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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: May ::
Re: Succession; Iago
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0450  Monday, 11 May 1998.

[1]     From:   Richard Dutton  <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 May 1998 16:21:00 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 9.0442  Qs: Succession

[2]     From:   Sean Kevin Lawrence <
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        Date:   Friday, 08 May 1998 10:20:43 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0442  Qs: Succession

[3]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 May 1998 17:46:52 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0442  Qs: Succession

[4]     From:   Sara Vandenberg <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 May 1998 23:55:29 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re:  Qs: Succession

[5]     From:   Penelope Rixon <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 May 1998 19:14:34 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0442  Qs: Iago


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Dutton  <
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Date:           Friday, 8 May 1998 16:21:00 +0100
Subject: 9.0442  Qs: Succession
Comment:        RE: SHK 9.0442  Qs: Succession

Miles Taylor asks whether there were texts from the 1580s or 1590s
making explicit the line of descent after Elizabeth. The short answer is
no, because Elizabeth herself refused to sanction any resolution of the
question - or indeed its discussion, even by Parliament. There was no
doubt that Mary, Queen of Scots had a strong claim - but it was by no
means an indisputable one (she did not, for instance, possess lands in
England, which some held to be a pre-requisite; this was one
qualification that set Lady Arbella Stuart ahead of the other Stuarts).
So James's succession was by no means a foregone conclusion either. The
only open discussions of the succession took place outside of England
itself - in books such as 'A Conference Concerning the Next Succession
in England' (attributed, at least in part, to Robert Parsons, c. 1594),
which purports to be an even-handed survey of the candidates but is
actually propaganda for the claim of the Spanish Infanta. Marie Axton's
'The Queen's Two Bodies' is a fine survey of responses in the drama to
the succession question. Antonia Fraser's recent 'The Gunpowder Plot'
contains a chapter which neatly summarises all the main contenders for
the throne.

Richard Dutton

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Kevin Lawrence <
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Date:           Friday, 08 May 1998 10:20:43 -0700
Subject: 9.0442  Qs: Succession
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0442  Qs: Succession

Miles Taylor asks:

> Are there contemporary texts from the late 1580s or early 1590s
> which make explicit the line of succession from Elizabeth to James.  I
> ask because I am looking at some texts from the early 1590s which seem
> to be slightly veiled attacks on James, and it would be helpful if I
> knew what was at stake for their authors.

Yes, there are documents setting out succession; unfortunately, they
conflict.  The succession wasn't, as I understand it, generally fixed
until the Declaration of Right.  Henry VIII proclaimed that the kingdom
was his to give away as personal property and obtained an act of
parliament to that effect.  The succession from Edward VI to Bloody Mary
probably wouldn't have happened if the Royal Council of Edward VI had
been able to secure the body of Mary upon the death of her brother.
Edward did not name her as successor, but named Lady Jane Grey instead.
Elizabeth's naming of James as successor was obtained practically in
extremis.

Sean.

James Brough observes:

> You could argue
> that he's [i.e., Iago has] developed some sort of fixation, a monomaniac
> desire to undo
> the Moor. But if this is the case, why attempt at justification.

Coleridge called one of Iago's soliloquy's "The motive hunting of
motiveless malignancy".  I still think it's one of the best descriptions
of his action.  That said, it's not altogether unrealistic, either.
Most people, if they basically don't like something, try to come up with
an excuse.  Just try asking a clansman about why he doesn't like people
of colour.  You'll get something as elaborate as Nazi racial
anthropology, but it's all basically a fig-leaf for the fact that the
speaker is just filled with hatred.  Why one hates usually has to do
with something far more psychological, or even existential, than the
explicit post-facto reasoning.

Cheers,
Sean.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Friday, 8 May 1998 17:46:52 EDT
Subject: 9.0442  Qs: Succession
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0442  Qs: Succession

>  Last night, I was reading Garrett Mattingly's book on the Armada and he
>  writes that Mary, Queen of Scots, was generally agreed to be Elizabeth's
>  successor.  My question: upon Mary's execution in 1587, would
>  Elizabethans have assumed that James VI was now the next in line to the
>  throne?  Are there contemporary texts from the late 1580s or early 1590s
>  which make explicit the line of succession from Elizabeth to James.  I
>  ask because I am looking at some texts from the early 1590s which seem
>  to be slightly veiled attacks on James, and it would be helpful if I
>  knew what was at stake for their authors.
>
>  With Thanks,
>  Miles Taylor

Miles, Elizabeth designated James her successor on her deathbed.  Those
who called Elizabeth herself a usurper would not of course have honored
her choice, except that they supported James' mother, Mary Stuart; but
James did what he could to curry favor with the aging queen, including
repudiate his relationship with his imprisoned mother, to whom he had no
real ties (not having been in her company since his infancy).  If you
would like substantiation for all of this from reputable historians,
please contact me offline, and I will be happy to provide it for you.

Best,
Carol Barton
Department of English
Averett College - Northern Virginia Campus

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sara Vandenberg <
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Date:           Friday, 8 May 1998 23:55:29 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Re:  Qs: Succession

There was some possibility that Arbella Stuart could claim the throne,
and her grandmother, Bess of Hardwick, tried to advance that idea.
There are biographies of Bess (by David Durant) and Arbella (by P.M.
Handover) that would provide information.

Sara van den Berg
University of Washington

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Penelope Rixon <
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Date:           Friday, 8 May 1998 19:14:34 -0000
Subject: 9.0442  Qs: Iago
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0442  Qs: Iago

Jamie: I have thought for a long time that the way to understand Iago is
through modern killers like Ted Bundy, Fred West and others like them.
Studies of them keep coming up with similar characteristics:  a person
who, usually through trauma in childhood, feels a deep but inexplicable
anger towards society or a particular section of it, and who is
incapable of understanding the humanity of others.  They often throw out
conflicting justifications just as Iago does, but they don't really have
a coherent sense of why they kill or maim people.  I think Simon Russell
Beale in the production at the Lyttelton in London actually conveys that
impression: someone who's deeply angry, wants to destroy, knows that
people usually have reasons for what they do so keeps making up
plausible causes, but in the end can't explain his motivation.  If you
can get close enough to the stage, watch his eyes:  they're blank and
uncomprehending.

What do you think of that approach?

Penelope Rixon

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