The Reputation of Edward II, 1305-1695: A Literary Transformation of History

Kit Heyam

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During his lifetime and the four centuries following his death, King Edward II (1307-1327) acquired a reputation for having engaged in sexual and romantic relationships with his male favourites, and having been murdered by penetration with a red-hot spit. This book provides the first account of how this reputation developed. In doing so, it provides new insights into the processes and priorities that shaped narratives of sexual transgression in medieval and early modern England; the changing vocabulary of sexual transgression in English, Latin and French; the conditions that created space for sympathetic depictions of same-sex love; the use of medieval history in early modern political polemic; and the cultural impact of Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II (c.1591-92). Through close reading of chronicle accounts and political pamphlets alongside poetry and drama, it demonstrates that Edward’s medieval and early modern afterlife was significantly shaped by the influence of literary texts and techniques – and makes the case for a ‘literary transformation’ of historiographical methodology, as an apposite response to the factors that shaped medieval and early modern narratives of the past.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
Number of pages348
ISBN (Electronic)9789048552146
ISBN (Print)9789463729338
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2020

Publication series

NameGendering the Late Medieval and Early Modern World
PublisherAmsterdam University Press

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