Henry VIII's Divorce: Literature and the Politics of the Printing Press

December 1998
173 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9780851156422
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
BISAC LIT004120, HIS015000

Henry VIII's Divorce: Literature and the Politics of the Printing Press

J. Christopher Warner

A close examination of the rivalry between two printing presses at the time of the divorce crisis shows how the new learning could be employed to influence even the king himself.
During the period of Henry VIII's divorce crisis, a political and literary rivalry developed between Thomas Berthelet, the king's printer, and the Rastell family, kinsmen of the Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas More and quasi-official printers in their own right. This study recounts the text-by-text progress of the feud. It describes how Berthelet represented Henry as a prudent philosopher-king, taking the advice of scholars and theologians on anulling his marriage, and on limiting the Church's power (texts include A Glass of the Truth, rumoured to be by Henry himself, and the works of Sir Thomas Elyot). In response to the king's press campaign, the Rastells' dialogues and dramas staged the kind of wise counsel that Henry ostensibly welcomed (John Rastell's A New Book of Purgatory, Skelton's Magnificenceamong them), observing the rules dictated by the king's public image and urging him towards greater conformity with that image than divorce or declaration of royal supremacy would allow.

J. CHRISTOPHER WARNER is Associate Professor of English at Le Moyne College.
Keywords: Modern History


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