Bad Queen Bess?: Libels, Secret Histories and the Politics of Publicity in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I

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Bad Queen Bess? analyses the back and forth between the Elizabethan regime and various Catholic critics, who, from the early 1570s to the early 1590s, sought to characterize that regime as a conspiracy of evil counsel. Through a genre novel - the libellous secret history - to English political discourse, various (usually anonymous) Catholic authors claimed to reveal to the public what was "really happening" behind the curtain of official lies and disinformation with which the clique of evil counsellors at the heart of the Elizabethan state habitually cloaked their sinister maneuvers. Elements within the regime, centred on William Cecil and his circle, replied to these assaults with their own species of plot talk and libellous secret history, specializing in conspiracy-driven accounts of the Catholic, Marian, and then, latterly, Spanish threats.

Peter Lake presents a series of (mutually constitutive) moves and counter moves, in the course of which the regime's claims to represent a form of public political virtue, to speak for the commonweal and true religion, elicited from certain Catholic critics a simply inverted rhetoric of private political vice, persecution, and tyranny. The resulting exchanges are read not only as a species of "political thought," but as a way of thinking about politics as process and of distinguishing between "politics" and "religion." They are also analyzed as modes of political communication and pitch-making - involving print, circulating manuscripts, performance, and rumor - and thus as constitutive of an emergent mode of "public politics" and perhaps of a "post reformation public sphere." While the focus is primarily English, the origins and imbrication of these texts within, and their direct address to, wider European events and audiences is always present. The aim is thus to contribute simultaneously to the political, cultural, intellectual, and religious histories of the period.

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About the Author:


Peter Lake completed his undergraduate degree and PhD at Cambridge University and taught subsequently at Bedford College, Royal Holloway, Bedford New College, London, Cornell, and Princeton. He moved to Vanderbilt University in 2008. When in London he is an habitual attender of seminars at the Institute of Historical Research, and has been the grateful beneficiary of extended stints at both the Folger Shakespeare and Huntington Libraries.

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"Bad Queen Bess? is an important study revealing the extremes of Elizabethan religious and political debate. With a satirical tone, Lake demonstrates successfully how Catholic propaganda helped shaped the Elizabethan political and religious landscape. ... Bad Queen Bess? is essential towards an understanding of the Elizabethan period. It will appeal to undergraduates and academics interested in early modern religion and politics." -- Frank Swannack, Parergon


"Lake makes a very focused argument, drilling a fine-gauge hole through a complicated era....[T]he book succeeds in doing what it sets out to do. It puts Catholic writers squarely within the 'politics of pitch-making' about the English polity in Elizabeth's reign. It teaches the importance of listening to both sides of these debates, since all the protagonists were disputing about the same political entity, fighting political wars for religious ends and vice versa. It knocks the monarchical republic on the head, reducing it to 'Burghley's commonwealth,' temporarily useful to one faction. It does a fine job of parsing very dense texts like Bilson's True Difference. No one is better at this than Lake, and this is vintage Lake."--Norm Jones, Huntington Library Quarterly


"[T]he book succeeds in doing what it sets out to do. It puts Catholic writers squarely within the 'politics of pitch-making' about the English polity in Elizabeth's reign. It teaches the importance of listening to both sides of these debates, since all the protagonists were disputing about the same political entity, fighting political wars for religious ends and vice versa. It knocks the monarchical republic on the head, reducing it to 'Burghley's commonwealth,' temporarily useful to one faction. It does a fine job of parsing very dense texts like Bilson's True Difference. No one is better at this than Lake, and this is vintage Lake."--Norm Jones, Huntington Library Quarterly


"Lake's book adds up to a major revision and overhaul of previous accounts of Elizabethan politics."--John Guy, Journal of Modern History


"[M]akes an important contribution to understanding the political culture of early modern England..."--Alexandra Halasz, Renaissance Quarterly


"Peter Lake's importance in the historiography of the Elizabethan period is undisputed. He has helped bring Catholics into the mainstream of Elizabethan political history and inserted the "public sphere" into the vocabulary of early modern historians...Bad Queen Bess? is essential reading for scholars and students."--Susan Doran, American Historical Review


"Lake takes into account print, gossip and news, and so gives subtlety and depth to his reconstruction of political debate and discussion in the otherwise highly controlled conditions of suppression and censorship under Elizabeth."--London Review of Books


"Bad Queen Bess? is an important intervention in significant debates about the past and how we should read it, as well as a work of historical astuteness."--Reviews in History


"This is a valuable account of how political debate acquired new levels of venom, with searching analysis of the printed books, manuscript treatises, plays and rumours in which these secret histories were deployed."--TImes Higher Education


"[A] fascinating and enlightening read, from which many general lessons about human behaviour can be derived..."--Irish Catholic


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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2016. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Bad Queen Bess? analyses the back and forth between the Elizabethan regime and various Catholic critics, who, from the early 1570s to the early 1590s, sought to characterise that regime as a conspiracy of evil counsel. Through a genre novel - the libellous secret history - to English political discourse, various (usually anonymous) Catholic authors claimed to reveal to the public what was really happening behind the curtain of official lies and disinformation with which the clique of evil counsellors at the heart of the Elizabethan state habitually cloaked their sinister manoeuvres. Elements within the regime, centred on William Cecil and his circle, replied to these assaults with their own species of plot talk and libellous secret history, specialising in conspiracy-driven accounts of the Catholic, Marian, and then, latterly, Spanish threats. Peter Lake presents a series of (mutually constitutive) moves and counter moves, in the course of which the regime s claims to represent a form of public political virtue, to speak for the commonweal and true religion, elicited from certain Catholic critics a simply inverted rhetoric of private political vice, persecution, and tyranny. The resulting exchanges are read not only as a species of political thought , but as a way of thinking about politics as process and of distinguishing between politics and religion . They are also analysed as modes of political communication and pitch-making - involving print, circulating manuscripts, performance, and rumour - and thus as constitutive of an emergent mode of public politics and perhaps of a post reformation public sphere . While the focus is primarily English, the origins and imbrication of these texts within, and their direct address to, wider European events and audiences is always present. The aim is thus to contribute simultaneously to the political, cultural, intellectual, and religious histories of the period. Seller Inventory # AOP9780198753995

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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2016. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Bad Queen Bess? analyses the back and forth between the Elizabethan regime and various Catholic critics, who, from the early 1570s to the early 1590s, sought to characterise that regime as a conspiracy of evil counsel. Through a genre novel - the libellous secret history - to English political discourse, various (usually anonymous) Catholic authors claimed to reveal to the public what was really happening behind the curtain of official lies and disinformation with which the clique of evil counsellors at the heart of the Elizabethan state habitually cloaked their sinister manoeuvres. Elements within the regime, centred on William Cecil and his circle, replied to these assaults with their own species of plot talk and libellous secret history, specialising in conspiracy-driven accounts of the Catholic, Marian, and then, latterly, Spanish threats. Peter Lake presents a series of (mutually constitutive) moves and counter moves, in the course of which the regime s claims to represent a form of public political virtue, to speak for the commonweal and true religion, elicited from certain Catholic critics a simply inverted rhetoric of private political vice, persecution, and tyranny. The resulting exchanges are read not only as a species of political thought , but as a way of thinking about politics as process and of distinguishing between politics and religion . They are also analysed as modes of political communication and pitch-making - involving print, circulating manuscripts, performance, and rumour - and thus as constitutive of an emergent mode of public politics and perhaps of a post reformation public sphere . While the focus is primarily English, the origins and imbrication of these texts within, and their direct address to, wider European events and audiences is always present. The aim is thus to contribute simultaneously to the political, cultural, intellectual, and religious histories of the period. Seller Inventory # AOP9780198753995

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