chapter  4
36 Pages

War and Resilience

Tamburlaine the Great and the Anglo-Spanish War
WithBenjamin Bertram

The play's emphasis on the nonhuman elements of war allows us to see the human in much less spiritual terms; indeed, what passes as human is deeply embedded in the vicissitudes of the material world, in war as a heterogeneous assemblage of the human and the nonhuman. Tamburlaine tries to inspire fear and awe, a kind of Elizabethan version of the sublime, in its portrayal of the human ability to alter the physical landscape in a time of war. The Elizabethans had their own discourse of resilience that emphasized the vulnerability of subjects in a world in which invasion by Catholic enemies seemed imminent. Militarization affected their ecology as the threat of war in an insecure or even paranoid age was met with new ways of transforming the physical environment. Tamburlaine, however, is excessive in his appetite for violence, innovative technologies, and power.