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La Bolaing

Patrick Collinson: Anne Boleyn, 18 November 2004

The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn 
by Eric Ives.
Blackwell, 458 pp., £25, July 2004, 0 631 23479 9
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... we visit the England of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. In September 1528, Henry wrote to Anne: ‘No more to you at this present, mine own darling, for lack of time, but that I would you were in mine arms or I in yours, for I think it long since I kissed you.’ This doesn’t sound much like another country. (There are 17 such love letters, preserved in the ...

Homage to the Old Religion

Susan Brigden, 27 May 1993

The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, c.1400-c.1580 
by Eamon Duffy.
Yale, 704 pp., £29.95, November 1992, 0 300 05342 8
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... Devil were characteristic of late medieval religion. In Religion and the Decline of Magic Keith Thomas asserted that the medieval Church had done a great deal to weaken the fundamental distinction between a prayer and a charm, and to encourage the belief that there was a virtue in the mere incantation of holy words. Duffy seems to provide vivid evidence to ...

A Very Active Captain

Patrick Collinson: Henricentrism, 22 June 2006

The King’s Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church 
by G.W. Bernard.
Yale, 736 pp., £29.95, November 2005, 0 300 10908 3
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Writing under Tyranny: English Literature and the Henrician Reformation 
by Greg Walker.
Oxford, 556 pp., £65, October 2005, 0 19 928333 8
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... achievements were those of others, and above all the towering achievement of his minister Thomas Cromwell, whose idea it was to declare UDI on the pope, and, in effect, the rest of Europe. Not all of those who came next, including his own pupils, agreed with Elton. Some very publicly disagreed, and Cromwell was in danger of being sealed back into the ...
... caught up. This is why trade unions in Britain require self-reform, and a new role. Was it not Sir Thomas More who predicted in the 16th century that if the Catholic Church did not reform itself from within it would be reformed from without? And so it was. One of my proud possessions is a copy of the history of the TUC during the hundred years from ...

Viscount Lisle at Calais

G.R. Elton, 16 July 1981

The Lisle Letters 
edited by Muriel St Clare Byrne.
Chicago, 744 pp., £125, June 1981, 0 226 08801 4
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... remnant of which was acquired by Sir Robert Cotton? Where are the papers of Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More? Perhaps the former kept none; the latter, practising his famous discretion, very likely destroyed his in the months during which, still free, he could confidently look forward to his arrest. Of course, there are scattered items from his and ...

Sea Changes

Patrick Parrinder, 27 February 1992

Indigo, or Mapping the Waters 
by Marina Warner.
Chatto, 402 pp., £14.99, February 1992, 9780701135317
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Shakespeare’s Caliban: A Cultural History 
by Alden Vaughan and Virginia Mason Vaughan.
Cambridge, 290 pp., £35, January 1992, 0 521 40305 7
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... execute all things. Both the word and the island of Utopia were the teasing inventions of Sir Thomas More. More’s vision of the good place which is no place may have been inspired by the voyages of Columbus’s follower Amerigo Vespucci, who explored the coast of Venezuela and, absurdly, managed to adorn with his ...

Scarisbrick’s Bomb

Peter Gwyn, 20 December 1984

Reformation and Revolution 1558-1660 
by Robert Ashton.
Granada, 503 pp., £18, February 1984, 0 246 10666 2
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The Reformation and the English People 
by J.J. Scarisbrick.
Blackwell, 203 pp., £14.50, March 1984, 0 631 13424 7
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... two Stuart kings were on the whole a good thing, the Parliamentarians a bad thing. Perhaps even more important than this, they want us to believe that, but for the wars with Scotland in 1639 and 1640, there would have been no Parliamentarians at all: in other words, that the notion of a sustained Parliamentary opposition to James I and Charles I, leading ...

Ambifacts

Gary Taylor, 7 January 1993

Shakespeare: The Later Years 
by Russell Fraser.
Columbia, 380 pp., $35, April 1992, 0 231 06766 6
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Shakespeare: His Life, Work and Era 
by Dennis Kay.
Sidgwick, 368 pp., £20, May 1992, 0 283 99878 4
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William Shakespeare: The Anatomy of an Enigma 
by Peter Razzell.
Caliban, 188 pp., May 1992, 1 85066 010 7
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Politics, Plague and Shakespeare’s Theatre: The Stuart Years 
by Leeds Barroll.
Cornell, 249 pp., £20.80, January 1992, 0 8014 2479 8
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Shakespeare Verbatim: The Reproduction of Authenticity and the 1790 Apparatus 
by Margreta de Grazia.
Oxford, 244 pp., £30, February 1991, 0 19 811778 7
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... does not expand or deepen my grasp of human possibility, as in their different ways the history of Thomas More or John Milton does. The extant marks of Shakespeare’s mortal passage don’t tell us anything we don’t already know about the world or the human. The works – various and ambiguous as they are – tell us something about both; the life ...

Why did Lady Mary care about William Cragh?

Maurice Keen: A medieval miracle, 5 August 2004

The Hanged Man: A Story of Miracle, Memory and Colonialism in the Middle Ages 
by Robert Bartlett.
Princeton, 168 pp., £16.95, April 2004, 0 691 11719 5
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... de Briouze, Lord of Gower, and sentenced by him to hang as a rebel and a homicide. The saint was Thomas de Cantilupe, former bishop of Hereford, who had died in 1282. From soon after his death posthumous miracles had begun to be attributed to him, and he was officially canonised by Pope John XXII in 1320. The story, in outline, runs thus. On the morning of ...

Full-Employment Utopias

Christopher Hill, 16 July 1981

Utopia and the Ideal Society: A Study of English Utopian Writing, 1516-1700 
by J.C. Davis.
Cambridge, 427 pp., £25, March 1981, 0 521 23396 8
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Science and Society in Restoration England 
by Michael Hunter.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £18.50, March 1981, 0 521 22866 2
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... Dr Davis’s book is a long, careful and detailed study of utopian writing in England from Sir Thomas More to the end of the 17th century. He has interesting things to say about well-known figures like More, Bacon, Winstanley and Harrington, but I found his chapters on lesser writers even more instructive ...

Bastard Foreigners

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare v. the English, 2 July 2020

Shakespeare’s Englishes: Against Englishness 
by Margaret Tudeau-Clayton.
Cambridge, 245 pp., £75, October 2019, 978 1 108 49373 4
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... The play concludes with the future Elizabeth I’s christening, during which her godfather, Thomas Cranmer, the archbishop of Canterbury, is inspired to prophesy:In her days every man shall eat in safety,Under his own vine, what he plants; and singThe merry songs of peace to all his neighbours:God shall be truly known; and those about herFrom her shall ...

Jousting for Peace

Thomas Penn: Henry VIII meets Francis I, 17 July 2014

The Field of Cloth of Gold 
by Glenn Richardson.
Yale, 288 pp., £35, November 2013, 978 0 300 14886 2
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... expenditure was enormous: Richardson estimates some £36,000 on the English side, significantly more than the annual costs of the royal household, and £40,000 on the French. But then, the Field was intended to mark a peace that, for both Henry and Francis, would be more glorious than war. Moreover, the Anglo-French ...

Soft Spur

A.W.B. Simpson, 3 February 1983

What next in the Law 
by Lord Denning.
Butterworth, 352 pp., £9.95, July 1982, 0 406 17602 7
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... if one reflects on the matter, are not likely to be well-informed), What next in the Law is once more available, albeit with the naughty bits removed. The central theme of the book is law reform, and it is explained in the preface that Lord Denning has fallen to musing on the fate of shelved commission and committee reports. ‘So I thought: some spur is ...

First Puppet, Now Scapegoat

Inigo Thomas: Ass-Chewing in Washington, 30 November 2006

State of Denial: Bush at War 
by Bob Woodward.
Simon and Schuster, 560 pp., £18.99, October 2006, 0 7432 9566 8
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... to emulate. He’d brought down a president: journalistically, what can beat that? He’s now more famous and must be wealthier than any other newspaperman, every book a national bestseller, and so influential that his requests for interviews – whether they are granted or not – are treated as political considerations.Which makes Woodward less ...

The Crowe is White

Hilary Mantel: Bloody Mary, 24 September 2009

Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor 
by Eamon Duffy.
Yale, 249 pp., £19.99, June 2009, 978 0 300 15216 6
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... at him: ‘It is a merye worlde when such as thou arte shall teache us what is the truth.’ Thomas Tomkins, a weaver, was burned after Edmund Bonner, bishop of London, had forcibly shaved off his long evangelist’s beard ‘so he wold loke like a catholike’ even if he wasn’t one, and had held his hand in a candle flame to give him a foretaste of ...

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