," The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 9 (2009): 62-92.
(45.) Prior, Jacobean Church, 20, 24.
(46.) William Wilkes, Obedience or ecclesiastical vnion. Treatised by William Wilkes Doctor in Theologie, and one of his Maiesties chaplains in ordinarie (1605) cited in Prior, Jacobean Church, 33 (emphasis mine).
(47.) Prior, Jacobean Church, 33.
(48.) WB. Patterson, King James VI and I and the Reunion of Christendom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997): 3-4.
(49.) Ibid., 18.
(50.) Ibid., 19-20. For a reading of seventeenth-century ecumenical policies and the possible significance of Massinger's placement of the Jesuit Francisco in The Renegado, see Neill's introduction to The Renegado: Or, The Gentleman of Venice, ed. Michael Neill (London: Methuen Drama, 2010) and Benedict S. Robinson, "The 'Turks,' Caroline Politics, and Philip Massinger's The Renegado," Localizing Caroline Drama: Politics and Economics of the Early Modern English Stage, 1625-1642, ed. Adam Zucker and Alan B. Farmer (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).
(51.) Ibid., 21.
(52.) Prior, Jacobean Church, 32.
(53.) Ibid., 32.
(54.) Patterson, Reunion of Christendom, 135.
(55.) Isaac Casaubon, The Answere of Master Isaac Casavbon to the Epistle of the Most Illvstriovs and Most Reuerend Cardinall Peron, Translated out of Latin into English, May 18. 1612 (London: William Aspley, 1612):37, cited in Patterson, Reunion of Christendom, 135.
(56.) Patterson, Reunion of Christendom, 19.
(57.) M. S. Giuseppi, ed. Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Most Hon. the Marquess of Salisbury, Preserved at Hatfield House, part XVI (London: HMSO, 1933): 225-26 cited in Patterson, Reunion of Christendom, 29.
(58.) BN MS. Dupuy 409, fol. 39; MS. Dupuy 632, fol. 3 cited in Patterson, Reunion of Christendom, 30. Rust, Body in Mystery, xi. However, many Protestant polemicists treated the Catholic toleration petitions of the early 1600s "as an attempt to bring about a change of religion which would snowball into a subversion of the commonwealth." When Archbishop Marc'Antonio de Dominis asserted to Bishop Richard Nellie in 1622 that Rome was "a true Church," Nellie did not deny it, but said that "the toleration of two Religions would bee a certaine cause of combustion in the Church; and subversion of the whole State." Michael Questier, Conversion, Politics, and Religion in England, 1580-1625 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996): 6. Richard Neile, M. Ant. de Dnis. Archbishop of Spalato, his Shiftings in Religion (1624): 10-11 cited in Questier, Politics of Conversion, 6 (emphasis mine).
(59.) Philip Hardwicke, earl of Yorke, ed. Miscellaneous State Papers, from 1501 to 1726, 2 vols. (London: W. Strahan and I. Cadell, 1778): 1.406 cited in Patterson, Reunion of Christendom, 323.
(60.) Ibid., 2.186.
(61.) Ibid., emphasis original.
(62.) Robinson, "Caroline Politics," 224. As James I's tolerance for a Catholic presence increasingly became a site of controversy, a bodily rhetoric was also adopted by his stricter Protestant opposition. Near the end of James's reign in 1622, Francis Rous--layman apologist for English Calvinism--published Diseases of the Time, followed by The Only Remedy in 1627, two treatises establishing what he understood to be the root cause of contemporary disasters (the same sorts of problems that often made apostasy in the Barbary states and the Levant an attractive option for Englishmen). In Rous's estimation, plague, poverty, harvest failure, and economic depression were all "divine punishments" for what he saw as a national apostasy begun under James I--by way of the steady adoption of Arminian-inflected doctrine, England was, in essence, selling out to "Roman tyranny and Spanish monarchy." As long as "God's wrath [was] still unassuaged, domestic sores [would] continue to fester." Tyacke, Anti-Calvinists, 139.
(63.) Ibid., 225.
(64.) Jeffrey S. Shoulson, Fictions of Conversion: Jew, Christians, and Cultures of Change in Early Modern England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013): 2-3.
(65.) Vitkus, Turning, 119.
(66.) Ibid., 111.
(68.) Vitkus, Turning, 109. Johannes Leo Africanus, A Geographical Historie of Africa, trans. John Pory (London: 1600): 386, cited in Vitkus, Turning, 109.
(69.) William Lithgow, The Totall Discourse of the Rare Adventures and Painefull Peregrinations of long Nineteene Years Travayle From Scotland to the most famous Kingdoms in Europe, Asia, and Affrica (London: 1632): 188-89, cited in Vitkus, Plays, 34.
(70.) John Deacon, "Tobacco Turning," cited in Burton, Traffic, 18.
(71.) Vitkus, Plays, 5.
(72.) Burton, Traffic, 99.
(75.) Benedict Robinson, Islam and Early Modern English Literature: The Politics of Romance from Spenser to Milton (New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2007), 99.
(76.) William Laud, "A Form of Penance and Reconciliation of a Renegado or Apostate from the Christian Religion to Turkism," Piracy, Slavery, and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England, ed. Daniel J. Vitkus (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001), 365.
(77.) Ibid., 361.
(78.) Ibid., 362, emphasis mine.
(79.) Ibid., 364-65, emphasis mine.
(80.) Ibid., 365, emphasis mine.
(81.) Ibid., 366.
(82.) Questier, Conversion, 58.
(83.) Vitkus, Plays, 40.
(84.) Neill, Renegado, 61.
(85.) Richard Helgerson, Forms of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 13.
(86.) Rust, Body in Mystery, xv.
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|Publication:||Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2018|
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