• Tobias Döring
Part of the Early Modern Literature in History book series (EMLH)


When and how is mourning suitable? One final example serves to return to this question and reconsider its significance in early modern English culture. When Henry Prince of Wales died in November 1612, his father was quite overwhelmed by grief. James I took the prince’s sudden death ‘with more impatience than was expected’, John Chamberlain wrote in a letter and went on to report that ‘the King was quickly weary of Kensington because he said the wind blew through the walls that he could not lie warm in his bed’ (McClure Thomson, 1966, p. 70). As an expression of paternal mourning, the king’s apparent concern for a warm night’s sleep might seem inappropriate. But his insomnia could also be regarded as a symptomatic way of showing how the experience of bereavement had wrecked or broken the frame and fabric of his life. The fact that the king’s predicament was publicly reported is remarkable enough. It shows that places of living turn cold and unhomely under the impact of mortality. The work of mourning lies in reconstructing a place by and for the living to inhabit, so that they can accommodate themselves once more in the home that has remained.


Dead Figure Preform Material History Play Interpretative Debate Shakespearean Play 
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© Tobias Döring 2006

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  • Tobias Döring

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