Whose Saint Crispins' day is it?: Shoemaking, holiday making, and the politics of memory in early modern England.
Early modern literary texts that feature shoemakers depict them in strikingly consistent fashion. Quick to carouse and quick to disrupt social hierarchies, shoemakers are also, paradoxically, associated with spiritual assisrance and edification; in the language of a popular early modern pun, these "sole menders" often become "soul menders." Most surprising, however, is the frequent literary association between shoemakers and holidays. Typically, texts that feature these sole/soul menders also raise questions of festal observance, most often by showing the shoemakers creating, or attempting to create, new holy days. These literary shoemakers repeatedly cobble together new templates for experiencing time in which annual remembrance is marked by artisanal holidays. The recurrence of such depictions of shoemakers suggests that the trade had become symbolically associated in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries with questions of calendrical and ritual order, and this stereotype is all the more remarkable given the shoemaker's symbolic place at the foot of the body politic. Literary representations of the lowly shoemaker making new holidays would have likely reminded readers and theater audiences of the very unfixedness of contemporary calendrical practice, a mutability persisting despite various attempts to "fix" an official calendar of annual remembrance. (1) For instance, the calendar prefixed to the 1578 Holy Byble (Bishops) omits most of the traditional Catholic holidays, and as if to preclude the reintroduction of the excised feast days, it lists the allowed saints under the heading "These to be observed for holie dayes, and none other" (fol. ***3r). Similarly, the Book of Common Prayer details the penalties for deviating from "the order and form" of worship laid out in the text, an "order" exemplified in the text's introductory liturgical calendar. (2) The literary shoemaker's proclivity for making holidays, however, would have unsettled any conception of annual calendrical observance as a stable entity estab lished "from above" by England's political and religious authorities. Indeed, the stereotype of the shoemaker as a calendar maker highlights the tension between elite control over the pattern of ritual memory versus a popular impulse to reframe annual commemorations. The calendar transforms specific historical events -- such as the birth of Christ or the accession of Queen Elizabeth -- into ritual observance, and the one who controls the calendar powerfully regulates what will be remembered and when. By depicting shoemakers who change the calendar and create new holidays, early modern texts raise pressing questions about who should be the custodians of England's historical and liturgical memory.
As this article demonstrates, early modern texts variously represent the shoemakers' holiday-making energies. While Deloney's Gentle Craft, Dekker's Shoemaker's Holiday and Rowley's A Shoemaker, A Gentleman all implicitly celebrate the shoemaker's right to remake festal observance in his own interests, the opening scene of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar denies the cobbler his new holiday, sending him and his followers offstage "tonguetied." Henry V offers the most complex treatment of shoemakers-as-calendar-makers. The play's climactic pre-battle speech centers on Saint Crispin -- the patron saint of shoemakers -- and on the importance of his holiday. Yet instead of the customary image of shoemakers creating their own holiday, Shakespeare presents a king who creates one for them. Although Henry does not create Saint Crispin's Day in the sense of inventing it, his speech imaginatively recreates it: instead of commemorating the patron saint of shoemakers, Saint Crispin's Day will primarily celebrate Henry and his arm's triumph over the French. The Saint Crispin's Day speech in Henry V shows the shoemakers' holiday-making prerogatives being displaced onto the royal person of Henry himself, and thus the play depicts the nation's king -- not its shoemakers -- as the lawful shaper of England's liturgical and commemorative practice.
Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century depictions of shoemakers repeatedly associate them with a general disruption of the social order. The title page of Thomas Deloney's 1597 tribute to shoemakers, The Gentle Craft, promises to show the reader "what famous men have been Shoomakers in time past in this Land, with their worthy deeds and great Hospitality," and the stories that follow celebrate the virtues and remarkable achievements of various English shoemakers. Most of Deloney's tales feature cobblers who earn fame and fortune, thus rising above the rank of mere artisan. (3) One such story tells of a shoemaker, Tom Drum, and a gentleman, Harry, who actually exchange social positions, each assuming the guise and garb of the other. Penniless and cast out of his family, Harry lies beside the road bemoaning his lack of money and occupation when he is befriended by the passing Tom. Moved by Tom's account of the legendary hospitality and good fellowship of shoemakers, Harry cries, "I would spend part of my gentle blo ud, to be of the gentle Craft: and for thy curtesie, if thou wouldst teach it mee, I would annoint thee a gentleman forever." In return for the gift of cobbling tools, Harry smears Tom's forehead with his blood, assuring him "this blood did spring from a Gentleman" (223). Each dressed in the other's clothes, the two men walk to the nearest tavern where Harry shows off his new tools, and Tom boasts, "this face can shew, that I have gentle blood about me (224). Swapped in fair trade, the gentleman's blood and the cobbler's tools are figured as currencies of equal value, and in most of the tales in The Gentle Craft, the trade of shoemaking becomes symbolic of an inverted social hierarchy. Stories of shoemakers becoming gentlemen are, in fact, common in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century popular literature. Deloney borrows the title of his work from the common nickname for shoemakers, "the gentle craft." By punning on gentle as an epithet meaning "well born" and indicating those "with the rank or status of a gent leman," (4) this label confers "gentility" on mere craftsmen, and it underscores the early modern shoemaker's symbolic social mobility.
It is unclear to what degree this textual stereotype of shoemakers corresponded to any actual historical mobility or disruptiveness.(5) In a now-classic article entitled "Political Shoemakers," E. J. Hobsbawm and Joan Wallach Scott show how frequently eighteenth- and nineteenth-century shoemakers acted as political and religious revolutionaries. They point out the large number of shoemakers involved in the French Revolution and other uprisings, and they quote Richard Cobb who observes that French shoemakers of the late eighteenth century "seem to have had a veritable vocation for revolution." (6) They argue that in addition to the shoemakers" "reputation as folk politicians....the religion in which shoemakers distinguished themselves when not associated with anticlericalism and atheism, was often heterodox and radical by contemporary standards" (91). Although Hobsbawm and Scott primarily explore the reputation of shoemakers in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, they mention earlier revolution ary shoemakers. They note, for example, the fabled shoemaker who sparked the fourteenth-century revolt of the Maillotins and the shoemaker who, in 1617, brought about the downfall of the Italian admiral, Concini. Although it is tempting to conclude from such instances that earlier shoemakers were as prone to insurgency as their eighteenth- and nineteenth-century counterparts, no historical study has conclusively demonstrated whether sixteenth-and seventeenth-century shoemakers were, in fact, more radical than any other tradesmen.
The literary image of the shoemaker/calendar maker particularly invites an attempt to find historical antecedents or correspondences since three of the plays most concerned with shoemakers and the making of holidays -- Dekker's The Shoemaker's Holiday, and Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, and Henry V -- were all first performed in 1599. This coincidence raises the enticing possibility of a specific (although as yet undiscovered) occurrence or person that piqued the playwrights' interest. (7) Ultimately, however, whether sixteenth- and seventeenth-century shoemakers were unruly and disruptive is a different question altogether from whether they were depicted as such. In his article on feet in the Renaissance, Peter Stallybrass suggests how the symbolic logic of the body politic could have created certain perceptions of shoemakers regardless of their actual historical and social profile: "[T]he shoemaker is the social foot...[and] through the fabrication of the shoe, the shoemaker fabricates the 'basis' of society itself." For Stallybrass, "[T]he people who make the social feet...were more likely than others to be aware of their material role in the founding of the social," and thus more likely to be depicted as upsetting the very order they helped to found (320).
Although Stallybrass's reasoning may account for a general perception of shoemakers as fomenting unrest, it fails to explain the specific link between shoemakers and calendar-making. In Dekker's If This be not a Good Play, the Divell is in It (1612), Jovinelli, the Count of Naples, tells the king, "[T]hey say Monday's Shooemakers holliday." (8) Hobsbawm and Scott note that the shoemaker's proverbial independence is "proved by [his] control over his time of work and leisure -- his capacity to celebrate Saint Monday and other holidays as he chose" (96) and the historian Thomas Allen writes that shoemakers "had a privilege...beyond other tradesmen, to sit and sell their shoes on Sundays" (1:391). Perhaps because they spent Sundays and other holidays selling shoes to ill-shod churchgoers and celebrants, early modern shoemakers were allowed to pick and choose their own times of holiday leisure. Whatever their actual holiday freedoms, the shoemakers' perceived authority to shape calendrical and ecclesiastical obser vance probably also derived from the popular pun on the words soul and sole. Through this pun, cobblers were portrayed as having the wherewithal to repair both their customers' shoes and their spiritual condition. In the opening scene of Dekker's Match Mee in London (1631), the shoemaker Bilbo assures his master that he has been up late mending "that which few mend care to mend, a bad sole," while Pachieco, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Love's Cure, or the Martial Maid (ca. 1605) dubs shoemakers "soule-menders." (9) Similarly, Saint Crispins triumph over Pope Innocent: or the Monks and Friars Routed (1678) explains that because of the corruption of Catholic monks and priests, even shoemakers (who are called "solemenders") are unable to patch the souls/soles of the venal clerics, and the poem's title page refers to the shoemaking craftsmen as "the Reforming shoemakers." This association of shoemakers with Protestantism is reinforced by Nathanial Ward's popular Simple Cobler of Aggawam (1647) in which a shoemaker preaches that England's welfare hinges on promoting Protesrantism and suppressing Catholicism. Dekker's Shoemaker's Holiday also suggests a link between shoemakers and the Protestant faith, for the play makes the point twice that Sir Roland Lacy learned the craft of shoemaking during his stay in Wittenberg, the cradle of the Reformation. (10) Their ability to mend bad soles (and thus also to repair souls "marred" by Catholicism) symbolically lent shoemakers the authority to "reform" the Catholic calendar, the framework for the soul's experience of annual time.
The anonymous Lamentable Tragedy of Locrine (1595) depicts a shoemaker -- the play's main comic characte -- who transforms an English military defeat into a holiday serving his own personal interests. In this play, Scythians have attacked Britain, and the English king, Locrine, sends his brother, Albanact, to meet the invasion. The shoemaker Strumbo is pressed into Albanact's army where at first he proves a loyal soldier, bringing news of the Scythian attack and personally challenging the Scythian king. Their bravery notwithstanding, the English are crushed in battle, and Prince Albanact, dying on the battlefield, laments, "The day is lost, the Huns are conquerors,/... my men are done to death" (2.6.64-65). Strumbo, whose valor has run out and who lies feigning death at Albanact's side, peers at the carnage around him and comments, "Lord have mercy upon us. Masters, I think this is a holiday; every man lies sleeping in the fields, but, God knows, full sore against their wills" (2.6.70-72). Strumbo's remark re fers wryly to the fact that only on a holiday could men lie abed during the day. While his holiday is grimly ironic, it also alludes meaningfully to the holy day as a commemoration of a saint's death. Looking around at the Christian English slain by the heathen Scythians, Strumbo with black humor implies that the scene is one of martyrdom. By labeling it a holy day, he makes the defeat a day to be commemorated, one that will be ritually remembered again and again through the agency of the calendar. Indeed, the English king Locrine will be driven to revenge by the bitter memory of this "holiday," and he defeats the Scythians in the play's second battle. Although Albanact is ultimately avenged, this shoemaker's holiday is not one that redounds to the glory of the crown, for it commemorates instead the ignominious death of a prince. Strumbo's ironic holiday furthermore undercuts the preeminence of the royal Albanact, for his holiday canonizes not just the king's brother but "every man" that lies slain on the bat tlefield regardless of rank. This lethal holy day has literally and figuratively leveled men of all ranks, and Strumbo the shoemaker lies side by side with Albanact, the king's brother. Yet while Strumbo's holiday brings defeat and opprobrium to Albanact and his army, it is a day of glad celebration for the shoemaker himself. Precisely because the English army has been almost annihilated, Strumbo himself can lie "sleeping" on the battlefield, feigning death so determinedly that he ignores the urging of his friend to get up and only arises to escape the thieves that rifle the pockets of corpses. This holiday also marks the end of Strumbo's enforced military service; freed on this day from an unprofitable soldier's life, Strumbo marries, fathers a child, and reappears at the end of the play as a rich man.
The social leveling inherent in Strumbo's holiday is characteristic of most depictions of shoemakers. Sixteenth-century texts that feature shoemakers often show royalty eating and drinking in their company. In Thomas Dekker's Shoemaker's Holiday, the English king feasts merrily with the shoemaker Simon Eyre and his apprentices. The anonymous play, A Pleasant Conceyted Comedie of George a Greene, Pinnar of Wakefield (1599), depicts a similar convivial mingling between the elite and the cobbling community, and it dramatizes the origin of the trade's nickname. King Edward of England and King James of Scotland, disguised as shoemakers themselves, join the Wakefield shoemakers for drinking and brawling before revealing their identities. At the king's bidding, Jenkin, the play's wit, proclaims to the assembled shoemakers (whom he has already dubbed "gentlemen"), "because you have drunke with the king... You shall be no more called Shoomakers. But you and yours to the worlds ende, Shall be called the trade of the ge ntle craft" (fol. F4v). Contemporary depictions of shoemakers often show them achieving the rank of gentlemen. Sometimes this rise is temporary as when the shoemaker Juniper in Jonson's The Case is Altered (1609) uses stolen money to outfit himself like a gentleman. (11) The class change, however, is often more permanent. A 1680 chapbook entitled The Cobler turned Courtier tells of an encounter between Henry VIII and a cobbler which ends with the cobbler being made a member of court, and the very title of William Rowley's play, A Merrie and Pleasant Comedy...called A Shoo-maker a Gentleman (1638) suggests the interchangeability of the two estates.
This blurring of social hierarchy characterizes most of the stories in Delone's Gentle Craft: the text's title page bears the motto "A Shoomakers son is a Prince born," and in the Dedication to "all the good Yeomen of the Gentle Craft," the author promises, "I shall tell you many things, worthy and renowned kings / And divers Lords and Knights also that were shoomakers long ago" (89, 91). The second and longest story narrates the lives of the brothers, Crispin and Crispianus. Sons of the Queen of Logria (which, Deloney notes, "now is called Kent"), the two princes are threatened by the tyrant Maximinus who "sought iri cruel sort, to bereaue this Land of all her noble youth" (115). Deloney's story shows the two brothers sliding down and then back up the social scale. Disguising her boys as commoners, the Queen sends them to Faversham where they find work as apprentice shoemakers. Deloney recounts how both brothers, still under the humble guise of shoemakers, rise to distinction and fame. Through his skill at c obbling, Crispin is appointed shoemaker to the emperor Maximinus's daughter, Ursula, and he learns so well "the length of this fair Ladies foot" (138) that the two contract a secret marriage and produce a child. Crispianus, meanwhile, pressed into Maximinus's army and sent to war in France, fights "like a second Hector" (128), single-handedly defeats the enemy general Iphicratis, and wins the favor of Maximinus himself. Eventually, the shoemaker-brothers reveal their true identities to the emperor who forgives and embraces them; "all the controuersie was ended, and [Crispin and Ursula's] secret marriage confirmed openly, with great joy and triumph" (137).
Upon first entering Faversham in search of employment, Crispin and Crispianus had been attracted by the merry singing of the local cobblers, and Deloney transcribes their ballad which begins "Would God that it were holiday" (116). As the song's lyrics make plain, the desired holiday is Sunday when craftsmen could quit work and see their girlfriends. Although the tale opens with the shoemakers passively and plaintively awaiting Sunday's holiday, it ends with the Faversham shoemakers creating a new holiday for themselves, one which celebrates the good fortune of the two shoemaker-princes. Deloney records that on the same day that the two brothers were reconciled to the king, "the Shoomakers in the same towne made holiday" (137). He specifies that this celebration, far from being a one-time event, became a fixed part of the ritual calendar: "euer afterward, upon that day at night the Shoomakers make great cheare and feasting, in remembrance of these two Princely brethren: and because it might not be forgotten, t hey caused their names to be placed in the Kalender for a yeerly remembrance, which you shall find in the moneth of October, about three days before the feast of Simon and Jude" (137).
Deloney's story is an apocryphal rendering of the lives of Saints Crispin and Crispianus. The actual history of the saints is uncertain, but according to their legend they were Roman brothers who came to Soissons in Gaul. There they preached during the day and supported themselves by making shoes at night, hence their role as patron saints of shoemakers. The brothers were tortured and martyred by the local authorities during the persecution of Diocletian at the end of the third century, and their cult was established at Soissons by the sixth century or earlier. An English tradition held that the brothers fled Gaul and settled in Faversham, and the town was a popular pilgrimage site for shoemakers. (12) Being canonized usually meant being included in the saints' calendar, and 25 October, as Deloney indicates, became the brothers' designated feast day. Ronald Finucane notes that up until the thirteenth century, saints were usually made by popular acclaim. From the thirteenth century onward, formal canonization was required and was regulated by the papal curia (36-38). Deloney's account of the Faversham shoemakers conferring calendrical and canonical honors by simple verbal fiat is historically accurate given both the text's Roman Empire setting and canonization procedures during the first two centuries. For a sixteenth-century reader, however, this very historical accuracy may also have carried a hint of contemporary critique. The depiction of a popular canonization would have recalled an earlier era when the liturgical calendar was more "open," and the implicit nostalgia for such a past can be seen as a critique not only of the Catholic Church's traditional control of canonization but also of more recent attempts by the Anglican ecclesiastical hierarchy to regulate annual liturgical observance.
Although Deloney's Crispin and Crispianus are made into saints by being placed in the order of annual remembrance, their "saints' day" commemorates not the two brothers' holiness (their piety is never mentioned in the text) so much as the economic benefit the brothers have brought to the Faversham shoemakers. The image of the two princes at work recalls other popular depictions of royalty. In his study of Rabelais, Bakhtin has pointed out that carnival inversions often depict princes forced to work at tradesmen's jobs, and just as Rabelais's King Anarchus is sent out as a vendor of green sauce, Deloney's princes drop to their knees to tend the feet of society. Yet where Rabelais's story presents a king forced to do menial labor and thus unwillingly subject to the laws of carnival, Deloney's princes consent to work and thereby embrace the economic laws that require them to work for food. Deloney stresses the eagerness with which Crispin and Crispianus enter into apprenticeship. "[R]efusing nothing that was put to them to do, were it to wash Dishes, scoure Kettles, or any other thing," the brothers work unremittingly "for the space of foure or fiue yeers" and so thoroughly learn their trade that their master's house "had the name to breed the best workmen in the Countrey" (119). The willingness of the two princes to support themselves through work suggests that the world has been turned upside-down economically, for as of result of Crispin and Crispianus's years of labor and their "cunning in their trade," their shoemaker master has "growne something wealthy" (119). Instead of the work of commoners sustaining the idle rich, the manual labor of two noblemen (who have "bent their whole minds to please their Master") has enriched a common shoemaker, and the holiday made in the brothers' honor commemorates a time when the sweat of princes brought wealth to the shoemaking fraternity. Early modern disputes over the number and nature of annual holidays were often simultaneously disputes over the corresponding number of wo rk days. By creating a holiday, Deloney's shoemakers not only reshape ritual memory but also determine their own pattern of work and leisure.
The shoemakers of another contemporary play, Thomas Dekker's aptly named The Shoemaker's Holiday, similarly shape festal observance. Firk, a journeyman shoemaker, defends his right to loiter on a workday on the grounds that "Monday's our holiday" (1990, 7.28). He reminds his listeners of the shoemaker's special holiday prerogatives as he musters the privileges and freedoms of holiday to his own idle-minded interests. Dekker borrows much of his story from the third tale in Deloney's Gentle Craft which recounts the history of Simon Eyre, the "madcap shoemaker of Tower Street." Both Deloney's prose narrative and Dekker's stage adaptation follow Eyre's rise to fame and wealth, tracing his rapid progress from shoemaker to Master Sheriff to Lord Mayor of London. (13) Dekker's play marks both of Eyre's social promotions with the creation of new holidays. Hastening off to accept his appointment as Sheriff, Eyre bids his apprentices to "[S]hut up the shop...and make holiday" (1990, 10.159), urging them to celebrate hi s new office and the honor it brings to all shoemakers. Eyre's subsequent promotion from Sheriff to Lord Mayor is the catalyst for the play's final fete, the shoe-maker's holiday that lends the play its title. Upon being elected Mayor, Eyre decides to throw a feast, and he determines that on this holiday his "fine, dapper Assyrian lads, shall clap up their shop windows and away" (1990, 17.49-51). Although Eyre's holiday seems initially to include only his own shoemaker assistants, the play soon explains that "the Lord Mayor hath bidden all the prentices in London" to feast and make holiday at his expense (1990, 18.204). The event which has been enlarged from a shoemakers' holiday into one open to all the city's apprentices undergoes a related temporal extension, for Eyre insures that his feast will become a part of the ritual calendar for years to come. He announces that he has "procured that upon every Shrove Tuesday, at the sound of the pancake bell," London's apprentices shall leave their shops and make ho liday. (14) At the time of Dekker's play, Shrove Tuesday had for centuries been a major apprentices' holiday. Indeed, the day before Lent was notorious for its excessive holiday disorder and for the raucous, sometimes destructive, merriment of the apprentice mobs that swept through the city. (15) As in Deloney's text where shoemakers from a distant English past are shown creating a popular saint's day, Dekker presents the fifteenth-century shoemaker Simon Eyre as the originator of one of England's principal holiday customs, for it is Eyre who makes Shrove Tuesday the occasion for apprentices to eat, drink, and run riot.
This holiday celebrating the social advancement of a common shoemaker also commemorates a gentleman who has labored willingly as a shoemaker. In order to woo Rose Oatley, the former Mayor's daughter, Roland Lacy has appareled himself as Hans, a Dutch shoemaker, and found employment in Eyre's shop. As the play makes clear, Lacy is not new to the shoemaking profession. In the opening scene, Sir Hugh Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, laments that his nephew, having squandered abroad the "coin, bills of exchange / Letters of credit" (1990, 1.21-22) that were a nobleman's customary means of support, has worked as "a shoemaker in Wittenberg" (line 29). While Sir Hugh bemoans Lacy's craft ("a goodly science for a gentleman of such descent!"), Simon Eyre presciently remarks, "your cousin Roland might do well now he hath learned an occupation" (lines 42-43). As in Deloney's Gentle Craft where Crispin and Crispianus' labor enriches their master, Lacy the gentleman helps Eyre the shoemaker make his fortune. Lacy's shoemaking also paves the way for his own elevation at the play's end, for his shoemaker's guise allows him secretly to woo and marry Rose. At the final banquet that marks Eyre's new holiday, the English king, moved by Lacy's willingness to become a cobbler in order to win his love, dubs him "Sir Roland Lacy" (1990, 21.114). Shoemaking, paradoxically, becomes Lacy's avenue to knighthood.
The shoemaker's ability to affect the calendar is not limited to master shoemakers. Simon Eyre alters holiday observance to his own advantage, but so too do his journeymen. Hearing of Eyre's feast, London's apprentices press noisily towards his shop, full of culinary visions in which "venison pasties walk up and down piping hot like sergeants" (1990, 18.195-56). Firk reminds the crowd that this holiday cheer will recur annually. He gives the holiday his own personal stamp by naming it:
every Shrove Tuesday is our year of jubilee: and when the pancake bell rings, we are as free as my Lord Mayor. We may shut up our shops and make holiday: I'll have it called, Saint Hugh's holiday.
The apprentices shout, "Agreed, agreed! Saint Hugh's Holiday!" and, as if the continuance of this tradition is still in doubt, the shoemaker Hodge proclaims "and this shall continue for ever" (lines 206-207). The cheeky and peremptory tone of Firk's "I'll have it called Saint Hugh's Holiday" is matched only by Hodge's proclamation that the holiday thus named shall continue "for ever." The assurance of these two apprentices echoes Eyre's calm confidence that he can "procure" Shrove Tuesday as a perpetual feast day, and the actions of all three reinforce the holiday-making authority of shoemakers.
The Saint Hugh that Firk refers to stands with Saints Crispin and Crispianus as a patron saint of shoemakers, and like Deloney's twin shoemakers, Dekker's Saint Hugh represents an inversion of the normal social and economic hierarchy. The first story in Deloney's Gentle Craft chronicles the transformation of Sir Hugh, "sonne unto the renowned king of Powis, a noble Britaine borne," into Hugh the shoemaker (92). Like Crispin and Roland Lacy, Hugh forsakes his noble status and learns to make shoes in order to be near his imprisoned love Ursula. (16) He is ultimately martyred by the authorities and then apotheosized into Saint Hugh by his fellow shoemakers who reverently gather up his bones. (17) Eyre's Shrove Tuesday feast is thus a shoemaker's holiday four times over: it is established by Eyre the shoemaker, ratified by a cheering crowd of apprentice shoemakers, named for one of the shoemakers' patron saints, and freed shoemakers from their labors.
Anthony Parr, in his introduction to The Shoemaker's Holiday, discusses the newly minted Saint Hugh's holiday and points out that "Firk's invention would have put Dekker's audience in mind of 'Saint Hugh's Day', 17 November, which was the date of Queen Elizabeth's accession to the throne and was by 1599 a major national holiday." (18) Saint Hugh's Day had traditionally been celebrated on 17 November, but by the 1590s, the Queen's Accession Day had effectively erased it. (19) By invoking the erased Saint Hugh's Day, however, Dekker's shoemakers present a tacit challenge to the Accession Day. As if in response to the official calendar's substitution of the Queens Day for their patron's traditional 17 November celebration, Dekker's shoemakers simply move Hugh to another place in the calendar. And just as 17 November had been renamed in honor of the Queen, the shoemakers rename the traditional feast of Shrove Tuesday in honor of Saint Hugh.
William Rowley's A Merrie and Pleasant Comedy: Never Before Printed, called A Shoo-maker a Gentleman (1638), furthers the association between shoemakers and the making of holidays. Rowley's play dramatizes the first two stories of Deloney's Gentle Craft, using the story of Crispin and Crispianus as the main plot and turning the account of Sir Hugh's disguise as a shoemaker and subsequent martyrdom into the subplot. Crispin and Crispianus are hired as apprentice shoemakers by a master craftsman known only as "Shoomaker," who proclaims a holiday for them: "Shut up shop, this is afternoone's holy-day in honour of My two new Prentises." (20) The holiday forged in honor of Crispian and Crispianus is sealed at the end of the play when the two brothers are reconciled to the tyrant Maximinus. Barnaby, an apprentice shoemaker, requests of the emperor that "these two Princes, Fellow servants with us, being of the Gentle Craft, may have one Holy-day to our selves." When Maximinus asks what day in the calendar Barnaby wo uld select, he responds "The five and twentieth of October" (fol. L1v); thus, Rowley, like Deloney, credits shoemakers with the invention of Saint Crispin's Day on 25 October.
Although the cobblers in this scene must beg a new holy day of the emperor, elsewhere they show no hesitation about creating a new saint and, implicitly, a new saint's day for themselves. Rowley's subplot dramatizes the martyrdom of Sir Hugh the shoemaker who as he dies, bequeaths his body and bones to the assembled cobblers. The shoemaker Barnaby, having witnessed this scene, declares, "because he dyed a Christian, he shall no more be call'd Sir Hugh, but Saint Hugh, and the Saint for ever of all the Shooemakers in England." (21) Barnaby, like the shoemakers in Deloney's and Dekker's texts, assumes the right to bestow full canonical honors. His audience -- comprised, the text tells us, of cobblers -- responds to this canonization with the cry "Saint George for England / And St. Hugh for the Shooemakers" (fol. 12r). This rousing invocation seems on one hand to affirm Saint George's role as the patron saint of all England and Saint Hugh's subordinate position as merely the saintly protector of shoemakers. Yet the shoemakers' cheer can also be read as delineating separate loyalties: although England gives allegiance to George, cobblers owe fealty to Hugh. This reading suggests the unsettling possibility that the artisans cheering Barnaby's words might feel an artisanal identity that rivals or even surpasses their loyalty to England and England's king.
In the same year that Dekker's Shoemaker's Holiday celebrated the ability of shoemakers to fashion new holidays for themselves, a play by Shakespeare silenced a cobbler seeking to make a new holiday. Julius Caesar, performed in 1599, opens with the tribunes, Flavius and Marullus, trying to disperse a crowd of commoners. The tribunes protest that the artisans have treated a laboring day like a holiday by donning their "best apparel" and abandoning the characteristic tools and clothes of their trades (1.1.18). The tribunes address the leader of the crowd -- a cobbler -- asking him "Why dost thou lead these men about the streets?" (line 27). The cobbler responds, "Truly, sir, to wear out their shoes, to get myself into more work. But indeed, sir, we make holiday, to see Caesar and to rejoice in his triumph" (lines 28-30). As in Dekker's Shoemaker's Holiday and Deloney's Gentle Craft where holidays mark the economic advancement of shoemakers like Simon Eyre or bring worldly benefits to shoemakers, this cobbler le ads the crowd in order wear out his followers' shoes and thereby to generate more business for himself. (22) Only secondly does he proffer a less material motive for his holiday: to celebrate Caesar and his triumph. As the example of the Queen's Accession Day and Saint Hugh's Day indicates, new holidays tended to be created at the expense of old ones; acts of remembering required corresponding acts of forgetting. The tribunes rebuke the cobbler and his followers for their readiness to overwrite Pompey's memory with Caesar's: "do you now cull out a holiday? / And do you now strew flowers in his way / That comes in triumph over Pompey's blood?" (lines 48-50). By his holiday-making, this cobbler would erase Pompey's memory in order to line his own purse. The play ultimately, however, silences this shoemaker, for the tribunes scold him into silence and send the crowd home "tongue-tied" and chastened. (23)
Julius Caesar ultimately suggests that the ability to shape the calendar and ritual memory inheres not in the "gentle" shoemaker but in the "true" gentility of the play's elite, for where the cobbler fails to create a holiday in Caesar's honor, Caesar himself succeeds. The play opens on the feast of Lupercal, an ancient Roman holiday celebrating Rome's founder, Romulus. As Naomi Conn Liebler points out, Julius Caesar changed the customary rites and ceremonies of the Lupercal, and she argues that these changes made "the holiday a political one in Caesar's honor. As the Lupercal had once been Romulus's festival, so now it became Caesar's" (1981, 181). To a sixteenth-century English audience, Lupercalia would also have suggested another, more familiar holiday. In his study of carnival in the play, Richard Wilson writes that the date of Lupercal (14 February, Saint Valentine's Day) was also the approximate date of Shrove Tuesday, the same day that Dekker designates as the shoemakers' holiday. (24) The crowd of ar tisans gathered to make holiday in the first scene becomes a version of the apprentice groups that rioted through the city on Mardi Gras. This crowd, however, is abruptly dismissed, and for the roaming of apprentice mobs and feasting shoemakers, the play substitutes elite Lupercal celebrants like Anthony who run through the streets. The pillaging, destruction, and beatings that English artisans meted out on Shrovetide have been transformed and tamed into the ritual lashings the play's celebrants administer to the gathered crowd as they pass. And where Dekker's play celebrates the ability of shoemakers to create their own saints and saints' days, in Shakespeare's text it is the noble Anthony who canonizes Caesar. Anthony describes Caesar's body as a holy relic, imagining the citizens who will "go and kiss dead Caesar's wounds / And dip their napkins in his sacred blood" (3.2.129-30). The reverent citizens, he says, will each take a strand of Caesar's hair "for memory / And dying, mention it within their wills, / Bequeathing it as a rich legacy / Unto their issue" (lines 131-134). Anthony's description shows how Caesar will be perpetuated in the collective memory through the sacred metonymy of his hair. The play, however, also suggests another vehicle for Caesar's memory. The phrase "the ides of March" punctuates the play again and again, serving as a kind of portentous refrain, and this emphasis suggests that the ides of March will become Caesar's "saint's day"; he will be annually commemorated through the vehicle of the ritual calendar.
Performed in the same year as Julius Caesar, Henry Vinvokes the shoemakers' ability to remake the ritual calendar and then displaces this ability onto the king himself. The Saint Crispin's Day speech of act four has often been read as the play's climax; on the eve of battle, Henry readies his troops and dedicates the coming day to the patron saint of shoemakers. What has not been commonly recognized, however, is that by linking Saint Crispin's Day to a rhetoric of obedience, martial solidarity, and loyalty to the king, the play counters image of the shoemaker who fashions subversive holidays to celebrate his own material advancement; Henry fashions a shoemakers' holiday that celebrates monarchical instead of artisanal power, and he attempts to insure that this holiday will commemorate his own apotheosis as England's saint-king rather than the transformation of shoemakers into gentlemen. He thereby precludes the possibility that this holiday will mark a day when a king (like the princes Hugh, Crispin or Crispi anus) stooped to shoemaking. Furthermore, Henry's Saint Crispin's Day rechannels the unruly, upward-thrusting energies of shoemakers into royal service, figuring the king's war as the shoemaker's primary work and martial valor as his only lawful means of social and economic advancement.
Addressing his soldiers before the battle, Henry reminds his army that "This day is called the Feast of Crispian." The soldier, he says, that lives through the battle will "stand a-tiptoe when this day is named / And rouse him at the name of Crispian," remembering English valor and victory on the field of Agincourt (4.3.40-43). Holinshed's Chronicles (1587) confirms Shakespeare's choice of calendar saints by recording that the day of battle was "the five and twentieth of October in the year 1415, being then fridaie, and the feast of Crispin and Crispianian" (3:78). By thus privileging Saint Crispin, however, Shakespeare elides the other saint that has figured so prominently in this play. The rallying cry at the battle of Harfleur was "God for Harry! England and Saint George!" (3.1.34), but while the play stresses George's saintly patronage over the Harfleur battlefield, Saint George is not mentioned on the eve of the more momentous Agincourt battle. Shakespeare's decision to downplay Saint George's intercesso ry powers at Agincourt is all the more striking in light of historical texts that specify that a vision of George appeared above the battlefield. In the anonymous poem, The Battle of Agincourt (1530), Henry's knights report to him that "Saynt George was sene over our hoste, / Of very trouthe this syght men dyde se; / Downe was he sent by the holy goste / To gyve our kynge the vyctory." (25) A. S. G. Edwards points out that two of the fifteenth-century continuations of The Brut, or the Chronicle of England similarly mention Saint George's presence at the battle, and the second account explains George's role as the patron saint of England as a consequence of his assistance at the battle of Agincourt: "the Frenche men syhe Seint George in the eyre ouer the hoste of the Englisshe men, fyghtyng ayenst the Frenche men; and therfor they worship & holde of Seint George, in Engelond, more than in many other londe." (26) Furthermore, a campaign ordinance issued by Henry V required every soldier "to beare a bande of sei nt George" about his arm to identify him as English. (27) Yet despite the historical evidence for Saint George's special assistance at Agincourt, at the pivotal moment of the play, Shakespeare makes no mention of the saint so deeply implicated with English identity and the English monarchy, and instead he honors two comparatively minor saints. In fact, King Henry lays unwonted stress on the names of the two shoemakers, and Jonathan Baldo, noting this emphasis, observes that "references to Saint Crispin's Day chime throughout the speech as if to imitate the bell-ringing that customarily marked the observance of saints' days in early Tudor England." (28)
The stress on male bonding in the pre-battle speech invokes the iconography of Saints Crispian and Crispianus. Henry's exhortation to his troops hinges on his portrayal of the English army as a "band of brothers" (4.3.60) whose common cause binds foot soldier and nobleman alike into a single martial family The king's emphasis on fraternal solidarity recalls contemporary portrayals of Crispin and Crispianus. These images often show the brothers as identical twins walking side by side, arms cast about each other. Other depictions feature Crispin and Crispianus being boiled together in a single pot of oil, visually highlighting the brotherhood that unites them even in death. (29) As twins sharing a twinned fate, the brothers' bonding finds linguistic counterparts in Henry's reference to the day as "Crispin Crispian" (4.3.57) and "Crispin Crispianus" (4.7.83). By removing the conjunction that has persistently linked yet differentiated Crispin from Crispian, these epithets allow the brothers' identities to merge, to become two-in-one. Henry tacitly holds up this homosocial exemplar of saintly brotherhood for his soldiers, and the rhetoric of holy war that has steeped the campaign aligns the king's "band of brothers" with the fraternal union of Crispin and Crispianus stalwartly confronting their ungodly persecutors. (30) The brotherhood of "Crispin Crispian" becomes the symbolic icon of the battle, and their coupled deaths are recreated in those of York and Suffolk, arms cast about each other as they mingle their blood on the battlefield.
Henry's image of brotherhood extends to commoner and nobleman alike, bringing all into a martial and fraternal community where social distinctions are imaginatively erased. This mingling of elite with plebeian invokes the contemporary portrayals of shoemakers fraternizing with kings. Indeed, Henry's assurance to his soldiers that this Saint Crispin's Day shall "gentle [their] condition" (4.3.63) resonates with Saint Crispin's patronage of the Gentle Craft and the ease with which shoemakers, already gentled by their trade, could transform themselves into gentlemen. In the imagery of the speech, Saint Crispin's Day will become for the veterans an important annual holiday -- the veteran will "yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours" (line 45) --, and Henry superimposes his imagined holiday upon the Saint Crispin's Day festivities already celebrated by shoemakers. (31) In Dekker's Shoemaker's Holiday, Simon Eyre identifies his cobblers as those who do reverence "to the shrine of holy Saint Hugh" (1990, 21.148). By picturing the obeisance of memory that his veterans will render, Henry imaginatively figures his soldiers as those who revere the memory of holy Saint Crispin, and he thus figures his entire army as symbolically comprised of shoemakers. (32) Perhaps because of their association with sturdy, well-built shoes, shoemakers were seen as good foot soldiers, and thus they stand for the ideal infantry which Henry will fling into battle. Portrayals of cobblers emphasized their extraordinary bravery and fighting ability. In Rowley's A Shoo-maker a Gentleman, the king's daughter tells her father, "[Y]ou know not what brave men these shoemakers are" (fol. K4v) while the shoemaker Barnaby declares that all shoemakers must be able to "slash... and crack coxcombes, with brave Sword and Buckler, long sword and quarter-staffe." (33) Similarly, Deloney tells of the shoemaker Peachey who, with his shoemaker companions, easily bested gentlemen at sword play, and King Henry might well have wished for an army of such martial shoemakers.
Yet these very shoemakers typified the threat of refractory ritual and calendrical practices. Shakespeare's audience may have remembered the stage shoemaker Strumbo; left alone onstage after a battle (one similar to Agincourt in its disproportionate odds if not in its outcome), he declared a new holy day commemorating the death of the prince and the annihilation of the English army. Henry forestalls this kind of anti-authoritarian holiday by identifying Saint Crispin with victory at Agincourt. By giving shoemakers a Saint Crispin's Day, Henry preempts their seizing one for themselves, and he privileges Crispin the shoemaker saint on terms that he controls. Thus he insures that this shoemaker's holiday works primarily to his own advantage -- commemorating his victory and his acquisition of "the world's best garden" (Epil., 7) -- rather than celebrating the social and economic advancement of common shoemakers. Henry both imitates the shoemakers' holiday-making proclivity and usurps it by hanging a day of nation al military triumph on a saint's day.
Although the Saint Crispin's Day speech holds out the possibility that the common soldier will "gentle his condition," it makes "gentling" explicitly dependent on creditable military service. In contemporary portrayals of shoemakers, in contrast, gentleness comes simply with the trade of cobbling. When Deloney's Simon Eyre fantasizes about becoming a gentleman, his wife reminds him that he already has gentle status: "that dignity your trade allowes you already, being a squire of the Gentle-Craft, then, how can you be lesse than a gentleman, seeing your son is a Prince borne?" (143). Henry's rhetoric, however, implies that his shoemaker-soldiers are "gentled" not by any virtue inherent in their craft but only by fighting the king's battle. By linking "gentling" to bravery and feats of arms, Henry also negates another means through which shoemakers became gentlemen. In answer to his wife, Simon Eyre replies that, despite his inherent gentleness as a shoemaker, he had rather be the sort of gentleman "whose lands are answerable to their vertues, and whose rents can maintaine the greatnes of their minds," i.e., through having property and wealth. Contemporary depictions of shoemakers frequently show them acquiring higher social status through money. By the end of Locrine, Strumbo boasts that he has "become one of the richest men in our parish" (4.3.49-50), and a "true gentleman" (3.2.21). Deloney similarly tells of Richard Casteler, the gentleman-shoemaker who becomes one of the richest men in Westminster, and of the wealthy cobbler Peachey, a retainer to the Duke of Suffolk, who "kept all the yeere forty tall men,... besides Prentises" clothed in his livery (213).
In the scene following the Saint Crispin's Day speech, the play offers a dark commentary on those soldiers who, eschewing bravery, seek "gentling" through money. Pistol has taken captive a French soldier, Master Fer, and he extorts a promised ransom of two hundred French crowns. As if in parody of Simon Eyre's or Strumbo's "gentleness" derived from money, Henry V satirically elevates the newly rich Pistol to gentlemanly status. Translating Fer's admiring description of Pistol, the Boy says, "he esteems himself happy that he hath fallen into the hands of one, as he thinks, the most brave, valorous, and thrice-worthy seigneur of England" (4.4.53-56). Although the Frenchman is professedly "a gentleman of a good house" (lines 40-41), as his name implies (Fer/iron), he is not made of noble stuff. Similarly, although richer by two hundred French crowns, Pistol is patently not a "seigneur," and the gold crowns promised him are a sardonic substitute for the figurative crown of gentility he can never wear. The Frenchm an's craven flattery, "je pense que vous etes le gentilhomme de bonne qualite" (lines 2-3) and the Boy's ironic reference to Pistol as "le grand capitaine" (line 59) only underscore Pistol's venality and the hollowness of his money-based gentling.
As the play makes clear, the only legitimate work on the battlefield is the work of war and martial valor the only legitimate means to wealth and "gentleness." The soldier, however, cannot simply earn "gentleness"; it must be conferred by the king. The play counters Pistol and Fer's spurious exchange of crowns with one in which Henry himself is the lawful paymaster. The soldier Williams, having been made the butt of Henry's jest over the glove and then pardoned for his frank words on the eve of battle, is handsomely rewarded. Henry bids Essex to "fill this glove with crowns, / And give it to this fellow" (4.8.52-53), and the crowns delivered in token of Williams's honest words serve as counterpart to the crowns illegitimately promised to Pistol by Master Fer. Yet although the king is generous with Williams, Anne Barton observes that "it is a dismissive generosity which places the subject firmly in an inferior position and silences his voice" (101). Williams, unlike Pistol, has merited the ennobling transforma tion that results from battle, yet the play, as if to highlight the king's sovereignty over his subjects' social mobility, denies even this seemingly legitimate claim to advancement. Instead, Henry's "dismissive generosity" emphasizes Williams's subordinate position, and the language of this scene associates Williams with the feet of the body politic. The scene marks the parts of Williams's anatomy in more or less descending order: beginning with the glove in his cap that causes the dispute, it moves to Williams's neck ("That's a lie in thy throat" [line 16] and "let his neck answer for it" [line 40]), then to his heart (Williams protests, "All offenses, my lord, come from the heart" [line 43]), then -- with a temporary detour back to cap and glove in Henry's speech (lines 52-56) -- comments on Williams's stomach ("the fellow has mettle enough in his belly" [lines 57-58]). The catalog of Williams's bodily parts ends by emphasizing this foot soldier's feet. (34) Fluellen offers Williams twelvepence and says th at the money "will serve you to mend your shoes" (lines 63-64). Williams's embarrassed reaction to this attention given his feet prompts Fluellen to chide, "Come, wherefore should you be so pashful? Your shoes is not so good" (lines 64-65). Williams's honest words to the King have demonstrated the health of his soul, but his soles are in sorry condition. By laying stress on Williams's feet, the play makes him symbolic of all the warrior-shoemakers in Henry's army and simultaneously reminds us of his (and all shoemakers') place at the foot of the body politic.
Just as Henry has the symbolic power to gentle his troops, his also is the power to include them in the calendar. The Saint Crispin's Day speech suggests to each common soldier that he will be grafted into the calendar as a kind of annually remembered saint. Henry says that, on Saint Crispin's Day, the veteran of Agincourt will "remember with advantages / What feats he did that day" (4.3.50-51), emphasis added). The saint's day often celebrated the saint s martyrdom, commemorating the extreme agony of the body in the service of faith. Henry suggests that the English soldiers' suffering on the battlefield will be a similar kind of holy sacrifice. This "canonization is underscored by the king's pointed allusion to the soldiers' own bodies: like the saints, they will bear the physical marks of their faith, for on the eve of Saint Crispin's Day, each veteran will "strip his sleeve and show his scars" (line 47). Henry concedes a holiday in honor of Saint Crispin and the warrior shoemakers that fight on his behalf, and this shoemakers' holiday attests to the dependence of any military leader on his foot soldiers. Yet this is a dependence that must be forgotten in order to glorify the king. As Phyllis Rackin points out, the play ultimately erases the memory of the plebeian men that fought and died on Henry's behalf (227). The list of battle casualties tells over the names of the noble dead but lumps the common soldiers into the phrase "and of all other men / But five-and-twenty" (4.8.99-100). Saint Crispin's Day as a "'veterans' day," an occasion for recalling the democratic English solidarity that won a victory against the French, is quickly eclipsed by Saint Crispin's Day as a vehicle for remembering the saint-like king himself.
The Saint Crispin's Day speech invokes the iconography of Crispin and Grispianus, but the memorial activity that the play says will occur on this day hearkens back not to the third-century shoemaker saints, but to the fifteenth-century king. Henry lists the titled nobles who will fight at his side -- Bedford, Exeter, Talbot, Salisbury, and Gloucester -- and claims that "Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by / From this day to the ending of the world, / But we in it shall be remembered" (4.3.57-59, emphasis added). The replacement of Crispin and Crispianus as the saintly objects of memory with the king and his nobles perhaps explains why, on the eve of battle, Henry stresses the names of lowly shoemaker saints rather than the magisterial Saint George: as minor saints and patrons of a lowly craft, Crispin and Crispianus are more appropriable and their memories more readily subordinated to the king's and the nobles' own. Henry says that during the veteran's commemorative feasting the names of English nobles will be "familiar in his mouth as household words" (line 52). In an image resonant of the holy Eucharist, Henry and his peers will be quaffed from "flowing cups" (line 55) in the form of liquid memory. (35) While this image mingles Henry's person with that of his nobles, the play makes it clear that Henry is the principal saint being commemorated: Henry imagines his body, like that of the medieval saint, being dismembered and dispersed as holy relics. (36) In Deloney's narrative, Saint Hugh bequeaths his bones to the local cobblers who shape them into cobbling tools, and shoemaker's tools in the period were conventionally known as "Saint Hugh's bones." This image of the saint entailing his bones is echoed in Henry's discussions of his own corporeal form. Just as Caesar's memory inheres in the strands of his hair, Henry imagines his joints and bones as the physical repositories of his memory. He pledges that only his "joints" will be left to the French (4.3.124), and in response to Montjoy's query about ransom, Henry responds, "Bid them achieve me, and then sell my bones" (line 92). He similarly admonishes Montjoy later that he has "fined these bones of mine for ransom" (4.7.61). (37) Like the proverbial deathbed attendants of Saint Thomas Aquinas marveling at the wondrous relic he was about to become, (38) Henry imaginatively renders his own bones as saintly relics to be reverently gathered up by his followers.
Both Henry V and Julius Caesar dramatize the transformation of history into ritual, showing the process by which Caesar's death and Henry's victory at Agincourt are incorporated into the annual timetable of memory; the ides of March and Saint Crispin's Day become the calendrical vehicles for commemorating these two sovereigns and their achievements. This moment of calendar-making is for each play also a moment of climatic solidarity. In Julius Caesar, Anthony's hagiographic description of Caesar transforms the kfractiousrebellious mob of Roman citizens into a single-minded crowd shouting in unison their acclaim of Caesar. Similarly, Henry's Saint Crispin's Day speech imaginatively fuses together the entire English army. Shakespeare's two plays suggest that unified memorial practices -- particularly those that cohere around the figure of the sovereign -- bring about social cohesion and, specifically, a unified national consciousness. By siding with Anthony against the conspirators, the citizens of Julius Caesa r cement Rome's future as imperial state, and the unified army in Henry V becomes not only an efficient fighting machine to oppose the French but also the corporate expression of English patriotism. The celebration of the monarch, experienced collectively and synchronized through the agency of the ritual calendar, becomes central to a stable national identity. (39) The Book of Common Prayer imagines how a shared liturgy and calendar will bring about national unity: "[A]nd where heretofore there hath been great diversity in saying and singing in the churches within this realm, some following Salisbury use, some Hereford, some the use of Bangor, some of York, and some of Lincoln, now from henceforth all the whole realm shall have but one use." (40) In the implicit logic of Julius Caesar and Henry V, the holiday-making energies of the shoemaker disrupt the ritual calendar and thus undermine the possibility of a truly unified "common prayer"; such holiday making thereby unsettles the very national identity that a "common prayer" helps to found. When Julius Caesar and Henry V were performed in 1599, the aging Queen Elizabeth was only four years from her death, and many Englishmen worried over the future of England. Shakespeare's plays seem to suggest that order can be maintained in part through the unified celebration of the monarch's memory. The Queen's Accession Day, however, had entered the annual ritual calendar by erasing Saint Hugh's Day, and this shoemakers' holiday hovered in the background, implicitly threatening to replace the Queen's day after her death. By containing the shoemaker's threat to the ritual calendar, Julius Caesar and Henry V seek to keep elite holidays from being replaced by artisanal ones -- to keep the shoemakers from reinstating Saint Hugh's memory at the expense of the Queen's (41) -- and thus to preserve a national unity dependent on cohesive ritual practices.
(1.) My understanding of the politics of the calendar is based on several excellent historical treatments of the English and Stuart calendar year. Cressy shows how, during the seventeenth century, the ritual calendar was increasingly modified to serve different religious and political agendas. Similarly, Hutton has examined the shifting English attitudes toward festival culture during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In his broader treatment of England's move toward Proresrantism, Duffy discusses calendar feasts as central points of resistance during the early English Reformation (394-98).
(2.) Booty, 6.
(3.) Technically, shoemakers and cobblers practiced slightly different crafts in the period, with cobblers mending old shoes and shoemakers making new ones. In practice, however, there was much overlap between the two trades. Swanson says of medieval York, "shoemakers and cobblers...seem to be undifferentiated" (43). See also Hobsbawm and Scott, 101. In imitation of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century practice, the terms cobbler and shoemaker are used interchangeably in this text.
(4.) Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., s.v. "gentle."
(5.) The frequency with which sixteenth- and seventeenth-century texts depict shoemakers becoming gentlemen may, paradoxically, attest to the trade's relatively fixed place at the bottom of the social ladder rather than to any real aptitude for social advancement. As McClelland has observed, the years 1560 to 1640 witnessed a high level of achievement motifs in popular literature (139). However, upward avenues of mobility were fewer for the lower classes, and Stone argues that while the middle classes, the squirearchy, and the gentry expanded in numbers and fortune, laborers and artisans got poorer during these years. The frequent textual depictions of shoemakers as disrupting traditional social structures or rising to the rank of gentlemen would probably have served as celebratory fantasies of power and status for artisans without either.
(6.) Quoted in Hobsbawm and Scott, 104.
(7.) Another play that centrally features a group of heroic shoemakers -- the anonymous A Pleasant Conceyted Comedic of George a Greene, Pinnar of Wakefield -- was also printed in 1599. The task of researching the history of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English shoemakers is complicated by the fact that their guild hail, containing all the guild records, burned to the ground in the early modern period.
(8.) Dekker, 1958, 3.1.80.
(9.) Dekker, 1958, 3:1.1.20; Beaumont and Fletcher, 2.1.97. For other examples of this sole/soul word play, see The Merchant of Venice 4.1.122 and Romeo and Juliet 1.4.15.
(10.) Dekker, 1990, 1.29; 3.21. The shoemaker's Holiday has no act divisions, so citations are to scene and line numbers. Gaspar notes The Shoemaker's Holiday's Wittenberg connection and remarks, "Dekker gives Lacey and his trade the right Protestant resonance from the start" (21).
(11.) Jonson, 3:4.9 and 5.6. The groom, grateful for Juniper's assistance in his love suit, swears "God a mercy, and for thy sake lie at any time make a holiday" (3:4.5.59-60), thus promising to create a holiday in another shoemaker's honor.
(12.) For the legend of Crispin and Crispianus, see Farmer, 93 and Thurston and Attwater, 4:197-98. This rivalry between France and England for "ownership" of the two brother saints is interesting in light of the Saint Crispin's Day speech in Henry V and the political rivalry that marks the play.
(13.) The historical Simon Eyre became Mayor of London sometime during the fifteenth century -- John Stow alternately dates his election 1419 and 1445. Stow writes that "Simon Eyre, Draper" upon becoming Mayor, "builded the Leaden Hall in London to bee a common garner for the citty" (1:153-54). Although Stow describes Eyre as a draper (and elsewhere as "sometime an Upholster" [2:174]), popular folklore associated him with shoemaking.
(14.) Dekker, 1990, 17.48-49. Deloney writes of Eyre's feast, "whereupon it was ordered, that at the ringing of a Bell in euery Parish, the Prentices should leaue worke, and shut in their shops for that day, which being euer since yearly obserued, it is called the Pancake bell" (168).
(15.) For an overview of Shrove Tuesday festivities, see Hazlitt, 545-48.
(16.) Ursula is the name of both Crispin's and Hugh's beloved, reinforcing the links between these two noblemen-turned-shoemakers. Crispin in Deloney's text and Lacy and Hugh in Dekker's play all turn to shoemaking as a means to see or be near their mistresses who are otherwise unavailable to them.
(17.) By creating a new saint -- Saint Hugh -- these shoemakers also, implicitly, create an annual saint's day that will commemorate him. So, while the holiday in honor of Crispin and Crispianus is the only actual shoemakers' holiday in Delaney's text, the canonization of the shoemaker Hugh invites the reader to imagine a second one.
(18.) Parr, xxiv. See also Timms who finds the same association between Saint Hugh's Day and the Queen's Accession Day.
(19.) Strong provides the classic treatment of the history of the Queen's Accession Day as an English calendar celebration (88-94).
(20.) Fol. C2v. Upon being dubbed "gentleman" by Crispin and Crispianus, one shoemaker responds, "Gentlemen, we are good fellowes no Gent. Yet if gentlenes Make Gentility we are Gentlemen" (fol. C1 r).
(21.) Barnaby declares that since Hugh has given his bones to the shoemakers, "in memory of his gift, all our working tooles, from this time for ever, shall be call'd Sr Hughs bones." The shoemakers gather to rake up pieces of Hugh's body, exclaiming, "Ile have a leg of him" and "And I another" (fol. 12v). By imagining the shoemakers as actually carrying the body of the saint and implicitly shaping his very bones into their cobbling tools, the play closely associates shoemaking with the corporeal relics of the saintly body they reverence.
(22.) Bate has shown that "in writing the part of the Cobbler, or polishing it for performance in 1599, [Shakespeare] had The Shoemakers' Holiday in mind" (462). Moisan has also pointed out this scene's similarities to both Dekker's play and Delaney's Gentle Craft (290).
(23.) Line 61. Moisan observes that "the myth of the 'gentle craftsman' is evoked only to be peremptorily rejected by the representatives of legal authority -- evoked, that is, just enough to be revealed as mere myth" (290).
(24.) Wilson, 36. Liebler makes the same Lupercal-Shrove Tuesday connection: "Julius Caesar begins at the Feast of the Lupercal, the Roman celebration on 13-15 February which later became St. Valentine's day and often coincides in the Christian calendar with Mardi Gras and the Carnival season" (1995, 88).
(25.) Bullough, 4:416.
(26.) Quoted in Edwards, 305.
(27.) Quoted in S. Bright, 34.
(28.) Baldo, 155. Baldo's argument parallels mine in that it discusses the Saint Crispin's Day speech as part of the contemporary "reshaping of the English calendar along secular and political lines" (154). He shows how "the speech as a whole bears testimony to the importance of controlling memory both for Henry and for the English nation in the 1590s when England's sense of itself was shifting in imperial directions" (155). My discussion of Henry Vis highly indebted to Baldo's fine exploration of memory in the play. Baldo, however, identifies the elite discourses of church and monarchy as the sole influences vying for control of the calendar. My argument, while it registers the ways in which the ecclesiastical calendar was made to serve dynastic purposes, also highlights the threat that plebeian men posed to uniform ritual practice. My treatment consequently differs from Baldo's in the attention given to the iconography of Crispin and to the role of shoemakers as subtexts for the Saint Crispin's Day speech.
(29.) See T. Bright, figures 9 and 17.
(30.) Marx has shown how the play uses the iconography of holy war to sanction the battle against the "less-Christian" French.
(31.) Rowley likewise refers to English shoemakers' annual custom of "feasting and entertaining [their] neighbours" on Saint Crispin's Day (Dedic., 10-11).
(32.) The Pipe Rolls indicate that a Master Cordwainer and twenty-six shoemakers were actually present with the English forces at Agincourt. See Mander, 12. This association between shoemakers and Henry's English force at Agincourt is echoed by Dekker's Shoemaker's Holiday. One of Eyre's journeymen, Ralph, joins the king's army to go fight the French. Eyre praises him as a new Hector and "a brave, resolute swordman" (1.170-71), and he exhorts Ralph to "Fight for the honour of the Gentle Craft... Crack me the crowns of the French knaves" (1.214-49). This image of the warrior-shoemaker going off to fight for his king is suggestively linked to Agincourt in scene eight. Here, the audience learns of the English victory -- "Twelve thousand of the Frenchmen that day died, / Four thousand England, and no man of name I Bur Captain Hyam and young Ardington" (8.7-10) -- and, as Parr observes in a footnote, this description closely recalls the list of Agincourt casualties in Henry V.
(33.) Fol. 12v. In his discussion of literary depictions of artisans, Camp observes that shoemakers were accorded more than their usual share of martial prowess in the period (15-19).
(34.) I am grateful to Jonathan Baldo for his observation about how the play anatomizes Williams.
(35.) Altman comments insightfully on the ritualistic, sacramental quality of this act "in partaking [Henry]...in digesting him, turning him to nourishment, and growing 'very Hee,' Shakespeare's audience...is transformed into a polity whose mind, filled with Harry, is historically coextensive with Harry, sharing both the heroism and savagery of his French exploits while remaining ineluctably Elizabethan" (16).
(36.) Other critics have remarked upon the aura of saintliness surrounding Henry. Wasson has shown how Henry V follows the pattern of the medieval saint's play, and Tennenhouse calls it "a piece of political hagiography" (82).
(37.) 4.7.61. The image of Henry's scattered bones is echoed in the language lesson's litany of body parts -- "D'hand, de fingre, de nails, d'arma, d'elbow, de nick, de sin, de foot, de cown" (3.4.52-53) -- and in Williams's imagined vision of "all those legs and arms and heads chopped off in a battle" (4.1.129-30).
(38.) For this anecdote, see Brentano, 229.
(39.) Although Henry V's construction of an English national identity has attracted much critical attention, discussions tend to focus on geographic rather than ritual aspects of early modern English nationalism. That is, critics such as Cairns and Richards, Baker, Neill, Maley, and Hopkins have provided excellent treatments of how the play's colonialist and nationalist agenda is revealed through its handling of Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and French characters. Discussions of a nation identified by its physical boundaries and relationships to other proximate nations are closely allied to treatment of linguistic identity in the play, i.e., the play's variety of accents (Scottish, Welsh, Irish) and languages (English, French) (see Ayers, for example). While the geographical and ethnic nationalism of Henry V has been the subject of much fine discussion, nationalism as derived from cohesive ritual, memorial, and liturgical practices has been all but unexplored, for only Baldo has given significant treatment to the r ole of liturgical memory in the play.
(40.) Booty, 16.
(41.) Ironically, this replacement of Elizabeth by Hugh is precisely what happened although at the instigation of James I instead of the unruly early modern shoemakers. The calendar prefixed to the 1611 King James Bible lists Saint Hugh's name for 17 November and omits Queen Elizabeth's.
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|Author:||Chapman, Alison A.|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2001|
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