The Politics of Court Scandal in Early Modern England: News Culture and the Overbury Affair, 1603-1660

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $56.73
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 59%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (5) from $56.73   
  • New (3) from $121.99   
  • Used (2) from $56.73   


This is the first detailed study of the political significance of the seventeenth-century's most notorious and sensational court scandal—the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury. Insisting that images of the scandalous court had serious political importance, the book retells the tale of Overbury's rise to power, his fall and murder in 1613, and the public revelation of the murder two years later. The book examines the production and circulation of news about the scandal and assesses the political significance of contemporary depictions of the affair.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...a splendid and enviable achievement." Renaissance and Reformation

"This is a very good book indeed, and a marvelous read...[Bellany] steers his readers through the jungle of factional politics which were the context for the affair with enviable clarity, and a lovely ability to provide the nuanced and convincing comment...[a] most notable achievement." Renaissance Quarterly

"...this book is both a detailed, sophisticated, nuanced, and sensitive reading of one short episode and a standard-bearer..." American Historical Review

"Bellany has written an extremely lucid and profoundly stimulating book, based on wonderful archival research." Canadian Journal of History

"This first book by Bellany is an immensely impressive debut, which will come as no surprise to readers already familiar with his previous articles. He marshals an awesome array of sources and does a masterful job of situating events within the shifting fortunes of court politics." Albion

"Bellany is a superb storyteller...absorbing..." Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"The study is not another narrative of the events of the [Overbury] affair, but rather the "first full-length evaluation of the political significance of the Overbury scandal," which operates on several levels.... The book succeeds on every level." Choice

"This book is so remarkably rich with insights and innovations that it frustrates the reviewer's usual strategies. Perhaps it is enough to say that this case study of a famous scandal is a model of historical scholarship with implications far beyond its focal subject, and that it is one of the most important works on the early Stuart period published in recent years. Bellany has the erudition, imagination, and elegance of expression of his mentor Lawrence Stone—and other virtues besides." - Journal of Modern History, Michael MacDonald, University of Michigan

Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author

English-born Alastair Bellany was educated at Oxford and at Princeton, NJ. He was a lecturer at Stanford University, 1995–6, and is the author of several articles in both journals and edited books. The Politics of Court Scandal is his first book.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; Note on quotations and dates; List of abbreviations; Introduction: poison in the fountain - understanding the politics of Jacobean court scandal; 1. The court politics of the Overbury scandal; 2. News culture and the Overbury affair; 3. The sins of the Overbury murderers; 4. 'The powder poison': popish plots and the Overbury scandal; 5. Stamping the print of justice? Vengeance, mercy and repentance; 6. Afterlives: the Overbury affair as history and memory; Bibliography; Index.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)