Research

ARTS AND HUMANITIES AS HIGHER EDUCATION: an international research group and network, founder of Arts and Humanities in Higher Education journal

Many thanks to the Arts and Humanities as Higher Education blog for promoting my work on Anglo-Iberian relations and the history of propaganda.

Their showcase of my work undertaken via the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions is available here:

http://www.artsandhumanities.org/disciplines/history/20-years-of-marie-sklodowska-curie-actions/

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Theatre

Portuguese and Spanish history on the early modern stage: ‘The Battle of Alcazar’ (to be continued…)

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A detail from the only known representation of the Battle of Alcazar, which accompanies Miguel Leitão de Adndrade’s eyewitness account in his Miscelânea (1629). It depicts the outnumbered Portuguese army, surrounded by Islamic forces.

My previous blogs about The Battle of Alcazar have focused upon Peele’s plot and its history as a stage play (Parts 1 and 2), and on an examination of Stukeley as a ‘Cosmopolitan’ figure on the English stage (Part 3). The final entry is reserved for an examination of Thomas Stukeley the soldier, rather than on his dramatic representation. Understanding something of Stukeley the man – what motivated and moulded him – facilitates our understanding his controversial public appeal, and the reasons for his popularity as a figure on the English stage.

During my time as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Cambridge (2004-2007), I had the great pleasure of being a contemporary of Rory Rapple, who, at the time, was turning his PhD thesis into a book for Cambridge University Press. Martial Power and Elizabethan Political Culture: Military Men in England and Ireland, 1558-1594 (CUP, 2008) is a tour de force in historiographical analysis of early modern military men. My analysis of Stukeley – both in this blog and in my more detailed analysis of Stukeley in my forthcoming book (on representations of Portugal and Spain on the early modern English stage) – owes a great debt to Prof. Rapple’s work.

Once I’ve completed my volume about Anthony Munday, I will complete my contextual analysis of the actual events that provide the backdrop to The Battle of Alcazar and so add more information to this site.

My more detailed analysis of The Battle of Alcazar, as represented on the English stage, is reversed for my forthcoming book, Portugal and Spain on the English Stage, c.1580-1700. The manuscript will be completed in 2019, in which I will consider the following plays:

  • The Spanish Tragedy (Thomas Kyd)
  • Battle of Alcazar (George Peele)
  • The Island Princess (Thomas Kyd)
  • A Game at Chess (Thomas Middleton)
  • Believe as you List (Philip Massinger)
  • Don Sebastian (John Dryden)
Early Modern History, Portugal, Research

Buçaco – the Palace, Forest and Convent

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Picture taken on our first night at the Palace; a balmy June evening

This week I’m staying at Buçaco Palace Hotel (Palace Hotel do Buçaco). I’d visited the Palace and its surrounding forest back in the summer of 2013, during a research trip to Portugal as part of my Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship. It has been a real treat to be able to stay here this week. (Not work this time; I’m actually on my honeymoon… I thought I’d blog about this wonderful place while in situ.)

The Palace was built between 1888 and 1907, having been commissioned by King Carlos I as a royal retreat. This neo-Manueline gothic building was the invention of the Italian architect Luigi Manini (who also acted as stage designer for the National Opera House), and certainly succeeds in evoking the beauty of the sixteenth-century design principles.

Manini did not live to see the project’s completion and was succeeded by Nicola Bigaglia, José Alexandre Soares and Manuel Joaquim Norte Júnior. This latter architect designed the Palace’s annex, the ‘Casa dos Basões (House of the Coat-of-Arms), and was also the architect of the famous ‘Café a Basileira’ in 120 Rua Garrett in Lisbon (first opened in 1905, in the Baixa Chiado district). The building was opened as a hotel in 1910.

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I’ve been sat at one of these tables, while writing much of this blog
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The reception area of the Palace

The interior of the palace is resplendent in its wealth of Neo-Manueline portals and stucco work, reminiscent of Manueline rib vaulting. It is also awash with spectacular tile panels (azulejos), created by Jorge Colaço. They depict scenes from works of great Portuguese literature (such as the writings of Luís Vaz de Camões and Gil Vincente), as well as key scenes from the Battle of Buçaco. The Battle of Buçaco was fought on 27 September 1810, during the Peninsular War, resulting in the defeat of French forces by the Wellington’s Anglo-Portuguese Army. Wellington stayed at the Carmelite convent in the lead up to the battle. The Palace is, in part, attached to the remains of the convent. Still an active community at the time of Wellington’s arrival in Buçaco, one of the monks resident at the time wrote an account of Wellington’s time situated amongst their community (detailed below).

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Scenes from the Battle of Buçaco:

Further azulejos at the Palace:

The surrounding forest (Serra do Buçaco) was first settled by Benedictine monks during the sixth century. It was subsequently administered by priests from Coimbra Cathedral. A papal bull of Pope Gregory XV (1623) declared that any women who entered the forest would be excommunicated; the same fate await any who sought to damage the trees. The barefoot Carmelites took over the area in 1628, building both a monastery and a wall to encircle their 105-hectare (250-acre) forest abode, the Convento de Santa Crux do Buçaco.

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The convent’s surrounding garden was intended to represent Mount Carmel (where the order was founded), as was as an earthly paradise. A series of chapels (representations of a Via Crucis) in the surrounding gardens were created in the seventeenth century. Part of the convent, including its chapel with Baroque altarpieces, remains to this day. The forest contains over 400 varieties of Portuguese trees, shrubs and flowers, and hosts around 300 species from former Portuguese territories, including specimens from Mexico, Chile and Japan, all introduced during Portugal’s great ‘Age of Discovery’. The perimeter wall of the forest (approximately 5km / 3.1 miles in circumference) is punctuated with a series of gates, which bear the text of the seventeenth-century papal bull forbidding women to enter the forest.

The forest and the monastery were eventually taken over by the Portuguese government in 1834, when monasteries were abolished across Portugal. In 1885, the dining hall, kitchen and library of the Palace, as well as some of the cells of the convent were demolished, and a new foundation stone laid. The Palace was erected in brick and then encased with local limestone, sandstone from Ançã, and marble from Vila Viçoca in Alentejo. Though first conceived as a retreat for the Portuguese royal family, the building has now spent the significant part of its existence as a luxury hotel, having been converted to public use after the Lisbon Regicide and subsequent coup d’état.

The trees of the surrounding forest have been the subject of literary and academic analysis from the seventeenth century onwards. The celebrated female Portuguese scholar and playwright, Bernarda Ferreira de Lacerda (1596-1644), dedicated her Soledades de Buçaco (Lisbon, 1634) to Felipe III. In 1768, an English botanist provoked a 200-year-long debate by claiming that one of the varieties of Cypress trees found in the forest had originated in Goa.

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The 1634 edition of Bernarda Ferreira de Lacerda’s Soledades de Buçaco

 

The convent

While much of the convent was destroyed to make way for the palace, sections of it do remain, not least its chapel and a number of the monks’ cells. The exterior is decorated in the Carmelite’s characteristic white quartz and coal-tar inlay, and the monks’ cells are each insulated with cork (much-needed protection against the cold throughout the winter months).

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Frei Sebastião da Encarnação

 

Paintings housed in the convent include this seventeenth-century painting of Frei Sebastião da Encarnação. There is also an impressive seventeenth-century painting of Dom João de Mello; these two pictures are part of a set of around 40 paintings throughout the cloister, which are all framed in cork and detail various depictions of saints and ascetics in the desert.

The central chapel includes a number of noteworthy pieces, not least those dedicated to holy women. The chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Milk was damaged by fire on Christmas Eve 2014, and the painting by the celebrated female artist Josefa d’Óbidos, of Mary offering milk to the baby Jesus was destroyed. (A copy is now in situ.)

 

 

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The (now lost) painting of Our Lady of Milk by Josefa d’Óbidos

The Via Crucis and the forest – the storm damage of 2013.

On 19 January 2013 (the year of my first visit to Buçaco) Portugal was hit by cyclone ‘Windstorm Gong’. More than 40 per cent of the forest was seriously damaged by the storm, and a number of buildings on the site suffered significant damage. Of the area’s 86 most precious trees, 10 were felled and six critically damaged.

The Via Crucis was also damaged in the storm. First introduced in 1644, these stations offer an idyllic setting in which to contemplate the Stations of the Cross. Those damaged in the storm are slowly being restored to something near their former glory but much remains to be done. The hard work and dedication of those tending the needs of the battered forest and the Via Crucis has been exceptional, and the dedication of those involved should not be underestimated or go unacknowledged. It has been a privilege to stay at the Palace this week; it has been a genuine joy to see the progress made in the salvage and restoration work undertaken in the surrounding forest.

 

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Restoration work continues in the forest
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Interior of one of the Stations
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Interior of one of the Stations
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Exterior
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Storm damage to the Hermitage on the Via Crusis
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Storm damage to a Station of the Cross
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Damaged interior
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The painstaking work of salvaging this Station continues
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Restoration of the Hermitage

Further Reading / viewing

The website of the Palace Hotel, which includes a brief history: http://www.bussacopalace.com/en/history.html

On the Battle of Buçaco: René Chartrand, Bussaco 1810: Wellington Defeats Napoleon’s Marshals (Osprey, 2009)

The Carmelite monk’s account of Wellington’s time at the convent is available for pdf download here: https://ia800306.us.archive.org/6/items/bussaco00cham/bussaco00cham.pdf

Bernarda Ferreira de Lacerda, Soledades de Buçaco: available for pdf download here: http://bdlb.bn.br/acervo/handle/123456789/259101 (via Biblioteca Digital Luso-Brasilieira)

Pùblico article about the loss of the painting by Josefa de Óbidos at Buçaco:  https://www.publico.pt/culturaipsilon/noticia/incendio-destroi-pintura-de-josefa-de-obidos-1618330

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early Modern History, England, Portugal, Theatre

Portuguese and Spanish history on the early modern stage: ‘The Battle of Alcazar’ (Part 3)

 

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A detail from the only known representation of  the Battle of Alcazar, which accompanies Miguel Leitão de Andrade’s eyewitness account in his Miscelânea (1629). It depicts the outnumbered Portuguese army, surrounded by Islamic forces.

In his 2015 exploration of Early Modern Catholics, Royalists, and Cosmopolitans, Brian C. Lockey provides an important contribution to scholarly discussion of contemporary and modern perceptions of Thomas Stukeley and his motives. [Brian C. Lockey, Early Modern Catholics, Royalists, and Cosmopolitans (Farnham and Burlington VT: Ashgate, 2015, chapter 4: ‘Traitor or Cosmopolitan? Captain Thomas Stukeley in the Courts of Christendom’, pp. 185-209.]

Setting his analysis in a wider, contemporary framework, Lockey first considers Sir Francis Drake, noting how contemporary pamphleteers set Drake on a semi-heroic stage, equating his actions with nationhood: Henry Roberts’ Most Friendly Farewell to Sir Francis Drake (1585), for example, depicts Drake’s activities as ‘the natural product of English nationalism’ (Lockey, p. 184.) Such writings position the enterprises of Drake and his cohort within ‘an ideology of incipient nationhood’ (ibid.). They do so in order to incorporate their actions as part of a wider narrative about ‘the English’ – their principles, their motivations, and their actions – all of which are justified as godly. Lockey positions Stukeley within these Elizabethan narratives, therefore offering a more detailed portrayal of Stukeley than simply ‘Stukeley the pirate’ or ‘Stukeley the Traitor’. Such epithets, after all, negate any understanding of Stukeley within the complexity of early modern cosmopolitan exchange.

In 1563, Robert Seall produced a tribute to Stukeley entitled ‘A Comendation of the adve[n]terus viage of the worthy Captain M. Thomas Stutely Esquyer and others, towards the land called Terra Florida, in which he praised Stukeley as a seafaring hero. In his lifetime, then, depictions of Stukeley as a loyal servant to Elizabeth were available, even if their veracity remained open to question.

Doubts about Stukeley’s motives were inevitably voiced posthumously, often suggesting that they were ingrained within English circles even during his lifetime. William Camden, for example, insisted that he was known to be ‘a Ruffian, and a ryetous spender, and a notable boaster of himselfe’. [William Camden, The Historie of the Life and Reigne of the Most Renowned and Victorious Princesse Elizabeth, late Queene of England (London, 1630), Book 1, 6-12, cited Lockey, p. 186.] Others saw him as a fallen man, one who repented his trespasses just before his demise. Richard Johnson’s ballad about him being a case in point:

“… thus haye I left my contry deere,

To be so vildly murthered here:

eue in this place wheras I am not known.”

Richard Johnson, The Crown Garland of Golden Roses: Consisted of Ballads and Songs, ed. W. Chappell (London, 1842), 38; cited Lockey, p. 186.

It was after his voyage to Terra Florida that Stukeley defected to Spanish service, invalidating any possibility of a Drakeian narrative being extended to the Captain. Yet, as Lockey notes, both Peele’s The Battle of Alcazar and the anonymous The Famous History of the Life and Death of Captain Stukeley offer a surprisingly nuanced appraisal of his life and actions.

“Both portrayals refuse Stukeley a settled role within the narrative of emerging English identity, neither presenting him as exclusively English nor as the typical traitor to the English crown who might easily be excluded from any relationship to his native country.” (Lockey, pp. 186-7.)

Instead, Stukeley becomes a node in a network where religious and secular agendas meet, where authority is questioned and identity can be explored. He becomes ‘the product of a dialectical relationship existing between his English identity and the transnational or “cosmopolitan” identity that his Englishness enables.’ (Lockey, p. 187.)

The plays use Stukeleys’ very Englishness as a window by which to view the potentiality of the transnational Christian identity. He is at once both a traditionally-seafaring Englishman and a member of an international community of Christians, one not bound by language, land or shore. As such, he can be acknowledged by and incorporated into a wider Christian community – indeed, a wider English community, be it one dispersed through mercantile or military connections, or through self-imposed or enforced exile. He is hardly a man alone in the world and, as Lockey’s observations attest, he is not perceived as marginalised by movement either.

In The Battle of Alcazar, Stukeley himself acknowledges his cosmopolitan outlook:

“Lord Governor of Lisbon, understand

As we are Englishmen, so are we men,

And I am Stukeley so resolved in all

To follow rule, honour and empery,

Not to be bent so strictly to the place

Wherein at first I blew the fire of life,

But that I may at liberty make choice

Of all the continents that bounds the world.

For why, I make it not so great dessert

To be begot or born in any place,

Sith that’s a thing of pleasure and ease,

That might have been performed elsewhere as well.’  (2.2.26-36)

In the subsequent dialogue, the Irish Bishop claims that ‘We must affect our country as our parents’ (2.2.42), whereby reinforcing link between state and family. Stukeley rebuts his view succinctly: ‘Well said, Bishop, spoken like yourself / The reverent lordly Bishop of Saint Asses.’ (2.2.50-51) Stukeley emphatically denies the traditional political analogy of the state as familial, one where loyalty and deference to the head are mandatory. Stukeley’s voluntary exile may distance him from one unit but enables him to commune with others.

Ultimately, both plays display Stukeley’s actions as a form of defection. Even so, he is no renegado, no Christian turned Turk. He may align himself with Catholic monarchs but his final decision is to support England’s oldest ally, Portugal, is crucial to how we view him. As Peele in particular was at length to emphasise, Portugal rightly demanded the aid of its ally in its hour of need, particularly when the aggressor was Spain. (Peele had, of course, penned a lengthy poem around the same time he was composing The Battle of Alcazar, in which he reiterated such anti-Spanish sentiment: A Farewell Entitled to the famous and fortunate generalls of our English forces: Sir Iohn Norris & Syr Frauncis Drake Knights, and all theyr braue and resolute followers [London, 1589]).

Similarly, the anonymous author of Thomas Stukeley portrays Portugal’s claim for independence from Spain and legitimate. In that play, Dom Antonio appears at Dom Sebastian’s side, and sees his claim as heir to the Portuguese throne corroborated by the ill-fated Sebastian (19.69-70). In both plays, as Lockey identifies, Stukeley is presented as having ‘one foot in Portugal, a realm of his own choice’ while maintaining the ‘tip of his toe in the English polity as well’. (Lockey, p. 202.)

One of the reasons Stukeley remains so intoxicating a figure, therefore, is the ability of his stage incarnations to create such a viable, cosmopolitan identity. This dimension is key to understanding the complexity of his dramatic character, and why he maintains our interest: his previous decision to ally himself with Spain, in such a context, seals his fate; his commitment to the Portuguese, England’s allies, to an extent, redeems him.

 

Further reading / viewing

Charles Edelman (ed.), The Stukeley Plays: ‘The Battle of Alcazar’ by George Peele and ‘The Famous History of the Life and Death of Captain Thomas Stukeley’ (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005)

Jesús M. Garcia and Cinta Zunino Garrido, ‘”As we are Englishmen, so are we Men:” Patterns of Otherness in George Peele’s The Battle of Alcazar’ in Jesús López-Peláez (ed.), Strangers in Early Modern English Texts (Berlin: Peter Lang, 2011), pp.75-108

W.W. Greg, Two Elizabethan Stage Abridgements: The Battle of Alcazar & Orlando Furioso: An Essay in Critical Bibliography (Oxford: Clarendon, 1923)

Eric Griffin, ‘”SPAIN IS PORTUGAL / AND PORTUGAL IS SPAIN”: Transnational Attraction in The Stukeley Plays and “The Spanish Tragedy”‘ in Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, 10:1 [2010], pp.96-116

Andrew C. Hess, The Forgotten Frontier: A History of the Sixteenth-Century Ibero-African Frontier (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1978)

Brian C. Lockey, Early Modern Catholics, Royalists, and Cosmopolitans (Farnham and Burlington VT: Ashgate, 2015)

Hammood Khalid Obaid, Topicality and Representation: Islam and Muslims in Two Renaissance Plays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), chapter 1

David Trim, ‘Early-Modern Colonial Warfare and the Campaign of Alcazarquivir, 1578’ in Small Wars and Insurgencies 8:1 (1997), pp.1-34

Full text:

http://elizabethandrama.tripod.com/battle_of_alcazar.htmhttp://purl.pt/14193

Spoken word (extract in English):

The King of Portugal Describes His State (From The Battle of Alcazar)

 

 

Early Modern History, Portugal

Treasures from the Library at Alcobaça Monastery, Portugal (Part 1: Introduction)

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Part 1: Introduction

During a trip to Ushaw College Library (in Country Durham) this summer, I came across items from the collection once held at Alcobaça Monastery in Leiria, Portugal. I am now working on a journal article about one of the printed books from Alcobaça (one that also contains several leaves in manuscript), which now resides in the marvelous collection at Ushaw. While I undertake research into that beautiful monastery, its manuscripts, its printed books (and its curious hybrids), I thought I’d share with you some information about the monastery and, in subsequent posts, highlight some of the items known to have been once on the shelves inside Alcobaça’s magnificent library.

Early History of the Monastery

The town of Alcobaça is in west-central Portugal, near the Atlantic coast; eighteen miles south-west o Leiria, and sixty miles north of Lisbon. The town emerged as an agricultural society around its Cistercian monastery.

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The Cistercian order was founded by St Robert of Molesmes at Cîteaux, France, in 1098. Robert was of noble birth, born c. 1029 in Champagne, and entered the Benedictine abbey of Montier-la-Celle (near Troye) at the age of 15. As his spiritual journey progressed, he, like others, became disillusioned with the laxity of his order, and he eventually founded the new order, so that they could follow the Rule of St Benedict more closely. By 1115, a young monk called Bernard, also of Cîteaux, founded another monastery in Clairvaux. It was Bernard who adapted the structures of Gothic architecture as a ‘practical ideal for Cistercian structures’. [Randall J. Van Vynckt, ‘Alcobaça (Leirria, Portugal)’ in Trudy Ring (ed.), International Dictionary of Historic Places, Vol. 3: Southern Europe (Chicago and London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1995), p. 14.] Bernard saw church buildings not simply as the ‘house of God’ but ‘rather an oratorium, a place for the soul’s communion with God’. [Ibid.]

King Afonso I of Portugal (b.1105-d.1185; ruled from 1139) worked closely with English Crusaders on their way to the Holy Land throughout the 1140s, in order to conquer the Moslem areas of Portugal. He also encouraged resettlement throughout the land by financing and building new monasteries: the first were at Tarouca and Sever. Alcobaça monastery was founded in 1153, initially with at least 12 monks, under the leadership of Abbot Ranulphus.

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A quiet moment at Alcobaça, during my first visit (2012)

The monastic buildings were begun in ernest in 1178, dedicated in 1223, and its church consecrated in 1252. The complex was laid to the north of the church, which is Burgundian in its structural system and proportions. The architectural methods presented suggest French masters, since such techniques were not known in Portugal at that time. It is the largest surviving Cistercian church.

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The breathtaking interior of the church at Alcobaça

The monastery’s primary charge was to repopulate the region, and provide spiritual, social and economic support to that community. Life revolved around worship and agricultural work, cultivating the neglected land. The monks were known for collecting manuscripts that detailed methods for nurturing the land, and for seeking out botanical specimens that could be propagated in the region. Close to the Atlantic coast, the monastery also took an active role in the country’s seafaring activities, and took possession of a number of ports, first at Pederneira (its nearest), and then at Paredes, San Martinho, Alfeizerão, and Selir.

The monastery steadily began to build a community and a prestigious reputation, founding a second house at Bouro in 1174; a further 11 affiliates would follow. Yet the foundation was by no means secure at that time. The reconquest of what constitutes present-day Portugal was not complete until the mid-thirteenth century, and Alcobaça remained vulnerable, being located near to the Tagus river frontier between Portuguese territories and western edges of the Moslem an-Andalus empire. But by the close of the thirteenth century, Albcobaça had not only survived, it had thrived. Under Abbot Estevam Martins, it founded its first public school in 1269, teaching grammar, logic, and, of course, theology. During the reign of King Dinis (b.1261-d.1325; ruled from 1279), the monastery’s abbot, Martinho II, joined others of his rank in supporting the foundation of the University of Lisbon in 1290, which would later move to Coimbra in 1308.

A library was central to the monastery’s foundation, as was its scriptorium, which made significant contributions to Portugal’s literary tradition. It is particularly noted for its translations from Latin, Italian, and French from the mid-fourteenth and throughout the fifteenth century, and for its likely role in the development of the distinctive Portuguese style of prose that emerged during the fifteenth century. It is to Alcobaça’s rich collection of manuscripts that I will return in Part 2.

 

Suggested Reading:

Paulo Pereira, Monastery of Alcobaça (The national monuments of Portugal) (New York: Scala Publishers, 2007)

Randall J. Van Vynckt, ‘Alcobaça (Leirria, Portugal)’ in Trudy Ring (ed.), International Dictionary of Historic Places, Vol. 3: Southern Europe (Chicago and London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1995), pp. 14-18

 

Links:

Take a virtual tour of Alcobaça Monastery

The Monastery of Santa Maria d’Alcobaça: A UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Monastery Complex

Video: UNESCO/NHK Video about Alcobaça

About Ushaw College

Access to Ushaw College Library Collections

Early Modern History, England, Portugal, Propaganda, Spain, Theatre

Portuguese and Spanish history on the early modern stage: ‘The Battle of Alcazar’ (Part 2)

A detail from the only known representation of  the Battle of Alcazar, which accompanies Miguel Leitão de Andrade's eyewitness account in his Miscelânea (1629). It depicts the outnumbered Portuguese army, surrounded by Islamic forces.
A detail from the only known representation of  the Battle of Alcazar, which accompanies Miguel Leitão de Andrade’s eyewitness account in his Miscelânea (1629). It depicts the outnumbered Portuguese army, surrounded by Islamic forces.

Part 2

My earlier post (26/06/15) examined the historical context and content of George Peele’s play, The Battle of Alcazar.  In this post I will explore these Anglo-Muslim and Anglo-Portuguese alliances further, in terms of how they were presented on stage and to what purpose. [Part 3 will consider the reasons why English audiences became so fascinated by the fate of the Portuguese king (and with the demise of Thomas Stukeley).]

Staging Anglo-Muslim Relations and the Portuguese Alliance

In The Sultan Speaks: Dialogue in English Plays and Histories about the Ottoman Turks (2006), Linda McJannet notes how favourably the Ottoman Sultan described. He is ‘invoked as a great and just ruler; his name echoes no fewer than eleven times in the first scene alone, always accompanied by positive epithets (“Great” and “good” and “happy”). [Linda McJannet, The Sultan Speaks: Dialogue in English Plays and Histories about the Ottoman Turks (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), p. 84.]

Although he is not Christian, the play legitimises the Sultan’s right to rule by presenting him as ‘a virtuous counterbalance’ (McJannet, 2006, p. 84) to the evils of Catholicism and, more specifically, Catholic Spain. The Portuguese, like Abdelmelec, are presented favourably, as good, true men, supporting an individual’s legitimate claim for the Moroccan throne. Friends with one another, they are also the natural allies and trade partners of honest Englishmen.

Written at a crucial juncture in the history of Anglo-Spanish relations (around the time of the first Armada), Peele ‘remodels the conflict as pivotally epoch defining in order to question the validity – and very nature – of crusade in the wake of the relativity triggered by the magnifying consequences of the Reformation.’ [Matthew Dimmock, New Turkes: Dramatizing Islam and the Ottomans in Early Modern England (Aldershot: Ashagte, 2005), pp.17-18.] The action is positioned – and staged – at a key moment in Anglo-Ottoman relations, one which, for the English, became crucial in their campaign to thwart ‘Spanish ambitions in northern Europe’ (Dimmock, 2005, p. 18.)

The play enables “a re-evaluation and legitimization of the place of the Ottomans in this contested European space and the development of a strategy of conflation that allows the realities of England’s shifting position to be represented”. [Dimmock, 2005, p.18.]

The Battle of Alcazar resulted not only in the death of three kings but also in a significant increase in Spanish power and England’s decision to provide ‘refuge’ to the rival claimant to the Portuguese throne, Don António. Certainly, the succession crisis brought about by Sebastian’s death reverberated across English politics and foreign policy. Lord Burghley hastily prepared a genealogical table of the kings of Portugal shortly after Sebastian was killed, and he even acquired a detailed map of the battle, which provides valuable insights into how the English viewed both the events and the ramifications of their outcome. Since the closest contender for the throne – Sebastian’s ‘great uncle’, Henry – was an old man and childless, it is perhaps not surprising that the English were keeping a close watch on how events would unfold, while remaining sympathetic to the Portuguese as they were thrown into dynastic crisis. Don Antonio’s presence in the capital did much to create sympathy among the English for their ally, as did the many pamphlets produced at the time. [See Dimmock, 2005, pp.115-116.]

Pamphlet literature and drama came together to persuade audiences to support Portugal and repulse any opportunity to increase Spanish dominions. W.W. Greg’s pioneering work on the surviving prompt book for Peele’s play reveals the techniques employed to ensure that the audience’s sympathy lay with the Portuguese. [W.W. Greg, Two Elizabethan Stage Abridgements: The Battle of Alcazar & Orlando Furioso: An Essay in Critical Bibliography (Oxford: Clarendon, 1923.) The play opens with a ‘presenter’, who is dressed in the fashion of ‘a Portingale’, rather than the more traditional garb of a ‘chorus’. (Greg, 1923, p.51.) He guides the audience through the Portuguese perspective on the events depicted in the play. Standing at the front of the stage, he also stands at the vanguard of English attempts to construct a stronger, anti-Spanish coalition.

Lord Burghley, inevitably, kept close watch on how events unfolded and where lines of allegiance were drawn. In 1578 he received an extensive list of ‘advices’ from one Roger Bodenham, in which he laid out the benefits of forming strategic alliances against Spain. A well-travelled voyager, familiar with the negotiating table, Bodenham offered to aid negotiations with the King of Barbary. Accepting the friendship of ‘pagans’ (see Dimmock, 2005, p. 115) Bodenham (like others) warned, was preferable to conceding yet more power to the Spanish.

“The King of Spain, fearing nothing so much as intelligence between England and Barbary, has drawn the present King of Barbary to a covenant with him against the Turks.”

Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Addenda, no. 133 [undated, 1578?], ‘A discourse of Mr. Bodenham touching the designs of the King of Spain against England, and how they might be prevented’; cited in Dimmock, 2005, p. 115.

The English recognised the importance of using Portugal to thwart any attempts by the Spanish to increase their dominions via the seaboard or to use its ports to facilitate attacks upon their enemies. In the event, Lisbon was, of course, the point of departure for the failed Armada of 1588. The King of Barbary, Abd-al-Malik, similarly ruled in a ‘buffer state’, one seeking to balance Hapsburg and Ottoman power, while protecting its own interests first. [Andrew C. Hess, The Forgotten Frontier: A History of the Sixteenth-Century Ibero-African Frontier (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1978), p. 96.]

The representation of the Moorish characters in The Battle of Alcazar inevitably has to deal with presenting some Moors as good, some a bad. The succession debacle between ‘the Negro Muly Hamet’ (I.Prol.7) and his uncle, the ‘brave Barbarian Lord, Muly Mullocco’ (I.Prol.12) (or ‘Abdelmelec’), uses both their physical descriptions in the prologue and discussion of their parentage to establish their character traits. Hamet, for example, is the ‘Blacke king’ and the son of a ‘bondswoman, that was a Blacke Negro’ – his ‘blackness’ is clearly emphasised to signify his spiritual state; this is in direct opposition to the good and spiritually superior Abdelmelec. Abdelmelec’s right to rule is paralleled with Sebastian’s rights – and those of England’s preferred candidate for the Portuguese throne after the young king’s death. The message is clear: if you oppose legitimate succession – or, more accurately, England and Portugal’s preferred candidates in contested successions – then you are the enemy of both states, both on and off the stage. How Thomas Stukeley fitted into this complex web of shifting national stereotypes on an international stage will be the topic of Part 3.

Further reading / viewing

Charles Edelman (ed.), The Stukeley Plays: ‘The Battle of Alcazar’ by George Peele and ‘The Famous History of the Life and Death of Captain Thomas Stukeley’ (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005)

Jesús M. Garcia and Cinta Zunino Garrido, ‘”As we are Englishmen, so are we Men:” Patterns of Otherness in George Peele’s The Battle of Alcazar’ in Jesús López-Peláez (ed.), Strangers in Early Modern English Texts (Berlin: Peter Lang, 2011), pp.75-108

W.W. Greg, Two Elizabethan Stage Abridgements: The Battle of Alcazar & Orlando Furioso: An Essay in Critical Bibliography (Oxford: Clarendon, 1923)

Eric Griffin, ‘”SPAIN IS PORTUGAL / AND PORTUGAL IS SPAIN”: Transnational Attraction in The Stukeley Plays and “The Spanish Tragedy”‘ in Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, 10:1 [2010], pp.96-116

Andrew C. Hess, The Forgotten Frontier: A History of the Sixteenth-Century Ibero-African Frontier (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1978)

Hammood Khalid Obaid, Topicality and Representation: Islam and Muslims in Two Renaissance Plays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), chapter 1

David Trim, ‘Early-Modern Colonial Warfare and the Campaign of Alcazarquivir, 1578’ in Small Wars and Insurgencies 8:1 (1997), pp.1-34

Full text:

http://elizabethandrama.tripod.com/battle_of_alcazar.htmhttp://purl.pt/14193

Spoken word (extract in English):

The King of Portugal Describes His State (From The Battle of Alcazar)

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Catholic Record Society Conference 2015: Marian Catholicism and its legacy

A lovely summer's day in Cambridge, looking across the grass at Downing, while heading to dinner on Day 2.
A lovely summer’s day in Cambridge, looking across the grass at Downing, while heading to dinner on Day 2 of the conference.

This year’s Catholic Record Society (CRS) Conference was held at beautiful Downing College, Cambridge, during 20-22 July 2015. I was part of a panel on Marian Catholicism and its legacy, with Fred Smith (University of Cambridge,@Fred_E_Smith) and Ceri Law (Queen Mary, University of London,@Ceri_Law). It proved to be three days of vibrant and stimulating discussion, and was organised with great efficiency by Liesbeth Corens (University of Cambridge,@onslies) and Hannah Thomas (Durham University,@HannahJane85). Our abstracts are outlined below and full details of the conference and the Society can be found here:

http://catholicrecordsociety.co.uk/

(You can also follow the CRS on Twitter:@CatholicRS.)

ABSTRACTS

Dr Elizabeth Evenden – Catholicism under Philip and Mary: English and Spanish perspectives and the Elizabethan propaganda machine

It is hard to escape the influence of John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments on the history of English religious history; its perception of events persists, even in the media and heritage industries of England today. Perhaps the most provocative piece of propaganda of its age, Foxe’s narrative of the reign of Philip and Mary was relentless in its depiction of the alleged evils of Catholicism. At the apex of this evil practice was Spanish Catholicism. This paper will consider what Foxe had to say about the Spanish but also what the Spanish clerics and courtiers in England at the time had to say about the English (a viewpoint inevitably ignored by Foxe).

By examining Foxe and other contemporary printed sources, this paper sets them in the context of the manuscript sources available for those who were at the heart of the Spanish contingent in England. It considers the events in England that involved Spanish clerics – what influence they had in catholic practices and the notorious burning of heretics – and it considers why Foxe used certain tactics to discuss their involvement. It reveals how Foxe’s original remit for discussing the Spanish changed during the writing of the 1570 (second) edition, and consider the reasons why this was so.

Fred Smith – Pillars of Consciences: Deprived

Whereas an older generation of scholars saw the Marian restoration as a half-hearted attempt to resuscitate a dying breed of Catholicism, historians such as Eamon Duffy have recently opened our eyes to the vibrancy, zeal and strength of the Marian Church. This church was already developing the heightened interiority, stricter regulation and greater reverence for the papacy which were to become the hallmarks of Counter-Reformation Catholicism in the wake of the Council of Trent.

Despite this revolution in our understanding of the Marian Church, no similar reinterpretation of early-Elizabethan Catholicism has followed. The 1560s continues to be regarded as a decade of confusion and chaos in which English Catholics suffered a crisis of leadership, direction and identity. In the face of such uncertainty, most settled for a muddled compromise with the Elizabethan regime – finding ways of demonstrating their religious identity whilst still attending the services of their parish church.

Through examining the activities of a group of clergymen who were the vanguards of Marian spirituality, the cathedral clergy, this paper explores how an alternative view of 1560s Catholicism is possible. The large number of these clergymen deprived upon Elizabeth’s accession remained dedicated to the faith they had helped build under Mary, and worked to spread their understanding of what it meant to be Catholic amongst the English laity through print and preaching. An analysis of these printed tracts, as well as the opinions of laypeople who came into contact with these clergymen, reveals that they were in no way confused following the death of their queen. On the contrary, they seem to have been united in a firm ‘Marian’ understanding of the faith – an understanding which had no place for ‘lukewarm’ Catholics who conformed with the demands of Protestants.

Dr Ceri Law – Elizabethan memories of the Marian regime

 
The restoration of Catholicism in England under Mary I was only brief, but historians now increasingly recognise the deep cultural impact that it had upon English Catholicism.  However, the way that subsequent generations of English Catholics recalled, constructed and used the memory of this period has received very little attention.  This paper focuses upon the way that Elizabethan exile writers of Catholic polemics invoked both Mary I and her reign.  Taking the works of Nicholas Sander and Robert Persons as central case studies, it argues that we can see a shift in how these later writers sought to explain the apparent failure of Marian attempts to restore Catholicism.  In examining these Elizabethan constructions of the recent past, it is apparent how deeply these accounts are shaped by later circumstance, and how far this has affected their and subsequent judgements of Mary’s reign.

***

My interest in the Spanish clerics who came to England during Mary’s reign was sparked by work for the British Academy John Foxe Project (www.johnfoxe.org), when I was writing mini-biographies of everyone mentioned by Foxe in his accounts of the reign of Mary I. (I cross-referenced the first four English editions, printed by John Day during Foxe’s lifetime – 1563, 1570, 1576, and 1583.) My work with Spanish sources for the period, as part of my current research project, has afforded me the opportunity to explore this topic further.

Although Foxe mentions Philip and his retinue on occasion throughout his narrative of Mary’s reign, he never places them centre-stage (not even Philip, as Consort); they remain on the periphery of his discussion. If you only read Foxe’s account of the return to Catholicism under Mary, you could be forgiven for thinking that Philip’s involvement was minimal and that the involvement of his Spanish clerics was negligible.

Then would she needes bryng in kyng Philip, and by her straunge Mariage with him, make the whole Realme of England subiect unto a straunger … With kyng Philip also came in the Pope and his Popishe Masse: with whom also her purpose was to restore agayne the Monkes and Nonnes vnto their places, neither lacked there all kynd of attemptes to the uttermost of her abilitie: and yet therin also God stopt her of her will, that it came not forward.

From ‘The unprosperous successe of thinges under Q. Marie’, in John Foxe, The ecclesiasticall history contaynyng the actes and monumentes of thynges passed in euery kynges tyme in this realme, especially in the Church of England principally to be noted: with a full discourse of such persecutions, horrible troubles, the sufferyng of martyrs, and other thinges incident, touchyng aswel the sayd Church of England as also Scotland, and all other foreine nations, from the primitiue tyme till the reigne of K. Henry VIII  (London, 1570) STC 11223, p. 2297.

This is, perhaps, to be expected. While Foxe could have chosen to attack them for their involvement in the restoration of Catholicism in England, they were not his primary target. Nor was his paper supply infinite (particularly in the case of the second edition, where Foxe expanded his text considerably). His primary targets were the English clerics and English nobility who assisted in the ‘persecution’ of English Protestants.

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Yet despite their shadowy appearance in Foxe’s text, several Spanish clerics were involved in the dismantling of Edwardian Protestantism and the revival of Catholicism under Mary and Philip. Many of them arrived with Philip in England on 20 July 1554, just five days before Philip’s marriage to Mary at Westminster Cathedral.

Foxe's_Book_of_Martyrs_title_page

Prior to Philip’s arrival, the marriage treaty made it abundantly clear that he could not involve foreigners in key decisions and positions in England, during his time as Consort:

he shall not promote, admit, or receive to any office, administration or benefice in the said realm of England and the dominions thereunto belonging any stranger or person not born under the dominion and subjection of the said most noble lady, Queen of England. [Paul L. Hughes, and James F. Larkin (eds), Tudor Royal Proclamations, 3 vols (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964–69), II, p. 25.]

But that is not to say that Philip’s Spanish clerics were not in England in some quasi-official capacity, to assist in the restoration of Catholicism, and that Philip could not aid this restoration. The research of John Edwards (University of Oxford, http://www.mod-langs.ox.ac.uk/jedwards) has done much to reveal the extent to which Fray Bartolomé Carranza was involved in that restoration; indeed, he was pivotal in the reintroduction of the old heresy law ‘On the burning of heretics’ (of 1401) in England. (Carranza’s Comentarios, written during his time in England, is detailed elsewhere on this blog.) He was consulted not only on the day-to-day running of parishes but also on how to deal with English heretics. (Carranza had previously worked as a consultor to the Spanish Inquisition in Valladolid.)

Two Dominicans, Fray Pedro de Soto (Confessor to Charles V) and Fray Juan de Villagarcía, were among those who had made the journey to England, and they were both involved in the questioning of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer after his arrest. [For Foxe’s interpretation of the events leading up to Cranmer’s execution see Foxe, A&M [1563], pp. 1129–33. On the role of Villagarcia and de Soto, see Diarmaid MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer: A Life (Yale University Press, 1997), pp. 584–99.]
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Carranza would later confirm that he was central in ensuring that the former archbishop be condemned as a heretic. [See John Edwards, Mary I: England’s Catholic Queen (Yale University Press, 2013), pp. 261–3 and John Edwards, ‘The Spanish Inquisition Refashioned: The Experience of Mary I’s England and the Valladolid Tribunal, 1559’, Hispanic Research Journal, 13 (2012): 46.]

The paper I presented at the CRS Conference was something of a ‘taster’ for my forthcoming chapter in Catholic Renewal and Protestant Resistance in Marian England (see below), which explores in greater detail this involvement of Spanish clerics in the revival of Catholicism in England. It also considers the Spanish perspective on events at the time, by detailing accounts written by Spaniards who traveled amongst Philip’s retinue, and who witnessed events first-hand.

We thoroughly enjoyed delivering our panel on Marian Catholicism and its legacy at the Catholic Record Society Conference. It seemed to go down well…

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 8.21.18 PM

Suggested further reading / listening

John Edwards, Mary I: England’s Catholic Queen (Yale University Press, 2013), pp. 261–3
_____, ‘The Spanish Inquisition Refashioned: The Experience of Mary I’s England and the Valladolid Tribunal, 1559’, Hispanic Research Journal, 13 (2012): 46
Elizabeth Evenden, ‘Spanish Involvement in the Restoration of Catholicism during the Reign of Philip and Mary’ in Catholic Renewal and Protestant Resistance in Marian England, ed. Elizabeth Evenden and Vivienne Westbrook (Ashgate, forthcoming 2015)
Diarmaid MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer: A Life (Yale University Press, 1997), pp. 584–99

Melvyn Bragg’s ‘In Our Time’: Podcast about Foxe’s ‘Book of Martyrs’, featuring Diarmaid MacCulloch, Justin Champion and Elizabeth Evenden as guest experts

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Ushaw College and Bartolomé Carranza

Ushaw College, Durham. The College was founded in 1808 by scholars from the English College, Douai, who had fled France upon that college's closure during the French Revolution. Ushaw was the principal Roman Catholic seminary in the north of England for the training of Catholic priests. It closed in 2011 and is now part of Durham University.
Ushaw College, Durham. The College was founded in 1808 by scholars from the English College, Douai, who had fled France upon that college’s closure during the French Revolution. Ushaw was the principal Roman Catholic seminary in the north of England for the training of Catholic priests. It closed in 2011 and is now part of Durham University.

This week I attended a conference at Ushaw College in Durham. This three-day international and interdisciplinary conference was on the theme of Early Modern Catholics in the British Isles and Europe: Integration or Separation and was organised by two academics at Durham University: Dr James Kelly and Dr Hannah Thomas. The conference’s main sponsors were the Centre for Catholic Studies at Durham University and by the University of Notre Dame. It really was an excellent conference – and it was a particular joy to see so many grad students discussing their work. Two of them, Georgina Moore (Bath Spa) and Liam Temple (Northumbria), have blogged about the conference:

See: http://adventuresofahistorian.co.uk/?p=262 and http://www.theosophicaltransactions.com/2015/07/3.html

This was my first visit to Ushaw, and it certainly won’t be my last. The library and archive are magnificent and, if you study English and/or Iberian history, it needs to be on your ‘must visit’ list. There is, inevitably, a heavy emphasis on the 18th and 19th centuries in its collections but there are significant holdings for the early modern period as well.

Information about their holdings can be found here:

https://www.dur.ac.uk/durham.collections/ushaw/

It should be noted, however, that their holdings are not yet fully catalogued online and, as I have discovered during my first (brief) visit, there are many gems yet to be fully revealed at Ushaw. I am looking forward to making a detailed study of their Anglo-Iberian holdings in the coming months and will detail some of my findings in this blog from time to time.

One particular delight I discovered during my visit to the library this week was a copy of the first edition of Bartlomé Carranza’s Comentarios (1558).

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Bartolomé Carranza (1503-76) was a Spanish Dominican, who traveled to England as part of Philip of Spain’s retinue in 1554, on the occasion of Philip’s marriage to Mary I. Until recently, Carranza’s career and, in particular, his involvement in the rooting out of heresy during the reign of Philip and Mary, had been almost entirely overlooked by all but a handful of English-language scholars. Carranza was central to plans for restoring and maintaining Catholic worship in England.

The English Synod of 1555-56 identified the need to examine closely what was happening in the parishes, and to find suitable ways in which they could re-establish uniform worship. Carranza was commissioned to investigate current English religious practices and to write an official response. His research led him to produce the ‘Comentarios sobre el catechismo christiano’.

Mary I died before the  ‘Comentarios’ was completed, and it was not published until 1558 (in Antwerp). But the work remains important for understanding how the Marian Church sought to establish and maintain Catholic worship, since Carranza’s ideas were formulated – and presumably tested – while he was in England. His commentaries reveal much about his opinions on clerical responsibility, on how the laity should be expected to behave, and on how order could – and should – be maintained in England.

Carranza’s work in England appears to have been an extension of his previous activities as an inquisitor in Valladolid. As John Edwards has noted, it was this inquisitorial experience that provided him with a ‘blueprint’ for how to deal with heretical behaviour and heretical belief in England. (See John Edwards, ‘Fray Bartolomé Carranza’s Blueprint for a Reformed Catholic Church in England’ in Thomas F. Mayer [ed.], Reforming Reformation [Ashgate, 2012], pp.141-162.)

In the same year that his Comentarios were produced, Carranza fell foul of the Inquisition, who smelled more than a whiff of heresy in his commentaries. Carranza spent years languishing in prison, bereft of aid from Philip II, and his commentaries were placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (‘Index of Prohibited Books’). Eventually, Carranza would be cleared of heresy but compelled to abjure sixteen errors. After doing so, he was ordered to remove himself to the Dominican cloister of Santa Maria sopra Minerva (in Rome), where he would live in seclusion; within a week of this judgement he was dead.

The copy of Bartolomé Carranza’s Comentarios (1558) at Ushaw College

The early provenance of the copy remains obscure but a later owner’s details can be found inside. Before making its way to Ushaw, it was previously owned by Dom José Maria de Mello, Bishop of the Algarves and Inquisitor General of Portugal (1756-1818). He was famously accused of being responsible for the mental decline of Queen Maria I of Portugal. He was also notorious for wanting the entire population of France to be excommunicated. (See Simão José da Luz Soriano, História de el-rei D. João VI, Primeiro rei constitucional de Portugal e do Brazil, em que se referem os principaes actos e occorrencias do seu governo, bem como algumas particularidades da sua vida privada [Lisbon: Typographia Universal, 1866], pp.15-17.) Quite a book, with quite a provenance then. I look forward to seeing what else can be found in the Iberian holdings at Ushaw.

You may also be interested to know that José Maria de Mello also owned a copy of the so-called Carey Bible, which is now housed in the John J. Burn’s Library at Boston College. His Bible bears the same provenance slip as that in the Ushaw copy of Carranza, which is pasted in a comparable position in both books. The Carey Bible was the first Catholic Bible printed in the USA, and was printed by Mathew Carey, an Irish immigrant and former journalist. Carey had lived and worked in France for a time, before relocating to Philadelphia. In the 1780s he first began printing copies of the King James Bible, before deciding to produce an edition of the 1582 Douay-Rheims Bible for the American market. It appears that fewer than 500 copies were printed.

If you have $2,250.00 to spare, José Maria de Mello’s copy of the first edition of Philipp van Limborch’s Historia inquisitionis (Amsterdam, 1692) is currently available for purchase from the American book dealer, Eric Chaim Kline:

http://www.klinebooks.com/pages/books/38035/philippi-a-limborch-philipp-van-limborch/historia-inquisitionis-cui-subjungitur-liber-sententiarum-inquisitionis-tholosanae-ab-anno#sthash.pjKKYTAy.dpuf

For José Maria de Mello’s copy of the Carey Bible in the John J. Burn’s Library see:

https://johnjburnslibrary.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/carey-bible-primary-source/

On the John J. Burns Library see: 

http://www.bc.edu/libraries/collections/burns.html

Suggested further reading

John Edwards and Ronald Truman (eds.) Reforming Catholicism in the England of Mary Tudor. The achievement of Friar Bartolomé Carranza (Ashgate, 2005)

John Edwards, Mary I: England’s Catholic Queen (Yale University Press, 2011), chapters 9 and 10

____, ‘Experiencing the Mass anew in Mary I’s England: Bartolomé Carranza’s ‘Little treatise in Reformation and Renaissance Review 9:3 (2007), pp.265-276

____, ‘Bartolomé Carranza de Miranda’s “Little treatise on how to attend Mass” (1555): a translation’, Reformation and Renaissance Review 11:1 (2009), pp. 91-120

____, ‘Fray Bartolomé Carranza’s Blueprint for a Reformed Catholic Church in England’ in Thomas F. Mayer (ed.), Reforming Reformation (Ashgate, 2012), pp.141-162

Elizabeth Evenden, ‘Spanish Involvement in the Restoration of Catholicism during the reign of Philip and Mary’ in Elizabeth Evenden and Vivienne Westbrook (eds.), Catholic Renewal and Protestant Resistance in Marian England (Ashgate, forthcoming in 2015)

José Tellechea Idígoras Tellechea (ed.), Bartolomé Carranza, Comentarios sobre el catechismo christiano, 2 vols (Madrid: Editorial Católica, Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 1972)

____ (ed.), Fray Bartolomé Carranza. Documentos históricos, 7 vols (Madrid: Real Academia de la Historia, 1962-94)

A Portuguese blog on ‘As Invasões Francesas’ (‘The French Invasions’), detailing Dom José Maria de Mello’s role during the Peninsular War (which cites the text by Simão José da Luz Soriano mentioned above):

http://asinvasoesfrancesas.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/pastoral-do-bispo-inquisidor-favoravel.html

Early Modern History, England, Portugal, Propaganda, Spain, Theatre

Portuguese and Spanish history on the early modern English stage: ‘The Battle of Alcazar’ (Part 1)

Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue: but if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines… O, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumbshows.

Hamlet’s advice to the players. William Shakespeare, Hamlet (3.2.1-3, 7-10)

If you’ve heard of the play The Battle of Alcazar at all, you may have heard of it referenced as the butt of one of Shakespeare’s jokes in Hamlet – as one of those plays full of noise and dumb show, worthy of ridicule. Ben Jonson famously enjoyed a good scoff at such work too (see The Poetaster, 3.4.346-8). Even Ancient Pistol was a critic (2 Henry 4, 2.4.176).

George Peele’s The Battle of Alcazar may not have outshone its contemporaries for its poetic brilliance but it remains an important play, not least for its masterly use of visual effects (many of which would later become synonymous with Elizabethan theatrics: burning limbs, decapitated corpses, disembowellings, all flooding the stage with limbs, heads, gore, and blood). Peele transformed the use of a ‘dumb show’ by incorporating actors from the main plot alongside their presentation in the Prologue. The play also reveals something of the extent to which English audiences were aware of – and interested in – recent events in Portuguese and Spanish history, and the complex series of events initiated by a single day of battle in North Africa during 1578.

A certain level of snobbishness may surround the play for its theatrics and the quality of its verse, and knowledge of the events it portrays may have diminished in England over time, but for Tudor and Stuart audiences, a play detailing the events that led to the death of King Sebastian, and the annexing of Portugal to its all-powerful neighbour, was both timely and popular. As I hope to show in this and the following series of blog entries, Portugal was often a lens through which the English could contemplate their own relationship with Spain.

The early performance history of The Battle of Alcazar is sketchy but the play is likely to have been written in or around 1588/9. It was performed, most probably, by both Lord Strange’s Men and the Lord Admiral’s Men in the 1590s; Henslowe’s Diary may suggest it was performed on 20 February 1592, with a further 13 more performances, the last of which was on 20 January 1593. (On the debate surrounding the name of the play listed by Henslowe, see The Stukeley Plays, ed. Charles Edelman [Manchester University Press, 2005], p.23.) A version of the play was printed by William Jaggard for Thomas Pavier in 1605 (STC 23405). A playhouse ‘Plot’ also survives (British Library, MS. Add. 10,449, fol. 3. See Edelman, The Stukeley Plays, pp.21-2).

Historical background:  ‘The Battle of the Three Kings’

The Battle of Alcazarquivir was fought in northern Morocco, near Ksar-el-Kebir and Larache, on 4 August 1578, and was the result of a power struggle. The Moroccan Sultan, Abu Abdallah Mohammed II, had been deposed and replaced by Abd Al-Malik I (his uncle) in 1576. The new Sultan’s nephew had fled to Portugal, where he enlisted the help of King Sebastian.

The young Portuguese king listened to his petition favourably, seeing this as a crusading opportunity, something he had longed for in earnest for some time. It was also an opportunity to expand his dominions and trade relations in North Africa. Yet this proposed alliance needed help, if they were to succeed in any battle for supremacy. Over Christmas 1577, Sebastian met with his uncle, Philip II, at Guadalupe, to petition him for aid. Philip wanted no part and urged his nephew not to rush into something so rash while still so young (and without having yet fathered any heir to his throne). Philip did offer some assistance with manpower, transportation and supplies (even if some, questioning Philip’s intentions, have seen these as little more than a token gesture, thereby securing Sebastian’s fate). (See Eric Griffin, ‘”SPAIN IS PORTUGAL / AND PORTUGAL IS SPAIN”: Transnational Attraction in The Stukeley Plays and “The Spanish Tragedy”‘ in Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, 10:1 [2010], p.98.)

So the young king embarked on his mission to aid the deposed sultan, setting sail from Lisbon in the summer of 1578 with an army of around 17,000 men (which included many of Portugal’s nobility), via Cadiz, then on to Morocco. Sebastian met with Abu Abdallah Mohammed II and his c.6000 Moorish solders at Arzila, and the vastly outnumbered men (Abd Al Malik had more than 60,000 in his army), marched on to their fate.

After almost four hours of intense combat, the Portuguese and the army of Abu Abdallah were defeated. Around 8000 of their men were dead – among them much of Portugal’s nobility who had joined their beloved king on this crusade; thousands were taken prisoner. Only around 100 men survived and fled. Abd Al-Malik also died during the battle but the news was carefully concealed by his men, who rallied and secured victory in his name. Abu Abdallah drowned in the river as he attempted to escape capture. Sebastian was last seen riding towards the enemy, and the subsequent stories surrounding his death and the whereabouts of his body after the battle were numerous. With the loss of Sebastian, Abd Al-Malik and Abu Abdallah, the battle quickly became known as the ‘Battle of the Three Kings’.

Abd Al-Malik was succeeded by his brother, Ahmad al Mansur, Sebastian by his great-uncle Henry, brother of his grandfather, King John III, who did not live long.  Sebastian’s uncle, Philip II, united the Iberian crowns in 1580, a Union which lasted until 1640. Philip claimed that Sebastian’s remains were found and removed to Portugal, where they were later buried in Jerónimos Monastery in Belém, Lisbon (only after the Union of Portugal and Spain). Many remained unconvinced that the heroic young king had died in battle, and giving rise to ‘Sebastianism’ (a topic for another blog entry).

Among those Europeans who joined Sebastian for the battle were not only Portuguese and Spanish troops but also Italians, Irish Catholics, German Lutherans, and Dutch Calvinists. (See A.R. Disney, A History of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire: From Beginnings to 1807, 2 vols. [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009], II, p.18.) Among them, also, was Thomas Stukeley, an Englishman.

Third son of Sir Hugh Stukeley (1496-1559), Stukeley was a mercenary who had fought in both France and Ireland. Happy to sell his military talents to the highest bidder, he gave his allegiance to Philipp II of Spain late in around 1569, and thought nothing of trading secrets about the land of his birth. He was offered command of three galleys by Don John of Austria at the Battle of Lepanto (7 October 1571). It is known that Francis Walsingham kept a close eye on him, Stukeley having alerted the Spanish Inquisition to the activities of an English spy, Oliver King. Stukeley became part of Spanish plans for the invasion of Ireland, and set sail with such a mission in 1578, only to reach Cadiz and be unable to proceed further, owing to the poor condition of his ships. It is at this point that he meets Sebastian, who offers Stukeley the opportunity to take up command in his army, as part of the expedition to Morocco. This is where Stukeley’s luck finally runs out: he is killed early on in the fighting, after taking a direct hit from a cannonball, which ripped of his legs.

In The Battle of Alcazar, Stukeley is portrayed as a renegade who spouts traitorous opinions, and whose arrogance and high opinion of himself exude on stage, as he struts about, speaking ill of his sovereign. Through him the audience confronts early modern ideas of nationalism and personal liberty. This is a world in which, Peele reminds us, disrespect for the land of one’s birth, and self-aggrandisement, can only lead to ruin. They witness what can happen to the traitor who – like Stukeley (in the play) – thinks that  ‘King of a molehill had I rather be / Than the richest subject of a monarchy’ (2.2.81-2).

The King of Portugal (a Catholic) respects the power and might of the Protestant sovereign. He also sees Stukeley’s ambitions in Ireland as futile, even though he cannot see the flaws in his own crusading scheme. When seeking his aid for his African mission, Sebastian plays to Stukeley’s inflated opinion of himself but he also warns him:

For Ireland, Stukeley? Thou mistak’st wondrous much,

With seven ships, two pinnaces, and six thousand men?

I tell thee, Stukeley, they are far too weak

To violate the Queen of Ireland’s right,

For Ireland’s queen commandeth England’s force.

Were every ship ten thousand on the seas,

Manned with the strength of all the eastern kings,

Conveying all the monarchs of the world

To invade the island where her highness reigns,

‘Twere all in vain, for heavens and destinies

Attend and wait upon her majesty.

Sacred, imperial and holy is her seat,

Shining with wisdom, love and mightiness.

(Sebastian’s advice to Stukeley, 2.4.98-110)

Sebastian’s powers of persuasion ultimately lead to Stukeley’s change of heart – and his downfall.

If honour be the mark whereat thou aim’st,

Then follow me in holy Christian wars,

And leave to seek thy country’s overthrow.

(Sebastian’s advice to Stukeley, 2.4.142-3)

As Eric Griffin has noted (‘”SPAIN IS PORTUGAL”‘, p.104), Peele agreed with John Foxe: just because you claim your act a crusade, it does not make it holy, nor does it guarantee success. By Elizabeth’s reign, the crusades were seen as problematic, hence Foxe affirmed, in his Acts and Monuments: ‘He that bringeth S. George or S. Denise, as patrons to the field to fight agaynst the Turke, leaveth Christ (no doubt) at home.’ (John Foxe, Acts and Monuments [London, 1570] STC 11223, p.872.) Stukeley, we note, swears his allegiance to St. George the moment he decides he is bound for Morocco (2.4.166). The man who puts his faith in saints and rejects his homeland is unlikely to fair well on the Elizabethan stage.

Staging the Battle

If The Battle of Alcazar was written in or around 1588/9, then it was written in a key moment for Anglo-Iberian relations. The Spanish Armada failed in 1588. In 1589, Francis Drake, John Norreys and Don António tried to provoke an uprising against King Philip, to remove him from the Portuguese throne. The action ended badly for both Portugal and England, resulting in huge financial losses for the English, and sounding the death-knell for António’s claim to the Portuguese throne.

The Union may have come into being but England’s allegiance remained with the Portuguese. (This, of course, also assisted them in ensuring continued trade with Morocco and the Ottoman ports.) As Jesús M. Garcia and Cinta Zunino Garrido have noted, ‘the conflict intensified the harsh hostility between Protestant England and Catholic Spain, on the one hand, and, on the other, it strengthened both the Anglo-Muslim and the Anglo-Portuguese alliances’. (Jesús M. Garcia and Cinta Zunino Garrido, ‘”As we are Englishmen, so are we Men:” Patterns of Otherness in George Peele’s The Battle of Alcazar’ in Jesús López-Peláez [ed.], Strangers in Early Modern English Texts [Berlin: Peter Lang, 2011], p.75.)

A detail from the only known representation of  the Battle of Alcazar, which accompanies Miguel Leitão de Andrade's eyewitness account in his Miscelânea (1629). It depicts the outnumbered Portuguese army, surrounded by Islamic forces.
A detail from the only known representation of  the Battle of Alcazar, which accompanies Miguel Leitão de Andrade’s eyewitness account in his Miscelânea (1629). It depicts the outnumbered Portuguese, surrounded by Islamic forces.

the conflict intensified the harsh hostility between Protestant England and Catholic Spain, on the one hand, and, on the other, it strengthened both the Anglo-Muslim and the Anglo-Portuguese alliances… 

In Part 2 of this blog, I will explore these Anglo-Muslim and Anglo-Portuguese alliances further. Part 3 will consider the reasons why English audiences became so fascinated by the fate of the Portuguese king (and with the demise of Stukeley).

END OF PART 1

Further reading / viewing

Charles Edelman (ed.), The Stukeley Plays: ‘The Battle of Alcazar’ by George Peele and ‘The Famous History of the Life and Death of Captain Thomas Stukeley’ (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005)

Jesús M. Garcia and Cinta Zunino Garrido, ‘”As we are Englishmen, so are we Men:” Patterns of Otherness in George Peele’s The Battle of Alcazar’ in Jesús López-Peláez (ed.), Strangers in Early Modern English Texts (Berlin: Peter Lang, 2011), pp.75-108

Eric Griffin, ‘”SPAIN IS PORTUGAL / AND PORTUGAL IS SPAIN”: Transnational Attraction in The Stukeley Plays and “The Spanish Tragedy”‘ in Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, 10:1 [2010], pp.96-116

Hammood Khalid Obaid, Topicality and Representation: Islam and Muslims in Two Renaissance Plays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), chapter 1

David Trim, ‘Early-Modern Colonial Warfare and the Campaign of Alcazarquivir, 1578’ in Small Wars and Insurgencies 8:1 (1997), pp.1-34

Full text: http://elizabethandrama.tripod.com/battle_of_alcazar.htm http://purl.pt/14193