The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1111 Monday, 29 May 2000.
Date: Sunday, 28 May 2000 14:01:36 GMT
Subject: James and Elizabeth
In reply to Robin Hamilton and Carol Barton on the subject of James's
reception. Of course they are right that it was no doubt always mixed,
and that some fell out with him pretty fast. So too, some clearly
mourned Elizabeth with feeling - but I'd still suggest that for many the
relief at the succession of a male King with a family in place of a
Queen without was great (including, for example, to Harington, the dead
queen's godson, who still expressed relief). The chorus of complaint
and unflattering comparison only seems to me to have got going in about
1607 - with Robert Niccols's satires, for example, and then grew as time
passed. So too, I think there is, or was perceived to be, a difference
between James's early rewarding of Scottish favourites, and his later
obsessions, first with Robert Carr, then with George Villiers.
Of course I could be wrong about this, but since this topic was raised
in the context of Measure for Measure, it does seem important to be very
particular about dates and times; in working on the court masques in
particular I have always found it necessary to resist generalisations
about political attitudes that are not very accurately placed in time.
If there was disillusionment with the last years of Queen Elizabeth's
reign - and there's surely plenty of evidence of that - then it's not
surprising that for the majority, if not for all, there was a readiness
to give James a chance.