chapter  14
18 Pages

Shakespeare Italianate: Sceptical Crises in Three Kinds of Play

ByLawrence F. Rhu

We first hear of Baldesar Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier in Tudor England at a fraught moment in European history. Edmund Bonner, in a letter to Thomas Cromwell, requests a copy of that book in Italian during a time when the King’s great matter – Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and marriage to Anne Boleyn – is reaching its final stages. It is September of 1530. The official appointment of Thomas Cranmer as the Archbishop of Canterbury and the coronation of a new queen are not far off. Bonner, who initially served Cardinal Wolsey, will play a courtier’s role in these coming events for Cromwell and the King, making “a seamless transition to the royal service”.1