Seduction and Sedition: James, Duke of Monmouth and Seduction‐Story Paradigms

Toni Bowers

in Force or Fraud

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199592135
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725340 | DOI:
Seduction and Sedition: James, Duke of Monmouth and Seduction‐Story Paradigms

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James, Duke of Monmouth (1649–85) embodied the paradoxes involved in distinguishing between force and fraud in late seventeenth‐century England. He appears as both seducer and victim of seduction in innumerable literary productions of the late 1670s and early 1680s, including John Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel (1681). The figure of Monmouth proved a magnet for a Protestant nation anxious about a Catholic succession, specifically that of the aging Charles II's designated heir, James, Duke of York. Monmouth led an armed rebellion after James's accession in 1685, a rebellion that resulted in bloodshed, dislocation, and, eventually, governmental savagery against his supporters. The Monmouth Rebellion became a site for public debate over the doctrine of passive obedience and the problem of imagining virtuous resistance to authority. Monmouth's cause and execution continued to resonate, paradoxically, among tory writers, for whom his tragic career as seduced seducer made visible pressing anxieties about their own positions as collusive and coerced subjects.

Keywords: James, Duke of Monmouth; Charles II; James, Duke of York; James II; “seduced seducer”; John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel (1681); Monmouth Rebellion; execution; “passive obedience and non-resistance”; virtuous resistance; “Exclusion Crisis”; First Earl of Shaftesbury; incest treason; Rye House Plot; “Bloody Assizes”

Chapter.  15072 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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