chapter  6
34 Pages

Governance: The Law, Medicine and the Recuperation of the Social 213

ByCoda: Future Readings

The family and the humours, areas discussed in Chapters 4 and 5 respectively, were connected with governance – the topic of this chapter – in a sixteenth-century political debate about how behaviour is enacted, is learned or is ‘read’,1 whether it was something you were born with or something you acquired.2 The debate between birth characteristics and learned behaviour, both of which were centered in the theory of the humours and its connection with rhetoric, is mirrored in the family because only through family could blood relations be maintained for the nobility, yet at the same time the family was the recognized site for training in behaviour appropriate to the civic world. Like the conceptual and institutional medical debates of the period, arguing about the effects of blood and environment on the body, which also feature prominently in Romeo and Juliet, the political discussions focused on the issue of birth or education, debating whether ‘virtue’ or nobility and the right to govern was something in the blood and manifested by military prowess or something that could be acquired through education and experience and the wise counsel of others.