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Romance and resistance: narratives of chivalry in mid-Tudor England

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This article considers evidence regarding the printing, translating, and reading of chivalric romance in late sixteenth-century England. After analysing the market conditions that influenced the printing ventures of William Copland, the main mid-century printer of chivalric romances, evidence of readership is considered in the form of ownership inscriptions and marginalia in his editions of romances. The case of William Bellasis, a prominent member of the Yorkshire gentry, provides suggestive anecdotal evidence of a romance being read as an anti-metropolitan and anti-Reformist narrative. Margaret Tyler's approach to translating Spanish chivalric romance is then considered for its conscious affiliation to a discourse of impoverished northern chivalry. Finally, a reconsideration of the drive to appropriate chivalric romance as a narrative form for the centralized, Protestant Tudor polity by writers like Spenser and Bateman suggests that these initiatives should be seen as reacting to a perception of romance as relying on the twin concepts of power delegation and intercession, both of which were anathema to the Tudor administration.

Keywords: Copland; Tyler; chivalry; recusant; response; romance

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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