Monday, August 09, 2010

Question from Robin - Books authored by Henry VIII's courtiers

Which Henry VIII courtiers wrote books and where can you get them? I've heard Gardiner wrote 1 and Catherine Parr wrote 2.


Kathy said...

Don't forget Thomas More. And, of course, there are the poets, Wyatt and Surrey. I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones who come immediately to mind.

Robin said...

I found that Gardiner has at least 3 on EEBO, and Cranmer wrote a response to one of them. Courtiers such as Francis Bryan translated works into English, but I was more interested in original work. Of course, in poetry, there's Cavendish on the men executed with Anne Boleyn and the Devonshire MS. I'd love to know if anyone hears of any more, especially if they're not difficult theological works.

Foose said...

By "courtiers," I tend to think of the nobility and upper gentry who attended Henry VIII's courts. Not a great deal leaps to the mind in terms of original works by these types of people. There were, however, a number of books composed by the next rung down, the scholars and clerics who also were at court. Many of these works -- not exactly "books," but more usually treatises, or polemics, often in Latin -- were inspired by the long fight over the validity of Henry's first marriage and the break with Rome. Reginald Pole, Henry's cousin, is an exception who falls into both categories; he wrote a book affirming Rome's primacy, Pro Ecclesiasticae Unitatis Defensione, which finished him with Henry.

A theologian attached to Catherine, Thomas Abell, wrote a treatise justifying her position, Invicta Veritas. Edward Foxe, Bishop of Hereford, was on the king's side and published in 1534 De Vera Differentia Regiae Potestatis et Ecclesiae.

English translations of these works were published later on. You may be able to find some of them by hunting through Google Books, or utilizing EEBO.

The nobility/upper gentry type of courtiers, by contrast, preferred translation to writing something original. I am not certain of the reason for this. I read, unrelatedly, that the 16th-century astronomer Tycho Brahe had to publish his first book under a pseudonym, because in his native Denmark aristocrats were forbidden to write books; it was a function reserved to the middle classes. I don't think there was any law against nobles writing books in Henrician England, but there might have been a perception that it was a middle-class or clerical activity. Translation was the name of the game for them; in James P. Carley's The Books of King Henry VIII and His Wives, the author notes:

"...translation was considered an essential courtly accomplishment in the Tudor period. Generally speaking, these effusions (both poetry and longer prose texts from the classical world) were meant for an exclusive and closed audience of courtly readers ... and they were never intended to be put into print, a medium which still had a stigma about it."

Hence Henry's library included a number of translations by notable courtiers, including Wyatt and Surrey as noted above, Jane Parker's father Lord Morley, George Boleyn and others.

Translation might also have been preferred because you were less likely to get into hot water than by coming up with something original. You might still incur the king's wrath by your choice of author or subject, but if you were careful to stick to texts that might reflect the king's known preferences, your translation would probably be very acceptable to Henry.

Foose said...

Carley's book might be a good starting point to find original titles by Henry's courtiers. For some reason Thomas More's Utopia is not discussed, but he does identify some works that might be of interest to you:

-Sir Richard Morison (described by Carley as a "member of Cromwell's propaganda team") wrote The Strategies, Sleights and Policies of War (based on Frontinus' Strategemata) and the Apomaxis calumniarum -- "it is a learned reponse ... to the attack on Henry by the German humanist Johannes Cochlaeus ..."

-Juan Luis Vives, tutor to Princess Mary, wrote On the Discords of Europe and the Turkish War and Education of a Christian Woman (both in Latin), as well as some other pedagogic works.

-Catherine of Aragon's Spanish confessor, Alphonsus de Villa Sancta "published, also in 1523, his Problema indulgentiarum adversus Lutherum, which was dedicated to the queen as Defendress of the Faith" and also "De libero arbitrio versus Melancthonem, it was his defence of free will against the Lutheran doctrines of grace adopted by Philipp Melanchthon."

-"Sir Thomas Elyot dedicated several works to Henry, including ... his Image of Governance [in 1541]. Scrambling for patronage after Wolsey's fall, he produced his earlier The Boke Named the Governor (1531) specifically to impress the king with his abilities as a potential counsellor."

-"John Leland's most famous offering to Henry was ... a short tract, subsequently ... printed by John Bale as The laboryouse Journey & serche of John Leylande for Englandes Antiquitees ... Two years earlier, in 1544, Leyland did publish a polemical tract .." (originally in Latin; "translated in Elizabeth's reign as The Assertion of K. Arthure") "...supporting the historicity of Henry's supposed heroic ancestor. Another lengthy prose work, the Antiphilarchia, was cast as a dialogue between a reformer and a Romanist ..."

-Cuthbert Tunstall, the Bishop of Durham (and kinsman of Katherine Parr) wrote "an oration in praise of marriage, In laudem matrimonii oratio, published in 1518 on the occasion of the engagement of Princess Mary to the Dauphin."

Finding these books will take some investigation skills, checking both the Latin titles and their English translations in both modern English spelling and the original 16th-century version. Some may be available to read on Google Books; otherwise, I would think that EEBO is your best bet. There's a monograph on Morison that came out earlier this year that might include some of his pamphlets and works.

Robin said...

Thanks for looking into this in so much detail, guys

Unknown said...

I actually have a copy of Utopia by Sir Thomas More. It is quite good! Not only that, but it is also available at Books-a-Million. At least it was a few years ago when I bought it.

I also found a copy of the book called The Byrth of Mankynde (The Birth of Mankind)by Eucharius Rosslin on EBay. Talk about a find! It's 1540 translation was dedicated to Queen Katherine (Howard, that is).

Want to know who the Catholic Church was facing? Luther himself wrote a book called The Bondage of the Will. I am not sure if it is still available, as I found it among my grandmother's books.

I am always on the lookout for books by Cranmer, Wyatt, More, etc.!