Wolsey A Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Gavin E. Schwartz-Leeper
School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics
University of Sheffield
While all mistakes are of course my own, I certainly could not have completed this thesis without a great deal of help. I would first like to thank my supervisor, Prof. Cathy Shrank, who introduced me to Wolsey and whose guidance and support throughout the PhD process has been invaluable. I must also acknowledge the generous mentorship of Prof. Sylvia Adamson, who introduced me to the early modern world. I would like to thank my examiners, Prof. Mike Pincombe (Newcastle) and Dr. Tom Rutter (Sheffield) for their supportive and insightful suggestions. In addition, the advice of my secondary supervisor, Dr. Marcus Nevitt (Sheffield) has been very helpful, particularly during the viva process.
For essential advice, references, discussion, and support, I am also indebted to Prof. Tom Betteridge (Oxford Brookes), Prof. Greg Walker (Edinburgh), Prof. Scott Lucas (The Citadel), Prof. Goran Stanivukovic (Queen Mary’s University), Dr. Tom Lockwood (Birmingham), Dr. Zsolt Almási (PPKE BTE/PPCU) Dr. Matthew Woodcock (UEA), Dr. Stella Fletcher (Warwick), Dr. Liz Oakley-Brown (Lancaster), Prof. Steven May (Sheffield), Dr. Alan Bryson (Sheffield), Dr. Emma Rhatighan (Sheffield), Dr. Katariina Nara (Sheffield), the administrative staff at the School of Languages and Cultures (Sheffield), and the administrative staff at the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics (Sheffield). In addition, the advice and sympathy of Dr. Sharon Schwartz (Columbia) has been of particular comfort.
On a personal note, I must thank Sally O’Halloran, Simon and Elenore Fisher, Leon Palmieri, Edward Smith, Laurence Peacock, Reza Taher, Adlai Lang, Victoria Van Hyning, Dr. Mel Evans (Birmingham), Christian Schneider, Filip Krajnik, and Shannon Kennedy, as well as all the residents of Jessop West Floor 3, past and present. For their support, I would like to thank my family—David, Julia, Ian, and Hope Schwartz-Leeper, as well as Sarah Purdy and Murray Leeper—without whom I could not have started (much less finished) this project. And finally, I am unequal to the task of expressing my gratitude to Dr. Rebecca Fisher (Warwick) for her erudite advice and crucial support, given so freely over so many hours.
I would like to dedicate this thesis to Sidney and Doris Schwartz, who would, I hope, have been proud.
Notes on Transcriptions
This thesis silently expands standard early modern contractions (‘Mr’ becomes ‘Master’), abbreviations (with the exception of the ampersand ‘&’), and archaic characters (thorn ‘þ’ becomes ‘th’). Spelling and punctuation is reproduced as it appears in the source text, except where indicated by square brackets: [example]. In some quotes, text has been made bold or italicized to indicate editorial alterations or for analytical purposes, and has been indicated as such in each instance. In the Appendices, some names and titles have been abbreviated in the interests of space: ‘W’ represents ‘Wolsey’, ‘H8’ represents ‘Henry VIII’, and ‘HRE’ represents ‘Holy Roman Emperor’.
Abstract of the Thesis
This thesis considers a range of sixteenth-century literary texts in order to trace the evolution of the public image(s) of Thomas Cardinal Wolsey (c.1470-1530), Henry VIII’s chief minister from 1515 until 1529. The aim of this thesis is to demonstrate and explore the genesis and subsequent evolution of literary characterizations of Wolsey. This process in turn reveals much about the individual authors, editors, and playwrights who generated these images; the readers and audiences who received them; and the social, political, and religious events to which they responded and with which they interacted. Moreover, this thesis argues that through analyzing case studies (like Wolsey’s), we can better understand how sixteenth-century authors conceptualized and represented history itself, as well as the uses to which these histories might be put. To explore this concept, this thesis creates a framework of ‘mimetic’, ‘poetic’, and ‘documentary’ representations of history to better distinguish how Tudor authors organized and created their respective histories.
In order to identify common themes and highlight evolving textual features, this thesis moves chronologically through a diverse corpus, looking at early satires in doggerel poetry and drama; biography and de casibus verse; Elizabethan historiographies (both religious and secular); and Jacobean drama. This approach demonstrates how the public images of Tudor political figures were constructed in a web of interconnected texts, and how authors constructed and adapted representations of history over the course of the sixteenth century. In addition, this thesis considers how characterizations of Wolsey in particular demonstrate the means by which a particular image could be adapted to interact with a rapidly changing public sphere.
Table of Contents
Notes on Transcriptions 3
Abstract of the Thesis 4
Table of Contents 5
Introduction to the Thesis 6
Speaking nothing but truth: Problems, Structure, and Subject 14
Chapter I 21
Rayling and Scoffery: Henrician Portrayals of Cardinal Wolsey 21
Against Venemous Tongues and Magnyfycence: early anti-Wolsey texts 25
After Magnyfycence: Speaking Parrots, Everymen, and the Alter Rex 39
1522: Reversals, Capitulations, and the Question of Wolsey’s Patronage 53
Godly Queene Hester: The Codification of Early Tudor Anti-Wolsey Satire 59
Hester in Context: Heritage and Effect 78
Chapter II 82
“A vysage of trwthe”: George Cavendish’s Characterizations of Wolsey 82
The Metrical Visions: Rota Fortuna and Wolsey’s Lamentations 85
Le Historye in Context 95
Placing the Visions 100
The Life and Death of Cardinal Wolsey 103
Chapter III 126
“The history of a certaine ridiculous spectacle”: Literary Representations of Cardinal Wolsey in John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments 126
The First Four English Editions: A Brief Overview 129
A Ridiculous Spectacle 139
“See a butchers dogge” 147
The King’s Great Matter 149
The Significant Death 153
Chapter IV 161
‘Handling This Story Effectualie’: Editorializing Wolsey in Holinshed’s Chronicles 161
The 1577 Edition: Holinshed and Wolsey 165
Wolsey, Post-Holinshed: Abraham Fleming and the 1587 Edition 177
To “frankelie and boldlie speak”: Methods and Concerns 193
Looking Forward 196
Chapter V 198
‘Griped By Meaner Persons’?: 198
Wolsey in Shakespeare and Fletcher’s Henry VIII 198
Mirrors of Courtesy: Buckingham, Norfolk, and Wolsey 206
Making Greatness Familiar: Ceremony and Processions in Henry VIII 222
Katherine and Wolsey: Representations in Conflict 227
Falling like Lucifer: Wolsey’s Final Appearances in Henry VIII 238
Eulogizing and Summarizing Cardinal Wolsey in Henry VIII 254
Traduced by Ignorant Tongues? 258
Appendix One: Wolsey Episodes in John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments 262
Appendix Two: Wolsey Episodes in Holinshed’s Chronicle 283
Appendix Three: 306
An Honest Poor Man’s Son: A Brief Biography of Thomas Wolsey 306