«by JANE ELIZABETH KINGSLEY-SMITH A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Arts of the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY The ...»
Banishment in Shakespeare's plays works on a number of levels. It is a plot device the significance of which is dictated by the overall structure into which it is placed. It can work as a submerged, perhaps subconscious metaphor for states of alienation and loss explored in the play. Finally, the repeated acts of banishment in As You Like It or King Lear may seem to work on a symbolic level. Perhaps the central characteristic of Shakespearean banishment however is that it is always on its way to becoming some other state. As such it reflects the rewriting of banishment in many other kinds of English Renaissance literature, not only fiction but biography, private letters, religious and anti-theatrical polemic, hagiography, consolation literature and travel narratives. In this chapter I will consider the problem of defining banishment in Renaissance England and the ways in which this incoherence was exploited.
The slipperiness of banishment at this time is partly linguistic. The OED recognises a distinction between the verbs 'banish' and 'exile'.
To banish1 is defined as 'to put to the ban, 7 Philip Edwards, 'Person and Office in Shakespeare's Plays', Proceedings of the British Academy 56 (London:
Oxford University Press, 1970).
"proclaim" as an outlaw [...] To condemn (a person) by public edict or sentence to leave the country: to exile, expatriate'. Exile includes this meaning of banishment but is also defined as 'expatriation, prolonged absence from one's native land, endured by compulsion of circumstances or voluntarily undergone for any purpose' (italics mine). In Jowitt's Dictionary of English Law the two terms are described as synonymous. 8 Moreover, in the literature with which this chapter is concerned, there is generally no attempt to distinguish between the man exiled by royal proclamation, legal statute, 'compulsion of circumstances' or free will. Anthony Wood in Athenae Oxonienses (1695) speaks of 'voluntary Exile' and 'voluntary banishment'. 9 This lack of differentiation means that a voluntary journey abroad may easily become a heroic flight from persecution; or that the motive of fear may be recast as self-sacrifice.
We might expect the legal instigation of banishment to distinguish clearly between enforced and voluntary exile. This is true of the majority of such legislation. In 1562 it was decreed that 'Egyptians' and 'counterfeit' Egyptians must quit the kingdom or face charges of felony.
In 1585, an 'Act against Jesuits, Seminary Priests, and other such like disobedient Persons' ordered Catholic priests trained at one of the notorious colleges abroad to return there.
Recusants were similarly banished in Elizabeth's 1593 act and expelled from London in James' act of 1605. Finally, the unreformed and unlicensed beggar, wandering minstrel and player might all be expelled from the kingdom in accordance with a statute of 1597. 10 8 The Dictionary of English Law ed. by Earl Jowitt (London: Sweet and Maxwell, 1959), 200.
9 Athenae Oxonienses (1695), (London: R. Knaplock, D. Midwinter& J. Tonson, 1721), 2 vols., vol. 1, 101.
10 See 5 Eliz. c.20 (1562), 27 Eliz c. 2 (1585), 34 Eliz c. 1 (1593), 3 Jacobi c.5 (1605) and 39 Eliz c. 4 (1597) respectively in The Statutes at large, from the 3?h Year ofQ. Elizabeth to the 12lh yr ofK. Charles II ed. by Danby Pickering (London: Joseph Bentham, 1763) vol. 7. These statutes will be examined in more detail in the course of the study.
There seems little margin for metaphor here. Yet although there are cases of transportation, the offender may usually choose between exile and execution. This might not seem much of a choice but the lines of definition between exile and voluntary flight are blurred further in the case of 'abjuration'. From the reign of Edward the Confessor to the twenty-second year of Henry VIII's rule (1530), abjuration meant an oath taken to depart the kingdom forever and was usually applied in felony cases.' l Such complicity is reflected in the Marian, Elizabethan and Jacobean practice of granting an offender a travel licence to quit the realm and so avoid further prosecution, but without a declaration of exile. 12 Dr John Storey referred to this agreement at his trial in 1571. Storey had occupied the position of chancellor of the dioceses of Oxford and London during Mary's reign and was notorious for his bloody persecution of English Protestants. He fled abroad following Elizabeth's succession but was captured and brought back for trial. Storey argued that he was no longer a subject of the Queen (or of
English law) by mutual consent:
For it is well knowen, that I departed this realme beynge freelye licensed therunto by the queene, who accounted me an abject and castawaye, and I came not hether agayne of myne owne accorde; but I was betrayed. 13 1 ' In his Law-Dictionary Tomlins describes how from Edward I onwards the felon who fled to a church for sanctuary might avoid prosecution for felony by confessing to a justice or coroner and swearing to forsake the kingdom. He would then be allowed forty days to leave during which time only people might give him food and water. Under Henry VIII, this punishment was replaced by 'perpetual confinement of the offender to some sanctuary' which he chose, 'upon abjuration of his liberty and free habitation', abolished by statute 21. Jac. I c.28.
12 Examples of this kind of exile under Marian and Jacobean rule might be Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire and Tobie Matthew. Courtenay was involved in a plot to put himself and Princess Elizabeth on the throne. When the rebellion was suppressed Courtenay was sent to the Tower but because of Mary's affection for him he was released and exiled. Tobie Matthew was imprisoned for converting to Roman Catholicism in 1607.
He was released the following year through the intervention of powerful friends on the condition that he travel abroad for some time.
13 See 'A Declaration of the Lyfe and Death of John Story' (1571) printed in Somer's Tracts (London, 1809) (New York: AMS Press Inc., 1965), 10 vols., vol. 1, 477-87, 485. Sir John Cheke suffered a similar kidnapping despite his licence to travel abroad. He was also imprisoned in the Tower and only escaped execution by recantation.
If exile may be by mutual consent, then the distance implied is another variable. In 1572 Elizabeth repealed an act of 1530 implemented by her father, 'for the Punishment of Vagabonds, and for the Relief of the Poor and Impotent'. This legislation reiterated the order that unlicensed beggars should be sent back to their parishes to receive the benefits of the poor rate, or to be punished and then set to work. 14 Thus, banishment might describe the enforced removal of a person from one parish to another. When Sir Francis Bacon was expelled from the court by James I in 1621, he was charged not to come within the 'verge' of the court, a distance of twelve miles. In statutes passed by Elizabeth and James, Catholics were to remain at all times at least ten miles away from the monarch. To be denied access was a rather mundane and yet richly metaphorical kind of banishment: mundane because it seems to have occurred so frequently in the lives of the most successful courtiers, and metaphorical because, whilst it might not require one's departure from England, it could be imagined as such a loss.
Elizabeth frequently expelled courtiers from her presence. For the more serious crimes of making a secret marriage and returning from Ireland without permission. Raleigh and Essex respectively found themselves imprisoned and then banished from the court. To displease the Queen by some rash word or opinion might incur a less severe form of exile. When Francis Bacon lost his access to Elizabeth in 1593 he had been guilty of opposition to a series of subsidies she required of Parliament. Essex, Bacon's patron, urged the Queen to readmit
Bacon to her presence but without success. He related her answer thus:
14 See 14Elizc.5.
Your access, she saith, is as much as you can look for. If it had been in the king her father's time, a less offence than that would have made a man be banished his presence for ever. But you did come to the court, when you would yourself; and she should precipitate too much from being highly displeased with you, to give you near access, such as she shows only to those, that she favours extraordinarily. 15 Mario Digangi describes the correlation between the courtier's power and his access to the sovereign's body in the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I. At Elizabeth's court those closest to the actual body of the queen were women. When James replaced them with male servants the role of gentleman of the bedchamber became a highly sought after position at court. 16 Hence, exile from that body was a literal and metaphorical disempowering of the subject. Moreover, where Elizabethan and Jacobean ideology equated sovereign and kingdom (through the theory of the King's two bodies), this exile might yet be imagined as banishment from the world.
The representation of Elizabeth standing on a map of England in the Ditchley portrait (c.1592), James' declaration that he united England and Scotland within his body, and even the equation in Petrarchan poetry of the mistress with the world, all reinforced the idea that banishment from the monarch was exile from England and hence from the world.
Thus banishment is metaphorical even as it is decreed. The banished man's response is invariably to work within the allegory that he has inherited or to refashion the experience of exile in accordance with some other literary or historical model. In the rest of this chapter I will be concerned with some of those models, in particular the representation of exile as a 15 A letter from Essex to Bacon dated c 24th August 1593, reprinted in Hostage to Fortune: The Troubled Life of Francis Bacon by Lisa Jardine and Alan Stewart ("London: Victor Gollancz, 1998), 149.
16 Mario Digangi, The Homoerotics of Early Modern Drama (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 100-3.
tragic, destructive fate, as self-fulfilment through liberty, and as the realisation of a divine or literary vocation.
The narrative of exile as penned by the absent courtier is often tragic. By inspiring the monarch's pity and even admiration at the abject misery of the outcast state, he might hope to be forgiven and recalled. Essex was extremely proficient at such rhetoric. Having been forced
to retire into the country in disgrace over the Irish campaign, the Earl wrote:
My soul cried out unto your Majesty for grace, for access and for an end to this exile [...] for till I may appear in your gracious presence and kiss your Majesty's fair correcting hand, time itself is a perpetual night, and the whole world but a sepulchre unto your Majesty's humblest vassal. 17 Such rhetoric recalls the Petrarchan convention of the lover bewailing his absence from his mistress as imitated by many courtier poets, for example Sir Thomas Wyatt and Sir Philip Sidney. 18 In Sidney's Arcadia, the princess, Pamela, has a very regal turn of phrase when she commands Dorus to leave her. His response is to write a long poem dramatising himself as a banished man. Later he presents himself to fight Amphialus in the guise of a 'forsaken knight", with this fate emblematized on his shield. 19 Yet this pose of the banished man as tragic figure did not only serve the purposes of the ambitious courtier. It was also central to the representation of the persecuted Protestant and Catholic in post-Reformation England.
17 Reprinted in Robert, Earl of Essex: An Elizabethan Icarus by Robert Lacey (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1971), 259.
18 See Petrarch's Lyric Poems: The Rime sparse and Other Lyrics tr. and ed. by Robert M. Durling (Cambridge:
Mass, and London: Harvard University Press, 1976), in particular sonnets 17, 21 and 76 which describe the lover as banished from himself. See also Wyatt's poem 'In Spain' (1539) and Sidney's Astrophil and Stella (1581-3).
19 The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia ed. by Maurice Evans (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd., 1977), 436,438-40, 535.
It has usually been assumed that the title 'Marian exiles' is accurate, that is to say, that the flight of approximately eight hundred Protestants during Mary's reign was an exile based on 'compulsion of circumstances' if not official banishment. To remain in England would inevitably lead to persecution and possibly execution. Yet Christina Garrett has argued that this flight of English Protestants, at least in the first year of Marian rule, was a voluntary act of religious colonization. She describes how plans had been made for such a journey a month after the Queen's accession to the throne (August 1553) and that these were in operation the following January before any coercive religious measures had been taken by the government.
Moreover, the journeys themselves were well-organised with students travelling in companies
and the gentry in households, suggesting some forethought. Garrett writes:
That emigration, whatever the springs which fed it later, was inaugurated, we believe, as a voluntary movement, and directed to the fulfilment of a clearly conceived purpose. Yet, as a policy, it so happily met the needs of the Marian government, that in its early stages (to the late autumn, probably, of 1554), William Cecil and Stephen Gardiner actually appear as collaborators in the same religious enterprise.20 Ironically, it was the state of alienation in which they found themselves that necessitated the adoption of this exile persona. 21 English Protestants left behind their incomes, homes and patrons, the protection of the law and even their native language. To succeed abroad, they needed foreign patronage. This they might gain by representing themselves to the Protestant 20 The Marian Exiles: A Study in the Origins of Elizabethan Puritanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1938 rep. 1966), 6-7.
21 A. G. Dickens argues that Garrett's reappraisal is too sweeping and that there were still many Protestants whose flight must have been motivated by a justified fear; that a significant number left after the persecution had begun; and that there is ample evidence for their disorganisation when they arrived. He writes: The truth doubtless lies somewhere between the excessive optimism of the modern picture, and the old legend of hapless fugitives, weeping by the waters of Babylon', The English Reformation (London: B. T. Batsford Ltd, 1964), 284.