Nicolaus Mameranus: poetry and politics at the court of Mary Tudor
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date09/07/2020
Tibble, Matthew Charles
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This thesis is the first full length study of the Luxembourgian poet Nicolaus Mameranus (1500-c.1567) in the past century, and the first in the English language. It contains select translation and analysis of previously unknown works, new information about his life, and a modern, expanded bibliographical overview of his extant writing. The thesis focuses primarily on the poet’s association with the culture and politics of Marian England, particularly on the spring of 1557 when he accompanied Philip II on the sovereign’s second voyage to see his wife, Mary I. In London Mameranus published three collections of his Latin poetry, later presenting to the Queen seven of his own books and a petition proffering his counsel. After her death, Mameranus wrote a report on her funeral service in Brussels. Taking these texts, situating them alongside other rarely heard voices, and contextualising them within a substantial collection of historical evidence, I provide a reassessment of the latter stages of Mary’s reign. Where most studies of the period, including even the latest revisionist ones, see 1557 as the year in which the country began its decline into warfare and famine, marked by the Queen’s second false pregnancy, her problems with the papacy, and her eventual death in the subsequent year, I argue instead that, for many in and around the court, this period was characterised by an atmosphere of hope and progression, spurred on by the King’s visit. I argue that the royal couple successfully re-forged their image at the apex of a political union that many considered the foundation of a new Anglo-Habsburg dynasty, and, equally successfully, represented their dual monarchy as a bastion in the fight to reform Catholic Christianity in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. Rather than being satisfied with the idea that Mary was able successfully to negotiate and represent her own political role within the marriage to her supporters in England, I also propose that foreign observers such as Mameranus widely understood and endorsed her role as Queen regnant, even on an international stage. Finally, this thesis is also a study in the culture of counsel in the early modern period, examining the rhetoric and genre that a Catholic author deployed in his efforts to effect political and religious change in the mid-century. Countering traditional histories of political thought, which look predominantly at Protestant reformers and the development of republicanism and civil government, this thesis proposes that Mameranus’ writing is evidence of a vibrant Catholic tradition that relied for its efficacy on a distinctly Erasmian strand of princely humanism, that successfully adapted its predecessor’s call for the reform of Christianity to a post- Reformation, confessionalised political sphere, and that held as its ideal a polity that was Catholic and Imperial.