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By Kent Cartwright

A spouse to Tudor Literature offers a set of thirty-one newly commissioned essays targeting English literature and tradition from the reign of Henry VII in 1485 to the loss of life of Elizabeth I in 1603.

  • Presents scholars with a worthwhile old and cultural context to the period
  • Discusses key texts and consultant topics, and explores matters together with overseas impacts, non secular swap, go back and forth and New international discoveries, women’s writing, technological thoughts, medievalism, print tradition, and advancements in track and in modes of seeing and reading

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In technology, “many late Tudor technological marvels” “were adaptations of medieval inventions” or of medieval advances in knowledge, including fireworks, magnetic sea compasses, magnifying glasses, and those improvements in shipbuilding and navigation that enabled a new age of discovery and exploration (Cohen). In the realm of travel, the sense of the marvelous embodied in the medieval Travels of John Mandeville long influenced ideas about geography and about other races (Prescott, Fuller). In the court, the medieval figure of the Fool persisted as a central object of bad fun (Brown).

Henry began to entertain doubts about the doctrine of purgatory, reflected in official statements of doctrine, the Ten Articles of 1536, and the King’s Book of 1543. He was enough of a humanist to look down on popular practices around pilgrimages, imagery and the cult of the saints, criticized in royal injunctions in 1536 and 1538. A rhetoric of hostility to “superstition” accompanied the most dramatic policy measure of the later 1530s, the dissolution of the monasteries. The monasteries’ landed wealth may have been the real reason for their demise, but the process of expropriation was accompanied by public attention to the supposedly immoral life of monasteries, the fake relics they contained, and the pointlessness of the monastic life itself.

These people were hardly “Protestants” either, for the term was not widely used in England before the 1550s, and implies a degree of denominational fixity and self-consciousness inappropriate to these years. Many historians think that “evangelical” best describes adherents of this ill-defined movement, for a transforming encounter with the Word of God was the core of their religious experience. For the Cambridge scholar, Thomas Bilney, exposure to the letters of St Paul in Erasmus’s Greek edition of the New Testament led to the conviction that Christ’s work of self-sacrifice was alone sufficient for salvation, and that works of human righteousness – fasting, vows, pilgrimages – were a delusive distraction from the true Christian path.

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