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Philip Schwyzer charts the genesis, development and disintegration of British nationalism in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
The Tudor era has long been associated with the rise of nationalism in England, yet nationalist writing in this period often involved the denigration and outright denial of Englishness. Philip Schwyzer argues that the ancient, insular, and imperial nation imagined in the works of writers such as Shakespeare and Spenser was not England, but Britain. Disclaiming their Anglo-Saxon ancestry, the English sought their origins in a nostalgic vision of British antiquity. Focusing on texts including The Faerie Queene, English and Welsh antiquarian works, The Mirror for Magistrates, Henry V and King Lear, Schwyzer charts the genesis, development and disintegration of British nationalism in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. An important contribution to the expanding scholarship on early modern Britishness, this is the first study of its kind to give detailed attention to Welsh texts and traditions, arguing that Welsh sources crucially influenced the development of English literature and identity.
Table of contents:
Introduction: Remembering Britain; 1. Spenser's spark: British blood and British nationalism in the Tudor era; 2. Bale's books and Aske's abbeys: nostalgia and the aesthetics of nationhood; 3. 'Awake, lovely Wales': national identity and cultural memory; 4. Ghosts of a nation: A Mirror for Magistrates and the poetry of spectral complaint; 5. 'I am Welsh, you know': the nation in Henry V; 6. 'Is this the promised end(?)33;': James I, King Lear, and the strange death of Tudor Britain; Bibliography.