Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

This study examines King Charles I’s instinctive ‘Elizabethanism’ as a means to reconstruct and inhabit the king’s ideological beliefs and political viewpoints. Drawing from print sources and traditional materials of political history, it focuses on the early years of Charles’s reign, from his time as the ‘prince of parliaments’ in 1624, until the start of his personal rule in 1630. Historians of early modern British history are beginning to apply Stephen Greenblatt’s work on ‘self-fashioning’ and his assertion that in early modern England there were both selves and a sense that they could be fashioned’ to persons of a similar cast or ideological stripe – Puritan or godly men. Yet I want to use Greenblatt’s implications to examine the pervasive role of the ideological and the cultural in fashioning Charles’s view of his own position as a newly minted king. Specifically, I am drawn to the pervasive and contradictory images and memories of Elizabeth’s reign that Charles harked back to in order to legitimate his political and religious decisions. This study traces the various versions of Elizabeth current in the 1620s, and examines their role in the fashioning of Charles’s kingship. These roles include the version of Elizabeth as Gloriana, as a via media ‘politic’ princess, and as the embodiment of a Hookerian ideal. I argue that in order to properly understand Charles’s political and religious choices, we have to make a concerted effort to understand the rhetoric of contemporary political culture and its ability to both empower and constrain the self-image and perception of the king. Once we assume this cultural process of constructed forces, it exposes power and authority in early modern England to have been profoundly artificial, contingent upon the fulfilment and preservation of the newly constructed royal self to his subjects. The prime objective of such research is to add to our understanding about the extent and nature of ideological division and disagreement in this period, while also reconceptualizing the deeply rooted historiographical tradition that sees Charles as an inept, dishonest, and blinkered monarch wedded to an outmoded past.

Date

5-15-2021

Committee Chair

Stater, Victor L.

Available for download on Thursday, May 11, 2028

Included in

History Commons

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