A Companion to Tudor Literature by Kent Cartwright

By Kent Cartwright

A better half to Tudor Literature offers a suite of thirty-one newly commissioned essays concentrating on English literature and tradition from the reign of Henry VII in 1485 to the loss of life of Elizabeth I in 1603.

  • Presents scholars with a useful old and cultural context to the period
  • Discusses key texts and consultant matters, and explores matters together with foreign affects, non secular swap, commute and New international discoveries, women’s writing, technological options, medievalism, print tradition, and advancements in song and in modes of seeing and reading

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One early Tudor bishop is often seen to epitomize the institutional failings of the Church. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York, was a political appointee, a notorious pluralist (holder of more than one church office simultaneously), and only theoretically celibate. Yet even Wolsey articulated the case for reform, dissolving almost thirty small monasteries to found a grammar school in Ipswich and a college in Oxford. Monasteries were often the target of humanist criticism, and the familiar stereotype of lazy, overfed monks was at least partly believed at the time: Robin Hood ballads, in which greedy Benedictine abbots frequently get their comeuppance, were popular.

The Mass was the most powerful means of intercession, and countless laypeople left money in their wills for a priest to “sing” for them. Wealthier individuals could endow a chantry, where a specially appointed priest would say masses in perpetuity or for a specified number of years. A common backup strategy was acquisition of an indulgence – a declaration of remission from a certain quantity of the penalties due in purgatory, and the initial trigger for Luther’s protest against the Church. Fear of the afterlife was not the driving impulse of pre-Reformation religion.

The translation itself was a provocative and political one. The Greek terms usually rendered into English as “do penance,” “Church,” and “priest,” became “repent,” “congregation,” and “elder,” with striking implications for the doctrines of penance and the priesthood. Whether Lollardy provided a “seed-bed” for the early growth of evangelicalism is a moot point. There were certainly important contacts. A Lollard merchant, Humphrey Monmouth, stepped in to finance Tyndale’s New Testament, and Lollards were among its first and most enthusiastic readers.

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