Since the colloquium last September we’ve been moving on with the compilation of the successions database. A prototype with entries for the first 6 succession years (from James in 1603 to Anne in 1702), based on research using EEBO and ECCO, is now available to browse. Meanwhile we’ve been cataloguing the ‘second cycle’ of succession years (1604, 1626, 1661 etc.) With work now done on 1604 and 1626 (and very nearly complete on 1661), this is the first time that it’s been possible for us to get a sense of what happens to succession writing in the aftermath of a new monarch’s accession. The picture beginning to emerge is one where writers quickly move on from celebrating the succession itself and begin to address some of its specific consequences for the nation.
We collected 74 succession publications on the database for the year 1604 out of 785 records on EEBO. Compared to the 121 publications we recorded for 1603 (out of 807 records on EEBO) there was obviously a drop in the proportion of succession literature being published in 1604. That was probably to be expected. Our original rationale for cataloguing a span of years has, though, been justified by the fact that the database is picking up works written about the Jacobean succession that appear to have been printed late. Continue reading
The Stuart Successions project colloquium took place at Jesus College, Oxford at the end of September. The event marked the halfway point of the project and was an opportunity for scholars contributing essays to the project volume to share their work-in-progress and to discuss with other literary critics and historians the importance of succession writing to the political culture of the early-modern period. The papers delivered over the two days of the colloquium analysed succession writing in a variety of generic forms, and alongside different media, from across the full chronological range of the project.
The first day was started by Richard McCabe who explored the uncertainties of the verse panegyric that was produced to mark the accession of a Scottish monarch to the English throne and the commencement of a new dynasty in 1603. Shifting the focus onto 1625, David Colclough examined the sermon as a genre of succession writing, looking especially at John Donne’s response to a last minute call-up to preach before the new king, Charles I, in April 1625. Continue reading
The task of cataloguing the succession literature of 1660 was always going to be one of the largest that the project faced. An EEBO search for the year returns 3511 records and to sift through these took around three and a half months. On completing this search at the beginning of autumn, around 545 new works had been added to the database. Many of these take forms that are familiar from previous succession years: of the current entries about a third for example are in, or include, verse. Other provisional information, though, reveals some more particular trends. About 7% are broadside ballads, more than in previous years and evidence of a widening commercial market for succession literature. About 10% are histories, most of which deal with the Civil Wars and the 1650s and thus seem to suggest that any impetus in 1660 to forget or turn the clock back to 1642 was more complex than it might first appear. We’ve also come across some firsts for the database: the first masque (Anthony Sadler’s The Subject’s Joy); the first genealogical chart (in Giles Fleming’s Stemma Sacrum); and the first item in Welsh, albeit an extract printed in a work written in English (William Williams’s none too ambiguously titled pamphlet The King, and none under God, but the King, can save this nation).
Yet determining what succession literature actually is in 1660 has been trickier than first expected. The project’s early definition of succession literature was: writing, printed in response to a new monarch’s assumption to the throne, which reflects on the transfer of monarchical power and / or attempts to shape perceptions of the new monarch. Continue reading