Spenser and Holinshed

Richard A. McCabe

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

Spenser and Holinshed

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)



This chapter discusses the influence of Holinshed's Chronicles on the poetry of Edmund Spenser. When Spenser began work on The Faerie Queene, only Holinshed offered a vision of English history which both culminated in Elizabeth and contextualized that outcome within the wider framework of the ‘three kingdoms’, Continental Europe, and the worldwide contest for imperial domination through trade and conquest. With its global range of geographical reference – from the Orkneys to the Americas – and multiple narratives thematically united in the persona of Gloriana, The Faerie Queene breeds the spirit of the Chronicles. It embraces their sense of the racial and linguistic diversity from which Tudor England was born, and echoes their concern with maintaining a hard-won national identity in the face of religious dissention, regionalization, and colonial expansion.

Keywords: Edmund Spenser; English poets; poetry; English history; Faerie Queene; Chronicles; Tudor England; diversity; national identity

Article.  8433 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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