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

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Overview

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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