Thomas Cogswell, James I: The Phoenix King (Penguin Monarchs), (London: Allen Lane, 2017)
Thomas Cogswell’s biography is recognisably one of the Penguin Monarchs series. That means it’s concise (just 109 pages) and informative; a good general introduction to the king who succeeded Elizabeth. For those studying Shakespeare or the Early Modern period, the information about James’ early life is useful and potentially revealing.
It’s also often neglected.
Continue reading “[book review] Thomas Cogswell, James I: The Phoenix King”
Should we pay more attention to James I before he became King of England?
Thomas Cogswell, James 1: The Phoenix King (Penguin Monarchs series), (Allen Lane: London, 2017)
Studying or teaching Shakespeare’s plays, the figure of Elizabeth looms in the background, like the spectre at the feast.
We see it in the ever-present censorship, in the light of the Treasons Acts in 1571 and 1581, outlawing public discussion of the succession. Or, more positively, in the ‘Gloriana’ cult that produced works like Spenser‘s The Faerie Queen, and flattering nods to Elizabeth wherever you look – like links between her and Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We see it in her discomfort with comparisons to Richard II, and the propagandic lionization of Henry VII.
Reading Cogswell‘s short, sympathetic biography has made me reassess the extent to which we / I ignore James until the succession question becomes absolutely critical.
Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 12 February 2018 (#28)”