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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: September ::
"My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's Adultery
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1777  Friday, 12 September 2003

[1]     From:   David Cohen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Sep 2003 09:30:19 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1770 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery

[2]     From:   Geralyn Horton <
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        Date:   Thu, 11 Sep 2003 10:54:57 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1770 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery

[3]     From:   Steve Roth <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Sep 2003 08:01:21 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1770 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery

[4]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Sep 2003 11:36:02 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1770 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery

[5]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Sep 2003 12:18:54 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1770 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery

[6]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Sep 2003 15:21:19 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1770 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery

[7]     From:   Jay Feldman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Sep 2003 19:09:15 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1765 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Cohen <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Sep 2003 09:30:19 -0500
Subject: 14.1770 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1770 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery

I am grateful to Thomas Larque for so clarifying the Renaissance meaning
of "incest." I suspected as much but wasn't sure.

David Cohen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Geralyn Horton <
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Date:           Thu, 11 Sep 2003 10:54:57 -0400
Subject: 14.1770 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1770 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery

>David Friedberg <
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>Remember it is also illegal to marry your widow's sister.

Sorry-- I can't resist.  It's not just illegal-- it's impossible.

Geralyn Horton, playwright
Newton, MA

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Roth <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Sep 2003 08:01:21 -0700
Subject: 14.1770 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1770 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery

Re: Thomas Larque's comments on Elizabethan injunctions against
marriage, if Hardy doesn't mind I'll repeat an earlier post of mine,
from last March:

See David Cressy's Birth, Marriage, and Death: Ritual, Religion, and the
Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England. (*Great* book, by one of the
best historians of EME writing today, IMHO.)

He's got a section on "Prohibited Degrees" for marriage in Tudor and
Stuart England (pp. 313-315). Some excerpts:

"Near the beginning of Elizabeth's reign the Church of England set forth
its 'table of kindred and affinity' specifying which relations by blood
or by marriage a person was prohibited from marrying.... promulgated by
Archbishop Parker in 1560, and the further modified for general adoption
in 1563.... Every church was required to display this table, and its
restrictions were vigorously enforced.... a total of thirty
relationships which barred marriage.... [including a dead brother's
wife]

"...Reading the records of episcopal administration one might think that
the table of degrees of kindred and affinity was almost as important to
some bishops as the table of the ten commandments.... Bishops repeatedly
expressed frustration when parishes were inadequately equipped... in the
Diocese of Norwich in 1597 as many as 10 per cent of the parishes were
wanting."

That the same prohibition on marrying a brother's wife had long been
observed by Catholics is clear from Henry VIII's papal machinations for
his first marriage and divorce.

So to an Elizabethan or Stuart audience, Claudius and Gertrude's
marriage would have looked unequivocally incestuous.

Steve

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 11 Sep 2003 11:36:02 -0400
Subject: 14.1770 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1770 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery

>Remember it is also illegal to marry your widow's sister.

Not in Utah.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 11 Sep 2003 12:18:54 -0400
Subject: 14.1770 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1770 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery

I don't see how seventeenth century English social mores have anything
to do with it. Both incest and adultery are taken from the eleventh
century Danish source in which there is no question but that Gertrude is
innocent of extramarital sex with either brother.

Saxo nevertheless states that Feng: "took the wife of the brother he had
butchered, capping unnatural murder with incest [Trucidati quoque
fratris uxore potitus. incestum parricidio adjecit]."

Hamlet harangues Gertrude in her "closet": "Most infamous of women! dost
thou seek with such lying lamentations to hide thy most heavy guilt?
Wantoning like a harlot, thou hast entered a wicked and abominable state
of wedlock, embracing with incestuous bosom thy husband's slayer, and
wheedling with filthy lures of blandishment him who had slain the father
of thy son.  This, forsooth, is the way that the mares couple with the
vanquishers of their mates; for brute beasts are naturally incited to
pair indiscriminately...

And later to the Danish lords: "Disdain the dust of him who slew his
brother, and defiled his brother's queen with infamous desecration, who
outraged his sovereign ...and crowned fratricide with incest [incesto
parricidium cumulavit].

If that's not enough of a hint, Hamlet has rendered on his shield (not
pornographically I trust) "Fengonis cum incestu parricidium." At this
point Shakespeare is more or less obliged to include it.

Regarding adultery, the Englished Belleforest has: "The [Scottish]
queen, who was named Her

 

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