Honour, reputation, and the self-fashioning of elite side-changers

Andrew Hopper

in Turncoats and Renegadoes

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199575855
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744617 | DOI:
Honour, reputation, and the self-fashioning of elite side-changers

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Rather than appear as cynical opportunists, many elite side‐changers sought to ‘spin’ their past actions to support a self‐image of constancy, reliability, and untarnished honour. This chapter explores the ways they sought to explain their actions, whether through printing self‐justificatory narratives or by penning their memoirs for posterity. Their self‐fashioning is especially illuminating for contemporary cultural attitudes to side‐changing, both in what they claim and what they leave unsaid. The chapter concludes that those individuals with an aggressive sense of honour and heightened sensitivity to perceived slights were most prone to changing sides. Yet not all side‐changers were scorned. Those able to persuade themselves and a sufficient number of others that they changed sides from conscience might retain their own sense of honour and public reputation, despite the bitter condemnations by those they had deserted.

Keywords: honour; reputation; self‐fashioning; treachery; constancy; loyalty; side‐changing; insult

Chapter.  11374 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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