John Skelton and the Politics of the 1520s / Edition 1

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The series of satirical poems and invectives written against Thomas, Cardinal Wolsey, the chief minister of Henry VIII, by the poet John Skelton has long been used by scholars as evidence of the sins and follies of Wolsey's regime. Yet the poems have never undergone serious political analysis. At the heart of this book is a detailed examination of these texts which aims to rectify that omission. For the first time they are subjected to a close reading which both elucidates their major themes and purpose, and sets them firmly in their political context. The book questions the orthodoxies of previous scholarship and challenges received opinions concerning the poet's status at the court of Henry VIII, his employment by the noble house of Howard, and his motives for launching the satirical assault upon Wolsey. From this analysis emerges a very different Skelton to that provided by earlier accounts.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; Select glossary; Introduction; 1. John Skelton and the Howards: the question of patronage; 2. The Court career of John Skelton, King's orator; 3. Speke, Parott and Why Com Ye Nat to Courte?: the context and evolution of a satiric stance; 4. 'Lyke Mahounde in a play': conventional elements in Skelton's portrait of Wolsey; 5. 'So mangye a mastyfe curre, the grete greyhoundes pere': Skelton's account of Wolsey's relations with King and Court during his ascendancy; 6. 'Obseqious et Loyall': Skelton's political work under Wolsey's patronage; Conclusion; Index.

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