HL - The Renaissance under Elizabeth

Age of progress and prosperity: - religious tolerion (Anglicanism = middle way btw Catholicism and Protestantism) - relative social contentment although absolute monarchy (laws to help the poor and attempts to suppress vagrancy) - intellectual and artistic progress (climax of lyrical poetry) - national pride with the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 + colonial expeditions to the "New World" with Francis Drake + popular entertainment in the field of literature, after borrowing things from abroad, the English adapted them to their own tastes and literary traditions (were still medieval while the Renaissance was first felt in the Continent) PROSE entered the field of literature properly, since it was now used for works of fiction.



1558 - 1603

Spanish Armada


The Spanish Armada was the great flee sent by Philip II of Spain against England in 1588: defeated in the Channel by the English fleets and almost comlpetely destroyed by storms off the Hebrides.


1603 - 1625


The most significant translation endeavours were devoted to the text of the Bilble. Their approach was characterized by great attention to the form and an attemps to create real poetry.

translation from the classics (North/Plutarch, Chapman/Homer) and from the Italian (Harrington/Ariosto, Sydney/Petrarch) provided plot materials for English writers and a favourable influence on the language (more than translations: adapted to the taste of the time)


1488 - 1569

Took over and completed Tyndale's work


1494 - 1536

Oxford scholar, received into the Church before Henry VII's break with Rome.
He proposed to emulate Luther and write a translation of the Holy Scriptures into the vernacular from the Hebrew and Greek original texts. The King turned his offer and he went into exile.
Published his version of the New Testament in 1526 (SUCCESS).
His translation of the Old Testament was interrupted by his beheading in 1536.

Tyndale and Coverdale Bible


the King eventually patronized it

Philip Sydney

1554 - 1586

most remarkable translation of the Psalms of David. Died after the 43th psalm and his sister Mary took the work over and masterfully finished the task.

Geneva Bible


Collective work of the Puritan exiled in Geneva.


1561 - 1621

Finished the translation of the Psalms that her brother had begun.

Also translated Petrarch's 'Trionfi'

Bishop's Bible


official translation of the Church of England
meant to counter the Calvinist leaning in the Geneva Bible

THOMAS NORTH's translation of 'Lives'


CHAPMAN's translation of Homer

1598 - 1616

Sydney's Book of Psalms


Lyrical Poetry

SONNET: Imported from Italy by Wyatt and Surrey, became a conventional and regulated form under Elizabeth. Theme: courtly love, often addressed to the Queen (social function: not meant to be published but considered the true accomplishment of the courtier or anyone who had anything to ask from the Queen; sometimes means of criticism) Also a way of proving the poet's skill : appreciated for their inventiveness, not for their sincerity. The function of the lady was to serve as a symbol of what was unattainable -> weapon = reminder of mortality. SONG: different from the medieval ones in their pleasant youthful and romantic feelings (med: more realistic) and their sweet diction and musicality (med: less sophisticated in language) => PASTORAL THEME


1542 - 1577


1545 - 1626


1552 - 1599


1554 - 1586

like Shakespeare, he used the conventionalized form of the sonnet creatively and vividly, with a sense of 'genuine' experience


1562 - 1619


1563 - 1631


1567 - 1578

(period of flourish)

educated but lower middle-class woman writer who mostly used popular forms and sources.


1567 - 1620


1572 - 1631

reacted against the conventional use of language, against the meaningless but decorative images and against the oversweet melody used by minor Elizabethan poets

A Sweet Nosgay


(including the poem "Will and Testament")

SAMUEL DANIEL's Sonnets to Delia


The only true weapon the lover possesses against the unattainable but highly desirable lady is the reminder of mortality. under THE DISGUISE OF ADDRESSING TIME.

Narrative Poetry

The Mirror for the Magistrates


series of stories on verse concerning the misfortunes of great figures in English history. The didactic aspect of history is used through examples: it reinterprets the medieval concept of mankind's unpredictable fate in order to show the political and ethical background of the fall of some kings, that is, the moral causes of their fall.

It was written by several authors but initiated by THOMAS SACKVILLE


1562 - 1619

moralist and historian
poetry of reflection
Patriotism wqas his main interest but he also wrote lyrics and sonnets (To Delia)

Michael Drayton

1563 - 1631

main interest in narrative verse, although wrote sonnets and lyrics as well.

SYDNEY's Arcadia


pastoral romance taking place in Greece

The Civil Wars between the Two Houses of Lancaster and York.


treats the stormy period ranging from Richard II to Henry VI (1377-1471)

The Baron's War




celebrates England, 'the Isle of many blessings', conducting the reader through all the counties of England (detailed descriptions+local legends)


Now used in works of fiction and for the sake of entertainment. Different genres: the romance (John LYLY, Robert Greene: idealised view of life for educated public, originally translation from Fr and It novelas (William Painter's "The Palace of Pleasure"), which raised the status and quality of English prose ;
the realistic prose tale ;
treatises on rhetoric ; pamphlets (Martin Marprelate) ; guidebooks (John STOW's "A Survey of London written in the year 1598")


1543 - 1600

realistic tales in the manner of Robert Greene: work of Craftsmen ("Jack of Newbury" (1597) weavers; "Gentle Craft" (1598) shoemakers)


1554 - 1606

he innovated a new kind of prose style in his aim to refine English prose: EUPHEUISM = (over)decoration of style by imagesn comparisons, parallels, characterised by long symmetrical sentences in an almost machine-like/mechanical arrangement. Thus, the reader forgets about the thoughts behind the words.


1558 - 1625

imitated Greene's romances:
"Rosalynd" (1590) was used and transformed by Shakespeare in "As You Like It"


1560 - 1592

also wrote euphuistic romances because they were fashionable in in demand, and improved on Lyly: plot more complex, love interest increased, narrative more vivid and rapid. but they were iften written in a spirit of parody and he got tired of euphueistic unrealities
=> second phase of his carreer: REALISTIC PROSE TALES
describes the low life of Elizabethan London with social realism ("Conversion of an English Courtesan" = short novella in the first person)
many imitators: Lodge, Dekker, Nashe, Deloney (all Thomas :) )


1567 - 1601

"The Unfortunate Traveller": chronicle of adventures in France, Germany and Italy


1570 - 1632

also a dramatist. imitated Greene's realistic tales but put his realism in romantic setting

Euphues or the Anatomy of Wit


Euphues goes to Italy where he becomes morally corrupt and breaches his loyalty to a friend; realises it when he falls a victim of the corruption that surrounds him. End: moral and religious dissertations.
Book filled with lessons in wisdom and attacks on the irreligion and immorality of a Catholic country.

Euphues and his England


Full of flattering insincerities about the country, its Queen, its universities, its ladies. Discussions on refined manners and sophisticated sentiments.
Successful: idealised view of the aristocracy, just as they want to be seen => Lyly's aim: prevent them from going to the (corrupted) continent.


1588 - 1590

pen-aname for (group of) author(s): pamphlets written form a non-Anglican standpoint and denying the validity of bishops (replies by Lyly, Green, Nashe...)

JOHN STOW's A Survey of London


guidebook with historical and personal comments

HEYWOOD's Apology for Actors


reaction against puritan pamphlets against drama


the Queen patronized the theatre and attended performannces at the Inns of Court, and in the new private houses such as the globe. +Theatrical troops, first theatre 1576 (outside the city)
1590s: well established by stilla nuisance to the authorities. => companies attached to a house of a lord. But also commercial theatres->possible to be economically independent. women's parts played by boys. (!) not seen as part of literature.
new dramatic forms after 16th century shift from religious to moral values (interludes): distinction between comedies (Terence, Plautus) and tragedies (Seneca)


Imitations of Latin comedy writers (Terence, Plautus) and Renaissance Italian dramatists, who sometimes found themselves sources in Latin originals.


1505 - 1556

Ralph Roister Doister


called the first English comedy; adaptation of Plautus's Miles Gloriosus. foolish and boastful soldier encouraged by mischievous associate to make love to a respectale woman betrothed by a merchant. farcical humour (//interlude) + humanistic learning (latin model + 5acts structure)

Gammer Gurton's Needle

1566 - 1575

first acted in 1566, printed in 1575
verse comedy of uncertain authorship
old village woman loses her needle, upsets the whole village until she finds it in the trousers of her farm servant.
pure English country comedy (REALISM) + Latin plot construction (5acts)

JOHN LYLY's Alexander z,d Campaspe


rivalry btw Alexander the Great and a painter for the love of a Theban Captive. He renounces his love: the girl loves the painter.
less farcical, more refined and sophosticated: deeds of ternderness and magnanimity => more idealistic or "romantic"

JOHN LYLY's Endymion


romantic love affair between the moon and a mortal
eupuistic style but delicacy of tone and sentiment

GREENE's Friar Bacon and Friar Bungey


double plot:
Bacon's manufacturing, with the help of the devil, of a brass head endowed with the power of speech
pastoral love story about the rival loves of 2 aristocrats for a village maid.
idyllic atmosphere where evil is easily dispelled

farcical elements (Latin) + comic devices from the interlude + element of allegory (med morality play) => new flavour, characterised by gentle and dream-like romanticism ≠ crude realism


Main model: Seneca ; several kinds of tragedies: classical tragedies, tragedy of revenge (Kyd), English chronicles/history plays (GEORGE PEELE's "Edward I"), domestic tragedies ("Arden of Feversham") CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE AND WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE



plot derived from the anient history o Britain, as related in "Historia Regum Britanniae". warning to the Queen against the dangers of seidition and divided sovereignty; Lots o murders not shown on staoe (//Seneca). 5 acts + Aristotle's rule of the three unities.

for restricted and educated audience


1564 - 1593

Man of the Renaissance who can use blank verse; glorifies life on earth and man's free, daring and arrogant mind
heroes: supermen to whom the oetty rules of ordinary morality do not seem to apply.


1564 - 1616

THOMAS KYD's The Spanish Tragedy


he gives the public the thrills they hunger for
// Seneca: ghost, revenge, stage declamations/soliloquies
+ new factors: no subject from classic mythology or lengendary british history => play of modern love and war ; many spicy sub-plots (sensational incidents) ; 8 murders and suicides on stage ; play within a play >< unity of action

==> TRAGEDY OF REVENGE/blood => opens the way for a non-classical tragedy

Tamburlaine the Great


blank verse
ambition, lust of power, glory of conquest
no enemy overcomes Tamburlaine except death; challenges divine rule because ecstasy of glory is what really matters

subject: 14th-century central Asian sheperd Timur who rose by his conquests and pipyless energy
Tamburlaine's barbarity is a proof of the potentialities of the human mind. falls passionately in love with his bride, Zenocrate
2nd part: cannot triumph death (his wife's + his own)

blank verse: words rather plain but strong rhythm // unflagging purposefulness (<3 hyperbole: charging the language with feeling until intensity which exceeds the literal meaning of the words)

Jew of Malta


Grand Senior of Turkey demands tribute of Malta -> govenor thinks Jews must pay -> Barabas (rich Jew) refuses -> money and house taken from him -> becomes violent -> poisons daughter Abigail + causes lover to die
Malta besieged -> betrays it to the Turks -> reward: made governor -> decides to kill all the Turkish officers but betrays himself and dies

Doctor Faustus


sells his soul to the devil (Mephistopheles) to gain unlimited pwer and universal knowledge (+ good and bad angels) // Morality play
thirst for knowledge // Renaissance + conflict and psychology presented convincingly and with moving insight.
chooses to be damned
tragic situation: self-destruction as a result of the corruption/misuse of their own virtues //Shakespeare

Edward II


sebtimental weakling betrayed and led to his death by the forces of ambition and cruelty (theme derived from English history but raised from formlessness of the old chronicle plays)