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Introduction The fountain of favor

The magnificent fountains of Renaissance and seventeenth-century Europe symbolized the contemporary vision and rhetoric about royal patronage.2

The metaphor of the fountain was used repeatedly in the Elizabethan and early Stuart period to describe the monarchy, especially the king’s favor, to his subjects. Bountiful, free-flowing, continuous, the king granted favor to his subjects. Monarchy was a never-ending source of reward, the earthly embodiment of God, who was the original spring or wellhead, the fountain of life and justice. At the same time there was, in practice, a second aspect of a fountain: recirculation. On the one hand the fountain was continuous, visibly moving in one direction; on the other, it was based on the principle of the water returning to its source. When the king rewarded his subjects and servants, they returned loyalty and service in their turn to the king.