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Katherine of Aragon, Protestant Purity, and the Anxieties of Cultural Mixing in Shakespeare and Fletcher’s Henry VIII

  • Mira Assaf Kafantaris
Chapter
Part of the Queenship and Power book series (QAP)

Abstract

In 1613, King James I, the self-appointed rex pacificus, sought to strike a fine balance between the highly publicized Protestant marriage of his daughter Elizabeth to the Elector Palatine, and a Catholic match for the Prince of Wales. Echoing multiple sectors of English culture, the London pulpits praised a union between two Protestant nations as “godly” and denigrated a potential Catholic match, declaring it “unnatural.” Against this backdrop, Henry VIII furnishes its audience with contradictory views on cultural mixing; while the anxieties of mixture and the fantasy of Protestant purity bookend the play, the complex portrayal of Katherine of Aragon as both English and Spanish, Catholic and Protestant, points to the omnipresence of cultural mixing, especially when English history is under consideration. I argue in this chapter that Henry VIII not only explodes the myth of Protestant purity, but stages the theorization of a thorny topic at that critical stage just before dynastic marriage became the subject of widespread debate on the eve of the Spanish match in the early 1620s.

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mira Assaf Kafantaris
    • 1
  1. 1.The Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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