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Tudor Political Culture.

Tudor Political Culture is a handsomely illustrated collection of twelve original interdisciplinary essays that illuminate the unwritten codes and mentalities of Tudor England. While contributors have pursued their own interests, they are united in bringing new methodologies to bear on familiar texts and images as well as in presenting new material to widen and change our perception of how power was revealed during that time.

Three essays in this important collection focus on the importance of Henry V in the political mentality of the Tudors. Dale Hoak examines the iconography of imperial kingship by tracing the use of the closed or imperial crown to Henry V. All his successors, but especially Henry VII, exploited this symbolism to bolster their authority. John King completes the study by showing how royal iconography changed to reflect the imperial kingship as it was put into practice after the Act of Supremacy. Thomas Mayer's essay examines Henry VIII's occupation of Tournai to show that the king was less concerned with chivalric honor than with the duplication of Henry V's imperial success a century before. Mayer concludes that the extent of sovereignty Henry claimed at Tournai anticipates his famous imperial claim set forth in the Act in Restraint Appeals.

The impact of Henry V on the Tudor imagination is given a different twist by Peter Herman in a fresh examination of Shakespeare's play. Herman maintains that Henry V reveals the social fissures of the 1590s and crisis of authority rather than pride in victory and national unity. David Harris Sacks also stresses the deteriorating political consensus of the queen's final decade by focusing on the crisis over royal monopolies. He reexamines the text and gestures of Elizabeth's famous "Golden Speech," concluding that it was a "ritualized acting-out of the principles of social harmony" (283), whereby benefits were freely and mutually exchanged. John Guy's essay takes a wider view of the conflict between the subject's desire to give advice and the Crown's need to accept it. Guy argues that although the adversarial politics of 1640-42 brought the crisis to a head, the problem of whether counsel was a right or a duty was present throughout the Tudor period. Norman Jones's essay continues this theme. It asks what members thought they were doing in Parliament and concludes that the concept of representation changed during Elizabeth's reign as appeals to natural or divine law gave way to appeals to individual conscience, a notion which would cause the Stuarts much difficulty.

Retha Warnicke and William Tighe demonstrate the importance of kin networks at all levels of Tudor society and the interdependence of local and national politics. Warnicke stresses that the fortunes of the Howard-Boleyn connection explain the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn better than explanations based on religious or political factionalism, while Tighe's study of Sir John Scudamore reviews in microcosm the social bases of patronage and clientage.

The essays by Robert Tittler, David Dean and J.F.R. Day emphasize the importance of ritual and image in maintaining equilibrium in the body politic referred to in most of the essays. They investigate civic architecture, parliamentary rituals, and the funeral rites for Sir Philip Sidney to illustrate how status and power was made manifest, proving the adage: "in pompous ceremonies a secret of government doth much consist."

This brief review cannot do justice to the insight these twelve essays contain. They enlarge our understanding of Tudor political culture and thus lead to a better understanding of the age.

ROBERT C. BRADDOCK Saginaw Valley State University
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Author:Braddock, Robert C.
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 1997
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