Cyndia Susan Clegg

in The Oxford Handbook of Holinshed's Chronicles

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199565757
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature


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This chapter discusses the censorship of the 1577 and 1587 editions of Holinshed's Chronicles – a common condition for historical writing in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The circumstances surrounding the censorship for both editions of the book, along with textual evidence, offer distinctive insights into both Elizabethan political culture and printing house practices. The censorship and reformation of both editions reflects apprehension about material that might be construed as slanderous or denigrating to the reputations of important men of the Church and the State. With the 1587 edition, censorship and revision reflect the State's fear that published accounts might either jeopardize English diplomacy (both in Scotland and the Low Countries) or support international Catholic objections to the English legal system. That the political materials which were reviewed and reformed appeared only in the continuation histories suggests that their authors must not have felt constrained by either the censorship of the 1577 Chronicles or a conviction that theirs was a dangerous venture.

Keywords: censorship; historical writing; Elizabethan political culture; printing houses; Church; State; English legal system; diplomacy

Article.  8119 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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