THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
Dates: 1485-1603 Years of Tudor
Topics which are important to the century
Humanism - intellectually liberating
movement which focused on the development of human potential.
Freed people from the intellectual tyranny of the Roman Catholic
Church. Came from Italy with the Renaissance ideals.
There was a rebirth of letters and arts, a recovery of classical
Leonardo da Vinci
Lorenzo di Medici
Reformation - officially "started"
in 1517 by Martin Luther. In England, the split with the Roman
Catholic Church occurred during the reign of Henry VIII. Under
Edward VI came the influence of strict Lutheran and Calvinist reformers.
Mary I reversed this under her rule and tried to bring England back to
the Roman Catholic Church. Mary died as Protestant martyrs during
this time, and Mary earned the title "Bloody Mary." Her sister, Elizabeth
I, Probably England's finest ruler, balanced the warring religious factions
and brought an incredible measure of religious stability to England.
Roman Catholics in Ireland were still persecuted, though. .
Nationalism - Especially under Elizabeth I England created a very
strong image of itself as strong, united nation. This was aided greatly
by the British Navy's unlikely defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Spain
had ruled the seas, thus the world. By defeating Spain, England became
the strongest power in Europe.
Patronage system for writers - this is how
writers made their money. There were no professional writers as we
know the trade. Writers wrote, dedicating their works to rich nobles
in hopes of gaining a financial reward in return. This caused a certain
level of censorship to happen in the writing. See, for example, Spenser's
The Fairie Queene in which he panders to Elizabeth's ego (and in the process
adds to the sense of English nationalism) in hopes of reward.
Censorship - Being a writer was a difficult
task, thanks to the strict censorship laws. Tudor monarchs controlled
press and publication very tightly. Writers who offended were subject
to prison, fines and punishment, including having their right hands chopped
off for offending the queen. Because of this, we see signs of internal
censorship wherever material might be considered the least bit controversial.
During this period, artificial was a positive term.
-- improve something naturally beautiful with art
-- intricacy of design and elaborateness of pattern valued.
-- complexity coupled with rigid order
There was also a concern with models. Writers looked to classical
and Continental models to learn from them, emulate them, transforms them,
and hopefully surpass them.
|Homer & Virgil -- epic
||Ovid -- love poetry/erotic narratives
||Cicero -- rhetoric & prose
|Theocritus & Virgil -- pastoral
||Seneca -- tragedy
||Petrarch -- sonnets
|Ariosto & Tasso -- romantic epic