chapter  2
32 Pages

Erotic Policy:The Rhetoric of Anglo-Scottish Marriage

There are no fully satisfactory explanations for why the court marriage masque disappeared after the wedding of Frances Howard and Robert Carr. The entertainments for the Palatine marriage and the wedding of Robert Carr and Frances Howard mediate a much larger array of political aspirations. They display, as well, an interest in testing the theatrical and aesthetic possibilities of the masque form in a way not present in the nuptial performances of 1603 to 1608. Nuptial performance offers only imperfect, distorted, and inconsistent access to the politics of the Jacobean court. In the long history of early modern nuptial entertainment of disguising, of mummings, of songs and dances the Jacobean marriage masque represents only a brief, if lavish and expensive; segue into the up market world of the court. Developments in Jacobean political history help us to make sense of the evolution of court marriage entertainments, but they can also tempt us into dangerous critical territory.