Music in Elizabethan Court Politics

Music in Elizabethan Court Politics

Katherine Butler
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt7zst07
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  • Book Info
    Music in Elizabethan Court Politics
    Book Description:

    Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) had a strong reputation for musicality; her court musicians, Thomas Tallis and William Byrd, even suggested that music was indispensable to the state. But what roles did music play in Elizabethan court politics? How did a musical image assist the Queen in projecting her royal authority? What influence did her private performances have on her courtships, diplomatic affairs, and relationships with courtiers? To what extent did Elizabeth control court music, or could others appropriate performances to enhance their own status and achieve their ambitions? Could noblemen, civic leaders, or even musicians take advantage of Elizabeth's love of music to present their complaints and petitions in song? This book unravels the connotations surrounding Elizabeth's musical image and traces the political roles of music at the Elizabethan court. It scrutinizes the most intimate performances within the Privy Chamber, analyses the masques and plays performed in the palaces, and explores the grandest musical pageantry of tournaments, civic entries, and royal progresses. This reveals how music served as a valuable means for both the tactful influencing of policies and patronage, and the construction of political identities and relationships. In the late Tudor period music was simultaneously a tool of authority for the monarch and an instrument of persuasion for the nobility. Katherine Butler is a researcher and tutor at the University of Oxford.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-431-4
    Subjects: Music, History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Editorial Note
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-ix)
  6. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. x-x)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    In 1593 the poet Michael Drayton pictured Queen Elizabeth I of England (1558–1603) as the nymph Beta being entertained in state on the banks of the Thames in honour of her Accession Day (17 November):

    How merrily the Muses sing,

    That all the flowery meadows ring,

    And Beta sits upon the bank, in purple and in pall,

    And she the Queen of Muses is, and wears the coronal.¹

    Courtly revels are translated into an idealised pastoral English countryside. Courtiers become nymphs and shepherds; Muses and birds form choirs; swans serve for a guard of honour; Apollo’s laurel and a...

  8. CHAPTER 1 Music, Authority, and the Royal Image
    (pp. 15-41)

    Nicholas Hilliard’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth I playing the lute presents an enigma (Figure 1.1).¹ As a portrait miniature it is highly unusual; whereas a miniature typically depicts just the head and shoulders, this portrait extends to the waist. Moreover, Elizabeth is not only sitting, but actively playing a lute, a rarity among portraiture of upper-class women. In the few exceptions (seventeenth-century portraits of Lady Mary Wroth, Lady Isabella Rich and Lady Anne Clifford) the instrument is held symbolically rather than played, as an emblem of sensibility or marriageability.² By contrast, the iconography of women playing lutes invited erotic interpretations,...

  9. CHAPTER 2 The Politics of Intimacy
    (pp. 42-75)

    Many musical images of Elizabeth were public or semi-public in nature, being circulated in print or produced during grand occasions like the progresses. By contrast, Hilliard’s miniature of Elizabeth playing the lute (Figure 1.1) was a private, personal possession. It belonged to Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon, and was probably a gift from Elizabeth.¹ The Carey family were close to the Queen and would have been accustomed to hearing her play for recreation in her private apartments. Hunsdon was her cousin, and responsible for the famous incident in which the Scottish ambassador was caught eavesdropping on Elizabeth’s virginal-playing (pp. 45–7).²...

  10. CHAPTER 3 The Royal Household and its Revels
    (pp. 76-104)

    Intimate and informal performances were only heard by a select group of courtiers and ambassadors. The outward face of court music-making was the royal musical establishment and its provision for both daily ceremonies and grand seasonal revels. These performances in the Presence Chamber and the Great Hall were open to English nobility and gentry, as well as ambassadors and visiting foreign nobility. Music was essential to the image of a court, and Elizabeth’s was no exception. Aside from offering entertainment, musicians had to produce the aural equivalent of the magnificent visual effects of portraits, architecture, jewellery, courtly dress, or silverware...

  11. CHAPTER 4 Noble Masculinity at the Tournaments
    (pp. 105-142)

    Thomas Campion’s poem ‘Faith’s Pure Shield, the Christian Diana’ tells the story of a spectacular Elizabethan tournament that was ironically brought to a premature end by a typical English downpour.¹ An ‘angry tempest’ drives away not only the fair weather, but also that metaphorical English sun, Elizabeth, so that the disappointed participants and spectators disperse. Campion’s poem reveals Elizabeth as the focus of the day: she is hailed as the ‘Christian Diana’ and ‘England’s glory’ while the crowds yearned for a glimpse of her, ‘at [her] sight triumphing’. The lavish pageantry dramatised the knights’ submission and service before her, competing...

  12. CHAPTER 5 Politics, Petition, and Complaint on the Royal Progresses
    (pp. 143-191)

    The musicians sound. Queen Elizabeth approaches the gates of the stately house. A procession of courtiers and the long baggage train following her summer progress are snaking away behind her. The noble host and his family have ridden out to meet her. Actors and singers prepare to deliver their lines of welcome. Local people have run to view the spectacle. Poets, playwrights, composers, costume-makers, dancing masters, designers, and builders of scenery, machines, or special effects, have all been busy preparing the entertainments. Vast sums of money have been spent. Such visits were undertakings of considerable complexity for both the Lord...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 192-196)

    Just as music and harmony had shaped Elizabeth’s image in life, so they did upon her death. Among the tributes from the broadside and chap-book press, Henry Chettle’s eulogy reproached all earthly tributes as insufficient for the ‘Muses’ Patroness’, while others pictured Elizabeth singing with the angels.¹ The following year Thomas Bateson’s madrigal ‘Oriana’s Farewell’ imagined an all-encompassing musical tribute: Jove playing harmonies upon the spheres, followed by a choir of nightingales, and finally the praises of nymphs and shepherds.² In death as in life, musical imagery encapsulated Elizabeth’s intelligence, piety, popularity, and power.

    Once the glowing tributes faded Elizabeth’s...

  14. APPENDIX A Secular Musicians Employed in the Royal Household of Elizabeth I
    (pp. 197-206)
  15. APPENDIX B Extant Secular Songs Connected to Elizabeth and her Court
    (pp. 207-219)
  16. Glossary of Musical Terms
    (pp. 220-222)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 223-246)
  18. Index
    (pp. 247-260)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 261-262)