Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: September ::
"My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's Adultery
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1822  Friday, 19 September 2003

[1]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 18 Sep 2003 17:08:42 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1815 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery

[2]     From:   Graham Hall <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 18 Sep 2003 16:19:11 +0000
        Subj:   Gertrude (aka Miss Behaviour)

[3]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 18 Sep 2003 17:48:42 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1815 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery

[4]     From:   Carol Barton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 18 Sep 2003 14:31:03 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1804 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 18 Sep 2003 17:08:42 +0100
Subject: 14.1815 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1815 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery

>"Common law" may be defined with some accuracy as "the body of legal
>principles of general applicability throughout an English speaking
>jurisdiction which derives from judicial precedent rather than
>legislative enactment."  However, the term takes its precise meaning in
>context from the body of rules with which it is being contrasted
>(explicitly or by implication); for example:  Common law as opposed to:
>
>         local law
>         custom
>         statutory law
>         civil law (i.e., the law of continental and other countries
>which do not recognize precedent as having the force of law)
>         ecclesiastical law
>         international law
>         admiralty
>         equity

Thanks for this, Larry, and to John Briggs for his earlier post.   What
I had in mind was I suppose a double-contrast -- common law (based on
precedent) as opposed to statute law (based on parliamentary
enactment).  Where I went quite stunningly wrong was to pick the term
"civil law" (which Larry and John both correctly gloss) as an
encompassing term to refer to "secular" as opposed to "religious"
(ecclesiastical) law.

Incidentally, were the secular (if I can pick what I hope is a
relatively neural word <g>) legal proscriptions against remarriage part
of common or of statute law in the Tudor period?  Actually, that may be
badly worded (again) -- did the proscriptions derive (ultimately) from
common or from statute law?

Did the proscription at some point shift from ecclesiastical to secular
law (in the sense that they were enforced in a secular rather than an
ecclesiastical jurisdiction)?  Henry VIII certainly appealed to Pope
Julius for the original annulment of his dead brother's marriage, but
after that ...

The crunch-point seems to be the Deceased Wife's Sister's Marriage Act
of 1907, which begins:

1. No marriage heretofore or hereafter contracted between a man and his
deceased wife's sister, within the realm Or without, shall be deemed to
have been or shall be void or voidable, as a civil contract, by reason
only of such affinity: Provided always that no clergyman in holy orders
of the Church of England shall be liable to any suit, penalty, or
censure, whether civil or ecclesiastical, for anything done or omitted
to be done by him in the performance of the duties of his office to
which suit, penalty, or censure he would not have been liable if this
Act had not been passed.

    For the full text:
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~framland/acts/1907Act.htm

This was helpfully expanded in the Deceased Brother's Widow's Marriage
Act, 1921:

1.-(1) Section one of the Deceased Wife's Sister's Marriage Act, 1907,
shall be read and construed as after the words "deceased wife's sister,"
where they occur in such section, there were inserted "or between a man
and his deceased brother's widow."

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~framland/acts/1921Act.htm

(I can't resist quoting the conclusion of the Marriage (Prohibited
Degrees of Relationship) Act, 1931,  where it's all brought together:
3.-(1) This Act may be cited as the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of
Relationship) Act, 1931, and this Act and the Marriage (Prohibited
Degrees of Relationship) Acts, 1907 to 1931.
(2) References in this Act to the principal Act shall be construed as
references to that Act as amended by the Deceased Brother's Widow's
Marriage Act, 1921, and this Act shall be construed as one with those
Acts.
(3) Subsection (3) of section one of the Deceased Brother's Widow's
Marriage Act, 1921, is hereby repealed.
(4) This Act shall not apply to Northern Ireland.

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~framland/acts/1931Act.htm

...  but this is getting further and further from Poor Gertrude.)

Robin Hamilton

[Editor's Note: Yes, this thread has strayed quit. -Hardy]

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Hall <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 18 Sep 2003 16:19:11 +0000
Subject:        Gertrude (aka Miss Behaviour)

As we appear to be going down the legal/ecclesiastical road less
travelled at a stiff canter may I recommend a little bit of wider
background reading for those who are keen to jockey this horse. A recent
publication contains some relevant matter as it looks at the
developmental association of English law and the Church. Roughly
speaking it covers the crowbar of secularism in law that divorced (!)
the priesthood from law making and so weakened it. So, relevant to the
thread one might say "How strong was the religious legal influence on
whether you married your brother's wife?". But that is how I read it and
those with more depth of knowledge on the topic may very well disagree
with that analysis.  It's Palmer, R.C.,(!) 'Selling the Church'
1350-1550, North Carolina U.P., 2003. It's not cheap at forty pounds.

Best,
Graham Hall

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 18 Sep 2003 17:48:42 +0100
Subject: 14.1815 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1815 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery

Bill Arnold writes:

>Robin Hamilton writes, "Impressed as I am by the scholarly citation of
>the Leviticus/Deuteronomy texts, I think that this is essentially a
>marginal issue.  I'd be even more impressed if the KJV, not published
>till 1611 and thus too late to provide material for either Henry's
>divorce or the writing of /Hamlet/, wasn't cited by default.  "Which
>Bible?" isn't exactly a transparent issue, either with regard to the
>period between 1450 and 1611 generally, or Shakespeare in particular."
>
>Actually, it is quite transparent.

[SNIP]

>Will S made use in his writings via allusions and
>citations to many Bibles, the Geneva, the Great, the Bishops, the
>Matthew, the Coverdale and others, as well as *Cramer's Psalter* which
>had variant Psalms and hymns known throughout England.

This is pretty much what I meant (if more exhaustively dealt with than I
could have managed) in describing the issue as non-transparent -- that a
simple reference to the text of the Bible (default: KJV) *may* obscure
some issues.

>However, scholarship does
>acknowledge that the KJV on our library shelves, as a spin-off of the
>*Breeches,* is a ready reference to Will S's Biblical references--and
>does *just* fine.

As an aside, even "the KJV on our library shelves" isn't itself
*entirely* transparent.  The edition I have to hand is the excellent
1997 Oxford World's Classic edition of the 1611 text.  The spelling is,
however, modernised.  Admittedly, there are probably only a very few
cases where this would be a factor in any discussion.  All this is to
leave aside the occasional difficulty where a reference to the KJV [not,
obviously, the case in this present thread] turns out to cite the
Revised Standard Version.

I think my worry was that that in this particular instance, where the
discussion involved an historical examination of very precise citations
and interpretations of texts from Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the issue
didn't involve discrepant wording in different texts of the Bible.  Bill
Arnold implicitly reassures me that it does not, for which much thanks.

{One fewer thing to worry about.  <g>}

Robin Hamilton

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 18 Sep 2003 14:31:03 -0400
Subject: 14.1804 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1804 "My crown ... and my queen" - Gertrude's
Adultery

The issue (pun intended) of Catherine of Aragon's marriage to Arthur is
a vexed one. She was daughter to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of
Spain---a major world power at the time (and the Armada hadn't sunk
yet).  She was also cousin to the Pope from whom Henry was asking an
annulment---and she was no dope. She and her parents asserted Arthur's
impotence (hence, her virginity) when Henry married her; on the other
side were the "boys" who had leeringly questioned Arthur after his
wedding night about how things had proceeded---to whom he responded that
he had, uh, "spent the night in Spain." Delicate matter, to call one's
lady wife and the mother of one's child and the partner of one's bed and
life a liar when she swears you were the only one; worse still to
declare the legitimate child she bore you not only a bastard, but the
product of incest (as duly offended Mary proved when her turn came to
wield the sceptre). Easier by far (politically as well as
psychologically) to say that "neither of us are at fault, but our
marriage is cursed"---which is the tack Henry took.

As for the viability of the sister/sister-in-law, brother/brother-in-law
(etc.) equivalencies in Shakespeare's time, one need only look to
Richard Smyth's _Obituary_ a century later, in which he so confusingly
references his daughter-in-law as his daughter, and his sister-in-law as
his sister that anyone attempting (as I was) to determine the birth and
death dates of just ONE of his female offspring is likely to go quite
mad before he or she figures it out.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of
in your OED. Or KJV. Or DNB. One thing we can know for certain is that,
in the eyes of our tragic hero (who is the only character whose
"thoughts" we get to hear in the entire play, and is therefore him from
whose point of view we are seeing things), and in the ectoplasm of his
ghostly father, Gertrude should go not to her incestuous sheets.

I am inclined to agree.

Best to all,
Carol Barton

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.