Familial politics and the Stuart court masque.

Haslem, Michelle.
(1999) Familial politics and the Stuart court masque. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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This thesis contends that the monarch-centred view of the masque, which has prevailed since the publication in the 1960s and 1970s of Stephen Orgel's seminal works on the genre, needs to be challenged in the light of recent scholarship on the cultural agency of other members of the royal family. In my introduction I argue that while the New Historicism has been crucial in elucidating the theatricalization of power in the early Stuart court, its insistence on the inevitability of the collusion between art and sovereign power needs to be questioned. The masque has long been seen as a monolithic and univocal celebration of monarchical power, despite the fact that it was promoted at court not by King James but by other members of the royal family. Adopting a loosely chronological approach, this thesis retells the story of the 'Jacobean' court masque by recovering the role played in the commissioning and performance of masques by James's wife, his children, and his male favourites. The chapters set out to hear voices other than that of the King, and discover that, while panegyric was part of each masque, it was rarely as unequivocal as traditional criticism has suggested. On the contrary, the annual masques were frequently appropriated to express the oppositional agendas of factions at court, and above all, of members of James's own family. I argue that Queen Anne set a precedent for the disruptive use of the masque which she exploited to present herself as independent from the King, and to emphasise her importance as the mother of the royal children. Prince Henry, and later Prince Charles, both used the masque to contest the pacifist policies of the King, while Buckingham's success as a favourite was linked to his skilful exploitation of the masques as an integral part of his self-fashioning. Above all by shifting the focus away from King James to consider the more active participation in the masque of other members of the royal family, this thesis offers a possibility of moving beyond the current impasse of the subversion / containment debate to a more nuanced reading of the culture of the early Stuart court which recognises the delicate process of negotiation and accommodation in which the masquers and their audiences were engaged.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2023 17:56
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2023 17:57
DOI: 10.17638/03175330
Copyright Statement: Copyright © and Moral Rights for this thesis and any accompanying data (where applicable) are retained by the author and/or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge.
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3175330