chapter  3
33 Pages

Iron Men

Thomas Digges, A Larum for London, and the Elizabethan Cyborg
WithBenjamin Bertram

Given the importance of iron in sixteenth-century warfare, it is no surprise that we find the concept of "iron men" in a variety of genres. Thomas Digges's assertion that men should have the "qualitie" of iron seems simple enough: it is a metaphor for the "hardness" of soldiers. Far from being merely metaphorical in military writing like Stratioticos, iron is an unmistakable component of a soldier's transcorporeality. A brief look at A Larum for London, a play that follows the same ideological path as Stratioticos, will suggest that the concept of the "iron man" has applications that go beyond the literal or metaphorical. The basic features of Digges's cyborg are on display with Stump: time management, investment in the military, discipline, restraint, sobriety. They have a more unexpected parallel, however, in the way the play lists objects the English seek to accumulate to improve their chances of defeating future enemies, Spanish or otherwise.