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Authorship and the Royal "I:" King James VIII and the politics of Monarchic Verse.

In this essay, I will show how James's position as monarch governed both the writing and the reception of his verse. Using James's previously ignored sonnet to Elizabeth, enclosed in a letter to her and so far as one can tell, intended her eyes alone, his elegy for Sir Philip Sidney, printed in a commemorative volume, and the mini-epic, the Lepanto, I will show that James always writes as a monarch and never as a mere poet. The first two poems demonstrate how James used (or, more accurately in the case of the Elizabeth sonnet, tried to use) verse as an instrument of diplomacy. For the Lepanto, I will examine the parallels between the poem's (literal) ambivalence and James's foreign/ religious diplomacy along with the resonances of James's decision to republish the Lepanto as a separate piece when he became king of England in 1603. In so doing; we will also see how the publication history of the Lepanto contributes to the history of authorship and how James took advantage of the growing authority of print auth orship.

Despite the reinvigoration of historicism in literary studies over the last twenty years or so, the poetry of King James VI/I has remained practically unexamined despite the copious attention given to his prose works. (1) The lack of attention, however, is part of the general neglect of monarchic verse. While one finds any number of studies on how Wyatt's or the Earl of Surrey's or Sidney's poetry somehow reflects and intervenes in contemporary politics, the fact that monarchs also regularly produced has seemingly gone unnoticed. This lacuna is particularly odd in James's case, for he not only published two books of poetry while king of Scotland, reprinted his Lepanto upon his accession to the English throne, and sponsored its translation into French and Latin, but his poetic accomplishments were widely recognized and celebrated (perhaps over-celebrated) during his life.


The sonnet James penned for Elizabeth sometime in 1586 especially demonstrates how a monarch could try to use verse as an instrument of diplomacy. Throughout much of that year James and Elizabeth haggled over the terms of the Anglo-Scots treaty, the primary sticking points being the size of James's pension and whether or not Elizabeth would sign an "instrument" guaranteeing that he would be Elizabeth's heir. In March, Elizabeth rejected James's request to sign this document with firm but gentle irony:

Tochinge an "instrument," as your secretarye terme it, that you desiar to haue me signe, I assure you, thogh I can play of some, and haue bine broght up to know musike, yet this disscord wold be so grose as wer not fit for so wet-tuned musike. Must so great doubt be made of fre good wyl, and gift be so mistrusted, that our signe Emanuel must assure? No, my deere brother. Teache your new rawe counselars bettar manner than to aduis you such a paringe of ample meninge. Who shuld doute performance of kinges offer? What dishonor may that be demed? Folowe next your owne nature, for this neuer came our of your shoppe. But, for your ful satisfaction, and to plucke from the wicked the weapon the wold use to brede your doubt of meanings, thes the be. First, I wil, as longe as you with iuel desart alter not your course, take care for your safety, help your nide, and shun al actes that may damnife you in any sort, ether in present or future time; and for the portion of relife, I minde neuer to lessen, though, as I see ca use, I wil rather augment. And this I hope may stand you in as muche assuranse as my name in parchement, and no les for bothe our honors. (2)

James, however, was not assured. The Scots King wanted something in writing, not a verbal promise of future "performance," and James tactfully responded that he did not want a signed document for himself, but for others:

And as for the instrument, quhairunto I desyre youre seale to be affixit, think nor, I pray you, that I desire it for any mistrust, for I protest before God that youre simple promeis uolde be more then sufficient to me, if it uaire not that uould haue the quote worlde to understand hou it pleacith you to honoure me aboue my demeritis, quhich fauore and innumerable otheris, if my euil happ will not permitt [me] by action to acquye, yett shall I contend by goode meaning to conteruayle the same at her handis, quhome, committing to the Almichties protection, I pray euer to esteeme me. (3)

James had a fit when he read Elizabeth's reply (now lost), reportedly turning various shades of red and swearing "By God" that had he known "what little account the queen would make of him, she should have waited long enough before he had signed any league, or disobliged his nobles, to reap nothing but disappointment and contempt." (4) Apparently James told Elizabeth so in a letter (sadly, also lost), but the queen replied in a more temperate fashion, wondering "how possiblie my wel-ment letter, prociding from so fauteles a hart, could be ether misliked or misconstred" and reassuring James of her esteem and constant care for him. Yet despite the sweet words, she refused to raise the offered pension, and she refused to sign the instrument, because such a document "fitted not our two friendships," (5) James realized that he had gotten as much as Elizabeth would give him, and so he "digested all," signing the treaty in July.

Now, according to G.P.V Akrigg, sometime during 1586 James wrote a letter to Elizabeth which included a sonnet, and because both are very important and as yet have passed without notice, I quote them in full: (6)

Madame and dearest sister,

Notwithstanding of my instant writing one letter unto you yet could I not satisfy my unrestful and longing spirit except by writing of these few lines, which, albeit they do not satisfy it, yet they do stay the unrest thereof while the answer is returning of this present.

Madame, I did send you before some verse. Since then Dame Cynthia has oft renewed her horns and innumerable times supped with her sister Thetis. And the bearer thereof returned, and yet void of answer. I doubt not ye have read how Cupid's dart is fiery called because of the sudden ensnaring and restless burning; thereafter what I can else judge but that either ye had not received it, except the bearer returned with the contrary to report; or else that ye judge it not to be of me because it is incerto authore. For which cause I have insert[ed] my name to the end of this sonnet here enclosed. Yet one way I am glad of the answer's keeping up, because I hope now for one more full after the reading also of these presents and hearing this bearer dilate this purpose more at large according to my secret thoughts. For ye know dead letters cannot answer no questions; therefore I must pray you, how unapparent soever the purpose be, to trust him in it as well as if I myself spake it unto you face by face (which I would w ish I might) since it is specially and in a manner only for that purpose that I have sent him. Thus, not doubting of your courtesy in this farm I commit you, madame, and dearest sister, to God's holy protection, the day and dates as in the other letter.

Your more loving and affectionate

brother and cousin than (I fear)

yet ye believe.

James R.


Full many a time the archer slacks his bow

That afterhend (*) it may the stronger be. (*.) afterward

Full many a time in Vulcan'[s] burning stow (*) (*.) Stove or furnace

The smith does water cast with careful see. (*) (*.) eye

Full oft contentions great arise, we see,

Betwixt the husband and his loving wife

That sine (*) they may the firmlyer agree (*.) since

When ended is that sudden choler strife.

Yea, brethren, loving others as their life,

Will have debates at certain times and hours.

The winged boy dissentions hot and rife

Twixt his lets fall like sudden summer showers.

Even so this coldness did betwixt us fall

To kindle our love as sure I hope it shall.

Finis J.R.

Given the correspondence at the time between Elizabeth and James, it seems probable that this poem originated in James's desire to get beyond his anger at Elizabeth for refusing to sign the "instrument" and to ameliorate Elizabeth's annoyance at his persistence, the reference to "dissentions" and "contentions" echoing Elizabeth's reference to musical "disscord" in her letter of March, 1586. As such, James's sonnet represents more than an interesting diversion (when he first arrived in Scotland, Randolph reported that "the King still follows his hunting, riding and writing in metre" (8)). The poem argues that occasional strife only strengthens a relationship, and therefore he and Elizabeth are better allies for having had this argument. The sonnet thus demonstrates James using the medium of poetry to achieve a diplomatic goal, in this case, helping to smooth the relationship between Elizabeth and himself after their quarrels over money and the "instrument."

Yet the poem fascinates for a number of additional reasons. First, the imagery in this sonnet and the rhetoric of the accompanying letter together demonstrate James's awareness of and desire to appropriate for his own benefit the politicization of erotic discourse permeating Elizabeth's court. The letter also demonstrates James's sensitivity to the importance of authorship, since he makes absolutely sure that Elizabeth knows that the sonnet comes from his pen, not "incerto authore," and James ensures that Elizabeth knows that he has signed this copy with his initials. Finally, while I recognize the danger of basing an argument on a lack of response, Elizabeth's refusal to acknowledge James's effort, let alone write a verse reply even though she engages in a mock debate in verse with Sir Walter Ralegh at precisely this time, remains among the most intriguing aspects of this poem.

The fact that James writes Elizabeth a love sonnet using Petrarchan imagery is in itself important, for, as many, many critics have shown, from the 1570s onward, the rhetoric of love in the Elizabethan court became deeply entwined with the rhetoric of politics. Not only love lyrics, but the language of love itself, as Marotti writes, "could express figuratively the realities of suit, service, and recompense with which ambitious men were insistently concerned as well as the frustrations and disappointments experienced in socially competitive environments." (9) Thus, for example, Sir Christopher Hatton could write to his queen "Madame, I find the greatest lack that ever poor wretch sustained. No death, no hell no fear of death shall ever win of me my consent so far to wrong myself again as to be absent from you one day... I can write no more. Love me; for I love you...." (10) Similarly, the erotic frustration of Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophil and Stella probably expresses the author's political frustrations, jus t as The Lady of May and The Triumph of the Fortress of Perfect Beauty refigure "the queen's relationship to her courtiers as well as with her relationship to Alencon." (11)

James clearly knows about these developments, and in order to ingratiate himself further with Elizabeth, whose political and financial favor he depends on as much any of Elizabeth's courtiers, he evidently decided to try to write using the tropes of political Petrarchism in both his poetry and his prose, with unique results. In no other letter, either before or after, does James use allegory ("Dame Cynthia has oft renewed her horns and innumerable times supped with her sister Thetis," meaning "it has been a long time since I sent the poem to you" (12)) or invoke "Cupid's dart" (which we will return to below). Additionally, this letter nuances Foucault's deconstruction of the author. The speaker's identity matters intensely to James since Elizabeth's silence might be explained by her not knowing the poem's source (unlikely, to be sure). As James writes, she might "judge it not to be of me because it is incerto authore [meaning James had not signed the original manuscript]. For which cause I have insert[ed] my name to the end of this sonnet...." Yet remarkably, James's attempt to speak the erotic language of the Elizabethan court fails. Elizabeth ignored the poem the first time James sent it, and so far as we can tell she ignored it the second time as well. I want to offer two possible explanations for Elizabeth's declining to play along.

First, as both Marotti and Montrose point out, courtiers assimilated Petrarchan language so easily because the relationship between the lover and the beloved closely mirrors the relationship between the courtier seeking favor and a distant, withholding sovereign. The gender relationship between the lover and his beloved also mirrored (at least rhetorically) the relationship between the courtier and the queen, the male being in the subservient position of asking for favor, which the woman (i.e., Elizabeth) can give or withhold. In his sonnet to Elizabeth, however, James's monarchic status conflicts with his attempts write a conventional piece of Petrarchan verse that would entertain Elizabeth (hence making her more pliable to his political desires) for several reasons. (13) Foremost, Petrarchan verse depends upon an unequal power relationship, be it between lover and rejecting beloved or courtier and withholding monarch. To be the speaker in a Petrarchan drama entails making oneself a "sub-ject," meaning that which is thrown under. The problem is that the monarch by definition is never a subject. As a clever courtier of Louis XV put it when his monarch commanded him to think of a joke at the king's expense, "le roi n'est pas sujet" ("The king is not a subject"), and this witticism applies equally well to both James and Elizabeth, who -- in theory at least -- occupied the same exalted plane. That is to say, both James and Elizabeth considered themselves God's anointed on earth, subject to no-one other than God. (14) Yet nearly all the examples James uses in his sonnet are not only explicitly hierarchical, but gendered as well. There is no mutuality between the "archer" or the "smith" (conventionally male) and their instruments, the early modern division of power between "the husband and his loving wife" needs no rehearsing, and the same gender relations obtain between lovers under the influence of "The winged boy." To use mathematical symbols, archer:bow=husband:wife, and smith:furnace=male lover:female beloved. Wh en, therefore, James writes, "Even so this coldness did betwixt us fall," he does more than compare their political disagreements to a lovers' spat; rather, he implicitly compares his relationship with Elizabeth to a series of unequal relationships, with himself as the dominant partner. Given the poverty of James and his court as well as his status as a petitioner for the English throne, let alone English gold, Elizabeth might very well have decided not to respond because the poem implicitly figures her as an inferior, the bow to James's archer, the water to James's smith, the subservient wife to James as husband. The poem thus inverts the actual power relations between the two as well as serving to remind Elizabeth of the cognitive dissonance surrounding a powerful female monarch ruling "a stratified society in which authority is everywhere invested in men -- everywhere, that is, except at the top." (15)

Furthermore, Elizabeth's inferior position in James's poem contradicted Elizabeth's own deployment of her monarchic status in her verse.(16) Whereas courtier verse enacts its politics from a subservient position -- as Montrose puts it, "The otiose love-talk of the shepherd masks the busy negotiation of the courtier; the shepherd is a courtly poet prosecuting his courtship in pastoral forms" (17) -- Elizabeth used verse as a vehicle to effect and transmit royal policy. For example, one aspect of Elizabeth's response to the problem of Mary Stuart and her plea to enter England was the covert circulation of "The Doubt of Future Foes" (1570), which, as Jennifer Summit argues, constituted a brilliant strategy for reassuring her court that she was ready and able to counter the threat posed by James's mother. Elizabeth, as George Puttenham writes, used the poem "to declare that she was nothing ignorant of those secret practices, though she had long with great wisdom and pacience dissembled it." (18) Even further, Eli zabeth used the medium of verse and coterie transmission to assert her primacy in foreign policy: (19)

The daughter of debate, that eke discord doth sowe

Shal reap no game where formor rule hath taught stil peace to growe.

No forreine bannisht wigh shal ancre in this port,

Our realme it brookes no strangers force, let them elswhere resort.

Our rusty sword with rest, shall first his edge employ,

To polle their toppes that seeke, such change and gape for ioy.

The same paradigm obtains in her more recreational verse. In her response to Sir Walter Ralegh's no doubt playful lament at his losing his queen's favor (written in 1587), Elizabeth makes very clear that she, not Fortune, let alone any man, is in charge: (20)

Ah, silly Pug, wert thou so afraid?

Mourn not, my Wat, nor be thou so dismayed.

It passeth fickle Fortune's power and skill

To force my heart to think thee any ill.

No Fortune base, thou sayest shall alter thee?

And may so blind a witch so conquer me?

No, no, my Pug, though Fortune were not blind,

Assure thyself she could not rule my mind.

Fortune, I know, sometimes doth conquer kings,

And rules and reigns on earth and earthly things,

But never think Fortune can bear the sway

If Virtue watch and will her not obey.

Ne chose I thee by fickle Fortune's rede,

Ne she shall force me alter with such speed

But if to try this mistress jest with thee.

Pull up thy heart, suppress thy brackish tears,

Torment thee not, but put away thy fears.

Dead to all joys and living unto woe,

Slain quite by her that ne'er gave wise men blow,

Revive again, and live without all dread,

The less afraid, the better thou shalt speed.

The poem is a remarkable performance, and not the least reason is the contrast between Ralegh's position as a supplicant (e.g., "In vain, my eyes, in vain ye waste your tears; / In vain, my sights, the smoke of my despairs, / In vain you search the earth and heaven above, / In vain you search, for Fortune keeps my love") and Elizabeth's superior position throughout her text. The poem begins with a command ("Mourn not, my Wat, nor be thou so dismayed") and it concludes with Elizabeth instructing her courtier on how to prosecute his courtship ("Revive again, and live without all dread, I The less afraid, the better thou shalt speed"'; my emphasis). In between, Elizabeth answers Ralegh's reminder that "Fortune conquers kings" by assuring him that she, the queen, is in fact more powerful than even fortune. Indeed, Elizabeth uses the bulk of the poem to assert her independence and power: "It passeth fickle Fortune's power and skill / To force my heart to think thee any ill"; "No, no, my Pug, though Fortune were no t blind, I Assure thyself she could not rule my mind'; "Ne chose I thee by fickle Fortune's rede / Ne she shall force me alter with such speed" (all the emphases mine). While Elizabeth grants that Fortune "doth conquer kings, / And rules and reigns on earth and earthly things," the admission is only partial: "Fortune, I know, sometimes doth conquer kings," the implication being that this is clearly not going to be one of these instances. In sum, throughout this text Elizabeth writes from the position of a ruler, from the position of one who is appealed to, not the appellant. She is the one making decisions, never at the mercy of anyone or anything else. Consequently, by writing as if he were addressing an inferior rather than an equal, James thus made a tactless diplomatic blunder.

In addition, whatever James's intentions, the erotic rhetoric in the letter and the sonnet invokes connotations that probably resonated very badly for Elizabeth. In both texts, James adopts the persona of the amorous lover. In the letter, he compares his apprehension at the lack of response to not hearing from one's lover: "I doubt not ye have read how Cupid's dart is fiery called because of the sudden ensnaring and restless burning"; the poem culminates in a similar image: "The winged boy [Cupid] dissentions hot and rife I Twixt his lets fall like sudden summer showers. / Even so this coldness did betwixt us fall I To kindle our love as sure I hope it shall." (21) In virtually all their previous (and following) correspondence, however, James and Elizabeth consistently invoke close family relationships to describe each other. In no. XVI, for example, James begins by calling Elizabeth "madame and deirest sister" and concludes by calling himself "Your trewest and assured brother and cousin." (22) Elizabeth in t urn replies by addressing him as "right deare brother" and "my deerest brother and cousin the king of Scots. (23) In an earlier letter, James even calls Elizabeth "Madame and mother," signing himself as "your most loving and devoted brother and son, James R. (24)

The letter with the sonnet begins as most of the others do -- "Madame and dearest sister" -- but then James does something very unusual by veering into erotic allegory and concluding with a more passionate ending than usual: "your more lovinge and affectionate brother and cousin than (I fear) yet ye believe" (as opposed to "your most louing and deuoted brother and son [no. XIV] or "Youre most louing and affectionat brother and cousin" [no. XXXII]) along with (re)enclosing a sonnet comparing himself and Elizabeth as lovers. While James doubtless intended Elizabeth to read this unprecedented use of erotic language as a witty invocation of common tropes and as a demonstration of his ability to "talk the talk" of the Elizabethan court, the concatenation of amorous and familial terms may well have sounded suspiciously like something that haunted Elizabeth from her earliest days: incest.

Elizabeth owed her existence to the putatively incestuous relationship between her father, Henry VIII, and Catherine of Aragon. Without that "scruple," Henry VIII would not have married Elizabeth's mother, Anne Boleyn. But then, Anne herself fell, and Henry charged her with incest with her own brother, Lord Rochford (some even said that Anne was Henry's illegitimate daughter, making Elizabeth's mother guilty of double incest). And Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, argued for Elizabeth's illegitimacy on the grounds of Henry's affair with Anne's sister, Mary Carey, since the definition of incest also included marriage to a former mistress's sister. (25) While Elizabeth regularly "portrayed herself in multiple kinships roles" when dealing with other monarchs, (26) James actually was related to Elizabeth by blood. (27) The references to "brother," "sister," and "cousin, in other words, are not purely rhetorical. Consequently, when James shifts gears and suddenly starts comparing himself and Elizabeth to lovers, he raises an issue that Elizabeth would have found most unwelcome, since it constituted one of the prime grounds for the challenges to her legitimacy.

Furthermore, Marc Shell argues that "it is at the level of incest both spiritualized and secularized that Elizabeth as monarch later established herself as the national virgin queen who was at once the mother and the wife of the English people." (28) Therefore, when he writes "The winged boy dissentions hot and rife / Twixt his lets fill like sudden summer showers" or describes his agony at waiting for a response to "the sudden ensnaring and restless burning" of Cupid's fiery dart, James implicitly (and probably unwittingly) despiritualizes incest. It is one thing for a courtier, like Hatton, to use such terms when writing to Elizabeth. He was not actually related to her. But when James uses them, he sets in motion an entirely different set of connotations. Elizabeth evidently believed that the best response was to pretend nothing happened and James got the message. He never used such language with Elizabeth again.


Sir Philip Sidney died on 21 September, 1586, and about five months after that, in February, 1587, Alexander Neville edited a volume of Latin verse commemorating Sidney, Academiae Cantabrigiensis Lachrymae Tumulo Noblilissimi Equitis, D. Philippi Sidneii Sacratae. (29) The publication of Neville's volume gave James another opportunity to use verse as an instrument of royal diplomacy (although more successfully, and certainly more appropriately). Neville's volume includes English and Latin versions of James's epitaph for Sidney as well as contributions from Lord Patrick Gray, Sir John Maitland, Colonel James Halkerston, Lord Alexander Seton and the Earl of Angus, none of whom are known today as poets, but all of whom were deeply involved with James's highly slippery diplomacy towards England. Significantly, James's mother, Mary, lost her head on February 8th, about two or three weeks before Neville's volume appeared, and I propose that her death constituted the precipitating factor in James's decision to deliv er contributions from himself and his courtiers. The printer, John Windet, clearly added the Scots contributions after the compositor set the volume in type: unlike the rest of the volume, the pages with the Scots elegies are not numbered, the signatures for their poems start at "K" even though the final pages of Neville's preceding letter are signatures H3r-v, and the first poem after the Scots elegies, by G.H (Gabriel Harvey?), is on -- using the actual pagination -- page 1, sig. Alv. Also, Windet or the compositor put the volume's title and an ornamental design on top of G.H.'s poem, (30) and the page before, signature Alr, repeats the title page. Taken together, these details of book production suggest that the Scottish elegies arrived after Windet had completed the volume, which in turn suggests that the Scots wrote and published their poems less out of concern for the late Sir Philip and much more in reaction to Mary's recent execution. (31)

James's contribution, it must be admitted, is neither particularly distinguished nor deep:

Thou mighty Mars the Lord of souldiers brave,

And thou Minerve, that dois in wit excell,

And thou Apollo, that dois knowledge have,

Of every art that from Parnassus fell

With all you Sisters that thaireon do dwell,

Lament for him, who duelie serv'd you all

Whome in you widely all your arts did mell,

Bewaile (I say) his inexpected fall,

I neede not in remembrance for to call

His race, his youth, the hope had of him ay

Since that in him doth cruell death appall

Both manhood, wit and learning every way,

But yet he doth in bed of honor rest,

And evermore of him shall live the best.

But like the sonnet to Elizabeth, the fact of its royal author eclipses all aesthetic considerations. We have already seen James's concern for rendering explicit his authorship, and the typography suggests that James (or one of his ambassadors) and the printer collaborated on making sure that the reader knew that this sonnet constituted a monarchic performance. The poem comes first (thus indicating the social and political preeminence of its creator), and it appears in English (all the other elegies are in Latin or Greek). Windet further distinguishes James's elegy from the others by using italic type and slightly larger font than that used for the rest of the volume. Furthermore, Windet gives the following title:


interitum, Illustrisimi Scotorum

Regis carmen

Whereas Windet ascribes all the other poems to a person (either through initials or full names), this one originates from an institution, less by "James Stuart" and more by the "Illustrisimi Scotorum / Regis," the most illustrious King of the Scots. As such, the poem seems nothing more than a royal tribute to Sir Philip Sidney. The political and diplomatic resonances are, however, more complex.

Dominic Baker-Smith suggests that James's elegy for Sidney can be explained partly by their common interest in a "specifically Christian poetics." (32) Yet I know of no extant evidence suggesting that Sidney and James ever discussed poetry (despite their common interest in Du Bartas), nor do I know of any evidence proving that they ever met in person. Furthermore, Baker-Smith does not take into account the ideological gulf separating James and Sir Philip, in particular their different views concerning the role of the monarch. By at least 1580, James thought that a king should be absolute, ruling by divine right, and he expressed these views to Walsingham at their first meeting in 1583 (for which Walsingham roundly rebuked him), (33) while Sidney sided more with Buchanan and the French resistance theorists. Nor was James, as we shall see, as hot a Protestant as Sidney might have liked. The mystery of why James would go to such trouble to write an elegy and to commission elegies for someone with whom he had dee p ideological differences lightens when we remember the dictum that nations do not have friends, but interests. (34)

Baker-Smith, however, rightly notes that however much James actually mourned Sidney, the poem also serves the Scots king's desire to "commend his own name to those, in England and abroad, who looked for a fit successor to Elizabeth, one equipped to serve the Protestant interest." (35) In other words, James uses the occasion of Sidney's death to strengthen his claim to the English throne. Yet the matter is murkier than Baker-Smith allows, for if this poem shows James trying to ingratiate himself with Sidney's father-in-law, or more importantly, Elizabeth's trusted Privy Councilor, Walsingham, while implicitly advertising himself as Elizabeth's heir, he was also exploring his options with England's Catholic enemies. In sum, this poem should not be taken as a simple declaration of principle or ambition, as Baker-Smith suggests, but as one more example of the slipperiness of James's diplomatic maneuvering and his penchant for using verse to further his political goals.

While Sidney and James might very well have liked each other, the fact remains that their relations were more diplomatic than personal. Sidney's involvement with James dates back to 1585, when, as Roger Howell puts it, his name starts to "figure prominently in Scots affairs." (36) Specifically, Sidney was deeply involved with Walsingham's negotiations over the amount of Elizabeth's pension for James. For Sidney, his activities on James's behalf formed part of his Protestant activism, as a large grant "would not only strengthen the Protestant cause north of the border but it would also help to thwart the machinations of the continental powers." (37) And although neither Howell nor Baker-Smith mention it, Sidney knew enough about James's interests to send him a gift of bloodhounds (not poems), for which James instructed his English ambassador to be sure to thank him. (38) While the negotiations for an Anglo-Scots alliance were ultimately successful (still, James did not get as large a pension as he would have l iked, nor, more importantly, an unequivocal statement about the succession), we need to remember that Elizabeth consistently resisted those who were unqualifiedly in favor of James.

The reason why is not hard to find, for if James appeared to Sidney as pro-English and (no doubt) pro-Protestant, the king was also treating with the Catholic powers. In 1585 (the same year that Sidney sent James the dogs), the king not only refused to keep the Catholic Earl of Arran in prison and out of favor, but -- as Walsingham writes with considerable disgust -- the Jesuits and the Guise were in Scotland with their own offers for James's "loyalty":

For myself I give over all hope of Scotland otherwise than by force. I see no reason to think that Bellenden and Maitland's credit (now that Arran and Gray are reconciled) shall be able to prevail to keep the King in good terms with her Majesty. There are lately arrived in that realm one Hay, general of the Jesuits of the Scottish nation and one Durye that hath written against the ministers in Scotland . . . They are sent from the Duke of Guise with very large offers unto the King . . . . I see so great treachery in that nation as I have no desire at all to have any extraordinary dealing with them. (39)

In another letter, Walsingham concluded that "The best is to deal warily with them all, for they are all born under one climate." Elizabeth evidently agreed with her counselor, for, Walsingham reports, "I can by no means persuade her Majesty to write to Gray, neither will she, in respect of the jealousy had of the King's cunning and unsound dealing, yield unto him the pension promised." (40) We therefore cannot regard James's elegy as unequivocal evidence of James's devotion to Protestant humanism or of his undying devotion to the Leicester-Walsingham-Sidney faction's hostility towards Spain, as Baker-Smith argues, (41) since James clearly adhered to one principle alone: his self-interest (we will return to James's dealings with Catholic powers below).

Of course, the "letting slip" of the Protestant pro-English Ruthven Lords (who had initially fled to England for protection in the wake of James's attack on the Kirk's power) completely changed matters, and he finally signed the Anglo-Scots alliance that Sidney and Walsingham, among others, labored to bring about on 5 July 1586. But when Walsingham brought to light the Babington plot which would lead to the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, James once more consistently played a double game.

While reports famously vary as to James's reaction to his mother's death, (42) James clearly tried to keep all his options open, not knowing "whether Protestant or Roman Catholic" would eventually win. (43) James may very well have intended, as Baker-Smith argues, his elegy for Sidney as an implicit endorsement of the Anglo-Scots treaty, a reassurance that both he and his chief advisors remained committed to England, and this interpretation accords with James's secret understanding with Leicester that he would not break the alliance if his mother were executed, since that would mean losing the throne of England. (44) Furthermore, James continued his friendship with Henry of Navarre and delighted in the company of his favorite poet, the very Protestant Du Bartas. Yet, at virtually the same time, James refused to receive Elizabeth's ambassador for several months, and he sent letters to Henry III, Catherine de' Medici, and the Guises asking for support. (45) James's chancellor, Maitland, who also wrote in memory of Sidney, several months later made a speech in parliament vowing "vengeance for Mary's blood." (46) In consequence, while the Sidney elegy contributes to the making of the Sidney legend, it figures as much as another front in James's duplicitous diplomacy, an attempt to reassure -- through the medium of verse -- his English allies while he secretly negotiated with the enemies of his English allies.


The fact that James did not include either the epitaph on Sir Philip Sidney or the sonnet to Elizabeth in his books suggests that he considered these works topical ephemera rather than serious bids for poetic immortality. The Lepanto, however, is an entirely different story. James wrote this poem in 1585 and he not only included it in his 1591 volume, His Majesties Poetical Exercises, but appended a translation into French by Du Bartas. James then republished the Lepanto in 1603 and sponsored a Latin translation that appeared in 1604. Clearly, James considered this poem his masterpiece, yet the high estimation he accorded this work only partly accounts for its frequent reprinting. While the latter two appearances are both aspects of his monarchic self-presentation to his new kingdom, since they (obviously) coincided with his accession to the English throne, there is even more. The Lepanto partakes of three distinct (if overlapping) sets of contexts, and as we will see, this text performs very different politi cal work in 1585, 1591 and 1603. Furthermore, James alters his authorial self-presentation in accord with these different contexts. (47)

According to the hierarchy of genres popular in the early modern period, the epic -- or "Heroicall song," as James terms it -- ranks the highest. As Sir Philip Sidney puts it in the Apology, "all concurreth to the maintaining the heroical, which is not only a kind, but the best and most accomplished kind of poetry." (48) Consequently, writing an epic is a perfectly appropriate task for a poet-king (indeed, it might be the only genre worthy of a king). Yet in 1585, when James turned to this subject, there was nothing obvious about why James would find attractive either the subject matter or the prospect of writing martial, heroic poetry.

To be sure, the story of the Battle of Lepanto (1571) seems ideally suited for epic treatment: Don Juan, leading a fleet of 208 galleys sailing under the flag of a "Holy League" organized by Pope Pius V, the Spanish monarchy and the Venetian republic, destroyed the Turkish fleet in one day of fighting, and the victory of the Christian forces over the Islamic "Other" was very quickly transformed into the subject of chronicles in Spanish, Italian and Latin. (49) Yet the victory did not mean very much strategically, as within one year the Turks had rebuilt their navy and were making "new incursions on the Spanish protectorate of Tunis, overtaking the town for good in 1574." (50) While, as Ferdinand Braudel writes, "This victory seemed to open the door to the wildest hopes," (51) and while in the seventeenth-century writers would depict this battle as a heroic event, people closer to the battle itself recognized that the hopes led nowhere (52). Furthermore, given James's lifelong aversion to both figurative and l iteral military exploits (his son, Prince Henry, distinguished himself from his father by adopting an explicitly chivalric and bellicose persona (53), the king's decision to write the poem in the first place and then republish it requires more explanation than ascribing it to a desire for writing an exciting story or demonstrating expertise in a variety of genres.

The ideological work behind James's composition of the Lepanto becomes clearer when one takes into consideration his very tenuous grasp on political power in 1585. The year before, James had parliament pass bills asserting "the royal authority in the state, both in theory and in practice," no mean feat given the resistance, both in theory and in practice, of both the aristocracy and the clergy. (54) The clergy were furious at James for ending the Presbyterian system in Scotland and a number had fled to England. The return of the banished Ruthven lords along with an army of 10,000 men added to James's troubles, and we have already noted the tense relations between the young king, Elizabeth, and Walsingham. "Estranged from Elizabeth, menaced by the exiled lords and ministers, and aware of discontent in Scotland," (55) James chose this moment to write an epic, and as Fischlin argues, the Lepanto could be construed as "an empowering literary response to the contingencies of sovereign rule by a monarch struggling to achieve a modicum of internal political stability. . . ." (56) In other words, James composed and distributed the Lepanto as part of his (at times desperate) project of asserting monarchic authority within and without Scotland by representing himself through the highest, most "noble" genre. While it would be absurd to assert that James actually thought that he would become Elizabeth's heir and subdue his recalcitrant clergy and aristocracy by writing epic poetry, James likely intended his poem to strengthen his prestige by interjecting himself "into the literary pantheon that contributes to [monarchic and poetic] authority." (57)

In addition to demonstrating James's attempt to add some luster to his crown by appropriating the cultural authority of the epic poet, the Lepanto also exemplifies James's sometimes clumsy, sometimes adept strategy throughout his Scottish reign of balancing Catholic interests against the Protestants. First, James calls Don John (in the poem, "Don Joan") a "Generall great" (207), and depicts him as an ideal leader, who knows "the names of speciall men" and, somewhat like a nautical Henry V, rows about his troops, urging them on. James also highlights Don John's nationality, consistently referring to him as "the Spanish Prince" (481, 798), and once uses orthography to emphasize the point: "The SPANIOL Prince" (497). Given the presence of Spain in Scots affairs at this point, it would be hard not to read these references as a deliberate compliment, just as the Sidney elegy could be construed as a declaration of loyalty to the Protestant side. Complimenting the Spanish, however, potentially alienates the Protesta nts, but James takes them into consideration as well.

The poem itself splits neatly down the middle in its valuation of anti-Turkish forces' religion. On the one hand, in the main body of the epic, James pointedly refuses to condemn either Don John's religion or his nationality. In the Job-like scene at the start of the poem, Christ says to Satan: (58)

I know thou from that City comes,


Where thou hast by the malice made

The faithless Turkes to freat [fret].

Thou hast inflamde their maddest mindes

With raging fire of wraith [wrath],

Against them all that doe professe

My name with fervent fayth.

(49-56; my emphasis)

Christ seems to care only about the profession of his name; none of the doctrinal quarrels dividing Christianity matter very much to him. Similarly, James consistently calls the anti-Turkish forces and the inhabitants of Venice Christians rather than Catholics, thus once more submerging or erasing doctrinal and theological differences in favor of a larger unity. Even God, while not endorsing all forms of observance, nonetheless declines to dwell on these distinctions in his answer to Christ:

All christians serves (sic] my Sonne though not

Aright in everie thing.

No more shall now these Christians be

With Infidels opprest

(79-82; my emphasis)

The Turkish conquest of Cyprus "moo'ved each Christian King / To make their Churches pray for their / Relief in everie thing" (150-52); urged on by Gabriel's rumor campaign, the town's population and the Venetian senate implore aid from "The Christian Princes" (190) in the conflict "twixt the Turkes / and Christians" (195-96); and the entire fleet, made up of Spanish and Italian ships, are a "Christian Navy" (292).

Yet the angelic chorus at the poem's end displays no such ecumenicism. Their odd argument (rather, James's odd argument) is that if God gives victory to such deficient Christians, indeed, to people who barely deserve the title at all, imagine what he could do for Protestants:

But praise him more if more can be,

That so he loves his name,

As he doth mercie shew to all

That doe professe the same:

And not alanerlie [only] to them

Professing it aright,

But even to them that mixe therewith

Their own inventions slight:

As specially this samin time

Most plainly may appeare,

In giving them such victory

That not aright him feare:

For since he shewes such grace to them

That thinks [sic] themselves are just,

What will he more to them that in

His mercies onelie trust?


One could dismiss these shifts in emphasis as another example of James's lack of rhetorical skill, but they are entirely consistent with his refusal to choose unequivocally between Catholicism and Protestantism, or -- perhaps more to the point -- between the Catholic powers of Spain and France and the Protestant power of England.

In 1580-81, Esme Stuart, the Earl of Lennox, dominated James's thinking and affections, and while he might have remained ignorant of the details concerning Lennox's intrigues with the Catholic powers, he nonetheless absorbed their lessons well. As Willson puts it, "he stood on the periphery of them, understanding their general drift, and was introduced to the subtle courses of a double diplomacy." (59) And James soon acquired a nasty reputation for two-facedness. Elizabeth, for instance, exclaimed with no end of annoyance: "That false Scotch urchin! What can be expected from the double dealing of such an urchin as this?" (60) James's strategy of playing Catholics off Protestants and vice versa intensified starting in 1584 and continued through 1585, exactly the period during which he composed the Lepanto. We have already noted James's highly tenuous grasp on power due to various domestic problems, and opportunely in 1584 James received a letter from the Catholic Duke of Guise offering friendship and protectio n. James regarded this letter as a means of shoring up his crumbling authority, and he responded so positively that the Spanish King, Philip, noted "He is quite ready to confess them himself"; Philip thought, in other words, that James would convert to Catholicism, a concept that James encouraged by writing to the pope: "I trust to be able to satisfy your Holiness on all other points, especially if I am aided in my great need by your Holiness." (61) At the same time, James was negotiating with Elizabeth over the fate of his mother, and in May 1585, just before he started the Lepanto, Elizabeth opened up negotiations for a league with Scotland.

Ultimately, James realized that his interests lay with England and Protestantism, not with Spain, but James also realized that he could gain even more by keeping both in play. Consequently, as Willson writes, "Even while he sought aid from Catholic powers he strove tenaciously to improve his relations with England." (62) Or one can reframe this strategy from the opposite perspective, i.e., that he strove tenaciously to improve his relations with the Catholic powers while seeking a treaty with England. The matter is more evenly balanced than Willson's rhetoric allows, for, as Willson himself points out, James's negotiations with foreign Catholic powers along with his refusal to curb his domestic Catholic lords served to enhance "his bargaining power with Elizabeth, formed a counterpoise to the Kirk, and offered hope of survival in case of Spanish victory." (63) At the time of its composition, therefore, the Lepanto intervenes in James's domestic and foreign diplomacy by exemplifying his attempts to keep all hi s cards in play. The main body of the text serves to assure the Catholic powers of his esteem for both their military heroes and their religion, and the Angelic Chorus serves to assure the Kirk and the English Protestants who happen to read this poem that James is really on their side. James, in other words, does not so much create a poetic attempt at forging a via media between the two opposing poles of Christianity as invent a strategy for maintaining maximum diplomatic advantage while avoiding a firm commitment to either side.

By 1591, however, when James published the Lepanto as part of his Poeticall Exercises, both the domestic and foreign contexts had shifted considerably. James had signed the treaty with England, the crisis over his mother's execution had passed, and James now clearly favored England and Protestantism. The formation of a moderate party within the Kirk made accommodating them easier, (64) and James continued to advertise his preference for Protestantism through his disputation with the Jesuit, James Gordon, his marriage to the Protestant Anne of Denmark and his eventual containment of the Catholic northern earls with Huntly's defeat in 1589. While James continued to infuriate the Protestant powers with his refusal to repress completely the Catholic lords or to sever unequivocally his ties with Spain, (65) he recognized that his interests lay with Protestantism and England, not Spain and Catholicism, and acted accordingly.

But the shift in contexts created a problem. As we have seen, the Lepanto carefully endorses both sides because this strategy made diplomatic sense at the time of the poem's composition. James asserts, as so many authors in this period do, that the poem has circulated in manuscript without his knowledge: "For although till now, it have not bene imprinted, yet being set out the publick view of many, by a great sort of stoln Copies, purchast (in truth) without my knowledge or consent ..." (198). (66) Even so, James concerns himself less with unauthorized transmission and more with unauthorized interpretation: "It falles out often, that the effects of mens actions comes [sic] cleane contrarie to the intent of the Author.... it hath for lack of a Praeface, bene in somethings misconstrued by sundry" (198). In all likelihood, sundry have read the poem correctly, but now -- in 1591 -- the original, evenly balanced meaning no longer serves James's interest, and so the "Author" adds a preface in an attempt to "guide" the reader to a more politically correct interpretation. Don John, whom the text unambiguously declares a Christian hero, James now calls "a forraine Papist bastard," and he announces that "I name not DON-JOAN neither literally nor any waies by description" (198), even though James most certainly does name Don John both literally and by way of description. Furthermore, James explicitly denigrates Don John's military accomplishments and Catholicism -- "Next followes my invocation to the true God only, and not to all the He and She Saints, for whose vaine honors, DON-JOAN fought in all his wars" (200). The preface, in other words, accommodates the change in political and diplomatic circumstances by trying to tip the poem's careful balance toward Protestantism, even if this means contradicting what the poem actually says.

We have already seen, in his 1586 letter to Elizabeth, James's sensitivity to the question of ascription, and James adopts a similar strategy in this text by highlighting his position as monarch. The (putative) misconstruction of the poem bothers James, but the offence against his royal dignity really annoys him:

And for that I knowe, the special thing misliked in it, is, that I should seeme, far contrary to my degree and Religion, like a Mercenary Poet, to penne a worke, ex professo, in praise of a forraine Papist bastard.... For as it becomes not the honour of my estate, like an hireling, to pen the praise of any man: becomes it far lesse the highness of my rancke and calling, to spare for the feare of favor of whomseoever living, to speake or write the trueth of anie. (198-200; my emphasis).

James invokes his degree, his estate, the highness, as he says, of his rank and calling to impose his interpretation on his poem. The references to the author's degree, estate, the "highness" of his rank and calling unmistakably mark the speaking "I" of the preface as a royal "I," and James offers his interpretation/corrections not just as evidence of authorial intention (i.e., I-the king! -- wrote the poem, so I know what it means better than you), but of the absolute monarch's will. As Goldberg suggests, in the preface "the powers of poet and king are parallel... They exercise the discourse of power and the power of discourse." (67) The position James adopts, in other words, is that of king, not simply author, speaking to the reader, with the implication that the reader better pay attention.

Yet, ironically, in doing so, James draws not just on royal authority, but on the growing authority of poetic authorship itself, and we can trace this development through an examination of the title pages, organization and page layout of his books. During this period, as Saunders noted, gentlemen simply did not publish poetry. (68) Manuscript transmission was perfectly acceptable, even a mark of aristocratic identity. But because of the associations of print publication with the marketplace, and (69) because of the omnipresence of what I call antipoetic sentiment and what Steven W. May terms "the stigma of verse," publishing a book of one's poems "could damage rather than enhance social status." (70) As John Selden marvelously puts it:

'Tis ridiculous for a Lord to print Verses; 'tis well enough to make them to please himself, but to make them public, is foolish. If a Man in a private Chamber twirls his Band-strings, or plays with a Rush to please himself, 'tis well enough; but if he should go into Fleet-street, and sit upon a Stall, and twirl a Band-string, or play with a Rush, then all the Boys in the Street would laugh at him. (71)

The issue is not the supposed "stigma of print." As May has shown, many Tudor and Stuart aristocrats had no problem with publishing volumes on topics as various as religious commentaries and the importance of mothers breastfeeding their own children. (72) Moreover, while monarchs had published books before (Henry VIII in particular), (73) and while they even wrote poetry from time to time, the fact remains that no monarch before James had their verses printed in a book for circulation as a commodity in the market-place, and the anonymity of the title page (fig. 1) demonstrates the tentativeness with which James approached this precedent-breaking move. Even though the book of poems has a royal author, the printer presents it as an anonymous publication; the first page gives us the title -- The Essayes of A Prentise, In the Divine Art of Poesie (1584; not insignificantly, the type gets progressively smaller and smaller, "Poesie" being nearly unnoticeable, and certainly subordinated to the more respectable term, "Essayes" (74)), as if the genre were an embarrassing admission. We are told that Vaultrollier printed the book "cum privilegio Regali," but nowhere does the title page reveal that the regal one had also made ("fecit") the book. (75) The introductory sonnets reveal that key fact slowly and enigmatically, and even then the book's authorship is apparent only by the third sonnet (by "M.W."), which concludes with this couplet: "O Phoebus then rejoyce with glauncing glore, / Since that a King doth all thy court decore" (sig. *iii).

With the publication, however, of His Majesties Poeticall Exercises, in 1591, James more readily announces his responsibility for his poetic text. The title page boldly declares that "His Majesty" wrote this book, with "Majesties" published in larger type than anything else and in boldface (fig. 2). Even so, the title page of the Lepanto marks something of a retreat, since it privileges (like so many of the title pages of playbooks do) (76) the work over the author. Reversing the layout of the initial title page, now the first two syllables of Lepanto are printed in large, boldface letters (fig. 3). The reader now knows the name and rank of the text's author ("James the sixt, King of Scotland"), but the work takes precedence over the royal author. What accounts for this change from James's first book?

On the one hand, it could be argued that the shift in the layout of these title pages proves Goldberg's thesis, i.e., that we have an absolute monarch asserting his authority in the domain of authorship, thereby legitimizing authorship and removing, through the fact of his august presence, the "stigma of verse." But by 1591, the category of "poet-author" had already started to accrue considerable authority on its own as a middle-class, commercial entity. Marotti suggests that the publication of Sir Philip Sidney's literary works in the early 1590s "fundamentally changed the culture's attitudes toward the printing of the secular lyrics of individual writers, lessening the social disapproval of such texts and helping to incorporate what had essentially been regarded as literary ephemera into the body of durable canonical texts." (77) Yet Marotti also provides evidence of this shift starting earlier. In the first edition of George Gascoigne's A Hundred Sundrie Flowers in 1573, like James's The Essayes of a Prent ise, the title page omits Gascoigne's name. But in the second edition (1575), the printer gives this work an architectural frontispiece and retitles the work as The Posies of George Gascoigne. Given that Gascoigne himself likely had no say in this, evidently the printer considered it commercially advantageous to make the work's authorship explicit and give it a privileged position. The buying public, in other words, had started to become as interested in who wrote the work as in the work itself. This development, however, emanates from the market-place, not the aristocracy, where the notion that it is "ridiculous for a Lord to print Verses" would continue for some time yet. When, therefore, James allows his Scots printer, Robert Waldegrave, to advertise the book's royal authorship, he is not so much legitimizing authorship with his royal presence as seeking to appropriate poetic authorship's growing non-aristocratic prestige for himself. In other words, the king does not confer authority on authorship; rather , authorship confers authority on the king.

Edmund Spenser's construction of himself in the 1590 and 1596 editions of The Faerie Queene especially highlights this shift. In the first edition's dedication page, as Louis A. Montrose points out, "the relations between ruler and subject are graphically manifested," the Queen's name in bold, capital letters while Spenser's appears "in the lower right-hand corner of the page, in much smaller and italicized type, with only the initial letters capitalized and his given name abbreviated to 'Ed.'" (78) In the 1596 edition, the printer no longer distinguishes between the ruling subject and the ruled author, as he uses the same size and type of font for both, thus signaling the rise in poetic authorship's cultural capital. "For Spenser," Montrose writes, "the material process of reproducing and distributing his poetry in printed books was culturally empowering." (79)

James clearly agreed, and I suggest that he wanted to arrogate for himself some of poetic authorship's cultural empowerment upon his ascension to the English throne in 1603. Consequently, in addition to the other festivities, he also reprints the Lepanto, this time using the London printers Simon Stafford and Henry Hooke (a Latin edition appeared one year later). Several small changes in book layout from the poem's original publication demonstrate how the printers wanted the reader to interpret the 1603 Lepanto as a monarchic performance. (80) First, as the title page (fig. 4) shows, Stafford and Hook print "Majesties" in larger type than anything else, and unlike the title page of the 1591 edition, not even a syllable break draws attention away from the poem's royal authorship. Second, whereas "The Lepanto" appears as the running header on the verso pages of the 1591 edition (fig. 5), in 1603 the printer changed this phrase to "The Kings Lepanto" (fig. 6; my emphasis, the running header of the recto pages, " Or, Heroicall Song" remained unchanged). In sum, James reprinted this poem in 1603 in order to appropriate for himself once more the cultural capital of poetic authorship, epic poetic authorship in particular, and so to further legitimate himself to a country not known for its high estimation of Scotland's cultural heritage. (81)

Like Elizabeth and like many courtiers during this period, King James VI/I wrote poetry for both pleasure and political advantage. Yet the difference is that James, like his royal predecessors, always writes as a monarch, never as a mere poet, and never from the subservient position of a courtier. Thus he reminds Elizabeth of his sonnet's royal authorship, knowing that the poem's meaning derives from the speaker's status, and thus he turns both his elegy for Sidney and the various manuscript and print versions of the Lepanto into vehicles for monarchic diplomacy and display. For James, no discourse exists separate from sovereignty. Ironically though, once James established himself on the English throne, his interest in book publication seems to vanish (he continues occasionally to write and distribute politically charged poems), and so, while the title page of his 1616 collected works constitutes the most elaborate construction to date of James as royal author (the full title is The Workes of the Most High an d Mighty Prince, James, and on both the frontispiece and the title page, "The Works" and "James" are printed in the same size font--larger than the rest -- and in boldface [fig. 7]), (82) he conspicuously omits poetry from this text. (83) But while James published no verse after 1603, his sovereign discourse nonetheless initially depended upon his manipulation of verse, and as Antonio reminds both the good Gonzalo and his courtly audience in The Tempest, (84) a play James may have seen twice, the end should not forget its beginning. (85)

(1.) On James's prose, see, for example Wormald and Sommerville. While there are several recent editions of James's political writings, the only complete edition of James's poetry remains Craigie's. As for James's verse, as Sharpe notes, it "has received no historical and little critical evaluation" (1993, 127). Other studies include Goldberg, Sharpe, 1994, and Perry, 15-24. This critical neglect, however, is swiftly changing. See Appelbaum and the forthcoming articles by Bell and Fischlin.

(2.) Elizabeth I and James VI/I, no. XIX, 30-31.

(3.) Ibid, no. XX, 32.

(4.) Ibid., 33.

(5.) Ibid., no. XI, 34. Even so, Elizabeth adds that she "haue sent you a lettar that I am sure containes all you desired in spetiall wordes, I trust it shal content you" (34). To my knowledge, this letter has been lost, although Wilson assumes that it contained "a revised statement concerning the succession" (72).

(6.) James VI/I, 71-72.

(7.) The annotations of obscure words are my own.

(8.) Quoted in Wilson, 72.

(9.) Marotti, 398. See also May, 224-7 and passim as well as Montrose, 1980, 153-82.

(10.) Quoted in Marotti, 1982,399.

(11.) Montrose, 1977, 26.

(12.) I am grateful to Anne Lake Prescott for her help with this reference.

(13.) See Perry's analysis of the tensions between James's status as monarch and Petrarchan poetics in James's early love poems (21-23).

(14.) In no. XVII, Elizabeth explicitly endorses James's theory of absolute kingship: "Since God hathe made kinges, let them not unmake ther authorite, and let brokes and smal rivers acknowledge ther springes, and flowe no furdar than ther bankes. I praise God that you uphold euer a regal rule." Elizabeth I and James VIII, 27.

(15.) Montrose, 1988, 31.

(16.) On Elizabeth's verse, see Summit and Jordan.

(17.) Montrose, 1980, 154.

(18.) Cited in Summit, 413.

(19.) Elizabeth I, 307-09. Starting in 1570, Elizabeth's "The Doubt of Future Foes" circulated in several manuscript variants, and the poem was published in two printed versions, George Puttenham's The Arte of English Poesie (1589, although probably written twenty years earlier) and Henry Harington's Nugae Antiquae (1769). The latter also included a prefatory letter, probably by James Harington, outlining the curious circumstances by which the poem started to circulate: "Herewith I commit a precious jewel, not for your ear, but your eye; and doubt not but you will rejoyce to wear it even in your heart: It is of her Highness own editing, and doth witnhess, how much her wisdom and great learning doth outweigh even the perils of state, and how little all wordly dangers do work no change in her mynde. My Lady Wiloughby did covertly get it on her Majesties tablet, and had much hazard in so doing; for the Queen did find out the thief, and chid for spreading evil bruit of her writing such toyes, when other matters d id so occupy her employment at this time; and was fearful of being though too lightly of for so doing. But marvel not, good Madam, her Highness doth frame herself to all occasions, to all times, and all things, both in business, and pastime, as may witness this her sonnet...." (Henry Harington, Nugae Antiquae, (London, 1769), vol. 1:58-59). While presumably all versions result from the manuscript copied by Lady Willoughby, the different copies offer numerous significant variations in diction, grammar, and line length (e.g., in the Digby manuscript, we have "force" for "foes"). I reprint eight versions in Herman, forth-coming.

(20.) I am indebted to Ilona Bell for providing the original impetus for this reading of the Raleigh-Elizabeth exchange.

(21.) Akrigg avers that lines 11 and 12 "are unintelligible as they stand. Apparently the King, when copying his poem, carelessly left our some word such as 'joys' after 'his"' (72). Craigie, however, using a later copy of the poem (he dates it from 1604) from a different source (Hatfield Mss., Historical MSS. Commission, Part XVI [1933], 393), gives exactly the same reading (James VI/I, 1955, 2:171), suggesting that "his" means "the lovers belong to Cupid" rather than referring Cupid's "joys" or whatever.

(22.) Letters 24-25.

(23.) Ibid., no. XVII, 27-28.

(24.) Akrigg, Letter 15(3 August? 1585), 64.

(25.) Shell, 1988, 109-10.

(26.) shell, 1993, 69.

(27.) Henry VII's daughter, Margaret, was James's grandmother.

(28.) Shell, 1988, 113. Shell expands this argument in the introduction to Elizabeth's Glass, 3-73.

(29.) A1l citations will be to the facsimile reproduction of this text in Elegies for Sir Philip Sidney (1587).

(30.) There are in fact two sets of "K" signatures, a fact which caused me no end of confusion when I tried to find James's poem.

(31.) Baker-Smith, 94.

(32.) See also Campbell, 45-49.

(33.) Read, 2: 212-13. According to Wilson, Walsingham "told James that his power was insignificant, that he was too young to judge affairs of State, that he should rejoice in such as friend as Elizabeth, and [most interestingly) that young kings who sought to be absolute were apt to lose their thrones" (51).

(34.) Significantly, James's opinion of Sidney's poetic accomplishments shifted considerably after his accession. In 1618-19, well after James had any need to praise Sidney for diplomatic advantage, he told Ben Jonson that "Sir P. Sidney was no poet" (quoted in Craigie, 2: 234).

(35.) Baker-Smith, 93-94.

(36.) Howell, 106.

(37.) Ibid., 106.

(38.) Letter to Lewis Bellenden, dated 12 April 1585, in Akrigg, 62.

(39.) Quoted in Read, 246.

(40.) Ibid., 248.

(41.) Cf. Baker-Smith, 95.

(42.) See the summary of the various reports of James's reactions, which range from being entirely unmoved to implicitly swearing revenge for his mother's death in Stafford, 17.

(43.) Ibid., 17.

(44.) Ibid., 13, who relies on Cameron and Rait.

(45.) Ibid., 18.

(46.) Ibid., 21.

(47.) My approach to the thematic significances of book production is deeply indebted to Kastan and Marcus.

(48.) Sidney, 49.

(49.) Craigie, "Introduction," 1: lix-bx; Appelbaum, 9.

(50.) Appelbaum, 22; Wernharn, ed., 252-53; 353-4.

(51.) Braudel, 1103; Appelbaum, 23.

(52.) Michel de Montaigne, for instance, uses this battle as an example of why we should not use earthly events as indicators of divine will: was a notable Sea-battle, which was lately gained against the Turkes, under the conduct of Don John of Austria. But it hath pleased God to make us at other times both see and feele other such, to our no small losse and detriment" (172). Donald Frame translates these lines as: "It was a fine naval battle that was won these past months against the Turks, under the leadership of Don John of Austria; but it has certainly pleased God at other times to let us see others like it, at our expense" (160).

(53.) "See Strong, 115, and Herman, 1997, 2.

(54.) Lee, 64.

(55.) Wilson, 51.

(56.) Fischlin, 5.

(57.) Fischlin, 8.

(58.) All references to the Lepanto are to Craigie's edition, 1:198-258, and I have silently adopted the modern usage of u/v and i/j.

(59.) Willson, 39.

(60.) Ibid., 39, who also cites these other examples of English exasperation to James's "diplomacy": "The King's fair speeches and promises,' wrote an English noble, 'will fall out to be plain dissimulation, wherein he is in his tender years better practised than others forty years older than he is.' He 'is holden among the Scots for the greatest dissembler that ever was heard of for his years" (39). Indeed, reading over their correspondence and Walsingham's various reports of his negotiations with James, it is hard not to have the sense that during the early years of James's reign Elizabeth considered him an intensely annoying little twerp who exasperated her beyond measure. Even so, James did get what he wanted, perhaps using apparent weakness to his advantage.

(61.) Ibid., 51.

(62.) Ibid., 52.

(63.) lbid., 81.

(64.) lbid., 71.

(65) Even though James threw the Spanish agent, Colonel Semple, in prison after the defeat of the Armada ("with great Protestant zeal," as Wilson says), he nonetheless allowed him to escape (Wilson, 84).

(66.) Even though some of James's poetry made its way into two English miscellanies, En-glands Parnassus and John Bodenham's Bel-Vedere, Or the Garden of the Muses (1600), (Perry, 24; May, 1980, 16-17), there is no evidence that the Lepanto underwent unauthorized manuscript transmission, which suggests that James is making up this scenario of uncontrolled transmission. Furthermore, James's poetry rarely appears in contemporary miscellanies, and an entry in Stephen Powle's commonplace book suggests that James rather tightly controlled the copying of his lyric verses. Concerning "In Sunny beames the skye doth shewe her sweete," Powle writes that the poem was "Geaven me by Master Britton who had been (as he sayed) in Scotland with the Kinges Majesty: But I rather thinke they weare made by him in the person of the Kinge" (quoted in Marotti, 1995, 14).

(67.) Goldberg, 18.

(68.) Saunders, 139-64. May, 1980, 17. See also Helgerson, passim.

(69.) On book publishing's movement from an elite to a mass marker, resulting in the industry's loosing "Its glamour" and becoming "an almost humdrum affair," see Jardine, 13580. While Jardine's point is to examine how "the staggering escalation in book production in the course of the sixteenth century was consistently driven by commercial pressures" (17980), she also implicitly helps explain why aristocrats, who define themselves by their lack of involvement in commercial affairs, would shy away from publishing much themselves.

(70.) On the Protestant roots of antipoetic sentiment and how attacks on poetry constitute a shaping presence in early modern poetic production, see Herman, 1996 passim; Wall, 26. Wall does not dispute the existence of Saunders' "stigma," but she brilliantly elucidates the gender issues involved with "being a man in print."

(71.) Quoted in Marotti, 1995, 228.

(72.) May, 1980, 15, 17.

(73.) However, the tide page of Henry's book attacking Luther hardly privileges its royal authorship. The first two words of the title, Libello Huic, are printed in bold letters, and are twice as big as the rest, Regio Haec Insunt. Underneath we have a table of contents, but Henry is not mentioned until the fifth item, "Libellus regius adversis Martinum" (the title page is reproduced in Williams, 86. In this case, the matter supercedes authorship in importance).

(74.) One wonders if James intended a reference to Montaigne's Essais, first published in 1580-81.

(75.) Cf. May, 1980, 16.

(76.) See Kastan, 216-18.

(77.) Marotti, 1995, 229-30.

(78.) Montrose, 1996, 87.

(79.) Ibid., 87.

(80.) Even so, the reception of the 1603 Lepanto pales in comparison to the huge success of the 1603 Basilikon Doron, which went through eight editions in 1603 alone (Wormald, 51).

(81.) In England, according to the Earl of Northumberland, "the name of Scots is harsh in the ears of the vulgar," and the more sophisticated "feared 'swarms of tawny Scots' who, locust-like, would devour office and wealth." The degree of contempt was so great that "the decapitated skull of a Scottish king was used as a flowerpot in the English royal conservatory" (Kishlansky, 78).

(82.) As part of James's pacificism, he brackets the title with the figures "Religio" and "Pax," Mars being a highly notable absence.

(83.) Craigie notes, however, that a manuscript in the British Museum (MS.Add.24195), entitled All the kings short poesis that ar not printed, may represent "the intention, never carried out," to publish a companion volume to the 1616 collected prose of James's poetry ("Introduction," 2: xxiii). On the other hand, given that the manuscript was revised by Prince Charles and James's Groom of the Chamber, Thomas Carey and corrected by the king himself, it is equally plausible that they wanted this collection to remain private.

(84.) According to Hallett Smith, Shakespeare's company performed the play at court in 1611 and in 1612-13 (1606).

(85.) I am very grateful to San Diego State University's College of Arts and Letters for awarding me a Faculty Development Program, half-time leave grant which allowed me to research this essay as well as a CAL Micro-Grant which paid for the illustrations.


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FIGURE 5. (Photo: Reproduced with the kind permission of the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery.)


60 Then Satan answerd, Fayth? Quoth he,

Their Faith is too too fmall,

They ftriue me thinke on either part,

Who fartheft backe can fall,

Haft thou not giuen them in my hands,

Euen boath the fides I fay,

That I, as beft doth feeme to me,

May vfe them euery way?

THEN IEHOV A, whole nod doth make,

70 Whofe fmallest wrath the centres makes,

The heauens and mountains quake,

Of all the Earth to fhake.

Whofe worde did make the worlde of nought,

And whofe approouing fyne,

Did ftablifh all even as we fee,

By force of voice deuine.

This God began from thundering throte,

Graue wordes of waight to bring,

All chriftians ferues my Sonne though not

Aright in everie thing.

80 No more fhall now thefe Chriftians be

With Infidels oppreft,

So of my holie hallowed name

The force is great and bleft,

Defilt o tempter. GABRIEL come

O thou ARCHANGEL true,

Whome I haue oft in meffage fent

To Realmes and Townes anew.

Go quicklie hence to Venice Towne,

And putinto their minds

90 To take reuenge of wrongs the Turks

Haue done in fundrie kinds.

No whifling winde with fuch a fpeed,

From hilles can hurle ore heugh,

As he whofe thought doth furnith fpeed,

His thought was fpeed aneugh.

3 This

FIGURE 6. (Photo: Reproduced with the kind permission of the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery.)

The Kings Lepanto,

Yet did the wifdomes of the Chiefes,

And of the generall moft,

Compound all quarrels and debates

That were, into that Hoft,

Preferring wifely as they ought,

The honour of the Lord,

Vnto their owne, the publike caufe,

To priuate mens difcord.

The feathered fame of wondrous fpeed,

That doth delight to flee

On tops of houfes pratling all

That fhe can heare of fee,

Part true, part falfe: this monfter ftrange

Among the Turkes did tell,

That diuers Chriftian Princes ioynd,

Refolu'd with them to mel.

Then fpyes were fent abroad, who told

The matter as it ftood,

Except in Arythmetique (as
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Author:Herman, Peter C.
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Article Type:Critical Essay
Geographic Code:4EUUS
Date:Dec 22, 2001
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