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Culture and Power in England, 1585–1685 by R. Malcolm Smuts

By R. Malcolm Smuts

This booklet offers a clean synthesis of relationships among cultural historical past and politics, from the eve of the Armada to the loss of life of Charles II in 1685. It rejects whiggish and Marxist teleologies that experience formed earlier money owed of this topic and emphasises in its place the variety of cultural views on hand within the interval; the function performed via suggestions of honour, legislations, divine windfall and humanist scholarship; the profound significance of non secular tensions in shaping political mind's eye; and the growing to be cultural value of clash and partisanship in the course of and after the Civil struggle.

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Tuck's discussion is useful, however, in pointing out the need to broaden our definition of humanism to accommodate different emphases, particularly as we move forward into the late Elizabethan and early Stuart periods. In addition to Ciceronian and Tacitean concepts of political life, classical and humanist learning often served a variety of ornamental purposes, in fashioning a gentleman not just for active service but leisured pursuits. This was especially true at court, where the chief model was Castiglione's Book of the Courtier, a treatise warmly recommended by the Queen's former tutor, Roger Ascham, in 1570, and which enjoyed a tremendous vogue during Elizabeth's reign.

The need to confront this problem, in the course of both domestic and international controversies, generated any number of interpretations of relationships between God's will and secular politics. Humanism and the Imitation of Antiquity Tudor humanism seems harder to describe today than it did twenty years ago. Until recently historians believed that the serious reception of the Renaissance began in England only around 1500 and rapidly accelerated under Henry VIII. His reign, it was thought, produced not only the first classics of English Renaissance literature but the beginnings of intellectual and educational revolutions that continued into the seventeenth century, transforming the outlook of the ruling elite.

It comprised various apocalyptic theories, which became particularly prevalent during the Civil War, as well as forms of prophetic discourse that did not necessarily imply the imminence of the millennium. 13l Although scriptural providentialism might be linked to order theory in various ways, it differed markedly in tone and emphasis. Whereas order theory stressed eternal hierarchical principles, biblical narratives portrayed world history as a dynamic struggle of good and evil, unfolding through cycles of sin, punishment, suffering and redemption.

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