Early Stuarts: Dissenting Voices

Dissenting Voices

There were many Puritans at the time that did not like the grand, visual
court culture. Waht the common people thought is not recorded; some people
purported to reflect their views but we must not take these at face vlaue.

They would have known of the expenditure through word of mouth. One penny
broadsheets could be afforded by common people and would reflect political
events – e.g. the marriage of James daughter, fighting against the French and
Spanish and so on. Interest, like today’s tabloid newspapers where in, e.e a
whale washed up on a beach, people born with three legs, a sheep with two heads,
court cases, hangings and so on. Misunderstanding lay at the heart of the civil
war conflict. Seditious rumours and the rumour mill, e.g. that Elizabeth had
given birth to two illegitimate children.

The doctrine of magnificence, Henry VII was criticized for dressing below his
station, it was regarded as a duty to dress to your rank and you were acting
immorally if you did not.

James entry into London was magnificent although it was not received well by

Charles food bill was astronomical, people criticized him for the purchase of
the Mantuan collection for '16,000 but compared to his expenditure on clothing
it was a small amount. The problem was the timing, he was supposed to be
supporting the Protestants in France at the time. Chalres chief creditor warned
him at the time about such expenditure at the time.

Charles cancelled his triumphal entry because of the plaague but he cancelled
it agian in 1626 to save money. This alientated people. Accession Day tilts were
continued by James but had long beeen discontinued by the time of Charles. Court
festivals were withdrawn from the common people by James.

Information on the court was spread by servants and the servants of servants.
There was also an army of cleaners who kept the palaces spotless and they must
have known everything.

There was a large growth in theatre going but censorship by the Lord
Chamberlain was strict so references were subtle, e.g. the Duke in Measure for
Measure didn’t like to expose himself to the eyes of his people and this would
have been understood as a reference to James. The Lord Chamberlain censored
Jonson’s masque that criticized Jones so censorship was also related to who you
knew at court.

Masques were published as was the triumphal entry of James into London. The
imagery of Jonson’s masques was explained at length in pamphlets, in fact it is
said some of the courtiers who attended the masque did not understand it until
they had read the explanation afterwards.

Architecture was a form of art that everyone could see and entertainment
around state affairs, such as a marriage was also partly public, for example,
involving fireworks on the Thames. But it was never like the Tudors, Ascension
Day tilts then were open to the public. The procession of the Knights of the
Garter was moved from the streets to Windsor Castle and it became more

In 1633 Historimastics was written by
William Prynne, a
Puritan, objecting to the monarch on moral grounds.

Orazio Gentileschi’s Discovery of Moses is in two versions which are
identical except that the one in Spain the figures are clothed and the one in
London they are nude. Bare breasts were objected to and were seen as a foreign,
French, influence to make matters worse.

Prynne described women on the stage as “notorious whores” when it was known
that the queen appeared in masques. He was tried in the Sar Chamber and found
guilty and had both ears sliced off. Other people had hands (one or both) cut
off. Prynne was a member of the Inns of Court and the following year the Inns
paid for the masque The Triumph of Peace and it was taken through the streets.

Prynne was a Puritan but
was must problematise this term. At the time it was a term of abuse that became
accepted by them during the 17th century as today homosexuals have acquired the
term “queer”.

Calvinist (John Calvin), hard line, strict protestants who followed the bible
and the scriptures. We have minutes of their meetings during the Cromwell period
and they would read from the bible to determine policy, they were the Taliban of
the 17th century. There were strict rules for women. The visual arts were
regarded iconoclastically and religious images were regarded as Popish and
Catholic idolatry. They approved only of didactic religious images.

There was a huge difference about what was accepted inside and outside
churches in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Iconoclasm began in the reign of
Henry VIII but only certain images were destroyed, such as those of pilgrimages.
In 1547 Edward VI sent out an order to remove all images in churches. England
should not be confused with Germany however. In Germany angry mobs burst into
churches and destroyed the images. In England the order went out from the
bishops who asked the church wardens to remove and destroy the pictures and
statues and this was done methodically and they were removed and recorded and
destroyed one by one. It was all very calm and very English. The lack of images
in churches continued into the reign of Elizabeth I. We have a late 15th century
statue of St. Margaret with the head sliced off as it survived by being pushed
into an alcove and bricked over (St. Margaret’s church, Essex). In wall infill
in Winchester Cathedral a yoonf Virgin Mary has been found. A whole collection
of English art was destroyed. It was replaced by text panels often of the ten
commandments, often the second commandment (no graven images).

This continued to be the law into James and Charles reigns. See handout text
1, James I address asking bishops to allow crosses and pictures of the Apostles,
James was a staunch Protestant but not a Puritan so he was criticized by both

Outside church it was more subtle. Supporters of Prynne commissioned a
portrait miniature of him so they accepted certain images. In another painting a
supporter of Cromwell is shown very elegantly dressed so there was no simple
division between Cavalier and Roundhead in terms of dress.

Fox’s Book of Martyrs, 1563, has a frontispiece in the first edition that was
constantly reprinted through James and Charles reigns showing the history of the
church of England. On the title page there is an image of Christ at the top and
this book was second only to the bible in popularity. The evidence does not
support the suppression of all images. Broadsheets also contained images.

Puritans called themselves “Godly Folk” and their critics called them “Busy’s”
and “Precisions”,

Jones church at Covent Garden. See 1637, William Prynne text after his ears
had been cut off he was still writing texts, see text 2. The back door became
the front door of the church. It was originally planned by Jones to be entered
at the east end as for Puritans the direction of the church did not matter. It
was latter changed to a conventional church arrangement and this was criticized
by Prynne. See St. Johns, Devon for the normal arrangement of nave, rood (cross)
screen and altar position. Puritans did not have an alter but a communion table
that was typically placed in the centre with the congregation around it.

Certain elements in Charles reign wanted to go back to sacred space. For
example, in Annabel Rickets, Ph.D. at Birkbeck she looked at private chapels
from the 16th to the 17th century and found the design changed significantly.
For example, a late medieval chapel like that at Haddon Hall, Derbyshire was a
stand alone building like a small church with a different design of window. In
the second half of the 16th century in Elizabeth’s reign hard line Protestants,
e.g. 1590s Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire had the chapel integrated into the main
building and even the windows look the same as the rest of the house. It was
just a room not a sacred space. Also note Longleat House where the chapel is
just another room.

But in James I period, Hatfield House (Cecil) chapel has windows that are
totally different from the rest of the house. There is stained glass,
pre-reformation style and paintings of the twelve disciples and Christ. AUdley
End chapel also sticks out of the back of the house and is early 17th century.
It may be that Prynne was conservative and Cecil innovative.

Laud (painted by van Dyck) wanted to introduce “the beauty of holiness”, new
stained glass, the first time for a hundred years and it was deeply unsettling.
St. Katherine Cree
west tower is traditional, nave, east end 1623-31 was rebuilt, almost a flagship
trendsetting building for Laud’s view, it even has a rose window and a flat
ceiling with Gothic bosses. Corinthian capitals were unprecedented, the first
they were used in an English church. The clearstory looks like a Venetian
tripartite window. However, Laud was impeached and executed for treason.

See text 3 and 4. William Dowsing is the notorious figure who smashes all the
latest church innovations. He went round the country methodically destroying
angels, cherubims, crosses and even tomb brasses (as they asked people to pray
for the dead person). He smashed all the stuff that Laud introduced as it all
smacked of Popery.

Henrietta Maria’s chapel, see text 5, Somerset House, with a screen designed
by Inigo Jones.

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