Chapter

The Illusion of Empire: Elizabethan Expansionism and Shakespeare's Second Tetralogy

Belsey Catherine

in Shakespeare in Theory and Practice

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780748633012
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652235 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748633012.003.0007
The Illusion of Empire: Elizabethan Expansionism and Shakespeare's Second Tetralogy

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This chapter is the only chapter in the book that was prompted by a specific occasion. On Sunday, 6 March 1988 three members of the Irish Republican Army were shot dead on sight by British special forces in Gibraltar. It turned out that they were unarmed at the time; they carried no explosives and no detonators. Henry V casts doubt on the virtues of conquest and at the same time on England's capacity to keep control of Ireland, its closest existing overseas possession. The primary imperative of Elizabethan foreign policy was not imperialist at all in the obvious sense of that term. Henry V magnificently holds together his motley crew of captains, not to mention the unpromising contingent from Eastcheap, Pistol, Nym and Bardolph. In 1603, the rebels were at last starved into submission.

Keywords: Elizabethan expansionism; Shakespeare; second tetralogy; Gibraltar; Henry V; Elizabethan foreign policy

Chapter.  4521 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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