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A Mirror for Magistrates and the De Casibus Tradition

A Mirror for Magistrates and the De Casibus Tradition

  • Book Info
    A Mirror for Magistrates and the De Casibus Tradition
    Book Description:

    Situates the often neglected collection of English Renaissance narrative poems A Mirror for Magistrates in the cultural context of its production, locating it not as a primitive form of tragedy, but as the epitome of the de casibus literary tradition.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7039-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-2)

    Why write a book onA Minor for Magistrates?. The scholarly interest in the book has tended to be archeological, and the limited critical reaction has been almost uniformly apologetic. The text has been thoroughly excavated as the source for later dramatic tragedies, but those critics who have focused on the work for itself have isolated a few points of poetic interest, notably the ′Induction′ and ′The Tragedy of Buckingham,′ both by Thomas Sackville, and dismissed the rest. This dismissal has taken two forms: either the individual tragedies are shown to be predictable stories of the schematic retribution inflicted upon...

  5. Chapter One Printing the Mirror
    (pp. 3-13)

    In 1553, John Wayland returned to the printing business by buying the Sign of the Sun, a London printing house recently owned by Edward Whitchurch, a Protestant who had left the business during Mary I′s Catholic reign. Wayland, a staunch Catholic from Middlesex, had been out of the printing business for almost fifteen years; he had spent those years working as a scrivener, bookseller, and professional litigant embroiled in a series of complicated suits involving land title, loan defaults, and book deals. He may have returned to printing because he had secured a patent, presumably through the influence of a...

  6. Chapter Two History
    (pp. 14-38)

    Lily B. Campbell, in her article Tudor Conceptions of History and Tragedy inA Mirror for Magistrates,′ reminds us that the Renaissance employed history, and historically oriented texts such as theMirror, as a source of ′immediately useful′ information. She intimates that the reason for the inordinate faith placed in the value of history was theoretical: history was viewed as repetitive, or cyclical, and therefore major patterns of events could be counted on to recur.¹ Whether this assumption was the product of an articulated philosophy of history or the fruit of an unexpressed worldly wisdom, Campbell does not make clear....

  7. Chapter Three Tragedy and Fortune
    (pp. 39-59)

    In the previous chapter we looked atde casibusliterature as a form of history writing and relatedA Mirror for Magistratesto the history traditions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I began with the question of history in order to break the automatic association ofde casibusliterature with tragedy. I would now like to come back to the question ofde casibusas tragedy and to examine the relation of theMirrorto this literary form.

    In general (there is no consistent scholarly practice), literary critics use the termde casibusto denote tragedies of fortune -...

  8. Chapter Four Women
    (pp. 60-72)

    While a great deal of work has been done in the past twenty years tracking the representation of women in the Renaissance, little attention has been paid to the depiction of women inde casibustragedy.¹ When this literature has been related to the representation of women by critics such as Constance Jordan and Linda Woodbridge,² it has been seen either as a source for later material or as a form of ′lament′ literature.³ But I am going to argue that it was the form of this literature and its relation to history, more than its content (that is, the...

  9. Chapter Five Drama
    (pp. 73-94)

    As mentioned in the introduction, the bulk of the scholarship onA Mirror for Magistratesand thede casibustradition has been done by critics exploring the background of Elizabethan drama. Thede casibustradition has been seen, at best, as a stepping stone in the evolution of tragedy, a sort of lamentable missing link on the way totruetragedy - the works of Kyd, Marlowe, and, above all, Shakespeare - despite the fact that critics such as Sidney grouped theMirrorwith dramatic tragedies.¹ For this reason, the scholarship that exists on theMirroris, for the most...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 95-106)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 107-114)
  12. Index
    (pp. 115-119)