The Theatre of Death: The Ritual Management of Royal Funerals in Renaissance England, 1570-1625
Boydell & Brewer Ltd, 1997 - 250 pages
This book represents the first detailed study into English royal funeral ceremonies of the period, building on earlier scholarship dealing with the French royal funeral and with the social history of death and burial in early modern England. Funeral rituals are approached as performances, and placed in their political, religious and broader cultural contexts, showing them to be a microcosm of cultural change. The impact of the Reformation, with its strong iconophobic strain, on a ritual process which was centred on the display of a life-sized image of the dead monarch, is explored. Later, the counter influence of the Arminianism and Continental art is considered in relation to the apotheosis of the theatre of death under the early Stuarts, with particular reference to the funeral of James I.
Earlier individual funeral occasions are also addressed, with varied focus. The author shows how the obsequies of Elizabeth I were used to help establish the new Stuart dynasty; the sudden death of the young Henry Stuart, heir to the throne, led to a funeral quite different in atmosphere and political purpose. The death rituals of Mary, Queen of Scots (both the ceremonies staged in the wake of her execution, and the monuments and funeral performances created years later by her son, James) are analysed in depth: the emergent picture of the deliberate manipulation of the Scottish Queen's posthumous image provides a fascinating insight into the relationship between power and ritual at the renaissance court.
Dr JENNIFER WOODWARD gained her Ph.D. from the University of Warwick. __________________
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