Enacting Libertine Isolation: Antony and Cleopatra and The Tragedy of Valentinian

  • Jeremy W. Webster


On February 15, 1677, George Villiers, duke of Buckingham, stood in the House of Lords to argue that, according to two statutes of Edward III, the present Parliament, which had just been opened by the king, had no legal existence because it had been prorogued for more than a year. Claiming that the members of the House of Commons “look upon themselves as a standing Senate, and as a number of men pickt out to be Legislators for the rest of their whole lives,” Buckingham called on the king to enact the “remedy which the Law requires, and which all the Nation longs for, the calling of a new Parliament.” The motion was defeated, and, over the next two days, Buckingham and his three supporters were called upon to retract their views. When they refused, the four men were committed to the Tower for contempt. While the duke was apparently allowed to take with him his cook and his butler, Buckingham’s consignment to the Tower on this occasion was quite different from his progress and the accompanying public support he enjoyed ten years earlier. Indeed, Buckingham and his supporters were by this time politically isolated, and no one crowded the streets in support of the duke on his way to the Tower. To the contrary, some citizens organized a bonfire in celebration of his imprisonment.


Sexual Pleasure Male Friendship Libertine Performance Heroic Action Libertine Circle 
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© Jeremy W. Webster 2005

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  • Jeremy W. Webster

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