Angels, Demons and Political Action in Two Early Jacobean History Plays

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  • 1 Canterbury Christ Church University
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Early modern political discourse was no stranger to the use of angels and demons to denote the binary opposition between good and evil, Self and Other - and neither was the early modern stage. References to the divine and the demonic might be used to clarify complex political issues to the public, legitimise one's own position, or sling mud at one's opponents. This article focuses on two early Jacobean history plays, Barnabe Barnes's The Devil's Charter (1606) and Thomas Heywood's If You Know Not Me You Know Nobody (1605); it examines the use of angels and demons in the staging of issues of religious difference and political action in the confusing years following Queen Elizabeth's death in 1603, when old attitudes to traditional 'Others' had to be reconfigured in the light of the views and interests of the new monarch, King James VI and I.

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