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Slander and Sedition in Elizabethan Law, Speech, and Writing

Steven Veerapen

The Elizabethan era is generally understood to coincide with the blossoming of English language – it was the age of Shakespeare, Sidney, and Marlowe. Yet it is known also as a period of brutality and repression: saying or writing anything against the state, the queen, or its governors might result in hanging, fines, or the loss of limbs. Defaming neighbours could and frequently did result in a day in court, with slander emerging as a byword for unacceptable speech and writing.

Academic interest has long been divided into studies which focus on the power relations underpinning literary production, the ways in which authorities sought to suppress and censor transgressive material, or the role slander played in religious polemic. This book will explore the legal backdrop which helped and hindered the production and curtailment of slanderous and seditious material across multiple sites. In so doing, it will seek to uncover exactly how slander and sedition were defined, regulated, punished, and, ultimately, negotiated by those who grappled over control of discourse.

Through examination of the legal, theatrical, and religious conditions of the age of Elizabeth, this study will provide an explanation of the rise of the flagrantly slanderous political discourses of the seventeenth century.

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Index

Index

Extract

Acts of Parliament 4, 7, 9, 11, 34–6, 55, 240

Alençon, Duke of 46

and The Discoverie of a Gaping Gvlf 49–51, 69, 247

Allen, William, Cardinal 21, 244–5

An Admonition to the Nobility and People of England and Ireland 21–2, 251–4

anonymity 5, 109, 111, 113, 120, 175, 211, 248, 250

lessons learnt from 305–7

of manuscripts and libels 19–23, 28, 43

of the printing press 263–5, 267–8

the problems of catching writers 96–7

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