The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1029 Tuesday, 31 May 2005
From: D Bloom <
Date: Monday, 30 May 2005 11:50:10 -0500
Subject: About Hamlet
Edmund Taft writes,
"Erasmus's views on kingship seem to me to have had a profound effect."
I had already gathered that, but I wished to see some evidence.
"Elizabeth and James . . . practiced a policy of tending to their own
If the discussion is of Elizabeth and James, as opposed to Renaissance
monarchs generally, then that is a different issue. I was thinking of
the latter, as best I could summon my limited knowledge of rulers in
France, Spain, Italy, Germany, etc., as well as England and Scotland.
We could go into the question of whether England's policy toward Ireland
displays the difference between bad Medieval and good Renaissance
attitudes, and whether the pacific policies of the two monarchs
mentioned had more to do with comparative national weakness, than
superior morality, but frankly I haven't the energy for it.
Likewise: "As for friendship, it's hard to imagine that anyone in the
middle ages would or could write "On Friendship," as Michel de Montaigne
I don't see this as evidence that would justify the broad generalization
about Medieval attitudes toward friendship.
My view is influenced by items like the following, a list (quoted) of
suggested topics for the 38th International Congress on Medieval
Studies, 8-11 May 2003, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo,
Michigan: "Medieval Friendship"
* idealized same-sex friendship
* sworn brotherhood (e.g., Amis and Amiloun)
* chivalric friendship (comradeship in arms)
* monastic friendship and/or friendship with God
* marital friendship
* friendship and sexuality
* queer friendship
* friendship and courtliness
* friendship and patronage
* the politics of friendship
* the influence of classical ideals of friendship (e.g., from Aristotle,
Cicero) in the Middle Ages
I could, of course, be wrong, but my impression is that friendship was
of extreme importance in the Middle Ages. I would hazard a guess that
Montaigne, Spenser and Shakespeare were more likely trying to maintain
an admired tradition what was, perhaps, getting lost than starting
something wholly new.
Does anyone out there know of some recent scholarship on this subject
(that is, the attitude toward friendship in the Middle Ages) that I
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