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Sapientia Solomonis: Negotiating Early Modern Anglo-Swedish Relationships Through Court Drama

Stangel, Francisca Louse (2020) Sapientia Solomonis: Negotiating Early Modern Anglo-Swedish Relationships Through Court Drama. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:84277)

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Abstract

In the year 1565 Cecilia of Baden, daughter to Gustav Vasa and sister to Erik XIV of Sweden, visited Elizabeth I's court. During her stay the Swedish princess took part in a number of official events and attended performances at court and elsewhere. The Westminster performance of Sapientia Solomonis offers a unique opportunity to study the political significance of court performance in negotiating Elizabeth's international relationships, as it took place in the midst of vitally important Anglo-Swedish marriage negotiations that had the potential to change the religious and political map of Europe, the development of liaisons with the Spanish superpower, and provides a new insight to the procedures and making of Tudor court drama. The Westminster performance of Sapientia Solomonis, given before Elizabeth I, Cecilia of Baden, and the Elizabethan council, has been acknowledged in some scholarship on neo-Classical drama, early modern boy-companies, and Tudor iconography, but has only been the subject of one book-length study. Elizabeth R. Payne produced a critical edition of BL. Add. MS 20061, a performance copy of the play, as a part of her doctoral thesis in 1938. In the eighty years since Payne's study the performance event of Sapientia Solomonis has been largely ignored in scholarship. However, the Westminster School production of Sapientia Solomonis offers a unique opportunity to study the way in which performance was used as a political tool in negotiating Elizabeth's relationships, and especially that with Cecilia, as it locates the English queen, the Swedish princess, and the Council at the same event. In this thesis I have analysed documents connected to the performance that have never before been studied, which enables this thesis to further our understanding of the significance of the performance event in negotiating Elizabeth and Cecilia's relationship. This very topic also allows me to comment on wider relationships between the Westminster School, Cambridge University, the Continental printing houses, networks of Protestant exiles, and the Elizabethan court and its offices. This thesis combines archival studies, textual analysis and theatre history, and brings together scholarship in English and Swedish, in order to further our understanding of the Westminster Performance of Sapientia Solomonis and these relationships. Chapter 1 presents the first comparative study of BL. Add. MS. 20061 and Folger V.a.212 - the latter of which has never received critical attention - which reveals the range of the manuscript production at Westminster School and that Folger V.a.212 was not intended as a presentation copy. As demonstrated by Payne, Westminster School's Sapientia Solomonis was an adaptation of Sixt Birck's drama with the same name, however by placing the event in its political and economic context this thesis is able to carry out a more thorough comparative study between the Westminster version and Sixt Birck's version, which shows that the adaptation laid its focus on spectacle and splendour, rather than the education of a new generation of humanist citizens, emphasising its function as a court performance. In Chapter 2, I employ a typological analysis to the parallels the Prologue and Epilogue of the play set up between the main character King Solomon and Elizabeth I, and between the character of the Queen of Sheba and Cecilia of Sweden. In the process of this thesis I have transcribed and translated hitherto unstudied epistolary records, which are analysed in Chapter 3. The letters reveal how Elizabeth and Cecilia's relationship was developed in a wider political and economic framework of Anglo-Swedish relations that was intrinsically linked to Erik XIV's proposal to Elizabeth. The Westminster performance of Sapientia Solomonis used iconography of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba to negotiate Anglo-Swedish relations, and the performance took place in a complex system of patronage and gift-giving, designed to maintain and negotiate relationships between the court, the school, Cecilia, and the council, as shown in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 presents new manuscript evidence from Westminster Abbey Archive that I have transcribed during the course of this thesis. The records reveal that the Westminster School production of Sapientia Solomonis was costlier and more elaborate than other productions by the school on the 1560s, which demonstrates the political significance of the performance event. These records enable this thesis to make a valuable contribution to discussions around the production of Tudor court drama and enables us to ascertain that the main producer of the performance was the school itself and not, as has previously been argued, the Elizabethan court. By using the Westminster School performance of Sapientia Solomonis as a case study, I am able to develop our understanding of literary, political, and religious networks of early modern Europe, and contribute to the academic discussion of court drama as a diplomatic tool in negotiating Elizabeth's international relations. More generally, this thesis provides a new model for studying the role of performances in negotiating early modern diplomatic relations.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Dustagheer, Sarah
Thesis advisor: O'Connor, Marion
Uncontrolled keywords: Elizabethan Drama Court Anglo-Swedish Cecilia Vasa Neo-Classical Princess of Sweden Westminster School Latin Play Early Modern
Subjects: P Language and Literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2020 13:10 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 23:00 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/84277 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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