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The Sixteenth Century. 1485-1603. Important Dates. 1485 Ascension of Henry VII inaugurates Tudor dynasty 1509 Ascension of Henry VIII 1517 Beginning of Reformation 1534 Henry VIII declares himself head of the English church 1558 Ascension of Elizabeth I 1603 Death of Elizabeth I

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The Sixteenth Century

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The sixteenth century l.jpg

The Sixteenth Century

1485-1603


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Important Dates

  • 1485 Ascension of Henry VII inaugurates Tudor dynasty

  • 1509 Ascension of Henry VIII

  • 1517 Beginning of Reformation

  • 1534 Henry VIII declares himself head of the English church

  • 1558 Ascension of Elizabeth I

  • 1603 Death of Elizabeth I

  • 1603 Ascension of James I, first of Stuart dynasty


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Background

  • At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the English language had no prestige abroad

  • By century’s end, English had been fashioned into an immensely powerful expressive medium


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The Court

  • The court was the center of culture and power

  • Court tastes shaped the taste of the country

  • Court culture created an art of intrigue

  • Castiglione’s The Courtier

  • Patronage

  • Courtiers were highly gifted at crafting graceful words with double meanings


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The City

  • Population of London tripled

  • London was the largest and fastest growing city in Europe


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Literacy

  • Caxton’s printing press made books cheaper and more plentiful

  • Protestantism encouraged reading


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Renaissance Humanism

  • Beginnings in Italy

  • Rebirth of letters and recovery of texts and artifacts from classical antiquity

  • Submission of human spirit to discipline gave way to individual self-assertion

  • Emphasis on worth of life in this world

  • Vision of self-fashioning

  • More and Erasmus – great English humanists

  • Liberal education

  • Knowledge of the classics

  • Literature in the vernacular rather than Latin

  • Renaissance translations


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The Reformation

  • Before the Reformation, the Catholic church was the central institution of life

  • In 1517, Luther started the Reformation with his theses against the abuses of the Church

  • Luther’s emphasis on scripture and faith


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Calvinism

  • Started by John Calvin in Switzerland

  • The Institutes of the Christian Religion

  • Calvinism rooted in belief in predestination

  • Government subordinate to the Church


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The English Reformation

  • Henry VIII craved a legitimate son. His wife Catherine of Aragon failed to give him one

  • The pope refused to annul his marriage so he could marry Anne Boleyn

  • Henry declared himself Head of Church and State

  • Act of Supremacy passed

  • Henry had no sympathy for Catholics or Protestant sects

  • After Henry’s death, throne passed to his son, Edward.

  • Forty-Two Articles and Book of Common Prayer


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Queen Mary

  • After Edward’s death, Mary became queen.

  • She restored Catholic Mass, reaffirmed the authority of the pope


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Queen Elizabeth

  • Elizabeth became queen after Mary’s death

  • Restored supremacy of the Anglican Church


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England and Otherness

  • England claimed to be rulers of Ireland

  • Jews were objects of hostility

  • Africans regarded as exotic

  • African slave trade to the New World

  • Merchant of Adventurers founded and Englishmen began to explore Asia and the North America


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Elizabethan Attitudes Toward Women

  • Queen Elizabeth ruled by royal absolutism

  • In reality, Elizabeth ruled through political maneuvering and command

  • Elizabeth’s Cult of Love

  • Court became a place of romance


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England and Spain

  • Elizabeth learned that Phillip II, her former brother in-law and one-time suitor, was prepared to send an enormous fleet to invade England.

  • The Armada reached English waters in July 1588

  • The Armada was destroyed by violent storms.


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Writers, Printers and Patrons

  • The career of the professional writer was almost impossible

  • Strict government regulations

  • Writers thought of themselves are courtiers

  • Poetry was a social grace

  • Financial rewards came in the form of gifts from wealthy patrons

  • City of London and the two universities had impact on the period’s literature

  • Women had no access to universities


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Renaissance Style

  • Renaissance literature is the product of a rhetorical culture

  • Figures, forms of patterns of words, were shaped and repeated in order to confer beauty or heighten expressive power

  • Elaborate ornament

  • Elaborate design

  • Delight in pattern

  • Renaissance poetry is interested in the magical power of workmanship to draw its readers into fabricated worlds

  • Poetry has a moral value and didactic function

  • Use of literary conventions: pastoral, heroic, lyric, satiric, elegiac, tragic, and comic


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The Elizabethan Theater

  • Mystery plays performed by guilds of writers

  • Before the construction of public theatres, playing companies performed short plays called interludes

  • Morality plays

  • Tragedies

  • Comedy

  • Music and dance were incorporated into plays

  • First public theater in England dates from Shakespeare’s time


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Characteristics of the Renaissance and Renaissance Literature

  • Use of poetic conventions

  • Preoccupation with this life rather than life beyond

  • Emphasis on the individual

  • Art glorifies human nature

  • Concern with time

  • Great Chain of Being

  • Microcosm/Macrocosm

  • Rebirth of antiquity

  • Humanism

  • Christian Humanism


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