chapter
22 Pages

Introduction

ByRoger D. Sell, Anthony W. Johnson

This chapter explores the overlapping layers of cultural interaction in Ben Jonson's Masque of Augurs, a relatively neglected late Jacobean court entertainment staged for the inauguration of the new Whitehall Banqueting House on 6 January 1622. It shows that on political, doctrinal and ideological levels, the space created by The Masque of Augurs is an eirenic one which harmonized both with Jonson's beliefs and those of James I. Involving a mixed audience representing different nationalities and religious persuasions, graced by the presence of the King and a cast featuring Prince Charles in augural garb as triumphant groom-to-be, the masque constituted a defining moment in the marriage alliance that James was seeking to conclude with the Spanish as a means promoting peace in Continental Europe. As W. B. Patterson showed, James's ameliorative approach was one which nearly succeeded in averting the war which was to wrack Europe over the middle decades of the century.