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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: August ::
Re: Hoghton Tower Controversy
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1463  Monday 23 August 1999.

From:           Frank Whigham <
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Date:           Friday, 20 Aug 1999 08:27:25 -0500
Subject: 10.1455 Re: Hoghton Tower Controversy
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1455 Re: Hoghton Tower Controversy

Regarding the 16th-century perceived protestant/catholic religious
status of Henry V, the following might be useful: the extremist
protestant controversialist Bishop John Bale (of King Johan fame, a play
specifically concerned with proto-protestant royal resistance to Rome)
on Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury's Examination of Sir John
Oldcastle (there called Lord Cobham, "the blessed martyr of Christ").
(Originally published 1548, Parker Society volume 1849.)

Bale begins the tale with a lament for the death of John Wycliffe, who
"left no small number of godly disciples" behind him, "to defend the
lowliness of the gospel against the exceeding pride, ambition, simony,
avarice, hypocrisy, whoredom, sacrilege, tyranny, idolatrous
worshippings, and other filthy fruits of those stiff-necked Pharisees.
Against whom Thomas Arundel, then Archbishop of Canterbury, so fierce as
ever was Pharoah, Antiochus, Herod or Caiaphas, collected in Paul's
church at London a universal synod of all the papistical clergy of
England, in the year of our Lord 1413, as he had done divers other
afore, to withstand their most godly enterprise. And this was the first
year of Henry the fifth, whom they had then made fit for their hand"
(15-16).

How widely this text was disseminated and read I do not know. Still, one
may wonder if the later Lollard sufferings may have been more widely
thought to have gone forward with the acquiescence of the new king, seen
here by the historical dramatist and controversial writer Bale as a dupe
of the established church. The final sentence quoted may be seen as
neatly fitting Shakespeare's initial scene of clerical scheming in
Henry's first period of rule.

Frank Whigham
 

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