Chapter

The language of treachery in newsbooks and polemic

Andrew Hopper

in Turncoats and Renegadoes

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199575855
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744617 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199575855.003.0008
The language of treachery in newsbooks and polemic

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This chapter examines the colourful vocabulary of insult applied to turncoats in the printed news of the period, as polemicists attempted to become arbiters of what constituted treacherous conduct. Drawing upon biblical and literary examples, individual side‐changers were condemned as faithless apostates, cowardly runnagadoes, ambi‐dexters, and Judas figures to strip them of their gentility. In this way they could become celebrated villains and hate‐figures for popular consumption. The chapter examines the often subtle political objectives behind these denunciations, and how they could spark infighting over what constituted treacherous conduct. How newsbook writers attempted to inspire or prevent defections, and thus shape the course of the war, is investigated, along with the side‐changing of many of these authors themselves, such as the notorious Marchamont Nedham.

Keywords: print; news; vocabulary; language; insult; treachery; side‐changing; propaganda; polemic

Chapter.  7929 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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