The English Martyr from Reformation to Revolution

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 12/15/2012
  • Publisher: Univ of Notre Dame Pr
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Traditionally, Christian martyrdom is a repetition of the story of Christ's suffering and death: the more closely the victim's narrative replicates the Christological model, the more legible the martyrdom. But if the textual construction of martyrdom depends on the rehearsal of a paradigmatic story, how does the discourse reconcile the broad range of individuals, beliefs, and persecutions seeking legitimation by claims of martyrdom? By observing how martyrdom is constructed through the interplay of historical event and literary form, Alice Dailey explores the development of English martyr discourse through the period of intense religious controversy from the heresy executions of Queen Mary to the regicide of 1649. Through close study of texts ranging from late medieval passion drama and hagiography to John Foxe's Acts and Monuments, martyrologies of the Counter-Reformation, Charles I's Eikon Basilike, and John Milton's Eikonoklastes, The English Martyr from Reformation to Revolutionconsiders the shifting religiopolitical rhetoric of Reformation England. By putting history and literary form in dialogue, Dailey describes not only the reformation of one of the oldest, most influential genres of the Christian West but a revolution in the very concept of martyrdom. In England in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, martyrdom develops from medieval notions of strict typological repetition, she argues, into Charles I's defense of individual conscience-an abstract, figurative form of martyrdom that survives into modernity. Rather than being a static genre, martyrology emerges in Dailey's study as deeply nuanced and subtly responsive to historical circumstance. "In The English Martyr from Reformation to Revolution,Alice Dailey has given us a lucidly written, well-structured book with a wealth of material and richly nuanced discussion within." - Alison Shell, University College London

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