SHAKE­SPEARE AND THE RE­SIS­TANCE

A BOOK THAT CHAL­LENGES FIVE CEN­TURIES OF TU­DOR PRO­PA­GANDA WHILE UN­LOCK­ING MOST MYS­TE­RI­OUS POEMS IN THE SHAKE­SPEARE CANON

History of War - - REVIEWS -

Au­thor: Clare Asquith Pub­lisher: Pub­lic Af­fairs Price: £22

Read all about it, read all about it: shock­ing ex­posé on the Tu­dor regime and the far­reach­ing ef­fects of Henry VIII’S Act of Supremacy. This book demon­strates the ef­fect of the Act of Supremacy on Eng­land’s sub­jects and how the prog­eny of Henry VIII con­tin­ued to ex­ploit its pow­ers for their own gains at the ex­pense of the very peo­ple they had pledged to help. Asquith is no Catholic apol­o­gist grind­ing a par­tic­u­lar axe but, through rig­or­ous re­search, shows that El­iz­a­bethan Eng­land, far from be­ing the ‘scep­tred isle’ where all is well, was a po­lice state where to think other than the way of the crown would in­vite penury or the death sen­tence. Th­ese lines from Richard II would have had El­iz­a­bethan au­di­ences nod­ding in agree­ment: “the pre­cious stone set in the sil­ver sea… is now bound in with shame, with inky blots and rot­ten parch­ment bonds.”

Hor­ror, and protest against the ac­tions of the queen and her privy coun­cil, led by the smooth-talk­ing spin-doc­tor Lord Burgh­ley, could only be ex­pressed in deeply dis­guised al­le­gory. Poets such as Dry­den, Spenser, Donne and Shake­speare were master crafts­man of veiled crit­i­cism. The Rape Of Lu­crece, the im­pen­e­tra­ble and to­day mostly un­read nar­ra­tive poem of Shake­speare, was a Tu­dor hit, with copies so well-thumbed that they fell apart. Asquith with metic­u­lous his­tor­i­cal re­search lays open its mean­ing.

It is a shock­ing read. The mis­in­for­ma­tion and pro­pa­ganda of the Tu­dor regime still holds us in its fist. This book will change that.

“THE PROG­ENY OF HENRY VIII CON­TIN­UED TO EX­PLOIT ITS POW­ERS FOR THEIR OWN GAINS AT THE EX­PENSE OF THE VERY PEO­PLE THEY HAD PLEDGED TO HELP”

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