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The Protestant Whore

The Protestant Whore: Courtesan Narrative and Religious Controversy in England, 1680-1750

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    The Protestant Whore
    Book Description:

    The Protestant Whorereveals the recurring connection between sexual impropriety and religious heterodoxy in Restoration thought, and Nell Gwyn, writ large as the nation's Protestant Whore, is shown to be a significant figure of sexual, political, and religious controversy.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8691-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-16)

    I became familiar with the mistresses who govern this study while looking at Restoration portraits. Once noted, the names of these women – Barbara Villiers, Louise de Kéroualle, Hortense Mancini, and Nell Gwyn, among others – appeared to me everywhere in my encounters with the long eighteenth century. ‘Nell Gwyn,’ in particular, seemed to circulate as a code name. The centuries between then and now have made deciphering this code more difficult by reconstituting Nell Gwyn as England’s favouriteparvenue, the face on a tea shop sign in Windsor, subject ofTown and Countrydebutante news.¹ But she did not always appear...

  6. 1 The Invention of the Protestant Whore
    (pp. 17-49)

    How much weight, exactly, did the king’s courtesans carry in political debates? How did the cultural commentaries of the period gender and sexualize their representations of Catholic and Protestant authority? How was Nell Gwyn able to sustain an image of a united Protestant interest in the face of Church of England and Dissenting factionalism? Why did the language of Protestantism as self-protection work for Nell Gwyn, when it so clearly damaged the case of Stephen College, the Protestant joiner hanged for treason in Oxford only a few months after Nell Gwyn’s proclamation? The answers I provide to these questions place...

  7. 2 ‘No Neuters in Treason’: Aphra Behn’s Love-Letters between a Nobleman and His Sister
    (pp. 50-79)

    Aphra Behn’s status as a court operator and observer provided England’s first professional woman author with a unique vantage point from which to recognize the narrative potential of courtesan iconography.Love-Letters between a Nobleman and His Sister, first published in three installments (1684, 1685, 1687), writes a courtesan narrative that contemplates the political ramifications of religious conviction and the role that sexual knowledge plays in the shaping of national history. As a royalist, Behn seeks to maintain the status quo, and the novel’s sharpest dart directs itself at the heart of James Scott, Duke of Monmouth (the ‘Protestant Duke’) and...

  8. 3 The Secret History of Women’s Political Desire, 1690–1714
    (pp. 80-109)

    England’s last two Stuart monarchs attempted to bridge the chasms dividing the nation in the 1690s and early eighteenth century. Both Mary II and Queen Anne acted as champions of the Protestant cause and their supporters identified the monarchs’ piety as a political principal. Rather than alleviate the anxieties that surrounded the royal mistresses of the Stuart brothers’ courts, however, the reigns of Mary and Anne only further complicated the question of female rule. Mary’s Jacobite opponents routinely characterized her as a parricidal whore and destroyer of principled governance. Anne’s attachment to the powerful women of her court, not all...

  9. 4 ‘A House Divided’: Defoe’s Roxana and the Protestant Body Politic
    (pp. 110-141)

    George I’s assumption of the throne in 1714 and the English army’s victory over Jacobite rebels at the Battle of Preston a year later did little to assuage religious controversies of the period. Indeed, the doubts that plagued English Protestantism in the seventeenth century deepened in the years immediately following the Hanoverian succession. Benjamin Hoadly, bishop of Bangor, brought internal conflict within the Church of England into sharp relief when he preached ‘The Nature of the Kingdom, or Church, of Christ’ before the king in 1717. The sermon, almost certainly motivated by a political desire to deny authority to High...

  10. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  11. 5 A World of One’s Own: Clarissa, Tom Jones, and Courtesan Authority
    (pp. 142-176)

    Sarah Churchill’s lament regarding the rise of the mistress in the 1730s seems curiously anachronistic. As this study has shown, references to the Stuart mistress provided a shorthand for descriptions of the abuse of power after 1660. Latter-day accusations of sexual corruption in the Hanoverian court drew on two generations of cultural commentary. But the Duchess of Malborough’s remarks place their emphasis on the political acumen of the women with whom she shared the limelight in her younger days. Twenty years after the death of Queen Anne, Sarah Churchill’s key no longer unlocked the cabinets of power. New models for...

  12. Afterword
    (pp. 177-182)

    Spiro Peterson first traced the progress thatRoxanamade after its initial publication, observing the fascination the novel continued to hold for eighteenth-century readers long after Defoe’s death. At least six of the editions published after 1724 continued Defoe’s story beyond its original ending.¹ The two sequels (1740 and 1775) that narrate happy endings for Defoe’s heroine had little impact on other eighteenth-century editions or later readers.² Instead, the 1745 sequel, containing a long excoriation of Roxana, served as the basis for the century’s most important serializations, revisions, and abridgements of Defoe’s novel, and it was this edition that caught...

  13. Historical Glossary
    (pp. 183-186)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 187-252)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 253-280)
  16. Index
    (pp. 281-291)