'A talkatiue wench (whose words a world hath delighted in)': mistress shore and Elizabethan complaint.
A gods name what is this world, and how vncertaine are riches? Is this she that was in such credit with the King? Nay more, that could command a King indeed? I cannot deny but my lands she restored me, but shall I by releeuing of her hurt my selfe, no: for straight proclamation is made that none shall succour her, therefore for feare I should be seene talke with her, I will shun her company and get me to my chamber, and there set downe in heroicall verse, the shamefull end of a Kings concubin, which is no doubt as wonderfull as the desolation of a kingdome.(1)
Since the True Tragedy survives only in a fragmentary form, it is hard to assess the precise tone of this speech. At one level Lodowicke points the orthodox patriarchal moral which almost every writer who deals with Shore's wife adopts: her fall illustrates 'the shamefull end of a Kings concubin' - as a loose woman, she has had this 'end' coming for some time. Yet as a moral agent himself, Lodowicke is dramatically implicated in Mistress Shore's condition: as he notes, 'I cannot deny but my lands she restored me' - he himself has profited from her patronage, as the audience has seen earlier in the play. Hence his resolution simultaneously to 'shun her company' and to 'set downe' her fate 'in heroicall verse' is for the reader of other Elizabethan Shore texts nicely ironic. Lodowicke wants both to avoid the danger of consorting with a political outcast and to profit artistically from her fall. In admitting to this, he becomes a staged representation of all the (male) writers who retell the Shore narrative and of the shadowy dramatist of the True Tragedy itself. Indeed as a modern scholar writing on Elizabethan representations of Mistress Shore, I retrospectively participate in Lodowicke's literary appropriation of her fall. One woman's fall is another man's literary bacon.
I begin with Lodowicke because he exhibits in dramatic form the availability of 'Shores Wife' to Elizabethan writers as a sexually and politically loaded subject.(2) As a woman of humble origins about whom little was known other than that she was - crucially - 'a Kings concubin', she constituted (to borrow a metaphor from Drayton's Rosamond) a sexualized 'scribled paper' which Elizabethan writers reinscribed at will.(3) In this article I examine this process of inscription through three texts - More's Richard III, Churchyard's Shores Wife, and Heywood's Edward IV. Lodowicke is useful also because although he comically typifies the unfortunate Mistress Shore's fair-weather friends, he also articulates an important rhetorical response to the political contingent. His final sentence balances 'the shamefull end of a Kings concubin' directly with 'the desolation of a kingdome'. Mistress Shore's 'wonderfull' fall illustrates the political upheavals of Richard III's rise to power, to which the intellectual Lodowicke can only respond with quietism and - most interestingly - the 'heroic' verse of complaint, the ideal poetic vehicle for the frightened observer of the times. Though the True Tragedy does not record Lodowicke's text, like Churchyard's and Chute's actual poems, it would surely have used Mistress Shore as a way of reflecting at a safe distance disquiet at Richard's and indeed Edward's political brutalism.
In partial response to John Kerrigan's Motives of Woe anthology, I want to observe how male-authored 'Female Complaint' represents its feminine subject. The Shore narrative provides More's Elizabethan inheritors with an ideal scenario for complaint, as Lodowicke recognizes. But my interest is more precise than simply cataloguing different Elizabethan Shore texts.(4) As the True Tragedy shows, the Shore narrative moves from the static discourses of historical narrative and historicized complaint into the mobile arena of Elizabethan drama. To examine the development of this figure is, then, to engage with my central interest: how verse complaint is dramatized. Despite Kerrigan's anthology, the relationship between Elizabethan verse complaint and dramatic complaint remains relatively unexplored. I contend that complaint is crucial to the political ambivalences which emerge in Heywood's Edward IV; it is also a central element of other more celebrated plays.
In my earlier work, I argue that Spenser's Complaints constitute a self-conscious renovation of traditional complaint.(5) Within this apparently disparate collection of 'sundrie small Poemes', a subtle realignment takes place in which the literary energies of traditional complaint are directed away from the perception of the instability of the external world towards the recognition of the instability of poetry itself. So for example The Teares of the Muses exploits the tropes of a Mirror for Magistrates-style 'tragedie' to articulate not the slipperiness of worldly fortune but rather the uncertain valency of traditional poetry.(6) Yet Spenser was a highly idiosyncratic writer whose Complaints are fascinating precisely because of their self-conscious innovation of this most traditional of literary modes.(7) Though Kerrigan's anthology directs attention to the variety of what he, perhaps unfortunately, calls 'Female Complaint', there is still no compelling analysis of complaint tout court as a rhetorical practice in the 1590s and beyond.(8) As an important and durable literary mode, we need to explore complaint as a rhetorical practice: that is, as a related body of techniques which articulates a range of ideas from the quiescent to the innovatory. As we will see in the complaints of Mistress Shore, these contradictory impulses are often present within the same text.
The literary exploitation of Mistress Shore begins with Sir Thomas More's History of King Richard III.(9) This includes a brilliant digression on her which is the major source for all the Elizabethan Shore writers through the chronicles of Grafton, Hall, Hardyng, and Holinshed, which incorporate More's History into their own texts.(10) More's account of Mistress Shore is itself a self-consciously staged counterpoint to his broader narrative. Alison Hanham sees it as a passage which bridges More's accounts of Hastings's execution and Edward IV's lechery: as the mistress of both men, Mistress Shore is a structurally useful hinge between two different phases in Richard's rise to power from the murder of Hastings to the discrediting of Edward's marriage.(11) But the central importance of More's portrait for his Elizabethan followers lies in its cocktail of contrastive ingredients: a political narrative laced with courtly satire centring on Mistress Shore as an object of both opprobrium and desire.
In the first place, Mistress Shore's status as a virtuous intermediary between suitors and the king offsets both her adultery and the corrupt court she inhabits. Even more than his Elizabethan imitators, More insists that she used Edward's 'fauour' positively: 'where the king took displeasure, she would mitigate & appease his mind: where men were out of fauour, she wold bring them in his grace' (Complete Works, ii. 56). Unlike the other major protagonists of the History, Mistress Shore is notable precisely because she does not use the power she has irresponsibly, or to further her own ambition.(12) More must 'saithe trouth' of her 'for sinne it wer to belie ye devil' (Complete Works, ii. 56) - even though she is an adulteress, her actions, paradoxically, are meritorious in a corrupt environment.(13) Hence Mistress Shore's discrete political virtue allows More to use her as a vehicle for moral satire. Her ultimate indigence is powerfully contrasted with the financial security of her former clients: 'For men vse, if they haue an euil turne, to write it in marble: & whoso doth vs a good tourne, we write it in duste which is not worst proved by her: for at this daye shee beggeth of many at this daye liuing, yt at this day had begged if she had not bene' (Complete Works, ii. 57). More's satire is already close to the manner of Elizabethan complaint in which present misery is shown in relief against past happiness. Churchyard's Mistress Shore, for example, succinctly contrasts her importance while Edward was alive - 'Who was but I? Who had such frendes at call?' - with her loss of status immediately after the king's death - 'His body was no sooner put in chest, | But wel was him that could procure my fall'.(14)
This rhetorical privileging of the fallen woman underlines Mistress Shore's value to More as a non-aristocrat, who can be written about because she isn't one of the amorphous courtly 'many' who elude identification. More signposts this in the anecdote about Edward's '.iii. concubines':
which in three diuers properties diuersly exceled. One the meriest, an other the wiliest, the thirde the holiest harlote in his realme, as one whom no man could get out of ye church lightly to any place, but it wer to his bed. The other two were somwhat greter parsonages, & Natheles of their humilitie content to be nameles, & to forbere the praise of those properties. But the meriest was this Shoris wife, in whom the king therfore toke speciall pleasure. (Complete Works, ii. 56)
Mistress Shore is simultaneously praised for her unpretentious joviality and slurred through More's identification of her which 'The other two' as 'somewhat greter parsonages' can avoid. In comparison with the mild titillation implicit in the portrayal of 'the holiest harlote' - an anonymous embodiment of male fantasy - Mistress Shore stands as a named woman with a particular appearance and definite social origins. However, at the moment of More's patriarchal naming of 'this Shoris wife', we must note she is well on the way to becoming a semi-historical fiction. Though he makes the historically authenticating claim that 'yet she liveth', More shows no detailed interest in her background or indeed her full name. Recent research has revealed that 'this Shoris wife', whom the Elizabethans rechristen Jane, was in fact called Elizabeth Lambert.(15) As both a mercer's daughter and 'a Kings concubin', Jane/Elizabeth is a socially marginal figure on whom later writers are at liberty to project their own agendas.
Thus More's portrait is intriguingly bifurcated. One the one hand, she is potently desirable ('Proper she was & faire . . . a proper wit had she. . . '), but on the other she functions as an exemplum of the evanescence of both beauty ('now she is old lene, withered, & dried vp, nothing left but ryuilde skin & hard bone') and power (Complete Works, ii. 55-6). This doubleness is best seen in the description of the penance - arguably the key incident in More's narrative, not only reworked by his literary imitators, but much later the subject of an early watercolour by Blake:
she went in countenance & pace demure so womanly, & albeit she were out of al array saue her kyrtle only: yet went she so fair & louely, namelye while the wondering of the people caste a comly rud in her chekes (of whiche she before had most misse) that her great shame wan her much praise, among those yt were more amorous of her body then curious of her soule. And many good folke also yt hated her liuing, & glad wer to se sin corrected, yet pitied thei more her penance, then rejoyced therin, when thei considred that ye Protector procured it, more of a corrupt intent than ani vertous affeccion. (Complete Works, ii. 55)
Mistress Shore is, first, presented in provocative undress as a suffering sexual icon, which the reader, like 'the wondering. . . people', watches and desires. But then a more orthodox penitential response is identified in those observers who were 'glad. . . to se sin corrected' yet reluctant to endorse this particular penance because they recognize it as another instance of Richard's 'corrupt intent'. More creates two kinds of voyeur - the 'amorous' and the 'good' - and expects the virtuous response of the latter to control the sexualized response of the former. But the problem the passage presents is that virtue does not textually efface vice. More's portrait is vibrant because it contains moral disapproval and sexual fascination simultaneously.
It is useful to observe that, despite the bewildering range of sixteenth-century texts of the History,(16) the sexual charge of this incident is shared by all its different textual incarnations. Compare, for example, Sylvester's English text above with Kinney's translation of the Latin, Historia Richardi Tertii:
her expression and gait were so decorous as she stepped forward, and despite her disheveled and unkempt appearance her face was so lovely, especially when shame sent a most fetching blush into her snowy cheeks, that this great dishonor won her no little measure of praise and goodwill from all those more desirous of her body than concerned for her soul. (Complete Works, xv. 425)
Mistress Shore's unsettling sexiness is evident in both versions. From the 'comly rud' of her 'fetching blush[es]' to the audience 'desirous/amorous of her body', the literary image of Mistress Shore and her fate created by More's various texts is relatively homogeneous.
So Elizabethan readers of More's History would have found in the Shore digression - whichever text they were reading - a story that was dynamic in implication. It could be viewed as simultaneously titillating, exemplary, and as a reflection on the relationship between the powerful and the powerless. In framing the penance story, More laconically presents it as another instance of Richard's hypocrisy, who poses 'as a goodly continent prince clene & fautles of himself, sent oute of heauen into this vicious world for the amendement of mens maners' (Complete Works, ii. 54). In such a context, the Shore narrative could become a dramatic illustration of the operation of royal power. Moreover, in his portrait of Mistress Shore More establishes a flawed but sympathetic figure, implicitly in an ideal position to speak out against the vagaries of political fortune.
If More's account provides the initial stimulus for the Shore narrative's literary vogue, Churchyard's Shores Wife is its defining Elizabethan text.(17) First published in the 1563 Mirror for Magistrates, it was reprinted in successive editions, and eventually expanded in Churchyards Challenge (1593) in response to Anthony Chute's Beawtie dishonoured written vnder the Title of Shores Wife (1593). The popularity of Churchyard's poem is readily explicable. Building directly on More, Shores Wife is a pithy and absorbing text which presents its heroine with characteristic ambivalence. It is precisely this ambivalence which Mistress Shore's competitors of the early 1590s recognize and complain about. Daniel's Rosamond observes that 'Shores wife is grac'd, and passes for a Saint';(18) Drayton's Matilda comments: 'The wife of SHORE winnes generall applause, | Finding a pen laborious in her prayse',(19) while the chaste Avisa dismisses both Mistress Shore and Rosamond as analogous royal concubines: 'Shores wife, a Princes secret frend, | Faire Rosomond, a Kings delight: | Yet both haue found a gastly end. . . now we see, their lasting shame.'(20) Daniel's and Drayton's complainants attest to Shores Wife's popularity and read it as a poetic exculpation of its subject. As the most widely disseminated Shore poem (and arguably the best before Drayton's own 'Epistle of Shores Wife to King Edward the Fourth')(21) it would demand critical attention; as a cunningly 'staged' poetic complaint embodying another bifurcated representation of Mistress Shore, it strongly anticipates Heywood's Edward IV.
The dramatic qualities of Churchyard's poem were not immediately recognized. On its first appearance in the 1563 Mirror, the poem is presented as a metrically smooth corrective to the preceding poem, Seager's inept Richard Plantagenet duke of Glocester.(22) But in the 1587 edition the 'eloquent wentch' provides her own self-conscious introduction:
I now appeare to him that fyrst set me forth. . . whose name is Churchyard: he shall not only haue the fame of his owne worke. . . but likewise haue all the glory I can gieue him, if hee lend mee the hearing of my woefull tale, a matter scarce fit for womans shamefastnes to bewray. But since without blushing I haue so long beene a talkatiue wench (whose words a world hath delighted in) I will now goe on boldly with my audacious manner: and so step I on the stage in my shrowding sheete as I was buried.(23)
The Mirror compilers clearly found Shores Wife 'absorbing' for the same reason as Kerrigan: because of Mistress Shore's ambivalent 'rhetorical character'.(24) Though Churchyard uses complaint didactically, he does not restrict his poem to a single acoustic of lament - the 'audacious manner' he gives Mistress Shore is a key element in the poem's enduring appeal.(25) So although the Shore narrative is rightly identified as a 'woefull tale', the poem and its 1587 introduction exhibit a fluctuation in tone between lament and a kind of flirtatious dubiety, evidently designed to appeal both to the masculine Baldwin circle and a wider male audience.(26) Given the overwhelming predominance of 'serious' male complainants in the Mirror as a whole, Mistress Shore's rhetorical audacity has the flavour in both the 1563 and the 1587 editions of 'light' relief: as a staged performer reciting her story for the audience's delectation, Mistress Shore becomes a kind of poetic stripper.(27) This sexual encoding is apparent in the description of the ghost, who, despite appearing as a corpse in her 'shrowding sheete', can still theoretically blush. To paraphrase the poem, 'Yea though ful dead and lowe in earth I laye' (1. 47), she remains sexually provocative to her Elizabethan admirers. In invoking the notion of a feminized modesty, or 'shamefastnes', which should ideally prevent her from articulating her story, the Mirror writers indicate that Mistress Shore's gender is the basis of her appeal: 'audaciously' she wants to speak and will do so, but 'shamefastly' she is aware that women should not speak of such 'unfit' matters.
The poem exhibits a similar tension between the presentation of Mistress Shore as a sinner or as a victim. It takes the form of a staged flirtation between the dead woman and her imagined audience: she wants to engage its sympathy however she can. The poem's central structuring conceit is therefore that of the legal complaint: a 'case' she wants 'to pleade . . . at large' (1. 113).(28) Since her 'good name is pluckt vp by the roote' (1.7), the Mirror's collection of 'the lives and falles of many wyghtes' offers her the chance of some posthumous restitution: 'nowe a time I see for me preparde. . . My tale therefore the better may be heard' (ll. 50-2). In her defence, Mistress Shore emphasizes that her actions were constrained by her family and her gender:
The lesse defame redoundes to my disprayse, I was entyste by traynes, and trapt by trust: Though in my power remayned yeas or nayes, Vnto my frendes yet nedes consent I must, In every thing, yea lawfull or vniust: They brake the boowes and shakte the tree by sleyght, And bent the wand that might have growen full streight. (ll. 134-40)
To the modern reader especially, this portrait of the matrimonial dilemma of an early modern woman is compelling and sympathetic. But the problem is that 'Shore's Wife' is a sexualized fiction manipulated by Churchyard. In the light of the severity with which sixteenth-century moralists viewed female adultery, the poem should have been read as the testimony of an unreliable speaker.(29) Daniel's Rosamond and Drayton's Matilda partly modify this view by reading Churchyard's poem as an exculpation of Mistress Shore. Yet neither speaker is an impartial witness: they are envious that this 'base' woman is poetically celebrated while they are neglected. Yet Rosamond and Matilda are important inasmuch as they articulate in cognate poems the kind of moral uncertainty Churchyard's text generates. On the one hand, Mistress Shore freely acknowledges that she was a moral agent ('in my power remayned yeas or nayes'), but, on the other, she insists that she was constantly under pressure from the superior forces of fortune, the world, her 'frendes', and eventually the king. The reader is challenged to judge between the view that she is an exemplary moral failure, who should have known better, and the contrasting view that she is a humble victim of royal power.
Mistress Shore's uncertain tone - fluctuating between boastfulness and repentance - mirrors the interpretative challenge the poem sets its readers. We can't be sure how to read Shores Wife since, in place of the third-person narration of More's History, Churchyard's Mistress Shore tells her own story. Though it shares this formal ambiguity with the other Mirror poems, Shores Wife uses the device more powerfully than its rivals precisely because of the plausibility of Mistress Shore's 'case' that she is a victim both of forced marriage(30) and royal power.(31) So it is fascinating that her assertion that her family 'bent the wand that might have growen full streight' should be adapted by Marlowe for the first line of the Epilogue of Doctor Faustus: 'Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight'.(32) The connection between the two texts is stronger than simply being another example of Marlowe's ear for a good iambic line. Like Faustus, Churchyard's Mistress Shore is a profoundly ambivalent character whose fall is at certain moments made to seem more exemplary than at others. Similarly, the first three lines of the Faustus Epilogue constitute an almost lyrical lament for Faustus as an Apollonian intellectual; the Epilogue only turns to direct moralization in its final five lines. Marlowe's adaptation of Churchyard's line is both another signpost of Shores Wife's enduring popularity and, more importantly, an implicit characterization of Faustus as a hero as ambivalent as Mistress Shore herself. In each case the metaphor of the 'wand' or 'branch' presents the hero as the passive object of someone else's bending or cutting. The implication similarly is that neither is wholly responsible for his or her 'hellish fall'.
Yet, unlike Faustus, Mistress Shore is at least clear about where the blame for her final fall lies: in the tyrannical figure of Richard III. Shores Wife contains two contrasting representations of power. In the first, Edward's royal power is simultaneously shown as something Mistress Shore cannot resist but still ought to. Churchyard subtly advertises this double standard by having Mistress Shore oscillate between similes which emphasize the subject's powerlessness before the king - 'The Egles force' which 'subdues eche byrd that flyes' - alongside a direct admission of guilt: 'I agreed the fort he shoulde assaulte' (ll. 84-5). Yet this guilt is modified, as in More's History, by the good use she makes of Edward's power: 'I ever did vpholde the common weale . . . Eche suters cause when that I vnderstoode, | I did preferre it as it had bene mine owne' (ll. 199-202). In other words, Mistress Shore implicitly suggests that her fall was initially justifiable by her disinterested amelioration of a royal power she herself did not resist.(33)
The poem's second image of power is altogether darker. Mistress Shore presents Richard as an inflexible tyrant she could not influence, even, ironically, on her own behalf: 'He falsely fayned, that I of counsayle was | To poyson him, which thing I never ment. . . To such mischiefe this Tyrantes heart was bent. | To God, ne man, he never stoode in awe, | For in his wrath he made his wyll a lawe' (ll. 295-301). In my reading, Shores Wife moves from implicit celebration of Edwardian power to explicit denunciation of Ricardian power. Hence in the first half of the poem, complaint is offset by Mistress Shore's pleasure in both her former influence and her status. This leads to the kind of rhetorical uncertainty I have already discussed. Like Mistress Shore herself, Edward's power is made ambivalent by the fact that her consent to his proposition is rhetorically both freely granted and forced by his superior power. Yet there is no such ambivalence in the presentation of Richard's power. Mistress Shore inveighs against Richard, a king she cannot influence, as a type of tyranny and malevolence. In this stanza, Churchyard adapts one of the primary biblical complaints, Job's curse against the hour of his conception:
Woe wurth the man that fathered such a childe: Wow worth the hower wherein thou wast begate, Woe wurth the brestes that have the world begylde, To norryshe thee that all the world did hate. Woe wurth the Gods that gave thee such a fate, To lyve so long, that death deserved so ofte. Woe wurth the chance that set thee vp alofte. (ll. 330-6)
Like the Queens in Richard III, IV. iv, Churchyard's Mistress Shore turns to complaint when she has exhausted her other options. In this way, complaint becomes an index of feminine political incapacity, a rhetorical signpost which simultaneously heightens the power of the text and identifies the speaker as politically impotent.(34)
Yet what is most interesting about Shores Wife's two representations of power is the lack of connection between the two. In Mistress Shore's account, Edward and Richard are not linked as political agents. Hence, in the stanza above, Richard's parents are cursed without any sense that they were also Edward's parents. The point I want to make is that Mistress Shore, like most Elizabethans, fundamentally distinguishes between the lecherous Edward IV and the tyrannical Richard III.(35) Yet her experience of royal power as an arbitrary force she cannot resist is essentially the same under both kings. Though the poem's image of Edward is modified by his glamour and the ambivalence of Mistress Shore's response to him, Richard's inflexibility dramatizes the force underlying Edward's proposition. As she asks in relation to Edward, 'Who can withstand a puissant kynges desyre?' (l. 89).
The question is pertinent to both monarchs, yet in Shores Wife complaint against regal power is only directed at Richard. As I have explained, Edward is partly exonerated by Mistress Shore's admission of her active participation in the seduction. It takes the two-part drama of Heywood's Edward IV to make explicit the connection between Edward's and Richard's treatment of Mistress Shore.
Edward IV is of course not the first play to dramatize the Shore narrative: it was preceded on stage and in print by the True Tragedy of Richard 111.(36) But although the play lacks chronological priority, it is nonetheless both an important late 1590s contribution to the genre of chronicle history and the most emotionally resonant Elizabethan reworking of the Shore narrative. As the Quarto title-pages make clear, the appeal of both parts of the play was firmly rooted in the wretched lives and deaths of the Shores: it promises the reader Edward's 'loue to fayre Mistresse Shoare, her great promotion, fall and misery, and lastly the lamentable death of both her and her husband'.(37) In recent years, Edward IV has become something of a test case for scholars interested in assessing the subversive capacity of the Elizabethan stage. Since Heywood was to enunciate in the Apology for Actors (1612) the simplistic didactic aesthetic that plays 'teach the subjects obedience to their kings',(38) Edward IV demands attention because of the varied relationships it presents between rulers and the ruled. Richard Helgerson, in a seminal essay, contrasts the 'excruciatingly painful death[s]' of the merchant-class Shores with Shakespeare's alleged lack of sympathy with the plight of the common people in his histories.(39) For Helgerson, Edward IV makes the point that 'effective resistance' to kingly power 'is impossible - indeed, unthinkable'.(40) I am not so directly concerned with the wider debate about the class allegiances of Shakespeare and Heywood. Rather, I will focus on the narrower issue of how Heywood adapts for the stage the verse complaint which through the poems of Churchyard, Chute, and Drayton(41) is an essential rhetorical element of his sources. In my reading, the importance of complaint is that it becomes a progressively more ambiguous rhetorical practice through the course of Heywood's plays. While set-piece complaint attempts to interpret the action in the exemplary terms with which Churchyard's poem closes, the final scenes of Edward IV, Part 2, establish what can be called a complaining action in tension with the normative, quiescent morality of exemplary complaint. Close reading of Heywood's dramatic manipulation of complaint should illuminate the wider debate about Edward IV as a political and domestic drama.
The first thing we need to observe is that Heywood's Shore narrative is distinctive. In the figure of Matthew Shore, Heywood invents a loyal and loving husband for Jane in place of the shadowy cuckold to whom the Mistress Shore of More and Churchyard was contracted by her family. This has two major effects on Heywood's handling of the narrative. First, it means that Jane makes no complaints against forced marriage; the issue which bulks so large in Shores Wife and Beawtie dishonoured is wholly absent from Edward IV. The second effect is more paradoxical. Because Jane has no partial excuse for her adultery in the inadequacy of her husband, Edward IV, Part 1, dramatizes the seduction as an aggressive display of royal power to which the commoner must submit. Though Jane laments as though she had a choice in the matter, the crucial dialogue makes clear she has none:
JANE. If you enforce me, I haue nought to say; But wish I had not liude to see this day.
KING. Blame not the time, thou shalt haue cause to joy. Jane in the euening I wil send for thee, And thou and thine shall bee aduancde by me. In signe whereof receiue this true = loue kisse, Nothing ill meant, there can bee no amisse. [Exit.
JANE. Well I will in, and ere the time beginne, Learne how to be repentant for my sinne. [Exit.
Though Jane and the king each speak in rather stilted rhyming couplets, the values they articulate are widely divergent. She emphasizes the 'sinne' of her proposed life at court and reiterates throughout the scene her reluctance to abandon her 'mean estate' and 'conscience free' (Sig. J4). She is a middle-class woman aware of the moral gravity of the king's proposition. By contrast the king hardly listens to Jane, blithely instructing her to cheer up and pack her bags. As from the play's opening scene, he speaks from the security of a power which can realize his erotic whims. It is a nice dramatic touch that he should leave the stage as soon as his orders have been given: he had not listened to Jane's moral reluctance while they were ostensibly talking to each other, now he physically absents himself from hearing what she says.
The point which Heywood insistently makes is that the Shores are powerless to resist the Plantagenets. So in the next scene, when Matthew hears that Jane has been taken to court, he laments his political impotence:
I cannot helpe it; a Gods name, let her goe, You cannot helpe it Unckle, no, nor you, Where kinges are medlers, meaner men must rue I storme against it? no, farewell Jane Shore, Once thou wast mine, but must be so no more.
In this speech Matthew attempts to forgo complaint, or 'storm[ing]' against his wrongs, in favour of a repressed quiescence. In effect he recognizes the political danger of any speech against what has happened to him as implicitly a speech against Plantagenet power; as he earlier notes, 'The wrong is mine, by whom? a king, | To talke of such it is no common thing' (Sig. K2). Yet, as the audience will see in Part 2, Matthew's chief dramatic function is to register the effects of Edward's seduction of Jane. This he can only do through a species of complaint which is constantly verging on the kind of outright attack on Edward that Churchyard's Mistress Shore makes on Richard III.
Matthew's difficulties are precisely shown in his determination to leave England.(42) He says that 'It neuer shall be said that Matthew Shore | A kings dishonor in his bonnet wore', and begins to make a formal farewell to England and Edward before cutting himself off:
Striue not to change me, for I am resolude, And will not tarrie. England fare thou well, And Edward, for requiting me so well, But dare I speake of him? forbeare, forbeare.
There is a good deal of ambiguity in these lines which could be brought out in performance. Read on its own, 'But dare I speake of him?' suggests that Helgerson is correct in saying that resistance to Edward is 'unthinkable'; read with the preceding lines it sounds rather as though Matthew is reminding himself that such resistance should be unthinkable. Yet both his syntactic structures and his determination to leave the scene of his shame are indicative of a fierce resentment which is in the awkward process of being kept in check. Furthermore, Matthew's self-imposed exile metaphorically realizes Edward's dispossession of his wife, as does his adoption in Part 2 of the punning alias Floud: Edward denies the cuckolded middle-class patriarch the ability to use his own proper name without shame. The dramatic impact of these devices is, I think, more problematic than Helgerson's reading allows for. Though Matthew never explicitly condemns the king, his every action after Jane's seduction becomes an implicit critique of the effect of royal power on the lives of the loyal bourgeoisie. And, as we have seen, Matthew comes perilously close to speaking directly against Edward.
So Heywood's reworking of the Shore narrative achieves two things. As Marilyn L. Johnson observes, the changes to the source make Jane into both a type of the play's middle-class audience and a repentant sinner.(43) Similarly, Matthew represents a middle-class patriarchy bereaved of its matrimonial possessions by an all-powerful king. Secondly, by making Matthew both an outraged and a loving husband, Heywood creates a melodramatic, dispossessed figure whose chief function in Part 2 becomes that of lamenting chorus. In Edward IV Matthew Shore is as important a complainant as Jane Shore herself. So, in examining the literary career of a classic female complainant, we are paradoxically brought back to the universality of the mode as a rhetorical practice.
Edward IV should be viewed as a play deeply imbued with complaint motifs. I suggest that it is valuable to distinguish between two major kinds of complaint in the plays: first a quasi-legal complaint to regal authority, and secondly a more generalized complaint or lament against what Edward calls 'the time', the prevailing human conditions the plays' action represents.(44) Legal complaint is strongly present in the episodes of Hobs the Tanner of Tamworth in Part 1, and Stranguidge, Brackenbury's cousin in Part 2. These characters present petitions either directly to the king or through his representatives; in Part 2, following the established conventions of the Shore narrative, Jane becomes a vocal advocate on behalf of these suitors. Indeed, it is worth noticing that the Falconbridge rebellion, which opens Part 1, draws both on the carnivalesque (as noted by Helgerson and others)(45) and complaint, as an illegal petition against Yorkist authority which Falconbridge mobilizes into insurrection.(46)
Generalized or emotive complaint is the essential rhetorical device in Heywood's handling of the Shore narrative: we have already observed Jane's conscience-stricken grieving over her seduction. As the tragic action develops in Part 2, the audience witnesses an increasing number of emotive complaints: Matthew's laments for Jane's erstwhile virtue, Queen Elizabeth's complaint against and sentimental sympathizing with Jane, through to the finale itself. Though the office of king precludes the need for legal complaint, it is interesting that neither Edward nor Richard appear as convincing complainants. Edward has a brief struggle with his conscience when he first sees Jane, but his reflection that 'Her husband hath deserued well of thee' is immediately undercut by a more characteristically Edwardian remark: 'Tut, loue makes no respect, where ere it be' (Sig. H2). Heywood's practice indicates that both kinds of complaint are specific to the disempowered: political outcasts, humble suitors, condemned prisoners, cuckolded husbands, neglected queens, and seduced mistresses. This dichotomy between the complaining masses and serene kings is particularly well shown in Part 2's tragic climax.
Despite Heywood's fine appreciation of the dramatic possibilities of domestic pathos, again I suspect it is too convenient to see the Shores' deaths only as an example of Heywood's empathic presentation of the woes of ordinary people.(47) Certainly the death of the Shores constitutes the emotional climax of the drama and is a further example of Heywood's refining of the Shore narrative for the stage, since according to More and Churchyard Mistress Shore's impoverished death occurs long after her penance. Dramatically then the Shores' almost immediate demise after their encounters with Ricardian authority is politically as well as emotionally significant. Playing up to an audience familiar with Shakespeare's Richard III, Heywood presents the Shores as the first victims of his reign. I suggest that the pain and pathos of their deaths becomes an indictment not only of Richard but also of Edward, since their fall depends as much on Edward's behaviour in Part 1 as on Richard's in Part 2.
Given the awfulness of the Shores' deaths (presumably from starvation, but possibly as a consequence of the emotional strain of their final reunion) it is not surprising that complaint is so prevalent in these scenes. Again, a great variety of complaint is employed. In the scene which follows her off-stage penance, Jane interprets her fall as a justified reward for her sin: 'therefore in derision was I wrapt, | In this white Sheete . . . That hauing light of reason to direct me: | Delighted yet in by = waies of darke error' (Sig. U3). In this idiom, Jane recalls Churchyard's Mistress Shore in viewing her fall both as exemplary and as a spur towards penitence. But Jane's exemplary complaint is also shot through with residual impatience that her voice no longer has any political power, as in her final soliloquy:
If griefe to speech free passage could afford, Or for ech woe I had a fitting word, I might complaine, or if my flouds of teares, Could moue remorse of minds, or pearce dul eares, Or wash away my cares, or cleanse my crime: With words & tears I would bewaile the time. But it is bootless, why liue I to see, All those dispised that do pittie me. Dispisde? alas, destroyed, and led to death, That gaue me almes here to prolong my breath. Fair Dames behold, let my example proue, There is no loue like to a husbands loue.
This is worth quoting in full since its complexity is both poetic and dramatic. Until the turning-point, 'But it is bootless', this could almost be read as an extract from a non-dramatic Shore poem: Jane (or the poet through whom 'she' speaks) reflects self-consciously on the limitations of all complaint in the languid, complaining cadences of neat heroic couplets. Emotive complaint can never be accurate enough to find 'a fitting word' for 'ech woe'; Jane's current predicament conclusively demonstrates that legal complaint cannot 'moue remorse of minds, or pearce dul eares'. And it is precisely this paradoxically aggrieved feeling of the uselessness of complaint which dramatically breaks through: formal complaint is shown to be 'bootless' by the arrest of Jane's alms-giving friends, Matthew and Aire, which immediately precedes this soliloquy. But the strangest thing about this self-conscious complaint is the unexpected turn back to the exemplary in the final couplet. This sounds deceptively like Churchyard's concluding moralization: 'Example take by me both maide and wyfe, | Beware, take heed, fall not to follie so' (Shores Wife, ll. 388-9). There is nothing intrinsically difficult about Jane speaking outside of her role to moralize directly to the audience; she is after all soliloquizing, and she is a fallen woman from whom this kind of comment might be expected.(48) Nonetheless there is a hermeneutic disjunction between the lament for her friends 'destroyed, and led to death, | That gaue me almes' - a comment which implicitly questions both Richard as the architect of her friends' misfortune and the underlying principle of cosmic justice - and the facile moralism of the final couplet. What is an audience to make of this? At one level, as Johnson argues, Jane articulates the normative morality of Heywood's bourgeois audience. But I suspect that, like Matthew's self-censored farewell to Edward in Part 1, this is a case in which the exemplary formula allows both Heywood and Jane to avoid following through the subversive logic of her central complaint. If the semantic connection between the final couplet and the rest of the speech is clumsy, then at least it is a clumsiness which frankly admits the difficulty of what Edward IV is trying to articulate.(49)
The court scene which follows Jane's soliloquy further deepens the sense of political tension at the play's climax. Richard opens the scene ironically by asking his treacherous agent Rufford 'which of these it is. . . Contemnes our crowne, disdaines our dignitie, | And armes himselfe against authoritie' (Sig. X4). For Richard his personal 'dignitie' and the abstract idea of 'authoritie' are synonymous: to disdain the one is necessarily to challenge the other. Heywood's deliberately charmless Richard adopts the role of a Plantagenet Creon, explicitly stating that any act of charity towards Jane is an act against his authority. As he quips to Aire, 'Your good deuotion brings you to the gallows' (Sig. Y). In other words, the conventional moral imperatives of caritas - Aire's 'good deuotion' to Jane - are subordinate to Richard's regal fiat.
But the focal point of this scene is the dialogue between Richard and Matthew. Matthew initially establishes his loyalty to Richard by denouncing Rufford's treachery. Unlike Falconbridge or Rufford himself, Matthew is a loyal servant of the established power acting not from self-interest but on the basis of absolute moral and legal values; as he comments to the condemned Rufford, 'Thou hast but iustice for thy crueltie, | Against the guiltlesse soules in miserie' (Sig. Y2). Yet this sense of transcendent values is immediately undercut by Richard's intervention:
Craust thou no fauour? then I tell thee Floud, Thou art a traitor breaking our Edict, By succouring that traitrous queane Shores wife. And thou shalt die.
For Richard, Matthew's unmasking of Rufford does not mitigate his breaking of 'our Edict': he remains a de facto traitor. Yet, by revealing his true identity, Matthew can argue that he has a legal as well as a moral right to succour Jane. This is the play's final legal complaint to authority, and it is wholly in keeping with the character of the denouement that it should be undercut as soon as it is granted:
SHORE . . . . if it be death to the relenting hart Of a kind husband, wronged by a king, To pittie his poore weake seduced wife, Whom all the world must suffer by command, To pine and perish for the want of foode: If it be treason for her husband then, In the deare bowels of his former loue, To bury his owne wrong and her misdeed, And giue her meat whom he was wont to feede, Then Shore must die; for Floud is not my name, Though once I tooke it to conceale my shame. Pittie permits not iniurd Shore passe by, And see his once loude wife with famine die.
GLOS . . . . this is Shore indeed, Shore, we confesse that thou hast priuiledge, And art excepted in our Proclamation, Because thou art her husband whom it concernes, And thou mayest lawfully relieue thy wife, Upon condition thou forgiue her fault, Take her againe; and use her as before; Hazard new hornes, how sayest thou, wilt thou Shore?
Matthew's idiom is quite specific. As the preceding dialogue establishes, he is not craving a favour. Rather, his petition measures the extent of Richard's tyranny through a series of connected conditional propositions: if a husband is not permitted to feed his starving wife 'Then Shore must die'. His case is in many ways identical to Aire's: his actions were prompted by charitable compassion and former love. Such a complaint is implicitly framed as a challenge to Richard's repressive edict. Richard, however, responds only to the precise claim that charity should be licit for Jane's husband 'whom it concernes'. Furthermore, Richard grants this dispensation on the precondition that Matthew should sexually 'use' Jane 'as before; | Hazard new hornes'. While Matthew successfully establishes his legal right, his revelation of his identity lays him open to further abuse by the royal family. He is doubly 'wronged by a king' - first by Edward's seduction of Jane, and secondly by Richard's mockery of him as a cuckold. When he replies 'If any but your Grace should so upbraid, | Such rude reproch should roughly be repaid' (Sig. Y2) Matthew articulates his central dilemma. A man wronged by kings has no legal means of gaining redress: he must either rebel or complain. Given Matthew's construction as a loyal member of the merchant classes, he ends Part 2 in the same condition in which he ended Part 1: complaining against an authority to which he is only of the mildest concern. Yet, as at the end of Part 1, the play's dramatic construction strongly engages the audience's sympathy with the wronged husband. So the paradox of Heywood's drama is that historically marginal figures - in Matthew's case a wholly fictional figure - are at the centre of the stage, while the supposed makers of history are displaced to the margins of dramatic interest.
This paradox is also present in the contrast between the play's last two scenes. The final scene shows Richard's coronation, deepening the sense of him as 'a verie diuell' (Sig. Z), albeit one as charmless as Shakespeare's was charming. By contrast the penultimate scene, the play's emotional climax, presents the Shores' deaths in a context of judicial cruelty and emotive complaint. In this case the cruelty contributes so powerfully to the complaint that it constitutes what can be called a complaining action. This is an action which the audience knows is transgressively unjust, tending to produce lamentation, as in the murder of Horatio in The Spanish Tragedy. The scene begins with the punishment of Jockie (whipping) and Aire (hanging). Both characters are punished for the morally good action of relieving Jane; in case the audience doesn't get the point, Aire contrasts Jane's 'vertue' with Richard's 'sin' (Sig. Y3). The complaining action is completed by the tableau of the finally reunited and dying Shores putting Aire's body into a coffin:
Heere they putte the body of yong Aire into a Coffin, and then hee sits downe on the one side of it, and shee on the other.
[SHORE.] Jane sit thou there, heere I my place will haue, Giue mee thy hand, thus we embrace our graue, Ah Jane, he that the depth of woe will see, Let him but now beholde our misery. But be content, this is the best of all, Lower than now we are, we cannot fall.
JANE. Ah, I am faint, how happy Ayre art thou, Not feeling that which doth afflict us now?
Dramatically Jane and Matthew have reached a position of static and exemplary agony. The actors are displayed to the audience as dying objects which construct an emblematic representation of 'the depth of woe'; mortal misery is contrasted with the comparative happiness of these who are dead already. Yet even at the point of death Heywood's tragic tableau is more than just an exemplary metaphor. The emphasis placed in this scene on the importance of burial continues the allusion we have already noted to the Antigone story. By attempting to bury Aire's body the Shores exhibit not only a Christian compassion for their dead friend, but an implicit opposition to the irreligious Richard-Creon. This motif is continued after the Shores' own deaths by Brackenbury's discovery of the bodies. He promises 'They shall not lie thus in the open way. . . At mine own charge Ile giue them buriall' (Sig. Z). Thus the complaining action of this scene is a dramatic restatement of the ethical claims of the dead or the outcast which Richard's tyrannical edict attempts to countervail.
Furthermore, after the Shores' final kiss and Jane's death, Matthew makes the explicit complaint against the Plantagenet kings he has been stifling since the end of Part 1:
Now tyrant Richard doo the worst thou canst, She doth defie thee, oh unconstant world, Here lies a true Anatomie of thee, A king had all my ioye, that her inioyde, And by a king againe she was destroyde: All ages of my kingly woes shall tell, Once more inconstant world farewell, farewell.
Though Helgerson is right that this is not a call to oppose the principle of regal power,(50) to the reader of other Shore narratives it is nonetheless a powerful and arresting statement. Unlike Shores Wife, this concluding lament is able to make the crucial link between Edward and Richard as connected abusers of Jane through the figure of Matthew. The power of this speech, then, is the simplicity of its connection between Edward's enjoyment of Jane and Richard's destruction of her; in Heywood's unfussy couplet, enforced adultery leads to the anguished deaths the audience is witnessing. Hence the speech is both an emotive complaint against the condition of the 'inconstant world' and an eloquent summary of Heywood's handling of the Shore narrative. And what Heywood finally stresses is not the ambivalence of Jane's character, or indeed her function as a warning to other women, but rather the 'kingly woes' both Shores have endured. Complaint in Edward IV tends towards the inculpation not only of the 'inconstant world', but of a regal authority which is ultimately reckless of the lives of ordinary people.
Through these three texts we have observed an important sixteenth-century literary phenomenon: the versification and subsequent dramatization of historical narrative. But the Shore story is not just another episode from chronicle history. It is an ideologically loaded sexual encounter between rulers and the ruled, engaging with powerful anxieties about both gender and broader political relations. As such, the generic transformations the story undergoes inevitably develop different potentialities within the narrative. More's digression, which invents Mistress Shore as a literary figure, uses her as a satiric counter whose flawed moral integrity paradoxically highlights the hypocrisy of the Plantagenet political elite. Churchyard's exemplary complaint follows More in characterizing Mistress Shore as an attractively ambivalent figure who complains against the institution of forced marriage and denounces Richard III as a tyrant. Heywood's two-part chronicle play makes the Shore narrative its 'moral and affective center',(51) dramatizing the stark dichotomy between the experience of its bourgeois victims and its regal persecutors. Building on the satiric aspects of More's account, Churchyard and Heywood each employ a rhetoric of complaint and lament. In each case, analysis of complaint draws attention to strains between literary quiescence and innovation. So, in Churchyard's poem, the sense of the wretchedness of forced marriage competes with the idea of Mistress Shore as an exemplary fallen woman, whose 'bad' example others should learn from. Similarly, in Edward IV, the exemplary view of Jane Shore collides with the dramatic presentation of her and her husband as helpless victims of a superior power.
Both Churchyard and Heywood conceive of the narrative in fundamentally dramatic terms: Shores Wife is a staged performance by the dead woman, while Edward IV tragically dramatizes Jane's life from bourgeois respectability to disgraced indigence. For both writers, the complaint mode becomes not only a means of articulating their subjects' grief, but a fundamental component in how the story is being told.(52) But although Edward IV is strongly marked by different kinds of complaint, it does not simply stage Shores Wife. As the story is dramatized, so its inherent political tensions become more apparent: Heywood's plays emphasize that Edward's seduction and Richard's persecution of Jane are related aspects of the same absolute power in a way that Churchyard's poem does not. Cumulatively, it is this power which the many suitors and victims portrayed in Edward IV complain against as they attempt to mitigate its impact on their lives. As a rhetorical practice, the complaints of Shores Wife and Edward IV betray some of the most profound social pressures in Elizabethan England: between parents and children, husbands and wives, and ultimately monarchs and their people. Complaint underlines not only the fallen woman's folly but also the king's reckless use of power.
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1 The True Tragedy of Richard III, ed. W. W. Greg. (Oxford, 1929), ll. 1071-80.
2 The only other recent work on Mistress Shore is S. M. Pratt, 'Jane Shore and the Elizabethans: Some Facts and Speculations', Texas Studies in Literature and Language, 11 (1969), 1293-306. Pratt is chiefly interested in accounting for the popularity of the Shore narrative which he connects with contemporary anxiety about the evils of forced marriage.
3 Michael Drayton, 'The Epistle of Rosamund to King Henrie the Second', ll. 11-12, in Motives of Woe: Shakespeare and 'Female Complaint', ed. J. Kerrigan (Oxford, 1991), 192; see also Kerrigan's introduction, pp. 71-4.
4 Pratt, 'Jane Shore', already performs this function.
5 R. D. Brown, '"The new Poete": Novelty and Tradition in Spenser's Complaints' (D.Phil. thesis, University of York, 1995). A revised version is forthcoming in Liverpool University Press's English Text and Studies series.
6 Ibid. See ch. 4, 'Poetry's "liuing tongue" in The Teares of the Muses'.
7 See H. Dubrow, 'A Mirror for Complaints: Shakespeare's Lucrece and Genetic Tradition', in B. K. Lewalski (ed.), Renaissance Genres: Essays on Theory, History and Interpretation (Cambridge, Mass. and London, 1986), 399-417. Dubrow usefully points out Shakespeare's self-conscious eccentricity in terms of the 'subgenre' she identifies of early 1590s poems about women seduced or propositioned by monarchs. Like Spenser, Shakespeare is so conscious of the genre's literary and psychological limitations that he makes his poem into a searching commentary on it.
8 See Motives of Woe, ed. Kerrigan, 1-83; J. Peter, Complaint and Satire in Early English Literature (Oxford, 1956) is the only comprehensive survey of this field, but Peter's interests are very much in satire at the expense of complaint.
9 The standard edition of the History is vol. ii of Yale Complete Works of St. Thomas More, ed. R. S. Sylvester (New Haven, Conn., 1963); references are to this edition and are given in parentheses in the text. Vol. xv includes a newly edited text and translation of the Latin version, Historia Richardi Tertii, by D. Kinney (New Haven, Conn., 1986), which I have also consulted.
10 See Pratt, 'Jane Shore', 1294-5; King Richard III, ed. A. Hammond, the Arden Shakespeare (London and New York, 1981), 74-5. The various texts in which More's History was accessible to Elizabethan readers would clearly have an enormous impact on the reading of both the Richard narrative and the inset Shore story. For example, Hall's The Union of the Two Noble Families of Lancaster and York (1550) and Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland (1577) each frame More's text differently: Holinshed explicitly signals More's authorship and dates the History at 1513, while Hall acknowledges More's contribution only in his prefatory list of sources. Thus More's text appears either as the work of a recognized authority incorporated into a larger narrative compilation, or as a further chapter in a more teleologically fixed account of the genealogical union between the 'Two Noble Families of Lancaster and York'. The picture is further complicated by the various English and Latin editions of More's works; see Sylvester's introduction in Complete Works, vol. ii, for details.
11 Richard III and his Early Historians: 1485-1535 (Oxford, 1975), 179.
12 See A. Fox, Thomas More: History and Providence (Oxford, 1982), 91-3, for a brilliant reading of the History's protagonists as all undermined by political irresponsibility. Fox does not directly consider Mistress Shore as the one exception to this corrupt polity.
13 On 16th-cent. attitudes to female adultery see M. L. Johnson, Images of Women in the Works of Thomas Heywood, Salzburg Studies in English Literature: Jacobean Drama Studies 42 (Salzburg, 1974), 55-60, and 60-70 for a reading of Heywood's presentation of Jane Shore in Edward IV.
14 Shores Wife, 11. 288-91, in Motives of Woe, ed. Kerrigan, 121.
15 See Hanham, Richard III, 179 n.
16 See n. 10 above for details.
17 A full critical text of Shores Wife is included in Motives of Woe, ed. Kerrigan, 112-24. I quote from this edition unless otherwise stated.
18 The Complaint of Rosamund (1592), 1. 25, in Motives of Woe, ed. Kerrigan, 165.
19 The Legend of Matilda (1596), 11. 36-7, in The Works of Michael Drayton, ed. J. W. Hebel et al. (Oxford, 1932, repr. 1965), ii. 412.
20 Willobie His Avisa (1594), ed. G. B. Harrison (Edinburgh, 1966), 34.
21 Englands Heroicall Epistles, first published in 1597. Motives of Woe, ed. Kerrigan, prints the Epistles of Rosamund and Mistress Shore from this edition, but the Epistles went through ten more editions before Drayton's final revision for Poems 1619.
22 The Mirror for Magistrates, ed. L. B. Campbell (Cambridge, 1938, repr. 1950), 371-2. See also Richard III, ed. Hammond, 87.
23 Mirror for Magistrates, ed. Campbell, 372.
24 Motives of Woe, ed. Kerrigan, 113.
25 On the acoustics of 'Female Complaint' especially, see ibid. 1-83.
26 Cf. Germaine Greer's remark that such 'Female Complaint' is 'an essentially masculine mode, predicated on a sado-masochistic sexual dynamic', in Motives of Woe, ed. Kerrigan, 75. Such a dynamic is even more apparent in Chute's treatment of Mistress Shore.
27 Cf. Drayton's prose note on his Shore 'Epistle' describing 'That picture which I haue seene of hers, was such as she rose out of her bed in the morning, hauing nothing on but a ritch Mantle cast vnder one arme ouer her shoulder, and sitting in a chaire on which her naked arme did lye.' This is both an ecphrastic development of More's description of the penance, and a quasi-pornographic intimate 'staging' of Mistress Shore for the delectation of the reader. In Motives of Woe, ed. Kerrigan, 205.
28 See also ll. 148, 383-5.
29 Vives typifies the patriarchal orthodoxy: 'chastyte is the principall vertue of a woman and countrpeyseth with all the reste: if she have that, no man wyll loke for any other: and if she lacke that, no man wyll regarde other'. See V. Wayne, 'Some Sad Sentence: Vives' Instruction of a Christian Woman', in M. P. Hannay (ed.), Silent But For the Word: Tudor Women as Patrons, Translators, and Writers of Religious Works (Kent, Oh., 1985), 23-4. See also N. Jones, The Birth of the Elizabethan Age: England in the 1560s (Oxford, 1993), 114-16, for a pithy summary with illustrations. Finally, see Willobie His Avisa, ed. Harrison, for a lengthy poetic reiteration of the value of female chastity.
30 See Jones, Birth of the Elizabethan Age, 87-118, for a fine description of 'the contradictions within the impossible ideal of Tudor marital relations'.
31 Cf. Seager's Richard III's description of his corpse's treatment: 'My body it was hurryed and tugged like a Dogge. . . With greuous woundes bemangled most horrible to se | So sore did they abhorre this my vile crueltye.' First-person narration does nothing to palliate Seager's disgust at Richard's 'crueltye'. In Mirror for Magistrates, ed. Campbell, 370.
32 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus and Other Plays, ed. D. Bevington and E. Rasmussen (Oxford and New York, 1995), 183, 246.
33 Dubrow, 'A Mirror for Complaints', 403, observes that the expanded version of the poem published in Churchyards Challenge (1593) 'increases our sympathy' for Mistress Shore 'by lengthening the heroine's demonstration that she used her power judiciously'. See also Kerrigan's textual notes: Motives of Woe, 304.
34 See Richard III, ed. Hammond, 89: 'Shakespeare seems to have been stimulated by the rhetoric [of Shores Wife] while eschewing the content.' See also P. Rackin, 'Engendering the Tragic Audience: The Case of Richard III', in D. Barker and I. Kamps (edd.), Shakespeare and Gender: A History (London and New York, 1995), 263-82, for a reading of Act IV, sc. iv, as a deliberate restriction of feminine autonomy to the traditional rhetorical topoi at which Mistress Shore also excels.
35 As a curious example of this, see Astrophil and Stella, 75, a sonnet ostensibly and improbably in praise of Edward as a faithful lover.
36 The True Tragedy was printed in 1594, while Edward IV first appeared in 1599. The dating of Edward IV is, however, complicated and the play may have been performed long before its first printing. See n. 41 below.
37 Thomas Heywood, The First and Second Parts of King Edward IV. A Facsimile Reprint of the unique Copy of the First Edition (1599) in the Library of Charles W. Clark, ed. S. De Ricci (New York and Philadelphia, 1922). The only copy of this rare facsimile that I am aware of is in the Bodleian, shelfmark M. adds. 1068d. 113.
38 Apology for Actors (1612), quoted from D. Bevington, Tudor Drama and Politics: A Critical Approach to Topical Meaning (Cambridge, Mass., 1968), 242. See also Rackin, 'Engendering the Tragic Audience', 265-6, for a suggestive reading of the Apology's accounts of the moral effects of domestic tragedy, especially on the female members of the audience. She notes: 'the spectators were repeatedly and consistently described in contemporary accounts as moved to emotions and responses (compassion, remorse, pity, tears) that were understood as feminine'.
39 R. Helgerson, 'Staging Exclusion', in Forms of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England (Chicago and London, 1992), 233. See also A. Barton, 'The King Disguised: Shakespeare's Henry V and the Comical History (1975)', in Essays, Mainly Shakespearian (Cambridge, 1994), which prompts some of Helgerson's claims.
40 Helgerson, 'Staging Exclusion', 239.
41 Drayton's pair of letters between Edward IV and Mistress Shore were possibly important for Heywood in outlining the scenario used in Edward IV, Part 1, in which the king 'Steales to the Citie in a strange Disguise, | To view that Beautie'; The Works of Michael Drayton, ed. Hebel, ii. 247. However, the fact that Englands Heroicall Epistles was first published in 1597 (see n. 21) and the ambiguous dating of Edward IV (n. 36) means that it is difficult to establish unequivocally who was influencing whom at this point.
42 Matthew's self-exile is an expansion of the story repeated by both More and Churchyard that Mistress Shore's husband 'Refused to kepe a prynces concubine' (Shores Wife, ll. 190-6). Churchyard's passage especially hints at the resentment which Heywood further develops: 'Though inward thought his hart did still torment, | Yet outwardly he seemde he was content.'
43 Johnson, Images of Women, 66.
44 For the 'censure of the times', see Brown, '"The new Poete"', 30 ff.; E. R. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, trans. W. R. Trask (Princeton, NJ, 1953, 1990), 95-8.
45 Helgerson, 'Staging Exclusion', 220-2; K. E. McLuskie, Dekker and Heywood: Professional Dramatists (London, 1994), 56-7.
46 See Falconbridge's initial complaint that Henry VI 'by that Tyrant Edward the vsurper, | Is held a wretched prisoner in the Tower' (Sig. B).
47 See H. Smith, 'A Woman killed with Kindness', PMLA 53 (1938), 143-7, which depoliticizes Edward IV by reading the Shore scenes simply as an anticipation of the exemplary adultery drama of A Woman.
48 See Rackin, 'Engendering the Tragic Audience', 267-8, for the suggestion that the female characters in Richard III are disempowered by their removal from the theatrically liminal space of the platea. Jane here speaks from the platea, but in the final couplet she is doing so in a way which simply confirms the patriarchal construction of her as a 'bad' woman.
49 Jane's longer soliloquy earlier in this scene follows a similar pattern. First she laments her former life then welcomes poverty. Then she emotively expands on her outcast condition before turning to a stoical patience which leads to the exemplary formula: 'Come patience then, and though my bodie pine, | Make then a banquet to refresh my soule. . . That who so knew me, and dooth see me now, | May shunne by me the breach of wedlocks vow' (Sigs. U3-4). The world contempt which marks these speeches is anticipated in Part I by the execution of the rebel Falconbridge. He also forgives his executioner as Jane forgives the parators who supervise her penance.
50 Helgerson, 'Staging Exclusion', 239.
51 Ibid. 235.
52 This aspect of the narrative was recognized by the young Jane Austen: 'One of Edward's Mistresses was Jane Shore, who has had a play written about her, but it is a tragedy and therefore not worth reading' (the play is almost certainly Rowe's tragedy): The History of England (London, 1995), 5.
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|Title Annotation:||three versions of the story of Edward IV's mistress Jane Shore|
|Author:||Brown, Richard Danson|
|Publication:||The Review of English Studies|
|Date:||Nov 1, 1998|
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