William Camden: A Life in Context

  • 0 6 8
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up

William Camden: A Life in Context

WILLIAM CAMDEN a life in context Disclaimer: Some images in the printed version of this book are not available for inc

1,377 163 5MB

Pages 552 Page size 443.714 x 691.374 pts Year 2007

Report DMCA / Copyright


Recommend Papers

File loading please wait...
Citation preview

WILLIAM CAMDEN a life in context

Disclaimer: Some images in the printed version of this book are not available for inclusion in the eBook. To view the image on this page please refer to the printed version of this book.

Portrait of William Camden (1609) by or after Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (1561/2–1636), oil on panel (National Portrait Gallery, London)

sd SD sd SD sd

zx ZX

sd sd SD sd SD

WILLIAM CAMDEN a life in context Wyman H. Herendeen

zx ZX

the boydell press

sd SD sd SD sd SD sd SD sd SD sd SD sd SD sd SD

sd SD sd SD sd

zx ZX

sd sd SD sd SD

sd SD sd SD sd SD sd SD sd SD sd SD sd SD sd SD

© Wyman Herendeen 2007 All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under current legislation no part of this work may be photocopied, stored in a retrieval system, published, performed in public, adapted, broadcast, transmitted, recorded or reproduced in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the copyright owner The right of Wyman Herendeen to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 First published 2007 The Boydell Press, Woodbridge isbn 978-1-84383-126-6 The Boydell Press is an imprint of Boydell & Brewer Ltd PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk ip12 3df, UK and of Boydell & Brewer Inc. 668 Mt Hope Avenue, Rochester, ny 14620, USA website: www.boydellandbrewer.com A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library This publication is printed on acid-free paper Designed and typeset in Adobe Garamond Pro by David Roberts, Pershore, Worcestershire

Disclaimer: Printed in Great Britain by Some images in the printed version of this book are not available for inclusion in the eBook. Antony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham, Wiltshire To view these images please refer to the printed version of this book.

Contents Acknowledgments  vii Abbreviations  ix Preface  xi

part one  Prolepsis: Death, Youth, & Introduction i ii iii

Death and Life of a Minor Figure  3 A London Life: The Educator’s Education  16 Religious Conflict and Coming of Age at Oxford  59 Notes: Part One  80

part two  Elizabethan Camden iv v vi

The Way to Westminster  91 Westminster and the Britannia  180 Antiquarians, Historians, and the Economy of the Past  243 Notes: Part Two  334

part three  Jacobean Camden vii viii ix

Arms and the Man: Antiquarian in the College of Arms  353 Culture Clash: Elizabethan in Stuart London  445 Post-Mortem: The Death and Afterlives of William Camden  493 Notes: Part Three  512

Index  521

For Rosalind As “ wit and fortune will”



his book and I have been the beneficiaries of generous individuals and organizations over many years, and I have William Camden to thank for this. Maurice Powick extended the invitation for a contextual life of Camden, ­ suggested how one might approach it, and what the challenges might be: “A great book might be written about Camden, his life and his works, his wide circle of friends and correspondents and his humanity. It would be a very ­difficult book to write.” While I can not pretend to have achieved the fullness of scope envisioned by Powick, nor to have been able to bring the “learning and imaginative amplitude” that he thought would be needed by its author, he does, however, identify some of my goals for this “life in context”. In my study of Camden I attempt to understand the man and his work within the political and cultural milieu of Tudor and Stuart England, and London in particular. I have also tried to place them in context of the changes taking place in the way that early modern England viewed, valued, and represented history, and thus to show how Camden’s writings emerge from and redirect some of the major literary and intellectual habits of thought that begin to become apparent in his generation. The support that this book has received is a tribute to Camden. I am grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, whose exceptional generosity provided the time and resources that made this book possible. The Huntington Library, through a Mellon fellowship, ­enabled me to pursue critical research in their collection. Appointment as Senior Fellow at the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, Vic­ toria College at the University of Toronto, provided ready access to their important collections and the collegial environment in which to write. My research and opportunities for completing this study have also been facilitated by the University of Windsor in the form of a Research Professorship and travel grants, by the office of the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social ­Sciences at the University of Houston, and by support from the Martha Gano ­Houstoun Endowment in the Department of English at the University of Houston. The generous help and professionalism of librarians and ­ archivists at the many libraries, records offices, and collections have made work on this project a genuine pleasure. My thanks also go to Rachael vii

William Camden – A Life in Context Havranek, who, as a ­University Scholar, assisted with the documentation for Part One. The friendship and wisdom of friends and scholars have added to my understanding of the many aspects of ­ Camden’s life and the milieu in which he lived and worked. The following pages can only document a part of my debt to friends and fellow scholars. I am particularly grateful to the late Sir Anthony Wagner, Clarenceux King of Arms, who shared with me his ­ knowledge of and interest in William Camden, to Annabel Patterson, Daniel Woolf, Joseph Levine, Richard McCoy, Mervin James, Graham Parry, ­Maurice Keen, ­Darryll ­Grantley, among many others, who have helped shape my thinking about the place of historical writing in early modern ­Britain; their influence hovers over this study and goes beyond the realm of the footnote. And most of all, in addition to the unstinting support of my wife, Mary, the deep love, friendship, and sanity of my daughter, Rosalind, to whom this book is dedicated, have reminded me how the private life nurtures us in our lengthy scholarly labours.


Abbreviations Libraries, archives, manuscript sources The following is a list of abbreviations of frequently cited sources. BL Bod. COA Hunt. Oxford University PRO Soc. Ant. WAM

British Library Bodleian Library, Oxford College of Arms Huntington Library Oxford University Archives Public Record Office, London Society of Antiquaries Westminster Abbey Muniment Room

Abbreviations of frequently cited books and printed materials Below is a list of abbreviations and short-titles used for works, including Camden’s, that are frequently cited in this study. In my research for this project I have consulted first and relevant subsequent editions of the primary documents, but when possible, I quote from editions that are reliable and more readily available that I identify below. In cases where individual works or authors are discussed or cited extensively in the body of this study, I have inserted short-title abbreviations and page reference parenthetically in the text.

Camden’s works Anglica, Normannica Anglica, Normannica, Hibernica, Cambrica, a veteribus scripta, ed. William Camden (Frankfurt, 1603) Annals t h e h i s t o r y o f t h e Most Renowned and Victorious Princess e l i z a b e t h , 4th edn (London, 1688) Britannia b r i t a n n i a : or, a Chorographical Description of g re a t b r i t a i n and i re l a n d , Together with the Adjacent Islands, ed. and trans. Edmund Gibson, 2 vols., 3rd edn (London, 1753) Epistolae v. c l . g u l i e l m i c a m d e n i , e t i l l u s t r u m v i r o r u m a d g . c a m d e n u m e p i s t o l a e , ed. Thomas Smith (London, 1691)


William Camden – A Life in Context Greek Grammar Memorabilia Poems

Reges, Reginae


Institutio graecae grammatices compendiaria in usum regiae scholae Westmonasteriensis (London, 1595) Memorabilia haec sequentia . . . de seipso. In Epistolae, pp. 85–8. Poems by William Camden, ed. and trans. George Burke Johnston. Studies in Philology, Texts and Studies, 72 (December 1975). Reges, reginae, nobiles et alii in ecclesia collegiata B. Petri Westmonasterii sepulti, usque ad annum 1600 (London, 1600, 1603, 1606) William Camden: Remains Concerning Britain, ed. R. D. Dunn (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 1984)

Other printed primary materials Curious Discourses Discoverie

Second Discoverie

Jonson Itinerary Vincent, Discoverie

Shakespeare Spenser

A Collection of Curious Discourses Written by Eminent Antiquarians, ed. J. Ayloffe, 2 vols. (London, 1775) Ralph Brooke, A d i s c ov e r i e of Certaine e r r o u r s Published in Print in the Much Commended Britannia, 1594 ([London, 1599]; London, 1724) Ralph Brooke, A s e c o n d d i s c ov e r i e of e r r o u r s Published in the Much-Commended Britannia, 1594 … With A Reply to Mr. Camden’s Apology ad Lectorem, in his fift Edition, 1600 (London, 1723) Ben Jonson, Ben Jonson, ed. C. H. Herford and Percy and Evelyn Simpson, 11 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1925–52) John Leland, The Itinerary of John Leland, ed. Thomas Hearne, 9 vols., 3rd edn (Oxford, 1770) Augustine Vincent, A Discoverie of Errours in the first Edition of the Catalogue of Nobility published by Raphe Brooke Yorke Herald, 1619 (London, 1622) William Shakespeare, The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G. Blakemore Evans (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1974). Edmund Spenser, The Works of Edmund Spenser: A Variorum Edition, ed. Edwin Greenlaw et al., 11 vols. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1932–57)



have titled this study William Camden – A Life in Context to suggest a wider scope for it than simply a biographical narrative of his life as we know it and think it might have been. Camden, the author of the ­Britannia and first biographer of Elizabeth, educator, herald, poet, and antiquarian, became for future generations and for many in his own life time, the chronicler of Britain in the age of Elizabeth. The Annals of Elizabeth calls attention to the dialogic between the courts of Elizabeth and James I and ­creates a complex tapestry of Britain’s emergence as a major Protestant player in the European political arena. The Britannia evokes a united Britain having an established place in the international history of Europe, and implicitly lends support to one of James’s first acts as king. These two, his most famous works, became landmarks of his generation; as literary products of the man and his generation, they provide windows on the social and intellectual landscape of post-Reformation England, especially from the early restoration of reform under Edward VI, through the stabilization of the realm under Elizabeth, and the redefinition of the monarchy under James. But Camden was greater than the sum of his parts. More than just the national landscape artist and royal portraitist, he and his work capture and also contribute to the subtle changes taking place in the intellectual and political milieu of England and London from Elizabeth’s accession through most of James’s reign. Camden’s place in this process is that of chronicler, witness, and participant, rather than analyst. While these and other of his works are major contributions to the literary legacy of the Renaissance worthy of study in themselves, when linked to his life and career, we see that they were also agents in and illustrations of the subtle but manifest changes in the intellectual history of the period. More particularly, Camden and his work reflect the evolving role of the scholar and scholarship in post-Reformation England, and contribute to the changing ways in which history and the past were valued and represented. Camden, of course, is not alone in this; he was part of a network of individuals and institutions playing parts in a subtle transforma­ tion taking place during these decades, men as different as Francis Bacon, John Selden, Ben Jonson, and Samuel Daniel, and institutions as varied as the universities and schools, the College of Arms, the Society of Antiquaries, xi

William Camden – A Life in Context the Chapter of Westminster, indeed, the monarchy and the court. Camden is unique in that his narrative intersects with this network at countless points and in distinctive ways. For this reason, Camden’s role in the intellectual history of the period must be told in context; as one of many players in this ongoing process, his particular contribution deserves telling. Thus, in placing Camden within the historical, material, and intellectual context of the time, I hope to contribute to the discussion of early modern England and London in particular. At times he is the focus of the study and at other times he is the lens through which we can read more closely some of the issues that have occupied cultural historians in recent years. In this, I follow Maurice Powicke’s lead, seeing Camden as a new kind of scholar emerging from the changing socio-economic, political, and intellectual currents of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I try to document and describe some of these subtle transformations that can be identified during those often troubled decades when the reformed church attains increasing stability, and Tudor social policies found their institutional outlets – venues that were the nursery for young Camden and that later became his professional home. Camden is himself a product of an emerging “middle class”, and this informs his originality – in reforming institutions, hybridizing literaryhistorical genres, and casting his influence over literary and intellectual communities in London and internationally. Most important, though, Camden contributes to the changing epistemology and ontology of the period that has preoccupied Renaissance scholars for many years. Such broad concepts will find, I hope, more immediate relevance in my discussion of the contexts of his career and work. Most apparent, though, is his impact on historical writing and antiquarianism. These are areas where there has been much revitalized interest in recent years; scholars including Annabel Patterson, Daniel Woolf, Graham Parry, and Kevin Sharpe, have ­reopened discussions about the nature of the so-called “historical revolution” and how it is reflected in the political and intellectual mentalité of Camden’s and successive generations. While there are major differences of opinion among these scholars, there is agreement that the bridging generation from Elizabeth to James is a critical one in an evolving process of social reform. In exploring how Camden has been shaped by his immediate historical and social contexts, and by examining the hybrid forms that he creates in his work, I hope to contribute to these broader discussions about the cultural shifts of the period. In Camden we see a new valuation of the material and textual past; he helps form a value system by which cultural artefacts are ­appreciated in ways that xii

Preface differ significantly from previous generations, and in so doing, he helps move antiquarian study, collecting, and historical writing to a new place. As I hope to show, examined through his works and in his place in history, Camden, the proto-Elizabethan, can be seen as the har­binger of the changes announced more boldly by his younger contemporaries, ­Francis Bacon and John Selden, and leading to the upheaval of the 1640s.


part one Prolepsis: Death, Youth, & Introduction

chapter i Death and Life of a Minor Figure A Life in the Margins Here lies in certain hope of a resurrection in Christ, William Camden, by Queen Elizabeth created Clarenceux King at Arms, an indefatigable, judicious, and impartial Researcher into British antiquities, he whom variety of learning, vivacity of parts, and the most candid simplicity were united. He died on the 9th of November, 1623, in the 73rd year of his age.1


he good life is lived with an awareness of death. A good death will look back on the life that went before, measure the distance travelled from youth, and bring any unfinished business to completion. It is safe to say that Camden, early admitted to Christ’s Church Hospital “newly founded for blue-coated children” (or orphans), and at age twelve infected with the plague, was as conscious of death’s presence as one would want a youth to be: he probably learned early on in his life the stoic ethic reflected in the motto that he adopted for himself and that is reproduced on his portrait by Marcus Gheeraerts, “pondere non numero”.2 With even greater confidence we can say that, nearing death, Camden looked back on his life, recalled who he had been and who he was, and set his house in order. Camden was not an unusually penetrating psychologist, nor was he of Jeremy Taylor’s cast, and inclined to thoughts de contemptu mundi. He had been a schoolmaster, an author, a friend of Ben Jonson, a herald – all calculated (as we will see) to keep him alert to the often uncomfortable realities of this world. His life among the heralds, as contentious a group as any crowded grammar-school class, certainly kept Camden mindful of business and legal matters more than it did of chivalry and concepts of honour. At the time of his death he prepared his estate as he had lived his life, with piety and pragmatics, and with orderly, personable, and honest simplicity reflecting the values that informed his work. These qualities are

William Camden – A Life in Context not the euphemisms of a biography. For Camden they are deliberate, often difficult choices about how to live and work. Depending on our individual interests, we tend to think of Camden in terms of his historical writing, his associations with Westminster School, the Society of Antiquaries, the College of Arms, or his ties with literary figures such as Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, or Ben Jonson. That is, in a ­“service capacity”, as it were, connected with public institutions – including now canonical literary figures. In some measure, noting what he was not makes the extent of his influence on his society and its culture all the more remarkable. Not a figure of “greatness”, born or achieved, he deliberately avoided having it “thrust upon him”, but he was a subject that both Elizabeth and James I respected and privileged. Not a charismatic courtier such as Leicester, nor a master player and policy-maker such as Burghley, he was heeded by them and others of like station. Of humble origin and without large financial resources, he lacked the means necessary to make grand educational or artistic endowments, as John Colet did as the founder of St Paul’s School, for example, or to become a collector on the scale of Matthew Parker, Thomas Howard, the Earl of Arundel, or Robert Cotton. But he was endowed with a spirit that combined industry, acquisitiveness, intellectual curiosity, phil­ anthropy, humility, and patriotism. He modelled himself on the example of civic duty found in an earlier generation, not only in the manner that he lived his life, but also in specific acts, such as his gifts to Westminster School and his endowment of a chair of civil history at Oxford. In its own way, his impact on the world of learning is hardly less certain or permanent than if he had laid a cornerstone or cut a ribbon, and his library, regarded for its importance rather than its size, was the admiration of many. Not a literary figure canonized as Sidney, Spenser, Bacon, and Jonson were, his life and work illuminate theirs and influenced them in important ways. There are many Renaissance figures of far greater reputation whose lives tell us far less about their age than ­Camden’s can. But to turn to Camden only for the information that he provides about major figures, events, or institutions, as commentators have tended to do, is to miss the man himself, to place him at the margin of his own life. His achievement as an educator, herald, writer, and friend of writers was the result of the particular kind of person that he was and the time in which he lived. This is not the sort of statement that one should take for granted – it is an important assumption implicit in Maurice Powicke’s perceptive essay titled “William Camden”.3 To lose sight of the role of character in the interest of 

Death and Life of a Minor Figure quantifying “achievement” when writing about a “major minor” figure is to make one’s subject a mere cipher, to disenfranchise the person in favour of the event or institution. It is commonplace that in the Renaissance, public, and private dimensions are inextricably linked, identity being a largely public construct. But at this time, for a person born to the lower or middle class, without position, power, or wealth, to have the impact that a Camden, a Shakespeare, a Jonson had, bespeaks unusual inner qualities in addition to the blessing of Fortuna. The fact that there are a fairly large number of such examples is one reason why the English Renaissance is of such interest as an historical period, and why it is often referred to as “early modern”. We can study their achievement in terms of public office or publications, but unless we recognize where they have come from, and what they bring of themselves to the public world, we are liable to ignore the individuals and also to fail to see a salient aspect of a culture that enabled their success. To do so would be to leave important parts of the “life and times” of an individual ­unstudied and unwritten. Camden needs to be historicized if we are to derive any greater insights about his contribution than were offered by Thomas Smith in the biography that he included in the 1691 edition of the letters, Camdeni Epistolae. We can learn much from Camden, not just by studying the Britannia or the Annals of Elizabeth, but by examining the interplay of the material culture in which he lived and how it gave direction to his curriculum vitae. Camden, then, is a good example of what can be gained by revisiting a historical period from the margin. Historians do not generally give him an active role in the evolution of post-Reformation England. But look at any of the large canvases and you will see Camden rather more clearly than you would expect, in a corner that catches the eye of the viewer. Rarely does a major intellectual history of the English Renaissance leave him undiscussed. This is not to say that he is a small figure who should be made larger, but that he is a small figure whose ubiquitous presence is significant both in itself and for what it reveals about his world. There can be no doubt about Camden’s importance for the various groups and individuals that he worked with, but whose greater prominence casts him in shadow. More interesting for the modern student is the importance that such a man earned in his society without achieving “greatness”. He gives focus and perspective to our period ­ studies. That a man like Camden should become the “semi-official” bio­grapher of Elizabeth and the archivist of her era in his comprehensive Annals of Elizabeth speaks volumes about him and the conditions in which he lived. 

William Camden – A Life in Context For his biographer as well as for his contemporary, one of the most important things about Camden is his humanity. Rarely are his accomplishments noted without some kind of accompanying epithet on his character. Powicke speaks of his “spirit of fellowship and easy friendliness”; Rowse too comments on his capacity for friendship, and contemporaries (with the exception of his antagonist Ralph Brooke) invariably speak of him as gentle, learned, and grave.4 The persistent tendency to humanize Camden is striking. In tracing his development and career we will see that there is something about him that gives new depth to the institutions and individuals with whom he comes in contact. In the chapters that follow, I will discuss Camden as poet-historical, as a major shaping “influence” on men and ideas of his and succeeding generations, as a reformer of institutions, and as an example of the emerging class of bourgeois scholar, but in the process I hope too to keep a clear view of his humanity in an age of changing opportunities.

Death Public and Private


n his death we can see his life: the aphorism has its element of truth   in Camden’s case. The solemnities attending Camden’s funeral remind us how public his life as a herald was. Clarenceux King of Arms, but by his own choosing without any other “title of honour”, he was escorted to Westminster Abbey with ceremony reserved for far more elevated personages. According to custom, all the members of the College of Arms (except Ralph Brooke) were in attendance; others from all estates figured in the procession, and there was an emphasis on form that, by 1623, was often neglected in noble funerals: his funerall was worshipfully solempnized … in the manner following, that is: – first proceeded 26 poore men in gownes, then gentlemen in cloaks, then esquiers, then knights; Sir Henry Bourchier, Knight; Sir Francis Lee, Knight of the Bath; and Sir Robert Cotton, Knight and Baronett; then Mr. Docter Heather, being his executor, and Mr. Docter Sutton, preacher at this ffunerall; next, after the Penon, Phillip Holland, Portcullis, and Augustyn Vincent, Rouge Croix, with their coats on their armes; the Penon borne by Mr. Wyat, his kinseman; his healme and creast by John Phillipot, Rouge Dragon; his coate of armes by Samuell Thompson, Windsor Herauld. On his corps, on the pall of black velvet, was placed the King’s rich coate of armes, with his coronett with which he was crowned at his creac’on, the pall beinge supported 

Death and Life of a Minor Figure by Sampson Lennard, Blewmantle; Henry Chitting, Chester; Henry St. George, Richmond; and William Penson, Lancaster, Heraulds: next the body followed Sir William Segar, Garter, Knight, principall Kinge of Armes; his two assistants, Sir Richard St. Georg, Knight, Norroy Kinge of Armes, and Robert Treswell, Somersett Herauld. After them he was accompanyed with dyvers noblemen – as the right honourable the Lord Keeper, then Byshop of Lincolne; the earle of Leic’; the Viscounte Graundison; the Bishop of London; the Bishopp of Winchester; the Bishop of Durham, with other Byshops; the lord Paget; the Lord Cary; and many more barons, knights, esquiers, and gentlemen.5 If we stop over the scene a moment we can see how it reflects Camden’s life and personality; many of these men will be major players in the pages that follow. With its heavily orchestrated ceremony and ritualistically adorned secular and ecclesiastical celebrants, this is a stately spectacle that would seem to contrast with Camden’s reputation for modesty and humility, and makes a clear statement about the man’s place in the hierarchies of church and state. The ritual has personal relevance for Camden the man. The principal attendants were close associates of long standing, and not just heralds earning their fees. Preceding the coffin was William Heather, the executor of his will and witness of the funeral certificate, but more important, as we will see, an intimate friend with whom Camden had sung in the choir at Westminster and who on occasion brought an ailing Camden into his house to be nursed back to a diminished health. The chief mourner was his friend William Segar, Garter King of Arms; he was assisted by senior and junior members of the college and, significantly, by kin, his cousin John Wyatt, “a painter of London”.6 There was Augustine Vincent (b. 1584; Rouge Croix Pursuivant), who had written an extensive and often moving defence of Camden against his adversary, the missing Ralph Brooke. Others attending included men young and old whose work and careers had been shaped by Camden. His contemporary, translator, and fellow educator Philemon Holland (b. 1552) assisted; he thought of himself as a close friend of Camden’s and the two had worked closely together in preparing the translation of the Britannia for press in 1610. Robert Treswell (Somerset Herald), William Penson (Lancaster Herald), and John Philipot (Rouge Dragon Pursuivant) each served as deputies for Camden and conducted visitations in his name; Camden came to their defence when they were attacked by jealous rivals in the College of Arms. Philipot later (1636) edited and enlarged the Remains. In 1623 each was relatively young, a minor 

William Camden – A Life in Context figure in the College of Arms, and each had been encouraged and protected by Camden in a social world that was not only acrimonious but often dangerous. In addition, and unusual for a man of his degree even though he was a herald, his procession included an extraordinary number of the nation’s most powerful, including the Earl of Leicester, the Lord Keeper, Lord Cary, and Lord Paget, and at least six bishops. The entourage was a social microcosm, a smaller version of the cortege for Elizabeth’s funeral, depicted in the long roll (BL, Add. Ms 5408) reputedly drawn by Camden himself. If Camden’s funeral emphasized formality associated with the College of Arms, it also suggests a dynamic of vital relationships that cross time and social strata. Each attendant was in some way closely connected with Camden, as painter-cousin (Wyatt), as neighbour and fellow music lover (Heather), translator (Holland), deputy (Treswell and Penson), literary protégé (Vincent and Philipot), among others. They drew their identity in some degree from him. None is a major historical figure, but altogether they and the others present make up a sizeable group remarkable for its social, economic, and intellectual heterogeneity. With Camden dead at the centre of the ceremony, and his deputies gathered around him, we have a silent group portrait suggesting the extent of Camden’s influence, which might be characterized in terms of the Renaissance ideal of sprezzatura, particularly the self-effacement that advantages others. Each of these men shone, in his small way, with ­Camden’s light; if none is very important alone, together they make up a group and, in the case of the heralds, an institution that is of importance in its society. Also part of this social mix were more influential close friends, including Robert Cotton, Henry Bourchier, Francis Lee, Fulke Greville, probably Ben Jonson; they too had their natural place amidst Camden’s admirers. Emphasizing family, friendship, and personal indebtedness rather than greatness, the funeral ceremony signified first of all private rather than public values. We will see that Camden was a strong believer in ceremony – strong enough that some people questioned his Protestant convictions. But Camden felt that ceremony should be the outward recognition of inner merit, and that scruple is suggested in the ceremonious but oddly unostentatious funeral procession to the abbey. There is also an appropriateness to his final resting place. After the sermon by Dr Sutton, “he was buried in the South-Isle, near the learned Casaubon, and over-against our incomparable Poet Chaucer”.7 Placed thus, mediating between the European scholar of very ambiguous religious leanings and the first great English vernacular poet, Camden began his afterlife on the same 

Death and Life of a Minor Figure intellectual via media that he travelled during his working life. More fortunate than Spenser had been, thanks to unknown friends (probably Robert Cotton), Camden had a monument in place in the already exclusive south transept, later known as Poets’ Corner. Its inscription commemorates the ­ Britannia, identifies him with Elizabeth, and recognizes his office as Clarenceux, praising his learning, his honesty, and simplicity. However, it is not austere and non-representational, in the plain style favoured by Puritans; nor was it the kind of cadaver tomb that evokes the corruption of the body to warn onlookers against the temptations of this world, popular among many Protestant groups.8 His effigy, a bust in white marble, Camden holding a copy of the Britannia, is handsome, rich in sculpted detail: the intricate lace collar, the finery of his herald’s smock, even the tooling on the binding of the ­Britannia reflects meticulous, but understated attention to physical detail – the kind of monument that “reformers” of the 1540s and the 1640s vehemently disapproved of, and that silently signals his place in the ecclesiastical controversies of the last years of King James. It may well be this representational quality of the effigy that led to its desecration during the years of civil unrest. And finally, apropos of the man who repeatedly urged that we question historical records, who knew how misleading material “evidence” from the past could be, and who best understood the ephemerality of our gestures toward immortality, his monument incorrectly records his age as seventy-four (“aetatis suae 74”), rather than seventy-two. Contemplated from the distance of nearly 400 years, the November death and funeral of a seventy-two-year-old bachelor antiquarian might seem bleak and starkly void of interest.9 Presided over by a dozen or so men in an entourage of over a hundred crêpe-draped souls wending their way to Westminster for the interment, the spectacle will no doubt appear more emotionally austere than it probably was. These people were Camden’s family; his friendship with some of the men officiating went back twenty-five years and more. William Heather and his wife were neighbours of Camden in Westminster and then at Chislehurst – he probably moved there to be near them. They shared a love of music – Heather, following Camden’s philanthropic example, founded a chair of music at Oxford and was awarded the degree of Doctor of Music. He had been a chorister at Westminster and a gentleman of the Royal Chapel, and so their lives overlapped in many ways. Not only did Camden make Heather his executor, but he carefully assigned the profits of the property at Bexley, Kent (approximately £400 per year), to Heather and his heirs for ninety-nine 

William Camden – A Life in Context years.10 Heather himself is buried at the foot of his beloved Camden’s monument. There are other signs of a deep personal life out of sight from the public world of the herald. At the funeral and named in Camden’s will are a number of family members, suggesting enduring relationships that go back to his youth and that also testify to the continued ties to his father’s company, the Painter-Stainers. To his “cousin”, John Wyatt, “painter”, he left a sizeable sum of £100 and the cash value of his heraldic books and ancient seals, to be paid by his successor in the office of Clarenceux. His family roots in the north are recognized in his gift of £20 “to Giles Nicholson of Poulton in Lancashire”. Camden confers gifts to other kin, including £10 to one “Camden of London, Silkman” and £2 each to “my godsonne[s] Christopher Birkhead … Thomas Godwin … [and] to my god-daughter Feild [sic]”. These and other legacies to many family members and friends about whom we know virtually nothing are important reminders of how much the private life of a relatively public man like Camden remains almost entirely invisible – but not altogether inaccessible. They do fill in some of the background depth to the picture of Camden, and give us data that might help future researchers. For example, Wyatt’s inclusion reaches back to Camden’s father and his place among the Company of Painter-Stainers, with which Camden clearly retained friendly and professional ties. In his will he left the company an ample gift of plate (valued at £16) in his and his father’s memory, to be inscribed “Guil. ­Camdenus Clarenceux, filius Sampsonis Pictoris Londinensis, dono dedit”.11 The company, involved as it was with heraldic matters, was traditionally closely associated with the College of Arms, although in the later sixteenth century these ties had become strained through quarrels over jurisdiction. Camden’s abiding attachment to the Painter-Stainers is suggestive, and makes his appointment to the college in 1597 less unlikely than it is sometimes made out to be. Charles Wriothesley, Windsor Herald, died at Sampson Camden’s house in 1562, when William was ten years old.12 Linking the antiquary to the company and the college, then, were deeply personal, rather than just business ties. Although Camden had long before risen beyond the humbler world of the Painter-Stainers, his recollection of his father’s association with them, his implicit expression of indebtedness, and his ongoing friendly and family ties with them suggest personal dimensions, fidelities, a social context that is not readily evident when we contemplate the men in black crêpe who accompanied Camden’s corpse to the abbey. Dangerous as it is to read much of a personal nature into gifts accorded in 10

Death and Life of a Minor Figure wills, legacies to the metaphoric and legal family can be revealing. In Camden’s case, interspersed in the formal and legalistic language we find the verbal signs of a deeply private man. Camden’s estate was modest but ample. He enjoyed a bourgeois affluence that was one of the cultural by-products of his generation. At his death, he lived in a sizeable house in Chislehurst, Kent, set in two acres of land and surrounded by common, and later to be the emperor Louis Napoleon’s place of retirement.13 He owned land. In 1576 he inherited from his father a house in Staffordshire.14 Around 1620, as he prepared to establish the history chair at Oxford, Camden was wealthy enough to buy an estate valued at £400 per year to endow the position. He also had a small house at Westminster, granted to him by the Queen for his lifetime, and he held a prebend in Ilfracombe, Devonshire. Other property included a sizeable library of books and papers as well as seals and artefacts that a number of people were angling to own, if not inherit. There is no record of other ­material possessions. In short, his years as under-master and then headmaster at Westminster, as herald, and as prebendary, combined with a modest inheritance, left him in comfortable financial circumstances for much of his adult life. His purchase of the Bexley property tells us how prosperous he had become. He used part of the income to endow a staggeringly high annual salary of £140 for the holder of the professorship – by comparison, his own salary as headmaster had been only £20 a year.15 However, significantly this major part of his estate was settled prior to his death when he established the professorship, and so does not figure in his will. This suggests the extent to which his personal identity was tied up with his historical, professional, and intellectual interests; he did not want to leave this important a legacy to be worked out after his death.16 An experienced administrator and (as we will see) one who knew painfully well how universities operated, Camden wanted to oversee the establishment of the professorship himself. He selected the first lecturer and ensured his tenure against those who had candidates of their own for the post. The man who assumed the endowed chair, Degory Wheare, was almost wholly unknown to Camden as of 1620. On 17 May 1622, then, with the lectureship already established, Camden was publically recognized as a benefactor of the University of Oxford.17 Thus, in the manner of one of his humanist precursors, John Colet, founder of St Paul’s, Camden devoted the greater portion of his personal estate – during his own lifetime – to learning and scholarship through the establishment of a non-canonical subject, “civil history”, “as might bee most useful and profitable for the younger students of the University”.18 11

William Camden – A Life in Context As a result, Camden’s will consists largely of gestures of friendship and mementoes. For the most part, though, Camden’s distribution of his estate reflects his image of himself as a public man, with responsibilities to his office and profession, and interested in making public recognition of friendships rather than in passing real property and significant wealth to kin. In this we see a man marked by his particular generation and social and professional class. Driven by a combination of civic and philanthropic duty and a respect for “reputation”, his legacies reveal a belief in the importance of the social institutions, including the university, as means of improvement. His gift to the Company of Painter-Stainers further suggests his sense of indebtedness to a vestigial medieval economic system that enabled his father and himself to prosper. The modest gifts to relatives show him to have been a family man, but he clearly chose not to “set up” cousins with whom he had been, nevertheless, close for a period of many decades. Ultimately, his gifts had symbolic more than material value. They are part of the economy of friendship and acknowledge spiritual debts that go back a generation and more. A piece of plate worth £10 bequeathed to his patron Fulke Greville, “whoe preferred me gratis to my office”, reminds us also of their common affection for Philip Sidney, dead now for thirty-seven years. Similar small behests – to Selden, £5, Peter Manwood, £4, John Chamberlain, £3 – tell us that he did not value his friendships in material terms. Nevertheless, he was careful to acknowledge many friends both high and low, leaving to Janus Gruterus, “librarie keeper to the Prince palatine Elector at Heidelberg, five pounds”, to “Lant the younger, bookseller in Lichfield, five pounds”, to “master Thomas Allen of Gloucester Hall in Oxford, sixteen pounds”, and similar modest mementoes to numerous others. There were also token gifts acknowledging a community of friends and family – to godsons and goddaughters he left small sums; he was generous to his servant, John Halton, leaving him £30. Camden’s piety can be seen in such charitable behests as the £7 that he left to the vicar of Chislehurst and the £8 designated for the poor of the parish where he was to be buried. Other benefactions give special colouration to his religiosity. It may not be just the love of music that moved him to leave to “the singing men of the collegiate church of Westminster, six pounds”; this and gifts to the bell ringers and choristers of Westminster may suggest that Camden thought that salvation was not due to faith alone. Chantries and intercessory songs, dirges, and prayers for the souls of the dead had been disallowed in the Henrician and Edwardian Chantries Acts. Camden could not leave gifts explicitly for prayers or hymns in his name, but these 12

Death and Life of a Minor Figure behests for bell-ringing and songs were made in the spirit of “traditional religion”.19 Another intimate friend who enters Camden’s will is Robert Cotton, whom he had known for over forty years, from the time of Cotton’s early youth as a student at Westminster. In addition to making Cotton the overseer of his estate and conferring on him a gift of £10 and his “blacks”, Camden directs that Robert Cotton be allowed to retrieve his personal books from his library, suggesting how fully their lives overlapped and how their friendship and shared interest in antiquities and books transcended differences in age and social class. As we will see, their lives together were so close that the two were inseparable in the minds of many of their friends and correspondents. Of his other books, those on heraldry and arms he left to the office of Clarenceux King of Arms. This professional gesture reveals the seriousness with which he viewed his efforts to reform the College of Arms. His intention was to create a permanent collection for the office of Clarenceux, and to set a precedent among heralds for leaving their papers to the college. This identifies the herald in terms of the college as an institution rather than as an independent agent or a servant to the monarch or a powerful family. In many ways, Camden’s will is typical of the genre, but we should not take for granted either the symbolic nature of some of the behests, or the good sense of others. Such gestures were, of course, common in the period and they reveal aspects of the social dynamic of the age. In them we can read the sensibility of the man, his place among individuals and institutions of his generation, the influence of his social background, and the presence of some of the political, religious, and socio-economic conflicts that he and his contemporaries lived with. We also know of the flurry of activity before Camden’s death, when embittered legacy hunters took steps to obtain his much-valued papers and books. In scenes reminiscent of Ben Jonson’s Volpone, one longtime friend, John Hacket, later Bishop of Litchfield, when visiting Camden on his deathbed, “filched” some of his papers, while another old friend, Godfrey Goodman, a former student and later Bishop of Gloucester, pressed his “right” to papers and records; meanwhile, the books meant for the office of Clarenceux disappeared mysteriously, and the custom that he hoped to ­ inaugurate by leaving his professional papers to the office foundered.20 With such a backdrop of greed, betrayal, and insensitivity, Camden’s intentions in his will become more understandable and more resonant. There is a moral and political economy to it that is a direct response to the world he lived in and hoped to improve. The analogy with Volpone is particularly apt 13

William Camden – A Life in Context here, for the ideal economy of the spirit rather than of things is one which, as Katharine Eisaman Maus has shown, we see in the work of Camden’s friend and protégé, Ben Jonson.21 Jonson and his work provide useful corroboration of what we will have to say about Camden and his world. The society that he depicts, where characters driven by a blend of greed and lust divest themselves of their humanity and become objects or beasts, is one that scholars have identified more and more closely with Jacobean London.22 Here, among the court-worms wrapped in silk and the mongrel esquires bearing their bought arms (see epigrams 11, 15, and 48, for example), Camden had to make his way; his London was also Jonson’s; it too was blessed with the likes of Henry Savile, Clemont Edmundes, William Herbert, Lucy Bedford, and Mary Wroth, but as a teacher and herald of modest beginnings, Camden’s course was by no means a free and unimpeded flight over the crowd. It is such a socially and personally heterodox world of men and women, children and the aged, titled and untitled, named and nameless that inhabit the community outlined by Camden’s will. If, as I have suggested, his will radiates personal intimacy without material and social preoccupations to weigh it down, if it shows order and good sense rather than magnificence and monumentality, and if it bids farewell to friends and relatives without an effort to make them once for all his debtors the way that Jonson’s Chuffe does in epigram 44, it is because that is what Camden wanted. He chose to give “nothing” as gifts, mere signs of himself; he assumed the role of mere administrator of those things that he could not call his own – real property, books, the artefacts of the past that the antiquarian holds in trust. The significance of his will becomes clear in the aftermath of his death, when the gravitational pull of the material world draws many soi disant friends into its sphere of influence while others – the recipients of a gesture, a sign of their friendship – remain quietly associated with the man himself. Camden left the world in the style that he had lived – understated and selfeffacing. It is a style, not just a personality type – a mode of self-­expression that is subtle but forceful in effect. To understand Camden and why he had the influence that he did, we must be sensitive to that style. As with our reading of poets and playwrights, who live by their style, we must also remember that style is a matter of moral choice that positions a person within the community. Camden has been characterized as a man of quiet benignity and selfless industry dedicated to scholarship for its own sake. He has been cast as a man of letters and the mind, as the ideal collegial scholar. But this reputation also casts him as a political neuter, a moral and ethical idiot – Prince Mishkyn 14

Death and Life of a Minor Figure in the Tudor and Stuart courts. Such a view isolates the man from what we know to be the political realities of his world. However, in leaving the world as in living in it, Camden showed his knowledge of the world and his characteristic (and usually effective) method of engaging it. The construction of Camden as a disengaged scholar in a symposium of attentive and admiring colleagues ignores the politics behind the development of the Society of ­Antiquaries, the ways in which the College of Arms relates to James’s obsession with ­prerogative, the links between educational methods, antiquarianism, the forces of religious and legal reform, and the evolution of the Cult of Elizabeth from the 1590s to the middle of James’s reign. Nobody as central to these movements and organizations as Camden was could remain as politically or morally naïve as he is made out to be. For some contemporaries his was a respected political and moral voice; for others, he was a clever ventriloquist in matters of state and religion. In the gift of a ring, the recognition of an artisan’s company, the return of some books, and the minimalist use of gesture rather than money, we can begin to see Camden the Elizabethan, brought up in the age of restored Protestantism and the high Renaissance (such as it existed in England) in the contrasting light of Jacobean London, parliamentary conflict and growing political restiveness. A Protestant educator and historian, he was also a quiet reformer whose influence give him a noteworthy place on the ideological path leading from Cranmer to Laud and on to Milton; his seeming “neutrality” in political and religious matters was itself a manifestation of a Protestantism that needs to be placed in this historical context. This is the portrait that I hope to develop in the chapters to follow.


chapter ii A London Life: The Educator’s Education Ludgate’s Stones In the year 1260, this Ludgate was repaired, and beautified with images of Lud, and other kings. … These images of kings in the reign of Edward VI. had their heads smitten off, and were otherwise defaced by such as judged every image to be an idol; and in the reign of Queen Mary were repaired, as by setting new heads on their old bodies, etc. All which so remained until the year 1586, and the 28th of Queen Elizabeth, when the same gate, being sore decayed, was clean taken down… and the same year the whole gate was newly and beautifully built, with the images of Lud and others, as afore, on the east side, and the picture of her majesty Queen Elizabeth on the west side: all which was done at the common charges of the citizens.23


hile we have bits and fragments about Camden’s early life, what we have has remained largely undigested; from Thomas Smith, Anthony Wood, John Aubrey, from Camden himself and his contemporaries, we have data, but no real narrative until after his university years. Not surprisingly, his life seems to come into focus when he gets closer to completing his major published work, the Britannia. This is often the case in early modern biographies, for the simple reason that the early years are ­usually sparsely documented. The result, however, tends to be over-­determined accounts that seem to work ineluctably toward the defining ­artistic, personal, or historical achievement – the appearance of Paradise Lost, the death of Sidney, for example. While in a way this sounds exactly as it should be, most lives are not so coherent or schematic and are more poly­ semous. All biographers run the risk of using the light of hindsight to make the subject’s path to success clear, if not direct or easy. When the person’s youth is relatively undocumented, this tendency to allow the major achievement to become the defining point in the biographical landscape is hard to resist, so strong is the “author function” that motivates biographical study. 16

A London Life: The Educator’s Education For Camden related professional considerations compound the difficulty. His life is fragmented by his different professional activities and accomplishments: he is not just a writer, an educator, a herald, an antiquary, or a historian; nor is he best viewed as the sum of these “parts”. His importance will be different for different people, but no single achievement (the Britannia, the Annals of Elizabeth, his ties to major authors and scholars, for example) captures the essence of what makes him worth studying. For Camden (and his biographer), there are many intersecting paths leading toward several different identities. In illuminating each it is possible to capture his originality without exaggerating his importance in any single endeavour or area. In this way we can appreciate how Camden, a man in the margin of the period’s historical panorama, is able to shed so much redefining light on the larger canvas. All this calls attention to questions of biographical method. Camden’s life cannot be presented through a single lens; it needs to accommodate the diversity of his experience and to give it coherence without losing its complexity. His life does not have a clear linear development heading toward a culminating achievement. Thus, we need a view of character that is dynamic, not essentialistic; struggle and conflict are shaping influences and part of the economy of self rather than simply impediments to clearly articulated goals and personal or career objectives. This will be particularly important in our survey of Camden, whose life is an odd series of litotes: he does not seek out positions, they are conferred on him; others construct him. Paradoxically, biographical accounts of him have been series of negatives – he is not a historian, not an antiquarian, not a poet, not a politician, not a collector, not a herald – that ultimately affirm and qualify his identity. As I hope will become clear, Camden is a cultural construct, a product of the intellectual, socio-economic and political forces of his generation. While this may apply to everyone in a post-Greenblatt era, it is particularly important in a character as multivalent as Camden, and its implications for the biographer are critical: they will influence the shape and methodology of this study, and the nature and use of documentation deemed to be important. As a “life” of Camden, this is not a study of how he wrote the Britannia, how he performed as an educator, or what his influence on Spenser or Jonson was. Rather, as a study of different overlapping segments of his life and accomplishments, approached from their social contexts, this might be called a cultural and critical biography. While I try to identify Camden’s achievements as a writer, scholar, educator, and herald, and to assess his originality in different areas 17

William Camden – A Life in Context and works, I see Camden as shaped by, but also himself shaping the cultural forces of his time. The methodologies brought to bear on such a study, those of cultural historian, literary critic, textual scholar, and biographer, are ones that seem to be dictated by the subject himself and by my efforts to make sense of very diverse material that does not readily announce its significance. Camden was deeply sensitive to the semiotics of the material world around him; by virtue of his social and economic background, he was always strongly influenced by the forces at work in his society. He was a subject, not an agent; a servant, not a master. The life of service also has its own ideology; it can be, among other things, Christlike or patriotic. Over time Camden made political reality a virtue, transformed his object-status to a position of agency, and made the life of service one of originality and reform. But, as all must, he had to learn his place before he could take his place. “Place” is, of course, both a material and immaterial construct, and Camden, topographer, herald, and educator, understood both dimensions, and how one learned and mastered one’s place. The records of Camden’s formative youth are not plentiful and are insufficient for a master-narrative. But it is safe to say that the man shaped by the cultural currents of Tudor and Stuart London was fathered by the boy born in the Old Bailey. As anyone who has worked on Renaissance topographical writing knows, the material landscape bears the imprint of its political and socio-economic history. Because Camden is so much the product of his Elizabethan society and because in his young adulthood he was so acutely aware of the politics of landscape, the immediate setting of his early years is of interest. As the epigraph quoted from Camden’s contemporary John Stow suggests, the area around the Old Bailey, by the founding gates of the city, is something of a palimpsest for the cycles of change evident in the life and material fabric of Camden’s London. It conveys the “lived” quality of the historical environment for Camden and his contemporaries, and so is a “passage” worth our consideration. Stow’s topographical anecdote, a narrative excavation of Ludgate, is set in the neighbourhood where Camden grew up, and the last date that he mentions corresponds to the publication of the Britannia. Camden was born in 1551, the fourth year of Edward VI’s reign, in the Old Bailey. The Old Bailey (ancient site of the “court of the chamberlain of the city”) lies at the western-most extreme of the City, in the shadow of two prisons – Newgate (established by 1218) and Ludgate (established in 1378), 42 perches, or 231 18

A London Life: The Educator’s Education yards apart, according to Stow, and in view of St Paul’s (the cathedral and the school) on the east.24 It was the site of the city’s legendary foundation by King Lud in 66 bc, and the ancient city gate where on 8 February 1554 Thomas Wyatt and his rebel band tried unsuccessfully to storm the city in an attempt to remove Catholic Queen Mary and install Princess Elizabeth. The area was an old and poor working-class and Jewish neighbourhood, and, as Stow suggests, it reflects the city’s ongoing cycles of change. Stow’s antiquarian snapshot of the Old Bailey between Ludgate and Newgate is an interesting example of politically astute descriptive writing. He describes some relatively unobtrusive changes in the urban landscape – “historical” renovation and restoration of the ancient Ludgate; in the process, he presents changing social attitudes toward certain monuments that also reveal historical revisionism; urban renewal here is part of ongoing religious and political conflicts in the city and the kingdom. Interestingly, Stow’s account of the area dwells on the fate of the sculpted reliefs set in the wall at Ludgate. It reflects the popular interest in local history that informs his Survey of London, and he trusts his reader to be semiotician enough to draw conclusions independently. Stow, writing in 1598, tells the story of a gate – his method of unveiling the several historical layers of the scene and letting the landscape tell its own story is one that Camden had perfected in the Britannia a decade before. The gate, decorated with sculpted busts of its legendary founder and his successors, was built by King Lud, its antiquity recorded in the commentaries of Caesar and in Geoffrey of Monmouth. In 1215 the rebel barons broke through the gate to enter the City and despoil the houses of the Jews in the district. The stones of their houses were then used to rebuild the gate. In these repairs of 1260 the legendary history of Lud was memorialized in the stone images carved on the gate, which in 1378 was incorporated into a “free prison” for those convicted of debt, trespass, and like misdemeanours; Newgate Prison, nearby, was reserved for felons convicted of treasons and criminal offences. Camden’s Old Bailey, the early site for the city’s courts, lies between these two imposing portals and prisons; “without the walls”, it is part of the City but is also an embarking point for Westminster to the west. In sixteenth-century England city gates were still points of strategic importance as well as of antiquarian interest; city descriptions conventionally record such topographical details.25 They are by nature liminal points, and their histories are records of transgression, rebellion, definition, and affirmation; they are real and symbolic thresholds. Here, when Camden was three years old, 19

William Camden – A Life in Context Thomas Wyatt and his forces found Ludgate barred against them. In his narrative, Stow captures these elements, using the interplay between myth and history to give it meaning. Working from the mythic Lud to the historical rebels, and turning from the classical record of Caesar to the accounts of Geoffrey and other more fabulous sources, Stow’s narrative has a diastolic movement from affirming myth to disruptive history. Embodied in the gate are different kinds of history – that is, stories with different claims to veracity. These distinctions will figure later on in our discussion of Camden’s historical methods. For our present purposes, Stow’s historical picture of the area around the Old Bailey shows us two kinds of behaviour – creative and destructive. Embedded in the account (and more literally, in Ludgate) are exempla of rebellion, delusion, anti-Semitic cruelty, civic philanthropy, crime and punishment, and always the struggle for domination. The account records cyclical patterns of decay and growth; the historicity of Lud, Geoffrey’s or Caesar’s, has no bearing on the truth of the historical pattern itself. We see in Stow’s survey of Ludgate an epitome of the kinds of historical problems that Camden works out in the Britannia, but more immediately, that are recognized as part of the lesson of local history. Concentrating on the physical evidence (rather than the narrative), Stow, like Camden, exposes various antitheses on the surface of his narrative: in the struggles for power, the persecution of the Jews, the desecration of historical images and their reconstruction and later renovation, we see the clash between classic and vernacular, fact and fiction, politics and propaganda, the swinging pendulum of religious controversy, and monarchs’ use of local settings to validate themselves – in short, the daily, often disconcerting process by which nations grow through destruction. These are matters that the mature Camden certainly concerned himself with, and they are also the forces of history and change that are embodied in Camden’s neighbourhood. In the passage quoted from Stow, we see how he uses the physical setting to focus major ideological and political cruxes. In about the year of Camden’s birth and the founding of Christ’s Church ­Hospital, early in the short reign of Edward VI, the comely images of Lud and his successors were regarded as idols by the reformers, who, like Jonson’s Zeal of the Land Busy, took all images for idols, and had the reliefs decapitated. The ironic intent of Stow’s version is understated but certain (in the first edition of the Survey he calls the reformers “unadvised”; here, in the more diplomatic 1603 text, his irony is drier). With the new monarch, the return to Catholicism and the restoration of the bishops, the stone sculptures are resurrected body and soul; Stow’s account of the restoration of the heads to the 20

A London Life: The Educator’s Education ­vandalized figures echoes with a synecdoche suggesting religious and political “heads” as well as statues. These “Catholic images”, if you will, sit on the bodies of the legendary kings until 1586, the year of the first edition of the Britannia. Then, this time in the name of antiquarian “restoration”, the ­effigies are again removed, temporarily; the entire gate was “clean taken down; the prisoners in the meantime remaining in the large south-east quadrant to the same gate adjoining”, and “the whole gate was newly and beautifully built, with the images of Lud and the others, as afore, on the east side”. To the once-heretical images is added the bust of another head-of-state aspiring to like-mythic status – Queen Elizabeth; in a characteristic act of appropriation, she adds her figure to the “restored” heads of Lud and her predecessors, placed politically at a discreet remove on the west side of the gate. This architectural enactment of the Elizabethan settlement was completed at the citizens’ expense, in excess of £1,500. In its way, this second half of the tale of a gate subtly recapitulates the first. It records a sequence of events that Stow and Camden both lived through, the significance of which both men could read in the landscape. The fate of those seemingly innocent heads tells the story of the Elizabethan domestic policy, with all of its major ramifications for the poet, the historiographer, the political scientist, and the social historian. Acted out through the puppet-like busts were the ideologies of the reformers, whose iconoclasm embraced the particulars of statuary and the broad traditions of history; of the Catholics and their investment of belief in the outward and material form of its images; and of the would-be reconcilers who appropriate the iconography and assert its secular status. Elizabeth assimilated history and myth, and in so doing accommodated both Protestant and Catholic ideologies into a secular lore centred on her and maintained by the people. As in earlier centuries, it was a historical process that symbolically deconstructed the past, in this case peacefully, and reconstructed it in the idiom of the times. These are the times and this the compromise that Camden grew up in and that he absorbed through his environment before he studied it in the state papers that Burghley later provided him for writing the Annals of Elizabeth. What we see in the neutralization of the offending images is the political process that set the tone for Elizabeth’s reign; it is a tone that was assumed by writers as diverse as Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, and William Camden, each of whom used the image of Elizabeth in a similar way – to repossess the past in the terms of the Protestant present. The compromise that reconstructs the effigies and places them with Elizabeth’s own obviously 21

William Camden – A Life in Context does not solve religious problems that they symbolize: it diverts our attention – from the controversy, even from the stigma of the prison, by reconstituting the fabric of history. In placing herself among the legendary figures, she joins myth and history, legitimizes one with the other, thus short-circuiting Puritan objections; instead of destroying the images Mary replaced, she removes them and “repairs” them in her own image. Strategic rehabilitation is an effective way of achieving conformity, at psychological and personal, as well as at political and social levels. Cities have been built on such tactics, and modern landscapes are transformed in the same manner.26 Both cunning and control are at work. The power to destroy is asserted but not exactly used; factions are invited not to see what they saw before. Statues once heathenish are now civic responsibilities beyond the pale of religious controversy. The lesson contained in the stones illustrates why it is more prudent for people like Stow and Camden to write of landscape rather than of political figures. The rhetoric of topographical writing is one of indirection; to relate the vicissitudes of Ludgate’s stones is “antiquarianism”; to comment on the motives for changing the landscape would be political analysis. Topographical writing relies heavily on the expressive force of the physical and gestural; its language is one of accommodation and equivocation. It is learned in the streets before it is learned in handbooks and grammars; that is where Camden and Stow, a tallow chandler’s son and self-taught man, learned what might be called the semiotics of place.27 The forces that are at work in the restoration of Ludgate pervade Camden’s world. The pressures of religious controversy and compromise couched in Stow’s narrative are among the most important to keep in mind as we try to comprehend Camden’s development. This is not because he was himself directly concerned with these controversies, but because they permeate all aspects of social, educational, and political movements throughout the second half of the sixteenth century. The need to cultivate a reformed ideology that worked socially and politically pervaded the material as well as the mental environment of the period. Camden’s seeming uninvolvement in religious controversy in later years is itself part of the political tone and style that I have identified with the Elizabethan compromise. We will see that his work is not so much silent on matters of controversy as it is indirect in its engagement of them. As we look more closely at the fragmentary details of his youth, we will see how the presence of religious reform enters unobtrusively into most aspects of his life.


A London Life: The Educator’s Education

The Post-Reformation Student: Camden at Christ’s Church Hospital


amden was born on 2 May 1551, in the fourth year of Edward the Sixth’s reign, the year before John Leland’s death and the conversion of Greyfriars, the monastic house, into Christ’s Church Hospital. His was a northern family lately settled in London. Sampson Camden, his father, was originally from Litchfield. His mother, Elizabeth, was daughter of Giles Curwen of Poulton Hall, Lancashire, a connection recalled by William when he prepared his will. In the Britannia he notes his family connection to the Curwens of Workington, Cumberland, a politically well-connected family descended from the controversial Earl of Northumberland and reputedly related to Catherine Parr.28 There is no evidence of material consequences, either positive or negative, from his northern lineage. Camden remembered and respected these origins, and it may be that his maternal connections provided introductions and assistance for his family when they settled in London. The Camdens were part of the influx of people coming to London from the provinces, although Camden himself was a true denizen of the city. There were other Camdens in the city at this time – Mark Eccles notes the existence of a “William Cambden of Fleet Lane” who was assessed at £5.29 Our William makes a generous behest of £10 to “Camden of London, a Silkman”. There were William Camdens who were Painter-Stainers in London as early as 1529 and 1535,30 so it may be that Sampson Camden moved to the city to join an established branch of the family. This was a time of growth for the city, and also of political and religious unrest. As a member of the Company of PainterStainers, Sampson was perforce a man having a good deal to do with images of all sorts, including those that would be inventoried by the heralds on their visitations. The Reformation, with its wide-ranging prohibitions against “religious” images, marked the decline of the company and the beginning of territorial struggles between them and the College of Arms, as the guild’s ecclesiastical market dried up and they had to compete for the lucrative trade in heraldry. Little is known about Sampson; judging from William’s will, he seems also to have been a member of the Company of Cordwainers. Family circumstances are not very clear: Camden’s mother presumably died when he was still young, and Sampson remarried – in 1575, to Avis Carter.31 He left his son some property in Staffordshire, but in the early years finances were tight 23

William Camden – A Life in Context enough that young Camden attended Christ’s Church Hospital, intended for the poor and orphaned children, and went to Oxford as a chorister and servitor. One should assume nothing about the family’s religious persuasion; given Sampson’s generation and the place where he would have made most of his money – the Roman Catholic Church – we cannot take for granted an enthusiastic reform-minded guild member. A cautious approach to this subject is important since I will be questioning the traditional view of Camden’s ardent anti-Catholicism. Little that there is to say about Sampson Camden, we must not forget that his was the swing generation in the decades of reform. Sampson’s and Elizabeth’s son was a true child of Edwardian reform, and his first years coincide with those of intense religious disorientation in England. He received his Protestant legacy early in a form that would pervade his life and personality. His first schooling was at the newly re-established Christ’s Church Hospital, and this has led some biographers (notably Thomas Smith) to speculate incorrectly that Camden had been orphaned.32 As it would be for Milton, education for Camden became a way of life; he felt its invigorating force in his working-class bones, and whatever he may have learned at Christ’s Church Hospital, over the years he seems to have been keenly aware of its formative influence and to have recognized that education was his first step on the ladder of opportunity. It was a ladder firmly grounded in the historical present. Each stage in his education bears the imprimatur of the new phase of Tudor reform that would pave the way for his growth. The young Camden was admitted to Christ’s Church Hospital at around the age of seven in 1557 or 1558, the usual age to begin school at the “petties”; he would have entered as one of the many poor children, rather than among the foundlings or orphans who were also part of the “hospital’s” 400-plus charges. Christ’s Church was created along with other hospitals and schools five years before, in 1552/3, in “the late dissolved house of the Gray Friars”.33 A product of the Chantries Acts enacted by Henry VIII and continued by Edward VI, the “hospital” was meant to provide for the poor (not just children) and orphaned of the city as well as to serve as a school; it continued to serve those functions under Queen Mary. Still in its first decade of existence when Queen Elizabeth took the throne and restored Protestantism, it was imbued with the spirit of reform. Indeed, the foundations established by the Chantries Acts were designed as a social no less than a religious answer to the errors of a Roman Catholic past. As the reformers viewed the changes, monastic orders that were largely devoted to praying for the souls of the dead were converted to hospitals for the maintenance and 24

A London Life: The Educator’s Education education of the poor and infirm. The utilization of these dissolved church properties was linked specifically to doctrinal issues, particularly the Catholic church’s “misguided” views on purgatory and its preoccupation with the wellendowed dead at the expense of the needs of the living. Educators will appreciate the irony that, effectively, in the Chantries Act of Edward VI, grammar schools and social programmes were reconfigured out of purgatory: a great part of superstition and errors in Christian religion has been brought into the minds and estimation of men, by reason of their ignorance of the … perfect salvation through Christ Jesus, and by … vain opinions of purgatory and masses … to be done for them which be departed. Having thus identified the problem, the Chantries Act specifies that amendment of the same, and converting to good and godly uses, as in erecting of Grammar Schools to the education of youths in virtue and godliness … and better provision for the poor and needy [can best be done] by the advice of this most prudent council.34 The religious doctrine and political policy outlined in the Act itself provides the rationale for further reallocation of monastic houses, to be carried out according to specific warrants issued by the king and his council. The rhetoric of religious reform cannot conceal the social and political designs couched in the Chantries Acts. Turning the religious houses to ostensibly secular humanitarian purposes which, however, also promulgated the reformed liturgy, was an astute if not original political move. Indeed, it would be surprising if a boy like Camden did not associate the life of opportunities that he could not otherwise have hoped for with the newly restored religion under Elizabeth. Along with Leach, we may question whether the educational reforms in fact amounted to a renaissance of education in England.35 He argues rather that what took place was (if anything) a re-christening: that a relatively effective system was dismantled in the name of religious reform and redesigned to bear witness to the magnanimity of Henry and his son. This is precisely the remaking of the political landscape that we have seen in Stow’s survey of Ludgate. According to Edward VI’s critics, the overall effect of these changes was a net loss to the educational system itself: as church lands were confiscated, the schools “received very little, if any, endowment … and were like Christ’s Hospital and the other London hospitals, cheap advertisements of their royal patron and his advisers”.36 Grumpy in tone and, one suspects, 25

William Camden – A Life in Context not altogether disinterested, the passage reminds us that Renaissance education is not all hornbooks, double translation, and Ramist logic. The controversies surrounding Edwardian educational reform add brush strokes and colour to the portion of our canvas that deals with Camden’s early schooling. Whatever their educational strengths, the reformed schools, and particularly Christ’s Church Hospital, had a clear political and religious mission that was directed at working-class youth. Young and newly restored to its Protestant mandate, the school can hardly be thought of as a quiet haven of learning for its own sake. In Camden, we see one young beneficiary of Henrician and Edwardian policy, and can watch his uneven career as he rides the wave of reform and steers an indirect course to security and, depending on the criteria we use, success. We do not have to know precisely what Camden’s status was at Christ’s Church Hospital to make a modest assessment of his experience there and to fit it into a loose narrative framework. Ludgate was one of the oldest districts of the city, with notoriously narrow streets and having some of the exotic quality of a Jewish quarter. Looming magisterially in the midst of the area were the walls of the debtors’ prison and the prison for traitors and felons – potent manifestations of two aspects of authority and social order that would also have influenced significantly the economic, commercial, and social activity of the neighbourhood. The third and equally impressive neighbourhood institution was Christ’s Church Hospital. Occupying the massive historic complex of the Greyfriars – the church itself was the second largest religious edifice in London (after St Paul’s) – it fits well into this urban setting; under Henry VII, its church subsumed a number of nearby parishes, including St Sepulchre. With the double mission to serve the indigent and orphaned and to provide education for the children of the poor, this physically imposing group of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century buildings, including the church, the fratry, the library, dorter, chapter house, the great cloister, and “lesser tenements” cast their long shadow of authoritarian presence over the area.37 Together accommodating large numbers of the city’s more marginal inhabitants, these three institutions set the tone for the working-class community that they served. It is in this shadow that the Camdens lived. Many of the Edwardian grammar schools, even those designated for the poor, were frequented by the children of the middle and more prosperous classes.38 While this is no doubt true of Christ’s Church Hospital, its broader mission secured its reputation as a haven for the “relief of the poor children” of the city.39 How near the margin 26

A London Life: The Educator’s Education were the Camdens? Their domestic circumstances suggest certain habits of living, a sense of family tradition, and comparative economic stability. His father was well enough connected, judging from his friendship with Charles Wriothesley, a prosperous and distinguished herald who was with the Camdens when he died in 1562. Assessed at £8 per year, Sampson made “a very good income for the time”, according to Mark Eccles.40 The Camdens of Old Bailey were probably a proud family of modest but growing financial means. You do not need to be rich to be proud – nor do you have to be impoverished to be affected by the presence of poverty, marginality, and an overpowering authoritarian presence. Here was a community where the extreme forms of punitive authority, social assistance, and the demands of conformity are palpably present. Certainly not affluent, Camden was exposed early on to Elizabethan society’s systems of punishment, reward, and restraint. His was a working-class boy’s introduction to the patronage system – patronized (in the old and new senses of the word) by an education system presenting ­genuine opportunity to its young, and built on the importance of hierarchy and conformity as well as learning. A more prosperous environment would have subtler forms of authoritarian presence and influence, but here, in the overlapping shadows of prisons and what was effectively an almshouse, Camden began to learn the plain, austerer forms of the language of understatement, restraint, and indirection necessary for advancement. We know from the spare autobiographical records left by Camden that after some years at Christ’s Church Hospital he was infected with the plague and removed to Islington, only to return sometime prior to 1566 to attend St Paul’s School.41 His diary entry for 1563, “peste correptus Islingtoniae”, is the first such record in a lifetime of frequent illness. Camden was diligent observer of health and physical symptoms. The habit probably began as he and his family or nurses watched the course of his symptoms and convalescence during this plague year when (as he explains in the Annals of Elizabeth) English soldiers evacuating the infested and besieged camps at New Haven “were brought back into England sick of the Plague” and spread so “con­tagious [a] Pestilence, that it grievously afflicted the whole Realm: and out of the City of London alone … there were carried forth to burying about 21,530 Corpses”.42 When Camden entered St Paul’s School, probably in 1563, he came with an educational and social background that a new grammar school student entering directly into Paul’s would not have. How he managed financially to attend St Paul’s is not clear: whether in recognition of his scholarly ability, because 27

William Camden – A Life in Context of the influence of a patron or friend, or because his own family could afford it, we do not know. But few would wonder why he would transfer there from Christ’s Church Hospital if it were possible to do so.

St Paul’s School and the Traditions of Reform


lthough st paul’s was virtually in Camden’s backyard, it was in an   entirely different neighbourhood. Presided over by the cathedral rather than a dissolved friary turned hospital, it was a prosperous neighbourhood with a solid middle-class economy associated with (among other things) the legal profession and publishing rather than prisons, debt, and treason. Inverted mirror images to one another, the two districts and their schools stand in ironic contrast. Law, the Church, authority in various guises dominate both settings but in markedly different forms. If at Christ’s Church ­Hospital Camden saw socially more of the stick than he did of the carrot, at St Paul’s this was reversed. Literally and figuratively Camden was moving into the heart of the medieval and Renaissance city from its marginal western limits, where the pull of Westminster rivalled that of the City. In later years he would reverse the direction and move west to the new political and social centre, at early modern Westminster and Whitehall. But in the mid-1560s, on his school route from the Old Bailey, he could see the cathedral and beyond it, the royal presence of the White Tower. Travelling the short distance to St Paul’s, young Camden was leaving home-territory and penetrating a landscape perhaps familiar but not his own. No schoolboy would be insensitive to the symbolic and real differences in the landscapes he passed as he moved into Paul’s Yard, the threshold opening east towards Guildhall on the left, Baynard’s Castle on the right, the White Tower ahead. This is the heart of medieval London; the humanist school, newly built by John Colet in 1512, signalled the trajectory for changes to come in a reformed, early modern city. St Paul’s had a unique place in the emergence of the Protestant city; its active role in the early years of reform became the powerful traditions that persisted with great vitality even as late as John Milton. Being at St Paul’s was unlike being at Christ’s Church Hospital, and the difference is part of what helped to mould the character of William Camden. Christ’s Church Hospital and St Paul’s were very different in spite of common ideological foundations shared by Reformation schools. Their ­curricula were probably very much the same, however much the quality of 28

A London Life: The Educator’s Education education might have differed: the curriculum at St Paul’s was still the model followed by other schools. The differences were primarily in the size and nature of the student body, and in the ways in which religious and political ideologies were present in the social milieu of the two schools. Given the very nature of English schools after the Reformation, both were politically and religiously wholly conformist. Under supervision of the Bishop of London, employing authorized texts incorporating a generally uniform curriculum and religious instruction, both schools functioned within the same political and religious environment. In sixteenth-century England, goals for religious uniformity and political control came together in the educational system under the same authority. Notwithstanding this centralized and outwardly homogeneous system, schools had markedly different relationships to the sources of political control; indeed, some (St Paul’s being one) enjoyed a significant degree of political autonomy while also maintaining an essentially conservative ideology. For student and for master, life at St Paul’s, Christ’s Church Hospital, and Westminster School would be very different. And Camden was to be affiliated in different ways with all three. The differences are entrenched in the physical as well as the fiscal and statutory foundations of the schools. The architecture of the massive walls of the Franciscan complex, enclosing an impenetrably quiet quadrangle, makes an important, if not very subtle architectural statement. Turning inward away from the urban world, combining restraint and protection in an institution that carries the idea of in loco parentis to the extreme, the religious house of the Gray Friars provided a monastic paradigm that was implicitly adapted to the secular institution of Christ’s Church Hospital. With about 400 young students, the reformed facility was no doubt rather less quiet than it had been, although behind its walls, its buildings and quadrangles served many of the same functions. Now, however, under the auspices of a royal patron, it withdrew its poor charges from the world, cared for and educated them in things secular and spiritual. St Paul’s School, on the other hand, stood in a completely different relationship to religious and political authority. A new building erected by its founding patron, it stood adjacent to but distinct from the cathedral. The school was designed as an urban school, for children of merchants from the City as well as for international students, and was entrusted to the management of the “felowshype of the mercery of London”.43 Not residential and having no quiet close, it was not intended to act in loco parentis; rather, it looked into the cathedral yard, itself an English piazza, a meeting place, not 29

William Camden – A Life in Context a cloister, and its students commuted to school from their homes in the City. The school is conspicuously an urban, Renaissance construction reflecting in many ways the bourgeois values of the merchant class, the “married citizens of good character” that Colet stipulated should run the school and whose children would occupy it.44 Its physical situation in the city, like its educational objectives, was not ecclesiastical, monastic, or medieval, but rather secular, mercantile, and self-consciously “modern”. In these details alone we begin to see the different relationship that St Paul’s had to the dominant forces affecting the lives of its students. Indeed, it was carefully conceived by its founder as having greater autonomy than that of cathedral or parish schools.45 St Paul’s and Christ’s Church Hospital were founded in radically different political climates, and the differences are reflected in their statutes. The forty-three years that separate their establishment measure the distance between a humanist, Renaissance school and a post-Reformation school. Their founding statutes betray different relationships between the members of the educational community and the local and national political hierarchies. Thus, when John Colet, Dean of St Paul’s, founded the school in 1510, he took pains to make it independent of ecclesiastical authority, and to keep it separate from the cathedral, from himself and his own office as dean, and from the cathedral school that had once existed on the site. Colet’s carefully designed statutes for the school reveal his awareness of the political realities behind educational institutions. The paradox that the Dean of St Paul’s should create a school as far beyond ecclesiastical jurisdiction as possible is not wholly explained by the enmity between him and his bishop. Rather, what we see in the statutes is a design fully a part of the spirit of reform in 1510, that is, the period when reform was gradually emerging rather than being legislated by acts of conformity. The Erastian institution that Colet wanted to create required certain fiscal, administrative, and educational conditions, and the measures that he took to realize them are part of the intellectual heritage that influenced Camden and others of his generation. Thus, the school was established – by an individual, not by royal decree – in a time of educational zeal but a generation before the creation of schools was being used as a palliative for the appropriation of church lands. Colet’s foundation is a product of the first wave of humanism brought to England by such pioneers as William Grocyn and John Linacre.46 Colet and his school had a significant role in fuelling the humanist movement that, in turn, gave rise to the religious reform that was to follow. Being in the vanguard of reform, 30

A London Life: The Educator’s Education St Paul’s, an independently endowed institution, had a clearer and simpler relationship to political and religious authority than did Christ’s Church Hospital. Colet’s desire to instruct children in “good manners and literature” is free of the polemical politicized zeal informing the Chantries Act. There were certainly “political” factors aplenty in the founding of St Paul’s, but for Colet they involved circumventing the Church and its authority, not the state’s – a distinction that would work to his advantage and that could not be made in 1553. Humanist learning and education could be hazardous business; the kind of social and spiritual reform that Colet hoped to effect through the bonae ­litterae required autonomy from the scholastic, monkish, and medieval system that he associated with every kind of vice and stupidity. The intellectual idealism that strives to work outside institutional structures would be part of the intellectual tradition that shaped Camden’s career. This meant that Colet needed to create an administrative structure that would ensure this independence; the result was a school whose traditions were radically different from those of institutions, like Christ’s Church Hospital, that were the expressions of royal supremacy and agents of conformity. And so Colet defined the aims of his school as secular, and he put its governance into the hands of the Company of Mercers; the education was to be liberal, not ecclesiastical. For Colet, as it would be for Camden, the force of reform came essentially from an educated society rather than from institutional authority. His political realism was tinged with the social idealism that motivated the humanists. It was built on middle­-class families such as the Camdens; eschewing aristocratic and ecclesiastical leadership, Colet turned to the citizens engaged in the new economy because, he said, he “found less corruption in men of that class”.47 In Colet we can see a precursor of the educator and administrator that Camden was to become, and why; the traditions of the first English humanist school were to influence the man who promoted the revival of those traditions in Westminster School. Colet’s goal of intellectual and administrative independence pervades the educational tradition of St Paul’s. His methods, which we will see also in Camden’s work, are typically those of circumvention rather than confrontation, and they made it possible to survive controversy and exert influence. In 1510 St Paul’s took the lead in introducing in England a full humanist education comparable to European models, offering a curriculum designed by Colet himself. In addition to commissioning ­crucial texts from Erasmus, the guru of humanist educators, and stating that the school was to teach “good literature bothe Latin and Greke, and good 31

William Camden – A Life in Context authors” (pagan and Christian), Colet gave maximum freedom to the headmaster of the school.48 Each aspect of the statutes reiterates Colet’s desire not to be dogmatic in prescribing either the form or content of instruction in the school. He states clearly the kind of education he hoped to foster – humane in the fullest sense, combining classical and Christian; he explicitly refuses to be prescriptive, and places his confidence in his instructors’ judgement and in the texts by Erasmus. It would be naïve to think that what is at work here is politically disinterested; after all, this is the education that provided the intellectual rationale for the Reformation, and Colet, a man of deep religious conviction, is commonly regarded as a proto-Protestant. But it is safe to say that Colet’s educational agenda pretends to disinterestedness. From its foundation through its curriculum, it asserted its secular Christianity and successfully sidestepped attacks by the church in various ways – something Colet took some pride in.49 One way that Colet strove to achieve this was by ensuring diversity among the ­ student body and their parents. Thus, while the curriculum of Christ’s Church Hospital and St Paul’s might be virtually identical, the educational experience would be radically different partly because of the demographics and the way that its heterogeneity carried into its governance. In avoiding traditional hierarchic structures, Colet built his school on the back of London’s growing international and commercial importance: “There shall be taught in the scole children of all nations and countres indifferently to the number of cliii according to the number of seates in the scole”.50 Interesting not only for its internationalism but also for its refusal to specify any social or economic group, even avoiding commitment to the children of the Mercers, the statutes are clearly intended to be free of any restrictive admission policy. This nicely opens the doors for a student such as Camden. The desire to establish an international community of scholars in a secular but Christian context sets St Paul’s apart from virtually all other privately endowed London schools of this or the next generation. The school and the education that it professed, then, emerged from a clear awareness of its relationship to the principal forces of authority and power in its society. In this way, Colet negotiated for his school a space that accommodated an intellectual heterodoxy in an otherwise increasingly hierarchic and exclusionary political culture. From within such spaces come realigned intellectual priorities that find their way into the larger political arena. Without such a tradition of heterodox thinking, Camden would not have come into his own; he habitually created for himself such politically demilitarized 32

A London Life: The Educator’s Education zones where he could facilitate rethinking of the organizational and power structures of the communities in which he worked. The particular kind of experience to be had at St Paul’s in the mid-1560s would not be lost on Camden. With his background and as an older student coming to the school from Christ’s Church Hospital, he could not miss the social, political, and religious gradations between them. If Christ’s Church Hospital is unmistakably a product of Henrician and Edwardian policies, the intellectual élitism of St Paul’s is in some measure removed from them. St Paul’s was a school bearing all the marks of its generation – when the move to restore a primitive church was gaining momentum; when the recovery of Greek and classical Latin was becoming the driving educational force; when humanism was still an international movement. These characteristics were part of the legendary, revolutionary character of the school, and they were certainly still potent forces for John Milton.51 Whatever the twelve-year-old Camden’s perception of the school, he certainly learned to appreciate these qualities, for they pervade his life and manner. They are the characteristics of his own approach to scholarship, which was international, secular, and classical, though patriotic and Protestant withal. More specific influences can also be identified. It is Camden, the Paul’s pigeon, who will step back into the educational system in 1575 as an educator and later as the author of a Greek textbook, the Latin model of which he encountered at St Paul’s in William Lily’s Latin grammar. There is no question that the mature Camden in some ways modelled himself as educator on what he encountered at Colet’s school. More important, Camden’s career and the identity that, if you will, was finally created for him, was an Elizabethan and early-Jacobean remake of the earlier Tudor humanist. Remakes are by nature the appropriation of an earlier era’s work; they perpetuate the cult of the earlier work while being the agency for a hybrid new species. Recognizable as part of the humanist tradition originating in England at St Paul’s, Camden, we will see, is just as surely a son of early modern London. We can find many humanist influences on Camden in the academic training offered at St Paul’s. The school’s curriculum throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries – through Milton – has been the subject of much thorough research, so that we can focus our discussion on how his education at St Paul’s affected his own work and interests and shaped his future.52 It can probably be assumed that Camden was eminently teachable, and so it is safe to say that the much-discussed details about what authors were taught, when, and how, are not in themselves important to our understanding of 33

William Camden – A Life in Context Camden’s learning. Rather, what will be important is what he carried with him from that learning environment, and how the influence of his education at St Paul’s can be found in the mature Camden’s life as a scholar, educator, and herald. To prepare the context for assessing how Camden figures in the tradition of humanist education it will be useful to revisit some of the generalizations that still persist about post-Reformation English schools. Virtually all of the many schools created from the period of early reform through Elizabeth’s reign had the same two fundamental objectives: to foster Christian virtue and to teach students “good language and literature”, or the “bonae litterae”. There were, of course, specialized schools – choir schools, cathedral schools, parish schools, hospital schools, schools with different admissions requirements, curricula, or programmes. Emphasis on curricular and extra-curricular activities might vary from music, singing, physical exercise, or the school play. The alternatives are much the same that parents will find when looking through the Sunday supplement, pondering places to send the little scion. St Paul’s was a day school for commuting students, known for academic excellence and its emphasis on Greek. Notwithstanding this range of options, the broad educational objectives of the grammar school, however endowed, are those outlined in William Kempe’s The Education of Children in Learning (1588). In his two-pronged attack on the minds and manners of youth, the academic focus is essentially Latin. Although schools aspired to regular instruction in Greek, in spite of what may be outlined in the statutes, when all is said and done, most schools offered a programme that could realistically aspire only to teaching some of the children a tolerable Latin style, over a grammar school career of somewhere between five and eight forms, and covering grammar for about 60 per cent of the time and rhetoric for about 40 per cent.53 As we will see, by the 1560s, well after the rush to revive the language in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, Greek and other more exotic languages were on the decline. In Camden’s time, then, the curriculum was essentially training in language and written and oral expression. Darryll Grantley’s recent study of drama and education in the early modern period, Wit’s Pilgrimage, offers an insightful analysis of how education during these decades participates in the changes from a hereditary aristocratic dominant culture to an emergent middle class; both education and the developing formal theatres of the time helped codify and validate the value systems and credentials for upward mobility. His study 34

A London Life: The Educator’s Education complements some of the larger issues raised in this chapter. Although there has been a tendency to speak generally about Renaissance education, we will see that there were major shifts in emphasis from the sixteenth through the seventeenth centuries that relate to Camden’s particular experience. That said, language skills, classical and vernacular, written and oral, were in large measure the focus of English education. The role of classical languages in this mix changed over time, though, and these changes help us measure the evolution of humanist education. Thus, some of the schools, including St Paul’s and Westminster, required that students have a degree of proficiency in reading and writing English and Latin before being admitted. Different subjects such as philosophy, theo­ logy, history, were learned as one subjected the texts to grammatical analysis, double translation, imitation, or (in the upper forms) to explication and analysis. One learned the subjects through the languages, and the languages through the subjects. Particularly in the schools established around the time of St Paul’s foundation, there was a growing emphasis on what we have heard Colet call “pure chaste eloquence” – by which he meant a classical style free of what the reformers perceived to be the monkish scholastic corruption. This aspect of the philological bias of humanism is part of the return to authentic texts and primary sources and the break from commentaries and redactions, and here as in so much else in the realm of Renaissance education, Erasmus was their model. Although there was controversy among Renaissance reformers about what constitutes a “pure, chaste” style, whether it could be found in the work of a pagan author, and whether poets should be included in the curriculum, the evidence shows that in practice, educators, including John Colet and William Lily, and the ecclesiastical inspectors endorsed curricula having both classical and Christian authors. Although the specific texts may vary somewhat, for practical purposes there was a core curriculum of Latin, both pre-Christian and Christian. As in today’s schools, the twin engines of student interest (and ability) and the availability of qualified instructors also affected the course of Greek study – and led to its near stagnation by the late sixteenth century. So, we can assume that Renaissance students are the true forefathers of today’s, and accept that there is a gap between a school’s educational aspirations (as stated in their statutes) and the realities of the classroom and student “outcomes”. The graduating class of 1570 probably consisted of a large number of students reasonably familiar with the canon (meaning in this case classical and Christian texts) in a muddled form of English translation and moderately competent Latin; an almost equal number 35

William Camden – A Life in Context quite capable in both Latin and English languages; and a handful excelling in Latin and having a degree of competence in another language, probably Greek, ­possibly Hebrew; then, there are those few in every school who excel in all their courses. In assessing Camden’s career choices and the literary projects that he pursued, it is useful to have a historically accurate sense of the educational realities of the mid-sixteenth century: the opportunities for scholars interested in following career paths to the court, the universities, or the church had changed significantly between 1500 and 1600. Thus, if in 1500 Greek was the fashionable language to learn, it had to be learned outside England. It was around this time that the revival of the classics found its way to England. Colet was in the second wave of humanist scholars, and among those to do most to disseminate the fashion through his network of graduates, teachers, and friends: [around 1510] the perfection of good letters, Latin and Greek, by the happy advantage of many wits and scholars out of Italy, was spread throughout Great Britain … their example was followed by Dr. John Colet … who about this time created a public school in London, of an elegant structure.54 Colet first made Greek part of the regular curriculum at St Paul’s in 1510: “As touching in this scole what shall be taught of the maisters and learned of the scolers … I would they were taught always in good literature bothe Laten and Greke.”55 The first professorship in Greek at the universities was only established in 1517 at Oxford; it was held by one of Colet’s alumni, John Clement. Following this example, most schools included Greek – some, even Hebrew – among their stated educational objectives. It is through those languages and Latin that the Protestant student could – theoretically – get direct access to the chastest and purest literature and be freed of dependence on bowdlerized classics and “papist” commentators. But by mid-century the rush had dissipated and because of staffing and enrolment problems, few schools could offer either with any regularity. St Paul’s was able to do so fairly consistently – certainly during the period that Camden was there – but it was not altogether immune to the fluctuations in and realities of educational fashions.56 The curriculum at St Paul’s prepared the way for post-Reformation education policies and guidelines. This was the era of the courtier-scholar – Denny, Cheke, Ascham, for example – and much was made of the education of princes and the role of humanist scholars at court. Ironically, in the Catholic Colet’s 36

A London Life: The Educator’s Education statutes and curriculum were found the cornerstones of Protestant humanist educational ideals, and also the core texts and instructional methods to teach secular and doctrinal material blended within a humanist curricular solution. Colet’s statutes provided the prototype for the kind of education institutionalized by Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth, and implemented by the major English educators and administrators, including William Lily, Alexander Nowell, Roger Ascham, Edward Grant, and Richard Mulcaster: And for the entent I will the children learne first above all the catechizon in Englishe and after the accidens, that I made, or some other, yf any be better to the purpose, to induce Children more spedely to Laten speeche. And then Institutum Christiani Hominis, which that learned Erasmus made at my requeste, and the boke called Copia of the same Erasmus.57 With an emphasis on good manners and (at least) good Latin, it approached the task from both academic and practical avenues that made Christian living and humane learning work together according to the best humanist ideals. Considering how much has been written about Renaissance English education, it is surprising how little analysis there has been of the ways in which it fused moral instruction, doctrinal religious training, and humane learning. Instruction in religion and morals were inseparable from study of language and style. Thus, the Catechism was learned in both English and Latin – in Colet’s English text and Erasmus’s Latin adaptation, which was published in 1514 as the Christiani hominis institutum. Latin prayers were prepared for use in the school and integrated into the language instruction. At every stage the student’s “formal” training in grammar and rhetoric was a vehicle for moral, political, and religious training, or otherwise brought into the here and now for the student. The prayers, of course, taught Latin and reiterated lessons on conformity, obedience, and loyalty to the king. In more ways than one, the language was a living one, in that instruction was emphatically oral rather than written, and students were repeatedly called upon to articulate, defend, and debate – to present their ideas in public and affirm their religious and political allegiances publicly. According to John Stow, it was common that outside the school semi-formal debates would take place spontaneously between the piglets of St Anthony’s and the pigeons of St Paul’s.58 As Protestantism became more firmly entrenched as a social revolution, its educational policies evolved along consistent ideological and political lines. The continuity within the educational system represents more than just the 37

William Camden – A Life in Context perseverance of school traditions or curricula. What we see over the decades is a process of appropriation and accommodation that shows the considerable political significance of developments in the grammar school curriculum. In terms of the modification of the grammars, Baldwin and Fletcher show how Lily’s Institutio, with its Erastian elements, was increasingly streamlined over the years, until it evolved into the compact form that made it the standard text serving the objective of “uniformity” in educational matters and “conformity” in religion; indeed, the end of Protestant, universal education is religious conformity and the Oath of Supremacy. The pattern that we see is interesting and well known. As religious controversy intensified before the separation from Rome, the grammar texts that incorporated doctrinally sensitive religious material intended to improve the morals of youth began to disappear from the stalls. By 1529, the Aeditio and the De octo orationis partium, texts prepared by Lily and Colet respectively, having their Erastian classical focus and Colet’s brand of reform, had received royal favour and were mentioned by Wolsey as being prescribed throughout England (“o[mn]ibus aliis totius Anglie scholis prescripta”).59 In successive editions from 1529 through 1549, the “streamlining” amounts to the removal of material having a Catholic doctrinal cast to it – that is, it amounts to the “Protestantization” of grammar and by extension of the school curriculum. It is this reformed text, a laundered Lily as it were, that is prepared for use by Edward VI.60 It is no surprise that in 1554, when the sun seemed to shine again for the Catholics of the realm, Bishop Bonner made especial note of “heretical” grammar texts published in Edward’s time that have “streamlined” (in my phrase) the number of sacraments to two. He refers to printers in Paul’s Churchyard who in the time of King Edward the Sixth … heretically, maliciously, and naughtily did imprint a grammar in English and Latin, putting in the Latin Grammar but only two Sacraments, it is to wit, Baptism and the Supper of our Lord; infecting thereby the youth and others to think and believe, that there be no more sacraments in Christ’s Church but those two.61 In the changes to the school grammar we can trace how humanist education was assimilated into Reformation policy and the wide-ranging social reform of Henrician and Edwardian England. Henry, in authorizing the 1543 edition of the grammar, expressed his concern for the proper education and upbringing of “the tendre babes, and youth of our realme”. Universality of education is, in Henrician policy, facilitated by its availability, in the first 38

A London Life: The Educator’s Education stages, in English. The strategy follows that shown in the dissemination of the English Bible (1525), and it is part of the far-reaching social policy that cleverly spreads the ground-level basis of Protestantism in both the educational and ecclesiastical structures, and in a language understood by all. Thus, to secure the well-being of his tender subjects, Henry “commaunde[s], and streightly charge[s] al you scholemaisters and teachers of grammar within this our realme, … to teache and learne your scholars this englyshe introduction here ensuing”.62 During the period of religious reform, the text of Lily’s grammar was reduced, simplified (as the mass was), and generally secularized; in its transformation we can see the same goals of uniformity that are part of the broader religious policy.63 Eventually, even the barest vestiges of its Catholic past are removed, leaving it more clearly a product of an indigenous Protestant system. Thus, when we look at the compilations that scholars such as Baldwin have made of books studied in different grammar school forms, we want to keep in mind that these works were not studied in the quiet of library carrels.64 Education in post-Reformation schools was an active and very public process; the study of Terence, Plautus, Virgil, Horace, and Juvenal, the mastery of an increasingly Protestant catechism and various oral prayers, involved recitation, the analysis and defence of readings and explications, and dramatic performance. Reading included the works of orators, military historians, and ecclesiastical writers, poets, and dramatists; the authors were men of the piazza. Similarly, this public learning was complemented by the oral presentation of prayers, sentences, and other forms of moral instruction that were shared by the members of the community and were themselves made the subject of disputations, so that modern and classical, moral, ethical, political, and religious issues blended. Education of this sort, met with at St Paul’s and elsewhere, aimed not just at knowing, but at doing and saying, and being trained in the arts of verbal self-defence. Reformation humanist education was anything but disinterested scholarly activity removed from contemporary public and political issues, and the students were trained for public discourse rather than for the life of contemplation. Complex cultural forces worked their way through the education system in ways that are important for our understanding of Camden’s interest in languages. Language learning, not just of Greek, was a principal vehicle for the transfer of this energy, and was recognized for its political importance. Although the dream of the humanist educator was the revival and dissemination of Greek, throughout the sixteenth century, as Anthony Grafton and Lisa 39

William Camden – A Life in Context Jardine make clear, it survived as a diminishing dream rather than an attainable reality.65 However, the language maintained its strong symbolic presence in school statutes, linking them with traditions of reformed humanist education. Realistically, though, the curriculum was built around Latin, and it was not long before the importance of mastering English was recognized. The learning of the three languages grew more closely intertwined as the humanist agenda itself evolved. For many, including Roger Ascham, proficiency in Latin was a preliminary step for learning both Greek and English. Erasmus’s Latin De copia was meant to prepare the student for the study of Greek, to enable him to appreciate the Latin masters, and to attune him to the elements of style, in whatever language. Generally, the curriculum reinforces this triangulated language study. Aesop’s fables and other texts were taught first in Latin (through the process of English translation) and then in original Greek. The importance of English increased over the years and there was concern whether Greek was the best way to learn good useful English, or to train a good, useful Englishman. The growing recognition of the importance of English did not generally encroach on the place of Greek in the curriculum. As Baldwin says of the persistence of Greek at the Merchant Taylors’ School, “Mulcaster’s theories of English training were not permitted to interfere with the conventional curriculum. They belonged to petty school anyway, not to grammar school.” And even as staunch a classicist as Ascham speaks emphatically of the need of the master “not onelie to serve in the Latin or Greke tong, but also in our own English language”.66 In England and elsewhere in Europe, the history of Greek instruction outlines the fate of humanism, and it provides one of the intellectual contexts for understanding Camden’s life and career. Even with the inescapable emergence of vernacular study, Greek retained its place as figurehead decorating the pinnacle of secular education. Camden’s place in this history is interesting. During the 1560s, as humanist ideals remained intact although performance in the schools was slipping, he was trained with the rigour of the first humanist zealots; most of his major work – notably the Britannia – dealing with Roman Britain, was written in Latin, not only in order to reach the international community, but also to capture in the work itself the way in which classical and vernacular come together in British culture. In the last decade of the sixteenth century, while under-master at Westminster School, he wrote the standard Greek grammar that would be used throughout England; in humanist tradition, it was modelled in large measure on Lily’s Latin grammar. But this unfeigned respect for the learned languages co-existed with his love 40

A London Life: The Educator’s Education of English and his recognition that for mixed reasons scholars can over-value “other” languages (classical and modern): “Neither hath any thing detracted more from the dignity of our tongue, than our owne affecting of forraine tongues, by admiring, praysing, and studying them above measure.”67 As we will see, his views on and use of language reflect his realistic accommodation of social change. With an extraordinary openness, he celebrates language change – how English has “beene beautified and enriched out of other good tongues”; significantly, he embraces the process of “enfranchising and endenizing strange words”. Language, like culture and society, are never static but are part of a process of negotiated change. These views, articulated forcefully in his Remains, are also the foundation of the cultural history of the Britannia and reveal much about his sense of the political process. He knows how enforced language can be used for the subjection of an occupied nation, but feels that ultimately change and accommodation prevail at the grassroots level. In his Remains, with characteristic realism and adaptability, he writes eloquently of the expressiveness of “the old English” “before the Norman Conquest” and of the versatility of its modern form, in which it shares the fate of other modern languages: “whereas our tongue is mixed, it is no disgrace, whenas all the tongues of Europe doe participate interchangeably the one of the other, and in the learned tongues, there hath beene like borrowing one from another”.68 His admiration for English, felt without compromise to his love and respect for the “learned tongues”, has an eclectic quality reflective of the particular undogmatic, non-essentialist view of the human condition that he characteristically turns to patriotic ends: Omitting this, pardon me and thinke me not overballanced with affection, if I thinke that our English tongue is (I will not say as sacred as the Hebrew, or as learned as the Greeke,) but as fluent as the Latine, as courteous as the Spanish, as courtlike as the French, and as amorous as the Italian.69 Thus, while Camden’s study of English is, as Richard Dunn says, historical – he tried to identify the major waves of linguistic influence on English and also to see the similarities that link languages – his view of language is more complicated, and is understood best in terms of the evolution of English humanism.70 Not only does he travel the via media in contemporary scholarly debates about language and grammar, avoiding the extremes of the proponents of the vernacular and those of the learned languages, but he also sees language as social process, and therefore is able to turn the middle road into a 41

William Camden – A Life in Context way forward. Camden’s stand as a philologist miniatures his position in other matters: undogmatic, adaptable, both conservative and forward-looking.

London Education and the Waning of Reformation Humanism


student at paul’s, whether it be in 1566 or 1620, was joined through   the traditions of the school to the original spirit of the Renaissance and the English Reformation. But if there was much continuity, there were also critical differences over the generations. What was originally a curriculum designed to capture the exhilarating new learning available on the Continent before long became ideologically entrenched, buttressing the episcopate and sustaining the policies behind the Elizabethan settlement. So, in later decades, when Milton was at St Paul’s, for example, it was sometimes viewed as a conservative force whose now-distant revolutionary origins legitimized an education that, in the eyes of some reformers, was inhibiting change. A man like Camden, dipped in the streams of the system when he and it were relatively young, had a special relationship to the institutionalized cultural currents of the times. As a product of the humanist learning during the period of school reform, he was both part of the established (or establishment) “curriculum” and part of the changing bourgeois society that was surely transforming once­innovative programmes into anachronisms. Authorized texts, statutes, even school reputations change slowly. True at all times, this is particularly so in a highly centralized authoritarian culture such as Elizabethan England, where stability was the government’s first concern. But it is not always the community’s, and during Camden’s lifetime the religious and social fabric of London evolved in spite of governmental institutions and educational statutes.71 To understand Camden, then, we need to know where he fits into this spectrum. Because his entire life was spent in institutions closely attached to royal policies of one sort or another, Camden offers significant insights into the relationship between public policy and the community itself. In each of the different phases of his life, he served implicitly as an interpreter of the culture that he assimilated. He was a man steeped in the elements of humanism and reform, and his survival and relative success reflect on his ability to negotiate that learning and the complex political and social milieu in which he lived. In one respect, Camden’s success becomes an important legitimizing force for the system that created him. It also testifies to his ability to ­mediate 42

A London Life: The Educator’s Education between those systems and policies and the social realities. Thus, under Camden, Westminster flourished at a time when the Protestant educational system evolved from an agent of reform to one of conservative restraint. We understand Camden better, then, when we recognize his role in the changing humanist institutions that made and nurtured him. We continue to ask where he stands as the reform movement changes character? As we will see, Camden never really leaves “the system”, but at the same time, he never works within it without self-consciously changing it. Camden’s Greek grammar helps to locate him within this trajectory. In a way it is the most obvious product of his experience at St Paul’s, and it places him in the company of humanist educators. Understandable though it is that he should prepare such a work, we should not take it for granted. Published in 1595, it too is the product of various personal and professional forces. But in its own way it is an odd project for him to undertake, and for this reason we might usefully conclude this section with a brief discussion of it. When Camden prepared his Institutio graecae grammatices, he was responding to a legitimate academic need for a usable and inexpensive school text. The grammars commonly used were Clenardus’s Institutiones in linguam graecam (1530) and Meditationes graecanicae in artem grammatica (1531), the work of the humanist scholar-priest from Louvain, and notoriously difficult to use, as Camden knew from first-hand experience. Camden’s mentor and predecessor as first master at Westminster, Edward Grant – himself a close friend of Roger Ascham, the Greek scholar and tutor of Queen Elizabeth – had prepared a new grammar in 1575, but it too proved unusable, and survived only one edition. Camden, probably responding to suggestions from Grant, set about revising it using the format of Lily’s “royal grammar” as his guide. As we have seen, the publication of grammar school texts is not without larger implications. If Camden’s first goal was to design a text for successful use in the classroom, in 1595 it also had a backward-looking quality that served to entrench the linguistic priorities of a previous generation. In modelling his text on Lily’s, Camden follows the path set by Colet, Lily, and Erasmus and reaffirms the educational priorities of the waning humanist curriculum. But on the other hand, he also implicitly acknowledges his own past. Camden stakes his place in the tradition that he was introduced to at St Paul’s thirty years before. Writing his Institutio graecae grammatices is in its way a logical step for the under-master at Westminster to take in order to secure his academic credibility. Published at the time of Camden’s appointment as Edward Grant’s successor as headmaster, the Institutio aligns Camden with Grant and 43

William Camden – A Life in Context Lily, and places him in the humanist philological tradition. The grammar is for him personally an intellectual rite of passage as he returns home with proof of his having earned his intellectual patrimony. In so doing, he perpetuates the humanist-reform cause as though the intellectual terrain were unchanged. In form and content, Camden’s grammar contributes to the persistence of the ideology, based in Henrician reform, that he and his contemporaries absorbed. Its emphasis on poetry and classical rather than ecclesiastical models, for example, is part of the marriage of humanist curriculum and Protestant policy. This is, after all, the educational system that shaped the minds of such contemporary poets as Spenser, Sidney, and Shakespeare. As Arthur Kinney emphasizes, the school system of the early sixteenth century was the major nurturing force of the “humanist poetic”: “we can date the start of humanist poetics with the statutes of St Paul’s School, London, in 1512”.72 But as we have seen, as it is assimilated into England, it also becomes a Protestant poetic. Unless we believe that Protestant poets are born, not made, we need to ask where that poetic is acquired, and it is acquired in the schools. The inspirational waters they drank came from a reformed fount, just as sure as the texts they studied taught a reformed language. In the 1560s and 1570s authors educated in Edwardian and early Elizabethan grammar schools were in the third wave of humanist learning and the first generation in which Continental humanism was, contractually, married to Protestant education. By 1595 the Protestant landscape – and the literary and educational terrain – had changed considerably. Thus, if we are to appreciate the changing cultural currents during the century from 1560 to 1660, we need a historically more specific understanding of where the mature literary, religious, and political expressions of the times first took root: in what social “soil” the imaginative seeds of writers such as Camden, Sidney, Spenser, Selden, Jonson, Donne, and Milton, were first planted. The poetic of these authors from significantly different generations is as different as their politics. We need to place Camden, educated at Christ’s Church Hospital and St Paul’s in the mid-1560s and publishing his Greek grammar in 1595, on the spectrum outlined by these authors. In doing so, we can locate him and his work in their political chronology: formed in the nursery of these institutions and confirming his patrimony through the 1595 Greek grammar, his identity formation is set in a deeply conservative past. But in 1595 the zeal for Greek had passed: Mulcaster’s modern ideas about language, if they had not actually taken over from Ascham’s fervent Hellenism, were the ones of the day, and we have seen that Camden himself had a 44

A London Life: The Educator’s Education modern and flexible attitude towards both classical and vernacular languages. In the late sixteenth century the recovery and study of vernacular languages was the real subject of discussion among antiquarians and linguists – as we see in Richard Carew’s essay praising the English language (published in the 1614 edition of the Remains), or in the Testimonie of Antiquitie (published by John Day in 1567), and in the pioneering work of John Jocelyn, William Lambarde, and Laurence Nowell. Camden was deeply interested in vernacular tongues, hired a servant to teach him Welsh, and encouraged those of his colleagues who were linguists. But he chose to write a Greek grammar, a homage to Roger Ascham, to Edward Grant, to Lily, to the generation and the ideals that they represent. Indeed, it was in Grant’s edition of Ascham’s letters (1575) that Camden, then a young second master at Westminster, published his first poem. Thus, his grammar should not be viewed in any way as “inevitable” – to do so is to miss the diversity of his generation and the significance of the professional choices that he made. There are critical moments in some people’s lives when various influencing factors (political, material, psychological) are suspended within the medium of will and self-determination. At such junctures, we are in harmony with our cultural “benefactors”; distinctions between present and past are dissolved. For some, this never occurs; they do not work with a retrospective sensibility, but push forward without looking backward. But for Camden, we see such a meeting of past and present in his Greek grammar; in fact, this liminal quality is present in much of his work, and it distinguishes his kind of originality. Publication is never a neutral statement or act: it always amounts to an expression of choice, a moral decision of one sort or another. Camden’s composition of his grammar was almost certainly not the result of a strategic political decision. But as a deliberate contribution to the maintenance of a classical, humanist, and reformed curriculum, it makes a significant statement that is cultural, historical, personal, and political in import. This proleptic survey of educational currents from the early years of Henry VIII through the sixteenth century is important for understanding the academic milieu in which Camden grew up, and also the intellectual patrimony that he carried into the future. I do not think that we can appreciate the subtleties of Camden’s life without due awareness of this milieu. The training at St Paul’s predisposed him to author a Greek grammar that could be used in the schools and would ally him with forebears from Lily to Ascham and Grant. But this path to the humanist past is not the one he ultimately followed. He did not seek to be a pre-eminent Greek scholar; did not hold 45

William Camden – A Life in Context – or establish – a professorship in Greek or pursue a serious scholarly career in once-traditional university or court circles. He forged a new space for the independent scholar. Younger scholars who outstripped him in linguistic ability, such as Selden, followed him and also went down new paths; the humanist scholar in the mode of Erasmus, Grocyn, Casaubon, Denny, Cheke, and Ascham, for example, was a vestige of the past, an extinct breed. If the Greek grammar recalled his debt to an earlier generation of Tudor humanists, there is yet another, perhaps stronger trajectory to his life that linked him with seventeenth-century lawyers, antiquaries, and parliamentary figures such as Robert Cotton, John Selden, and Henry Spelman. As we will see, there are sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Camdens, but the “poetic” that he learned as a youth in London is one that he continued to refine in later years.

St Paul’s and the Seeds of Westminster


amden’s career is one thread by which we can follow the course of Tudor reform, and it is also a means of tracking the shifting political demographics of London through the schools and the lives of students and masters. If we can say of Camden that St Paul’s child is father to the Westminster man, perhaps we can see the same relationship between the schools themselves. In his metamorphosis from student to teacher, Camden is part of a general shift from St Paul’s and the City to Westminster and the West End. At this juncture, then, it will be useful to look further at Camden’s experiences in these two differently located schools, and mark the course of change and continuity between early and late Elizabethan Camden. Westminster School was re-established by Elizabeth in 1561; her principal agent in this was Lord Burghley, who took a keen interest in the project and in the community of Westminster generally. This will be important for us since he also had long-standing direct and indirect ties to Camden. Like her predecessors, Elizabeth used educational policy and school and university appointments to set the tone and form the ideological foundations of her reign. We have seen that St Paul’s was appropriated into Henrician and Edwardian reform, and Elizabeth used Westminster School in a similar way. She deliberately identified herself with the school policies of her father’s reign, and was especially careful to forge the association at Westminster, where she endowed Queen’s Scholars as her father before had created King’s Scholars. Her re-establishment of Westminster appears to be an attempt to recapture some of the zeal and respect for learning associated with the early ­Protestant 46

A London Life: The Educator’s Education years and St Paul’s. Although Greek had all but dropped from the regular curricula of most schools, when Westminster was re-established, it was written permanently into the school curriculum in a self-conscious effort to entrench the language and claim the mantle of pre-eminence from St Paul’s.73 The lesson of the stones of Ludgate are repeated often and in different ways. Elizabeth’s interest in Westminster is part of a larger redefinition of the landscape of London, marking a shift in its political nexus to the West End. Just as she rearranged the material and semiotic components of Ludgate, so too she shifted the political geography of London, identifying with parts of her father’s city-scape while transforming them in ways to distinguish them as her own. When Colet founded St Paul’s, London court life centred around the royal residence at the Tower, and city life around the cathedral; he built his school in the intellectual and cultural centre of the city.74 Elizabeth, in turn, created her own urban centre in Westminster. By 1575, when Camden was appointed second master at Westminster School, the area defined by the abbey and chapter complex, including Parliament and White Hall Palace (and, of course, the school), was a far more concentrated and deliberately planned nexus than was the Tower and cathedral complex for Henry. If Camden’s appointment at Westminster was part of her larger effort to identify herself with the educational movement of her father, it is also a small element in the concentration of the court’s energies in the area around the abbey. There, in the chapter, were located the principal government offices, the Houses of Parliament, royal residences, major public records, a prison, and a still vital sanctuary. And, there was the school itself. It is in this eminently visible, geographically centralized area within the precincts of the Westminster Chapter that Elizabeth chose to create a highprofile microcosm of her secular and ecclesiastical power. Westminster was her showcase community where her actions assumed symbolic status. ­Camden’s growth from the time of his transfer from Christ’s Church Hospital to St Paul’s, to the time of his move from Oxford to Westminster School, leads him in the direction of Elizabethan Westminster. Camden, the alumnus of St Paul’s, was part of the revival of Westminster School, which was confirmed with the success of the “Westminster grammar” (as the Institutio graecae grammatices became known). In turn, the shaping of his life in many ways replicates the construction of the “Elizabethan” community of Westminster. Exactly when Camden met Burghley is not known, but his influence was felt early in his life. The one-time guardian of Prince Edward, Burghley was keenly attuned to the political potential of education. At St Paul’s, ­studying 47

William Camden – A Life in Context under John Cooke, the high master, Camden began a long career in the aura of William Cecil, who had been Cooke’s school fellow and later his patron. The Dean of St Paul’s himself, Alexander Nowell, a close confidant of Burghley, was also a prebendary and a powerful influence in the Westminster Chapter, where he first introduced the instruction of Greek when he was master in the school in 1543. Among Elizabeth’s advisors, Burghley saw most clearly the political utility of learning, scholarship, and books, and was most assiduous in exploiting it. He sought out libraries associated with the religious controversies that Henry and Edward were engaged in during the separation from Rome; he manipulated the sequestration of private and ecclesiastical libraries that could be used for Protestant and personal political ends; and he saw as no other politician did how scholarship, including antiquarianism, historical philology, and language training, could serve the mythos of the state.75 For decades scholars working on these related subjects have emphasized Burghley’s interests in history, education, and scholarship, and particularly his involvement in the antiquarian movement and the study of Anglo-Saxon. It would be simplistic and misrepresentative to speak of these far-reaching intellectual interests as being merely politically motivated. Until his death in 1598 Burghley the politician-cum-scholar was an informing spirit directly and indirectly present in all aspects of the career of the Elizabethan Camden. He provides the longest of the many threads linking Camden to the mainstream intellectual and political movements that reached England early in the sixteenth century and that ran their course for a century and a half. This is not to suggest that Camden was a precocious young recruit into Burghley’s secret service. Throughout his life he disliked political intrigue, and as a mere boy in the mid-1560s, as he was being assimilated into the educational system, one would think that he was beneath notice by men of Burghley’s rank. Although history has cast him as a political naïf, Camden was a political creature, and lived in a highly politicized environment. His friends and patrons were part of Burghley’s network, his career as student and teacher was shaped by the rivalries that permeated the system from school to university and court; it relied on personal favours, and his own work, disinterested as it appears, perforce had its political implications. It is not certain if the boy Camden met Burghley or only his protégés at St Paul’s – the dean, Alexander Nowell, and John Cooke, the headmaster; he did not need to – Burghley’s genius pervaded the spirit of reform that is part of the education to be had at St Paul’s, and later at Westminster. As we will see, this 48

A London Life: The Educator’s Education spirit also accompanied Camden to the College of Arms, and it was present in his work on the ­ Britannia and the Annals of Elizabeth. Burghley had a hand – often a fairly light hand for such a weighty figure – in virtually all of these phases of Camden’s career. But following the example set by Colet for his school, as educator, scholar, and herald, Camden studiously maintained the role of the disinterested party, never losing his detachment, however sensitive his work. He seems never to have been Burghley’s, or anyone else’s creature. Unlike Henry VIII, who lacked subtlety in most matters, Burghley saw the advantages of scholarly detachment and the appearance of objectivity. ­Notwithstanding his scholarly integrity, Camden did “naturally” what served the spirit of reform and civic-minded Protestantism. His debts were to the cultural environment that I have tried in part to characterize, and following the path of opportunity that opened up before him, he served a system that in turn served him. If we narrow our scope somewhat as we conclude our study of these early years, we can see Camden the man in the grammar-school student in other ways as well. We have seen that, educator and grammarian that he was to become, Camden was not a classical scholar per se. Like his younger contemporary and admirer, Francis Bacon (b. 1561), he is a product and practitioner of the new learning. If not a classicist, Camden was, however, a true scholar, but one whose learning and research methods crossed conventional disciplinary boundaries, such as they existed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. His interests – in national languages and literatures, etymology, the history of institutions, arms and titles, geography, antiquities, and material culture, as well as in contemporary European events – reflect a breadth of learning and research that are not contained in the curriculum of the trivium and quadrivium. Rather, they are among the emerging areas of study and new methodologies that were beginning to find a place in the schools and universities. Camden’s greatest interest is ultimately in things vernacular, particularly the vernacular past, and this, of course, fed his voracious appetite for antiquarian study, a passion he dates from his early youth, and fostered by the men and education he encountered at St Paul’s and Oxford. Thus, as we reassess Camden’s career, it will be helpful to recognize that we are looking at a man whose work is more obviously unconventional than it is conventional. Product of the late Tudor reform movement as we have seen, he and his output do not resemble the humanist scholars and scholarship of earlier generations. He – and others of his generation – help to transform the scholar’s role in England. 49

William Camden – A Life in Context In many ways these tendencies can be regarded as the legacy of St Paul’s. His passion for the vernacular past, paradoxically expressed in Latin, owes much to the men and the traditions at the school. Although Mulcaster, the best-known proponent of English study, was at St Paul’s shortly after Camden proceeded to Oxford, vernacular history and language had found their place in the school before his arrival. Alexander Nowell, Dean of St Paul’s, was himself an avid antiquarian and, like his kinsman, Laurence, a strong advocate of the study of Anglo-Saxon, as well as the author of the revised catechism, which he sent to Cecil in manuscript in 1563, and which he had translated by Thomas Norton in 1570. St Paul’s developed a reputation for encouraging good English as well as good Latin. It is the conjunction of Camden’s classical and vernacular knowledge and new research techniques that gave the unique originality to his cultural history of Britain. Camden is the first professional scholar that we see in the period who systematically combines the forces of classical humanism and vernacular antiquarianism, and develops a politically influential career through this hybrid writing. In his career we can observe the transformation of the humanist courtier. This is important for it marks a shift in the place of learning in the Renaissance court and the passing of the scholar-courtier such as Roger Ascham or John Cheke. It also qualifies the image of Camden as classical humanist, and places him in his proper relationship to the “new learning” of the early part of the century. A professional independent of the court as his predecessors were not, Camden was a new breed of scholar; over fifty years ago Maurice Powicke described him as the most illustrious of “a new type of scholar, the learned layman”, and this fuller context of his career amplifies the significance of this remark.76 Also part of the generation of anti-­Ciceronians, in certain respects he is nearer to Bacon than to Ascham – a friend of Tacitus rather than an enemy of Cicero. Thus, Camden’s place in history will be better understood when we look at him and his work in their full contexts, and if we do, we will find in him a man determined to meet his classical inheritance on his own terms. Camden’s training at St Paul’s seems to have fostered other identifiable aspects of his personal development, particularly his appreciation of literature; indeed, he was a man who made the literature of his culture an important part of his vocation. In him we can see the profile of a new kind of public intellectual. The Camden who befriended and influenced some of the major writers of the period and whose praises were sung by poets and historians as diverse as Edmund Spenser, Ben Jonson, Edmund Campion, Joseph Hall, 50

A London Life: The Educator’s Education John Selden, and Michael Drayton enjoyed a literary bent that was nurtured early in his life. Throughout his career Camden stands out as a staunch supporter of English letters, new and old. And at a time when the modern idea of disciplines was beginning to take shape, he was recognized not only as a friend equally of poets and historians, but also as being himself both poet and historian. In this, for example, Camden stands radically at odds with the aristocratic Philip Sidney, whose refined, idealistic view of poetry strove to isolate it from more quotidian studies such as history.77 Camden’s position in the avant garde has its seeds in his humanist training and the desire to have England take its place in a cultural tradition that derives from Greece and Rome – that, after all, is the subtext of the Britannia. Camden is an avatar of Frederic Jameson’s exhortation to contextualize; he is the first in England to attempt to read cultural artefacts in their full historical contexts. As he cultivates his historical methods, the interest in vernacular history and literature merges with the study of Anglo-Saxon and British languages. The respect for vernacular literature was nurtured in the liberal climate of St Paul’s, whose varied curriculum included readings in scripture and theology, poetry, history, philosophy, epistles, orations, fables, drama, and philosophy (fine generic distinctions were not insisted on).78 Polonius was not the only one to reflect on the diversity of genres – ­“tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, [tragical-historical, tragical-comical-­historical-pastoral,] scene individable, or poem unlimited” (Hamlet II.ii.396–400). Essays – or assays – across the seven liberal arts as well as across genres were part of the freedom felt during this time of extraordinary literary vitality. This sort of “writing across the curriculum” was supported by the pedagogy itself, which had students doing writing of all kinds. We have looked at the political implications of the Renaissance school text, but not its literary influences, which can also be seen in Camden’s mature work. Lily’s grammar in the form that Camden would have used it for example, suggests that poetry in particular was found to be useful for developing language and style. It devotes a good deal of space to the study and practice of prosody and poetic devices. There are definitions and examples of rhetorical terms and tropes that were to be used in the written and oral exercises of the students. Educational historians writing about Ascham’s Scholemaster have spoken about the technique of “double translation” that was used in the grammar schools. Another regular exercise that is of importance (especially if we are concerned with the relation of poetry and the more prosaic world of politics) is that of translating from prose to verse, and from verse to prose. 51

William Camden – A Life in Context This, a classroom variant on double translation, is the teaching strategy that Camden used successfully with Ben Jonson. Not only does the technique say much about the relationship between the genres for a poet such as Jonson, but it also gives an insight into how the classical and humanist education fostered original writing among students.79 Obviously the sections in Lily’s grammar that dealt with prosody would assist the student and instructor in these exercises. Furthermore, the grammar that teaches the utility of “poetic” (that is, figurative, tropoglogical) language in this way is not greatly interested in distinguishing sharply between literary forms and genres. The grammar texts encourage the cross-fertilization of genres and are part of the era before the professionalizing of disciplines and their specialized modes of discourse that comes with Ramus. If we recognize that the grammar school student acquiring literary skills was accustomed to crossing boundaries between prose and verse (the epistle and the encomium, for example), between languages and between disciplines, we should have little trouble accepting the fact that experienced writers such as Philip Sidney, customarily cross and mix genres when they find it useful to do so. This was part of their training. During the 1560s and 1570s the rhetorical focus of the trivium and quadrivium was being supplemented by “modern” subjects. A curriculum unfragmented by our sense of “disciplines” prepared the early modern student for a holistic view of learning. This is what we see in Camden’s writing, for example, when he mixes genres and interlaces the Britannia with his poem “de Connubio Tamae et Isis”, or when he, like Bacon, assumes that the whole range of human experience is susceptible to historical study. Thus, it is possible to see connections between Camden’s early education and his own work, which experiments in form and mixed genres, and his influence on writers of various sorts. For example, it is easy to see how his grammar training fed his interest in fostering the literary arts. His Greek grammar with its material on tropes and figurative language was part of his classroom emphasis on developing prosodic and writing skills. We know from Jonson that this training did not consist of mere rote exercises to hone the skills of paraphrasis; Camden taught the Renaissance version of creative writing at Westminster and turned the direction of the exercise towards selfexpression, in English, Latin, or Greek. Jonson’s account clearly grows out of his classroom experience, in which the standard exercise of working from prose to verse was taught with sensitivity and literary appreciation. It was this training that made Jonson among the most “classical” of English poets and 52

A London Life: The Educator’s Education playwrights, and also among the most contemporary and indigenous in his handling of material. In this case we have a rare insight into how the humanist education that Camden received at St Paul’s re-emerged decades later in Westminster’s classroom in the 1580s. Under his tutelage, Jonson and others were freed from the retrospective “Renaissance” of an earlier generation and learned to experiment in different classical forms and modes, and to respect their own hybrid creations as of cultural importance. And so, the future that Camden made for himself from this humanist legacy was particular to his moment in history. It was not the aristocratic life of diplomat and courtier that Richard Pace paints for the educated humanist in his De Fructu qui ex doctrina percipitur Liber, a treatise on the benefits of the liberal arts. Pace, Dean of St Paul’s before Alexander Nowell, a friend of Erasmus, Hoby, and Ascham, and a career diplomat under Henry VIII, saw the bonae litterae as potentially a civilizing force for the coarse and privileged, whose world tended to the anti-intellectual. Pace provides one of the most direct statements about the importance of a humanist education; for him, its main purpose was to spread the gospel of the arts of peace among the anti-intellectual aristocracy for whom the idea of “arms” was still largely a military code and education a concession to the lower classes. But a world of difference separates the social dynamics of 1535 and that of 1570. As Grantley demonstrates in his Wit’s Pilgrimage, for Camden’s class and generation letters and humane learning were markers conferring greater social mobility, cultural capital that might help in the precarious quest for socio-economic stability or, better yet, prosperity. They were these things for Camden, but he travelled a somewhat different route. He became a professional intellectual, a man of letters in the public arena, using his training for its utility and adaptability to various situations, but also pursuing study for its own sake. His scholarly work – classics, antiquarian research, vernacular languages and literature, contemporary “political science” – was not undertaken as preparation for life at court, to engage in religious polemics, to earn patronage, or to win a professorship by editing patristic or classical texts, although he was trained for all these ventures. Camden recognized that his learning had its own value and could be carried usefully into varied situations that cut across class, religion, and politics. It was a commodity to be acquired and that made him infinitely flexible and yet socially and economically unstable. In this he is an excellent example of the changing role of education in a society where class barriers had become increasingly permeable. Caught between the aristo­ cratic compromise of the Renaissance and the age of the entrepreneur and 53

William Camden – A Life in Context ­ erchant of the seventeenth century, Camden is a distinctly early modern m man, a product of new values and emerging mobility. As such, he is also unattached – disenfranchised; this is both his strength and his vulnerability, and we will see it as a defining characteristic throughout his life. We see this quality clearly in Camden’s place – or lack of place – in the literary world of his generation. Camden made letters his profession and in so doing gave them a status different from that accorded them by men such as Pace and the humanists of the previous generation. He was not a professional writer working popular genres, such as Braithwaite or Munday; not a university wannabe such as Harvey or an academic recusant such as Nashe or Marlowe; and not a royal polemicist such as Leland. He does not ply the literary market place for his living or identity. For Camden the world of letters was not viewed as the path to another mode of living as it was for the writers of conduct books and for the satirists of the aspiring middle class, such as Braithwaite and Greene. In Camden we see the naturalization of a classless – or unclassed – humanist existing in the interstices of the social structure, whose learning and ability confer a degree of self-sufficiency and give him access to qualities that are themselves ennobling – as Jonson, the aristocrat of letters says of Camden: “camden, most reverend head, to whom I owe / All that I am in arts, all that I know … Pardon free truth, and let thy modestie, / Which conquers all, be once over-come by thee.”80 Jonson’s praise of Camden here and elsewhere is fulsome: he is a poet, a teacher, a “professor” of letters, a historian, and most of all, a seeker of truth. If, as I have shown elsewhere, Jonson sees Camden as the fulfilment of humanist ideals, he does so within the meritocratic context of his epigrams, where true nobility knows no social barrier. In Jonson’s debt to Camden we see the profession of letters in its early modern guise: just as Jonson in his 1616 Folio redefines the socio-economic and legal role of the writer in society, so before him his teacher transformed the role of the humanistically trained scholar into the professional, bourgeois man of letters. There are two other related areas of Camden’s experience at St Paul’s that we can confidently say exerted a powerful influence on him throughout his life, and they are music and drama. Apparent through faint but clear documentary traces, these two arts permeated Camden’s private and his professional lives. St Paul’s had a long-standing association with court drama and music. The tradition goes back to the pre-Reformation cathedral school, which maintained a “vicar choral” as well as a schoolmaster. There was a hospital for 54

A London Life: The Educator’s Education poor boys that put on theatrical performances, and a separate choir school attached to the cathedral. By the fourteenth century the theatrical and musical traditions of the children of St Paul’s were firmly established, and although Colet’s sixteenth-century establishment was strictly speaking separate from the “song school”, as E. K. Chambers says, “there was much give and take” between it and the grammar school.81 It should be noted that this kind of relationship between a choir school, an establishment for poor boys, and an independent grammar school is virtually identical to what existed in the West End at Westminster, and we know that master Camden sang regularly in the abbey choir school. Drama and music, then, are commonly found together in major ecclesiastical and educational communities such as these, and their traditions were deeply entrenched during the period before the Reformation. Choral music was, of course, at the centre of the Roman Catholic liturgy and mass. The persistence of choirs and choir schools in the Reformation was potentially problematic, since much of the vocal music was inextricable from doctrinal issues, and many of the rites which routinely involve vocal music, such as intercessory hymns for the dead, were forbidden under Elizabeth.82 As Duffy describes the change at this time, “the switch from Latin to English immediately rendered obsolete the entire musical repertoire of cathedral, chapel, and parish church”.83 Thus, the use of music in reformed church rites resonated with echoes of the old religion, and Camden’s deep love of music persisted either in spite of, or because of this. The place of dramatic performance in the schools has a similar ambiguity to it, and both St Paul’s and Westminster also had long-standing and rich traditions of theatrical activity. Interestingly, although St Paul’s was commonly associated with the Reformation, conventionally regarded as an enemy of the stage, it had a long uninterrupted history of school drama. Indeed, these links with the theatre were fostered by official figures such as Dean Nowell and the school’s early masters and teachers, including John Ritewise and Sebastian Westcott. John Ritwise, Lily’s son-in-law, was himself a dramatist, and involved the boys of the grammar school in court entertainments beyond the annual Christmas performance. The school’s dramatic activity continued unabated during Mary’s reign, but it flourished from the very first years of Elizabeth under Sebastian Westcott. Interestingly, in 1552 he and John Heywood brought boy players, probably from St Paul’s, to Hatfield House to perform for Princess Elizabeth.84 In 1557, under Queen Mary, Westcott was described as a “scolemaister of Powles”, and in spite of lingering, apparently legitimate charges of papistry, he weathered the return of Protestantism, 55

William Camden – A Life in Context enjoyed the good will of Elizabeth, and remained the songmaster at St Paul’s and the director of Paul’s boys pretty much consistently until his death in 1582. During his tenure at the school he brought the children of Paul’s to Elizabeth’s court at least twenty-seven times, and the only year that the annual Christmas entertainment was not performed was in the plague year 1563/4, the year Camden was afflicted and left London for Islington. Westcott’s career further testifies to the close connection between musical and theatrical traditions in the schools, as well as to their tendency to be associated with Catholicism.85 The records of the school and court drama of the period rarely name the boys involved. Rather, they are alluded to in the inventories and other documents relating to court performances – “xii cottes for the boyes in Heywoodes play”, or “paide in rewarde to … Sebastian, towardes the charge of the children with the carriage of the plaiers garmentes xiiith of Februarye, xxs”.86 Although there is no record of Camden’s career as a student thespian, he probably had either an acting or a singing role in some of the performances of the boys at St Paul’s. The role of music in the educational and social history of the period is important though little explored, and it had a major place in Camden’s personal and professional life. He was deeply committed to music. He went from St Paul’s to Oxford as a chorister; he served regularly with the choir at Westminster; and his closest friend was William Heather, the court composer and musician. Just as “drama and education” and “music and education” are serious concerns among educators today, so too, the importance of music and drama in the education of children was recognized in the Renaissance. Although some regarded them as inappropriate for Protestant schools, influential Reformation educators such as Alexander Nowell, headmaster of Westminster from 1544 to 1555 before becoming Dean of St Paul’s, and Nicholas Udall, who succeeded him as headmaster, defended their place on educational grounds.87 Both drama and music effectively served the educational principles of the period, with their emphasis on role-playing generally, decla­mation, public recitations, and memory. Renaissance educational theory emphasized that learning involved the expression and “leading outward” of the truth and understanding that lies within the student, and drama and music were ­methods of perfecting this public “discovery” of the self. Education was a remarkably public forum, oral at all of its stages. The connection between educational practice and the development of the theatre is well known but has barely been examined in terms of the cultural history of the period. That the educational role of drama and music in the 56

A London Life: The Educator’s Education schools helped shape the theatrical tastes, however, is clear: the mnemonic devices of the classroom led directly to the euphuistic styles popular at court performances before the emergence of the professional theatres in 1576; thereafter, during the heyday of the boy companies under William Hunnis and John Lyly, the schools and the rival theatrical traditions enter the realm of theatre history and (as far as social historians have been concerned) leave the realm of pedagogy behind. But educational methods and theatrical performance continue to overlap, formally and informally, as we see in the relationship between Jonson and Camden in the 1580s. Jonson’s play Cynthia’s Revels, we remember, was written for the Children of the Queen’s Chapel and was originally dedicated to Camden.88 Throughout the sixteenth century the schools, where music and drama were part of their daily regimen, were a major force for theatrical experiment and expression, and it seems pretty clear that Camden brought his youthful experience to bear on his maturer practice as a teacher at Westminster. That the theatrical tradition at St Paul’s during Camden’s years there had its origins in the Catholic liturgical year and continued to have associations with the recent Catholic past through artistic elements and even instructors is not without significance. Educators at St Paul’s and Westminster throughout the sixteenth century, including Nowell, Ritewise, Westcott, and Udall, often transgressed what was deemed appropriate for Protestant audiences or for child actors. Theatre and music, particularly in schools closely associated with the church, called attention to the ambiguous and often precarious relation between the Roman and the Protestant elements in the Elizabethan settlement. Nicholas Udall, knowing how to negotiate the theatrical nuances of theology, prepared dramas for Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s tolerance of Westcott’s Catholicism can be traced back to his performance for her in 1552, when she was at Hatfield House, and reflects her general (if idiosyncratic) penchant for accommodating certain things ­redolent of Catholicism, including both musical and dramatic performance. Granting then that Camden was involved with the musical and theatrical activities at St Paul’s, we can also see his ongoing association with those profoundly social modes of self-expression, and his compatibility with latent or vestigial elements of Roman rite and ceremony that had been assimilated in varying degrees into Protestant institutions and that reflect continuities in aspects of English spiritual life. Vigorous throughout his life in defending his adherence to “the religion established”, he nevertheless finds himself in the company of men known for Roman Catholic tendencies if not 57

William Camden – A Life in Context actual ­recusancy. If we cannot speculate on what kind of religious “contagion” Camden may have experienced from these acquaintences, the association itself is surely there, and throughout his life he had to protect himself, right and left, from both Catholic and Puritan critics. But Camden’s involvement with the performing arts gave him a kind of experience that he shared with men like Jonson, Donne, and Tobias Matthew – men whose lives hovered between two churches.


chapter iii Religious Conflict and Coming of Age at Oxford


Magdalen College

xoniam missus” is the terse entry in Camden’s Memorabilia for     1566.89 The records for the Oxford years are spare and questions     abound right from the start. Idiomatic though his Latin is, one wonders how he intended the self-effacing passive construction? Was he “sent” or did he go? Who sent him? Why Oxford, where the Earl of Leicester had recently (1564) been made chancellor, rather than Cambridge, where Lord Burghley had been chancellor since 1559? Whom did he know there when he arrived? The more we know about the years when he was at Oxford, the more vexing the questions become. When the fifteen-year-old Camden went to Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1566, he was just the age one might expect an entering undergraduate to be.90 Taking the perspective of the anxious parent, we might simply observe that Camden left St Paul’s a student of frail health but alive and undisfigured, as “smart” as a parent could wish, personable and already having opportunities for making useful social connections. Of course, as all theories of personality development would agree, by fifteen he was, for all intents, fully developed; aside from academic “accidentals” to be picked up here and there, he is the man that he will become, psychologically, morally, emotionally, and for this reason I have spent some time trying to understand something about his youth. To start his life with his university career is to overlook the dynamics of all that must have been working on him as he began to make his very uncertain way in life. In Camden’s case, his life generally has been used as a gloss to narratives other than his own. Born marginal, he has been used marginally. In spite of the service capacity he has been given, he always manages to have a place at the table, and is welcomed with warmth and respect: he is not the antiquarian mocked by Sidney as a “tyrant in table talke”, not the pedantic teacher, beater 59

William Camden – A Life in Context of boys, or insensitive bookworm satirized by dramatists and Theophrastan wits. But the genial portraits of him, making him a legend in his own time, do not tell us where he came from emotionally and socially, what conflicts moulded him, how his personality served his career, indeed, why his career took the form it did. They also tend to idealize his academic and (in so far as it is mentioned) personal life. As we will see, however, his was a very precarious career, fraught with uncertainty and more than a little disappointment. Thus, Camden’s scholarly accomplishments should not be seen as synonymous with a successful university career. If it was academically successful, it was surely personally stressful. A young man entering Magdalen College as “a chorister, or servitor” in 1566, in the university where Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was a vigilant chancellor, would feel a mixture of different social, political, and academic pressures. The student already associated with Lord Burghley, as Camden may have been through Dean Nowell, John Cooke, Master of St Paul’s, and others would have been all the more sensitive to these pressures. The likelihood of young Camden’s direct or indirect association with Burghley casts his time at Oxford in a special light. Leicester’s Oxford is a place of special interest for the biographer of Camden. Dudley took an inordinately active role in university matters; as Mallet says, when he became chancellor, he “was determined to make his office a reality” – to exercise his authority to its full extent. Penry Williams calls him the most important influence on Elizabethan Oxford.91 Traditionally, the chancellor’s responsibilities were largely symbolic and his involvement would normally be at a level quite removed from daily collegiate affairs. His office was meant to be symbolic of the university’s importance in the nation, and although his impact might in fact be considerable, he would normally leave administrative matters to vice-chancellors and college presidents.92 The chancellor’s real, felt presence at this level might be as little as he wished, and commonly that was very little indeed: political good sense recommends aloofness, where involvement would invariably be regarded as interference, likely to generate resentment within the academic community. Political good sense, of course, was not Leicester’s great strength, and he threw himself into all aspects of university affairs to an unprecedented extent: “Comparison of the university’s registers before 1564 with subsequent volumes shows a sudden intensification of the chancellor’s activity under Leicester. His concern with the minutiae of academic life – sermons, disputation and dress – as well as with patronage, is surprisingly detailed.”93 The matters of greatest concern to Leicester tell us a great deal, not only about him but also about the peculiar sort of 60

Religious Conflict & Coming of Age at Oxford ­atmosphere he created in the university during a period of exceptional volatility. By all accounts, in exercising his authority, Leicester was a law-and-order man – rather like Shakespeare’s Angelo. Such was the impression that he made on Camden, who observes that “he Preferred Power and Greatness … before solid Vertue”.94 Leicester had strong feelings about what was happening at the university – it seemed to be going to the dogs. Form and protocol of every sort were being ignored. As Penry Williams’s account of these years shows, Leicester was concerned that elections were being conducted, offices filled, and appointments made without regard for protocol; attendance at lectures was slack, students were unmindful of matters of rank, and sartorial regulations were being ignored at all levels.95 It would be a mistake to trivialize this preoccupation with the minutiae of university life: these are the details of social hierarchy and authority, and were part of his determination to root out Roman Catholics and to entrench the Puritan faction. As Williams reminds us, “Leicester’s concern was not however confined to the dress of the university members.”96 The particularity of Leicester’s complaints are symptoms of the pathology that Camden notes in his discussion of the man’s obsession with superficial displays of power and control. Camden’s Oxford is very much Leicester’s Oxford. While Leicester’s involvement in university affairs may reflect his megalomania, it is also part of larger national controversies. The period of Leicester’s chancellorship, and of Burghley’s at Cambridge, was a time when the triple factions of Anglican establishment and the poles of Catholicism and Puritanism, were struggling for control within the universities and their colleges. At Elizabeth’s accession the universities became an important factor in the formation and consolidation of her religious policies. The universities were, perforce, the nurseries for the nation’s clergy, and the tenor of that group would depend on the administrators, faculty, fellows, and students, and on the nature of the religious life there, including ecclesiastical symbols and ceremonies – the vestments, imagery, the details of worship including the liturgy, the sacraments, and other extensions of religious doctrine. Swan’s study surveys the full range of measures taken to establish Protestantism in the universities, including more stringent enforcement of the Oath of Supremacy among college members and extensive weeding out of personnel who were not friendly to the reformed religion. Beginning in 1559, visitations were set in motion “for the maintenance of learning and the bringing about of religious uniformity in accord with the recent legal changes”.97 Among those taking part in the visitation was Alexander Nowell, Dean of St Paul’s. In the early years this process 61

William Camden – A Life in Context focused on the Roman Catholic presence on campus, but that faction was so large (especially in Oxford) that officials were careful not to force a confrontation that could decimate the colleges.98 The strategy, then, was not to remove all Catholics, which would be destructive in the extreme, but to root out those stubbornly resisting conformity; as Swan says, “the government … were satisfied … with the barest measure of conformity, and the removal of those Catholic Heads who could not under any circumstances be tolerated even for a short while by the Protestants now in power”. Generally, the “purge”, largely overseen by Burghley, was “anything but rigorous”, and it stands in contrast with Leicester’s greater involvement at Oxford.99 The goal was not so much the establishment of Protestantism as it was the very definition of it. Exactly what were the terms by which Elizabethan Protestantism was to be understood – what could be accommodated under the Oath of Supremacy, what vestigial Catholic rites and liturgical elements would be acceptable? These were the norms that Elizabeth’s chief policymakers, particularly Burghley and Parker, with the help of Nowell, were trying to establish through the visitations. By 1564 much of the shake-up of the Catholics had taken place. Increasingly, the Catholics were not the problem. Rather, the emergent undefined Protestant factions that grew by virtue of the success of the Elizabethan settlement became the real threat to uniformity. The precarious equilibrium was jeopardized by Leicester’s chancellorship and his determination to administer the new university statutes (of 1565) by more rigorous supervision of religious tendencies throughout the university. This entailed the use of informants and covert information-gathering.100 Camden’s years at Oxford coincided with the period of increasing “internecine struggles within the Church of England – between the Puritans and the upholders of the ecclesia Anglicana”. It also coincided with one of Leicester’s more concerted efforts to wrest power from Burghley and with the increased animus between them.101 Camden’s arrival, first at Magdalen and then his transfer to Christ Church, placed him in the midst of the two most fervent Puritan camps in Oxford at a time when Leicester’s leadership of these factions was gaining momentum. Recognized by Elizabeth’s policy-makers as critical players in the all-important process of stabilizing current and future efforts at religious reform, the universities became important arenas for the sectarian struggles and controversies of the times. By most accounts, at Cambridge the Elizabethan compromise had been established more successfully and with less Protestant factionalism than at Oxford. Under Burghley’s chancellorship Cambridge had 62

Religious Conflict & Coming of Age at Oxford made the transition back to Protestantism relatively smoothly, without the frequent use of visitations and large numbers of ejections that resulted at Oxford.102 Leicester’s extraordinary involvement in university affairs greatly exacerbated the tensions among Protestants, to say nothing about the hostile relations with the Roman Catholics. It was he who set the tone and made his presence felt, and his influence at the university as it was at court was divisive and destabilizing. His obsession with enforcing clear social distinctions and with reintroducing vestigial regulations on student conduct and academic performance resulted in the kinds of inequities, confusion, and political hypersensitivity that typifies systems in which power is abused. Standing “at a guard with envy” so that “liberty” will not “pluck justice by the nose”, Leicester, like Shakespeare’s Angelo, carried out a regulatory policy that paradoxically accentuated superficial social, political, and religious distinctions rather than facilitating uniformity. Indeed, many of the initiatives of Reformation educational policy were meant to erode social barriers and increase socio-­economic mobility. Like other educational institutions, Oxford colleges made ample provision for poorer students; the majority of the student body matriculating were from the poorer and middle classes103 rather than the nobility, so that Leicester’s efforts, for example, to curb ostentatious dress among university members ended up reinforcing visible and behavioural forms of social stratification in ways that undermined the spirit of the institution and the social dynamic of post-Reformation education. While there is no question that Oxford was always a hierarchic institution, Leicester’s emphasis imposed on the academy the value system and exhibitionism of the court, compounded by the purposefulness of Puritan zeal. The colleges where this was felt most strongly were Magdalen and Christ Church. Oxford historian C. M. J. F. Swan, concerned that the influence of the Catholic underground has been exaggerated, points to areas where divisive Protestant activity was vigorous: “Lest one imagine that the whole of Oxford was made up at this period of those either hostile or indifferent to Protestantism, it is well to recall the attitude of Magdalen and Christ Church.” Both colleges exhibited “radically Protestant tendencies” and had officers so extreme as to run afoul of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.104 It was at these colleges that Leicester’s presence was most strongly felt. And it was on them that Elizabeth, Leicester, Burghley, and their entourage descended during the royal visitation that brought her to Oxford in 1566. Somewhere in the crowd was young Camden who found his way to Magdalen in that year. There, early in September, Elizabeth was greeted by 63

William Camden – A Life in Context the professors and administrators who would determine Camden’s fate for the next five or six years. Prominent among the welcoming officials were Dr Kennall, vice-chancellor, Dr Laurence Humphrey, President of Magdalen and Regius Professor of Greek, Dr Thomas Godwin, Dean of Christ Church. Even in the orderly show of welcome, controversy was close to the surface. As the Puritan Dr Humphrey bent to kiss the hand of the Queen, she archly observed “Dr. Humphrey, methinks this gown and habit becomes you very well; and I marvel that you are so straight-laced in this point: but I come not now to chide.”105 On that occasion, John Piers, later Bishop of Salisbury and the man who would confer the prebendship at Ilfracombe on Camden, placed a “long scroll of verses” at the “great gate” at Christ Church. Events involving Camden’s friends, patrons, and probably some enemies centred around Christ Church Hall. Disputations on subjects largely concerned with royal prerogative, supremacy, obedience, and theology filled the hours: Thomas Cooper, Camden’s master at Magdalen College, moderated “Moral Disputations”; Camden’s friend Toby Matthew (whose son, also a friend, was a recusant) and Thomas Thornton, with whom Camden and Philip Sidney lived at Christ Church, disputed on the subject of the merits of elective and successive monarchies; Thomas Godwin, John Piers, Laurence Humphrey, and John Jewel disputed theological questions; Edmund Campion, whose Catholic tendencies were tolerated at the university but who was later a martyr to Elizabeth’s ambiguous policies, participated in debates on natural philosophy. On the evening of 4 September players from Christ Church performed Richard Edwards’s play Palaemon and Arcyte, evidently much to the Queen’s delight. Edwards later became Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and later, the Master of the Children of the Chapel.106 The entertainments for Elizabeth’s Oxford visitation were a microcosm of the different kinds of cultural theatre in which Elizabethan issues, policies, and controversies were acted out or allowed controlled debate or exploration. The disputations for the occasion were on subjects not too subtly related to matters of royal supremacy – obedience and conscience, the illegality of bearing arms against one’s prince – in short, the issues at stake when religious and monarchic authority face off, although interestingly, as Swan points out, disputed doctrinal issues were not among the topics.107 Dramatic performances, recitations of encomiastic verse, debates, and other entertainments to amuse and celebrate Elizabeth made the visitation a masque-like event. Typical of such progresses, it was meta-dramatic, in that it enacted and affirmed its own principles of order, authority, and community. At the same time, during the 64

Religious Conflict & Coming of Age at Oxford visitation, while the performers danced to the music of Elizabethan supremacy, they were engaged in muted controversy; as they debated, recited, and performed, the names of some were pricked, identified as among those to be ejected, promoted, or shifted laterally. Celebratory as the visit seemed outwardly, it was, of course, a hard look at the community itself and a command performance in which the nature and strength of royal will was being made known. Leicester’s Oxford, then, was one of serious fragmentation of the sort that destabilizes the lives of those who are already either financially, socially, or otherwise vulnerable. In a setting such as Oxford between 1564 and 1575 you could be marginal whether you were Catholic or Protestant, and if you were financially dependent, as most of the student population was, your situation was still more precarious. The religious polarization that Leicester aggravated was compounded by social divisiveness, partly by his emphasis on social rank in an essentially bourgeois setting. Thus, it is well to remember that in 1565 the now secular Oxford was in the main an educational opportunity for the emerging middle classes, not for the nobility, who had recourse to other forms of study, improvement, and self-promotion.108 The large number of untitled students made the emphasis on rank and its outward appurtenances all the more divisive. Furthermore, the excessive involvement of the chancellor, who is appointed by the monarch, was seen to pose a threat to the autonomy of the university and to the meritocractic principles on which university fellowships and appointments were ostensibly made. Most of the colleges, including Magdalen and Christ Church, where Camden studied, made specific provision for poor students and many maintained free schools adjacent to the college itself. The foundations, bursaries, the fellowships, many of which were links with the grammar schools, all helped reinforce the institution’s mandate to provide opportunities for the less privileged. To be sure, there were students of every social rank at the university. Social station was, of course, a fact of life there, and we must not overstate the altruistic principles of the university or be blind to the political motives behind Reformation education. That said, Leicester, himself a seriously insecure man, in his activities as chancellor was seen by his adversaries to have contravened collegiate authority and its mandate in ways that compromised the very nature of the educational and social mission of the institution. The university and its officials, whatever their religious leanings, were jealous of their rights and privileges. Oxford historians agree that his appointment marked a new stage in royal involvement in university affairs. The first Elizabethan university 65

William Camden – A Life in Context appointment, he came from public office not from within the institution; he did not establish a residency at the university, which was traditionally the case but not obligatory; and with him began the custom of the chancellor appointing the vice-chancellor, a privilege wrested with difficulty from the university community. Indeed, religious controversy aside, his lengthy career as chancellor was marked by his consistent attempts to extricate control from university officers and bodies and to undermine the university’s autonomy. In short, he inaugurated a new phase of authoritarian presence at Oxford and, by all accounts, he filled his role with his usual insensitivity.109 Thus, when Camden entered Oxford, a penurious chorister or servitor, he would certainly have been reminded in various ways of his position. There are many ways in which university politics would bear directly on Camden’s career. Leicester’s determination to make his presence felt sent him into all areas of the university: into matters of teaching, curriculum, manners and customs, fellowships, proctorships – virtually everything – and directly or indirectly, it would have been felt by Camden.110 Generally speaking, of course, the career of the incoming student of obscure social status and meager financial means, as we assume Camden to have been, could be described with little or no reference to the chancellor. But Camden’s time at Oxford was a difficult one, and the man who wrote the first biography of Elizabeth at Burghley’s instigation was caught in the political cross-fire of the times. In the Annals of Elizabeth, when recording Leicester’s death in 1588, Camden’s portrait of the man is a vivid and damning close-up, couched in a style of cool disdain and measured ambiguity: He was esteemed a most accomplished Courtier, spruce and neat, free and bountifull to Souldiers and Students, a cunning Time-server and Respecter of his own Advantages, of a Disposition ready and apt to please, crafty and subtile towards his Adversaries, much given formerly to Women, and in his later days doating extremely upon Marriage.111 Camden may, of course, have been all innocence when he arrived at Magdalen College with his bag of books and belongings and a little money. Perhaps only in later years did the name Dudley mean anything to him: I doubt it. He arrived in 1566, probably at the very time of Elizabeth’s and Burghley’s visit in September, and when the two rival chancellors’ animosity was at its peak.112 Notwithstanding the festivities of the visitation, 1566 was also a year of considerable friction between the university, the Queen and her policy-makers; Leicester and his protégés, and a number of issues 66

Religious Conflict & Coming of Age at Oxford bear directly on Camden’s college life. Camden’s arrival coincided with Leicester’s bold attempt to name the Puritan, Laurence Humphrey, as his vice-­chancellor. Humphrey was then President of Magdalen College, where Camden was first affiliated, and his Puritanism had embroiled him in other university controversies. He led a disobedient faction of nonconformists who refused to comply with Elizabeth’s and Archbishop Parker’s policies on vestments, and had been threatened with removal from office. Leicester’s choice of him as vice-chancellor was clearly provocative and was unsatisfactory to the university, who proceeded to select their own candidate, Thomas Cooper, a moderate and a conformist, also of Magdalen College and master of the adjoining Free School attended by Camden. Cooper’s career brought him in increasing conflict with the Puritan factions. Thus, at the time when Camden began at Magdalen College School, the master, Thomas Cooper, had just successfully resisted the candidacy of his superior, Laurence Humphrey, who had the rather intimidating support of Leicester, but who was acting in direct defiance of the Queen and Archbishop Parker.113 No college student, least of all one as vulnerable as Camden, could feel secure in such a situation. The episode is just one illustration of the complex forces that work across national, university, college, and personal levels. Even from his insignificant station, it would be difficult for Camden to have been unaware of the politics of his college and university, and it is likely that his fortunes suffered from the controversy. It is not clear how long Camden continued at Magdalen. Academically, it would seem to have been the ideal situation for a young man of his background: the Free School, something of an institutional vestige, was known as a place of innovative teaching (mainly of Latin), and Magdalen itself had a reputation for having among the highest standards, the fullest arts programme, and the most innovative lectures in the university. As a chorister, Camden would have studied music, and perhaps polyphony as well, which was one of the college’s strengths.114 Camden was evidently destined for a “demy’s” place, that is, one of the thirty half-­stipendary openings for poor students not entering the clergy who would study grammar, logic, and sophistry.115 Originally these positions were meant for students already well prepared in Latin and grammar and were created with the intention of strengthening the arts faculty; there were provisions for some of these students to pursue grammar and poetry, and ultimately to qualify as teachers of other students. The undergraduate structure was designed to foster study of the “artes humanitatis”, and in this it complemented Camden’s training at St Paul’s. 67

William Camden – A Life in Context Worthy as Camden’s candidacy may have been, for some reason he was passed over for the “demy’s place”. As a result he was “transplanted” to Broadgates Hall, which served commoners at Christ Church.116 His failure to get a fellowship at Magdalen and his relocation coincide with the contest between Laurence Humphrey and Thomas Cooper, and subsequently Vice-Chancellor Cooper’s elevation to Dean of Christ Church.117 The evidence is circumstantial, but it seems likely that Camden’s frustrated beginning at Magdalen and his translation to Christ Church were part of the after-effect of the larger political conflicts involving the university and its colleges, Leicester, and royal policy. Cooper, among the conservative voices of the university, had resisted the Puritan faction for years before; he later left Leicester’s Oxford to become Bishop of Lincoln and then Winchester. His episcopal Protestantism was ultimately Elizabeth’s and Archbishop Parker’s, and it stands in contradistinction with Leicester’s idiosyncratic Puritanism. It is also the kind of Anglicanism regarded by Puritans as too close to Rome, and with which Camden would become associated. Thus, given the players in the complex university drama taking place above and around the young Camden, it would seem that in this instance, he was the victim of the several Protestant factions or a combination of Protestant and Catholic rivalries, and that he was deemed unpromising material for the more radical contingent of Humphrey’s Magdalen College. In any event, he was effectively bumped from his place at Magdalen, and went on to Broadgates Hall and Christ Church, where he spent two and a half years. These years too were fraught with difficulty, but he formed there some of the most important and lasting acquaintances of his life, and extended those intellectual interests first roused at St Paul’s. If he arrived at Oxford a political naïf, he was no longer one when he crossed the river and walked along the meadows towards the college that its ambitious founder, Thomas Wolsey, originally called Cardinal College.

Christ Church


hrist Church presents us with another distinct phase in the form ation of William Camden. Under the circumstances, he must have felt as much at home there as possible for a temporarily displaced young man in need of patronage. Aside from the political turmoil surrounding his and Cooper’s relocation, there were definite ties and no less definite similarities between Magdalen and Christ Church that must have eased the transition. There were historical connections between the colleges through Thomas 68

Religious Conflict & Coming of Age at Oxford Wolsey, who had been bursar at Magdalen, and based the plans for Cardinal College on his experience there.118 Both had curricula that were deeply rooted in the humanist enterprise and had reputations for academic rigour. Christ’s commitment to the bonae litterae was as deeply entrenched as Magdalen’s was, and the provisions for studying the ancient languages, philosophy, and logic were the best in the university, so Camden no doubt felt both the pressure and pleasure of his academic environment. At Magdalen Camden studied at the Free School adjoining the college, and at Christ Church he entered Broadgates Hall, described as “an annex for commoners at Christ Church”. Consequent upon the Edwardian reform of the college, it was specified that undergraduates were to be the sons of poor men and recruited from the collegiate grammar schools.119 Once again, then, the social covenant that lay behind much of Edwardian Protestant educational reform provided the vehicle for advancing Camden’s career. At Christ Church, he became part of another institution that, in 1566, was trying to put back on track fitful initiatives of the Henrician and Edwardian reform, but in a distinctly Elizabethan manner. Camden’s Christ Church in particular was a product of the humanist reform in education and religion. But its Protestantism was both old and new – unquestionably deeply rooted in Wolsey’s institution, it was conservative in tone and episcopal in spirit. The precarious religious balance at Oxford in the 1560s and 70s was one in which Puritanism on the one hand and Catholicism on the other were both capable of fostering radically disruptive behaviour. Between the shadows cast by these two poles move the figures of episcopacy and compromise, Cooper and Thornton, for example, who slide quietly into office in spite of Leicester’s mercurial opposition. The college that Camden entered around 1567 was a strange combination of tradition and instability, of establishment and disestablishment, élitism and egalitarian meritocracy. In some ways, the history of the college is like that of St Paul’s writ large. Founded in 1525 by Cardinal Wolsey, it too was born in the ambitious humanism of the Renaissance and accommodated itself to the political realities of the Reformation. James McConica and J. E. A. Dawson provide the details for the context I am trying to establish.120 Christ Church was a monument to the university’s ability to remake itself. While much of the curriculum might be traditional in content, as McConica emphasizes, Wolsey’s plan marks an absolute break from the medieval system of lectures and halls and the emergence of something modern, call it Renaissance, in both its educational and physical pretensions. It was begun in 1525, and so 69

William Camden – A Life in Context like St Paul’s it comes out of the cultural energies of the Catholic Renaissance at the time of intellectual foment; the point is important for reiterating the political and religious patterns that were alive in the institutions that nurtured Camden. Thus, Camden’s college for at least two and a half years was designed “to take in the full resources of the reformed and humanistic curriculum”.121 Educationally the regimen at Christ Church was consistently rigorous, and the opportunities that it offered were rich and varied. Regularity and amplitude rather than innovativeness marked its programmes: undergraduate instruction in dialectic, rhetoric, natural philosophy, and mathematics and philosophy was complemented with a large faculty offering theology, Hebrew, and Greek. The statutes appear to have been in a constant state of revision, but students were increasingly subject to severer ranking and examination. The various drafts of the statutes from Henry through Elizabeth attest to a persistent commitment to philosophy and theology, as well as to Greek and Hebrew. When Camden supplicated for his B.A. in June 1570, arguing that he “spent four years in the Study of Logic”, he is probably referring specifically to his time at Christ Church.122 There are various first-hand accounts of the rigours of college study, many having the tone of self-righteousness to be expected of long-suffering students. One in particular is exactly contemporary with Camden’s stay at Christ Church, and although he does not figure in it, it involves young men he lived and was friendly with, and so should help to historicize this world we are examining. It is also a telling illustration of the interpenetration of complex social, educational, and political forces in the world that Camden occupied in 1569, and of the way that the university’s combative education-by-­disputation prepared students for the world of human affairs. The story is the one Camden’s friend, Richard Carew tells in his Survey of Cornwall about his time at Broadgates Hall.123 This is also the Richard Carew who forty-five years after the event (1614) contributes an essay on the English language to Camden’s Remains. The time and setting are those of Camden’s residency (along with Philip Sidney) at Dr Thornton’s, in 1569. The story is a simple one – how Carew was required to meet the nonpareil, Philip Sidney, in a public debate in the presence of the the Earl of Warwick and the Earl of Leicester, Chancellor of the University and his opponent’s uncle. Carew uses the episode as an opportunity to praise Sidney’s learning, but it provides the reader with a snapshot of life at Christ Church, and depending on the reader, it can be construed in any of several ways. Carew’s own reading 70

Religious Conflict & Coming of Age at Oxford is simple enough: his academic performance had been on the decline, and in order to get him to shape up, his examiners pit him against the wonder of the age. This is the simplest, though still nicely layered reading, and in the innocent narrative, Carew assumes the role of faux-naïf. Carew, a country boy from Cornwall, member of the rural gentry and so much beneath Sidney socially (and yet well above Camden), conveys his deep respect for his social superior by praising him as his intellectual superior. The narrative derives its frisson from the implicit social tension, as the reader imagines being in the place of the young country boy. Carew matriculated at Broadgates in 1566, at age eleven. When the event took place he would have been about fourteen, and Sidney fifteen. In 1602, when writing about the event, Carew was probably not so naïve, but at age fourteen, his perspective was probably the one evoked in the Survey – nervous awe. As we have seen, the schools could at all levels be something of a gladiatorial arena. As Carew presents it, the debate was a kind of warning; terrible as it was – held, after all, in front of the head of the entire university, and two of the most powerful men in the kingdom – it was also the sort of trial one might expect at Oxford. At this level the anecdote suggests something of the combative, public nature of sixteenth-century university education, when the boys were liable to be called upon to prove their abilities in very exacting circumstances. The test is “educational” in a number of academic and non-academic ways. There is another perspective to the story, that of the adults involved. We think here of the story of Stephen Daedalus and Father Dolan, in Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and of the contrasting perspectives of the boy and his father. Some kind of flattering presentation was needed to welcome Leicester on his visit to the university and college in 1568/9. It seems pretty clear that the debate was a set up job to show off the ability of Leicester’s nephew and heir, Philip Sidney, at a time when Leicester was on the rampage about low standards at the university. The ritualistic boy-baiting here is part of the political dimension of the college as much as it is part of the educational rigour of the boys’ life, and it is likely that virtually any of the sons of gentlemen might have been called upon as Carew was. In the incident, though, we see how Leicester’s involvement in university life filtered all the way down to the daily affairs of the fourteen-year-old boys, confirming the social strata on its way. However much Carew’s work had fallen off at that point, if at all – we can be fairly sure that he knew enough not to outshine Philip, if he were able to do so. The rhetoric of self-effacement was learned before, not after one made one’s way to court or office. 71

William Camden – A Life in Context The greater part of Camden’s undergraduate study was at Christ Church, and the demanding programme of lectures and disputations ensured that his own preparation as a teacher had a solid foundation. Indeed, it appears that the undergraduate programme for students not intending to enter the clergy, as set forth in the statutes of 1565 – consisting of two terms of grammar, four of rhetoric, five of logic, and five more of arithmetic (for three of them) and another “related” (presumably numeric) science such as music – was designed to train future teachers.124 It is not surprising therefore that the professional path that Camden ended up following through Broadgates Hall and Christ Church was also travelled previously by Edward Grant, first master of Westminster, friend of Burghley, who later hired Camden as his second master. What Camden was probably reading for his lectures and disputations can be deduced from the diary of two brothers, Richard and Matthew Carnsew, who were at Broadgates Hall with Camden.125 Their studies were quite varied, combining classical and modern texts. Many of the texts do double duty by serving several subjects on the curriculum at the same time, with works of history, natural science, moral philosophy, and logic also assisting with the study of grammar, rhetoric, logic, and science. The texts they record reading are familiar enough, but reflect a balance of modern and classical that provides a valuable insight into the workings of the Protestant humanist curriculum. Sallust and Caesar were being read about the time that the boys were translating some of Foxe’s sermons into Latin; they studied Sturm, Johannes Caesarius’s Dialectica, and Melanchthon, in the same term that they studied Cicero’s De amicitia, Peter Martyr on the Nicomachean Ethics, and Livy. Contemporary works – often on contemporary issues – combined topicality with scholarship, so that works by Laurence Humphrey, Johannes Sleidanus, Melanchthon, and Realdo Colombo (De re anatomica, 1560) appear among their reading lists.126 The curriculum is unmistakably Renaissance and also very flexible in the way that it appropriates its humanist texts into Protestant and even national contexts. As James McConica says, the Carnsew diaries give us a “rare glimpse of the actual conduct and content of teaching for a man in the degree course in arts”.127 The readings, however, are not presented as part of their course syllabi per se; they cross the statutary subjects of the arts curriculum and thus show a programme that is remarkably adaptive and contemporary and anything but vestigial. From the diaries we can see the reality behind the humanist education that was still evolving in the 1560s: this was a decade when texts, editions, commentaries on classical authors were proliferating at Oxford and Cambridge, and in it we see the context 72

Religious Conflict & Coming of Age at Oxford from which Camden the Greek scholar came. But we also see the milieu in which contemporary texts and issues were a part of their training, and where Camden would learn to combine past and present, and marry text and artefact, as he would do in the Britannia, the Remains, and the Annals of Elizabeth. The Oxford of the 1560s was as intellectually rich as it was politically rife. For a time it held in balance medieval scholasticism, Renaissance humanism, and early modern vernacular interests. James McConica eloquently describes these years and the education that was to be had, as “catholic and eclectic, sensitive to the whole of the tradition of learning in the past, including the medieval achievement, widely read in contemporary continental thought, yet staunchly protestant”.128 The worst of the period of iconoclastic reform was past. The institution combined the medieval hall and the emerging form of an early modern university and arts faculty. It assimilated students attending lectures but unlikely to take degrees for a variety of reasons, and degree students of different sorts, reading with tutors and attending public, college, or university lectures, so that the student body was noteworthy for its socioeconomic diversity rather than its homogeneity. Christ Church in particular stood out as a community in which this combination of traditional and innovative curricular interests was deeply entrenched. There the literary, philosophical, and theological focus of the trivium and quadrivium were complemented by offerings in the sciences that might be described as “extracurricular”. These, history seems to suggest, were as much a function of the men at who were attending Christ Church and Broadgates Hall as they were a reflection of university curricular planning. The discovery of the “New World” seems to have been as much a part of their study as was the rediscovery of the ancient world. The interest in travel, discovery, local and vernacular history can be linked to the tradi­tional disciplines of geography and cosmography, as McConica notes,129 but it also opens new areas of study as well. At Broadgates Hall, under Thomas Thornton’s aegis, were Richard Hakluyt, Henry and Thomas Savile, Thomas Harriot, Philip Sidney, and Camden himself. These were men whose interests as students became part of the curriculum of later generations: Richard Hakluyt, a student with Camden in 1570, “lectured as a regent in 1577–9 in the new field of geography”; Henry Savile went on to establish the “first Oxford chairs in geometry and astronomy in 1619”.130 And in 1622 Camden established the first chair in civil history. These individuals might all be described as examples of a new kind of scholar, preparing for the 73

William Camden – A Life in Context ­emerging “new learning” and occupying a different social position than their predecessors had. They are not alone of their kind in Oxford or England, but together at Broadgates, they constitute a significant coterie of like-minded individuals. In this, Camden seems to have been in the right place at the right time, although we have to think that this was not accidental: that he helped to make Christ Church the right place, and his time the right time for such studies. How he ended up at Christ Church is still unknown, but somebody had to have been looking out for him from the time of his departure from St Paul’s. Furthermore, the friendships formed here became enduring social and scholarly connections that served Camden for the rest of his life. Typical of any youthful undergraduate experience, and in spite of ongoing disappointments, Camden formed a deep connection with Christ Church. Years later, Henry Savile, provost at Eton, offered the aged and infirm Camden a home with him. Richard Hakluyt, the zealous collector of travel literature and a man sharing Camden’s interests in physical geography, had been a Westminster student and later became a prebendary within the Westminster College Chapter, and so a part of Camden’s community there. Richard Carew, whose Survey of Cornwall is indebted to Camden’s influence, becomes a member of the Society of Antiquaries. Even at the time of Camden’s death, many of those contributing to the volume of Oxford elegies, Camdeni Insignia, are college men. While I suspect that the path leading to Christ Church was clearly marked with the names of friendly kindred spirits inviting Camden into their midst, the concrete evidence is not there. That he moved into a group that he made his own, left his mark on and remained close to, however, is clear. Furthermore, at this time, though still young, he began to be known in the national and international scholarly and political community. Presumably on the basis of a reputation earned at Oxford (since he had published nothing prior to 1576), Camden’s name enters the scholarly chain-mail network, and he is mentioned to European travellers to England as a man worth meeting. The intellectual community that Camden enjoyed at Christ Church itself becomes part of an international network of scholars, including Mercator, Ortelius, Parmenius, Gentili, who will seek Camden out after he has left his studies at Oxford. It is well to remember Powicke’s observation that Camden was a new breed of scholar. He is among the first generation of students beginning to professionalize the study of subjects that before had been marginal to the arts curriculum. I describe them as “new scholars”, suggesting by the phrase their 74

Religious Conflict & Coming of Age at Oxford association with the new science, but also their relation to emerging academic disciplines, and to the growing educated middle class. They are not courtierscholars, nor do they fit easily into the university mould. As Camden will be par excellence, these men and their community are early modern scholars cut free of court and church, and finding other ways to serve the broader community. Like Camden, they studied in reformed humanist schools and universities, and will go on to provide the models for the next wave of students and reforms, to create new kinds of knowledge, endow the chairs, define the subject matter for study, found organizations such as the Society of Antiquaries, and generally contribute to that wave of cultural re-examination and social change that culminates in the radical public paradigm shift of the Civil War. In our effort to contextualize Camden’s life, it will be helpful to keep the chronology clear. In men like Hakluyt, Camden, Savile, Carew, and others of their generation, we see the beginnings of the kinds of enquiry that fostered the far more professionalized, sophisticated study a generation or so later, by men like John Selden, Robert Cotton, Browne, Hobbes, Kenelm Digby.131 The ideas taking shape at Oxford during the late 1560s and early 1570s found their way into print and more popular discourse only in the mid-1580s; if only to keep our chronology straight, we should not identify them too casually with the work that they spawned one or two generations later. Not through radical new ideas, but through the slowly evolving changes in attitude and methodology from men such as Leland, Stow, Lambarde, Camden, Carew, Hakluyt the way is prepared for the scholarship, ideas, and politics of Bacon, Selden, Cotton, Browne, and Hobbes, for example. To compress generations in the interest of historical survey is to gloss over specific political and social contexts that give the contours and texture that are the details of social change. The Camden that begins to emerge from the 1560s is, like his generation itself, liminal. At this stage in our study of him, at a point when he has yet to write anything that has survived, we can say that what lies ahead in his future is quite unlike the lives his mentors lived. To predict the course of his literary life on the basis of his background and training up to 1570, we might expect editions, translations of, or commentaries on the Greek and Latin classics or the Church Fathers, work perhaps along the lines of Savile’s on Tacitus, or perhaps educational or rhetorical treatises in the manner of Thomas Cooper, Richard Mulcaster, or Roger Ascham. His aptitude for such work was great, as was the market. If we measure his achievement against what preceded him rather than against the Jacobean intellectual context that he helped foster, 75

William Camden – A Life in Context then the originality of his vision and work are all the more striking. Thus, his Greek grammar is a gesture towards an educational tradition that he does not pursue further, at least not in print; while it might be expected that the grammar would be the first in a lifetime of writings dedicated to classical texts, it was his first and last. Instead, his career takes several different turns – indeed, we can speak of his life and work, but not really about his “career”. Finally, his was a path that could not have been foreseen; nor, for that matter, was it freely chosen. We must remember that Camden had to make his way in the world. It was a secular path that led, for various reasons, away from the traditional venues of church and university. Unlike his schoolmate Philip Sidney, who would not be looking for a career at university, and who would be giving patronage not seeking it, Camden had to make the practical best of his time at Oxford. Notwithstanding some reversals, he did so successfully, although having the title “antiquary” on one’s business card might not at first seem likely to open doors. Suffice it to say that Camden’s university experience was fruitful but not particularly successful professionally. Throughout his life he was vulnerable – from St Paul’s to Magdalen to Christ Church, his progress through the ranks was hazardous, and it ended abruptly. In 1569 he failed to get a fellowship at All Souls. In June the following year he petitioned the Congregation of Regents that “whereas he had spent four years in the Study of Logic, he might be admitted Bach. of Arts”. This in itself was hardly an unusual request, but judging from his failure to win a fellowship, we can say that Camden was facing serious opposition. Leicester was the authority who had to approve all supplications, and Camden’s was rejected. In May of that year Leicester had written a stern rebuke to Dr Cooper, complaining of the disorderliness in the convocations and calling for greater supervision and rigour of all petitions relating to convocation; by June greater rigour had been imposed, and Camden was one of its victims. His ambitions again frustrated, Camden “relinquished his Conversation with the Muses”, although as Wood says, “to the great reluctancy of those who were well acquainted with the Pregnancy of his Parts”.132 His departure it would appear was not what he had intended or wanted. He left without a degree – something common enough among the nobility, but irregular in a man of Camden’s position. His disappointment is underscored by the fact that he renewed his petition in 1574. When he was finally granted the B.A., it was not by “determination in school street” – that is, without the normal disputation before examiners; such inconsistencies and irregularities were not uncommon at Oxford – especially among Catholics and the wealthy 76

Religious Conflict & Coming of Age at Oxford and aristocratic. Camden’s plans, then, were, to have continued at the university, presumably in the way that Savile and others were able to do, but his academic career was being blocked. As we will see, the disappointment rankled Camden for the rest of his life. His own view of his uneasy time at Oxford was that it was the result of religious controversy. His often-quoted letter to James Ussher in 1618, filled with nuance and barely suppressed bitterness, illustrates his precarious position in the religious controversies at Oxford “when Popery was predominant”. Paradoxically, he makes Ussher his “Confessor” as he relates how “for defending the Religion established … [he] lost a fellowship in All souls”; with broken syntax, he continues rather ambiguously to say that, as Daniel Donne often related, he was “opposed by the Popish Faction”. Camden’s letter reveals his defensiveness against the Puritans and the Catholics: he insists on having taken the Oath of Conformity twice, thus defending himself against the suggestion that he was soft on Rome, and he notes proudly that he was responsible for converting Catholic noblemen to the established church. His commitment to the “Religion established” is the important detail: his loss of the fellowship and the opposition of the Popish party were two separate, and related issues, and the letter shows how Camden, minor figure as he was, was ground between the two forces of Puritan and Catholic opposition.133 In reviewing Camden’s frustrated university career, it is important that he seems at no time to have considered a career in the church. His early time at Magdalen was evidently in a programme designed for future teachers who would not be taking orders. His failure to proceed in the normal course to his degree is a pattern common among Catholics. During the period from 1564, and increasingly (but not always consistently) from 1566, matriculating and graduating students were required to take the Oath of Supremacy, and Camden probably eluded the second of these by not graduating as might be expected, and again in 1574 by not appearing for the “determination” – a survival strategy used by Catholics although it cost them their degree. Many of the outward signs of Camden’s university career are those associated with the Catholic contingent who attended university for various reasons but were willing to do without the formal degree. In 1618 he is determined to dissociate himself from both Catholics and Puritans. He was clearly not comfortable with Leicester’s zealous party, which would have put him afoul of Elizabeth’s insistence on moderation and toleration. However, had he cast his lot with Leicester’s contingent, as Sidney did, he would not have had difficulty winning his fellowship or qualifying for his degree. Rather, it would seem that 77

William Camden – A Life in Context from their perspective, he was viewed as being, if not too closely allied to the Catholic party, then not sympathetic enough to their own. The ambiguities of Camden’s religious construction by his contemporaries is significant, not only for his Oxford experience but for the rest of his life. They certainly remind us of the extent to which he is a product of his society. With few, but not insignificant exceptions, Camden has been viewed as an exemplary Protestant, but the reputation has been unexamined and the term is obviously lacking precision as a description of his religious identity. As we have seen, his career suggests intrigue from either side but most likely from the Protestant extremes. His university career is striking for his disaffiliation from religious issues and a church career – a possibility he never discusses – but it is worth noting that he becomes a lay prebendary in later years. He never wrote polemical material, although we will see that he was occasionally drawn into religious issues. He was willing to let it be thought that he had suffered for his religion, but whether for acts of omission or commission, or simply because he was a vulnerable pawn in the affairs of others is not clear either. I suspect that in avoiding polemics Camden cultivated a rhetoric of ambiguity as a way of making destiny his choice. Thus, from an early age he actively pursued a path of silent moderation that was attractive and ultimately useful for the conservative religious establishment with which he became affiliated. Considering his fellowship with Sidney, he could presumably have hitched his wagon to that shooting star. But already by 1569, whether from his own particular cast of mind, or because of already established ties (or both), he avoided what was zealous and confrontational, preferring instead the tactics of silence and understatement. His, we should say, was not the logical choice for a young man of his station. The court of Elizabeth, the church, the universities, and the bureaucracy were filled with bounders, comets, a veritable galaxy of short-lived celestial objects, men and some women who chose more boisterous routes to money and position. Given his literary, scholarly, and personal talents, Camden might have thrived had he sued for patronage in the appropriate quarters. In the absence of more specific data, we can suggest that he did not pursue some of the opportunities open to a Puritan willing to serve the likes of the Earl of Leicester, and that he chose a subtler strategy for life, a more private one the risks of which are difficult to know, and the success of which would be uncertain and long in coming. In contextualizing Camden’s time at Oxford, we need to resist the tendencies to idealize his scholarly life and to make it more successful than it 78

Religious Conflict & Coming of Age at Oxford was. What A. L. Rowse says of Camden may be true – that “never did a man have a greater capacity for friendship”, but in certain ways it was not serving him well during his vulnerable years in a highly volatile university community.134 Many opportunities that opened up for lesser men remained closed to Camden, and others open to him he refused. One of the few of his generation generally regarded as in the mainstream of European intellectual life, Camden left Oxford disappointed of his degree and without immediate prospects. Like many Catholics in similar position, when confronted with Protestant demands they could not meet, he too resorted to the Inns of Court, entering Inner Temple on 21 February 1572.135 When, in his memoirs, he encloses his entire university career within the brittle square brackets of two successive entries – “1566. Oxoniam missus. / 1571. Oxonia redii.” – we have reason to think that he is not simply being laconic, although he does progress from a passive to an active state in those two entries – from being “sent to Oxford” to “returned from Oxford”.136 Now in the active voice, his memorandum announces a more assertive self as he forges new paths for himself and also for his contemporaries. In returning to London in 1571 Camden recognized that there were no prospects for him at the university until the immediate defeats were forgotten and the political dust had settled. Judging from his two petitions for the B.A., and his refusal to accept an M.A. in later years because the recognition came too late, we know that Camden was embittered by his treatment, and that he originally felt the need of the degree. I would suggest, contrary to most views of Camden’s life, that at this point, the educational and political system failed him largely because it was anachronistic. The ladder of success though education held the prospect of a university future, but the highly fragmented and politicized university precluded that next step for Camden. At the university level, the reform humanist education lacked the intellectual and political coherence that it had at the grammar school level. As a result, a door closed for Camden. For all practical purposes, several traditional kinds of career were precluded from him: the church, the university, and the courtier-scholar. He has left no trace at the Inner Temple, and the years from 1571 to his appointment at Westminster School in 1575 are lost, with nothing but Godfrey Goodman’s word that Gabriel Goodman supported him in his antiquarian travels (although he mentions no dates). When he resurfaces at Westminster School under Edward Grant, he joins the network of Broadgates Hall and Christ Church alumni under the aegis of William Cecil. 79

notes: part one    1.  Camden’s epitaph on his monument in Westminster Abbey, here translated by the late Sir Anthony Wagner, Clarenceux King of Arms; notoriously, the epitaph misstates his age, reading “in aetatis suae 74” – a detail corrected in Wagner’s text. I am grateful to Sir Anthony for sharing his knowledge of William Camden and allowing me to use his files on Camden.    2.  The Gheeraerts portrait is now in the National Portrait Gallery collection, inventory no. 528. The earliest known instance of Camden’s use of this motto is in his inscription of his arms and motto, along with words of commendation, in Emanuel van Meteren’s album, which is now Bod., ms Douce 68, “Album amicorum Emanuelis de Meteren Mercatoris Antuerpiani […] anno 1585”, fols. 59v–60; other entries are by Richard Mulcaster, Joris Hoefnagel, Daniel Rogers, Francis Junius, and Nicholas Peiresc. For Camden and the new foundation of Christ’s Church Hospital for orphans, see Anthony à Wood, a t h e n a e o x o n i e n s e s … To Which Are Added t h e f a s t i or Annals of the Said University, 2 vols. (London, 1815), II, col. 340.   3.  Sir Maurice Powicke, “William Camden”, Essays and Studies, 1 (1948), pp. 66–84.   4.  Powicke, “William Camden”, pp. 67–8, 83; A. L. Rowse, The England of Elizabeth: the Structure of Society (London: Macmillan & Co., 1950), pp. 40, 57, 59. There are also the well-known poetic encomia by Spenser, in “The Ruines of Time”, and by Jonson, epigram 14.   5.  This is the first-hand account of the proceeding, part of the funeral certificate prepared by William Penson and witnessed by William Heather, executor; the certificate is in the College of Arms (ms i.22, p. 90), and printed in the Visitation of the County of Huntington Under the Authority of William Camden (Camden Society, 1849), pp. xi–xii. Edmund Gibson’s account also stresses the size and ceremony of the event as well as the large number of nobility: “he was carried to Westminster-Abbey in great pomp. The whole College of Heralds attended in their proper Habits, and great Numbers of the Nobility and Gentry accompanied the Corps, and, at their entrance into the Church, the Prebendaries, and the other Members, received the Corps in their Vestments, with great Solemnity, and conducted it into the Nave of the Church”: Edmund Gibson, “The Life of Mr. Camden”, in William Camden, Britannia […], trans. and ed. Edmund Gibson, 2 vols., 3rd edn (London, 1753), I, n.p. Mark Noble, A History of the College of Arms (London, 1805), p. 207, records Brooke’s absence from Camden’s funeral.   6.  For Camden’s will, see PRO, i.22.90 (prob 11/142); it is also reproduced in A Collection of Curious Discourses, Written by Eminent Antiquaries Upon Several Heads in Our English Antiquities, ed. Thomas Ayloffe, 2 vols. (Oxford: the Theatre, 1775), II, pp. 390–3. We know that Camden and Heather sang together in the abbey choir from Westminster Abbey Muniment (WAM) ms Treasury Accounts 1584–6.   7.  Gibson, “The Life of Mr. Camden”, sig. k.


Notes: Part One   8.  Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, c. 1400–1580 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), pp. 306–8; Jennifer Woodward, The Theatre of Death: The Ritual Management of Royal Funerals in Renaissance England, 1570–1625 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1997), pp. 104, 106–7.   9.  The funeral certificate identifies Camden as a bachelor; see also Mark Eccles, “Brief Lives: Tudor and Stuart Authors”, Studies in Philology, 79 (1982), pp. 20–1.   10.  In the plague year of 1609, when sickness broke out in houses neighbouring Camden, he removed to William Heather’s in Chislehurst; see Camden’s “Memorabilia […] de seipso”, in Gulielmi Camdeni [… ] Epistolae, ed. Thomas Smith (London, 1691), p. 85, and also Wagner file, p. 26; for the Bexley estate, see Oxford University ms, University Arch. S.E.P. c.7, and H. Stuart Jones, “The Foundation and History of the Camden Chair”, Oxoniensa 8 & 9 (1943–4), pp. 169–92, esp. pp. 173–5.   11 PRO, i.22.90 (prob 11/142) and Curious Discourses, II, p. 392; Camden also left £12 to the Company of Cordwainers, for a piece of plate that would bear much the same inscription. See W. A. D. Englefield, The History of the Painter-Stainers Company of London (London: Chapman & Dodd, 1923), pp. 48–65, for their changing relationship to the College of Arms and the heralds; for discussion of the Camden cup and a picture of it, see pp. 82–3; see also John Gregory Crace, Some Account of the Worshipful Company of Painters, Otherwise Painter-Stainers (London, 1880) and The Worshipful Company of Painters, Otherwise Painter-Stainers (London: Painters’ Hall, 1981).   12.  Anthony Wagner, Heralds of England (London: HMSO, 1967), pp. 222–5.   13.  Arthur Bonner, “William Camden and Camden Place”, Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society (23 July 1910), pp. 399–404; also Wagner file, p. 26.   14.  Eccles, “Brief Lives”, pp. 19–20.   15.  According to the statutes, WAM ms 25,122**, p. 65, as under-master, Camden’s salary would have been £7 6s 8d; he would have received for his living £1 3s 4d; and for his board £6 1s 8d; the headmaster (fol. 64) would receive a salary of £12 30s. for his living, and £6 1s 8d for his board. John Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School (London: Methuen, 1898), p. 12, says that the headmaster’s salary was raised to £20 “before the statutes took their final form”, but the change is not recorded in the documents. For details about the lectureship, see Oxford University ms, University Arch. S.E.P. c.7, and Jones, “The Foundation and History of the Camden Chair”, p. 174.   16.  Thus, the manor was “conveyed” to William Heather for 99 years, thereafter to revert to the University; the £140 were to be taken from its revenues; for the initial three years, the salary was staggered, at £20 in the first year, £40 in the second, and the full amount in the third; see Oxford University, ms Reg. Conv. n, fol. 144, and Jones, “The Foundation and History of the Camden Chair”, p. 174; for the letter of conveyance, signed and sealed, see Oxford University, ms University Arch. S.E.P. 7.   17.  Oxford University, ms University Arch. S.E.P. c.5 & c.7; Wood, Athenae Oxoniensis, II, col. 343.   18.  Jones, “The Foundation and History of the Camden Chair”, p. 175.   19.  On the Chantries Acts, see Duffy, Stripping of the Altars, pp. 369–70, 454–9; on liturgical music, Woodward, Theatre of Death, pp. 40–2, 50, 58–9.


William Camden – A Life in Context   20.  John Aubrey, Brief Lives, ed. Olive Lawson Dick (London: Secker & Warburg, 1950), pp. 51–2, describes how John Hacket “did filch it [the manuscript containing the annals of James’s reign and memorabilia of Camden’s life] from Mr. Camden as he lay dying”; see also Wood, Athenae Oxoniensis, II, col. 347; for Godfrey Goodman’s machinations to inherit Camden’s “records”, see Geoffrey Ingle Soden, Godfrey Goodman, Bishop of Gloucester (London: SPCK, 1953), pp. 32–4: Goodman wrote that since “I was his [Camden’s] scholar, and my father had recommended him to be schoolmaster in Westminster, and had put him upon the study of antiquity, and had bought him books …, and it was my uncle who bore his charge when he travelled” he should inherit the records; Camden replied that he would have done so, but, as Goodman says, “Archbishop Bancroft had prevented me”.   21.  Katharine Eisaman Maus, “Facts of the Matter: Satiric and Ideal Economies in the ­Jonsonian Imagination”, in Ben Jonson’s 1616 Folio, ed. Jennifer Brady and W. H. Heren­ deen (Cranbury: Associated University Presses, 1991), pp. 67–8, 77.   22.  Alexander Leggatt, Ben Jonson, his Vision and his Art (London: Methuen, 1981), chapter 2.   23.  John Stow, A Survey of London [1598 & 1603], ed. Henry Morley (Dover: Alan Sutton Publishing, 1994), p. 68.   24.  Stow, A Survey of London, p. 42.   25.  Wyman H. Herendeen, From Landscape to Literature: The River and the Myth of Geography (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1986), pp. 102–8.   26.  The process is an example of the commodification of space explored in Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991).   27.  See Britannia, cols. 372–4, for Camden’s account of Ludgate and Newgate.   28.  Britannia, II, col. 1010.   29.  Eccles, “Brief Lives”, p. 19.  30.  Eccles, “Brief Lives”, p. 20.  31.  Eccles, “Brief Lives”, p. 20, “Sampson married Avis Carter, a second wife, on 4 September 1575”.  32.  Thomas Smith, “G. Camdeni Vita”, in Epistolae, pp. ii–iii.  33.  Stow, A Survey of London, p. 64. For the hospital’s creation and mission, see Guildhall ms, a.2.3., no. 43, “The Order of the Hospitalls of K. Henry the viiith and K. Edward the vith”, fols. b6–c8; and Guildhall, ms a.i.6., no. 67, fols. 7–8, “A Copy of the Deed of Settlement … by … Edward the sixth, on the Hospitals of Christ …”; The Christ’s Hospital Book (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1953), pp. 3–4, documents its incorporation on 6 June 1553, although it had been open for use for seven months; on its opening it was meant to provide for 500 poor children.  34.  Arthur F. Leach, English Schools at the Reformation, 1546–8 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1896, 1968), p. 65; Joan Simon, Education and Society in Tudor England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966), pp. 268–87, discusses the Edwardian educational legacy.


Notes: Part One  35.  Leach, English Schools, pp. 1–7; for the long-range political and social agenda of the educational reformers, see also Simon, Education and Society, pp. 120, 268–87.  36.  Leach, English Schools, pp. 77–8; this sceptical view is not, however, Leach’s own.  37.  Stow, A Survey of London, pp. 301–6.  38.  The Merchant Taylors’ School, for example; see Darryll Grantley, Wit’s Pilgrimage: Drama and the Social Impact of Education in Early Modern England (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2000), p. 211, n. 7.  39.  Stow, A Survey of London, p. 141.  40.  Eccles, “Brief Lives”, p. 19.  41.  Memorabilia, p.85.  42.  The Historie of […] Princesse Elizabeth, late Queene of England (London, 1688), p. 67; with characteristic restraint he makes no mention of his own sickness in this entry.  43.  Wyman H. Herendeen, “Coletus Redivivus: John Colet – Patron or Reformer?”, in Renaissance and Reformation, 12 (1988), p.170; Arthur F. Leach, Educational Charters and Documents, 598–1909 (Cambridge, 1911); F. J McDonnell, A History of St. Paul’s School (London: Chapman & Hall, 1908), pp. 33–42.  44.  From Erasmus, “Life of Colet”, cited in Herendeen, “Coletus Redivivus”, p. 172.  45.  The statutes were only completed in 1518; for a review of the statutes and the school’s mission, see Herendeen, “Coletus Redivivus”, pp. 172–80.  46.  For Colet’s Italian journey in 1492 and his relation to Grocyn, Linacre, and Latimer, see Herendeen, “Coletus Redivivus”, pp. 166–7; see also Leland Miles, John Colet and the Platonic Tradition (La Salle: Open Court Publishing Company, 1961), pp. 26–9.  47.  Erasmus, “Life of Colet”, cited in Herendeen, “Coletus Redivivus”, p. 172.  48.  Herendeen, “Coletus Redivivus”, p. 177; J. H. Lupton, A Life of Dean Colet (London: George Bell & Sons, 1909), pp. 168–9.  49.  See Colet’s letter to Erasmus (Collected Works of Erasmus, no. 258) cited in Herendeen, “Coletus Redivivus”, p. 184.  50.  For the school’s building size and the significance of his enrolment target of 153 students, see Herendeen, “Coletus Redivivus”, p. 171.  51.  Lily’s son, for example, speaks of how the school the school was recognized for its revolutionary originality; for its ongoing reputation in the next century, see Harris Francis Fletcher, The Intellectual Development of John Milton, 2 vols. (Urbana: University of ­Illinois, 1956), I, pp. 154–65, 427–31.  52.  In particular, T. W. Baldwin, William Shakspere’s Small Latine and Lesse Greeke, 2 vols. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1944), and Fletcher, The Intellectual Development of John Milton.  53.  See Baldwin, Small Latine, I, pp. 436–49, for details on the five forms of grammar and the three forms of rhetoric taught in Renaissance schools.  54.  George Lily, quoted in Samuel Knight, The Life of Dr. John Colet (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1823), pp. 96–7.  55.  Herendeen, “Coletus Redivivus”, pp. 177, 174–80.


William Camden – A Life in Context  56.  Anthony Grafton and Lisa Jardine, From Humanism to the Humanities: Education and the Liberal Arts in Fifteenth and Sixteenth-Century Europe (London: Gerald Duckworth & Co., 1986), pp. 98–121; also Simon, Education and Society, p. 305, and Baldwin, Small Latine, I, pp. 380–6, and passim, for extensive discussion of the vicissitudes of teaching Greek from the early humanist period through the sixteenth century, through the time of Goodman, Grant, and Camden.  57.  Herendeen, “Coletus Redivivus”, pp. 179; for further discussion of the ideal connection between a pure style and virtuous conduct, see J. N. Rieger, “Erasmus, Colet, and the Schoolboy Jesus”, Studies in the Renaissance, 9 (1962), pp. 187–94.  58.  Stow, A Survey of London, p. 101.  59.  Baldwin, Small Latine, II, appendix ii, pp. 690–701; Fletcher, The Intellectual Development of John Milton, I, p. 129.  60.  Duffy, Stripping of the Altars, pp. 442–58, for revision of primers arising from changes in the official religion; the use and revisions of the primers figures prominently in T. W. Baldwin’s study of the subject in William Shakespere’s Petty School (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1943); Leach, English Schools, documents the prescription of their use; the best analyses of the cultural and social significance of the use of the prescribed grammars and the classical curriculum are in Grantley’s and Simon’s books.  61.  Baldwin, Small Latine, II, p. 700.  62.  Fletcher, The Intellectual Development of John Milton, I, p. 128.  63.  On changes to Lily’s text, see Fletcher, The Intellectual Development of John Milton, I, p. 129.  64.  On libraries and curricula at St Paul’s and other schools, see Baldwin, Small Latine, I, pp.422–8.  65.  Grafton and Jardine, From Humanism to the Humanities, pp. 102–11, 119–21.  66.  Baldwin, Small Latine, I, pp. 419–20; also Simon, Education and Society, pp. 378–9 and passim for discussion of the complex social significance of what she calls “the triumph of the vernacular”.  67.  William Camden, Remains […] Concerning Britain, ed. R. D. Dunn (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984), pp. 30, 29.  68.  Remains, p.31.  69.  Remains, p. 30.  70.  For Robert Dunn’s view of Camden’s historical approach to language, see Remains, pp. 371–2, 392.  71.  Use of Lily’s text was prescribed by royal acclamation by Henry, Edward, Elizabeth, and James; Mary ceased printing of the grammar, but apparently it continued to be used; see Fletcher, The Intellectual Development of John Milton, I, pp. 127–34, 128.  72.  Arthur Kinney, Humanist Poetics: Thought, Rhetoric, and Fiction in Sixteenth-Century England (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1986), p. 447.  73.  For the foundation and unique nature of Westminster School, see WAM ms 6470, “The booke of the Erecion of the Kings newe College at Westm~” and WAM ms 25,122* and WAM ms 25,122**, Westminster Statutes, in Latin and English, and discussion of the


Notes: Part One School and its mandate in Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, esp. pp. 36–40, for the curriculum and the importance of Greek, and also Lawrence E. Tanner, Westminster School: A History (London: Country Life, 1934), p. 6. Baldwin, Small Latine, I, pp.384– 407, locates a further shift in Westminster’s growing influence and in its commitment to Greek in 1574, just prior to Camden’s appointment.  74.  History of the King’s Works, vol. 3: 1485–1660, part 1, ed. H. M. Colvin, D. R. Ransome, John Summerson (London: HMSO, 1975) and vol. 4: 1485–1660, part 2, ed. H. M. Colvin, John Summerson, Martin Biddle, J. R. Hale, Marcus Merriman (London: HMSO, 1982), provides a detailed history of the physical changes in Westminster and London under the different monarchs. This complements discussion of the political and social characteristics of Tudor and Stuart court life.  75.  For a general view of Burghley’s interest in the arts, letters, and antiquities, see B. W. Beckingsale, Burghley, Tudor Statesman, 1520–1598 (London: Macmillan, 1967), pp. 245–69. He and Matthew Parker joined their efforts and influence to bring the study of antiquities, British history, vernacular languages, and the collection of books and manuscripts into the service of the government and the Elizabethan settlement; as John Strype says in The Life and Acts of Matthew Parker, 4 vols. (Oxford, 1821), the two had “a constant learned intercourse together” about the acquisition of books and manuscripts. For specific ways in which their offices overlap with these areas of study and collecting, see also R. I. Page, Matthew Parker and his Books (Kalamazoo: Western Michigan University, 1993), pp. 43–5, and Kenneth R. Bartlett and Wyman H. Herendeen, “The Library of Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of Durham (British Library Add. ms 40,676)”, The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 85 (1991), pp. 235–96.  76.  Powicke, “William Camden”, p. 67; Simon, Education and Society, p. 268, sees a comparable change in what she calls a “new generation of lay teacher by profession”.  77.  Wyman H. Herendeen, “Wanton Discourse and the Engines of Time: William Camden among Poets-Historical”, in Renaissance Rereadings: Intertext and Context, ed. Maryanne Cline Horowitz, Anne J. Cruz, Wendy A. Furman (Chicago: University Illinois Press, 1988), pp. 145–50.  78.  Baldwin, Small Latine, I, pp. 418–21.  79.  Drummond recounts Jonson’s comment that “he wrott all his [verses] first in prose, for so his master Cambden had learned him” – cited in Ben Jonson, ed. C. H. Herford, and Percy and Evelyn Simpson, 11 vols. (Oxford, 1925–52), I, p. 143.  80.  Jonson, epigram 14.  81.  E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage, 4 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1923), II, p. 11.  82.  Woodward, Theatre of Death, pp. 37–60.  83.  Duffy, Stripping of the Altars, p. 465.  84.  Chambers, Elizabethan Stage, II, p. 12, conjectures this to be John Heywood the dramatist, although it could be Jasper.  85.  For historical overviews of the changing role of drama in the schools and the different religious perspectives on theatre, as well as for the influence of school drama on the growth of the public theatre, see Grantley, Wits Pilgrimage, Harold Newcomb ­Hillebrand,


William Camden – A Life in Context “The Child Actors: A Chapter in Elizabethan Stage History”, University Illinois Studies in Language and Literature, XI, parts 1 & 2 (1926), and Paul Whitfield White, Theatre and Reformation: Protestantism, Patronage, and Playing in Tudor England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993).  86.  Chambers, Elizabethan Stage, II, p. 12, n. 4.  87.  The Westminster statutes, for example, required music study for two hours a week; see Leach, Educational Charters and Documents, p. 364. Craig R. Thompson, Schools in Tudor England (Washington: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1958), p. 22, notes that “Westminster was especially famous for its plays”.  88.  See Wyman H. Herendeen, “‘Like a circle bounded in itself ’: Jonson, Camden, and the Strategies of Praise”, JMRS 11 (1981), pp. 141–3, 162–7.  89.  Memorabilia, pp. 85–6.  90.  James McConica (ed.), The History of the University of Oxford, vol. 3: The Collegiate University (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1986), p. 3.  91.  C. E. Mallet, A History of the University of Oxford, 3 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1924–7), II, p. 110; Penry Williams, “Elizabethan Oxford: State, Church and University”, in History of Oxford, III, p. 423; see also C. M. J. F. Swan, “The Introduction of the Elizabethan Settlement into the universities of Oxford and Cambridge” (Ph.D. thesis, Cambridge University, 1955), p. 113.  92.  Williams, “Elizabethan Oxford”, pp. 400–2, 423–31.  93.  Williams, “Elizabethan Oxford”, p. 424.  94.  Annals of Elizabeth, p. 420.  95.  Williams, “Elizabethan Oxford”, pp. 425–7; Mallet, A History of the University of Oxford, II, pp. 116–18.  96.  Williams, “Elizabethan Oxford”, p. 427.  97.  Swan, “The Introduction of the Elizabethan Settlement”, p. 77.  98.  Swan, “The Introduction of the Elizabethan Settlement”, pp. 77–9.  99.  Swan, “The Introduction of the Elizabethan Settlement”, pp. 85–6. 100.  See Swan, “The Introduction of the Elizabethan Settlement”, pp. 113–16, for discussion of Leicester’s information-gathering and enforcement of the Oath of Supremacy for entering students. 101.  Swan, “The Introduction of the Elizabethan Settlement”, pp. 185–6; Beckingsale, Burghley, p. 123. 102.  Swan, “The Introduction of the Elizabethan Settlement”, pp. 185, notes that by 1569 at least 113 men had been ejected from Oxford for their suspected “Roman” tendencies, and he surmises that the number was in fact considerably higher; V. H. H. Green, Religion at Oxford and Cambridge (London: SCM Press, 1964), pp. 102–17; Williams, “Elizabethan Oxford”, pp. 422–31. 103.  McConica’s terms for those from the poorer and middle classes are “plebians” and “gentry”: History of the University of Oxford, III, p. 722. 104.  Swan, “The Introduction of the Elizabethan Settlement”, pp. 92–3.


Notes: Part One 105.  John Nichols, The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth, 3 vols. (London, 1823), I, p. 207. 106.  Nichols, The Progresses … of Queen Elizabeth, I, pp. 210–14, and Wood, Fasti, II, col. 354. 107.  Swan, “The Introduction of the Elizabethan Settlement”, p. 121, provides a list of the topics. 108.  For discussion and particulars on the demographics of Oxford, see McConica, History of the University of Oxford, III, pp. 722–8; class distinctions are inevitably imprecise descriptors for the period; McConica’s terms, “plebian” and “gentry” provide two rough classifications within the large group comprising the non-aristocratic student majority; Simon and Grantley also acknowledge the growing demand for more accessible education for these groups. 109.  L. H. Dudley Buxton, Strickland Gibson, Oxford Ceremony (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1935), pp. 129–30 for the role of the chancellor, and pp. 137–9, for that of the vicechancellor; Williams, “Elizabethan Oxford”, pp. 423–4. 110.  See Mallet, A History of the University of Oxford, II, pp. 119–21. 111.  Annals of Elizabeth, p. 419. 112.  Nichols, The Progresses … of Queen Elizabeth, I, 206; Leicester and Burghley arrived on 29 August, two days before Elizabeth; Beckingsale, Burghley, p. 123. 113.  Williams, “Elizabethan Oxford”, pp. 415–17; Mallet, A History of the University of Oxford, II, pp. 15–18, 435, for the transfer from Magdalen to Christ Church, and Burghley’s influence. 114.  For Magdalen’s innovative and rigorous curriculum, see McConica, History of the University of Oxford, III, pp. 4–7, 55–6, 715–22; and, for music study, J. M. Fletcher, “The Faculty of Arts”, in McConica, p. 175; Mallet, A History of the University of Oxford, II, pp. 119–20, notes that the new statutes of 1565 included two terms of music study. Similarly, the statutes of Westminster required students to study music. 115.  McConica, History of the University of Oxford, III, pp. 4–5. 116.  Wood, Athenae Oxoniensis, II, col. 340. 117.  Nichols, The Progresses … of Queen Elizabeth, I, p. 211; Cooper is at Magdalen in 1566; soon after he became dean. 118.  McConica, History of the University of Oxford, III, pp. 3–6, 29–42. 119.  McConica, History of the University of Oxford, III, pp. 38, 41. 120.  McConica, History of the University of Oxford, III, pp. 32–3; J. E. A. Dawson, “The Foundation of Christ Church, Oxford, and Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1546”, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, 57 (1984), pp. 208–15. 121.  McConica, History of the University of Oxford, III, pp. 42, 40, 56. 122.  For Wood’s record of Camden’s supplications to the university, see Athenae Oxoniensis, II, col. 340, and Fasti, cols. 185, 193, 243, 354. 123.  Richard Carew, Survey of Cornwall (1602), fol. 102v. 124.  Mallet, A History of the University of Oxford, II, p. 120; McConica, History of the University of Oxford, III, pp. 4–5, 699–700.


William Camden – A Life in Context 125.  PRO, sp 46/15, fols. 212–20; McConica, History of the University of Oxford, III, pp. 697–701. 126.  McConica, History of the University of Oxford, III, pp. 699–700. 127.  McConica, History of the University of Oxford, III, p. 701. 128.  McConica, History of the University of Oxford, III, p. 713. 129.  McConica, History of the University of Oxford, III, p. 717. 130.  McConica, History of the University of Oxford, III, pp. 716–17; M. Feingold, The Mathematicians’ Apprenticeship: Science, Universities and Society in England, 1560–1640 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), p.101. 131.  McConica, History of the University of Oxford, III, pp. 717–18; Feingold, The Mathemat­ icians’ Apprenticeship, p. 101; like other cultural historians, these two sources tend to roll these individuals together chronologically, when in fact they represent different generations. 132.  Oxford University, ms University Oxford Archives, NEP / Supra, “Register of Congregation and Convocation, 1564–1582”, fol. 95v, records Camden’s supplication of June(?) 1570; fol. 93v records Leicester’s letter to Cooper, virtually coinciding with the rejection of Camden’s request; fol. 162v records his second supplication, on 8 March 1573/4, by which we know that his first had been turned down. Printed text of Camden’s petitions appear in Register of the University of Oxford, vol. 1, ed. C. W. Boase (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1885), p. 279, and vol. 2, ed. Andrew Clark (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1887), p. 237. 133.  Epistolae, pp. 246–8. 134.  Rowse, The England of Elizabeth, p. 57. 135.  Inner Temple, ms “Registry Books”, entry for 21 February 1572: “William Camden, of Yoxall, Staffordshire and late of Lyons Inne, gen. Pleg. Robertus Nichus”. His name does not appear in the Call Books. 136.  Memorabilia, p. 85.


part two Elizabethan Camden

chapter iv The Way to Westminster


On the Road

hat the twenty-year-old Camden did after relinquishing his “conversation with the muses” is not known. There is no concrete information about Camden’s “lost years” between 1571, when he left Oxford, and 1575, when he became under-master at Westminster School. What a man of his modest means and considerable talents did for four years is interesting white space on our canvas – if he did not have an important future ahead, we could accept it as the oblivion that lay ahead for most people, regardless of background. But given his personable, Protestant personality, his solid connections, and his literary predilections, it is odd that he does not take his place in history’s subordinate clauses as someone’s secretary or tutor, or enter the patronage market as a poet – courses of action taken by others of his background and talent such as Spenser, Drayton, Daniel. When we study the lives of people living on the margins of Tudor society, we are particularly aware of the peripatetic nature of their existence and the need to find some occupational branch to settle on temporarily. The term “marginal” is useful here. As “marginalium” he remains on the periphery of more fixed social groups and institutions, drawing some identification from their stabler “text” around which he moves. Camden’s case is interesting, though, because in an increasingly mobile late-Tudor society, a man with his skills, his Anglican religious leanings, and his Oxford education had the ability and contacts to make his (documentary) mark on the margins if not actually to enter the text itself. He should not have disappeared so completely. It is hard to imagine that he was so lacking ambition that he drifted for five years. He virtually slips off the page for these years, only to return to marginality, and finally be absorbed into the text itself. It is a commonplace that “history” perpetuates hegemony and excludes those individuals or groups who, for whatever reason, lack a recordable voice; it is also commonplace that writing history from the margins is, for this reason, difficult. Camden’s career reveals two things about this reality. One is the 91

William Camden – A Life in Context ease with which a person can enter and disappear from the text – the way out being rather more heavily travelled. More interesting, though, is how Camden’s importance for the future is itself the result of his place at the margin: from the tactical suppression of his own voice; from the way that his life, on the margins of institutions, is that of a ventriloquist. During these silent years, Camden found the effectively understated manner of living and working that served him throughout his life. Thus, we can learn something even from Camden’s disappearance – by knowing what he was not doing, if not what he was doing. The university was closed to him, and he seems (interestingly) to have early on ruled out the church as a career. Other likely avenues of livelihood open to him he left unexplored. We can confidently say that in 1572 he was admitted to the Inner Temple, having formerly been associated with Lyon’s Inn. There had been some doubt whether or not this Camden was the author of the ­Britannia; however the Inner Temple Registry Books for 21 February identified him as “William Camden, of Yoxsall, Staffordshire, and late of Lyons Inne, gen.”. Robert Nichus was his pledge.1 His father had property in Yoxall that he would inherit in 1576. It may be, then, that after leaving Oxford Camden spent some time in Staffordshire before entering the Inns of Court. If he flirted with the law, he seems never to have intended to wed it – he is not mentioned in the Call Books for these years and so he was not called to the bar. Nor is there any evidence that he studied at the Inns of Court; it may be the he simply took up residence there. Camden was a letter-writer by nature, and at this time, one might have expected to find a flurry of “letters of application” and recommendation typical of the period, but there is none. He obviously had a wide-ranging academic background, extensive literary, political, and religious interests and acquaintances, but there is no evidence to suggest an emerging author figure in search of a patron. His earliest publication, commendatory verses contributed to Edward Grant’s 1575 edition of Ascham’s letters, dates from after he began teaching at Westminster School. There were many kinds of writing that might generate a patron, a livelihood, or at least a paper-trail. But there is no evidence of his having attempted to initiate a literary career through his writings or through the pursuit of patronage. This, of course, may simply be the merciful way by which Time conceals our private failures. But lesser people have left a fuller trail of documents. The Dictionary of National Biography ingenuously observes that after leaving Oxford, Camden “had no regular employment, and for the next few years 92

The Way to Westminster he was free to pursue his antiquarian studies”. Such an expanse of time may be “freedom” for the wealthy, but is more likely to spell hardship and unemployment for a man of Camden’s position. Normally a person of Camden’s background must work to escape a precarious existence, to secure a position of relative stability. The marginally middle-class of the sixteenth century were not in a position to spend four or five years “finishing” their education – the idea of a “Grand Tour” did not yet exist even for the very wealthy. It is this economic reality that makes Milton’s retirement during the Horton period (1632–8) and his Italian journey (1638–9) so extraordinary. However, by Milton’s time the European tour was becoming fashionable among the wealthy, and his family was both prosperous and precocious. There is no reason to assume that such an option was open to Camden, sixty years before and lacking Milton’s family resources. The traditional account of these “lost” years has been that “Camden travelled through Britain gaining knowledge which he was to use in his Britannia.”2 Both Camden and Godfrey Goodman (the dean’s nephew) speak of the Dean of Westminster’s encouragement. In the Britannia Camden describes Gabriel Goodman as “a person of singular worth and integrity, and a particular Patron both to me and my Studies”, but whether his generosity extended to underwriting extensive travel, and whether it began as early as 1571 or only when Camden began at Westminster, we do not know.3 If Gabriel Goodman did in fact support Camden in this way, that in itself is noteworthy, for it is a very early indication that the pursuit of antiquarian knowledge was very highly valued within the Westminster community. The vacuum left by these years – Camden does not even refer to them later in life – combined with the apparent lack of urgency in his affairs suggests that Camden was well taken care of even if his future was uncertain. We do know that in 1574 he again petitioned the university for his B.A. This time he was successful, although, as we have seen, he did not go through the formal public disputation that was expected of degree students. Like so many of the details from his university career, this has been ignored. It may mean that whatever problems originally caused him to leave persisted, and receiving his degree without determination was one way of avoiding attention or controversy. It was not terribly rare for a student to ask for such an exemption. It did, however, enable a student to proceed to degree while avoiding the Oath of Supremacy, although there were other reasons as well for granting dispensations – the Oxford administration was judiciously flexible.4 Interestingly, around this time, or more precisely in March 1572, Camden’s future employer, 93

William Camden – A Life in Context Edward Grant, soon to be headmaster at Westminster, also applied to the University of Oxford for such a dispensation in his supplication for his Master’s degree. His case is quite different from Camden’s. Grant requested that he be allowed to “omit” the “Austin disputations and ‘ordinariae lectiones’” required for the Master’s degree, because “he was a master at Westminster, and could not keep his place unless he took M.A., while at the same time his duties did not allow him to come into residence in the university to perform the exercises”.5 Westminster masters were expected to have at least their B.A. degree, but Camden made no such case in his petition to the university. This sort of explanation was a common one, but it is not Camden’s in 1570 or 1574, when in the first instance he was still at Oxford and in the second he had not yet begun at Westminster. Had a similar job-related circumstance existed, he could presumably have followed the precedent of his employer. All we can say with much confidence is that he probably went to the metropolis to pursue contacts established at Oxford. At some point Dean Goodman, who had been Cecil’s chaplain and who remained very close with both him and his wife Mildred, encouraged and patronized him, but without his taking a documented role such as secretary. In later years Camden would fight hard to ensure his place at the dean’s table and in the Westminster community. It is unlikely that an unpublished and inexperienced twenty-year-old, however affable and wise beyond his years he might be, would find a ready and easy way into that rather tight and serious group. When Camden left Oxford Edward Grant was still under-master at Westminster; his promotion came in 1572, the year that he took his M.A. When their friendship began is also unclear. The two men, both with ties to Christ Church and Broadgates Hall and having common intellectual interests, represent different stages of the evolving humanist tradition. Grant had been a close friend of the courtier-educator Roger Ascham and edited his letters. Camden made his publication début in this volume with an encomiastic poem on Ascham. Like Camden, Grant combined a love of classical (particularly Greek) and vernacular languages and antiquity. He prepared the Greek grammar used in Westminster that was superseded by Camden’s more successful text, and he contributed verses to Humphrey Llwyd’s Breviary of Britayne, a polemical defence of the ancient Britons, translated in 1573 by another Oxford alumnus, Thomas Twyne. If Grant was less the active author and scholar of the two, and more the reform humanist educator and holder of benefices, he was deeply engaged in the intellectual foment that came out of Oxford and nurtured the combination of classical and British studies. A ­career member 94

The Way to Westminster of the Chapter of Westminster, he was also a prebendary and a subdean to his friend Gabriel Goodman. But when Camden re-enters the narrative of his own life as under-master at Westminster, in 1575, he became a regular at the table of the Dean of Westminster, where Lord and Lady Burghley, who kept residence at Westminster, regularly presided over the kind of collegial gathering that Ascham describes at the opening of The Scholemaster. In short, an exile from Leicester’s Oxford, Camden moved into a close intellectual circle of Burghley and his protégés. He joined the coterie in a capacity that is neither courtier nor servant. To be sure, he was “marginal” and dependent – and he would have to “serve” – but Camden’s position as second master of the school, within the Abbey Chapter of Westminster was an unusual and multi-layered one. He had escaped some of society’s nets and eluded many of the conventions of the patronage system and the role of petitioning servant, and entered into a more amorphous milieu, in a way more modern because of its lack of clear social identity. He enters a middle-class dependence and respectability that is itself the “fruit” of the system that groomed him. Young Camden’s lot, then, cannot have been a very comfortable one. He suffered serious enough reversals to make his future look very unpromising, although we know from hindsight that his story will be a city comedy, rather than a bourgeois tragedy. What he learned over these years would become his survival strategy for life. The pattern of disappointments and political reversals that we saw in his Oxford years will be repeated often enough, as will the process of recovery and adaptation. The Camden that emerges from it completes the transformation from Renaissance to early modern scholar with the kind of multiple identities that distinguish the individual in a world where identifying institutions are in a state of change.

Camden in Queen Elizabeth’s Westminster But the late Queene Elizabeth … at the mediation of the godly, and excellent common-wealthes man, Sir William Cecill, Lorde Burghley, and Lorde high Treasurer, restored a goode parte of the Lands taken from this house … and converted it into a colledge, and placed therein (besides the Deane) twelve Prebendaries, all professors of Theologie.6


hen camden assumed his post as under-master at Westminster in 1575, he entered a richly complex world that provided the background 95

William Camden – A Life in Context for – and the gloss to – much of his life and work. For the next two decades and more, Westminster – city, chapter, and school – provided Camden with a unique environment that nurtured his intellectual and professional growth. Most discussion of Camden treats the different aspects of his life – as teacher, antiquarian, herald – in isolation from each other, and fails to consider how closely interrelated they were. Camden’s twenty-two years as a teacher are left as a footnote to his achievement as author of the Britannia, which was written, published, and revised during his time at Westminster. His historical and antiquarian work proceeded, by most accounts, separately from his school work, which is viewed simply as a means of financing his antiquarian activities, and as having little inherent interest of its own. Twenty-two years is a very long footnote. Yet he taught many young men who became influential in various ways, the most conspicuous of them being Robert Cotton and Ben Jonson, although a number of others, Camden himself boasts, became bishops and churchmen. We want to note not what great names he encountered but what kind of people he helped shape as a teacher. Similarly, little mention is made of his writings other than the Britannia, although both the Reges, Reginae, Nobiles, et alii in Ecclesia … Westmonasterii (1600), and his edition of British historical texts, Anglica, Normannica, Hibernica, Cambrica, a veteribus scripta (1603) are products of his life and term at the school, though published after his departure. Nor is there any sense that the Camden who was instrumental in founding the Society of Antiquaries was the man who was also under-master and then headmaster of Westminster School. And when Camden finally leaves the school to become Clarenceux King of Arms, this too is left to stand in isolation from the rest of his life. Camden’s own “professionalism” contributes to the modern scholar’s tendency to categorize and discipline the material of his life. We will see Camden as one of the shaping forces at work in the formation of early modern methods of defining the methodology and scope of disciplines and institutions. In this sense, we can measure Camden’s contribution to these individual areas of endeavour with some success. But the sum of these parts does not add up to the whole man and his importance for his generation. My goal is to find a degree of coherence in the different spheres that make up Camden’s professional life. At Westminster School, Camden moves from margin to text – indeed, his life becomes deeply contextualized. This was not the position that he likely had envisioned for himself, but it came with its degree of prestige, promise, and tradition. There were those, like Ralph Brooke, who scoffed at the schoolmaster’s lot as an unpleasant one consisting of unhygienic tasks of wiping the 96

The Way to Westminster noses of untidy boys. The school was partly residential and the masters served in loco parentis, so had their share of such work. We get a pretty full sense of what this entails and of how well Camden filled this role in a charming and very familiar sounding letter from John Dee to Camden, accompanying his son’s return to school: Worshipful Sir, I have here returned your Scholar unto your jurisdiction, beseeching you to shew your charitable affection toward him. Of your great skill and faithful industry in your Function, it is most certain, to your great credit and merit. Of the wonderful diversity of childrens dispositions much you can say by experience: but of mine, this Arthur, I am to request you to conceive at my hand, that he is of an exceeding great and haughty mind, naturally ready to revenge rashly … Dictum sapienti sat esto: for vestra curatura you may alter this natural Courage to true Fortitude, and not to frail rash fancies … These spiritual Grammatical Concords of good manners I have spent care, that all my imps may be instructed in, to the more apt and skilful serving of our Creator.7 Dee’s phrase, the “spiritual Grammatical Concords of good manners”, nicely captures the rationale and goals of Reformation pedagogy. If the role of schoolmaster lacked some of the prestige of a university fellow­ ship, it had, nevertheless, well-established associations with respected scholarship and opportunity, particularly in England, where the links between the universities and many of the endowed grammar schools were formal and close. We have already spoken of some of the major international educators and political figures whose educational theories recognized the importance of early education and thus helped enhance the role of the schoolmaster. Erasmus first and foremost was a presence in virtually all English schools. The educational, social, and religious values of the Reformation were nurtured in the grammar and petty schools that the bourgeois and aristocratic classes endowed in a period of exceptional philanthropy. In these increasingly esteemed institutions was based a social movement that according to Lawrence Stone, “did more to alter the pattern of English life and thought than the whole of Tudor legislation put together”.8 Given this phenomenon, grammarschool masters were not discriminated against for not being university professors, but were esteemed for their particular contribution to learning, socialization, and more pointedly, religious reform. John Cheke and Roger Ascham were teachers of young princes, and had their counterparts in ­distinguished 97

William Camden – A Life in Context and influential men whose careers were closely linked with the schools, such as Alexander Nowell, Nicholas Udall, Richard Mulcaster, Henry Savile, and others. Although many schools ostensibly provided a “secular” education, all teachers were authorized to teach by the local bishop, and the principal texts, including not only Lily’s grammar but also the catechism, were also prescribed. In this way all schools were venues for theological and political ideologies. Schools having links of one sort or another with ecclesiastical bodies commonly saw their deans on duty in the classroom – as was the case at St Paul’s with Colet and Nowell, and at Westminster with Dean Lancelot Andrewes, who occasionally took over the school for an entire week. And, of course, many schoolmasters were also the local parsons; although they might be located doctrinally anywhere between Rome and Geneva, they still needed the bishop’s approval. Depending on the school, then, there would be greater or lesser involvement with the local ecclesiastical authorities. Camden himself gives us a clear sense of how he viewed the school that he served for so long. The school re-established by Elizabeth was an active part of the multi-faceted chapter organized around the former abbey. In the Britannia he describes the school and its members as part of the Anglican church militant: “Elizabeth converted it [the Abbey] into a Collegiate Church, nay I may say, a Nursery of the Church. For she settled twelve Prebendaries, and as many old Soldiers past service, and forty Scholars (called King’s Scholars) who are sent successively to the Universities, and thence transplanted into Church and State, &c” (I, col. 385). As Stow does in his description of the school, Camden sees it as playing an integral part in political and religious fabric of the community, and the schoolmaster, although not mentioned here, is silently assimilated into the workings of the larger social dynamic. Realistically, the under-master’s position at Westminster was one of some respect, and as we will see, it offered possibilities for meeting influential people. Prospects for promotion within the school were limited and depended on the fate of the master, Edward Grant, who was himself a relatively new appointment. Greater opportunities would exist through Camden’s contacts with students, their parents, and his place within the complex life of the chapter. Academically, although the second mastership drew him away from the full-time pursuit of traditional classical scholarship, it probably resulted indirectly in his cultivation of informal and independent work on uncanonical ­material and in non-academic scholarly venues such as the emergent Society of ­Antiquaries and later, the College of Arms. Camden formed deep and lasting ties with Westminster School. It became 98

The Way to Westminster for him a multi-layered microcosm of London itself. Understanding the nature of the Westminster School and Chapter will help us to understand Camden. While, as we have seen, there were structural and curricular parallels between the two schools, St Paul’s and Westminster, these should not obscure the major differences that exist between them – in their traditions, community life, and their links to the nation’s political structures. Institutionally, Westminster’s status was complex and in many ways anomalous, as its chroniclers, Lawrence Tanner and John Sargeaunt make clear. It was a secular, collegiate school, independent from the abbey yet dependent on the dean and other aspects of the chapter. In fact, the school was inseparable from the collegiate, of which it formed but a small part. In distinguishing Westminster from other superficially similar schools, Sargeaunt explains that “Apart from the College the School had neither revenues nor local habitation.”9 The school had to apply to the dean and prebendaries for monies and space. Its place in the collegiate, while significant, is put in perspective when we realize that its budget represented approximately 10 per cent of the college’s expenses.10 According to its Elizabethan statutes, its headmaster was to be a “clerk in orders”, but because they were never ratified, exceptions were easily made, as in the case of Camden.11 Westminster School also had significant ties with Christ Church, Oxford, and Trinity College, Cambridge, whose dean and master appointed, in alternate terms, the school’s headmaster.12 Each year six King’s Scholars were sent from Westminster to Christ Church, suggesting a commerce between the two that makes Camden’s career path more understandable.13 Thus, the independence that we noticed entrenched in St Paul’s is palpably missing at Westminster. It is a school profoundly and complicatedly intertwined with the structures of political, church, and educational authority in England. This fundamental difference between Westminster and St Paul’s helps us to understand Camden’s position more fully. The difference derives in part from the ways in which the Elizabethan compromise made its presence felt at Westminster, and in part from the nature of St Paul’s independence, which was guarded by a cautious bourgeoisie, the Company of Mercers, who were the custodians of Colet’s legacy. St Paul’s was just the beginning of a wave of endowed schools created with a degree of administrative autonomy from church hierarchy. The difference from Westminster is underscored by Erasmus’s well-known letter to Justus Jonas, in which he describes how Colet “over the revenues and entire management [of the school] … set neither priests nor bishop, nor Chapter (as they call it), nor no nobleman; but some married 99

William Camden – A Life in Context citizens of established reputation”.14 The differences in the governing structures of St Paul’s and Westminster could hardly be clearer. Westminster is a royal foundation created from the dissolution of the monastic institution and its lands; as such it is physically as well as spiritually linked to the dean and his chapter. As a result, the school is closer to the source of spiritual and temporal power in England, and this proximity affected its “humanist” education and opened opportunities for the young Camden. Because of this complex administrative structure Westminster had a significant and unusually dynamic relationship to an institutional past that exerted a strong presence on the organization and life of the school. Because of its ties to the political structure of the city and the country, it regularly redefined itself and its relation to changing political realities – a fact of particular importance for Camden. Literally and figuratively built on a past that embraced its history as a Benedictine monastery and its transformations under Tudor reform, Elizabethan Westminster had a uniquely purposeful relationship to its history. The school’s statutes, starting with those for the original Benedictine foundation, evolved through Henry’s refounding of the school and various Tudor revisions into a set of Elizabethan documents that were adopted but never officially approved. As we will see, the Elizabethan school’s growth through accretion is very different from other schools’ efforts to break with the past and start afresh. There is something deliberately ambiguous about Elizabeth’s method of handling institutions like Westminster, and it lends a political amorphousness to the world Camden occupied for twenty-three years. Some of this uniqueness can be observed in the school’s changing relations with the secular community over time. The collegiate church and Benedictine monastery antedated the school. Although there was a grammar school external to the monastery by the fourteenth century, by the fifteenth they had grown together in various capacities, so that there were “singing boys”, “boys of the almonry”, and “grammar boys” together within the abbey precincts.15 There were novices bound for – and to – the church, choristers having an ecclesiastical role but a secular status, and grammar students, the poor children of local tradesmen, educated for free as part of the charitable foundation of the abbey. This nuanced relationship between church and school continued during the Renaissance. Although the nuances changed at crucial periods, the relations between church and community, and between ecclesiastical and educational mission, remained important and were further complicated by reform, which, shall we say, “enhanced” the political dimensions of the triad of church, state, and school. 100

The Way to Westminster These, then, are the three important and conflated spheres of influence within which the school operated – the ecclesiastical, the political, and the educational. To appreciate the nature of Camden’s life at Westminster, we need to have a sense of the larger community in which he lived, and not just the school and its pedagogical mission. Large as it looms in our discussion, we must keep in mind that the hurly-burly of the school is just part of the geographically and administratively congested and busy world of the chapter. Notwithstanding the amount of energy that must have been generated by the 120 youngsters buzzing through the cloisters and yard, the school’s activities had to make way for the affairs of the dean, the collegiate church, and a complicated institutional system of canons and prebendaries, as well as for the other urban activities within the dean’s jurisdiction, including the business of government offices and parliament. As we will see, this has direct bearing on the kind of life led by the masters, who were part of the collegiate household, who lived along with many of the students on the premises, who were neighbours with many of its officers, and who, like their charges, were part of a social world that reached well beyond the school. The Reformation intensified the communal and collegial nature of the chapter. The school reflects the Protestant Tudors’ strategies of combining processes of dissolution and reconstitution. In the “Booke of the erecion of the King’s newe College”, Henry’s initial act of monastic dissolution was countered by his statement that he intended to protect the school in his own name.16 Indeed, he took special interest in both the church and the school, elevating the one to a cathedral with a bishop and dean, and refounding the school, giving it a headmaster and admitting students on the competitive basis of nominations and letters of admission.17 The original medieval school, a charitable foundation “external to the monastery” (in Tanner’s words), was thus unconstituted and remade into a socially more mixed institution having, paradoxically, closer structural ties to the new church, although remaining ostensibly secular. Henry appointed as headmaster Alexander Nowell, member of the educational High Commission and author of the revised catechism first used in Westminster and then prescribed for use in other schools. Nowell would exercise a major influence on the future educational and cultural identity of the school. The King’s influence also established the school’s ties to other educational enterprises through the creation of a select group of endowed students known as King’s Scholars, who were eligible for fellowships to Christ Church, Oxford, and Trinity College, Cambridge. Elizabeth would lavish still more attention on this cohort of select students. Henry’s 101

William Camden – A Life in Context royal patronage and direct involvement distinguished the school and gave it an identity of its own, but not independence. Under Mary the bishopric was abolished (in 1550), but the school’s dependence on the collegiate chapter remained unchanged, and the dean and the prebendaries continued to nominate King’s Scholars. Under Elizabeth the school and the chapter were transformed in nature, if not design. The school had to be re-established after Queen Mary’s death. On 12 May 1560, largely under the influence of Lord Burghley, Queen Elizabeth refounded the school, characteristically undoing what Queen Mary had done to restore Catholicism, and redoing what her father had done, but in her own name (and manner) – the lessons of Ludgate resonate in the West End. Thus, the monastery was dissolved once for all in 1559, statutes for the school were rewritten, the collegiate church of St Peter was founded by ­letters patent ­ redefining an organizational structure including the dean, twelve ­secular canons, or prebendaries, two schoolmasters, forty scholars (now called Queen’s Scholars), and others who would live on the foundation. George Buck’s words, quoted in the epigraph, underscore the important point that the initiative and design for Westminster’s re-creation were the work of Burghley. His plans were indeed far-reaching and went beyond the school to incorporate the entire chapter. For the rest of his life Burghley was the presiding genius over the community in which Camden lived, and his involvement is evident at every level. He took pains to ensure his authority over the chapter. In 1561, at the time that he was establishing the college and ten years before he was made Baron Burghley in a ceremony in the Presence Chamber of Westminster, he was made the Steward of Westminster, having direct authority over the dean himself and perforce over all collegiate affairs.18 The collegiate order that Buck describes, the brainchild of Burghley, was a theological think-tank; its principal venues were the chapter house and the dean’s table, both neighbouring the palace, the abbey, and the school, and in various ways infiltrating their affairs. More than just revitalization, this reorganization enabled Steward Burghley’s direct involvement in the offices and affairs of the chapter. The chapter met regularly and frequently with him; he maintained rooms at the abbey complex and a place at the dean’s table, where the political and ecclesiastical overflowed into academic life and secular scholarship. The hierarchic structure from dean, his theologue-prebendaries down to the headmaster, undermaster, and eventually the students, while not exactly monastic, certainly affirms episcopacy and could hardly have been fertile ground for ­Puritanism. 102

The Way to Westminster Stanley, the Westminster historian, describes how the chapter and school were run more like a university college than as a cathedral. Stanley explains that The Dean was in the position of “the Head”; the Masters in the position of college tutors or lecturers. In the College Hall the Dean and the Prebendaries dined, as the Master and Fellows, or as the Dean and Chapter at Christ Church, at High Table; and below sate all the other members of the body … So largely … was the ecclesiastical element blended with the scholastic, that the Dean, from time to time, seemed almost to supersede the functions of the Headmaster. In the time of Elizabeth he even took boarders into his house. In the time of James I … he became the instructor of the boys.19 Burghley’s Protestant “seminary” was designed with the clear purpose of ­fostering aspects of the Elizabethan settlement, with Westminster becoming “the third university of England”. The school, a part of the enterprise, thus operates in the shadows of church and state. Burghley, always aware of the social impact of educational reform, articulates in no uncertain terms the role of reformation teachers: “schoolmasters”, he says, “… may be a principal means of diminishing their [Papists’] number”.20 As we have seen, it is precisely in these terms that Camden evaluates his success as a teacher and headmaster at Westminster – as one who has brought numerous Catholics into the Anglican fold. But Catholics were not the only – or even the major threat to the established church; after all, as Camden and Burghley suggest, they could be wooed. The greater and more subversive threat came from the Puritan elements whose views on matters ranging from church governance to ecclesiastical dress, church ornament, and school curriculum, often differed from the Westminster norm. Burghley and Dean Gabriel Goodman were of a mind about what was acceptable at Westminster. In 1586, for example, the dean warned Elizabeth, through Burghley, of Puritan influence spreading through the chapter, and took steps to expel one zealot, John Hardyman, whose views were incompatible with the institution’s.21 The administrative “team” at Westminster consisted of men closely affiliated with the new steward, so that the community that Camden entered and that shaped his own development was one whose religious, political, and intellectual interests were extensions of Burghley’s. Gabriel Goodman, Dean of Westminster from its Elizabethan reconstitution until 1601, was formerly Burghley’s chaplain and secretary. It was Goodman who instituted the ­ collegiate 103

William Camden – A Life in Context structure around the dean’s high table, with the college dining below, and who fostered the cross-fertilization between the civic, ecclesiastical, and secular/scholarly activities of chapter, abbey, and school.22 The related scholarly and religious elements of this community, nurtured by Goodman, bear the stamp of Burghley and the tensions of the early Elizabethan decades. Goodman had cast his lot with Cecil and his entire career had been affected by it, both positively and negatively. Leicester had repeatedly blocked Goodman’s university advancement because of his close ties with Burghley; their rivalry extended beyond their involvement with the universities to their religious differences, and to their relationship to the Queen.23 Westminster thus became a haven for a man so closely linked to Burghley as Goodman was. Sharing as he did all aspects of his patron’s interests, when Goodman was made executor of Burghley’s will (with Thomas Bellot) he was only fulfilling the role that he had been performing most of his life. Goodman’s experience in many ways adumbrates Camden’s own. Although Goodman supported Camden’s antiquarian interests, this is only a small part of their affinity. The vulnerability to larger political rivalries, the frustrations at university, a career directed by the gravitational pull of the very powerful, the haven provided by Westminster, and also the cluster of intellectual interests – in classical and vernacular languages, antiquities, and topographical study – all form part of the shared experience of the dean and the young exile from Oxford. Other chapter members as well filled out the cohesive administrative team that Burghley assembled at Westminster. One of the most important and one who symbolized best the character of the Westminster community was Alexander Nowell. The school’s first Protestant headmaster, a prebendary since 1551, the man who delivered Lady Burghley’s funeral sermon, and known to have a knack for converting Catholics, Nowell was offered a canonry at Westminster shortly before Burghley was installed as Steward of Westminster. His presence confirms the conjunction of Anglican reform and education at Westminster. Reaching back to Henry VIII and Edward VI, Nowell represents the conservative nature of the school and its officers, as well as its intellectual interests. Nowell, who attended Roger Ascham on his deathbed, provides the link between Goodman, Headmaster Grant, who lovingly edited his friend’s letters, and Second Master Camden, whose first publication is a commendatory poem to the volume elegizing Ascham and praising Grant for his edition. Also part of the Westminster Chapter were the students themselves. As 104

The Way to Westminster seminarians in the ideologically homogeneous community, they studied and were to internalize the varied academic and experiential texts with which Westminster presented them. They were the school’s ambassadors, or to use Camden’s metaphor, settlers who are “sent successively to the Universities, and thence transplanted into Church and State, &c” (Britannia I, col. 385). At least in the eyes of their instructors and Westminster administrators, their education was not simply the refinement of the inner man, but something more active – leading them out of the self (“e duco”) into the life of service. Indeed, the school was, in Camden’s words, “a Nursury of the Church”. The school and its design and operation had a clear place within Burghley’s and Elizabeth’s plans for Westminster. Notwithstanding this homogeneity, the student body was characterized by its social diversity. Further, the three – or really four – kinds of student also reflected the way that the school was integrated into the urban milieu rather than withdrawn monastically from it. There were the “pensioners”, students who, by passing Westminster’s unique competitive examination, by demonstrating competence in grammar, reading of English and some Latin, were successful competitors for full membership in the academic foundation. They were the boys distributed among the households of the dean, prebendaries, headmaster, under-master, and choirmaster. Also students, though not full members of the collegiate foundation, were the “peregrines” – country boys living in town and attending the school. And there were town boys, ­“oppidans”, sons of Westminster residents, such as Ben Jonson, who commuted to school. The fourth group were the “choristers”, or the “children of Westminster”, who were supposed to be independent of the school itself, although in fact having closer ties to the school than historians have previously thought.24 As choir boys under the tutelage of the choirmaster, they attended regular classes for two hours each week day; many of them, Godfrey Goodman, the dean’s nephew and Camden’s student and later friend, for example, went on to be pensioners “on the foundation” after their voices changed or they were too old to remain as choristers. Camden’s own involvement with the choir illustrates the overlap between the school divisions. The three groups of students, excluding the choristers, numbered 120; there were normally up to eighteen monitors to assist with their supervision. The different groups formed concentric rings radiating from the core of the foundation. At the centre were the élite Queen’s Scholars, forty of the finest students nominated by the dean (four) and the prebendaries (three each).25 These students symbolized the institution academically and otherwise: they 105

William Camden – A Life in Context were students of the monarch, their patron. As we will see, they were frequently called into service of the Queen in different ways; their titles were not simply honorific. For example, at the time of Charles’s execution, the (then) King’s Scholars prayed together for their patron. During Camden’s time at Westminster, the Queen’s Scholars became an increasingly closely knit cohort of students working and living together, oftentimes apart from the other students. The Westminster Chapter and its constituent parts are a microcosm of the social, political, and ecclesiastical hierarchy of the Elizabethan state. In the school’s refounding, the strata of the monarchy, the episcopal church, the local, and the national communities are all acknowledged and brought together within the daily operation of the school. Formally integrated within the structure of the collegiate, it acts as an artery leading from the community into the chambers of power and the nation as a whole. Its student body recapitulates the peculiar dynamic of opportunity in early modern London, with its odd combination of the aristocratic and the meritocratic, the urban and rural, secular and religious, and its distinctly accommodating Protestantism. Westminster School had the unusual distinction of being at once among the most diversified schools and among the most stratified and hierarchic. Camden’s appointment at Westminster placed him, then, in a community that was inextricably involved with the intricate web of political and religious events of the 1570s and 1580s. The appointment of an under-master learned in Greek, not in orders, allied with Goodman, and probably with Nowell and Burghley, in a school that the Queen had formally linked with Camden’s own university college is not a neutral appointment. In virtually all her domestic and foreign policy at this time, Elizabeth had to establish the credibility of her particular brand of Protestantism, and to steer a difficult course between the Puritan and Catholic partisans. Much of her involvement in school reform was part of an attempt to create the educational base for an episcopate that assured her authority and that was not redolent of Rome. Westminster School’s relation to the church was a delicate matter – it was closer than it had been under Catholic monarchs, and it was perforce a showcase for Protestant policy. In some respects, then, the school’s position was anomalous: drawn towards episcopal structures likely to be construed as too close to Rome and thus to offend Puritan sensibilities, it was, nevertheless, the creation of the Protestant Tudors. For example, some of the school’s statutory regulations – such as the tradition that college members, particularly the headmaster, were to remain celibate – seem to be vestiges of its monastic past, 106

The Way to Westminster but in the re-established institution of the 1580s they assume the significance of policy.26 Similarly, the statutes specified that the master was to be a “clerk in orders”. Interestingly, this “regulation” was waived for Camden; thus, the man who sought a dispensation in order to be granted his B.A. was also exempted from clerical requirements normally imposed on the school’s masters. This is the same person who, a few years later, became a lay prebendary at Ilfracombe. His appointment, then, like that to the College of Arms, is anomalous; it deviates from the statutory requirement but it also gives the semblance of secularism to the school and its instruction. The effectiveness of Camden’s position lies in his being outside of ecclesiastic structures and yet complicit with them. By not being “in orders” Camden was better able to recruit Catholic students to the school and to work with Protestants of different stripes. A true agent of the Elizabethan compromise, Camden negotiated a path between the extreme religious positions of the time and was able to create a neutral space in which students could meet. Camden, of course, was appointed as an educator not as a covert agent, but the education he provided is also part of the ongoing agenda of those who wanted Westminster, including the school, to be a “nursery of the church”. We can understand how this was so if we look more closely at the education that the school provided during these years. We will need to return to the subject of Greek and Latin in the school, for many of the sensitive curricular issues of the first years of reform were being revived. In 1575 Camden, equidistant between Colet and Busby, showed greater similarities as an educator to his precursors than to his successors, and in this he was well suited to conservative Westminster. The Henrician school that was re-established with Alexander Nowell and William Bill as first Protestant headmaster and dean respectively, looked back to the model of St Paul’s in its objectives and curriculum. The immediate model for Westminster was Eton, where Bill had been provost, but its statutes were themselves derived from Colet’s school. But as many educational historians have shown, there were a number of details which distinguished Elizabethan Westminster from other schools and the selection of Camden as under-master seemed to be linked with them. As an expression of Elizabeth’s determination not to make concessions to the virulent Puritans, Westminster’s statutes intentionally echoed the tolerant language used by Colet and appropriated by other Edwardian schools. In particular, the dual emphasis on humane learning and on pure and chaste eloquence was preserved.27 The phrase may sound innocuous enough, even vestigial, but it was again a red flag for educational polemicists, as it had 107

William Camden – A Life in Context been fifty years before. At the time of Westminster’s new charter, the formula, signalling the intention to accommodate both classical and Christian material in the curriculum, appears to have become a watchword to distinguish “episcopal” from Puritan schools. The old humanist curriculum, then, became a means by which Elizabeth and her policy-makers positioned themselves in the changed religious landscape. Westminster seems to have been particularly successful in combining classical and Christian writings in its curriculum. It aggressively stepped in to establish its identity in the context of Greek training, and to assume the place once held by St Paul’s, and Camden’s appointment seems to have been part of the strategy. A Westminster education was distinguished by several features that were clear extensions of the humanist ideal. It was stressed that the boys would be trained with authentic classical texts, particularly in Greek, rather than with bowdlerized editions, translations, and epitomes that were commonly used in schools. Starting with Nowell, and followed by Nicholas Udall and Gabriel Goodman, its first Protestant headmasters regularly reinforced the school’s commitment to Greek, and Camden clearly has a place in this process.28 This insistence on the authenticity of the text was, of course, a fundamental principle of humanist methodology; it also served religious reform, the return to scripture, and the purgation of priestly textual corruption.29 One of Colet’s obsessions and Erasmus’s strengths, it was not new in 1575. As a guiding principle, this humanist pedagogy still carried religious and political significance. By Elizabeth’s reign the Calvinist faction was calling for greater religious presence in the schools and the universities; Westminster’s emphasis on authenticity of text and language met some of those demands, although its broad literary reach made it closely resemble the curriculum designed by the Catholic Colet and the earliest English humanists. Thus, the masters’ duties, aside from ensuring that “the students’ faces and hands shall be washed, hair combed and cut, nails cut … and … garments … kept clean” included the teaching of “Latin, Greek, and Hebrew grammar, literature, the poets and orators, and [the] examining diligently in the same”.30 Chapter 10 of the statutes for the abbey and the college describes in detail the daily regimen of the students in each form. It outlines a thoughtful curriculum of Greek grammar and readings in the fourth form – on Mondays and Tuesdays, “Greek Grammar”, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays, “Greek Dialogues” of Lucian. On Mondays and Tuesdays the fifth form studied Isocrates, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays, Plutarch (as an alternative to Ovid). In the sixth and seventh forms students read Homer and Demosthenes. In contrast, at Eton students 108

The Way to Westminster in the second form read Aesop and Lucian in Latin selections and in Greek in the sixth form; Homer, Demosthenes, Isocrates, and Plutarch do not figure in the Greek curriculum at Eton.31 By 1575, with the rift growing between Puritan and Anglican factions, Westminster’s education was certainly not in step with the nation’s more zealous reformers.32 Thus, the religious and political implications of the school’s curriculum were characteristically Elizabethan – oblique, vague, equivocating between the two factions, although unmistakably more Erastian than Puritan. The importance of Westminster’s curricular focus, including the decision to hire Camden, was both political and educational. The tendency has been to regard its redoubled emphasis on Greek as pedagogically bold or progressive. But was it? We must be careful not to conflate a rigorous humanist curriculum with an educational or ideological avante-garde. Under the influence of Ramus, pedagogical methods had shifted away from the early humanist ideas of imitatio. In some sense this marks the success of humanist education and its evolution into something different. In 1575 market demands were being amply met: there were adequate teachers available, “authentic” classroom texts were being prepared; and English editions of the then standard Greek grammar – that of Clenardus – were being printed by Thomas Marshe, who was granted the monopoly in 1572.33 Thus, the Tudor goal of uniform grammar texts for Latin and Greek had been largely realized before Camden began teaching. Granting the need for a better grammar, we can say that the demand for a new grammar in 1575 can hardly have been great, and we can see Grant’s unsuccessful Graecae linguae spicilegium (1575) as Westminster’s effort to enter the market and supplant Marshe’s text; it would be another twenty years before Camden’s Greek grammar, using Latin as the base language for introducing the student to Greek, would take the place of Clenardus’s. Thus, although the school had successfully identified itself in terms of its unique approach to language instruction, it was twenty years – not until 1595 – before the “Westminster grammar” captured the market and its role in ensuring uniformity in language training was secured. The significance of this victory, however, may have been largely symbolic for the role of classical learning in a liberal education was itself evolving during these decades, and the ideal of “pure, chaste” Latin and Greek was giving way to a different kind of classicism. The beauties of Latin had been rediscovered – and found to be more complex than expected, so that there were now several kinds of “authentic” Latin styles to choose from, and Westminster’s was known to be unique unto itself.34 But Greek studies did not follow the 109

William Camden – A Life in Context same course; it was not a question of its “catching on” – it was not going to take its place as the lingua franca of a newly enlightened age. As Grafton and Jardine, point out, the recovery of Greek too had been successful, but there would never be the widespread fluency and active interest that there was for Latin. The reason for this lay in the language, not the unavailability of tutors or texts. Instead, the zeal for Greek evolved into a different understanding of what imitatio meant. With new theories about language and education, as well as with the intensification of nationalistic sentiment across Europe, a new Hellenism emerged that recognized that the ancients were once the moderns, that the true spirit of classical writers was to be found in the cultivation of the vernacular.35 The price of the success, or partial success, of the humanist’s educational agenda, then, was being superseded by a Hellenism less dependent on narrowly defined ideas of imitation. For Camden’s generation Greek became the language of scholarship and of specialists, not the cause célèbre that it was for Colet, Linacre, and Erasmus. Paradoxically, then, these were the decades when major translations and adaptations of classical and patristic texts flourished alongside of the burgeoning output of English vernacular writing. Well-known theoretical statements about the use of the vernacular and how it shares in the same vitality that inspired the original Greek writers are to be found in Sidney’s Apologie for Poetrie (1579) and the correspondence between Edmund Spenser and Gabriel Harvey (1580). The “new” Hellenism served patriotic impulses: the classical spirit does not manifest itself in flawless Greek hexameters or Latin diction, but in the national epic, the celebration of the local countryside, the recognition of English’s own history and its expressive potential and kinship with other languages. Welsh and AngloSaxon were undergoing the “recovery” that Greek had enjoyed under Petrarch and his Renaissance successors. The cultural phenomenon that I am describing is the often-told tale of the coming of age that marks the end of the Renaissance – the passage from a rebirth to a new birth. Camden, author of the Britannia and instructor of classical Greek, is a perfect example of this “ambivalence”. Camden “had” Greek, but what he was working on during these years for his own professional development was Welsh and Anglo-Saxon. The two “impulses” – the classical and vernacular – co-exist in Camden through the conjunction of cultural and historical moments. Thus, Westminster’s “new” commitment to Greek, reiterated in Gabriel Goodman’s “rules of governance” for the school, and manifest in the appointment of Camden, cannot, however, be seen as 110

The Way to Westminster a bold step in a fresh, new direction.36 It continued to be important as the language most useful for preparing Protestant clergy, but, as educational historians point out, the school’s curriculum was in many ways at odds with the intellectual and political currents of the country.37

Camden’s Elegy, the Legacy of Roger Ascham, & the Cult of Humanism


amden himself has a small part in the cultural transformation that was taking place, but his role in that larger drama is a clear one. Indeed, at this time he literally enters the text of history in a way that illustrates his explicit identification with an earlier generation of learning and scholarship. His earliest surviving poem dates from his first year at Westminster under Edward Grant, and it gives us some first-hand evidence about how he perceived himself and what his literary and scholarly affinities were. “In Doctissimi Viri Rogeri Aschami Laudem Sylva” is an elegy by a young teacher on one of the acknowledged masters of Tudor learning and pedagogy – the man who taught Princess Elizabeth Greek, and reputedly read with her the entire works of Cicero. Making ample use of litotes and the humility topos, Camden negates his own identity to praise Ascham in terms of a classical ideal – and as an ideal classicist. In this poetic process Camden redefines himself through his mentor and his value system. His construction of Ascham and himself in terms of the past tells us much about Camden’s own sense of where he came from.38 The poem exudes a humanistic classicism through a doubled retrospective: Ascham embodies classical ideals that are in turn measured by the standards of his greatest humanist peers. He is praised for his profound knowledge of classical culture: “he immersed his talent in / More liberal studies; he read the ancients; he carried himself / Back to the learned age of Cicero; and the comeliness / Of Rome and the charm of Athens often spoke peacefully to him. / He understood well all laws of the gods and customs of men” (lines 34–9). There is no ambiguity here. Cicero is the model for style and erudition, and Ascham alone compares with him. To Cicero go the laurels: “And though the first laurel of eloquence belongs to Cicero, / It will be right to give the second palm to Ascham” (lines 66–7). Ascham’s reputation was built on a number of real achievements in the world of education and public affairs. A Greek scholar of rare ability in his generation, an author recognized in his own time, Ascham offered his elegist plenty of material to call up for 111

William Camden – A Life in Context praise. Camden’s elegy, however, makes Cicero its focal point. Tellingly, what Camden admires about Ascham’s “Ciceronianism” are his naturalness, ease, and decorum: “Thus he was versed in all, and thus he treated all rightly. / He excelled in a wealthy vein of fluent eloquence. … / … look again at his books; / How nobly speech has set subject matter in order with words, / Speech that is simple and easy, words that are pleasant and fluid” (lines 42–9). In Camden’s verses Ascham’s classicism has a Renaissance humanist spin to it and it clearly served as a role model for the poet himself: his Cicero is Erastian not Baconian. The need to match the language to the matter, to restrain the ego – not exactly what Bacon thought of when speaking of Cicero – are what Camden sees as Ascham’s Ciceronianism. These qualities approach the Renaissance ideals of sprezzatura and disinvoltura that Bembo personifies in Castiglione’s Il Cortegiano, and that Camden clearly admired in Ascham. Of course, Camden’s humanist emphasis on Cicero is part of his strategy of praise. Ascham’s achievements in scholarship, eloquence, and grace are the correlatives of the inner man’s “religion, duty, uprightness, discretion, [and] good conduct” (“Relligio, pietas, probitas, sapientia, mores”, line 69). His access to these qualities through his knowledge of the ancients, especially Plato and Cicero, placed him in the select company of those humanist scholars who have preserved them for the modern world (lines 51–60). Among Englishmen, Ascham alone understood the ancients and belongs among the learned few of Europe; Camden’s catalogue of Ascham’s peers, all men who were in fact his friends and correspondents, is a “Who’s who” of Continental humanists, and includes Erasmus, Longolius, Sturm, Manutius, Bembo, among others.39 Camden’s poem illustrates nicely the way humanism idealizes the classical past and turns knowledge of the ancients into a topos for human ideals. Its strategy foreshadows his own efforts in the Britannia to understand Britain by locating it in the context of pan-Romanism. To praise Ascham, Camden locates him in the milieu of a particular kind of romanitas. The comparison Camden is making is important: Ascham and his work are not praised for their Ciceronian qualities; rather, Ascham is praised for being like Cicero. Camden’s encomium, then, creates a complex psychological profile, perhaps less of Ascham than a projection of the poet’s – of what he finds in the Rome of his imagination. Identification and immersion, not emulation, are what distinguish Ascham’s classicism. George Burke Johnston’s translation of the Latin conveys a clear sense of how (for Camden) Ascham interiorized his classicism: “Nec levis ingenium varias coluisse per artes / Cura fuit, studiis 112

The Way to Westminster melioribus abdidit ipsum …”. Camden’s internalized view of the classics reminds us that there were many Romes in the Renaissance imagination, and his might be contrasted with that of Shakespeare or Jonson. The terms of assessment and characterization offer an important lesson in what Camden’s learning meant for him. Classical and formal as the piece is, it has a humanity and richness of moral sensibility that, if it does not make it a superior poem, it makes it one of refinement. The density of classical allusion in the opening lines punctuated with the self-erasure of “si possem” (“If I could …”), instead of stellifying Ascham contributes to Camden’s self-deprecating use of the humility topos. The result is a process of emptying out, a deconstruction of the poet that foregrounds his subject. In constructing his subject – phase two of the process of praising through litotes – he locates his terms of reference not in noble blood or the life of action, but in aspects of the mind and manner; not in the heroes of myth and literature, but of the academy – historical personalities who were close to his readers both chronologically and socially. Ascham’s sense of the past found expression through his life, Camden says, and brought out his gentleness and grace. The poem conveys how thoroughly immersed Camden is in the cult of humanism, the reformers, and the past. In it, time is compressed, and Ascham enters an olympian coterie of scholars. As Camden develops his extended comparison of Ascham and his peers he makes two basic assumptions that are worth stopping over. First, each of the men mentioned is of recognized greatness. And second, there is the implication that they are all “of the same school” as Ascham, each bathed in the fount of classical learning.40 The poem is striking in its narrow and sharp focus and in the way that everything extraneous has been emptied from it. There are the classics (Cicero and Plato) and there are the humanist sages, praised for their affinity with the classics rather than their politics or religion. The poem’s intellectual and historical coherence compresses history. In Camden’s verses, as each nation eulogizes its own, we get a sense of a fraternal European intellectual community, each nation inspired by a common desire to praise that patriot who has kept ­ Cicero’s flame burning: “I do not begrudge worthy praises from those eulogizing their own, / Nor those who would eulogize them … / The Batavian neighbor lifts on high the great Erasmus; the Belgic / Race has ever on its lips Longolius, mourns his loss …” (lines 49–60). The calculated exclusivity of Camden’s list (also including Sturm, Manutius, Osorius, Sadoletus, Bembo, and ­Bunellus) reveals the telescopic moral and intellectual vision that he concentrates on Ascham and that he uses to illumine the world of the poem. And most 113

William Camden – A Life in Context i­mportant here, it reveals how fully Camden sees himself as a product of the cult of humanism. In his poem Camden provides an important sense of historical periodicity that also sheds light on his own identity and self-image. Erasmus, Bembo, Ascham, Grant come together in a timeless realm associated with their humanism but here circumscribed in the poem. Also self-consciously, humbly, casting himself as Ascham’s elegist, Camden assumes a place in that still-vital movement. While we might think of Ascham as an heir to the humanist tradition, for Camden it was an ongoing movement: “Let the enduring name of Ascham remain forever; / Let it flourish and live and thrive and not pass away in the ages.” And of course, it was alive at Westminster, and he was duty-bound to be as mindful of it as Grant has been in editing the ­letters: “Let us praise the labor of Grant the preserver, and let us love it” (lines 82–5). ­“Vindicis et Grantae studium celebretur, ametur” (lines 81–3). His concluding lines, with the liturgical refrain of the word “consulit” (“Consulit is nobis, Aschamo consulit, illum/ Consuluisse juvet, studium modo consulis aequi”) and its hortatory language is psychologically compelling, suggesting the infusion of Ascham’s spirit through Grant. Grant here – the headmaster of the school and Camden’s superior – becomes the priest or cipher for what Ascham represents in the poem and the means by which Camden is led into that sanctuary. Clearly Camden imagined himself at the poem’s end as stepping into an ongoing vital stream that Ascham represents, and significantly, one that even in his imagination leads back, not forward in time. We see here, in the way that Camden has approached his subject, a recognition of the shaping influences on his own personality, and an expression of where he feels that he has drawn his spiritual and intellectual sustenance. We can see, too, that he imagines for himself a future drawing on these humanist roots: he identifies deeply not with radical new forms and methods of the seventeenth-century iconoclasts who were to question the place of the ancients in a modern world; nor with the radical Protestant writers of the sixteenth century. Instead, the confraternity that he imagined himself joining (as Grant’s protégé, and therefore Ascham’s) were those who created the curriculum of St Paul’s and whom he studied when young there and at Christ’s Church Hospital. Thus, when we think of Camden’s Elizabethanism, it is useful to think of it in this retrospective historical span – as Milton does when he considers Camden, and also when he thinks of the age of Elizabeth and its place in the cycles of history. If in 1575 Camden sees himself in a continuum of 114

The Way to Westminster reform and humanism, Milton sees that continuum as broken, or as losing its forward momentum, sometime during Camden’s lifetime, and in this poem we can see why he might have felt so. The Camden that we see in the elegy is a bit like an oarsman who pulls himself ahead while looking backward, eyes fixed on the point of departure. Always aware of being “in view” of the past, the rower must have a charted destination and must periodically look ahead if he is not to go amiss; if he does not, he can be assured only of landing in sight of the past. This seems to be the sort of travel Camden was engaged in at this early stage, where learning seemed to be more a process of checking the degree of deviation from the past, rather than of projecting a desired landing somewhere in the future. For later generations this would not be radical enough. But Camden’s “Protestantism” and his Englishness are defined in terms of humanistic ideas rather than on principles of iconoclasm. As in his valuation of Ascham, his patriotism is legitimized not by Britain’s “otherness” from Europe, but from its place in a European community, with an ancestry that boasts a Roman past, as this poem also shows. Seen in this context, Camden, in the elegy on Ascham, can be identified as part of an accommodating, rather than an exclusionary ideology, and this is what made him attractive to Elizabeth and Burghley. The continuum that he shares in is part of the reforming force as Elizabeth envisioned it. It is also the generation and the political ideology that, in Milton’s broad view of the history of the Reformation, ran the process of reform aground. For him the zeal that first nurtured the revival of learning was a revolutionary process that lost vitality and freedom. The titanic figures of reform, Milton argues, mesmerized politicians and thinkers of later generations, much as Ascham and Erasmus and Cicero seem to have mesmerized Camden and fixed his gaze on the past. It was during these crucial decades that the “stuff” of the cult of Elizabethanism was being forged; but it is also during this time that English Protestantism becomes entrenched in ways that more radical forces viewed as vitiating and enslaving. While the student of literature might see the golden age of Elizabeth take shape during these decades, seen in the context of the history of reform (intellectual and religious), it can also be seen as Milton and others of his generation came to see it: as the beginning end of the cultural revolution, when reform became a noun not a verb. These were the decades when, according to this view, creative change stopped dead in its tracks: But now, the Bishops abrogated and voided out of the church, as if our reformation sought no more but to make room for others into 115

William Camden – A Life in Context their seats under another name, the episcopal arts begin to bud again; the cruise of truth must run no more oil; liberty of printing must be enthralled again under a prelatical commission … The Camden who takes office at Westminster in 1575 was poised in that moment of time when the stature of the past remained great and the winds of change begin to blow increasingly strongly. In his elegy on Ascham, though, Camden’s gaze appears to have been glued on the past. And it is in this posture that Milton sees him and his generation, when the influence of the first reformers began to retard rather than foster the spirit of revolution: The light which we have gained was given us, not to be ever staring on, but by it to discover onward things more remote from our knowledge. It is not the unfrocking of a priest, the unmitring of a bishop, and the removing him from off the presbyterian shoulders, that will make us a happy nation: no; if other things as great in the church, and in the rule of life both economical and political, be not looked into and reformed, we have looked so long upon the blaze that Zuinglius and Calvin have beaconed up to us, that we are stark blind.41 What we have seen of Camden through the lense of this poem, we must recall, is but one of many Camdens. This is but one poem – Camden’s first publication. It is youthful and shows the signs of overvaluation in his inability to separate himself from his intellectual progenitors. The narrowness or concentration of its vision can also be seen as a sign of underdevelopment. Christ’s Church Hospital, St Paul’s, Oxford, Westminster – Camden has not gone through a process of individuation. That said, this is but one phase of Camden’s growth as an author. In the years to come, we will see different trajectories of thought, so that we need always to remind ourselves that Camden, as a product of cultural forces, is not a static creation.

Courtier-Scholar and the Early Modern Educator The last day saving but one of this Year [1568] was the last day of Roger Ascham’s life, (pardon, I pray, this my short Digression in memory of a Good man,) who being born in Yorkshire, and brought up at Cambridge, was one of the first of our Countrey-men that polished the Latin and Greek, and the Pureness of the Style, not without commendations for Eloquence. He was a while Schoolmaster to Queen Elizabeth, and her 116

The Way to Westminster Secretary for the Latin Tongue. Nevertheless, being too-too much given to Dicing and Cock fighting, he lived and died a poor man; leaving behind him two most excellent Books, as Monuments of his Wit, in the English Tongue, whereof he intituled the one Toxophilus, and the other Scholarcha. But return we to the matter at hand. (Annals of Elizabeth, pp. 121–2)


n far more complex ways than his elegy suggests, Ascham’s life helps to illuminate the major differences between his and Camden’s generation. There is more to Camden’s affinity with Ascham than the elegy suggests, and through it we can appreciate some of the uniqueness of Camden’s career. The anecdote above comprises the final lines of Camden’s entry for 1568 in his Annals of Elizabeth, giving Ascham a tiny but vivid place in the mosaic of Elizabeth’s reign. Together with the elegy it completes a diptych of the Elizabethan courtier-scholar, the games of chance providing an apt commentary on his life. The image of Ascham that emerges from Camden’s accounts captures for us a snapshot of the cult of personality that is part of Tudor humanism. The admiration of and identification with classical figures joined with the underdisciplined individual personality operating in a fluid court society explains some of the erratic and seemingly inconsistent qualities that we see in men like Ascham, Ralegh, Sidney, and Leicester. Camden seems to have seen these two dimensions to the courtier-scholar’s life. His respect for Ascham did not blind him to the flaws of the man. He suggests no incongruity that the idolator of Cicero who, nevertheless, preferred to speak Greek rather than Latin, should also be a self-destructive gambler. There is, of course, no incongruity: Cicero was a gambler, a politician, and he lost; rhetoric is his game of chance: the perpetual rhetorical tightrope playing excess off seeming indifference, and self-revelation off disguise. Order, reason, and education are there to contain the passion of the hero, be it the wrath of Achilles or the pride, lust, or covetousness of the courtier. Camden, not Ciceronian by nature, sees the complexity of the man: his matter of fact observation of Ascham’s passion for ­gambling also sets him apart. Camden thus humanizes the scholar in a way that reminds us that restraint and reason, Rome and Athens, are important because people are prone to excess and irrationality. Camden’s unlaboured observation presents us with a man in his complexity, and does not analyse or judge him. Deeply cognizant of the inner irrationality of people while trying himself to keep “to the matter in hand”, Camden’s portrait creates 117

William Camden – A Life in Context a significant distance between himself and Ascham; his frankness, restraint, and perspicuity, qualities that he traces to his love of Tacitus and Polybius, implicitly contrasts with Ascham’s engaged and charged Ciceronianism. It is also the style that is found in the scintillating classicism of Ben Jonson, whose eye for detail, ear for understatement, and preference for description rather than commentary were nurtured by his teacher, Camden. In these two men we see a different relationship to the ancients that that evident in the life of Ascham. The life of Ascham the educator and courtier, then, provides a polychromatic contrast with that of Camden. Seemingly so close to Camden personally and chronologically, the autobiographical experience of Ascham’s The Scholemaster in fact is radically different from what Camden experiences in the chapter life at Westminster. The Scholemaster opens with the scene of an intimate dinner: When the great plague was at London, the year 1563, the Queen’s majesty … lay at her castle of Windsor, where, upon the tenth day of December … in Sir William Cecil’s chamber … there dined together these personages: Mr. Secretary himself, Sir William Peter, Sir J. Mason, D. Wotton, Sir Richard Sackville … Sir Walter Mildmay … Mr. Haddon … Mr. John Astley … Mr … Hampton, Mr. Nicasius, and I. Of which number, the most part were of her majesty’s most honourable Privy Council. …42 The diners – statesmen, courtiers, and educators – seated around Secretary Cecil’s table, are engaged in convivial discussion about English education. The year is 1563; the backdrop is the devastating plague in London; the Queen and her court have removed to Windsor; the men linger after dinner in protracted discussion about education of noble youngsters. November 1563, we recall, was when the young Camden, infected with the plague, was withdrawn from school and sent to Islington. The setting, a conversazione providing the pretext for philosophical discussion, has its deliberate literary prototypes in Plato and, more nearly, Castiglione. It is, however, historically specific and patently local, as is appropriate for a work dedicated to Elizabeth by her tutor, and treating the upbringing of Protestant English youths in the exercise of virtue and learning. The courtly conversazione that ensues is a classic example of English humanist writing on education, reflecting the accepted importance of training in the bonae litterae for the aristocratic youth of the nation. Ascham was well suited to his task. Educated in the household of his patron, Sir Hugh 118

The Way to Westminster Wingfield, and later himself involved in the education of Prince Edward as well as Princess Elizabeth, he is a prime example of the courtier-scholar and a system of education quite different from the institutionalized Reformation schools that Camden experienced a generation later. As sometime member of the royal household, as professor of Greek at Cambridge advocating the purification of patristic texts, Ascham was part of the educational establishment that took Colet’s torch of reform one league further. A zealous patriot, and although prudently staying out of orders (as Camden did) and avoiding conflict with Mary’s policies, he was also in season a diligent Protestant articulate about the need to be free of all aspects of Roman Catholic influence. In him we see a man unmistakably the product of his generation and its political and intellectual currents. At his death in 1568, with Nowell, then Dean of St Paul’s, delivering his funeral sermon, Ascham assumed a special place as an English educator from the period of the dissolution to the Elizabethan settlement. There is a distinctly English quality about Ascham and his pedagogy that we see in Camden. The classicist who was also an English stylist, and encouraged fluency through the common practice of “double translation”; the gentle teacher who denounced the English penchant for the rod; the psychologist who saw the common weakness of the pedant and the flogger and the damage done to the boy flogged, he promoted many of the pedagogical values that are associated with Camden. The ideal of mens sano in corpore sano, explored in the context of the physical training of the archer in his treatise Toxophilus, has an indigenous element to it; he transplants the classical ideal to an English setting and the practice of a skill that combines military exercise and sport. Ascham is among the earliest to argue that the classical virtues were to be found naturally in (rather than simply imitated by) England and the English. As a classicist seeking the naturalized presence of Rome in Britain, Camden reaches a similar conclusion and finds in Roman Britain the reconciliation of nature and nurture in the national character. And for both men, the patriotic role of education was of utmost importance, and each was, in his way, patronized by Elizabeth. These differences are suggested in their relations to Elizabeth herself – Ascham as her tutor, and Camden as her biographer: the one giving the distinct humanist stamp to the last Tudor monarch, the other celebrating the myth that Ascham helped create. Camden works under the same Renaissance ideal of education, and no less striking is how he, as educator, fostered his own and his students’ extra­curricular interests in very specific “vernacular” ways: through travel in pursuit of antiquities; through correspondence, often with barely literate but 119

William Camden – A Life in Context assiduous antiquaries in remote regions of England; through the cultivation of newly emerging “sciences” such as the study of historical objects and artefacts, political and legal history, and the study of cultural institutions and offices, none of which had a formal place in the universities or the schools. But these heterodox elements of education for Camden were as immediately relevant to the realities of his generation as was the rhetorical training that came from rehearsing a play by Terence, or distinguishing between the style and diction used by Cicero and Tacitus. Like Ascham’s, his “extra-curricular” studies served the English man of action and also provided the more specialized tools of the jurist, the parliamentarian, the bishop. Granted these similarities, the differences between the two educators are of perhaps equal historical importance. In Ascham we see the end of the generation of courtier-scholars. They were men recognized for their learning (and their political utility) who moved into and out of universities, schools, and most important, the court. Ascham, Denny, Hoby, Cheke, Pace, familiar names from the high Renaissance in England, these are men of letters, diplomats, educators, writers, as well as courtiers in the tradition of Castiglione. The multiple dimension of their lives, the several venues where their learning had use are what gives their personalities such roundness – not just as teachers but as learned men of the political community. They emerged from the generation when lectures in Greek and other subjects were extramural to the medieval monastic university: Colet’s lectures on St Paul were given for free at Oxford, and not attached to a fellowship, college, or chair. Similarly, for Ascham and his generation the university was not the terminus ad quem for their training. This was less true of Camden, however, at a time when the courtly community had ceased to exist in the way that it had under Henry VIII and Edward VI. The careers of both Ascham and Camden got entangled in university politics, and both men lost important battles. The university chair was not the sole measure of scholarly influence, nor the sole arena for intellectual combat for either Camden or Ascham. Ascham was also a member of court, and in the intrigue and rivalry among intellectuals he survived a checkered career moving between court, university, and political service. A list of his English correspondents outlines the community of scholar-courtiers of these decades: it includes the names of Cheke, Denny, Watson, Parker, and Smith, as well as members of the royalty and international figures. For him the university was a starting point for service in a courtly society with mechanisms for patronage and appointment that circulated the men of talent. Thus, men such as Cheke, 120

The Way to Westminster Ascham, and Denny were, of course, scholars of some account, but the literary, political, and social avenues they travelled were not confined to institution or discipline. Alongside this kind of scholar-courtier is also the professional academic-educator – men like Lily, Mulcaster, Grant, Brinsley – and as the Reformation schools became more numerous and more uniform their numbers grew and they became less mobile. The scholar-courtier, however, was the product of the conjunction of trans-national intellectual, political, and religious movements across Europe, and by the end of the sixteenth century his life-span was drawing to a close. Thus, during Camden’s lifetime we see the gradual demise of this breed of scholar-courtier and the appearance of the bourgeois professional, or institutionalized educator. Indeed, the growth of a permanent middle class with its own sphere of education parallels the broad socio-economic changes that were taking place in London. We can observe this change in the field of education in the evolution of the conduct book, a genre that Ascham’s work falls into. Originally having a genteel and courtly focus in works such as Castiglione’s Il Cortegiano, with the spread of literacy and an emerging middle class, the genre became more popular; its audience, defined by the market-place, shifts from princes to courtiers, to “governors” (provincial leaders), wannabe gentlemen and ladies, middle-class merchants, and finally to contemplative squires in retirement. As an index to the social appetite for and access to education, the conduct book reflects the changing educational and social environment into which Camden enters, walking in the shadow of Ascham and his generation. Naturally the process is a gradual and intermittent one, but it is observable and clear, and Ascham’s Scholemaster has an interesting place in it. The work’s tone of courtly confraternity within a carefully distinguished hierarchy of intellectuals and political potentates is vestigial, drawn after Ascham’s Italian model and reconstituted in the English mould of those trained in the court of Edward and his protectors and teachers, and men (like Burghley) who shared the experience of Marian exile. Camden could share their experiences only vicariously; he and his generation were the immediate beneficiaries of the ideological conflicts through which they lived. For Camden and his contemporaries, the reality of what a public intellectual was, did, and could do, had been transformed from what it had originally been in Reformation England. I say that the scene opening the Scholemaster is hard to imagine in 1575. At Westminster Camden was not without powerful and aristocratic friends. He met with them regularly, dined with them, no doubt spoke with them about education and other matters. But the social milieu and historical moment in 121

William Camden – A Life in Context which such meetings occurred were decidedly different. We have seen that there was a very tight-knit coterie at Westminster centred around the dean and Lord Burghley. Camden became part of this group and valued it highly. A scene set at the dean’s table in the chapter house might have superficial resemblances to what Ascham describes, but the differences are conspicuous. Dinner at the chapter, presided over by Cecil, Lord Burghley, Steward of Westminster, with Dean Goodman officiating and prebendaries in attendance was an institutional rather than fraternal affair. The dean’s refectory was a critical and carefully maintained part of the Westminster community, taken seriously by Burghley as well as the dean, and frequented by dignitaries of every sort. We know that Camden had a place there and how he valued it. His desire to have a permanent place at the dean’s refectory is itself very unusual and speaks volumes about how important a “place at the table” was to him. He petitioned the chapter in 1593; in an unusual interference in chapter affairs, the Queen herself intervened on his behalf and a special meeting was called to consider his request. The chapter complied with her instructions and ratified the terms of Camden’s place at the dean’s table for his lifetime.43 This comparison is important for what it tells us about Camden’s intellectual community and how it contrasts Ascham’s. However collegial and stimulating the company at the dean’s table may have been, and however much he may have been esteemed, it was of a different order, part of an institutional and political structure, not a “confraternity”. It is also well to remember that in 1575, as an unpublished, inexperienced instructor, he was a very junior member of the group, probably seated well below the salt. The privilege later granted to him seems to have been willingly undertaken by Elizabeth, although the chapter seems to have needed some prodding. We can detect a tension between the workings of the royal patronage system and the institutional operation of an urban collegiate. Camden succeeded in carrying his erudition into the world of affairs, and earned the respect of statesmen who sought his opinion. But the scholar was less readily and less fully assimilated into the court than before. The chapter at Westminster was hierarchic without having the competitive dynamic of Elizabeth’s court. Camden’s life at the school did, however, provide a nurturing environment for the scholar, one with security and continuity unlike what a courtier, under the Tudors or the Stuarts, could expect. Camden’s career at Westminster was a long one, stable but generally unrelieved by significant promotion and benefits in the form of remunerative offices or honorific titles. In later years, when titles and promotion began to materialize, Camden ruefully notes that they came too 122

The Way to Westminster late. When he moved on to the College of Arms in 1597, it was into another institutional structure that was on the brink of reform. His career path, then, has the markings of the middle class, with very different prospects and pitfalls than the life of a freelance courtier such as Ascham. Although shaped in the mould of the humanist scholar, Camden had a relationship to the social and political structures of a society that was significantly different from that of his predecessors. There were, of course, many factors contributing to the changing opportunities for a man such as Camden. It is striking how much the social, political, and religious landscape changed in Britain between 1530 and 1603. One factor, however, which embraced many intersecting forces and which had particular significance for Camden, soon to be Clarenceux King of Arms, was the nature of the aging Elizabethan court. Camden’s mature life was spent in a coterie culture, but he never played the patronage game – at least not professionally; he lived around and near the court but never became one of its denizens, not as a scholar, an advisor, or in any other capacity, although there were opportunities. All the career paths seem to point to that “centre”, but he never leaves the radius to enter the courtly circle; rather, he seeks and maintains a place at or near another mini-court, that at Westminster. Thus, if he was marginalized during his youth, in his maturity he was so by choice. Once he settled at Westminster, he spent the rest of his life in a fixed orbit around the court – a fit metaphor for our time frame – and rotating on the axis of Westminster. The courtier-scholar was an endangered species, and the court held no attraction for Camden, but there were other roads to be taken.

Life in the Chapter of Westminster


n understanding of Camden’s life in the margins of the court is   important for our appreciation of the uniqueness of the man and his relationship to the individuals and social structures around him. It is not enough to say that he was temperamentally disinclined to “break the circle” and attempt the court. Another way of framing the matter is to say that he chose to be near the court, but not in it. The nature and dynamic of the Elizabethan court were factors that limited Camden’s opportunities on the one hand, and that served his strengths on the other. There were roles for scholars in the Henrician court that were absent from Elizabeth’s. The debates justifying the separation from Rome, the idiosyncratically domestic nature of the world of Henry VIII’s and Edward VI’s courts, the intellectual foment of the 123

William Camden – A Life in Context Reformation and the period of Marian exile created a range of varied activities for those academically inclined. As cultural historians have ably shown, Elizabeth’s court was very different from her father’s, and James’s was different in still other ways from hers. An appreciation of some of these differences will help us contextualize Camden’s choice of a liminal life. Elizabeth’s court, for example, lacked a domestic element. Instead, its dominant paradigm was built around courtship and highly gendered roleplaying. With much energy and time spent on the marriage debate and the anxieties about a successor, the language of courtship and chivalry entered court life both literally and metaphorically. But by 1575 there was an aging court, although Petrarchan and chivalric roles continued to be the means by which power and influence were negotiated. Richard McCoy and Derek Wilson show how the increasingly lavish and symbolic entertainments of Eliza­ beth at Kenilworth in 1575 and at Tilbury in 1588, for example, before long became empty theatricals and assumed grotesque and self-parodic dimensions.44 Without youth either at the centre or in the near future in the form of a successor, the transfer of energy and power was increasingly conducted through symbolic and ritualistic behaviour. It was during Camden’s years at Westminster that the young Virgin Queen’s reign transformed into the cult of Elizabeth; the court of chivalry at its centre danced its round while the political and social forces of change emerged outside, on its circumference. No longer a court nurturing reform or making opportunity for youth, it was a court of consolidation, hoping that the centre would hold while the main players approached death. The circulation of courtly energy and gestures of power go on within its charmed circle. The forces of change reside outside the court. Elizabeth’s court was not the place for Camden – and had no place for him. Cheke and Ascham, as model educators and scholars, had a relation to the royal household that was not duplicated in Camden’s generation. He could serve his monarch better from the margins, and it was there that the pulse of change began to be felt. Thus, it is appropriate that Camden should author the ultimate statement on the cult of Elizabeth: a political history of her reign, looked at from a distance although granting her place radiant at the centre. It is this vantage point on the edge that Camden occupies at Westminster. If Elizabeth’s court was decidedly different from her father’s and the opportunities for “courtier-educators” were drying up, Camden’s potential was not lost at Westminster. The peculiarities of Westminster themselves made life there like a small court on the periphery of “her graces Palace at 124

The Way to Westminster ­ estminster”.45 We have seen the “inside” of Westminster as Burghley transW formed the chapter in his own ideological image. While he was always the Oz behind the scenes, Westminster also had its public side where affairs of state transpired, and where the Queen herself presided. Elizabeth did much to make Westminster her own showcase, and Burghley was her agent in this. Within this complex, Westminster School had a prominent place. Because of its location it had an atmosphere entirely its own among London schools. Its setting and its bureaucratically intricate governance combined to ensure royal attention and brought together the nation’s political, religious, and cultural forces, whose energies intensified the nearer one approached the capital. Westminster was an urban school close to the court, but at the very centre of the sinews of government. The dean, having responsibility for affairs in Westminster, had many politically sensitive duties associated with the chapter and the abbey, including officiating at coronations and other official functions in the collegiate, sitting among the spiritual lords in Parliament, maintaining archepiscopal jurisdiction over Westminster, and welcoming all officials into his jurisdiction, who must resign their authority to him.46 Thus, the school was not only witness to much of the outward spectacle of the monarchy – coronations in the abbey, the opening of Parliament, executions, tournaments in the yard – it was also immediately attached to government offices and operations. Sharing the warren of chapter buildings with its neighbours, whose residences and offices overflowed from Westminster Palace into Dean’s Yard and the Sanctuary, the school was literally at the crossroads of English political activity, and its members could hardly be impervious to the fact. Living in former monastic premises, adjacent to the abbey, steps from where Parliament met, down the road from the principal royal residence, in a school presided over by a dean as well as a headmaster, Camden continued to live in close proximity to the triune authority that loomed large throughout his life. But serving as under-master, he was accommodated within institutional Eliza­ bethan authority structures in a more comfortable way than when he lodged as a youth between two prisons and an almshouse-cum-school. Camden never moved very far from such agencies of power, but they became more sustaining than threatening as he moved nearer the courtly centre of London. The result was that Camden lived in a community as worldly and ritualistic as the court, although much more diverse and considerably less hazardous. Westminster not only shared directly in many of the activities of Elizabeth’s court, but also had long-standing traditions that had developed from being at London’s ecclesiastical, secular, and commercial centre. As we study ­Camden’s 125

William Camden – A Life in Context career we can observe how some of these benefits influence his work and how fully he was a part of this complex world. As under-master, Camden was expected to live in residence. At least until 1591 (and probably after) he lived at the school, in the tower near the dormitory formerly used by the monks, adjoining the church of St Peter and the headmaster’s house, and facing into Dean’s Yard.47 In 1591 he was granted the lease for a small house within the school precincts. The Chapter Book entry for “Decemb.2. 1591” reads: “A lease graunted to Mr Camden of a litle tenement in the close for the tearme of his life”.48 The grant was made just before his promotion to headmaster (in March 1592), when he would presumably have moved to the headmaster’s house. As long as he was officially responsible for the students, as second master and then headmaster, he would not be far removed from their dormitories. Residential space in the close was a precious commodity and such a grant was unusual; the tenement no doubt provided a peaceful work space where he could occasionally get away from the crowded and noisy daily affairs of the school. After he left the school, and even after moving to Chislehurst, he kept this downtown pied-à-terre near Cotton’s house and library, where he evidently did much of his work.49 The school and cloisters were connected to the church of St Peter, known as the Abbey, which Henry VIII raised to cathedral status, although it was later chartered as a deanery. The church of St Peter was regularly used for royal occasions. Camden notes that it was erected on the site of a temple to Apollo.50 Together with its chapels, such as the Gothic gem, that of Henry VII, which Leland described as “the Miracle of the World”, the collegiate church was already viewed as an national treasure, as rich, however, in Catholic associations as it was in architectural detail.51 With the school itself, it adjoined the chambers of Parliament; the Lords met in the White Hall in the Palace of Westminster, and after 1548 because of space limitations, the Commons met in St Stephen’s, adjoining the palace.52 Thus, through the architectural maze around the abbey, Westminster Palace yard, the deanery, the churches, and the Dean’s Yard, the school was part of a very public, heterogeneous yet hierarchic world. The school and its occupants still enjoy a comfortable vantage point on the periphery of every sort of state occasion. As it was for Queen Elizabeth II, the abbey church of St Peter was the site for the coronation of Elizabeth I, and thereafter figured as the locus for many of the state rituals associated with things Elizabethan, including tournaments in the tilt-yard, processions prior to the opening of Parliament, the weddings and funerals of peers, and executions.53 Westminster students were allowed to attend the 126

The Way to Westminster parliamentary debates, and there were other ways as well by which the young men could get a taste of public life or a glimpse of the court. Westminster was the principal setting associated with Elizabethan affairs of state and public ceremony.54 Though rarely used by her as a residence because many of the buildings were in need of repair, Westminster Palace was Elizabeth’s principal palace, and being within the precincts of the West­ minster Chapter it was under the stewardship of Burghley and the jurisdiction of his friend, Dean Goodman. Mainly the creation of Richard II, with portions going back to King Rufus, Westminster Palace was built on the ruins of the old palace “of Canutus the Dane” from “about the year of Christ 1035”; according to Norden, many of the ancient walls, towers, and foundations were still standing. His description of the ancient abbey–palace complex conveys a strong sense of the physical integrity of the place: There is nere this famous Chapell [Henry the Seventh’s] a place called the Old Pallace … [The] … Old Palace sheweth itself to have been in times past full of buildings. There are apparant tokens in a wall yet standing that there were many vaults, sellers, and such like offices, in that place which is now a plain field; there are yet certain towers standing, adjoining to the College wall, which seem to have been parcel of that Palace; many buildings have been towards the Mill, and upon Thames side, extending as far as St. Stephen’s Chapell. The old buildings joining unto the same belonged unto this Old Palace, which was consumed with fire in the time of Edward the Confessor. “Westminster Hall, or the New Palace” (also known as the “White Hall”) which replaced the old palace was itself a sprawling complex of many buildings in varying states of repair, although retaining much of its splendour: This stately building, a building of great majesty, having the name of Westminster Hall, as some and the most do imagine, of the greatness of the Hall, so far exceeding in magnitude all other halls … I gather that this whole house of the New Palace had the name of Westminster Hall … Many affirm, that William Rufus builded it … [B]ut Mr. Camden affirmeth … [that] Richard II. built it, and made it his mansion-house … But it seemeth, by the report of Thomas Walsingham … that … in the time of Edward II … there was Westminster Hall, and the place of Parliament; and this was 64 years before Richard II. did raigne … [H]e 127

William Camden – A Life in Context maketh a distinction between the Whytehall … where now the Court of Requests is kept, and the Great Hall … It is a very stately building, whose roof is most ingeniously, and with great art, framed, considering the breadth of the Hall, which is … foote [its length is 270 feet: the breadth 74], and to bear such a covering of leade of so massive a weight … There belongeth to this Hall sundry other buildings, all which, together with the Hall and the reliques of the Old Palace, were used by Richard II. Nere unto Westminster Hall, between it and the Thamise, is the Chappell of St. Stephen, sometime verie beautiful, though now weather beaten and defaced. It standeth verie high and stately, erected by Edward III. when he came victor out of France, about the year of Christ 1347.55 The setting has a historical integrity and continuity to it that drew on its geographical situation aside the Thames. According to Camden, Westminster Hall housed the Court of Requests, including the King’s Bench, Common Pleas, Chancery, the Star Chamber, the Court of Wards, the Exchequer, and the Court of the Duchy of Lancaster (Britannia I, col. 389). The many descriptions of Elizabethan public ceremonies orchestrated within the Westminster complex underscore its role in the theatre of state. Thus, the interior and public space of the abbey complex provided a splendid theatre for staging the rich and highly choreographed ceremony of royal and noble spectacle. For example, on the day when “hir Majestie was with great solemnitie crowned … in the Abbeie Church”, she first travelled among her subjects through the neighbourhoods of London in a progress that culminated at Westminster in a mixture of public and private, popular, and aristocratic ceremonies. Arriving at Westminster, she then retired to the palace and “dined in Westminster-hall, which was richlie hoong, and everie thing ordered in such roiall maner as to such a regall and most solemne feast apperteined”. The rituals of chivalry were brought within the private aristocratic space of Westminster Hall, when “Sir Edward Dimmocke, Knight, hir Champion by office, came riding into the Hall in faire complet armor, mounted upon a beautiful courser, richlie trapped in cloth of gold …” Enacting a role inextricably linked to courtship ritual that would set the tone for Elizabeth’s reign, he then issued a challenge to individual combat in defence of his lady-queen: he “cast down his gantlet, with offer to fight with him in her quarrell that should denie hir to be the righteous and lawfull Queene 128

The Way to Westminster of this Realme”. Recasting the aristocratic compromise in gendered terms, Elizabeth vouchsafed the pledge, “taking a cup of gold full of wine, dranke to him thereof, and sent it to him for his fee, togither with the cover”.56 When the intimate ceremony enacting fealty to their mistress-queen was completed, the Queen was led out of Westminster Hall to the abbey, where “her Grace satt in a chayre of estate, in the middle of the Church before the high aulter …”. She was then “proclaimed by a Byshop Queene of Inglande”, and this was followed by prayers, readings, and a sermon. The coronation itself was next, and then the celebration of her spiritual and temporal powers, and a mass. With the ceremonies complete, she removed to Westminster Hall, again to dine. The next several days saw public tournaments, “justings at the Tilt” outside Westminster Palace, and meetings with Parliament within, where she affirmed her stand on matters of religion, the succession, and the scope of her authority. The public and private spaces around the abbey provided the microcosm in which Elizabeth’s relationship to all of her subjects, high and low, was affirmed. Safe to say, little academic work was done by the boys at Westminster. Similar state rituals regularly enlivened the district where the school was itself prominent. The progress by the streets of the principal nobility, bishops and other ecclesiastics, counsellors, and parliamentarians was a regular occurrence as they made their way from Westminster Hall to the abbey, the chapter house, or St Stephen’s. Such processions were routine for the opening of Parliament. In 1572, for example, the long list of participants enumerated in “The Order in proceeding to the parliament at westminster … on the 8th of May 1572; first to the Sermon at st. peter’s church, and then to the Parliament Chamber” illustrates how the urban landscape provides a ritualized setting for the enactment of and accordingly the magnification of the relatively routine acts of state.57 The representatives, elected, appointed, and ex officio, are organized according to rank into a celebration of the hierarchic social order. From “Messengers of the Chamber”, “Esquiers of the Body”, “Clarkes of the Privy Seal”, and other junior officers there follow rank upon rank the office-holders armigerous and otherwise who assist with the bureaucracy of government. With rigid protocol and ceremoniousness characteristic of Elizabethan state functions, the hundreds of sartorially correct members of royalty, peerage, nobility, gentry, and officiating heralds, as well as the no less correct representative pensioners, pass through the yard, the church, and, with the crowd thinning, proceed into the upper chambers.58 The scene was one that would break the attention span of the most studious young scholar. 129

William Camden – A Life in Context Thus, during Elizabeth’s reign the architectural complex around West­ minster School was the scene where a good deal of the cult of Elizabeth was acted out, and the boys and masters were either active or passive participants. The abbey church, presided over by the dean, head of the school ex officio, was the most popular place to wind down a noble funeral procession or wedding: Burghley did both, solemnizing in that place his daughter Anne’s marriage (in 1571) to his ward, Edward de Vere, and burying both her and his wife, ­Mildred, there in 1588 and 1589 respectively. The choristers of the school would be regularly called into service on such occasions. The palace yard, which formed part of the access to the school, was the outer stage for theatre of state and chivalry. Westminster boys were granted the privilege of visiting the sessions of Parliament. Lodging with the dean, prebends, and masters, some of the boys were members of the household of significant figures during these years. While attached to Westminster, Camden’s place in all this was minor, but he had one, and it fostered those connections with Burghley, Goodman, Grant, Nowell, William Latimer and other prebendaries, and it eventually helped qualify him as the semi-official biographer and annalist for Elizabeth. After 1597, as Clarenceux King of Arms, he would have a very active role ensuring the orderly theatricality of such events.

Life among the Students at Westminster School


tudent life at Westminster provides us with some specific insights into the masters’ lives as well. The Queen’s Scholars and the pensioners lived with one of the masters or the dean, and had tutors responsible for their education as well as for their daily care. The tutors looked after their finances, their health, clothing, bedding, and other necessities, and obviously maintained a very close relationship to the boys.59 Wearing the Queen’s livery, Queen’s Scholars would frequently be called on to round out a procession, and their masters, responsible for how the boys acquitted themselves, would not be far off. Although as a group, the choristers – “boys of tender age, and of powerful voices” – were officially separate from Westminster School, they were significant players in the chapter and its events. The young choristers were taught at the school for two hours each week day; it was not uncommon for them to enter the school as pensioners when they were too old to sing with the boys’ choir.60 During their rehearsals the voices of the boy singers waft through the tower, along the cloisters and into Dean’s Yard, making their presence felt and appreciated. The choristers were closely linked to the court; 130

The Way to Westminster they and their master were regularly summoned for court and royal functions. The Queen kept “four sets of singing boys” as part of her “Royal establishment”, one of them being the choristers of “the Abbey of West­minster”. Elizabeth took her musical and theatrical entertainment seriously, and she exercised the right of conscription entitling her to take up “suche apt and meete children, as are fitt to be instructed and framed in the Art and Science of Musicke and Singing”.61 Thus empowered, she kept the ranks of the choristers full – the only check on her authority being that she could not draft the children of nobility. Once brought into the choir, these children might also be used in theatrical entertainments, and we might guess that not many of the boys at Westminster would object to being taken out of the classroom to rehearse for a court performance. Godfrey Goodman’s life is an illuminating example of a chorister’s career at Westminster during these years. Nephew of Dean Gabriel Goodman, a student of Camden’s who later became Bishop of Gloucester and eventually defected to Rome, Godfrey illustrates the opportunities and, a Puritan critic might say, the perils of the Westminster system. He began early as a chorister, living with the chorus master and taking advantage of opportunities to participate in musical and theatrical performances. His biographer, Geoffrey Soden, suggests that had he not been a gentleman’s son, he would have been conscripted into service with the Children of the Queen’s Chapel. Instead, he went on to become a Queen’s Scholar; as a student he took full advantage of the chance to observe parliamentary debate, and had many opportunities to be with the court, where, he recalls, he saw George Brooke revelling in the presence of the Queen.62 In short, Goodman made every possible use of the opportunities at Westminster to network with court and influential circles. The excellent training as a youth in the “religion established” that prepared him to become one of Camden’s bishops over time ripened into distinctly Catholic tendencies, and ultimately Goodman left the English church entirely. This was the Goodman who pressured Camden at the end of his life to leave him his library in recognition of his uncle’s and evidently his own support for Camden’s antiquarian study and travel.63 Camden served at Westminster School from 1575 to 1597. As under-master his annual salary was £7 6s 8d, plus modest amounts for his gown and commons.64 Eighteen years later, in 1593, he replaced Grant as headmaster, and his salary was increased accordingly to £20. During these years, in addition to his teaching, tutoring, and extra-mural travelling, he broadened his academic and scholarly credentials through reading, collecting, correspondence, and 131

William Camden – A Life in Context some preliminary drafting of notes for future work. He did not rush into publication. In 1586 the first edition of the Britannia appeared, and he revised it regularly over the next twenty-one years. Prior to 1586 his publication record was slight, and there is not a great deal of datable manuscript material from the period prior to 1586 to suggest a clearly focused plan of professional attack on his future. The scattered evidence, though – the written record, his reading and collecting interests, and correspondence, does give us a glimpse of the mental life of the man who would become something of a celebrity after the mid-1580s. He published his verses on Ascham in 1576. In the same year there appeared an epigram commending Thomas Rogers’s The Anatomie of the Minde. Rogers had been a fellow student at Christ Church, and the work is a collection of sketches in the Theophrastan manner drawn from Lucian. Camden’s brief commendation shows not only the scope of his humanist reading but more revealingly, his interest in epistemology and the problems of knowing the springs and motives of human affairs: in short, the rudiments of modern psychology. In the poem, Momus, god of strife, complains “Because the breast of mankind does not stand open with a grate/ So that he could discern heart’s passion and mind’s retreat”. But thanks to Rogers’ work, “now the whole mind lies/ Open to me… the motions of the soul / And the labors of the mind”.65 Camden is specific to distinguish between the passions of the heart, uncovered by Vesalius (so the poem says) and the workings of the mind and soul. The distinction is important for Camden’s historiography, for in both the Britannia and the Annals of Elizabeth he explains his caution in analysing historical events in terms of our limited ability to penetrate the intangible dimension of human intentions. His historiography reveals Camden’s strong sense of the threshold between empirical reality and the psyche, and his early reading and occassional verse point to his more or less formal study of epistemology. His next publication, in 1581, five years later and well before the appearance of Britannia, is another epideictic poem on a related work: Thomas Newton’s translation of Levinus Lemnius’s Touchstone of Complexions (1581). The work is a major text on humoral psychology, and Newton’s translation now made available in English that knowledge that gives the gods “the power of ruling body and temperament”.66 Camden’s verses build on the same distinction between mind and body, and show his overriding concern with the problems arising from the inaccessible interiority of human experience. In these encomia from his time at Westminster, we detect the intellectual background of Camden the historian, and also of Camden the teacher. He 132

The Way to Westminster clearly brought the understanding gleaned from these authors to his students; for Ben Jonson, for example, these works helped him better understand the idiosyncrasies of the human psyche. In Rogers and Lemnius we find the foundation for Jonson’s humour plays and his approach to characterization: a combination of character types imbued with deeply resonant signs of psychological imbalance. Taken together, these are works coming from the academic community, and point to the fertile interdisciplinarity of the period. Their common interest in humoral psychology and physiology made them useful for the future author of the Annals of Elizabeth, and they complement his other interests in classical poets and historians. Judging from these occasional pieces and from the evidence of his library, we know that he read and collected widely across disciplines during these years. The large segment of his library that found its way to Westminster’s Muniment Room contains a wide range of works on science and discovery, politics and history, published in the 1560s and 70s, but, of course, in most cases we do not know the date of acquisition or the period when he might have read the works. His written work and his library suggest a life-long taste for learning in diverse subjects – classics and contemporary literature, history, science, all sides of religious controversy, and current affairs; this is the polymath learning that gives his work depth and authority. These are the years of his mature acquisition of ideas and knowledge that would become the foundation of his later work. The scattered evidence that we have does not suggest a highly systematic approach to his studies, but his correspondence reminds us that books and manuscripts were as hard to come by as was the time needed to read them. He studied Leland’s manuscripts, worked with his fellow antiquarian John Stow, translated Giraldus Cambrensis into English (which Stow transcribed in 1576), collected antiquarian materials, topographical information, epitaphs, state papers, documents relating to church foundations, made notes on historical characters and gathered evidence of Greek and Roman authors’ familiarity with Britain.67 All grist for the mill that would be busy serving emerging fields of study for the next half-century. If we look over the full extent of his publication and other writings up to 1586, the evidence does not suggest a man troubled by the need to publish or perish. There is a leisurely and secure feel to his exploration of these broad and varied intellectual areas of study. If we were to assess him as an author, Camden’s career publications prior to 1586 are hardly stellar, and this accentuates his elusiveness at this time: he is not a professional author, not a divine, not a courtier, not a politician. A bit of all these things, he is foremost a 133

William Camden – A Life in Context schoolmaster with a reputation disproportionate to his scholarly productivity. His development during the years up to 1586 is, we conclude, internal: cultivating his intellectual methods and values, gathering material through his travels, and most of all becoming part of the school and chapter. Promotion within the school was invariably dependent upon the death or translation of his superior, Edward Grant. Considering Camden’s reputation, we might wonder why he did not proceed to another school, return to the university, or move into a political position of some sort; however it is not so surprising if we consider the material achievement over these years. Taxing as his years as an educator and administrator clearly were for Camden, there was something attractive about life at Westminster other than the opportunities for “free time” in the summer to hunt antiquities, which is the usual explanation for Camden’s staying so long in that position. While the salary was low even by Renaissance standards, Camden seems not to have suffered from financial hardship. In fact, he had attained a degree of affluence by the time that he went on to join the College of Arms. A schoolmaster’s income was not confined to his salary. Students were expected to make regular gifts to their instructors and tutors – at Christmas, for example, one guinea for the master and half a guinea for the under-master.68 In this age of patronage, a grateful parent, or better yet for long-term prospects, a successful student could be very profitable. Each student, Queen’s Scholars, choristers, and pensioners alike, was to have a tutor, normally selected from among the dean, the two masters, the twelve prebendaries; tutors were required to “provyde for every one of such Schollers, for thinges necessarie as well in sicknes as in healthe”.69 The budget for this maintenance cost would be worked out with the child’s parents or guardian. There were limits to the number of students a tutor would be obliged to take on, but the total maximum enrolment, including forty Queen’s Scholars, ten choristers, and up to 120 pensioners, was 170 students. Beyond this, the details are not clear either about the number of students assigned to each tutor, or about what kind of “perquisites” might be expected.70 However, judging from the Chapter Book and from Camden’s own situation, it is clear that the tutors’ and the students’ lives would be closely intertwined – especially if the boy lodged with his tutor. Among Camden’s papers are various lists of personal expenses, some of them pertaining to his students and his role as tutor. For example, in BL, Cotton ms Titus f.vii & viii, fol. 132v, probably dating from 1586, there is a list of expenses “For D. Dakins my Pupill”. One sees how fine a line the master walked between the role of a scout attending the student’s personal needs, and that of mentor, 134

The Way to Westminster master, and parental surrogate. There are figures for the boy’s entrance to the school, a sum paid to Camden himself, while “at Chiswick”, for the butcher, for paper, ink, and quills, and interestingly, for a copy of Ascham’s epistles (the most expensive item, at 2s 4d), a Greek grammar, a volume of Xenophon, and a lexicon. The list is in Camden’s hand: he evidently presented the boy with an account of expenses on his behalf, rather than pay him a regular allowance, as we saw in the case of the Carnsew brothers at Christ Church. Thus, Camden occupied the role of steward, attending to the shopping itself, rather than just the disbursing of funds. Obviously such a relationship might be very close and, depending on the boy’s circumstances, very profitable. It is easy to imagine the abuse of such a position, and hard to imagine Camden doing so, but it must be remembered that the master was expected to benefit from the relationship. The testimonies of affection toward Camden by men such as Jonson and Cotton suggest something of the economy of friendship that made this life more comfortable than the salary alone would have allowed. Other evidence as well suggests that the paternal, even familial model for tutor–student relationships was cultivated by the school and chapter. Richard Neil, succeeding Lancelot Andrewes as dean in 1605 and an alumnus of Westminster, provides rich testimony of the closeness of the Westminster community during the years of Gabriel Goodman, when the Cecil family was a strong presence and Camden was a master. In his “A Memoriall of Sundrie Things performed when Richard Neile was Dean” he attributes his achievements to the support and encouragement of Lord Burghley and his wife Mildred when he was a student – “By the goodness of wch. my twoe most honble masters I am, whatsoever I now am; and wthout the goodness of wch my most honble foundress and patroness upon the mocon of Dr: Goodman … I thinke I should never have bin sent to the Universitie” but would at best have been a bookseller’s apprentice. Burghley, we recall, instigated the Elizabethan foundation of the school, and his wife made the school her cause and obviously made her presence felt. Such personal documents suggest a domestic dimension to the mentoring that took place at Westminster School and Chapter.71 Camden’s financial security grew during his years at the school. In 1576, soon after assuming his duties, he inherited property in Staffordshire from his father which must have added to his sense of independence.72 He seems to have led a materially comfortable life. A man careful of his person, he was attentive to details of dress and evidently conscientious about his ­appearance, 135

William Camden – A Life in Context as is appropriate given the duties of the Westminster masters and the importance of appearances for the heralds.73 For his relative affluence, we know, he was grateful to the school. In later life he speaks of his financial independence as having been earned through his honest labour as a teacher, clearly implying that there were opportunities for “dishonest labour”. After leaving Westminster School he remained grateful for what it had done for him, and kept close ties with it and the chapter. For years after his departure he made annual contributions to the maintenance of the school, endowing repairs to buildings and making gifts of plate as well as money; he retained his house there, and enjoyed the privilege of board for himself and a servant at the dean’s table – all suggesting not only that he was financially secure (and felt so), but also that his attachment to the school was deep, warm, and unbroken.74 During these years Camden pursued his antiquarian interests, of course, but he was also part of the educated and politically engaged society that existed at the hem of Elizabeth’s court. Most accounts of Camden’s career during these years suggest that his modest professional status as teacher “allowed him” to pursue his historical interests, but this sounds more comfortable and easier than it probably was. “Research” was hardly a recognized professional responsibility for grammar school under-masters, and his antiquarianism was itself still an unorthodox and still uncharted area of intellectual activity. He had to legitimize his work and determine what his methodological and material needs were. We will see that he was able to create a work environment that supported his interests. However, we know that Camden retained some bitter­ ness over his lack of promotion and recognition until it was too late to benefit from them. If he was bitter in later years he must have had expectations in his youth. He was able to travel for antiquities, as he did in 1578 when he went to Norfolk and Suffolk and in April of 1582, when he went to Yorkshire through Suffolk and returned through Lancashire. His enthusiasm, joined with the frustrations of antiquarian research are evident in his account of his travels to his new friend, Abraham Ortelius: I am now exploring ancient times, but under difficulties; how I could wish that some light might arise over our ancient Britain which is so enveloped in darkness. But I now understand on what slippery ground those are treading who deal with matters of this kind. Last summer I surveyed the whole maritime coast of the Iceni (Ptolemy calls them wrongly Simoni), namely Norfolk and Suffolk, to trace some ancient 136

The Way to Westminster cities buried under their ruins. I found a large quantity of ancient coins, and send you two of them, not of gold, but of brass, which appear to me more rare and valuable. One bears the image of Constantinople, the other that of Rome … But I must not trouble you any longer; my love of antiquity has carried me too far.75 Not only do we feel Camden’s youthful enthusiasm here, but we also see how the love of antiquities creates a new market value for brass coins whose rarity makes them dearer to antiquarians than gold. It is not difficult to see how close Camden’s work brings him to the methods and questions of of the modern archaelogist. Camden’s reputation as an emerging scholar began to spread during his first years at Westminster; Godfrey Goodman noted that the young Camden aroused considerable interest and curiosity at the school because of his extensive international correspondence.76 His antiquarian activities must have stood out for the students as idiosyncratic novelties. His Christ Church friend, Thomas Savile, was among his most frequent correspondents during these years, and was probably responsible for spreading Camden’s name abroad and introducing him to travellers to England. His friendship with Ortelius began in 1577, when the Dutch geographer was in England, visited the young master, and encouraged his geographical study. At the opening of his preface to the Britannia Camden recalls this as a critical moment that galvanized his future initiatives: “The great Restorer of old Geography, Abraham Ortelius … did very earnestly sollicit me to acquaint the World with the ancient State of Britaine …”. His close friendship with Ortelius was unmistakably one of the fruits of his life in the Westminster community; it was initially fostered through his acquaintance with Dean Goodman and Lord Burghley, as we see from Camden’s earliest letter to him, on 4 August 1577, shortly after Ortelius left London: Since our intercourse in London, I take an ever increasing interest in you … If you had not left London so unexpectedly, you would have seen the antiquities of Lord Burghley, High Treasurer of England, who possessed many coins and very rare ancient monuments, and is … the most indefatigable explorer of early times, and who, seeing from your “Deorum Capita” (which Dean Goodman gave him) that you delight in coins, wished that you had seen his collection. If some good genius should bring you back to Britain, I will procure your access to them.77


William Camden – A Life in Context The letter is testimony to the closeness of these men who were so studious of antiquities, to Camden’s ready access to Burghley and Goodman, and also to the ways in which those affiliations opened doors of opportunity for the young teacher-scholar. Their epistolary friendship continued until Ortelius’s death in 1598. Similarly, other travellers found their way to Camden; he dates his “entire friendship” with the Barnaby Brisson the French Chief Justice to this period (1581), Thomas Savile directed Alberico Gentili to his door between 1579 and 1580 and was probably responsible for initiating Stephen Parmenius’ friendship with Camden around the same time.78 The spread of his reputation during these years is rapid and in itself interesting. Since his publications were slight and his travel was confined to rural England, this growing renown was probably spread through his ties with Oxford and Christ Church, the formation of useful connections within the chapter, and the appreciation of his wit and the warmth of his personality. The search for antiquarian material was conducted through international correspondence and the exchange of books, manuscripts, and transcriptions, and this epistolary network carried his reputation across Europe. The informal international network of enthusiasts researching topographical and geographical questions was quick to share names and information, forming the Renaissance equivalent of a “chat room”. The Westminster–Oxford axis was certainly a major force in spreading Camden’s fame, and it involved him in emerging areas of learning, including contemporary and classical geography, etymology, and what might be called the study of national and regional landscape. It is clear, though, that his interests went well beyond the scope of the classroom and found ample and warm recognition in the chapter and beyond. As we consider the fullness of life at Westminster, the increasing and unbroken respect of important figures including Queen Elizabeth and later King James themselves, and his growing international reputation even before publication of the Britannia, it seems safe to assume that Camden continued his life there not simply from default, but because he was actively involved in an intellectual community recognized and respected by his peers and superiors. His life resembles in certain ways that of the courtier-scholar. Conducted in the company of men like those participating in Ascham’s conversazione – statesmen, politicians, educators, divines, scholars – life in the chapter had an identity and exclusiveness as well as an intellectual and religious homogeneity that gave coherence, even purpose to the group. Unlike the court or the patronage system, though, it was held together by other interests than 138

The Way to Westminster promotion, ambition, and service, and lacked the dynamic of destabilization that Greenblatt and Mervyn James see as typical of the court. Not disinterestedness but shared interests, I would suggest, were the selfaffirming and motivating force that gave the community significance for Camden. It is well at this point to remember the contemporary characterization of the chapter and its school. Stow, we recall, described the college as a school of theology, the moving force behind which was Burghley. Although the school maintained secular appearances, the chapter, with all its members, school personnel included, clearly fit Stow’s description. The masters were to have an M.A. and B.A. (for headmaster and second master respectively); the master was to be in orders; the core of the collegiate, the dean, the twelve prebendaries in orders and holding the M.A., and one reader in theology, were all required to wear the ecclesiastical dress required by law.79 There were numerous other members to assist in the performing of daily worship, including six additional clergy and various officers such as an archdeacon, a subdean, and vergers. In various capacities the prebendaries and the reader in theology were directly involved in the school: they assisted in the admission process, served as tutors, delivered sermons, and lodged students. Throughout the seventeenth century instructors were required to be celebate, and women were not allowed to live on the premises.80 Clearly this is an institution where the theological and doctrinal mission permeates its organizational structure and daily operations. The very nature of its administrative design tells us that it is not a collegiate in which Puritan ideologies are likely to survive. The school is very much an extension of the emphatically Anglican collegiate, and attempts to understand its educational, social, or political activities must pay due attention to its place in the larger context of the chapter. Just as the chapter had a clearly appreciated mandate, so too as we have seen, Camden saw his job in terms of a larger mission, of service to a greater cause, and was gratified in later years that “God so blessed my labours [at Westminster], that the now bishops of London, Durham, and S. Asaph … do acknowledge themselves to have been my Scholars” and that he had “brought there to Church divers Gentlemen of Ireland, as Walshes, Nugents, O’Raily, Shees … and others bred Popishly, and so affected”.81 In training bishops and in bringing Irish Catholics and others into the Protestant fold he can be placed among moderates in matters of religious and Irish issues, in particular Elizabeth and Burghley themselves. This is a time when radically different ways of dealing with Irish Catholics were being promoted, and so Camden’s statement has fairly specific significance. Other of his acquaintances were 139

William Camden – A Life in Context in Ireland taking a stand of force – Edmund Spenser, for example, as part of the programme to settle and develop Ireland, shared Lord Grey’s position of intolerance and liquidation. In contrast with the moderate position of Elizabeth and Burghley, the intransigent Puritan position led to the failure and embarrassment of Sidney and Grey and ultimately the death of the poet-settler Spenser. In their way, too, the Puritanical Spenser and Sidney were serving the Queen – but not through the subtler policy of institutional accommodation that Camden implicitly endorses at Westminster. Spenser’s View of the Present State of Ireland propounds a policy that is diametrically opposed to the ideology that lies behind Camden’s historiography and his life and interaction with the Irish Catholic community.82 The Camden that emerges during the 1570s and 1580s, then, is not the mousy second master about to make a splash with his Britannia, but the young scholar whose life on the periphery of the court was useful, particularly for the moderate faction of Elizabethan counsellors. His impeccable scholarly credentials, his unthreatening, disinterested manner, and humble position combined to lend scholarly credibility to his own opinions and to the chapter. This may help to explain the anomaly of Camden’s career. Without some such commentary, we must conclude that the man touted as his generation’s most learned and personable figures, spent nearly twenty years effectively “underemployed”. And yet his associates were among the most influential in the kingdom, and his reputation was, early in his career, truly international. One can hardly argue that his personal influence on religious and political events was immediate or great, even granting that a number of important figures were his students. Rather, at least initially, he added to the presence of the chapter and what it represented. Before he left Westminster School his scholarly achievements (apart from his teaching and administrative duties) had made their mark. Camden’s politicical influence began to be recognized at large by the time of Burghley’s death in 1598. In commissioning him to write the history of Elizabeth, Burghley brings Headmaster Camden into the foreground of a project of considerable political as well as historical and literary importance – effectively pulling off the disguise of insignificance and thrusting Camden into a place of some prominence and much delicacy. The project foundered for a time after Burghley’s death, and thereafter, Camden’s place was increasingly sensitive. To anticipate somewhat, Elizabeth was content to use Camden as a sympathetic propagandist for herself and her kind of Protestantism. By becoming her semiofficial biographer he loses his marginal status and becomes ­indelibly linked 140

The Way to Westminster with Elizabeth and Elizabethanism. This proved to be attractive to James, who was well disposed to Camden. While he could not simply appropriate his predecessor’s publicist, he subtly brought him into service of the Stuart cause: Camden, always an Elizabethan and therefore precluded from being a Stuart apologist, was the person to enlist for restoring his mother’s reputation. The Jacobean Camden, we will see, is absorbed into institutionalized roles and duties in ways that he was not under Elizabeth. By the end of his career as educator, though, the political nature of his work is recognized and he is increasingly often asked to turn his scholarship to matters of state importance. While Burghley lived, Camden remained “disengaged”, but that innocence was lost with the death of his mentor.

Westminster and the Theatre of Learning


he traditions and rituals of the school reinforced its ties to the hierarchic world and sometimes even parodied them. The relationship of the younger students to their upper form peers serving as prefects was like that of the older students to the masters, and that of the masters to their superiors. There was no way out of the system, but if you were lucky (and the boys at Westminster were lucky) there were ways upward in it. The hegemony from stratum to stratum recapitulates – or perhaps “re-enacts” is a better word – itself at every level. The boys, like their masters, and like their community itself, act out their roles in the kind of dramatized life that was characteristic of the Renaissance but that was intensified and heightened in the Westminster collegiate. In thus characterizing the meta-dramatic world of the school, my intention is to capture the social dynamic, the flow of power and energy across social structures that recent cultural historians have identified in early modern London. More formally than most, the members of the community of Westminster were self-consciously engaged in roles not only that they must live with, but also learn by. It would be naïve to think that all aspects of such a structured and ceremonial life were accepted as unquestioned lessons in good conduct. Just as a play might explore deviance without necessarily embracing it, so an artificial community such as a school might act out, question, parody, or affirm the premises of the larger community. We might think of how the questioning and even disorderly opinions expressed in Il Cortegiano occasionally destabilize the moral equilibrium of the work; or how in 1 Henry IV, Falstaff’s and Hal’s parody of the reconciliation between the Prince and the 141

William Camden – A Life in Context King prepares us for the “real” reconciliation that follows; or how the differing views on educational methods in The Scholemaster raise real if not acceptable alternatives to Ascham’s own. In each of these cases we see ways in which dramatic conflict of one sort or another is called into play and used to test authoritarian assumptions and redefine acceptable modes of behaviour. The highly structured daily encounters at Westminster School worked on such a principle of education through self-dramatization. At Westminster the settings for testing such roles were many. They revealed the utter clarity with which the community recognized how role-playing and hierarchic authority structures entered their lives. Indeed, the ethos of public recognition and honour lay behind the educational and social system of the school; built into it was the element of public trial and affirmation. In this early modern environment there was no question that honours and achievement are matters of public concern worthy of affirmation in an open theatre. As we will see, religious and liturgical as many of the school rituals were in origin, the recognition and approbation that came from these “trials” were not those of conscience and inner fulfilment, but were the achievements associated with a pre-modern classical value system that saw the world as a stage for self-dramatization in a public arena. Thus, the statutes explicitly formulated the school’s rigorous system of discipline, trial, reward, and punishment, in terms of the public recognition of success and failure: Whereas honour furthers the arts and all are inspired by glory and reward with a desire for learning, and every society is kept in check by penalties, we desire that every year, at the time of the General Chapter … the Dean or the Subdean, and the other Prebendaries present, together with the masters, should examine each class of the school in descending order, praise the industrious and diligent, and remove them to a higher grade … and reprove the idle and lazy, and, if they think fit, remove them to a lower place. The good scholars will thus be spurred by the reward of praise to greater efforts, and the bad will be shamed into throwing off their idleness.83 The same sort of strategy emphasizing public achievement and recognition of one’s place within the social hierarchy was deeply entrenched in the daily activities of the school and chapter. A Westminster day consisted of an unremitting sequence of mini-dramas in which not only the boys but the masters as well were required to perform, and to be in a carefully rehearsed position “on stage”, as it were. This amounts to more than tight ­organization 142

The Way to Westminster and ­discipline, and it cannot be explained strictly in pedagogical terms. The pedagogical emphasis on oral work was typical of the period and was partly a way of dealing with the shortage of texts and partly a means of reinforcing learning through mnemonic exercises. But at Westminster there was a regimentation of recitation, disputation, serial examination, and public critique that made the catechizing not just a method of learning but part of the carefully enforced master–servant relationship. This was intensified by additional regimentation in the form of the delegation of authority and controlled movement throughout the school during the day. Thus, from the beginning of the day, after a five o’clock summons “Arise” (“surgite!”) by one of the four designated dormitory prefects, there began a series of physical and verbal responses that with various permutations continued during the day. Summoned, the boys “shall then immediately get up, and, kneeling say the morning prayers”; these proceed with “one [student] … beginning, according to his turn, and the remainder replying at alternate verses saying ‘O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty Everlasting God’”.84 Morning prayer upon rising was common to all schools. At Westminster, this, and other activities, were conducted under supervision of the prefects, upper-level students; and prayers, instead of being said in unison, had an added element of discipline by being sung in the form of a recitative. The ritualized action continued with the arrival of the Master at 6:00: “The master shall enter at 6 o’clock, and kneeling in the higher part of the school shall begin the following prayers, the scholars replying at alternate verses”. The oral and catechistic elements continued immediately after prayers: After the prayers have been said, the master shall come down to the first, and lowest, class, and shall hear some part of speech or of a verb as he determines. He shall proceed from the first class to the second, from the second to the third, and … from the third to the fourth class … if any of the answers is not clear, the master shall examine on the point.85 The process of examination and review proceeded immediately in the same manner, this time with a “guard” in each form leading the way, the guard being a boy who had performed imperfectly the day before: “Then all forms shall repeat from memory the passages which had been read with them (the previous day), beginning with the guard, who shall watch carefully as the others repeat the passages”. The guard, yesterday’s under-performer, today polices the class, thus placing him in a role of authority that is also a rigorous test. Written exercises either in composition or translation followed (led 143

William Camden – A Life in Context by the guard); these too were to be recited in seriatim – “Ordinary exercises shall be written by each scholar … and repeated methodically and from memory the next day before 9 o’clock, or thereabouts. First the ‘guard’ of each class shall repeat from memory and explain the lesson of the next lower class”. Hierarchy, responsibility, and public performance, knowing one’s duty at a given time and place, were social roles that co-ordinated the learning activities: each stage in the day’s affairs reaffirmed the hierarchic relationships between students at different levels and the masters or other individuals. There were variants on this weekday schedule – each carefully staged and controlled. Friday instruction was largely correction of the week’s work, revision, review, the repetition of lessons, and the publication of offences. Saturday was given over to examination and repetitions, and in the afternoon the headmaster chose two or three boys who then declaimed before the whole college on a theme chosen by him. Sunday was a day of more passive academic learning, though active spiritual refinement. The morning was spent in prayer at the abbey, and in having lessons read to the boys in the dormitory. In the afternoon the prebendaries preached, and later the boys summarized the sermons in either prose or verse, depending on their form. There were days when the bow was less taut; it appears that saints’ days were carefully kept as holidays, and half-holidays (when they do not occur on saints’ days) were allowed up to once a week at the dean’s discretion.86 The recitation, instruction, and severe regimentation were in part meant to instil a sense of community that, itself, was to serve Tudor goals of uniformity and conformity. The boys were closely monitored by tutors, and the daily regimen for the forty Queen’s Scholars particularly was one that co-ordinated their movements through the day so that they were expected to be in a specific place at specific times. There was also a careful orchestration of school-wide and small-group instruction that lent coherence and harmony to the learning. For example, at 8:00 the headmaster announced the day’s Latin “propositio”, which became the theme worked on in different ways by students throughout the school – the fourth form translating it, the fifth controverting on it, the sixth and seventh versifying it in English or Greek.87 Altogether, the organization suggests the strong sense of stratification, control, and of the clear relationship between the individual and the group. This formality was part of the Westminster education, and perforce, it carried over to those administering it. As we have seen, the daily activities of the masters and the protocol governing all college members were also carefully prescribed.88 The hierarchy and structured day that we see at Westminster resembled 144

The Way to Westminster what was to be found at other schools and segments of society, but the degree and detail of regimentation, and the extent that people’s movements were orchestrated was finally very different in kind from what existed elsewhere. The attention to the smallest detail in positioning, timing, sequence, shows these forms and details to have been regarded as of importance in themselves, and not merely as a means of efficiency, intimidation, or crowd control. Prior to lunch “The scholars shall … proceed in column of twos to the hall, and stand at the two sides of the hall until grace has been said … Three or more … appointed by the Headmaster shall stand in the middle of the hall before the table … and one of them … shall begin to say grace and consecrate the table, all others replying together, as above Chapter 10 on ‘Divine Worship’”. During dinner, there were readings of selections from the Hebrew Testament and Latin texts.89 The ceremony is obviously a symbolic mass and eucharist; the luncheon table is the consecrated alter as the chapter and its members, in imitatio Christi, make their feast conform to its typological role. Here and elsewhere the ceremonies of the school were not just orderly, they were elevated to the level of ritualized action: action filling the place of religious rite and assuming its meanings. It was a symbolic dimension meant to inform the whole day’s activities: as they left lunch, “when grace has been said … the scholars shall return to school in the same order … This order shall be observed wherever they go”.90 As in other kinds of drama, ordered action had meaning in itself. Furthermore, ceremony was not just orderly; it gave meaning, just as order does in syntax, music, church ritual, and theatre. The ritual was also demonstrative – outward, visible, auricular, administered by those authorized delegates of dean, prebendary, master, and prefect. The emphasis on such ceremonious structures and symbolic action was, of course, meant to be sacral: just as school texts were heavily liturgical, so too was the syntax of the school day and the drama that it enacted. These characteristics we have been sampling, though – symbolic action finding its place in every day duties, dominant religious metaphors introduced into normally secular tasks and performed with liturgical elements, form taking on its own meaning – made the ritual of Westminster life palpably Roman Catholic in tone; they represented precisely the kind of artifice objected to by Puritan iconoclasts. The social and educational structures of the school were inseparable from its religious identity, and have close affinities with ecclesia anglicana that was the vehicle for Elizabethan compromise. Little wonder then that Camden was able to make Catholics and incipient bishops comfortable in his school. 145

William Camden – A Life in Context

Westminster and the Learning of Theatre


hus, the members of the Westminster Chapter were always “on stage”. The theatre metaphor for public life is, of course, appropriate and was itself popular during the Renaissance. As we have seen, performance was at the core of Renaissance life, education, and identity formation. For this reason theatricals were an integral part of the training at Westminster, and staunchly defended for their moral and educational utility. This again places the school in opposition to the severer Protestant elements whose anti-theatrical prejudices castigated playing as lewd and Catholic. But at Westminster, traditional Twelfth Night and Shrovetide customs and plays had an important place in the ways that the institution enacted, affirmed, or otherwise monitored its hierarchic design. Bakhtinian readers of Renaissance drama such as Michael Bristol and Bruce Smith speak of the theatre as a controlled and therapeutic element of disorder in an authoritarian society needing release for such energies. These theatrical customs were embraced as part of the educational dynamic of the school while they obviously also provided an element of Dionysian catharsis that at some level challenged the system. But what has not been noted is that this element of misrule also helped the boys, and the institution itself, to grow and evolve. Thus, there is a need to break out of the dialogic view of the relation between festive drama and authority. In this reading, it is easy to see how these seasonal rites, traditionally linked with the drama, serve a number of social and educational functions, parodying authority structures and so acknowledging them, engaging in misrule and so validating order. The Shrovetide festivals in particular dramatized challenges to the institutional structure of school and chapter. The annual pre-Lenten carnival saw the election of a boy bishop who presides for the day as the spirit of misrule and inverts the social and spiritual order that is represented by the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Such ritualized antics also existed in many other schools and in different quarters of society. A great deal has been written about the importance of the festal year and the carnival element for the study of drama and particularly the theory of comedy. Generally, discussion concentrates on the antic force’s subversive relationship to authority, either as a temporarily authorized or tolerated form of political dissent, or as a repressed energy that is given a controlled outlet. Whichever of the two views one takes, misrule is seen to function cathartically as a means of venting social pressures without loss of power for the dominant culture.91 146

The Way to Westminster Such arguments tend to be binary and exclusionary, seeing social processes and forms as oppositional and made up of discrete forces – of powerful and powerless, of order and disorder. They further schematize by seeing carnivalesque moments as threatening hierarchy or as being appropriated by it. But community “membership” and the roles of theatre and hierarchy at the Westminster Chapter are not binary in this way. What we have noted there is the interconnection of social forces – ecclesiastical, political, social, and regional. The relationship between, and the interests of the different social constituencies are not so easily dichotomized: schools such as Westminster were socially extremely heterogeneous, and served a mandate to provide opportunity to the children of the poor, and also to have some regional diversity. While there are certainly similarities between the Christmas and Shrovetide festivities and the spirit of misrule and carnival chaos that we find in the school and in the theatres, there are important differences as well. First, however, we must allow the comparison to be qualified by chronology. The school’s theatrical traditions and their collateral forces of misrule predate the establishment of permanent theatres; they are part of the dynamic of play that finds its way into all human society, but they were formalized in the schools before the theatres existed. Second, the agents of misrule in the Shrovetide and Christmas plays were circumscribed within a carefully and more rigidly structured community than what we see in the medieval guild plays, for example. When the permanent theatres did emerge, they sought out a milieu that tolerated, perhaps even attracted such forces in the liberties beyond the city’s jurisdiction. Within its diversity, at Westminster we find a community that was ideologically, if not socially a self-selecting group. Among the students – Queen’s Scholars, pensioners, choristers – aged somewhere between ten and fifteen, the festive spirit was hormonally, not politically driven, although no doubt they were learning political lessons along the way. The unpleasantness of social inequity must at times have been great for some of the students; however, the voice of tolerated misrule is not a voice of rebellion, but of frustration. It would be misleading to suggest that in these festivities we see the spark of rebellion glowering within Westminster’s authoritarian structures. A young man of middle- or lower-class origin studying at Westminster or a comparable school – a Ben Jonson or William Camden for example – might loathe the hazing but would probably want to move up in the system, not destroy it. At Westminster the Lord of Misrule was as likely to be a nobleman’s son as he was to be a person drawn from a class predisposed to resent authority. Oppression is as likely to lead to the desire for power as it is to the taste for anarchy. Indeed, if the 147

William Camden – A Life in Context chapter was successful in fulfilling its mandate, the students were particularly unlikely to abuse the festive liberty occasionally granted them, and to “pluck Justice by the nose”. Interestingly, not only did the chapter explicitly give preference for the major scholarships to children from poor families, but also to good-natured and gentle children. The personality profile called for is unusually specific: “in selecting them [the scholars] the greatest weight [shall] be given to gentleness of disposition, ability, learning, good character and poverty”.92 With such goals for their student body it is little wonder that they selected Camden as master. With hierarchy came opportunity. Once in the school, the students were introduced into a system that gave them access to greater opportunity than they might otherwise have had. It is well to remember that education represents potential and growth as much as it does restraint. As we have seen in Camden’s early life, the educational system was a means of accommodating people into a society that provided a degree of upward mobility. In such a community, the spirit of misrule is not that dark destructive force that we sometimes think we find crouching in the plays produced for the public ­theatres. For the students mastering the nuances of Plautus and ­Terence, the theatre and festival days are a means of learning the political range of self-expression, questioning, and challenging authority, but they are not themselves plausible agents by which to affect significant change. It would be unlikely for students even to consider the radical reform of a system that has, for many of them, rather unexpectedly privileged them. This is not to deny the presence of the Dionysian, carnivalesque force that Bhaktin has identified, but to see it in the specific context of the school and its community, and to redefine it, make it less dialogic in nature. But the force of misrule teaches us how to negotiate between different social structures. As Smith says of the Christmas plays at Westminster: To take the Westminster Christmas play to Whitehall was only to exchange one court context for another – and not altogether the facetious for the factual … The rigor of the usual renaissance school regime positively demanded an escape valve, an institutionalized way of letting off steam. Yet paradoxically, the jubilant release during the Christmas revels did not undermine the power structure that obtained the rest of the year: it confirmed it.93 Using the formulation of critics such as and Greenblatt, Orgel, and Montrose, Smith points to the limits of the disruptive comic spirit in the immediate 148

The Way to Westminster social context of Westminster. Nevertheless, he allows himself to be confined to the polarized and dualistic world view that sees only forces of order and disorder, and absolutes of power and defeat, with the only nuances being those of having or coming to power, and those lacking or losing it. And as Smith’s own comment suggests, the energies of the festival season and the school play are not confined to the school but reach into the larger community and tap some of its energies. Smith’s discussion of the Westminster School plays supports the idea that we must understand them in the context of their social milieu, and that we can see the social milieu in terms of theatre. However, the questions remain why this Dionysian element was so prominent in the life of the school, and was it anything more than a release valve for pubescent boys. To answer these questions we need to recall that “theatre” was part of the air the students breathed, and that it was cultivated as a major part of the education they were obtaining. We have already seen the school’s physical location and its highly regimented daily routine add to the theatre of learning. We can go further, though, to show that drama was actively cultivated as part of the school’s pedagogy, part of the uniqueness of the institution, and not merely a vestigial “tradition” tolerated in season. For example, far from merely tolerating them, the Reformation founders of Westminster actively encouraged dramas as part of the holistic training envisioned for the students, and incorporated them in the statutes. Taken very seriously as part of the religious, rhetorical, personal, and physical education of the students, the Christmas plays were a major responsibility for the headmaster and assistant master: In order that the boys may celebrate Christmastide with greater benefit, and may better accustom themselves to orderly action and elocution [et tum pronunciationi decendi melius se assuescat], we ordain that every year within the 12 days after the feast of the Nativity of Christ, or later if the Dean so decides, the Headmaster and Assistant Master shall provide for the performance by their scholars, either privately in hall, or publicly, of a comedy or tragedy in Latin; the Master of the Choristers shall provide for a similar performance by the Choristers in English. If this is not done, each one whose negligence has caused this omission shall be fined ten shillings.94 This is an unusually forceful policy-statement on the importance of the Christmas plays; their direction is part of the job description of the master and 149

William Camden – A Life in Context his assistant, and we can assume that this was taken into consideration at the time of Camden’s appointment. A similarly strong theatrical tradition existed at Christ Church, Oxford, and although Colet did not state that school plays must be performed at St Paul’s, he assumed that they would when, in the statutes, he required students to attend and heed the sermon of the boy bishop during the Christmas carnival.95 Camden’s educational background prepared him well for his task. Behind the Westminster statute was the conviction that the plays serve the boys’ religious, rhetorical, and intellectual training: through them they could “celebrate” Christmas more beneficially, they could develop their “elocution”, or “pronunciation”, and refine their physical grace and poise. Further, the headmaster was called upon to mount either a tragedy or a comedy for the Christmas play. It is no surprise for the literary historian, but it deserves noting that there was no stipulation that the play be on a religious subject or text, or that it have seasonal relevance. The plays obviously had a significant place in a curriculum having its origins in the period of the revival of learning and the recovery of classical works. Further­more, with plays both in Latin and English, the school not only fostered the classical forms of comedy and tragedy, but also experimentation in new ways of imitating them in the vernacular. These formal performances were complemented in the school calender by similarly dramatic conventions such as the election of the boy bishop and its deeply rooted popular and ecclesiastical associations. More will be said of these different kinds of dramatic activity, but in the present context we can see how fully drama entered the academic and popular life of Elizabethan Westminster. Antithetical to Puritan attitudes toward drama, then, the policy expressed in the statutes also positioned the school in contemporary religious disputes. This statute also suggests the important place occupied by the schools in the history of theatre in the sixteenth century, particularly around the time of Camden’s appointment. The fine for failure to mount the school plays underscores that they were major events at the school, and no doubt not only for educational reasons. The Queen was effectively their patron, and the children of Westminster, the choristers, and the grammar-school boys were regularly involved in the Queen’s revels. Obviously it would not do to be unprepared with the major annual Christmas play, or to miss an opportunity for royal patronage that could be important for everyone at the chapter.96 The boys were, then, part of a larger theatrical world – indeed, until the 1590s, boy actors were at its centre in London and elsewhere, and the grammar students and choristers at Westminster were prominent among the ­ several 150

The Way to Westminster groups. Boy actors were in demand from different audiences, including royalty, nobility, the Inns of Court, and the London companies. Reasonably wellcoordinated constituencies shared resources – of singers and players as well as props – in what were no doubt profitable arrangements. Hillebrand, whose study documents the extent of boy-acting in and out of the schools, emphasizes that the school players represent “a national and legitimate part of the primitive English theatre” and that the major writers of the time – notably John Lyly and Richard Edwards – wrote for them. Particularly important is how fully integrated into the larger community the boy actors and the school players were: their performances were not relegated to their schools nor to occasional court appearances. Hillebrand’s careful study makes a strong case for the exceptional popularity and social importance of the boy actors during the period. However, he regards the genre in a progressive context that leaves its popularity and importance unexplained. He argues that it was part of a “primitive” (in the pejorative sense) early phase in the maturation of English theatre: the boy companies, including the school players at Westminster, “belonged definitely to the formative stage; when the theatre came to maturity they were forced out”.97 This is not terribly helpful as an explanation of why they were popular, why they disappeared, or how they were important. He also denies his own evidence that the boy actors provided sophisticated performances for sophisticated audiences, which argues against his conclusion that this was simply an immature early phase in theatre history. Darryll Grantley’s Wit’s Pilgrimage also argues for the remarkable historical importance of the boy players but carries Hillebrand’s argument a step further, pointing out how the conjunction of education and theatre helped train popular and educated tastes for boy actors and their plays: they are part of an aesthetic that grew out of the cultural transformations of the century. Both Hillebrand and Grantley point to the cultural moment of the boy players. Their popularity is the result of a number of factors affecting the tastes and interests of the generation but having little to do with the “evolutionary” aesthetics that Hillebrand proposes. But as both he and Grantley emphasize, the emergence of the boy actors coincides with the Reformation and the proliferation of grammar schools.98 The schools and the theatres were part of the overall social fabric that, under the catalyst of reform, adapted to the changes, developed new forms of expression and new structures. Medieval, church-related drama diminished during and as a result of the Reformation; there was as yet no permanent theatre to take its place – not until 1576. The universities, the Inns of Court, and the schools, however, had long 151

William Camden – A Life in Context unbroken traditions of theatrical performance. These were particularly strong at Westminster and Christ Church, and were fostered by their other institutional ties. The urban schools especially adapted to the changing market, and met the need, taste, and tried the tolerance for theatre. More than the universities, they provided theatre to a diverse urban clientele; their repertoire served courtier and merchant in private and public forums; it had classical and vernacular elements, as we have seen at Westminster; it could satisfy the demand for secular or religious plays. In these antitheses we see the effects of the social changes of these decades through the lens of the boy actors; in them we see newly emerging modes of cultural expression that are the products of a particular historical moment, and not a “primitive” form soon to be replaced by something more sophisticated. Thus, when Camden started at Westminster there were no permanent theatres on which to erect the extraordinary achievements of the English “Renaissance” drama.99 The stages that did provide the theatrical milieu needed to nurture the growth of the professional theatres were those of the court, the universities, the Inns of Court, the schools, the inn yards, and the noble households, and these years were the heyday of the boy companies.100 It is in this context, then, that we see the establishment of the first permanent theatre in 1576 by James Burbage, with its unique corporate structure and carefully selected location – a model that soon took hold and spread. There was a great deal of dramatic activity at the Inns of Court, the universities, the schools, and the court itself, and there was much traffic among these venues by theatre-goers. The children of cathedral and collegiate schools in particular were liable to conscription for service with the children of the Queen’s revels, according to warrants issued by Elizabeth to the “masters of the Chapel Children”.101 Especially in and around the city and court, there was considerable movement of boys and other “properties” – costumes, equipment, as well as personnel – that were shared by the various performing groups overseen by the Revels Office. Thus, in 1585 Thomas Giles, Master of the Children of St Paul’s, was “authoryzed” “to take up such apte and meete children as are most fitte to be instructed … in the arte and science of musicke and singinge”. To this end he was empowered to seek out boys “in anye Cathedrall or Collegiate Churche or Churches … for the use and service aforesaid”.102 Although the Westminster grammar students and the choristers mounted distinctly different plays, when they were called into the larger market-place, such “academic” distinctions no longer pertained. Boys from either group might be conscripted for extramural service, and Hillebrand 152

The Way to Westminster suggests that even in the school itself, the distinction between chorister and grammar school student existed more on paper than in fact.103 Significantly, as the schools responded to the changing “entertainment world”, as chantry schools lost their original ecclesiastical roles and came to resemble the grammar schools, we see the erosion of old religious-based distinctions and the emergence of new social and educational structures. The flexible use of the boy players corresponds to some of the changes taking place in the educational system. It appears that there was relatively well-organized co-ordination of resources of various sorts. Thus, children from Westminster might find themselves at St Paul’s, Hampton Court, or Windsor; likewise, boys from these places might make the journey to Westminster, so that the boy companies became increasingly adaptable to the market-place at the same time that the first public theatre made its début.104 In this way too, then, the schools participated in the transfer from premodern to early modern society, acting as a half-way house between the ecclesiastical and feudal patronage of drama and the establishment of public theatres in the realm of private enterprise. While Westminster School illustrates this at an institutional level, we can point to the career of Ben Jonson as a manifestation of the same historical pattern at a personal level. Receiving his training in the school under Camden’s direction, he then steps into a theatrical world struggling to define itself in terms of its new commercial rather than its former patronage structure. Jonson, trained in the schools rather than in the patronage system, insisted on his authorial independence from the acting companies, and was the individual who did most to bring the playwright into a modern market economy. On the flip side of the theatre’s transformation, Shakespeare the shareholder-entrepreneur, helps lead the transformation of the theatre company into a new commercial identity.105

William Camden and the Legacy of Alexander Nowell


estminster’s policy of actively encouraging both the study and the staging of plays can be traced to the Tudor refounding of the school, and more particularly, to the educational tenets of reform held by the first ­Reformation headmaster, Alexander Nowell, and his successor, ­Nicholas Udall. Not only was Nowell responsible for introducing Greek into the curriculum of the school, but also for making a strong academic defence of the reading and acting of Terence and Plautus.106 In the mid-1540s Nowell prepared dramatic prologues for his students’ performances in which he emphasized 153

William Camden – A Life in Context the use of theatre to develop declamatory skills, and justified the morality of plays and acting. We might suspect that the man who devised the reformed catechism would also have a good dramatic sense; the tropes of the church were those of the schoolroom and as theatre historians know, of the stage as well. Indeed, as aware of the vernacular tradition of the mystery plays as he was of the classical repertoire, he likened the use of biblical exempla to their use in classical comedy, and defended the place of each in the schools. Detractors of drama, he says, could … prohibit us from reading the sacred scriptures and, what is more, the New Testament itself, for recorded there are vile whores, Herod the child-killer, Judas the traitor, Simon the sorcerer … Ananias the perjurer, and countless others of that ilk. Why don’t these men fear for the boys’ well-being there? Ah, but these things are put forward to be avoided, not emulated. The poets had a similar intention in mind … How uprightly they have expressed the comic spectacle of human life! Out of these plays you can choose examples to follow and examples to avoid.107 Interestingly, Nowell’s catechism was reprinted, along with its “authorized” English translation by dramatist Thomas Norton in 1571 – the year Camden left Oxford. This bold statement, by a clergyman, a reformer, and a headmaster soon to be Dean of St Paul’s, was made long before the establishment of the first permanent theatres. In religious doctrine, literary judgement, and in his undogmatic politics, Nowell’s words stand out as particularly humane and accommodating. But then, this is the man whose New Year’s gift to the Queen in 1562 was a richly illustrated prayer book that won him severe reprimand from her for violating the proclamation against “images, pictures, and Romish relics”.108 Nowell was obviously a respecter, if not a worshipper of images and for this he was likely to run afoul of the more radical reformers. Yet his career shows a clear understanding of the interrelated duties of churchman, educator, and civil servant, and also of how the bonae litterae, in different genres, work their moral effects. In these several offices, and presumably as producer/ director, Headmaster Nowell coached and watched his students perform in many of the roles necessary for them to succeed in life. For Nowell, the plays were not just language texts; nor was the catechism only religious and moral instruction. A play by Plautus, no less than the catechism, provided language exercises, moral lessons, and practice in oratory and disputation. Serving 154

The Way to Westminster ­several different educational functions, they were part of the boys’ training for life. What is interesting, though, is that both take a theatrical or dramatic form – the distinctions between acting, education, conformity, and the performance of daily school ritual hardly exist. Nowell was obviously a remarkable man whose intellectual grasp assimilated seemingly diverse interests. One early account of his character, by fellowangler Isaak Walton, testifies not only to his gentleness and wisdom, but also to his role in the Reformation as it gained new direction under Elizabeth: Doctor Nowell, sometimes Dean of … St. Paul’s [was] a man that in the reformation of Elizabeth, not that of Henry VIII. was so noted for his meek spirit, deep learning, prudence, and piety, that the then parliament and convocation both chose, enjoined, and trusted him to be the man to make a catechism for public use, such a one as should stand as a rule for faith and manners to their posterity.109 He was no less frequently sought after to assist with educational reform at Westminster and elsewhere – as his biographer stresses: “It was not only his general character, as a man of judgement and learning, but the memory of his fame, as Master of Westminster school, that made his revision and approbation of the rules of this and other seminaries, established in his time, to be so much desired”.110 The readiness of the three Protestant monarchs that he served to enlist him in major reforms extending into the areas of education, liturgy, and literature says much of his ability and also about the way in which these matters were seen to overlap. His views on learning and education resemble those of his friend Roger Ascham. At Westminster, though, Nowell set the example for headmastering that would be followed by his successors. They too directed their students as they rehearsed their spiritual, rhetorical, and personal roles in church, in class and in the official and unofficial mini-dramas on and off the school stage. He was the first of many at Westminster who made the dramatic tradition a real part of the school’s curriculum. Considering that the man he had translate his Latin catechism into English was Thomas Norton, the principal author of the first vernacular tragedy, Gorboduc, it seems appropriate and hardly coincidental that his successor as headmaster at Westminster was also a playwright – Nicholas Udall, the author of Ralph Roister Doister, England’s first vernacular comedy and written for the boy players at St Paul’s and performed around 1552.111 Udall’s credentials as Nowell’s successor to the office are revealing. He came to Westminster in 1555 after having served as headmaster of Eton from 155

William Camden – A Life in Context 1534 to 1541, when he was dismissed and questioned on charges of abetting theft from the school and sodomy. Confessing to the latter charge but denying the former, he then found a place at Henry’s court of humanist reformers, where his literary career involved him in translating Erasmus’s biblical paraphrases and in religious controversy. A point not without importance, though, is that he appears to have been as popular with the Catholic Queen Mary as he had been with the Protestant monarchs: it was under Mary that he was appointed headmaster at Westminster, and it appears that he was ready and able to make his drama serve her as faithfully as it had Henry VIII and Edward VI. Westminster headmasters had a talent for pleasing both Catholic and Protestant contingents. As important as his evident political skills and religious adaptability – or perhaps part of them – was his lifelong involvement in popular and academic drama. Although known best for leaving us a vernacular imitation of classical comedy comparable to Norton’s tragedy, like so many involved in the theatre at this time the bulk of his work has been lost.112 Nevertheless, he had an established contemporary reputation as a dramatist of note who brought his professional experience to bear on his academic work as a classicist and philologist. His Flowers or Eloquent Phrases of the Latin Speach, Gathered Out of al the Sixe Comoedies of Terence (1533 with several editions during his lifetime), is important not only as a document in the history and theory of translation, but also for what it suggests about the close links between academia and the various theatrical forums of the time. As a school text the work is quite remarkable for its attempt to present Latin sentences collected from Terence from a human, essentially dramatic point of view rather than a grammatical one. Anticipating the language reforms of Ramus, and adumbrating the opinion that Camden expresses later in the Remains, he sees language as fluid and shaped by use, not rules. To give life to the Latin of the stage and the classroom he focuses on the idiomatic dimension of the sentences. The Flowers or Eloquent Phrases, still enough in demand to be reprinted in 1581, is, for our purposes, more than a classroom text, for it illustrates the significant overlap between the school, the court, and the theatrical world of London, and emphasizes the strong dramatic tradition that existed at Westminster. There were many others whose careers suggest that the tradition of theatrical activity at Westminster goes far beyond the annual Latin play that school and theatre historians customarily refer to, and even that it is a tradition that travels the well-worn path between Christ Church and Westminster. Early Puritan attacks on the stage focused on theatrical excesses at Christ 156

The Way to Westminster Church, Oxford, and they continued until the seventeenth century. William Gager, a Westminster alumnus who went on to Christ Church at the time when Camden was travelling in the opposite direction, was a prominent neoLatin playwright and theatre advocate who presented a private production of Meleager to Camden’s former housemate Philip Sidney and the Earl of Leicester. He was charged with perpetuating the lewd and popish vices of the theatre at Christ Church, and it was no accident that his defence closely resembled the argument that Headmaster Nowell had made at Westminster. Interestingly, as the debate heated up in the 1590s and John Rainolds attacked Gager’s excesses, Camden’s friend, the international lawyer Alberico Gentili, entered the fray with an extended Latin defence of the playwright. Also active at Westminster when Camden was there was William Elderton, a man of the theatre and, according to Chambers, choirmaster at the college. Elderton and his charges were often called to the court for royal performances. It is not clear whether or not he is the Elderton who, as a boy, played the Lord of Misrule at court on twelfth day, 1552/3 and whose troupe of comedians performed for the Queen in 1574. Nor is it clear if this is the balladeer William Elderton who inspired the satire of both Gabriel Harvey and Thomas Nashe and was immortalized for his penchant for drink.113 We do know, however, that Elderton the Westminster choirmaster was also active in court music and theatre, although where else his talents took him is not certain. And then, also attesting to Westminster’s strong and recognized links with drama is Camden’s student and protégé, Ben Jonson. It is impossible to say how much Jonson took from his time at Westminster to the stage, but the debt was enormous and has still to be properly assessed. We will have more to say about Jonson and Camden, but at this point we can see how the playwright reflects the traditions of Westminster and also acknowledges the place of school drama in the larger London scene. Jonson capitalized on his experience by both using and satirizing the boy players and by mocking the contradictions of Puritan anti-theatrical arguments. The master of meta-drama, Jonson employs the Children of Queen Elizabeth’s Chapel in Cynthia’s Revels to enact a critique of the “fountain of self-love” – or the court; the boy actors, in a sometimes parodic treatment of academic drama, thus hold a mirror up to their patron and her entourage. The quarto of the play was originally dedicated to Camden.114 In Bartholomew Fair Jonson dramatizes the Puritan arguments against the stage, drawing perhaps on the ideas of William Gager, or Nowell, although other sources are also possible. In these and other of his plays, Jonson exhibits a critical and a practical awareness of the child players 157

William Camden – A Life in Context and their place in ­ contemporary theatre, and (for better or worse) an academic strain that, given his profound sense of gratitude toward Camden, was probably nurtured at the school. Nowell and Udall, even more than Ascham, show us how closely linked the activities of the boy actors were to the court, the humanist educators, and life at Westminster and other schools. Camden would have felt their powerful presence both as a student and as an educator and headmaster. Nowell himself lived until 1602, dying at the age of ninety-five, and he had a very long attachment to the collegiate of Westminster and to St Paul’s before. As his biographer said of him, Nowell “was consulted with regard to almost every ecclesiastical and literary foundation in his time”.115 These traditions, involving literature, the theatre, court, and popular culture, music and the performing arts, permeated the school, though, and involved not only the masters and headmaster. If Burghley set the agenda for the Westminster Chapter, Nowell set the tone. In following Camden’s steps, we keep coming across Nowell as an older contemporary whose direct and indirect contacts with Camden’s life and career help outline the complex network of associates and interests comprising Camden’s life. We have seen Nowell as Dean of St Paul’s, an Ecclesiastical Commissioner, headmaster of Westminster School and prebendary of the chapter, theologian, author of the Elizabethan catechism and advisor on church policy, as educator, as a man involved in the theatre, and in all things, a man intimately linked to Burghley. But there are other aspects of Alexander Nowell’s life that implicate Camden as well. In particular, Nowell’s extraordinary life of public service places him in the tradition of humanist reform that we have been observing throughout our study. While not the massive personality of a Wolsey, nor having the narrow academic focus of a Colet, his ideals, like theirs, tended to civic and philanthropic gestures, to a social contract that the Protestant reformers presented as part of their mission. His belief in the power of reform carried directly into his sense of social responsibility and, as we have seen, into his perception of the possibilities for literature. Of a younger generation than Colet and Wolsey, the scale of his activities was more modest, but the inspiring social ideal was the same; it merely lacked something of Wolsey’s egomania. He too, for example, was deeply and broadly involved in education as a philanthropist. He was a generous benefactor to many institutions, including Brasenose College, St Paul’s, and numerous provincial schools, and served as an advisor for many others. He too endowed a free school, and in a telling gesture that distinguishes him 158

The Way to Westminster from men such as Wolsey, he called it Queen Elizabeth’s School. A man legendary for his humanity and gentleness, Nowell shows a commitment to many of the social and also patriotic values of the early generation of reformers, but a scaling down of the epic aspirations that we see in a man like Wolsey. And in this, he has his place in the change from a pre-modern to an early modern social system into which we have placed Camden. Nowell’s philanthropy reflects family as well as personal interests that enable us to trace the network of his influence into other areas as well. The Nowells were conspicuous as patrons and practitioners of literature and learning, and were part of an influential and wide-ranging, often collaborative network of scholars whose work gives meaning to George Buck’s description of London as England’s “third university”. Of particular interest to them was the promotion of the study of vernacular languages, history, and geography – the material “stuff” of British cultural history, and they fostered it both materially and through their own researches. Active in the Westminster area at this time were Alexander (d. 1602), Laurence (d. 1576), and Robert (d. 1569) Nowell, their uterine brother, John Townley, and their cousin, Laurence Nowell (fl. 1567), the antiquary. All of them had close links with Burghley. Robert Nowell was Attorney General of the Court of Wards, under Burghley, Master of the Court of Wards (located in Westminster Palace). By 1562, when Alexander was a prebendary at Westminster, Robert rented property in the chapter and seems to have maintained his household there through the rest of his life.116 His lodgings at Gray’s Inn were used by his cousin, Laurence, during his period of historical studies. This Laurence also lived in Burghley’s household transcribing his Anglo-Saxon manuscripts and tutoring one of his wards. Alexander’s brother, Laurence, became Bishop of Litchfield in 1560 and continued to work closely with Alexander although he did not reside in Westminster or London. In addition to their active involvement in the educational and scholarly communities of London, the Nowell brothers, particularly Alexander and Laurence, as executors of their brother Robert’s will, were also philanthropists on a large scale. Robert Nowell had amassed a significant fortune as auditor to correct abuses in the Queen’s household accounts and as Attorney General for the Court of Wards. But he also had scholarly and literary interests which were fulfilled vicariously in his munificent benefactions to schools, colleges, scholars, and authors. For twelve years after his death, from 1568 to 1580, his brothers were kept busy disbursing, largely at their discretion, the generous legacy that Robert left to poor students in London and at Oxford, 159

William Camden – A Life in Context and other benefactions, largely directed toward supporting penurious scholars, authors, and students – one among these being his cousin, Laurence Nowell. The list of disbursements, covering 217 pages, is a remarkable testimony to the philanthropic spirit of these decades.117 Less ostentatious than foundations by Wolsey, for example, this massive support for education of the poor partakes of the social covenant that, at least in theory, was built into the redistribution of lands and monies at the dissolution of the monasteries. Presumably his capacities as benefactor and executor earned Alexander Nowell the honour of having Geoffrey Whitney dedicate two emblems to him, one “The Dead Man’s Riches”, and the other, a mother pelican feeding her young with her own blood.118 A number of literary figures benefited from their patronage, and were thus brought within the embrace of the Nowells’ influence. Men like Edmund Spenser at the Merchant Taylors’ School, Edward Kirke, Richard Hakluyt at Westminster, William Harrison, author of the Description of Britain, a precursor to the Britannia, Lancelot Andrewes, later Dean of Westminster, and Richard Hooker, were among the young men whose lives were made easier with modest gifts from Robert Nowell, and his executors. The work of Laurence Nowell is well known, even if the man himself is relatively newly discovered, having long been mistaken for his cousin the Dean of Lichfield.119 A less prosperous cousin of the deans, and a pioneer in the uncharted areas of Anglo-Saxon studies and historical geography rather than an academic, a clergyman, or an office-holder, he was an important member of the community of scholars who gravitated to Westminster within Burghley’s sphere of influence and forged the new area of vernacular historical study. Much of his biography remains entangled with that of Laurence the Dean, although he seems to have attended Oxford, may have begun his career as a schoolmaster, and was definitely a beneficiary of his cousin Robert.120 Even while the identity of the man was mistaken, the contributions of “Laurence Nowell” to the study of Anglo-Saxon language and culture have been recognized ever since Camden himself proclaimed him the first to bring the language from disuse and oblivion: “For four centuries, beginning with the printed tribute of William Camden, scholars have readily acknowledged their debt to Nowell, the father of Old English studies.”121 Thomas Hahn summarizes the foundational work in historical, especially Saxon studies by the group of men around Matthew Parker and Burghley whose motives were at once nationalistic and polemical. This is the group that is succeeded by Burghley’s Westminster, and, as Hahn says, “It was within this circle that 160

The Way to Westminster Laurence Nowell … established himself as one of the originators of AngloSaxon cultural studies”.122 The resonance of this work has been extraordinary: begun as the foundation for the historical and philological bases on which Protestant reform and the “ecclesia anglicana” were to be built, they were to become the seed-ground for study in areas now associated with archaeology, political science, sociology, folklore, and cultural studies. Burghley and Parker had been cultivating these new methods and putting them to political and polemical use from the days of Edwardian reform. Laurence Nowell’s interests in antiquities was far-ranging, extending from chronicle history, legal ­history, cartography, and perambulation, to study of Anglo-Saxon. He is among the early travellers down the paths that Camden will help chart. Nowell’s contributions, interestingly, were transmitted through the coterie of antiquarian scholars, rather than through publication. During the 1560s he studied British antiquities and Anglo-Saxon while staying at Gray’s Inn, apparently at his cousin Robert’s residence, drafting a British chronicle (1565) as well as an Old English dictionary (1567). These seminal works were to pass down through the next several generations of scholars who built on their foundations. In his studies, he took on a notable student, the legal historian and lexicographer William Lambarde, and the two became close collaborators.123 Nowell left England in 1569 and never returned, and his books and manuscripts passed on to Lambarde, whose interests turned increasingly toward the study of Anglo-Saxon and legal history, and he advanced Nowell’s major endeavour, the vocabulary (1567). Lambarde’s work, in turn, found its way into the hands of the parliamentarian John Selden, and the arch-royalist and Laudian, William Somner, who translated the Ancient Saxon Laws (1568) and with the support of the stipend from Henry Spelman’s Anglo-Saxon lectureship, completed the work begun by Nowell and Lambarde, publishing the Dictionarium Saxonico-Latino-Anglicum at Oxford in 1659.124 In the ­Britannia and the Remains Camden acknowledges the benefit of “the labours of the learned Gentlemen Master Laurence Nowell of Lincolnes Inne, who first in our time recalled the studie heerof, [and of ] Maister William Lambert, Maister J: Jocelin, Maister Fr: Tate”. He warns that the progress in the recovery of Anglo-Saxon is likely to be lost if their work is not soon published: “Otherwise it is to bee feared, that devouring Time, in few yeeres will utterlie swallow it, without hope of recoverie”.125 Thus, Nowell stands among the first in a confraternity of scholars working together and handing down their studies on antiquities and particularly on Anglo-Saxon, and this is the community that regroups after Parker’s death (1575) in Westminster. 161

William Camden – A Life in Context The community of men associated with the Nowells and with West­minster has overlapping literary, historical, religious, and educational interests. The three principal authoritarian forces in Camden’s life – political, educational, and ecclesiastical – come together in Alexander Nowell. He and his brothers and cousin characterize the intellectual community that Burghley created for the chapter. Outside of Burghley himself, Alexander Nowell’s physical and intellectual presence best illustrates how much interdependence there was among those working in government, education, and the church, and also those in the literary community who were exploring new methods of historical study and experimenting in meta-historical genres. He and his brothers also demonstrate how much of this activity is directly and indirectly tied to Burghley and finds its spiritual home in the precincts of Westminster. Scholars working in different areas have studied different aspects of Burghley’s intellectual and literary interests. We know of his activities as a collector and antiquarian and how they serve his overriding patriotism and his commitment to moderate religious reform. Increasingly Burghley the bibliophile is recognized as Burghley the Protestant polemicist. This convergence shows a man utterly aware of how the control of educational and “historical” (printed or manuscript) texts can serve the propagandistic goals of government. Method and media work together as part of the message. With equal assiduousness, he worked to encourage and place individuals in the various offices and fields where these interests could be promoted. The network that we have seen of Burghley’s carefully placed dependents argues far more co-ordinated development of his influence than has been suggested. It also suggests how deliberately he concentrated this influence in the politically coherent but complex community of Westminster, where he could conveniently exercise his power at court and in the separate but influential context of the chapter. Alexander Nowell’s career, closely linked with Burghley, illustrates the dynamics of this community and how it incorporated like-minded men from different walks of life into an intellectual élite powerful enough to exert its influence nationally. Prominent among these individuals was William Camden. At all points, his work touched on that of Alexander and Laurence Nowell. The tendency has been to isolate his scholarship from other aspects of his professional life: to see antiquarianism as unrelated to his other work. However much Camden liked or disliked contending with the still imperfectly formed minds of the realm’s young, what he was doing and how he did it were thoroughly consistent with other aspects of his intellectual and literary life. As with Nowell 162

The Way to Westminster and such longtime friends as Toby Matthew senior, a fellow Christ Church graduate who married the widow of Archbishop Parker and in 1606 became Bishop of York; Henry Savile, onetime Greek tutor of Elizabeth, translator of Tacitus, and provost of Eton; Gabriel Goodman and others already mentioned, Camden’s involvement in the pervasive intellectual reform that was still taking place crossed disciplines and professional identifications, and was cultivated with considerable self-consciousness by those wielding educational, ecclesiastical, and political authority. As a theologue and educator, Nowell knew that his task was that of reformer; when he directed plays and wrote prologues, he knew that he was exacerbating Puritan objections; when he wrote the catechism, he knew that his job was to find a middle way between Catholic and Puritan extremes; when he supported scholars working on British antiquities and Anglo-Saxon, he knew that he was encouraging new kinds of study not traditionally incorporated in the medieval canon of the universities and the schools, and that these studies had their legal and political implications.

Camden and the “New” Westminster Library


nder burghley’s stewardship, from 1561 to his death in 1598, the chapter at Westminster flourished as a centre for government and ecclesiastical activity, education, and scholarship. During these years not only do we have the emergence of independent scholarship, including collecting, in the Nowells and their associates at Westminster and the Inns of Court, and influential individuals such as Robert Cotton and, of course, his teacher, William Camden, but we also see the establishment of the regular activities of the Society of Antiquaries. In another chapter we will look at that group and its links with the growth and revision of the Britannia, but in the present context, the society can be seen in terms of the growing scholarly community within which Camden worked while he was at Westminster. After 1586, with its weekly meetings involving formal reports on assigned “research” topics, the society comprised an impressive group of scholars working on aspects of vernacular political, social, and institutional history.126 Throughout these years, individual and organized collection of research materials and pursuit of scholarly activities proliferated. As we have seen, the emergence of Westminster as a centre for historical research was no accident; nor was Camden’s role in it. From the first years of his appointment, Westminster School and Chapter provided Camden with 163

William Camden – A Life in Context major resources for this work. Early on, efforts were made to broaden his involvement and responsibility in the work of the chapter. In particular, at the time of Camden’s appointment the chapter and school were initiating the reorganization and reconfiguration of the library. The evidence suggests that from his arrival through his headmastership Camden was part of a process that saw the improvement of the physical and administrative organization of the library, and a consolidation and expansion of its resources. The Westminster Chapter library was one of a cluster of collections located in the cloisters of the abbey and the palace complex generally, and the jurisdiction over them was not clearly delineated, nor were the nature and content of their holdings effectively documented. Nevertheless, in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries the library of Westminster, including the other repositories in the chapter complex, was identified as among the most important national archives. Arthur Agarde, deputy chamberlain of the Exchequer and friend of Camden, attempted to identify major collections, to determine the locations of different kinds of historical and archival material and who was in charge of them. His efforts attest to the haphazardness of collecting and public record-keeping at this time. In his “Summaria quaedam descriptio Recordo repositorum in Archivis Domine Rne Elizabethe” (1601), he speaks generally of the kinds of material in the abbey complex, including the Court of Receipts, the New Palace of Westminster, the “late dissolved Abbey” in the “old chapter house” in the cloisters.127 The Westminster archives together were under the custody of the Lord Treasurer and two chamberlains, which is to say, Lord Burghley, and assuming that access to their contents was possible, we can see some of the advantages that the position as under-master at Westminster might provide a scholar working within the framework of Protestant historiography. At different times between 1575 and 1591 there were significant moves to reform and improve the library at Westminster School. The campaign to expand the abbey library coincided with Dean Goodman’s patronage of Camden and his arrival at the school. Dean Goodman inaugurated the “new library”, as it was called (Abbey Muniments, 39,037– 8), and its reformed collection with a suitably appropriate Protestant gift, a Complutensian Bible and a Hebrew vocabulary, these figuring first in the carefully maintained Chapter Book (fol. 157) recording gifts to the library.128 The new collection was also given improved facilities, and for fourteen weeks in 1575 work outfitting the library proceeded. For the duration of Camden’s time at the school, there are careful records showing the concern to maintain the library facilities and its collection, and itemizing gifts given by its 164

The Way to Westminster ­prebendaries, including William Latimer and other of the “professors of t­ heology” helping to guide the school. 1587 marked a significant next phase in the reform and reorganization of the library, and Camden figures in the plans. The timing coincides with the recent publication and success of the Britannia (1586) and with the establishment of the Society of Antiquaries. In what would appear to be an effort to make better use of Camden’s talents, to improve the library, and to provide him with facilities conducive to his research, the chapter undertook another major restructuring of the library which included enlarging it, providing it with additional rooms, and making the second master, Camden, responsible for its maintenance.129 For 16 May 1587 the Chapter Book records a series of decrees outlining renovations for the library and changes in the acquisition and maintenance of materials, and their administration: 1. It is decreed by the Deane and Chapter … that the librarie of the College, shalbe furnished wth shelves, deskes and all thinges necessarie thereunto … 2. Item that an Inventorie shalbe taken of all the bookes perteynyng thereunto, and thre copies therof to be made … 3. Item that all such bookes, as be double or triple shalbe solde … keping the best … and the price … to be bestowed upon other bookes … 4. Item that Mr Dean [and any two prebendaries] … shall sell … and buy such … bookes … for the said librarie. 5. Item that Mr Deane, and everie prebendarie that will, shall have a key thereof. 6. Item that Mr Camden usher for the tyme present … by the appoyntment of Mr Deane, shall be keper of the said librarie, who shall have a care to kepe cleane, order, and Dispose, and safelie preserve the same, and, for his paynes there imployd, shall have yearlie xxs. 7. Item yt is decreed, that a table shalbe kept of the names of all such benefacters, as either have, or herafter shall bestow any booke upon the … librarie.130 The changes were meant to serve the students as well, particularly to make the library more central to the lives of the Queen’s Scholars. With these and other renovations and changes in the school over the next several years, ­Camden’s physical and mental energies were more clearly concentrated around the library, where he served as keeper and also met with his students. Thus, on 3 December 1591 it was 165

William Camden – A Life in Context decreed … that the old Dorter and great rome before it, shalbee converted th’one to a librarie, th’other to a schole for the Q. scollers, to be repaired and furnished to those good uses, upon contribution of such godlie disposed persons as … will contribute thereunto. And the same schole and librarie to begin in the spring. …131 The Chapter Book entries convey a clear sense of how the complex abbey infrastructure incorporated the school’s and its members’ interests in their deliberations; the school itself did not act on its own but figured as a member of the larger community. One senses that the chapter’s decisions were designed to take advantage of individual talents and opportunities in a way that is characteristic of shared-interest groups such as schools and universities. Thus, it is not surprising that the dorter and the “great rome” were spatially reconceptualized to create a library and an adjoining schoolroom for Queen’s Scholars, since both were under the supervision of Camden and he was, we can confidently assume, one of the principal users of the library’s collections. No less important, of course, is that it also makes good academic sense if you want to involve the students with library resources. At the same time, it is clear that the “keeper” of the library had very limited authority: characteristic of Westminster, he is subordinate to the dean and prebendaries and, of course, to Lord Burghley. It is not entirely clear whether what is described is the creation of a new library or the relocation or extension of the old one, but what is certain is the intention of creating dedicated space focusing on the library and the needs of the Queen’s Scholars and their instructor. The library is more clearly identified with the school than heretofore, and the new location, given the careful monitoring of the Queen’s Scholars, suggests something akin to a school within the school, with their residence, classroom, and library facilities all closely integrated. It may well be that these physical changes represent the establishment of a school library within the larger collection of the chapter library, and designed for the scholars’ needs. This would be consistent with the process of reforming the library that began the year prior to Camden’s official appointment at the school, and certainly adds to the sense that the chapter library, the school, the Queen’s Scholars, and Camden in particular are part of a carefully organized and focused institution largely under Burghley’s auspices. We recall that in the Britannia Camden described Elizabeth’s refounding of the abbey and school complex as “a Nursery of the Church” from which forty Queen’s Scholars were “sent … to the Universities, and thence transplanted into Church and State” (I, col. 385). These renovations of 166

The Way to Westminster the school are clearly part of the fulfilment of that original plan to make the school into just such a seminary. These renovations and the added responsibility and salary for Camden would have improved his situation and made it easier for him to do his research and writing and perform his academic duties. Although there is no record of the 20-shilling salary ever being paid to Camden, unless the nature of scholars has changed, he was probably delighted with the arrangement. Given his growing reputation during the 1580s and 90s, and in the absence of promotion, these changes were probably also intended to recognize his achievement. It is in this same spirit that, over the next few years, Camden was awarded additional privileges, including the lease of a small house in the close and a permanent place at the dean’s table.132 These represent significant efforts on the part of the chapter to improve the quality of Camden’s work and living environments. His small but highly desirable house in the Close, among such neighbours as Robert Cecil, John Fortescue, Lord Russell (1582 lease), and Robert Cotton, coupled with permanent board among likeminded scholars and public figures constitute an attractive pension to fall back on.

Camden and the Material of the Past: “Reges, Reginae, Nobiles, & alii in Ecclesia Collegiata B. Petri Westmonasterii Sepulti and Anglica, Normannica, Hibernica, Cambrica, a Veteribus Scripta”


hus ensconced in the heart of the Westminster community, Camden taught, collected and fostered the acquisition of books and manuscripts of historical, theological, political, and literary interest; he corresponded widely, wrote, and from this base travelled Britain with his friends and patrons. He was truly a denizen of Westminster. When Dudley Carleton wrote to John Chamberlain in 1608, telling him of his desire to move to Westminster, where the housing market was tight, he was advised to contact Camden, who “knows” about such things: “Mr. Clarentius can tell you if there be any [houses available] in the college and hath good intelligence in the town”.133 His work, be it an essay on “the Diversity of Names in this Island”, or on “Epitaphs”, or the Britannia itself, conveys an intangible sense of coming from – and speaking to a community of readers; Camden’s historical methods and the implicit questions that lie behind his work with few exceptions seem to ­ emanate 167

William Camden – A Life in Context from a feeling of shared purpose more immediate than the “nationalism” or “patriotism” that are so often seen as the shared impulse of the “historical revolution” (to use Smith Fussner’s term). Of course, Camden worked within several communities during his lifetime, including the Society of Antiquaries and the College of Arms, but the one that nurtured him and his scholarly methodologies after he left Oxford was Westminster. There are two works that are particularly expressive of the way that Camden’s scholarly and antiquarian activities reflect these intellectual and ideological concerns of the Westminster community: the Reges, Reginae, Nobiles, & alii in Ecclesia Collegiata B. Petri Westmonasterii sepulti, una cum ejusdem Ecclesiae fundatione praefixa (London, 1600, 1603, 1606) and Anglica, Normannica, Hibernica, Cambrica, a veteribus scripta (1603). Although their publication falls chronologically outside of the years at the school, they are at least in part informed by his life and work during this period, and have his characteristic self-awareness and deliberately original, or “revisionary”, cast to them. Both have enjoyed the quiet reputation of the innocuous, although we will find that they demonstrate a strategic use of form and method that is characteristic of Camden’s work. The Reges, Reginae, a guide to the collegiate church of St Peter, is very much the product of his time immersed in the abbey setting, and it bridges to his life as a herald. The small quarto is an interestingly personal document: emerging from the cool and resonant shadows of the abbey and reflecting the familiarity of a longtime resident, it breathes with a familiar’s spirit. It combines the historical methodology, the spirituality, and the sense of belonging that make it the work of William Camden of Westminster. At the same time, it illustrates family resemblances with his other work, and so stands as an important document illustrating the coherence in Camden’s personal, professional, and intellectual development. A step-by-step description of the abbey’s funeral monuments and a record of their inscriptions, the volume represents Camden’s close association with the cathedral, the sensibility of the antiquarian, and the methods of the herald making a visitation. It thus belongs equally to his life at Westminster and in the College of Arms. Sepulchral as it is, it has gone largely unnoticed by Camden scholars.134 It is, nevertheless, strikingly original and even daring in a number of ways. Disingenuous descriptions of it as a tour guide to Westminster are, ironically, on the right generic track, although the epithet is meant to be dismissive. But genres come with their own baggage, and the “tour guide” is by nature – or art – a textual or performative commentary. Since the Baedeker craze of the 168

The Way to Westminster nineteenth century we have become very aware of how guidebooks suggest value systems and help establish cultural canons. Camden’s work has an early place in a long British tradition of such work that includes Leland’s Itinerary, Thomas Churchyard’s The Worthines of Wales, and Giraldus Cambrensis’s Description and Itinerary of Wales. In their own ways, each of these exploits the dynamic and voice of the “tour guide” genre. Thus, Camden’s work cannot be described as a “first”, but its original, or perhaps more accurately, its timely and deliberate use of form is, nonetheless, striking. In it Camden puts to effective use the well-honed “new” historiographic methods that we see elsewhere in his better-known work. The generic forebears of the Reges, Reginae are highly suggestive. The classical and medieval chorographic forms that serve as Camden’s models are of two kinds: civic and religious. Both tend to emphasize the heroic and miraculous in civic and religious legend and history. The work looks back (as does the Britannia) to classical perambulations such as Pausanias’s of Greece, to historical accounts of the rise and fall of cities, such as Livy’s, and more obviously and pertinently to the popular medieval and Renaissance genre, the “encomium urbis” with its descriptions of ecclesiastical wonders, relics, ­miracles, classical ruins, and fortifications. Often written for and used by secular travellers and pilgrims, these descriptive works reflect its citizens’ civic pride in local architecture, history, piety, natural features, and other noteworthy details about the city, its buildings, and region; they are meant to be descriptively accurate so that they could be used by travellers.135 Popular descriptions of religious sites, either Christian or pagan, present the details of architectural and religious significance. Notwithstanding these generic ­cousins, the Reges, Reginae has the “modern” antiquarian’s and herald’s concern for descriptive accuracy and the preservation of facts rather than the religious pilgrim’s curiosity about relics and accounts of miracles or the pat­riot’s encomiastic zeal. In the Reges, Reginae we find an odd marriage of secular and ecclesiastical subject matter presented in a way that is both matter-of-fact and full of civic pride. This puts the work directly in the tradition of the new historical methodology that emerged earlier in the century in Italy, and for which Camden’s Britannia is so well known.136 Here, Camden transforms classical and medieval genres, weeding out elements of the miraculous and fabulous that made them marketable, and creates a useful “guidebook” providing an historical survey of a familiar local site of historic and religious interest. For Camden the topographer and historian, the abbey stands as a “living” monument, that is, one having both a past, present, and future ­history. 169

William Camden – A Life in Context Its ­architecture and ­monuments, including their epitaphs, are a cumulative and evolving witness; they not only provide an image from the past, but they speak quietly of the relation of past to present.137 However, in the Reges, Reginae Camden does not present the description within a historical narrative as Stow and he do in their other topographically informed work. Camden’s slim volume is simply a presentation of the monuments of the abbey. But like the stones of Ludgate, its monuments are not just objects from the past but identify changing relationships. Given this context, the generic origins of the Reges, Reginae, with its circuit of the church interior, are ecclesiastical and Catholic; it resembles medieval descriptions of churches and also the liturgical procession past the stations of the cross. Travellers’ accounts of their visits to churches were part of the literature of religious pilgrimage, undertaken ostensibly for healing, purification, and of course, a chance to see the world. Breathless accounts of the relics and the miracles associated with a church and its patron saint are common; indeed, the genre is sufficiently clear that we can easily see its parody in a tradition of irreverence, evident not only on a massive literary scale in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, but in a historically significant letter from Colet to Erasmus, where he debunks holy relics, church hypocrisy, and the foolish credulity that he observed on an official trip to Canterbury. The persona that Colet assumes is that of reformer and iconoclast rather than pilgrim, as he verbally destroys the imagery of the church, and scours its walls of idolatrous figures.138 And of course, the material richness of the Catholic Church, particularly the icono­ graphy of the cult of saints but including other aspects of the image-laden interiors, was anathema to the reformers and the object of numerous Hen­ rician injunctions.139 Traditionally, then, the circuit of the church interior and the preoccupation with its artefacts, images, and monuments, was associated with the Catholic rite and dogma. When in the hands of a “reformed” writer, it marks the work as “Roman”, or in later years as “Laudian”, as we see in the case of the major celebration of church monument, The Temple by the Westminster alumnus George Herbert. The appearance in 1600 of Camden’s description of the contents of Westminster Abbey must have taken away the breath of some readers. What would a good Protestant have to say about the interior of a church? The question makes us confront the ambiguity of the word “Protestant”: for the Puritan the question was rhetorical; for the “Anglican” – such as George Herbert – it was anything but that. The Puritan’s answer is “nothing”: austere white walls that turn our thoughts inward are the ideal design. Obviously this represents 170

The Way to Westminster a concept of space and decoration radically opposed to what was to be found in a Catholic church interior, where the rich architectural detail was meant to stir the meditative mind to identify with Christ. The appearance of the church interior might vary considerably from week to week as the altar, cross, and statuary, as well as the clergy themselves are arrayed differently during the liturgical year. The material fabric of the church served its healing mission – was part of the intercessory nature of spiritual good works that complemented the power of faith. In short, the physical state of a church spoke directly to central doctrinal issues. The history of changing views of church interior during the period of reform is complex, multi-layered, and much studied; as Protestant reform went through its various stages, so too did its policies on church imagery. Simple binaries will not do – one cannot speak simply of “Protestant” or the “Catholic” views of church interior decoration. As Duffy’s extensive study shows, following the Reformation not only were the interiors of churches frequently altered as official policies changed, but the views of churchmen and policy-makers became more varied, complex, and often inconsistent. Tudor policy had to travel the uneven path between popular religion and reformers’ zeal. If the ideal of the reformed church interior is a spartan austerity, it is clear that administrators in the reformed church would have to work hard to reach it, and parishioners would have to abandon time-honoured rites and customs. That did not bother the early reformers who ordered the destruction of architectural and decorative images, but it reminds us that progress to that “ideal” would necessarily be fitful and inconsistent across the land. As it had been under Henry VIII and Edward VI, so too under Elizabeth I, official policy on church images and decoration was problematic and vexed. Interestingly, church visitations from the period give us a clear statement of what one should see in an Elizabethan Protestant church, and also of what one did see. The earliest visitations of Archbishop Parker urge parishioners to note carefully and if appropriate report on details of church rite, architecture, and decoration: it is not lawfull for any perticuler churche or province to alter rites and ceremonies, to edifie or extoll any supersticiouse religion as Reliques, Pilgrimmaiges lyghtynges of candels … decking of ymages or praying in tongues not knowen rather then Englishe … The visitations were, of course, intended to ensure compliance with official church policy and to foster uniformity in the churches and among the 171

William Camden – A Life in Context ­congregation. Parker’s visitations encouraged parishioners’ active participation; the process was one of stock-taking. To this end they were enjoined, literally, to look about them, their church, to see whether you have in your parrishe churches all things necessarie … for common prayer … the homilies with the Paraphrases of Erasmus, a convenient pulpitt well placed, a comelie and decent table for the hollie communion, sett in place prescribed by the Queenes Maiesties Injunctions … And whether your Altars be taken downe, according to the commaundement … geven.140 In 1560 Parker, at no time an extremist in matters of reform, is nevertheless the voice of official policy, and his repeated request that he be informed “whether Images and all other monuments of idolatrie and supersticion be destroyed and abolished” illustrates how conscious people were of the material details of their spiritual home.141 It also indicates that many local churches continued to deck their statuary and to guard their images and monuments from destruction, although we must remember that this is still only two years since Mary’s Catholic reign.142 The visitation articles are an index of how sensitive Elizabethans, congregations, and policy-makers alike, were about their church interiors. Although it may not sound so to the modern reader, Parker’s injunctions are moderate, primarily concerned with the communion table and the removal of the altar, and leaving considerable latitude for interpretation as to what constitutes an image and monument of “idolatrie and supersticion”. The official party line that we get from Parker reveals characteristic Elizabethan ambiguity. The danger, of course, was that zealous reformers would read such directives as an invitation to wholesale defacement and looting of the former Catholic churches. Although the bishops called for the destruction of superstitious images, much of Elizabethan policy attempted to check abuses of the injunctions and to ensure moderation in their administration. In a typical act of strategically conflicting messages, two days after the Archbishop of Canterbury’s visitation articles were published (17 September 1560), Elizabeth made the first of a number of official proclamations against the defacing of monuments. Seriously qualifying the letter and intent of the visitation articles, the proclamation complicates the religious iconoclasts’ task by making distinctions between superstitious images and monuments of antiquity and “memory” that serve historical, genealogical, and patriotic interests. It prohibits “breaking or defacing of monuments of antiquitie, being set up in Churches or other 172

The Way to Westminster publique places for memory, and not for superstition”.143 The royal proclamations were clearly expressions of Elizabeth’s distaste for Puritan extremists and also of the recognition that much vandalism was performed in the name of piety, with the result that many churches were “ruinated, to thoffence of all noble and gentle heartes” and “thextinguyshyng of the honorable and good memory of sundrye vertuous and noble persons deceased”.144 History, or antiquity, became the secular protector of church imagery. Thus, Elizabeth’s proclamation limiting iconoclastic activity marks a significant change from previous policies. We can appreciate the cautious drift towards toleration and moderation in Parker’s articles when we compare it with the draconian position of Edwardian visitation articles, which sought to eradicate all “memory” of the Catholic past. They ordered churchmen to “take away, utterly extinct and destroy all shrines, covering of shrines, all tables, candlesticks, trindles or rolls of wax, pictures, paintings, and all other monuments of feigned miracles … idolatry, and superstition: so that there remain no memory of the same in walls, glass-windows, or elsewhere”.145 Seen against this extreme position, with its desire to eradicate (“extinct”) the past and to realize the goal of utter austerity, Elizabeth’s and her archbishop’s ­policies appear quite tame. Indeed, over the years Parker grew further and further away from the position of the earlier reformers, and like Burghley and Elizabeth found the Puritan contingent to be politically more problematic than the Catholic. The vexed question surrounding church decoration and imagery persisted, however, and he felt that the moderate position was losing ground. Among his very last letters is one dated 9 November 1573 addressed to Burghley, in which he laments the denuding of churches and voices an opinion quite different from that expressed in the visitation articles of 1560. Perhaps a more genuine expression of his personal feelings, or perhaps simply a view modified by age and time, his complaint reveals that the Puritan icono­ clasts were disregarding the statutes, felt themselves to be above the law in their determination to purge the churches of anything like ostentatious show, and were not confining themselves merely to religious imagery. His plaintive letter to a colleague who was also involved in the early years of zealous reform and who was increasingly criticized as being soft on Rome suggests a good deal about the distance separating the new generation of reformers and the aging moderates: The world is much given to innovations; never content to stay to live well. In London our fonts must go down, and the brazen eagles, which 173

William Camden – A Life in Context were ornaments in the chancel and made for lectures, must be molten to make pots and basins for new fonts. I do but marvel what some men mean, to gratify these puritans railing against themselves, with such alteration where order hath been taken publicly this seven years by commissioners, according to statute, that fonts should not be removed.146 Within this spectrum of public policy and popular opinion, then, Camden’s Reges, Reginae offers a bold and politically charged response to our question of what the Elizabethan Protestant might find noteworthy in a church interior. His detailed description of the effigies of kings, queens, the nobility, even monastic figures is both in line with official Elizabethan policy and an unmistakable affront to Puritan sensibilities. If the abbey interior he describes is neither a Puritan’s nor a Catholic’s ideal, it is decidedly a Protestant interior. With his potentially idolatrous eye dwelling on the vaunting effigies of the secular and spiritual proud, his “guidebook” would be offensive to the Puritan as it would not be for the Catholic – or, evidently, the “Anglican”. True to the injunctions of Elizabeth, his work serves the preservation of “monuments of antiquitie, being set up … for memory, and not for superstition” and so, strictly speaking, is unexceptionable. Unmistakable as his position is in the debate over church imagery, it is never actually articulated: he merely records and preserves. His methodology of disengagement is typical of his work generally, as is his use of the politics of place that characterizes his historiography. In the Reges, Reginae, then, although he does not engage in commentary or analysis, his use of form itself amounts to an implicit but clear statement. Something of the political and religious resonance of the work can be felt in his presentation of the monument “In Capella Sancti Nicholai” that Burghley built for his much-loved wife Mildred and daughter, Anne, Countess of Oxford: “Anna Comitisia Oxoniae filia Guilielmi Cecilii Baronis de Burghley cum matre Mildreda una sepeliuntur in sepulchro ex alabastrite magnificentissime columnis e lapide porphyritico, & Lydio in altitudinem xxiiii. pedum extructo. Quod Baro ille de Burghley summus Angliae Thesaurarius cum inscriptionibus posuit.”147 He describes them largely without comment, but in so doing, pausing over the magnificence of the classical columns and the quality of the marble, betrays his approbation. The rhetoric is that of understatement and indirection that we have seen elsewhere associated with Elizabethan policy. The Italianate monument, with its alabaster and marble, is far removed from the Puritan aesthetic of austerity, but it would go well with the “sculpture-gallery” aesthetic of the Roman church. His secular subject and 174

The Way to Westminster his unassailable silence about religious imagery, intercessory prayer, or other ­ atters of doctrine, keep Camden’s lingering gaze from being idolatrous. m Thus, the Reges, Reginae is not equidistant between Catholic and Puritan extremes. As we have seen, genre often comes with its unspoken political bias. The act of describing is itself suspect, and suggests the impious admiration of the past or, in the case of modern monuments such as that raised by Burghley, of things worldly. Camden’s style is understated and spare, but it is also detailed and concrete in its adherence to description. In the past critics have identified this “style” with objectivity, but here we can see that in embracing a form identified with descriptions of church miracles and relics his style ties him to the past, makes him a preservationist, not an iconoclast. This is the quality that Milton saw in Camden – a love of the past and a veneration of this world that inhibited the forces of change. Camden, then, eschews religious controversy, although in form his work is controversial. But Camden posits a secular and patriotic vision of the tombs of the Britain’s royalty and nobility that cuts across religious differences. Implicitly, these royal and noble men and women are the saints of the Protestant church, labourers in the fields of human history who have been put to rest in their “primitive” national church. The Reges, Reginae establishes a continuity from the abbey’s medieval, even pre-Christian origins through iconoclastic reform to its Protestant present. His rhetoric of space notes the accretions of history rather than its binaries and conflicts. Thus, he locates the present in terms of the evolution of the past: there had been a Temple of Apollo at the site of Westminster until the year 170, when the “cult” of Christianity was brought to Britain. He then records the growth of the abbey, the erection of the Chapel of Henry VII, and in the briefest way, the vicissitudes of reform – the expulsion of the abbots, the installation of a dean, then a bishop, the return to conventual status under Mary, then the reorganization of a collegiate under “Serenissima R. Elizabetha”. Camden thus presents the community of Westminster within the context of the accommodating course of time, in whose vicissitudes of religious differences, pagan, Christian, Catholic, and Protestant, are lost. He could hardly be lighter of touch in dealing with the dissolution; his style spares the sensibility of the Catholic, although he ends with the refrain of Henry VIII and the Protestant humanists: the abbey is dedicated to the glory of God, and the propagation of the true religion and the bonae litterae – that is, embracing continuity rather than disruption, and acknowledging his own and the school’s mandate.148 And although Camden does not describe 175

William Camden – A Life in Context r­ eligious imagery – most of it had been removed from Westminster – in the course of his survey he describes the effigies of the monks, and, of course, the piety of the epitaphs that he records might be construed as papistical – many of these monuments were, after all, damaged during the reform. In identifying a humanist church, with its ties to the “primitive” past, Camden implicitly judges the excesses and violence of the reformers who strove, physically and spiritually, to break from the past and “extinct” its memory. The Reges, ­Reginae, then, offers a corrective vision that posits a more tolerant Protestantism by preserving its links to the past. But the very form itself is a profound if mute statement of conviction that must have been regarded with strong feelings by many. It is with such a rhetoric of accommodation that I suspect Camden (and Burghley) brought a number of Irish families into the pews of Westminster Abbey. The Reges, Reginae bridges Camden’s life at Westminster and his new career among the heralds. Alongside it we might place his Anglica, Normannica, Hibernica, Cambrica, a veteribus scripta, a work published in Frankfurt the year of Elizabeth’s death and dedicated to Fulke Greville, who was instrumental in securing Camden’s appointment as Clarenceux five years before. Reaching back to his research for the Britannia, the volume can be viewed as a product of his labours while still at Westminster, and as reflecting the scholarship and attitudes formed under Elizabeth. A collection of historical works by Asser, Giraldus Cambrensis, and Thomas Walsingham, and the lives of Thomas More, William the Conqueror, William Gemiticensis, it represents Camden’s antiquarian and historical, rather than heraldic interests. As such, it joins the work of other antiquarian scholars who originally followed the lead of Matthew Parker and Burghley, including Laurence Nowell and William Lambarde. The collection consists of manuscripts edited from his own library that were among his primary sources for the early editions of the Britannia, and so it is the fruit of the travel, collecting, and scholarship undertaken during the years before leaving Westminster. Like the perambulation of Westminster Abbey, the collection of medieval texts scores high points for its innocuousness, but it too reveals a strong cultural and historical bias that sheds a gleam of light on Camden’s preoccupations during these years. A product of the informing impulse of the Renaissance recovery of classical authors, the preparation of “accurate” editions of rare or inedited texts is part of the early development of modern scientific scholarship that in England was exemplified by Camden’s Britannia and his Annals of Elizabeth. However, the place of the Anglica, Normannica, ­Hibernica, 176

The Way to Westminster Cambrica in this late Renaissance development is dubious – the texts not being particularly accurate or original. Although Camden was apparently printing texts from his own library, and in that sense they were “original”, the material was generally available, the oldest of it, the life of Asser, having been published by Matthew Parker himself in 1572. As the Dictionary of National Biography reports (under “Asser”), Camden perpetuates the errors in Parker’s text and, most important, he reproduces a late interpolation attributed to Henry Savile “detailing Grimbald’s mythical connection with Oxford”. The episode is one of the rare instances where Camden’s work was impugned: “The circumstances of its interpolation in Camden’s publications has naturally cast some suspicion upon his honesty in the matter”, but Gough’s dismissive and hardly impartial remarks are immediately invoked as conclusive support of Camden’s integrity: “but, as Gough says, Camden had no special reason for glorifying Oxford, and his character for truthfulness stands too high to be impeached on imperfect evidence”. Gough’s indignant defence of Camden is itself interesting for what it reveals about the perpetuation of Camden’s reputation as an intellectual Mr Clean. Considering that some of Camden’s contemporaries recognized the forgery while he either did not or chose not to identify it as such, we have to conclude that at best, in this instance, he was careless or indifferent about his text. That said, the Anglica, Normannica, Hibernica, Cambrica is, nevertheless, a good example of his generation’s interest in medieval British and Saxon, rather than classical texts. As an instance of Camden’s work as a textual editor, the Anglica, Normannica, Hibernica, Cambrica also tells us something about his sense of his own scholarly identity and professional self-construction. Editing indigenous medieval documents was still relatively uncommon; other works preserving medieval texts and celebrating vernacular history, though smaller in scale than Camden’s folio, had appeared. The surge of interest in literary national identity that gave rise to Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Drayton’s Poly-Olbion, Shakespeare’s history plays, and Camden’s own Britannia had levelled off since the 1580s but was still strong, and edited texts were appearing after the wave of imaginative work. A collection of medieval texts edited by a classicist trained in the humanist tradition, dedicated to Philip Sidney’s friend Fulke Greville, and carrying Archbishop Parker’s essay on the life of Alfred – the work reminds us of the road not taken by Camden – the road back to classical authors. Thus, the Anglica, Normannica, Hibernica, Cambrica at various points announces itself as what might be called a neo-humanist text: Camden 177

William Camden – A Life in Context r­ epeatedly places his authors among other revered writers of the past – among other “veteres scriptores” – and by extension, his work finds its place among other humanist texts. In dedicating it to Greville, Sidney’s friend and biographer, Camden uses the phrase that was the signature of reformation humanists: Ex quo bonae literae superiori saeculo refloruerunt, universa Anglia nihil magis in votis habuit, Clarissime Grevilli, quam cum plurimos protulerit ab eruditione, prudentia & iudicio instructissimos, ex iis iam tandem existeret aliquis, qui gentis Anglorum historiam integram, suisque; numeris absolutam contexeret.149 As patron and protector of the bonae litterae, Greville is placed in the august company of other Renaissance patrons of classical learning and letters; Camden and his work, of course, join the ranks of the workers and works protected and patronized. The phrase, however, is not only anachronistic in 1603, but in implicitly extending its meaning to embrace medieval documents, Camden is using it in a way very different from how John Colet would have understood it, for example. In bringing his medieval chroniclers into the context of the bonae litterae Camden subtly but effectively readjusts the humanist mandate, in much the same way that the Britannia relocates Britain within the Roman empire. Thus, just as Camden enters a cultural space left vacant with the disappearance of the courtier-scholar, so too he represents a new kind of humanist editor whose focus has changed since his predecessors in the early part of the sixteenth century and turns now more directly on vernacular, particularly Saxon language and writing. The focus has shifted, but some of the tasks and ulterior political and religious motives are much the same as they were for the Protestant reformers bent upon purging religious texts of their medieval corruptions: “… deletas, corruptas, mutatas, imperfectas, adulteratas esse”.150 Camden’s work, however, serves establishmentarian politics rather than reform – that is, the continuation of the example set by his predecessors, particularly Matthew Parker. In his dedication to Greville, Camden speaks of the difficulties in locating historical materials and the importance of the work of men like Matthew Parker and Henry Savile, who have contributed to the preservation of the nation’s history. In including Parker’s essay on Asser’s life of Ælfred, Camden endorses a significant religious and political type that was as vital for John Milton in the mid-seventeenth century as it was for Parker at the end of the sixteenth, although for different reasons. Originally Ælfred 178

The Way to Westminster represented one of the cornerstones of the primitive English church and thus provided the rationale for reform. For Camden’s generation the Saxon bishop, king, philosopher-writer, a man “in summa gratia vixisset ob pietatem & eruditionem Episcopus Schirburnensis” (“Authorum Vita”), is a cultural hero representing a political ideology more than a rationale for change. Ælfred is remarkable as a master of the arts of peace as well as of war; his humanity and learning, his service to the arts as well as to God and his people, made him an image of the pious leader rather than of the proto-reformer. Camden succeeds in assuming the dual role of Protestant nationalist and protector of monastic writings that, though often compromised by periods of superstition, bear witness to a past that was often noble. This secular rather than theological emphasis may help us understand why Milton discerned the end of the Reformation in the time of Elizabeth, when the interdependence of church and state became more important than issues of personal liberty and spirituality. Camden the antiquarian is content to leave the structures of prelacy intact. His historical characters are political rather than moral beings, as Milton’s are in “The History of Britain” and “Of Reformation”. Thus, Camden’s secular history succeeds in subsuming religious questions within the overriding issue of national unity and antiquity: whatever the primitive Catholic church was, it was English. Nationalism becomes an agent of unity, much as it did in Tudor educational policy. The predominantly secular nature of Camden’s historical collection, then, establishes the priority of political hierarchies over religious ones, and deflects attention from irresoluble religious factionalism. In this context, the activities of antiquarians in and around London and Westminster found intellectual outlets that the pervasively ecclesiastical world of the universities could not offer. Camden’s career as an educator in a school system that took shape under the protestant Tudors, in a community that fostered “modern” and vernacular studies such as national history, is thus a full-blooded heir to the Protestant humanism that preceded it. It had a mix of modernism and classicism that helped to break away from the medieval, religious education that existed at the universities; that nurtured a vernacular theatre that assimilated within it the elements of court, academic, and popular audiences; and that in other ways, as we have seen, responded to the social needs of early modern England. Curiously, then, Westminster was an agent of change – or transformation – within certain areas of social intercourse, and Camden’s talents served this function with a grace that suggests that he was in a milieu that was very comfortable for him. 179

chapter v Westminster and the Britannia


The “Britannia” and the Making of William Camden

t is at this ideologically inbred Westminster that Camden spent the   most discussed period of his life, from 1575 (aged 24) to 1592 as under-master,   and from 1593 to 1597 (aged 46) as headmaster. Prior to 1586 he cannot be described as one admired for his achievements, but as one recognized for his abilities, and these were honed through the nurturing environment of Westminster. The man and his work are expressions of this community’s ideology and camaraderie, and should not be dehistoricized by labels of their objectivity and disinterestedness, which render him invisible. The early years at Westminster show Camden moving into his cultural patrimony. During this time he began to appear periodically in print. As we have seen, these early and minor publications reveal Camden’s intellectual interests and personal ties. There are many different professional and personal currents at work during the Westminster period, so that we should not view these years solely as a footnote to the creation of the Britannia. Like any major work of the imagination – such as its contemporary, The Faerie Queene, for example – the Britannia becomes a matrix for the many different ideas and concerns, conscious and unconscious, that influence the life and work of an author. The raw material of the Britannia, its contents, its preparation, publication, revision, correction, organization, and expansion, occupied him from early on in his tenure at the school for virtually the rest of his life. But we should more properly see this as his preoccupation not with the Britannia per se – an artefact, a literary composition having a particular form – but with Britain – a fluid geopolitical entity, a mini-world defying any single mode of knowing or comprehending. It is his efforts to co-ordinate these different ontologies, in the published and unpublished materials relating to Britain, that constitute and contribute to the aura overarching all of his work. Of course, the Britannia looms large as an increasingly important focal point in his intellectual development, and it becomes the defining force in the formation of his public identity, casting him as the Foucauldian “author” 180

Westminster & the “Britannia” in the shadow of his famous work. But as Foucault urges in response to ­ arthes, it is important to assert the life and identity of the author and the B plurality of his works. In this instance, we want to avoid making Camden into the construct of the Britannia, and to get beyond the label of him as an “antiquarian” defined through a single literary project. Indeed, the term “antiquarian” needs to be freed from the anachronistic debates about genre so that we can better see how writers of the period strove to explore ideas that do not fall into conventional modes of study. To this end, it is helpful to see how the other details of his life in the chapter at Westminster provide threads that are woven into the Britannia and have an interest and importance of their own. Early on, his work and travel took shape around antiquarian interests encouraged by Burghley’s friend, Dean Gabriel Goodman. In Anthony Wood’s familiar account, by 1575 Goodman “put him upon the study of antiquities” and supplied him with books.151 Camden’s first ideas for the Britannia go back at least to the early years in London, when he met Ortelius and was encouraged by him to pursue the kind of geographical and historical study that he and other European scholars were conducting. The non-canonical study of geography and vernacular history that took place at Christ Church thus followed Camden to London as his interests became more and more widely known. Indeed, as Camden settled into his work at the school, Richard Hakluyt, who was educated at Westminster and was early on a student of geography and travel, went to Christ Church shortly before Camden left, and by 1577 was giving lectures on geography (1577–9). In 1589 Camden would write verses praising Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations. We know that in 1578 Camden travelled to Suffolk and Norfolk, and in 1582 to Suffolk, Yorkshire, and Lancashire in his research for the Britannia. Camden the late Renaissance humanist educator and classicist travelled further and further down the path of vernacular studies. The Britannia, with its chorographic and antiquarian elements, defies generic labels, and this, in fact, proves to be one of its most important qualities. It emerged from a very palpable cultural and community context as a hybrid project developed by Camden in close conjunction with his colleagues and correspondents. But it was not immediately clear what exactly it was or what it would eventually become. At its first appearance it was not very prepossessing; as F. J. Levy said forty years ago, as a “small and rather ugly octavo of around 550 pages, unillustrated, and with the type closely packed on the pages, the little volume was emphatically not one of the triumphs of Elizabethan book-making”.152 At least in its first manifestation, the ­Britannia did 181

William Camden – A Life in Context not have the appearance of a “polished” work – perhaps not even a finished work: it was a complex work made up of several different genres – choro­ graphy, geography, history, some poetry, swathes of quoted documents, and kinds of writing that would elude generic labelling. As it metamorphosed, the Britannia became the seed-bed for work associated with anthropology, archaeology, cultural studies, and folklore. Scholars have spent enormous effort in an anachronistic task of trying to pin down what the Britannia is and is not: is it history, antiquarianism, chorography; if history, is it “rhetorical” humanist history, is it the “new history” being written in Italy and France; how then does one deal with the author’s disclaimers that it is not a history? These debates remind us how undisciplined prose writing was in sixteenth-century England; for each prescriptive definition of the different genres there were numerous anomalous hybrids. Not only were the modes of historical expression fluid, permeable, and changing, but many authors recognized this condition.153 Camden, we will see, knew very well how to slide across literary kinds; knew the pitfalls of working in a particular mode; knew the freedom (and learned the dangers) of writing “outside the box”. Britannia 1586, ungainly as it was, was driven by its methodology and subject matter, not by form: “and to keep myself from Digressions, I took Pliny’s Advice, and often read the title of my book, and at the same time put the Question to myself, What it was I had undertaken?” (Preface). The work was, and would be, inconclusive; he had begun a process that would be ongoing and that, like education and learning itself, would go in unforseen directions: “Nor is he a good Teacher (says a great Man) who teaches every thing, and leaves nothing for the invention of others. A new age, a new race of men, will daily produce new Discoveries. It is enough for me, that I have broken the Ice; and I have gained my end, if I set others to work; whether to write more, or to amend what I have written” (Preface). Polymorphous as his subject matter was – the study of a geopolitical entity within multiple historical contexts – his approach to it must also be polymorphous and employ different ways and methods of knowing. The Britannia, then, is something of an “essay”, not an end in itself, but a by-product of the different kinds of antiquarian, geographical, etymological, and historical enquiries that informed the idea of “Britain”. Its 1586 edition only helped to identify the subject areas and to crystallize what was needed; it left no sense that the job was complete. The next section will explore the literary implications of the Britannia’s hybridity, but in a biographical context, the 1586 edition is an example of a work still being thought out, a work-in-progress. Its originality was such that 182

Westminster & the “Britannia” Camden was probably quite unsure what lay in store for him and the work. 1586, then, was not exactly a turning point in Camden’s career, but the first major threshold in the ongoing process of growth and learning since beginning his tenure at Westminster. Thus, while Camden’s life went on largely unchanged, he was able to broaden his understanding of his “project” and expand its scope. His travels continued unabated, as though the Britannia had not been published: in 1587, when Camden took the position of librarian for the chapter, he had already prepared the second edition, and in 1588 he travelled to Oxford and Devonshire, in part for antiquarian material – work goes on, uninterrupted by preparations for successive editions. A third edition was planned, and would appear in two years’ time, its “text” still evolving. Although the Britannia was in a way “unfinished”, Camden felt confident enough about his achievements that in 1588 he petitioned the University of Oxford for the degree of M.A. In Wood’s account of the university supplication, on 3 June 1588 “Will. Cambden bach. of arts of Ch. Ch. supplicated the … convocation, that whereas he had spent 16 years, from the time he had taken the degree of bachelor, in the study of philosophy and other liberal arts, he might be dispensed with for the reading of three solemn lectures, and so be admitted to proceed in that faculty”.154 It is not clear what is meant by the phrase “16 years … in the study of philosophy and other liberal arts”, since he left Oxford in 1571 and only began at Westminster in 1575, and as far as we know he was not engaged in formal study during those years. The reference is probably approximate, referring roughly to the time since his bachelor’s degree (for which he petitioned in 1574), and to his work as a teacher and as author of the Britannia in subject areas belonging to the liberal arts. We remember that Grant requested a similar exemption to receive his M.A. because of his teaching responsibilities. Camden’s supplication does not mention his published work or his job responsibilities, although it presumes some sort of recognition of his scholarly accomplishments. Most likely, his travel to Oxford at this time was connected to his petition to the university and his hopes for being granted the M.A. Apparently Camden’s request was granted “conditionally”, but he would have to “stand” at the next convocation. Since the university offered him the M.A. in 1613, we can assume that he failed to meet this condition. The sequence of events here continues the ongoing narrative of Camden’s frustrated ambitions at Oxford. Camden’s links with the university were numerous; from his close friends one could compose a “Who’s who” of Christ 183

William Camden – A Life in Context Church alumni, office-holders, and professors, and this makes his treatment all the more remarkable. Whose idea it was to seek the M.A. is not known, but if I read the context correctly, Camden must have been quite willing to proceed with it, and Dean Goodman, Burghley’s protégé, was willing to support it by assisting with his travel to Oxford, presumably to support his petition. Once again, Camden’s ambitions – reasonable though they were – were thwarted, perhaps through his own failure to be present at the next convocation. His request for the exemption was not unusual; others received the honour for less. Camden seems to have become embittered over academic honours and appointments, and this, of course, added to his frustration. Around this time Camden seems to have been recommended for an academic honour or post, and in a draft letter to Burghley he objects to the proposal, saying “I have discontinued from those kind of studies … wch is beset wth such a world of trouble as I canne in no wise like thereof ”.155 When the university eventually did make him an unconditional offer of the M.A. he dismissed it as no longer being of any use to him. Camden’s disappointment at Oxford in 1588, at age thirty-seven, when his reputation was in its ascendancy although not at its height, resonates like a dark leitmotif. That he applied for the degree suggests his ambitions, and perhaps a desire to be promoted out of his second mastership into a university post. At the end of his life he endowed the Camden professorship in civil history at Oxford, and so his need to make his mark at the university persisted. He does not seem to have been actively seeking other positions prior to 1588, and his antiquarian work and travel continue as usual. Shortly after this, perhaps to compensate for the Oxford disappointment, or as a means of supplementing his instructor’s salary, he was made a prebendary at Ilfracombe, Devonshire. His appointment was made at the recommendation of John Piers, sometime Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Bishop of Salisbury, advisor to the Queen, and friend of both Gabriel Goodman and Alexander Nowell. The appointment is unusual in that Camden was not in orders, and it raises the question of his view of ecclesiastical benefits such as this one. This is the only such sinecure that he held, and he retained it throughout his life, making infrequent visits to his stall at Ilfracombe. As Camden prepared for the third edition of the Britannia, he continued to travel – in 1590 to Wales with Francis Godwin of Christ Church. His young friend’s career offers an interesting contrast with Camden’s own. Godwin was eleven years Camden’s junior, had been a highly esteemed student at Oxford and commenced M.A. in 1584 – three years after receiving his B.A.; his first 184

Westminster & the “Britannia” and major literary and scholarly work, the Catalogue of Bishops, was not ­ nished until 1594, and not printed huntil 1601. He was made a prebendary fi within the cathedral church of Wells in 1586, and no sooner was his Catalogue published than he was elevated to the see of Llandaff. Compared with Camden’s, Godwin’s career appears to be a stellar success. Their companionship is suggestive in other ways as well. Both had reputations as historians and antiquarians, and in collecting data for the next expansion of the Britannia, Camden chose as his travelling companion a man having both political and scholarly interest in Wales.156 The conjunction of the two in Godwin’s case is clear enough and it sheds some light on the political implications of Camden’s work. Compared by Wood to John Selden for his historical knowledge and accuracy, Godwin used the modern historical methodology that Camden was really the first in Britain to use extensively. But the Catalogue of the Bishops of England since the first planting of Christian Religion in this Island; together with a brief History of their Lives and Memorable Actions, so near as can be gathered out of Antiquity, with its concern for authentic documents and recognition of the fallibility of our data, for all its “modern” methods, is clearly an example of polemical historical scholarship. His documentation of the primitive origins of the ecclesia anglicana was an important political tool, and its methodology was a means of legitimizing the message of episcopal hierarchy and Anglican institutionalism. The identification of prelacy as indigenous to Britain is an argument that utilizes the Welsh connection for its patriotic and historical potential. In the sixteenth century the message is an important one for the Elizabethan settlement and its stand against the Puritans, but the way in which historical method serves political ideology is precisely what drove Milton and the anti-prelatical writers of two generations later to denounce antiquarianism. But in 1601 the political balance was different, and the catalogue of the antiquity of bishops was promptly rewarded by the Queen, who nominated him for the bishopric of Llandaff in October of the same year (1601). Judging from what we have already seen of the political correctness of Camden’s friends, it is safe to say that in 1590, they were very compatible travellers who shared political views as well as academic interests. As they refined their understanding of historical methods, worked on learning Welsh, made inscriptions from local monuments, they certainly saw the large political implications behind both the Britannia and the Catalogue, although the former focuses on geography and human communities, and the latter on political institutions. Camden returned from the journey as a prebendary but not as a Master of Arts. 185

William Camden – A Life in Context The third edition of the Britannia appeared in 1590; the radically revised fourth edition appeared four years later. During that time his life at Westminster reached its peak, and we see the beginning of significant health problems that will continue for the rest of his life. In his Memorabilia for 1592 he records the onset of a “quartan ague” (“febris quartana”) and the passing of blood, and only in 1594 does he note that he is “freed of ague” (“Febre liberatus”). Between the two, he notes his promotion to headmaster. The entries in his Memorabilia are few, spare, to the point (but not therefore unambiguous), and it is difficult to conclude anything other than that the ague persisted intermittently over the two-year period. The blood obviously troubled him, but he seems not to be too alarmed, at least in comparison with his sickness of 1597 – “a most dangerous sickness” resulting in his being invalided to the house of Cuthbert Line, where he is cured by his wife. During this period Camden moved into the position of headmaster, in 1593 replacing Edward Grant, who had sought relief from his teaching duties as early as 1587. In stepping down, Grant merely changed places at the dean’s table, since he was both a prebendary and a subdean in the abbey, holding the former post since 1577. As headmaster, Camden would benefit from the increased salary, perquisites, and added dignities, although with them came greater and more demanding responsibilities as well. Probably because of protracted illness and greater demands of the school, Camden appears to have curtailed his travel and concentrated his efforts on more sedentary work, including the recasting of the Britannia (1594) for the first time in quarto form, the preparation and publication of his Greek Grammar (1595), as well as the considerable writing for the Society of Antiquaries. Although he was revising the Britannia, he, along with his peers, was also exploring new avenues of historical inquiry and new methodologies. The community of “antiquaries” began to consolidate around this core at Westminster, and he and his work were drawn further into its midst, as we see signs of a growing connection with the College of Arms. In his search for insights into British history he was drawn increasingly to material artefacts, including coins, inscriptions, and also the evidence associated with arms and genealogy. In 1596 – the year before his appointment as Clarenceux King of Arms – he travelled to Sarum, Wells, and Oxford, when, Wood relates, “he visited most, if not all, of the churches and chappels, for the copying out of the several monuments and arms in them, which were reduced by him into a book written in his own hand”.157 The increasing prominence in Camden’s study of the material objects of history coincides with his growing friendship with Robert 186

Westminster & the “Britannia” Cotton, with whom he took one of his last antiquarian journeys, travelling with him to Carlisle in 1600. The years from 1586 to Elizabeth’s death in 1603, then, are a period of intellectual growth and productivity for Camden. While much of his output consisted of “revisions” to the Britannia, the word hardly conveys the extent of his deepening understanding of the implications of his project and the reach of his associations among the international community of scholars and writers. He expanded the scope of the Britannia in ways that fed the development of new research and antiquarian methods among his peers. In its polymorphous growth, in the essays for the Society of Antiquaries, and in his engagement with the College of Arms, Camden shows the particular blend of tradition and individual talent that distinguishes his work and his professional life. All of his work at this time was firmly based in Westminster. After he was appointed Richmond Herald on 22 October 1597, and then promoted to Clarenceux King of Arms the following day, he continued to operate from Westminster, and Robert Cotton’s house and library were the centre of ­historical and antiquarian study.

1586 and the Process of Individuation


he decade following the appearance of the Britannia, with its deaths and beginnings, saw Camden into his maturity and the internalization of his character development under the influence of Elizabethan personalities and institutions. Like many having an empirical bent, Camden was superstitious; it is no accident that the work that would define him in the eyes of the world was published on his thirty-sixth birthday, 2 May 1586, and dedicated to his spiritual father, William Cecil, Lord Burghley. Although the earliest impulses giving rise to this work are submerged somewhere in Camden’s childhood, they began to crystallize at Oxford, with the encouragement of another man associated with the emergence of literary and historical genres, and also with Elizabethanism – Philip Sidney. In spite of their very different views of the relationship between historical and imaginative writing, his association with Sidney would persist – and not only through his own cultivation of it. Sidney’s death also occurs in the year of the Britannia’s first publication, marking symbolically an end to the beginning of the work, and the beginning of its transformation into something Sidney could not envision in the Apologie for Poetrie. Affirming this link and its Oxford connections, Camden’s elegy on Sidney appears in the Oxford collection, Exequiae Illustrissimi ­ Equitis, 187

William Camden – A Life in Context D. Phillipi Sidnaei, Gratissimae Memoriae ac Nomine Impensae, Oxonii 1587. But the elegy is also and at the same time subsumed into the evolving life of the Britannia, reprinted in the 1587, second edition of the work along with a prose eulogy. Camden’s elegy praises Sidney as a man of action and contemplation in whom “Ars, et Mars se mirabantur eodem” (in Johnston’s words, “The Muse and Mars marvelled at themselves in the same man”). Like many others of his generation, he saw in Sidney’s death the end of an era, the death of a paragon. Camden’s way of phrasing this, though, is to see Sidney as having achieved all that he could have in the conjunction of art and valour:  … [there is] no cause of lamentation now. Age could have added naught to his genius, power, and praise; And subsequent days could have added nothing to them. The force of nature could no further go; nor ever Was such honor domiciled in such a mind. (lines 19–22) Sidney had accomplished what, given his particular genius, he was capable of accomplishing – he was complete, as was nature in him. Camden develops his elegy around the trope of the “Naturae genius”, suggesting both the figure of nature and the “genius loci” – appropriate in several ways for both Sidney and for Camden the elegist. It acknowledges Sidney’s influential poetic, and it also prepares for his characterization as Britain’s genius loci and thus the informing spirit of Camden’s masterpiece. As he does in the Britannia itself, Camden depoliticizes the natural landscape, invoking the land itself in his final praise: “Our Britain is the glory of earth and its precious stone, / But Sidney was the precious jewel of Britain” (lines 37–8). Camden’s use in his encomium of the elegiac trope of nature perfected is striking in how it also emphasizes that Sidney too had reached his full potential – “the force of nature could no further go”. Given Sidney’s radically conservative approach to literary genres and his purist understanding of poetry, which was diametrically opposed to Camden’s, this view of Sidney’s death as marking an end of something, rather than as the loss of future possibilities is in its way appropriate, at least for Camden, who would go on to bold experiments in form. Symbolically, Sidney’s death is the threshold that enables the artistic growth of successive editions of the Britannia. In more than symbolic ways, Sidney represents a literary and cultural impulse located specifically in the Elizabethan decades from around 1570 to 1590, which gave rise to what I have called a literature of “cultural 188

Westminster & the “Britannia” self-­consciousness” – a literary corpus that Camden helped shape.158 This is the literature that works toward a national identity, often on an epic scale in examples such as Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1596), William Harrison’s Description of Britain (1577), Sidney’s Arcadia (manuscript versions in the 1580s, unfinished version published 1590), Camden’s Britannia (1586) and many others.159 As I have shown elsewhere, the Britannia not only provided a theoretical and practical model for fusing imaginative, historical, and descriptive geographical material in a single complex work, but it also cast a light ahead for further experimentation. These are the decades in which Camden was grafting new branches onto the original stalk that was the first Britannia. For Camden, Sidney’s death captures that impulse within the framework of his own biographical moment; his own identity begins to emerge more distinctly against its backdrop. As we review the transformations of the different editions of the Britannia in the context of its contemporaries, we have the palpable sense of his freedom from formal inhibitions. Paradoxically, then, not only does he join the Oxford elegists in memorializing Sidney, but his identity becomes linked with Sidney’s. Edmund Spenser, in one of his elegies on Sidney, The Ruines of Time, sees Camden and Sidney as writers who help retard the forces of mortality and oblivion. He uses Camden as the personal and literary exemplum for preserving the memory of Sidney, of Verulam, and of the national past. The nymph of Thames and Verulam, the national genius loci, laments that her past glories are all forgot, memorialized by none but Camden: But me no man bewaileth, but in game … Nor anie lives that mentioneth my name … Save one, that maugre Fortunes injurie, And times decay, and envies cruell tort, Hath writ my record in true-seeming sort. Cambden, the nourice of antiquitie, And lanterne unto late succeeding age, … Cambden, though time all Moniments obscure, Yet thy just labors ever shall endure. (lines 162–75) Spenser’s elegy is vastly more ambitious and complex than Camden’s. A study of the social role of the writer, particularly one with historical and national sensibilities, and a plea for patronage, The Ruines of Time brings Sidney and Camden together – and potentially Spenser himself, if Sidney’s sister, the Countess of Pembroke, takes the hint – as models of the author’s 189

William Camden – A Life in Context social importance. With a surprising degree of specificity, Spenser notes ­ amden’s current misfortunes, observing, in 1591, that he was the victim of C “Fortunes injurie” and “envies cruell tort”. Sidney himself, of course, would not have paired a poet and historian in this way, but Spenser is drawing on the two writers’ recognized literary and (perhaps) personal friendship to enable himself to pick up where Sidney left off. Interestingly, both he and Camden use an elegy on Sidney to signal new beginnings and to acknowledge the pastness of the past. These elegies are themselves only one indicator of ­Camden’s assumption of his own place among his peers, and of how this place is defined in terms of – or against – a past sometimes associated with Sidney and his generation. But significantly, Camden was recognized as a liminal writer, identified firmly with the Elizabethan past but seen as a potent force on the future, as we see in Joseph Hall’s encomium on Camden: One fayre Par-royall hath our Iland bred Wherof one is a live and 2 are dead Sidney ye Prince of Prose & sweet conceit Spenser of numbers & Heroic Ryme Iniurious Fate did both their lives defeate … Camden thou livest alone of all ye three For Roman stile & English historye; Englande made them thou makest Englande knowen So well art thou ye prince of all ye payre Sithence thou hast an Englande of thine owne. …160 Toward the end of these years Camden’s future and his share of the burden of the past were further secured by the legacy conferred on him by William Cecil, whose attentiveness to him intensified over time. Around 1597 Cecil urged Camden to “eternize the Memory of that Renowned Queen elizabeth”, and made him custodian of his own and the Queen’s “Rolls Memorials, and Records” of her reign.161 Camden began the task that would result in the Annals of Elizabeth but before long put it aside; it would be eighteen years before the first part saw the light of day. The conferral of these documents on Camden at the time that he departed the school for the College of Arms underscores that his separation from the school was not a radical break from Westminster. Burghley would die the following year, and Camden carried the legacy with him, executing its will faithfully and on his own terms. Camden’s interiorization of Tudor influence was all but complete, and his survival of these losses was ensured as the Annals of Elizabeth began to germinate. 190

Westminster & the “Britannia” The process of individuation is often conflicted, and when it is, it commonly involves difficult confrontations between oneself and one’s public, constructed self. Coinciding with Camden’s departure from Westminster School, the death of Burghley, his entry into the College of Arms, is Camden’s first published encounter with a bitterly satiric, corrupted version of himself as unnatural offspring of Elizabethan patronage. As we will see, paradoxically, Brooke’s assault offers perhaps the strongest affirmation of who Camden was. In 1599 Camden received his most overt and harshest published attack from within this new setting – the College of Arms. In A Discoverie of Certaine Errours … in the Britannia, Ralph Brooke, York Herald, attacked the 1594 edition for its inaccuracies, particularly in matters genealogical. At the probable time of the Discoverie’s composition, Camden was still at West­minster, and Brooke, in his politer moments, refers to his rival as “Master Camden” – ­ suggesting pejoratively his position as teacher. In this very public assault, in 1599, we see Camden no longer as the schoolmaster, but as a prominent member of an intellectual community that includes the now flourishing Society of Antiquaries and involves as well members of his Westminster coterie, most notably Robert Cotton, and certain members of the College of Arms. It is this Camden that is confronted with Brooke’s charges of professional incompetence and with bitter, condescending personal rebuke as a parasite feeding off his “betters”. We will look in detail at the literary implications of this attack. For the present, I want to present it in the biographical context of Camden’s personal and professional development during these years. Ralph Brooke was York Herald. He had originally been apprenticed to the Painters-Stainers, Camden senior’s company, but he was made free in 1576, apparently deemed unmanageable and a poor investment. His attack on Camden springs from complex and deep resentments that cannot be attributed solely to Camden’s writings. In his 1599 Discoverie of Certaine Errours, and in a second, expanded edition that remained in manuscript until 1723, Brooke constructs a comprehensive image of Camden and the Westminster community seen from an invidious “outsider’s” view. Some of Brooke’s criticisms might have been shared by others in the College of Arms. Brooke was jealous of Camden’s appointment as Clarenceux King of Arms with no previous formal training or experience, and angered by the occasional irreverent remarks about ­heralds in the ­Britannia. He presents his attack as a defence of the honourable profession of heralds, and in so doing pits them against the antiquary: 191

William Camden – A Life in Context “My humble request is, that the honorable beholders of our combat blush not … to see an English Herauld encounter with an antique Hercules”.162 In casting the “combat” in terms of the rival professions of scholar-antiquary and herald, Brooke validates the affinity between the two modes of discourse while trying to prise them apart. In his attack, he acknowledges the portrait of Camden as universally esteemed for his learning, but, he says, the “Catholicke credite of … [Camden’s] great learning” was a “clubbe to daunt the courage of unlettered Heraulds” and it drew Brooke out as their champion (Discoverie, p. 1). Brooke’s diatribes attest to the clarity with which Camden was perceived as an antiquarian, and to the seeming universality of his high regard. They also acknowledge Camden’s self-identification with Sidney, Burghley, and Elizabeth. Responding to Camden’s address “ad lectorem” in the 1600 edition of the Britannia, Brooke’s irony underscores the anomaly of the schoolmaster beloved by royalty and the powerful: Neither doe I envie at your encouragements received from that thrice Noble Sir Phillip Sidney, or the Arch-Antiquarie of our age, Abraham Ortelius, or the Oracle of wisdome (as you say) the Lo. William baron of Bourghley to be the Patron of your first fruictes. Neither that the most illustrious La. Queene Elizabeth, did by the divine beames of her Magnificence elivate you from your Inferiour Province of boy-beating, to so high an Office of a king at Armes (Second Discoverie, York’s Reply, p. 7). Brooke’s jibes convey his, and no doubts some others’ view of Camden’s extraordinary good fortune in the way of “encouragements”. He even knows of the other favours Camden received over the years, noting (not quite accurately) in the margins of the Second Discoverie (p. 7), that Burghley also secured Camden’s diet at the dean’s table, and suggesting that he also was responsible for his appointment as King of Arms and “lastly” his prebend. As he further embellishes his irony with a religious spin, Brooke gives us other glimpses of Camden’s public acclaim: Nay rather I could willingly congratulate your good fortunes in this acquaintance, encouragements, and preferments. It is not your advauncement per fattum, by the jumpe over other mens heads, that I doe envie at, miror magis, I rather wonder at it: But this indeed I miselike, that your Learning now seated a loft should growe so transcendent 192

Westminster & the “Britannia” and peremptorie, that like the Pope, it could not erre, and would not be controul’d, though it should disgrace many Discents, and cast downe many Nobles from their honours … (Second Discoverie, p. 7). The crafty Marsyas figure knows his prey well. There are no other public critiques of Camden that come close to this one, and Brooke raises several interesting and sensitive issues. Brooke puts himself in the role of the people’s champion daring to engage this “hercules”, and he does so, it is suggested, not without danger from Camden’s “friends”. Although we may view Brooke as a maverick malcontent, a number of the points he touches on are sore spots for Camden, including his position on Roman Catholicism, his own involvement in securing promotion from his superiors, the genuineness of his legendary humility, his sensitivity about his position as schoolmaster, and even the character of his prose style and his seeming élitism. Brooke’s cur-like greeting from Derby House, whatever else it does, signals Camden’s move (psychological and personal) out of the hothouse atmosphere of Westminster into the chillier arena of public life. He is presented as the misfit offspring of Elizabethanism, and Brooke writes as his generation’s self-appointed moral arbitor. By 1598, with Burghley’s death, the Westminster community lost its mentor, and Camden was left very vulnerable. While scholars have remarked on Camden’s cordiality and gift for friendship, without Brooke’s testimony we have no true measure of the cost attached to these traits. We need Brooke to help us individuate Camden from the closed circle of antiquarian study that has set the parameter of his personality and circumscribed his identity. Just as Milton’s Satan allows us to map the borders of Eden and see the vulnerabilities of Adam and Eve, so Brooke, as “adversary”, provides the perspective needed to see Camden more clearly.

The Rhetoric of the “Britannia”


aving established Camden as a product of the evolving Protestant state, and as one of the major workers in the hive created by Burghley at Westminster, I want to take a somewhat paradoxical course and examine Camden’s originality and his potent force in giving direction and form to the bonae litterae at a time of significant literary and cultural change in Britain. This will seem paradoxical to the strict cultural determinist who sees the individual as a product of socio-economic forces. Harold Bloom’s The Anxiety of Influence, on the other hand, offers a psychological paradigm for 193

William Camden – A Life in Context dealing with influence. We can bring the two paradigms together to illuminate the emergence of the individual within intellectual and material currents. If “originality” is the measure of individual achievement against the cultural grain, this does not necessarily mean that the person is working against the grain. Trying to understand a person’s life within a historical period is much like a historicized reading of a literary work: it calls for the interpretation of confluent political, material, personal, social, and structural factors that are all at work simultaneously. This is the kind of pluralistic reading that I am attempting to bring to Camden and the period of the publication and revision of the Britannia, from 1586 to 1604. Increasingly, the bridging decades before Elizabeth’s death and after James’s accession are being reassessed as the time of complex change in the political chemistry of the realm, rather than as a period of Elizabethan senescence and a Jacobean honeymoon. Cultural and intellectual historians such as Richard Hardin, Gerald MacLean, Daniel Woolf, and Richard Helgerson recognize in these years the emerging methodologies and areas of study that prepare the way intellectually and politically for the ideological conflicts and revolutionary actions that transpire a generation or two later. These are also the decades associated with the birth of the new science, the development of “modern historical methods”, and of a burgeoning print culture, to name several of the generally accepted transitions of the period.163 Of course, it is precisely these “disciplined” epistemologies and ontologies that helped to produce the change in the cultural landscape that Daniel Woolf discusses in Reading History in Early Modern England. Working in the same historical spread and with many of these ideas about end-of-century changes, another intellectual historian, T. D. Kendrick, has also described this as the “Age of Camden”, giving him credit for leading the transformation of historical method in England, and in one phrase acknow­ ledging both his originality and his influence.164 Largely through Camden’s influence and example, the relationship between the past and present began to be understood differently; documents, texts, and artefacts assumed new currency, and authors mediating between past and present, historical writers in whatever genre began to develop a new self-consciousness about the methods of understanding and interpreting the past. Spawned from this period of change that he identifies with Camden is, in Kendrick’s words, the “Great Age of the Heralds” during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Although the particular lens through which he studies the period perhaps magnifies Camden’s originality (though, I would argue, not 194

Westminster & the “Britannia” his influence), the larger implications of Kendrick’s study are significant and are echoed by many intellectual historians. Following this trajectory, Smith Fussner, in two books on historical writing in early modern England, identifies these years as a time of “historical revolution” characterized largely by “a new attitude toward historical evidence and proof ”.165 Fussner’s focus is on British historiography; the revolution he describes is the result of a number of forces, including the influence of Cotton’s library, the Society of Antiquaries, and the College of Arms, although he does not attempt to explore deeper cultural or international influences. That said, the changes that he explores are of profound significance: these changes “helped to make the study of history and antiquity a part of modern learning, analogous (in its stress on facts) to natural history and science”.166 What Bacon was trying to achieve in scientific method he and others, such as Camden, were accomplishing in historiographic scholarship. Although Fussner does not make Camden the titular leader of this revolution as Kendrick does, the author of the Annals of Elizabeth figures prominently at its centre, forging the new methodology: “Camden’s contribution to the idea of exact professional scholarship in England was immense”.167 Camden, then, marks the liminal moment in historical writing: By the time of Camden’s death the whole character of English historiography had changed. The medieval chronicle had been superseded by the modern history. Original research, especially in the public records, had become the hallmark of good historical writing.168 Not alone in this assertion, Fussner sees Camden as the first modern British historical writer, breaking away from the methodologies of his medieval predecessors: “Leland, for all his learning, was medieval; Camden, in spite of what he owed to Leland, was modern”.169 While Fussner may be – and has been – faulted for neglecting the work of Continental writers and focusing on the revolution as a British phenomenon, scholars studying the larger European context support his conclusions about a change taking place in historiography. Seen in its pan-European context, the change was more subtle and protracted, and much of the new methodology – in the use of records, of material artefacts, and philological sources – had emerged first in Italy and France. Indeed, it needs to be seen as part of the humanist recovery of the past – the rediscovery of the work and techniques of Tacitus, Polybius, and Pausanias, for example. The work of other scholars, though, helps put Fussner’s thesis in the broader context 195

William Camden – A Life in Context so that we can see that what is happening in England during these decades is part of a larger international phenomenon. Beatrice Reynolds, Eric Cochrane, George Huppert, Daniel Woolf, to name some influential scholars, fill out the picture.170 It is certainly within this international context that we need to assess Camden’s historical place. That said, he emerges as a major link to the developments taking place in Italy and France. Indeed, part of his “originality” is his studied cultivation of European models: complaining about scholars’ failure to contextualize Elizabethan historical writing, Cochrane objects, perhaps a bit exaggeratedly, that “the striking similarities between the work of William Camden and that of the Italian antiquaries of the age of Orofio Panvinio have been relegated to the realm of the wholly fortuitous”. Fussner himself extends Camden’s importance to include his role as liaison between England and the European scholarly community: describing the effect of the Britannia, he says “its success was immediate, its importance immense. It introduced English readers to some of the ideas of historical criticism found in continental, especially French, scholarship”.171 This broader contextualization of Candem’s work should encourage us to go an important step further and to emphasize that this emerging historiography should not be construed as politically disengaged or “objective” in the sense of apolitical. The rhetoric of the Britannia avoids polemics but is not apolitical. The case made by Annabel Patterson for the polyvocality of Holinshed’s Chronicles is a useful commentary on the changing historiography of the period.172 Thus, while intellectual historians set different national and chronological parameters for their study of the period, there is agreement that in the later sixteenth century (not the later seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) England experienced the kind of paradigm shift that had been occurring in Europe.173 This shift embraces what are now often viewed as rather narrow disciplines, but it is useful and, I think, important to see that the particulars of antiquarian study, of chorography and cartography, of archaeology, of the relations between literature and history, contribute to this more seismic shift of the period. With characteristic boldness of stroke, Wylie Sypher explicitly joins some of these concerns and suggests that in symptom and etiology they are part of what Herbert Butterfield identifies as the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. In “Similarities between the Scientific and the Historical Revolutions at the End of the Renaissance” Sypher explores the underlying resemblances between the movements outlined in Fussner’s and Butterfield’s studies.174 His effort to provide the big picture lends importance to the ground-level study of a man such as Camden. 196

Westminster & the “Britannia” And within this more complex tableau as well, Camden has a clear and important place, though one different from that identified by Kendrick and Fussner. In adjusting our assessment of Camden’s originality, we need not only to evaluate his contribution to these intellectual debates, but also to align this with the political and cultural currents of the time, and with his own personal development. Hence the paradox of seeing Camden as both the compliant product of a particular Tudor ethos and as a significant agent of change. The paradox is important for our future assessment. On the one hand, the principles inherent in Camden’s methodology are built on a premise of healthy scepticism that enables cultural redefinition; the process once set in motion, though, is the one that, in the political sphere, clears the way for the kind of radical logic that makes sense of the charge of treason against King Charles – something probably unthinkable for Camden. From another perspective Camden shows us how the force of the individual imagination is ultimately more powerful than the entrenched but inanimate institutions in which one lives and works; or, relatedly, how genres and forms are transformed from within by the writers who use them. However we explain this process by which the individual is both the creation of his or her environment and yet an agent in its metamorphosis, it stands as an important paradox at the heart of Camden’s career – he was a man who assisted in the consolidation of already entrenched political power (Burghley’s) and who also helped to destabilize and transform the institutions through which he worked and found self-­definition. It is, then, in this way that Camden, in his work and life, provides a uniquely clear beacon lighting the way for changes to come. For this reason, a study of William Camden enables us to find effective ways to deal with questions about the processes of change. Such questions were rife in the period. The possibility of change itself was challenged philosophically and theologically; change in the political arena was a particularly vexed concept. Its desirability, its means, and its legitimacy were argued with increasing frequency and immediacy during these and subsequent years, and was a major preoccupation for such seminal writers as Spenser, Shakespeare, Hobbes, and Milton. Much of Camden’s work is about change observed through history, and about the uncertainty that makes change (or “mutability”, to use a sixteenth-century idiom) seem dangerous and threatening. “Innovation” had powerfully negative connotations, and Shakespeare’s history plays present a panoramic exploration of the means and implications of political change. In some ways, change is the subject matter for the historian, and, of course, the search for precedents (the common pastime for Tudor 197

William Camden – A Life in Context ­historians) can be an exercise in minimizing or retarding change, or in fostering and justifying it. Camden, a man content with little power but a fair bit of stability, was deeply interested in the forces of change – in social structures and institutions, language, historical knowledge, power. It is surprising but not inappropriate, then, that Camden’s work becomes a source of restructuring. Complemented by his own personality and his place at Westminster, his work and its influence contributed to the formation of a generation of reorganization, consolidation, redefinition, which was succeeded by a further generation of even more radical change and destabilization. This is not quite what Kendrick had in mind when he called this the age of Camden, but is it so surprising? How unlikely it is that an era should be named after a man such as Camden – and yet how right! It is this sort of paradox that makes Camden and his work such a useful window to his age. The Camden that emerges from these contexts – witty and capable of being domineering, at ease with men of all ranks, as much involved in current affairs as in things past, a “trouble-shooter” able to help with the reorganization and co-ordinating of affairs, and deeply involved in history of all sorts – is a more nuanced figure than he is usually depicted as being. To appreciate his influence with contemporaries we need to avoid the character portraits of the humourous “antiquary”, although in Camden’s case, it is not always easy to do so. Described affectionately by the French diplomat Barnaby Brisson as a man immersed in the gloomy and dusty world of the scholar (“umbraticus vir & pulvere Scholastico obsitus”), he would seem to be qualify for the satiric portrait that Sidney paints of the historian: “loden with old Mouse-eaten records” and a “tyrant in table talke”.175 As I have shown elsewhere, many of the stereotypes for the antiquarian come from after Camden’s time. But the comic figure lured from reality by nostalgia for bygone times, prone to neglect his appearance, personal hygiene, and good manners in his preoccupation with relics of the past, was a classical one waiting to be rediscovered along with other stock figures. Satire of historians and antiquarians is a way of mocking the pathology of overvaluing the past at the expense of self, and so it is useful to ask whether or not such stereotypes apply in Camden’s case. I would suggest that the fastidious Camden was in no danger of neglecting himself, his appearances, or manners, behind a defensive covering of the past; further, as the author of the Britannia – not exactly a historian, an antiquarian, or a poet – Camden presents himself and his work with a sense of professional identity and methodology that is both elusive and strongly independent. 198

Westminster & the “Britannia” Clues to these dimensions of the man emerge in the very considered ­language that Camden uses when speaking of himself, particularly in his prefatory address. Camden tells his readers that he was smitten by the love of antiquities even as a young boy, before he got into the hands of sympathetic teachers, patrons, and scholars. Camden portrays himself as a youthful, civicminded enthusiast for antiquities rather than as a preoccupied denizen of the repositories of the past. The encouragement and in time the deference given to him by elder scholars established in the world of affairs, combined with his own self-effacing manner give us the picture of a man being groomed for a position of respect and refinement, not of an idiosyncratic collector trudging through the northern bogs. Camden did his share of “field-work” and spent much time with decaying documents, but the nationally and internationally respected scholars who were referred to Camden found an urbane classically educated, politically astute young man able to command the respect of a cosmopolitan community. We should note the importance that Camden placed, throughout his life but notably in his first edition of the Britannia, on the support of the Dutch geographer Ortelius, whom he met during the latter’s visit to London in 1577. Ortelius was a geographer, not an antiquarian, and Camden’s identification of his mission with a man of such esteem in the courts of Europe serves to set the tone of his work in important ways. In particular, however, it apprizes the reader straight away that this is not an incursion into the past, but a matter of bringing the reader up to date with Great Britain: a historical description of Britain not a history of Britain. It is in terms of the geographer’s exhortation that Camden, in his preface, very precisely defines his task: The great Restorer of old Geography, Abraham Ortelius … [who] did very earnestly sollicit me to acquaint the World with the ancient State of Britain … to restore Britain to Antiquity, and Antiquity to Britain; to renew what was old, illustrate what was obscure, and settle what was doubtful; and upon the whole, to recover (as much as possible) a ­ Certainty in our Affairs which either the carelessness of Writers, or ­credulity of Readers has bereft us of. This is a view of the present state of Britain as a nation with a classical past. Camden’s strategy in the Britannia is to engage his readers with the past by “acquainting” them with a Britain whose richness is unfamiliar to them and is still being discovered, and by sifting through the facts and fictions about Britain’s history. His words speak frankly of the presentness of the past, and 199

William Camden – A Life in Context the desire to revitalize it, much as modern promotional literature packages the past for today’s traveller. Camden was clearly very aware that the modern geographer Ortelius was his best character reference. Thanks to his interest, Camden’s antiquarian labours were recognized as something important within the world of current European affairs, and not as a history per se. Camden’s rhetorical stance is always self-deprecating, readily denying literary ambitions, although he also readily defends his enterprise in terms of public intellectuals of national and international renown. Similarly, in their turn men such as Burghley, William Lambarde, Mercator, Brisson, and others – men of affairs – singled out the young Camden and his work as worthy of note even before the appearance of the Britannia. This portrait of Camden and his preoccupation with antiquities gives us a different kind of antiquarian than the one found in the satiric work of later decades, such as that of Shakerly Marmion’s play The Antiquarian. Especially in the Britannia, but present in different degrees in all of Camden’s work, is a rhetoric of self-effacement, a kind of extended aporia that pervades the work and removes the self from the text; the technique is a mode of self-deprecation that characterizes sprezzatura. In his preface, unassertive, pretending to no certain knowledge of the past, he writes in spite of himself, at the exhortation of the great and respected men of his age and out of the love that he bears his country. With frequent use of chiasmus to efface himself while affirming his mission, he sees his task as formidable, even impossible: “Yet, as the difficulty of the design discouraged me on one side, so the honour of my native Country encouraged me on the other”. Fearful because of his own deficiencies yet selfless in his duty to his country, he evinces both the pietas and the virtu that, harmonized, act as the twin engines driving the Renaissance individual: while I dreaded the Task, and yet could not decline doing what I was able for the honour of my Country, I found the greatest Countrarieties, Fear and Courage (which I thought could never have met in any one man) united in my own Breast. However, depending upon the Blessing of God, and my own Industry, I set about the Work, and gave all my spare hours, with the utmost attention and resolution, wholly to it. It is this work borne of selfless duty that he commits to the “Generous and candid Souls” who can appreciate and value it: “As for me and my Works, I humbly submit them with the greatest deference to Men of Virtue and 200

Westminster & the “Britannia” Learning, who, if they do not approve, will, I hope pardon, what I have here attempted, out of most zealous Affection to my Native Country”. Camden’s use of the humility topos is part of his own self-representation, and it also serves the work’s particular epistemology. The strategy of self-definition through self-denial – a structured use of litotes – is central to his sense of himself and his project. Too much the etymologist and philologist to be pinned down by names, he is careful to avoid generic labels such as historian, antiquarian, or even etymologist. Like the unassuming, unjudging, usually silent characters sometimes found at the centre of a Jonson play, Camden has learned the language of those who disclaim authority and withhold judgement. Self-denial is the rhetoric of his preface: denial of literary genre and stylistic pretension, of certain knowledge in matters of historical learning, denial of political motives and professional and social ambitions. The language of self-effacement begins with particular subjects and broadens to a more universal doubt: I have been very wary in my conjectures about the Etymology of Britain, and its first Inhabitants: nor have I positively asserted any thing that admits a doubt; for I know the originals of Countries are obscure, and altogether uncertain; and, like objects at a great distance, scarce visible. In the course of his preface Camden registers his apologia in virtually every area of the liberal arts, including mathematics, rhetoric, astronomy, law, ­medicine. For example, to the mathematicians who will “lay to my charge the palpable Mistakes I have committed in stating the Degrees of Longitude and Latitude”, he says “spare me a little”. He has collated the appropriate tables “new and old, printed and Manuscript”; but “all differ … and agree no where. What therefore could I do?” Fallibility, ignorance in spite of – even because of historical documents – inspires his ready abdication of authority. His rhetoric allows for a free-fall into incertitude. The Britannia is built on a foundation of scepticism and doubt. The preface is an extended litotes – a disclaimer out of which grows the work as a whole. The author, in the face of doubt and uncertainty, confronts his task with humility. All aspects of the work are contingent, from its genre, to its methods, to its tentative “conclusions”: “nor have I positively asserted any thing that admits a doubt”. From this scepticism comes Camden’s definition of his method. Again like a Jonson character, he defines himself (and so his methodology) in terms of action; of what he “does”, not what he pretends to be. Complementing his disclaimers are his statements of what he has 201

William Camden – A Life in Context done to dispel or minimize error. Process replaces certainty; verbs of action emerge from conditional constructions. Though the “originals of Countries are obscure, and altogether uncertain” he has “traced the ancient Divisions of Britain” and has “settled the bounds of each County (though not to an Inch) …”. His work will stand on what he has done, not what he has claimed: “Yet this I must say for myself, that I have neglected nothing that could give any considerable light towards the discovery of Truth in matters of Antiquity” – and he goes on to list the steps he has taken to shore up conjecture. In textual matters, his method is to adhere as closely as possible to primary sources, contemporary evidence, and direct observation, and to allow source material to speak for itself: “I have examined the publick records of the Kingdom, Ecclesiastical Registers and Libraries, and the Acts, Monuments, and Memorials of Churches and Cities … I have … cited them as I had occasion, in their own words … that by such unquestionable evidences justice might be done to Truth”. With a scepticism similar to his younger contemporary, Francis Bacon, Camden too advances his learning cautiously, working from empirical data to conjectural assertion – “conjecture” is a critical term in Camden’s methodology. Acknowledging the need to work with a balance of evidence and faith in the face of uncertainty, Camden defends his method, saying that those who will utterly exclude conjecture, I fear, will exclude the greatest part of polite Learning, and, in that, of human Knowledge; the mind of man being so shallow, that we are forced to trace many things in all Sciences by conjecture … And since Conjectures are the signs and tokens of somewhat that lies hid, and are … the directors of Reason to find the truth, I always accounted them a kind of Engines with which Time draws up Truth from the bottom of Democritus’s Well. Thus, from this encompassing “recusatio”, Camden deconstructs all generic and epistemological bases for critiquing his work and allows it to stand hybrid on a foundation composed of the shards of history. Contrary to the usual characterization of Camden as not theoretically inclined, the preface propounds a carefully developed epistemology that informs his historical method. It emerges from his self-erasure; from the still point of humility and un-knowing he moves through affirmative steps toward the material basis for positing conjectures or assertions – about language, customs, political structures, effectively about life and the condition of our understanding. In this he is truly a character in the spirit of Jonson’s epigrams 202

Westminster & the “Britannia” and plays, identified by his life and deeds, not by rumour or fama. From this core, Camden remains transparent while the Britannia, multi-­faceted as it is, defines itself sui generis. In its denial of preconceived truths and its reservations about how much empirical data can tell us about divine order and purpose, Camden’s scepticism is as far-reaching as Francis Bacon’s was. This overarching methodology grows from Camden’s sense of himself and his relationship to his diverse learning, and is not simply an elaborate amplification of the topoi of humility and inexpressability common to prefatory and occasional writing. It reflects, among other things, Camden’s sense of the methodological and ontological problems of history writing, a controversial topic that engaged both him and Sidney. He seems to have been genuinely uncomfortable with the role of historian – a role that he evidently aspired to in his headstrong youth when (he tells us in his preface) he hoped to write a full-blown history of Britain, only to abandon it as an impossible task. In its stead, we have the Britannia, a work conceived as an alternative to “history”. His reservations were as deeply felt as they were fully thought out. The historian was placed in a position of authority that Camden was unwilling to assume; that person must make assumptions and assertions which, even if they are based on facts rather than the “notable foundation of Heare-say”, they still cannot be taken as incontrovertible.176 Camden stood with genuine humility before the fragments of empirical evidence; he stood in silence, however, and with frank distrust, before the monumental figure of History. In this he too makes the kinds of distinctions made by Ramus. He recognized Clio as a sister of Rhetoric, a literary genre; but the written record of events, the data of human experience are for him more eloquent witnesses of the work of Time, although they do not automatically open up the portals of understanding. Realizing that knowledge and faith are inseparable companions, he saw both the limits of the gatherer of data and archives, and the presumption of the historian playing high priest to Clio. In this, he positions himself carefully within the debates about the status of history, poetry, and philosophy that were current at the time. He separates himself from what later scholars called “humanist historians”, and also from the new historians who Sidney sees as “beeing captived to the trueth of a foolish world”, tied to the “particuler truth of things”.177 Where Sidney sees a dialogic polarity between these modes of knowing, Camden sees a fluid process and circumnavigates the concept of disciplinary “methods” that either elude fact or presume to make knowledge absolute. His disclaimer that the Britannia is not a history, then, is not a rhetorical 203

William Camden – A Life in Context trope but an important assertion driven by a well-conceived theory. Throughout his career he preferred the humility of the acolyte, a handmaiden to truth, to the prouder titles of poet or historian: though “but a smatterer in ­Antiquities” and perhaps “imprudent” to have “ventured upon the Stage of this learned Age”, he has gathered the “infallible Testimonies” of the past that “justice might be done to Truth”. A gatherer and recorder, he (again like a Jonson character) stops short of assuming the role of justicer or interpreter, and pretends to nothing: “Neither have I affected to be thought knowing in any respect, unless it be that I am desirous to know. I frankly own my ignorance, and am sensible that I may oft-times have been mistaken; nor will I patronize my own mistakes”. As George Herbert does in his devotional verse, Camden attempts to destroy the ego that makes authorship an assault on the true authority of human history; his humanity injects fallibility into the infallibility of fact. Conscious of the historian’s sins of omission and of commission, he expresses his willingness to correct errors with a liturgical lilt that enters the Latin as well as the translation: “and if they will inform me of any mistake, I will thankfully amend it: what I have omitted, I will add, what I have not sufficiently explained, I will explain better, when I am better informed”. This acknowledgement of his own fallibility – which was put to the test in Ralph Brooke’s attack, consigns the Britannia to being an ongoing work-in-progress, constantly under revision. And so it was, as it was revised, corrected, and expanded during his lifetime and in succeeding centuries. While we can hardly doubt that these expressions are genuine, we should also recognize that they are the words of a man painfully aware of the political minefields he traversed. At Oxford Camden learned the dangers of partisanship; in later decades, as a freelance writer, he carefully preserved his image of autonomy and mastered the art of self-erasure. But we would do serious disservice to the man and his age if we did not also see this self-proclaimed, self-fashioned role as part of his own metaphysic: as an expression of a spiritual person’s sense of self, forging a new kind of vocation, and in search of truth and certainty in the incomprehensible, mutable materia of human experience.

The “Britannia” and the Future of the Past


he language of Camden’s preface calls attention to the changes that are occurring in historiographical study during these decades. The ­Britannia was a national process undertaken not only by the author himself, but by 204

Westminster & the “Britannia” all those actively involved in, or even just interested in the study, recovery, preservation, or mere examination of national antiquities. Information was welcomed, wherever it came from – member of the Society of Antiquaries, scholar, or rank amateur; Camden received it and commonly absorbed what was accurate and “to the purpose” into the evolving fabric of his text. Like Britain itself, the Britannia is a palimpsest to be written and over-written as new material comes in and new layers to the work emerge. On Christmas Day 1589 John Savile, having had a chance to look over his copy of the 1587 edition, writes Camden: “So soon as I had leisure, I thought good to advertise you of certain things concerning your future (if not finished) Edition of your particular Description of this Realm, in which I refer my self to the pages of your last Edition.”178 What follows is a long list of detailed notes, observations, and corrections about topographical details and local history to correct or be added to the 1590 edition. In his travels Camden consulted numerous locals about antiquities, regional lore, linguistic matters, and incited their interest in their environment and its history and terrain. As it had for more professionally trained antiquarians and historians, this engagement of the citizenry also empowered them and gave them something newly valued. For them, as for John Savile and indeed for many antiquarians and historians, interest in the materium of the past was not a matter of genre; in many respects the Britannia was not a literary text for its admirers, it was the Renaissance version of a list serve or chat room. Camden received notes from across the country from acquaintances and strangers who felt that they had information that would be of interest and use to him and to fellow readers; in the process they appropriated the text and interpreted it as a shareholder in the enterprise. An Appleby school teacher named Bainbrigg writes to Camden in 1600, “I can not finde wordes to expresse my love towardes you who take suche paines, that our Countrie maie lyve for er … If ther be anie antiquities here in this country I will send them”. His words, “our Countrie”, state clearly how Camden’s Britain was regarded as common property, and how its antiquities enfranchised people across different social strata. Ready to assist with the collection of artefacts, he has understood Camden’s methodology and his criterion for originality: he assures his master that he “goes by no hearsaies, but by ancient records” alone. With all the good will of a Dogberry, an Elbow, or a Bottom, and with a touch of Holofernes’s pride, Bainbrigg is not timid or without confidence; certain that he can be of mighty use in surveying the northern regions, he reassures Camden that “he should not need to trouble himself anie more for the picts wall”.179 Posthumous editions 205

William Camden – A Life in Context of the Britiannia developed in much the same way, if more systematically, as we see from a glance at Gibson’s text, in which regional and area specialists’ suggestions are added in brackets to Camden’s text; Britain has appropriated the literary Britannia. The absence of closure for the Britannia is a sign of its vitality amid the changes of the times. The participatory process that engages Savile, Bainbrigg, as well as Cotton and Lambarde, inter alia, reflects the emergence of historical materials, written and physical, as having a popular currency beyond the utility that they had for politically astute “collectors” such as Matthew Parker and William Cecil. While Camden’s work and influence mark a greater professionalization in methodology that led to more specialized study, such as we will see in the essays by the members of the Society of Antiquaries, it also helped spawn amateurs like Bainbrigg. However, it must be underscored that more professionalized methods do not translate into “more professionals”; all the members of the Society of Antiquaries are amateurs different from Bainbrigg only in their greater education and their urban coterie. During the “age of Camden” he presides over a period of emerging popular interest and increased skills, but it is the “age of heralds” in the next century that will see the development of a professional class. As men and women develop interests in inscriptions, ruins, manuscripts, antique languages, the work changes accordingly; it contains all these “things” and is no single thing, and this allows Camden to be reinvented by his community of readers. It is this quality that ensures a life and future to Camden’s view of history, in contrast with Sidney’s morbid view of the study of the past as doomed to dark rooms and solitary confinement. His absolutist view of history, as confined to “old Mouse-eaten records”, and of historians, as “captived to the trueth of a foolish world”, is clearly not compatible with a constructionist view of the past that is also “accessible” to the common reader. Transcendent value, not market-driven value is what Sidney looks for, and it disenfranchises the amateur “smatterer in antiquities” (as Camden called himself ) and enervates the professional historian. Such a view of history as a genre or an activity was moribund and had no future; Camden’s, however, gave it over to the people and laid no claim to its final “meaning”. This commodification of history partakes of Camden’s constructed self, and so it also partakes of the more complicated social changes of these decades. It is the product of the success of previous generations of ideologically driven “collectors”. Material history at the time of the Reformation, was not a “popular” commodity in this way; it was a weapon or, less pugnaciously, a 206

Westminster & the “Britannia” tool. Its currency was largely confined to the community of the aristocratic or wealthy and powerful, and not even universally valued in those circles – a position like Sidney’s devalued material history, although it saw its uses. For the humanists it provided access to classical values, and in England, for the humanist reformer, it did double duty by also serving Reformation ideology. In the first instance, it was a means to gentility, such as Richard Pace recommends; in the second, it is a tool of reform ideology and the christening of Britain as a Protestant nation. While “material history” could be collected, when it was, it was collected in order to be used, not because it had inherent interest or value of its own. This is not to say that books, manuscripts, coins, and such materials did not have an emotional or affective dimension for individual owners, but that they were regarded first of all as of particular use and they had little socially recognized valuation. William Cecil and Matthew Parker are good examples of this sense of the past. Burghley in particular was an inveterate “collector” praised by Camden for his love of antiquity, and he systematically used his position to acquire libraries from dissolved houses or sequestered collections of recusant priests. He and Matthew Parker, under the pretext of collecting national archives, gathered Catholic libraries, ancient artefacts, coins, and other objects that contributed to the arsenal serving their religious and political cause.180 That Burghley’s “love” of antiquity frequently focused on monastic and recusant collections illustrates one of the political strategies of early “antiquarianism”. Estates like Tunstall’s were sequestered in the interest of national security and confiscated for the crown by the Privy Council. What was confiscated for political reasons was often redistributed to “collectors” for their “antiquarian” (as opposed to political) interest. Thus, antiquarianism and the emerging taste for private “cabinets” and libraries in the middle of the sixteenth century was a way to launder politically sensitive material, and to legitimize acquisition in the name of national interest. Collecting of books and curios from the past becomes a way of converting goods from political to private status, where they could continue to be used for ideological purposes. The much discussed “discovery of Britain” and the interest in antiquarian material that coincides with these years is part of the political and religious reform of the period and is conducted by small numbers in the upper reaches of society. Camden’s most immediate forebear in the field, John Leland, is, of course, the prime example of this. Identifying himself as the “royal antiquary”, the scholar-collector was also a Protestant zealot and apologist whose pursuits as an antiquarian fell in line with broader political ideologies at the national level. Leland, with his 207

William Camden – A Life in Context description of the post-Dissolution landscape and his inventory of its monastic libraries, prepared as a gift for Henry VIII, is one example of sixteenthcentury English antiquarian impulse. In the hands of the next generation, led by Burghley and Parker, this impulse gained focus and purposefulness as they inaugurated the age of collecting from the platform of Reformation ideology. By Camden’s time the ideology remained largely the same, but the politics and the social dynamic had changed. This political dimension of antiquarian activity certainly did not disappear. But we have seen the changing political context of late Elizabethan England. The justification and establishment of the Protestant state were no longer the centre of controversy. Rather, its stabilization, through unity and uniformity, in the face of factionalism, moved to centre stage. Camden’s methodologies appropriated the pluralism that was emerging during these decades and redirected it toward a popular nationalism that could also find expression in regional identity through individuals such as Bainbrigg. In this way, then, Camden is a product of change and an agent transforming the process of change. His work is radically different from Leland’s, for example, not only in its more discursive approach to the topography, but more conspicuously, in its absence of religious and ideological rhetoric and design. Similarly, his library did not take shape as a research tool for Reformation polemics, as Parker’s and Burghley’s did. Indeed, Cotton’s potent library too was more secular in nature, and although it was turned to virtually every possible polemical use by those to whom he opened it, it was utilized for political more than religious debate.181 While there is no question that Camden was of the Lord Chancellor’s party, what he gave his readers was a work having a variety of regional and national interests, with materials that were diverse in nature but that were held together by the evolving shape and composition of Britain itself. With the Britannia’s six Latin editions and one English translation, Camden had a very large and diverse readership who could participate in different ways in the national enterprise. Born of the ideology that educated and supported Camden, the Britannia participated in the birth of popular culture.

Camden and the Trajectory of Historical Writing: the Mixing of Genres


he Britannia’s hybridity helped to inspire the creation of other works with historical content but of mixed or uncertain literary form. The burgeoning of literary expression of many different sorts, historical, figurative, 208

Westminster & the “Britannia” allegorical, divine, is a large part of what the Renaissance is all about. In the later part of the English Renaissance, from 1575 and onward, when native voices and forms start to emerge, there is a tension between the pressures of generic convention and the need for innovation and experimentation.182 This creative imbalance is everywhere evident in the writing of the period, and it often helps to define a work’s central themes: Spenser’s The Shepheardes Calender and The Faerie Queene, Sidney’s Arcadia, Drayton’s Heroical Epistles, Shakespeare’s history plays all evidence this paradigm shift, and have been studied in terms of their break from, or continuation of past traditions. The decades that saw the creation and revision of Camden’s Britannia, then, were also a time of fertile and vigorous cross-genre invention and debate. We have already had some discussion of Sidney’s place in the theoretical attack on historians and the status of historical writing, but his Apologie for Poetrie, of course, casts its advocacy for poetry in much larger terms. Long recognized as the most important humanist statement in England for the power and importance of poetry and the poetic imagination, the Apologie, written about 1579, is itself a result of the “genre-bending” of these decades – in particular, it is an attack on generic mutation that seems to challenge poetry’s potential for transcendence. Regardless of his stand on the issues, Sidney, better than anyone of Camden’s generation, articulates the literary debates out of which the Britannia emerged in 1586, and for our purposes the important role that historical writing plays in them. Modern historians have expended considerable energy trying to make clear demarcations between the different kinds of historical writing. The reality is, however, that there was no strict sense of historical genres during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and where authors saw clarity of historical kinds, they used it to mingle forms. Thomas Nashe’s wry remark about contemporary efforts to locate works within distinct categories is testimony to the extent of the debate and the certainty of its futility: “I can but pittie their folly, who are so curious in fables, and excruciate themselves about impertinent questions as … whether Lucan is to be reckoned amongst the Poets or Historiographers”.183 During these years there was a sense of freedom that encouraged authors to experiment in new forms and in mixed-genre writing. There was a remarkable proliferation of writing that interested itself in historical content but that could not reasonably be called a “history” or even an “antiquarian” work. Notwithstanding Sidney’s intransigence, as Nashe’s mockery makes clear, the trajectory of the time favoured mixed forms, particularly historical verse of different sorts. The amount of serious imaginative writing in verse that 209

William Camden – A Life in Context encroaches on history supports George Puttenham’s view that “Poesie historical is of all other next the divine most honorable and worthy”.184 Writing in 1589, a decade after the composition of the Apologie for Poetrie but six years before its publication, Puttenham represents the reality of what was happening among English writers. Imaginative representations of Britain and aspects of its factual and/or mythical history were the stuff of poetry verging on the divine. This popularity, coming at a time of the proliferation of publishing, also participated in the spread of historical material through popular culture. No one during these decades contributed more positively to the spirit of imaginative and creative figuration of Britain than Camden. As an artist and as a person, Camden was pragmatic and saw the necessity of flexibility in literary form as well as in life. Camden was a friend of poetry and poets. His respect for the importance of poetry and the imagination in the shaping of society and culture is everywhere present in his work, and most emphatically in his preservation of medieval poetry in the Remains. Receiving praise for his own verse, he worked well with poets, and won their admiration and respect, as we see in encomia from Spenser, the poet-musician Thomas Campion, and the Anglo-Catholic Ben Jonson, to name only three. In many cases he also inspired their emulation or otherwise influenced their work, as in the case of Daniel, Drayton, and William Browne, for example. These peers recognize Camden as a fellow writer; not as a historian but as one working in different genres and, most important, as the cultural landscapist who has painted Britain’s literary portrait. Historically Camden figures at the centre of the discussions of genre, both by virtue of his literary connection with Sidney, Spenser, and other writers, and of his practice in the Britannia; his influence and example weighed heavily in support of historical poetry. Sidney’s Apologie for Poetrie, Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, and Camden’s Britannia, all essentially contemporaries in their period of gestation and early circulation (from the mid-1570s to the mid1580s, with an afterlife through the 1590s), have at their generic and thematic core the same crux of the relation between history and poetry, historical and imaginative verity. If we add Sidney’s Arcadia to the titles, all three authors deal with the problem within the specific context of a massive experiment in national literary self-portraiture. These three enormously influential works, the Britannia, the Arcadia, and The Faerie Queene, embody their authors’ different views on the proper chemical balance of mythopoeic and historical truth within the context of a large-scale national image. Once we identify these works as (among other things) responses to the same set of literary and, 210

Westminster & the “Britannia” more broadly, intellectual and political forces coming from the same critical decades, we begin to see the Britannia in its proper context. Only then can we appreciate the stunning originality of form and thought that paved the way for future generations of writers working in different and mixed genres. While Sidney predictably turns away from verisimilar and historical elements in the Arcadia, Spenser, like Camden, embraces the potential for historical verse. Unlike Sidney, they deal directly with the epistemological and ontological problems facing post-Reformation Protestant patriots whose mythology envelops the images of the Virgin Queen, Brutus, Arthur, and an imagined Arcadian reality, but whose modernity, under the multiple influences of European historians and Ramist rhetoricians, had begun to unravel the threads of philosophy and rhetoric, history and myth. Spenser, Sidney, and Camden were raised in the same nursery where they fed on the same Neoplatonic fare; together they learned to use the rhetoric of poetry to breathe life into the inert matter of history. However, when it came to matters having to do with “poets-historical”, they relate differently to the hyphen; for Spenser it brings poet and historian together, so that the golden threads of poetry are woven together with the cambric of history to make the veil of allegory. For Sidney the hyphen holds the poet and historian apart, so that on opposite ends of the pole, the poet rises, ensuring the decline of the historian. Spenser’s engagement of the theoretical and formal issues of writing across genres shows an awareness of the historiographer’s craft that reflects his familiarity with Camden and his circle. In his Letter to Ralegh, Spenser, following the “antique Poets historicall”, explores generic distinctions to find ways in which poet and historian serve one another. The historiographer “discourseth of affayres orderly as they were donne, accounting as well the times as the actions”. True to the emerging new conception of the historian, Spenser’s historiographer must find the causes and origins of events and their true trajectories; the poet-historical, on the other hand, has the role of the prophet and “thrusteth into the middest, even where it most concerneth him, and there recoursing to the thinges forepaste, and divining of thinges to come, maketh a pleasing Analysis of all”. For Spenser, Camden exemplifies the ways in which the historian and poet come together; the modern historian who has “writ” history’s “record in true-seeming sort” becomes for the poet-prophet the “lanterne unto late succeeding age”, as Spenser suggests in The Ruines of Time (line 168); there, Camden himself is half poet, half historian – the two work harmoniously for the same cause. The early modern Protestant historian’s scientific method, free of the rhetoric obscuring the past, provides 211

William Camden – A Life in Context the material analysed by the poet in his effort to mould good Protestant men and women of action. In his ability to distinguish so readily, clearly, and accurately between the poet, the historian, and the poet-historical, Spenser reveals his awareness of the changing relationship between the disciplines and their growing separateness. He carefully acknowledges that “the Methode of a Poet historical is not such, as of an Historiographer”; the difference has to do with form and organization – the disposition of material. His epic and the explanatory letter to Ralegh show Spenser responding to the same questions that Camden and Sidney did, and redefining the alliance between poetry and history. In the allegorical epic he takes one route open to the poethistorical by which he can achieve his goal to “fashion a gentleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline”. In this he privileges an essentially Neo­platonic poetic that accommodates the rude material of history; the poethistorical sends his readers back to history. Without the crucial acceptance of history, Spenser seems to say, his poetic fabric can only be spun into another version of the emperor’s new clothes. Camden himself interlaced poetry and historical prose in his topographical epic, the Britannia, animating his descriptive prose narratives with an undulating discontinuous river poem, de Connubio Tamae et Isis. In this context of experiments in mixed-genre writing, we can see how bold an example he set. Over several decades, the two poets experimented with historically infused river poems: Spenser first announced his plan for a poem called “Epithalamion Thamesis” in 1580, in his correspondence with Harvey; this would become the Marriage of the Thames and Medway in Book IV, canto 11 of The Faerie Queene, only published in 1596. Meanwhile, Camden’s poem appears interspersed throughout the 1586 and later editions of the ­Britannia; in 1590, William Vallans, in A Tale of Two Swannes, refers to Latin and English models for the river poem, presumably those of Camden and Spenser respectively.185 While Spenser claims for himself the generic identity as poet-­historical, Camden combines genres rather differently as a “poetical ­ historian”: the ­“historian” defines the landscape, the “poet” modifies it. I have discussed the poetry of the Britannia in more detail elsewhere, but here I want to speak of his de Connubio Tamae et Isis as an example of mixedgenre writing. His verses, totalling 203 lines (plus a twenty-six-line opening poem spoken by “Britannia”) are woven through the varied prose landscapes of the Britannia. The fragments range from very short (five lines) to as long as sixty-one lines (describing the area around Dorchester, in Oxfordshire, where the Tame and Isis, “with mutual consent joyn as it were in wedlock”) 212

Westminster & the “Britannia” (col. 317). They thus seem to emerge from the county descriptions, usually at geographically significant points, and contain regional allusions but no extended historical narrative. This movement from a predominantly prose context in and out of the river poem makes this an unusually variegated work. The mixture of genres is at the service of Camden’s different methodologies; he, like Spenser, distinguishes between the methods of the poet and the historian. While Camden, in his prose, usually refutes mythic, spuriously historical figures such as Brutus, in his river poem he creates purely fabulous personifications from out of the landscape, and refers to many of the legendary figures (including Brutus) without any qualifying commentary.186 Not historicized narratives, these verse fragments are placed in loose historical contexts within the Britannia and resonate with historical allusions, although they are primarily celebrations of the land. Thus, Camden moves freely between his prose context and his descriptive verse allegory of the riverscape. In the process we experience a transdisciplinarity not seen in Spenser and seldom seen in this period of generic experimentation. Spenser, the prince of poets, sticks to verse; in the marriage of the Thames and Medway he, like Camden, foregrounds topographical allegory and downplays the historical content, but the rest of Book IV is largely ahistorical, so the river marriage in fact emerges as a historicized poetic landscape. He too, then, explores new combinations of historical and non-historical writing, although not with the extreme experimentation in forms and modes that Camden does. Camden provided an example of remarkable freedom of form and genre, and showed the way ahead for new combinations. It was recognized as a hybrid in historical prose although its use of verse also received attention. Its full impact, great as it was, was probably inhibited because of his use of Latin, which kept it from being a true stylistic model. However, by recognizing and building on the differences between the methods of prose and poetry, utilizing them toward complex literary ends, the Britannia became a paradigm for historical writing by his contemporaries and successors. This coincided with, and contributed to a surge in new kinds of writing about history. Of course, Camden was not the only force at work here. In this coterie of historical writers we see prose works of epic scale, such as Holinshed’s Chronicles and Harrison’s Description of Britain (both contemporary with Camden’s project), and John Speed’s The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine; there are local, topographical, and historical works such as Lambarde’s Perambulation of Kent, Carew’s Survey of Cornwall, Westcote’s The View of Devonshire; we see the 213

William Camden – A Life in Context emergence of the essay on national and regional customs and institutions as developed by members of the Society of Antiquaries, as well as the flourishing of historical writing of a more conventional sort. And complementing these prose works were their numerous poetic cousins, the work of such writers as Samuel Daniel, William Browne, Ben Jonson (London’s official “chronologer”), and Shakespeare. Perhaps the best example of this poetic literature that draws on Camden’s example is Michael Drayton’s Poly-Olbion: a Chorographicall Description of All the Tracts, Rivers, Mountains, Forests, and other Parts of this Renowned Isle of Great Britain. Part I of this, Drayton’s most ambitious work, appeared in 1612 and part II in 1622; thus, it represents the next generation of mixed-genre writing. Drayton’s epic pastoral of Britain conflates the influence of Spenser and Camden through the magnification of the motif of the river marriage, and incorporates the skills of the prose historian by enlisting John Selden to provide commentary for his verse. Most evident, though, is ­ Camden’s multi-faceted influence: in organization and content, Poly-Olbion is like a versification of the Britannia, including its de Connubio Tamae et Isis. Circum­ navigating the country along its natural divisions much as Camden does, Drayton however employs the genius loci as his muse, whose purpose is to celebrate the wonders of Albion – the land: Of Albions glorious Ile the Wonders whilst I write, The sundry varying soyles, the pleasures infinite … What helpe shall I invoke to ayde my Muse the while? Thou Genius of the place (this most renowned Ile) Which livedst long before the All-earth-drowning Flood, … Goe thou before me still thy circling shores about, And in this wandring Maze helpe to conduct me out (lines 1–12). Drayton has a clear understanding of Camden’s technique of foregrounding the landscape, and carries it a step further, mindful that he is addressing a different kind of audience. Throughout his epic, and particularly in his address to the reader, we are aware that Drayton is contending with a very different reader than Camden and Spenser did. Indeed, Drayton’s attitude toward his reader is ambivalent, mixed with condescension, disdain, and not a little bitterness. In Poly-Olbion’s blend of poetry and history, historical conflicts are turned into clashes in nature, the human elements are mollified and displaced onto personifications, and as in the Britannia, maps are provided as a “help” for the reader. These, however, are specially modified Saxton maps 214

Westminster & the “Britannia” from which the usual symbols and markings of human presence – architecture, roads, cities – have been removed, leaving only the contours of the land and rivers and newly added personifications of nymphs and nature deities. These stand in marked contrast with the maps in Camden’s work that look like a palimpsest of human history, with ecclesiastical presence, noblemen’s houses, enclosures, and other signs of “organized” society. Drayton, then, has pooled the resources of the poet and historian, as well as those of the illustrator/cartogtrapher and adapted them to the creation of a panoramic vision of Britain and its past: his desire is to have his reader “walke forth into the Tempe and Feelds of the Muses, where … thou shalt see the ancient people of this Ile delivered thee in their lively images” (“To the Generall Reader”, sig. A). Hoping to achieve the Horatian ideal of instruction and delight, Drayton creates a pastoral fiction that, he says, will be pleasant but at times difficult. Drayton’s defensive tone cannot have warmed his readers to his project: “If as, I say, thou hadst rather, (because it asks thy labour) remaine, where thou wert, then straine thyselfe to walke forth with the Muses; the fault proceeds from thy idlenesse, not from any want in my industrie” (sig. A). Throughout his address “To the Generall Reader” Drayton, who regarded himself as a serious but popular author, stresses how his work will include material from British history necessary for those who aspire to “see the Rarities & Historie of their owne Country delivered by a true native Muse”. Some of Drayton’s language and imagery exhorting his readers closely resembles passages in Camden’s preface, but he clearly senses that his audience is unfriendly to such work, and this gives his address a nasty, accusatory spin: anyone indifferent to such knowledge, “whosoever thou be, possest with such stupidity & dulnesse that, rather then thou wilt take paines to search into ancient and noble things, choosest to remaine in the thicke fogges and mists of ignorance, as neere the common Lay-stall of a Citie”, deserves their lot (sig. A). Drayton has deliberately adapted the work of poets and prose writers writing across genres and forms, but the taste for historical writing of this sort has changed. He aspires to educate a popular audience, including women, he tells us, but he knows that this “lunatique Age” prefers coterie poetry “kept in Cabinets” and circulated in manuscript. Always the dogged optimist and poised for disappointment, Drayton wants to buck what he sees as the current fashion for the facile. Knowing that the work might be difficult, especially “for the female sex”, he tries to make the material palatable and accessible, through “especial helpes” – including an “argument” prefacing each song, maps, pastoral devices, and explanatory material in prose, or “illustrations”, authored 215

William Camden – A Life in Context by John Selden. These last “helpes” are meant to “explaine every hard matter of historie, that, lying farre from the way of common reading, may … seem difficult unto thee” (sig. Av). When this audience does not materialize, in 1622, deeply embittered, he publishes part 2, and addresses it “To any that will read it”. But originally, in his first rush of guarded enthusiasm when he began working on the poem, around 1590, up to the appearance of Part One in 1612, Drayton was inspired by the interest in historical poetry that emerged in the 1580s. By 1612 Drayton, thoroughly familiar as he was with Camden and his work, had no theoretical reservations about mixing the genres of historical and imaginative writing, and proceeds unquestioningly to cross between prose and verse. He has moved beyond the kinds of doubts that Spenser brought to his “historical poem”; drawing on the argument for the Britannia, he does not question the seriousness or potential appeal of his mission to instruct his countrymen and women about Britain. His principal literary rival is the amorous coterie poetry circulating in manuscript form. What we see in Drayton, then, is a degree of comfort in working together with poetry and history, with fabulous and factual material, that Spenser and his generation lacked. There is a freedom in his generic hybrid that marks the distance travelled from the debates reflected in the Apologie for Poetrie, but it is a freedom that treats the raw material of history and poetic fiction as poetical constructs rather than as opposing ontologies or epistemologies. Both the freedom and the differences are underscored by Selden’s illustrations. Drayton’s “comfort” in handling the historical material does not imply that the debates about the veracity of some of the national myths had been resolved, or that all readers understood how to read this lore. Drayton – and Selden – had no qualms about using them or about questioning them. Fact or fiction, they are cultural capital. The success (or failure) of Drayton’s poem does not rest on the truth of the Brutus myth, for instance. Selden’s role in the project differs, of course, from Drayton’s. His illustrations are there to explain the real and fabulous histories, and in the process, not being “Prodigall” of his “Historicall Faith” he “adventure[s] on [their] Examination and Censure” (sig. A2). Willing in some measure to act as the muse’s advocate, Selden tries to unravel some of the “intollerable Antichronismes” that creep into the bardish history, knowing that the “Capricious faction will … never quit their Belief of wrong”. Selden and Drayton are content to work with the admixture of myth and history, though they are in no way credulous about the fantastic material. In this, then, Selden especially stands apart from the 216

Westminster & the “Britannia” earlier generation that insisted on passing off such fictions as factual; after Camden (one of Selden’s acknowledged sources) that kind of credulousness is no longer possible. Thus, Selden comes to the aid of Drayton the historical and chorographical poet, satisfied to elucidate the stories without making any claims for their historical accuracy: Yet so, that, to explaine the Author, carrying himselfe in this part, and Historicall, as in the other, a Chorographicall Poet, I insert oft, out of the British story, what I importune you not to credit. Of that kind, are those Prophecies out of Merlin sometime interwoven: I discharge my selfe; nor impute you to me any serious respect of them (sig. A3). Thus, in a way that runs counter to Sidney’s poetic, Selden assists the poet and the readers in their passage across the strands of poetic history and fiction that highlight the chorographical description of Britain, untroubled by the impurity of form and possible corruption from history. This polysemous narrative is part of Camden’s legacy; Selden’s final words in his address to the reader acknowledge the plurality of readers – men, women, the learned and the credulous – and their different, equally legitimate tastes, and he wishes on them all “Happy Attendance of their chosen Muses”. This endorsement of poetry’s – and society’s – polyvocality is a sign of the changing social structure that Camden has, paradoxically, helped foster. In this way, then, Drayton’s Poly-Olbion is an example of the trajectory of historical writing adumbrated by the Britannia. History has lost its innocence; the univocal rhetorical histories serving Tudor mythology have lost their persuasiveness and credibility. If, as Daniel Woolf says, Tudor and Stuart historical writing was essentially politically uncontroversial, they were not without contrasting social and political images of historical Britain. The view of history from the perspective of policy-makers obscures the extent of experimentation and creativity on the part of poets, prose writers, essayists, and “antiquarians” of various stripes working with new methods and in new forms during the 1580s and 90s, and into the first decades of James’s reign. “New” here being used in the sense that I have used it in speaking of Camden’s work: not as revolutionary but as transformative.187 By the 1590s, then, there were many kinds of “history” being written, and the emergence of multiple “kinds” begins the process of writing alternative histories. A good example of this is the work of Samuel Daniel, another author driven by the wave of interest in historical writing in different genres. For Daniel, genre became a critical tool for interpreting history. Heir to ­Camden’s 217

William Camden – A Life in Context scepticism about understanding the past for which there are not contemporary documents, Daniel focused on the documentable period following the Norman Conquest.188 His historical epic, the Civile Wars (books 1–4, 1595; books 5–10, 1609), attempts to synthesize the material of civil turmoil into a national myth; like Drayton, he largely resolves in his mind the potential conflicting roles of historian and poet. But much of his literary career is spent recombining historical material in different forms – dream vision, drama, narrative verse, prose history. Genre serves as a kaleidoscopic revisioning of the past – not its facts but its forms and contours. Each version is a new history for Daniel, and the last decade of his career sees him rewriting his epic poem literally into a more prosaic political history in a deflation of the poetic spirit parallel to Drayton’s disappointment in part 2 of Poly-Olbion. Seeing consistency rather than variety, Woolf observes that Daniel’s historical prose was in large measure devoted to the workingout of problems raised earlier in his poetry. Although his position on a number of issues changed with time, and though there is a shift of emphasis away from problems of poetics and culture toward the consideration of issues of law and sovereignty, Daniel remained preoccupied with essentially the same questions.189 While we can recognize these continuities, we can also see in Daniel’s revisitation of the same material an endorsement of the plurality of histories, and the acknowledgement that changes in form mark changing questions and the elusiveness of answers. As we have seen, the proliferation of historical writing is part of the wave of what I have called literature of national identity. But in these experiments we also see the beginning of the fragmentation of national identity and its history; in them we detect the loss of confidence in a univocal voice of the land that could be heard above the occasional cacophony of history. Writers who followed Camden’s example by finding their muse in the land implicitly or explicitly envisioned a green nation – a national pastoral myth. Whatever the chemical balance between history and landscape, whether it is Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1590, 1596) Norden’s Speculum Britanniae Pars (1596), Speed’s Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine (1610), Drayton’s Poly-Olbion (1612, 1622), William Browne’s Britannias Pastorals (1613, 1625), implicit in the merging of poetry and history is the hope that the pastoral will survive the history. But once the touchstone of verity has been discovered, and it is uncovered no more clearly than in the Britannia, the seemless blend of poetic and historical 218

Westminster & the “Britannia” cannot endure. As Daniel’s career demonstrates, ultimately history must be answered – a recognition resisted by Spenser, even at the end of his career, in his Prothalamion, with its refrain, “Sweete themmes runne softly til I end my song”. For these writers, from Spenser and Camden through Drayton and Daniel, we see the inescapability of historical reality and the erosion of an all-embracing Neoplatonic epistemology. History presents the world with its image of change; secular history, the kind that Camden wrote and fostered, presents us with the possibilities of freedom and growth, as well as of decay and decline – all, however, in the particular, and all subject to the erasure of time. Once removed from the providential pattern of religious history, representation of change enters the realm of mutability. It will not be until Milton’s prophetic epics that we have a comparably inclusive vision that can reconcile historical change and the transcendent imagination. On a smaller scale, George Herbert, another member of the Protestant church militant, also confronts the relation between the human desire to be outside history’s influence and the inescapability of human change. In “The Pulley”, “rest”, or changelessness, God’s final gift, is withheld from mankind in this lifetime; with a resignation lacking in Spenser’s Prothalamion, Herbert recognizes that the human condition, like that of Milton’s Adam and Eve, is to live in “repining restlesnesse”. The trajectory of historical writing in different generic mixtures involves writers reconciling Britain’s new identity as a reformed nation with the prospect of an increasingly fragmented future of change. For many of these writers, history is a map imagining change. The greater the commitment to historical representation, the more “defined” the map becomes, the greater its “definition”. Of course, an author is not obliged to make a significant direct engagement with history in the first place, but once one does, as these authors do, there are certain predictable problems that ensue; history puts limitations on how the writer can represent change and therefore on how the future can be envisioned. In self-conscious historiographic writing, an author initiates a process of questioning change, imagining the past and future, and of dealing with the hard realities of human self-determination. It is appropriate then that historical verse and other new historical forms emerged during these decades when the pressures of historical change at both the institutional and the individual levels seem to be building a terrible momentum. Writers drawn by the lure of newly professionalized historical study commonly confronted the kinds of contradictions and compromises that we have seen in 219

William Camden – A Life in Context Spenser, ­ Drayton, and Daniel. It is Camden who first presents us with an orderly image of social evolution against a resilient national landscape. They all, however, poets-­historical and historians each, emerge as the agents of change whose potency Sidney underestimated. And, as was true of Camden, whose own personal history was shaped by Tudor reform, those writing in historical modes were forced to see, as Milton did, that change is part of the legacy of the Reformation, and that once it is accepted it is a force that cannot be stopped.

The Originality of the “Britannia”


he Britannia hardly took the world by surprise when it appeared in 1586. Its way had been prepared for at least a decade through correspondence among the literati in Britain and Europe, and the community of Westminster had lived with it on a daily basis. By the time of its appearance, Camden had sufficient international reputation that travelling scholars sought him out when they arrived in London.190 By the year of publication the Society of Antiquaries was meeting regularly, and Camden and Robert Cotton would be its most influential and best-known members. The Britannia joined a community of large-scale, collaborative projects dedicated to cultural study, such as Georg Braun’s and Franz Hogenberg’s Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Holinshed’s Chronicles, including Harrison’s Description of Britain, Ralegh’s History of the World, and Norden’s Speculum Britanniae Pars. As Camden’s collected letters show very clearly, the Britannia is also the product of the collaborative energies of many different scholars who were part of that community. The documents surrounding Camden and his major work offer a relatively rare glimpse of Renaissance intellectual and literary chat; they are usually businesslike, detailed, and well informed. Camden was the young man of whom much was expected, at least by the academic community he inhabited. Much of the impetus for such studies in England began in earnest with John Leland, whose antiquarian methodology was shaped by his involvement in Henrician reform and Protestant polemics. In his “New Yeares Gift” to Henry VIII he tells of the origins of his passion to explore and describe England; his strength of feeling and genuine desire give his mission a sense of discovery, of England as a new-found land. And in one sense it was such a land – its monarchy redefined through the act of supremacy and vast church properties appropriated, redistributed, or demolished, it was a newly configured landscape. Leland’s project was first inspired by reading accounts of history 220

Westminster & the “Britannia” and topography by European writers: “Wher fore after that I had perpendid the … studies of these Historiographes, I was totally enflammid with a love to see thoroughly al those Partes of this your opulente and ample Reaulme, that I had redde of yn the aforesaid Writers.”191 Thus moved, he dedicated himself to travel Henry’s England and capture its natural and historical landscape; given his eventual mental breakdown, the obsessive “thoroughly” ­ signals Leland’s fatal attraction: yn so muche that al my other Occupations intermittid I have so travelid yn yowr Dominions booth by the Se Costes and the midle Partes, sparing nother Labor nor Costes, by the space of these vi. Yeres paste, that there is almoste nother Cape, nor Bay, Haven, Creke or Peere, River or Confluence of Rivers, Breches, or Waschis, Lakes, Meres, Fenny Waters, Montaynes, Valleis, Mores, Hethes, Forestes, Chases, Wooddes, Cities, Burges, Castelles, principale Manor Placis, Monasteries, and Colleges, but I have seene them; and notid yn so doing a hole Worlde of Thinges very memorable.192 Leland’s descriptive inventory is meant to preserve the landscape from oblivion; his goal is to give the king a “Description of your Reaulme yn writing” more wonderful than silver descriptive “tables” of Constantinople, Rome, and the empire of Charles the Great, because it would be “more permanente”. Leland’s words describing the compelling influence of his reading and his excitement at seeing the land as if for the first time conveys the spirit and verve of the historical topographer’s mission at this time. It was given added edge by the historical moment in that it coincides with the forces of the Dissolution. As I have said elsewhere of Leland’s work, “with the willful destruction of history’s treasures began a period of intense acquisitiveness; a spirit of profligate waste went hand in hand with the urge for preservation … [While Leland] was at work as the king’s antiquary, gathering English archives, Henry was busy destroying them.”193 The paradoxical forces running through his Itinerary are powerful and instructive. By describing church properties virtually as they are being demolished, Leland tried to preserve them before it was too late. Discovery, description, and loss are the triplet of Protestant historical, descriptive topography, from Leland to Spenser, Drayton, Milton, Denham, and beyond. It will be the rare genius of Camden that can turn this cycle to a creative and positive vision and in the process inspire his and future generations. Leland’s unfinished work lived on and fostered a generation of large projects, 221

William Camden – A Life in Context often of unwieldy proportions, concerned with the shaping of a national identity. At his death, his friend and publisher, Reginald Wolf, acquired his manuscripts, hoping to incorporate the material into a vast “Universal Cosmography”. After a quarter of a century this Atlas too succumbed beneath so large a task, and his materials passed on to his employees and acolytes, Raphael Holinshed and William Harrison, who, not without some misgivings, persisted with the enterprise. Under Holinshed’s direction, the project was confined to Britain and resulted in the Chronicles and the Description of Britain (1577), the latter of which was much indebted to Leland’s work. As we have seen, there was considerable momentum for historical and topographical writing at the time of Camden’s intellectual apprenticeship. Older men were working on generically similar projects of a smaller scale, such as William Lambarde and the Perambulation of Kent, Thomas Churchyard and The Worthines of Wales, John Stow and the Survey of London. Meanwhile, Camden’s generation tried their hands at such forms – Richard Carew (Survey of Cornwall), Edmund Spenser, William Vallans; and they in turn passed the torch on to the younger generation – Michael Drayton, Richard Zouch, William Browne, Thomas Westcote. Camden’s contemporaries and successors would learn much from his example about the use of records, the search for precedents and origins, and most importantly, the contrasting ontologies of myth and history. Camden, beginning his work in earnest in the 1570s, then, was working in an area of extraordinary interest, experimentation, and shared enthusiasm; as his work-in-progress became widely known, this energy spread, it attracted the curiosity of fellow writers who exchanged information with Camden as his project took shape. The actual publication of the Britannia, then, was something of a cultural event; before and after its publication it attracted attention. Such extensive interest in and anticipation of a work is rare in the sixteenth century, especially when there is neither the shroud of mystery around it (as with The Shepheardes Calender) nor a frisson of scandal and intrigue (as in the case of Astrophel and Stella). Of course, the point is not that Camden was the most popular person on the block, but that a number of factors came together to help forge a literary and intellectual community purposefully exploring new kinds of historical writing; such conjunctions of creative and community interests are rare at any time. We have already seen that this “hype” was in no small way facilitated by Camden’s place in the strategic Westminster community of Lord Burghley; as is always the case, literary events are in some measure manufactured, but in this instance, as we have seen, Camden and 222

Westminster & the “Britannia” his work had a reasonably large following. For a number of reasons Camden’s Britannia, in its carefully controlled originality, captured the imagination of its generation, and in its momentum it cast its influence into the future of intellectual history. This is not just a case of negative evidence – an accident of surviving documents: people were busily writing about Camden and the ­Britannia and consciously and openly invoking its authority for years as they did not with Harrison’s Description of Britain, Bacon’s History of Henry VII or his Essays, Stow’s Survey of London, or Speed’s Theatre of Britain. Contemporary interest and printed and circulated allusions do not in themselves constitute “influence” in any serious sense of the word, but in Camden’s case, the interest was accompanied by an appreciation of his work. Heretical as it will sound, Camden’s influence is ultimately more culturally and intellectually penetrating and immediate than was Spenser’s, which was more narrowly defined by matters of literary genre. It is important not to over-simplify the nature of literary influence. We rarely consider “historical” works and their authors as casting a Bloomian aura of influence, but in Camden’s case perhaps we can. In ways that are rare and unusual in the early modern period, Camden occupied a significant place in the imagination of many in his generation, and exerted significant influence, both general and specific, on succeeding generations. In his effect on how his culture perceived, assessed, and wrote about material culture, and in his contribution to changes in modes of apprehending, analysing, and questioning political, social, and literary forms, Camden has exerted a remarkable influence. It is an influence that gives him a place in the literary community of Sidney, Spenser, and Shakespeare. This is not to say that his work appeals to our imagination in the ways that theirs do. Rather, to place Camden among his contemporaries in this way is to broaden our idea of influence in order to accommodate meta-literary accomplishments and people who work outside modern canonical literary categories, and to better understand how these different genres evolved. Camden’s part in this community has not generally been acknowledged, although it is in some ways more calculable. He worked within institutional frameworks; the freshness of his work is readily apparent; literary figures were attracted to him and his work. In looking more inclusively at the literary communities of the period, we begin to reconfigure aspects of its intellectual history. Traditional literary analysis shows us how Sidney influenced the future of the sonnet and the prose romance, and how Spenser naturalized the pastoral, or how, in The Faerie Queene, he created a heroic national myth of recognizable human characters struggling with the division of nature and 223

William Camden – A Life in Context grace. No less of this age, Camden’s national myth intentionally resonates with the work of these writers and deals with many of the same issues of cultural change. It is helpful to remember that all four figures, different as they are, are products of the moment; the galvanizing effect they had on the literary world was no accident and was orchestrated in part by individuals and forces greater than they; together they cast their generational influence on their contemporaries and successors. It is still possible to feel the uniqueness and freshness of the Britannia. I have stressed that it is not “original” in the looser modern meaning of something before unseen or unimagined, made “ab ovo”, as it were, but in the sense that its relation to and differences from its origins (“ab origine”) are clear. With this more historical sense of what it is to be original we can see how Camden originates new literary directions through his projects. He had a talent for making his “new” kind of history not seem strange, foreign, or threatening. His is a decidedly different strategy for bringing new work into the world than that used by Spenser with the Shepheardes Calender, which came forth “uncouthe, unkiste” with a fanfare fed by the anonymity of its author. “New” as such a pastoral was in England, though, its “originality” was clearly measured by its classical models, as E.K.’s prefatory material to Harvey and the General Argument make amply clear. Camden’s “authority” – or authorship – is defined radically differently: he works openly on the project for a decade with the support of peers, it is widely anticipated and discussed, and other writers were struggling with similar projects at the same time. When the Britannia appeared it literally produced a shock of recognition. As a result, the striking newness of the work is also its “originality” – and for this reason it was recognized as a liminal achievement. Camden brought together in his first and revised editions the many strands of experimentation and mixed-genre writing that for years other writers had been struggling with. Thus, some aspects of Camden’s work look both perfectly consistent with other “histories” then circulating, and yet radically different. The ambitious historical sweep of the Britannia, and Camden’s desire to use the landscape and other means to make the past and present contiguous and comparable resemble in purpose, and sometimes also in format, other historically informed work of the period. His interest in periodicity and “chronography”, however, is very unlike the chronicle techniques of Hardying or Grafton; his broad patriotic mission of restoring antiquity to Britain and Britain to antiquity, is also significantly different: it deploys classical material differently, 224

Westminster & the “Britannia” is historically more specific, and politically vaguer. While its title announces its political correctness in terms of British, or as Drayton puts it in his PolyOlbion, “Cambro-British” sentiment, its explicit descriptive and chorographic design gives it a politically positive and inclusive note lacking in more overtly controversial histories like John Price’s Historiae Brytannicae defensio (1573) or Polydore Vergil’s commissioned work, Anglicae Historiae (1534), both of which proclaim their anterior motives. Indeed, its overall chorographic mode sidesteps the kind of over-determined periodization that was the vehicle for the political designs of most histories. Thus, Vergil uses pre-Tudor periods to legitimize independence from Rome; Price and Humphrey Llwyd (Historie of Cambria, 1584) concentrate on the period from 590 to the Norman invasion; in their histories of British princes they follow the historical methods fostered by Henry VIII when dealing with Rome, and use historical, patriotic precedents to attack Vergil and assert British independence from the Saxons and Normans. Edward Hall’s Union of the Noble and Illustre Famelies Lancastre & Yorke (1542) legitimizes the political union of the royal families by finding the providential pattern manifest in the period from the Norman Conquest. In all these essentially humanist, rhetorical histories we see different uses of periodization and “chronography” brought into play to serve different political positions: for monarchic prerogative and divine sanction, for Protestant independence from Rome, for British interests and precedents. But the patriotic undertone is consistent throughout, ostensibly served by the particular construction placed on the periodized historical material. In his Britannia Camden shapes his material radically differently, succeeding in finding a more effective means of periodic organization of the past. The chronicle form, used by Hardying and Holinshed, he ruled out, although he found it useful for his Annals of Elizabeth. In method and design, he conceals any politically sensitive intentions and maximizes the paradoxical rhetoric of disinterested patriotism that allows him to challenge the legend of Brute and still be pro-British. He avoids broadly polemical stances such as those we find in Price’s Historiae Brytannicae defensio, and otherwise depoliticizes the work as much as possible. One way of achieving these goals is through a historically inclusive design that is organized in terms of inhabitants and geography rather than a chronicle sequence or historical “events”. Camden’s unique treatment of people, place, and periods is critical to his formal achievement and to his success in averting political partisanship. Although Camden was skilled in using the chronicle format and possessed a greater mastery of historical sequentiality than any of his predecessors, he nevertheless rejected a format 225

William Camden – A Life in Context for the Britannia that would foreground individuals, agency, and events, and instead developed a radically different paradigm which organized the past in terms of ethnicity, tribe, or people. The effect is striking, and it replaces a chronological mode of understanding the past with one that gains meaning through ethnographic patterns. This taxonomy is societally based: it postulates cultural types, social organization, certain norms of social intercourse and dynamic (intermarriage, creation of social structures, the development of a distinctive economy, clash of languages, for example). Behind this aspect of his design is the assumption that “You can’t follow the game if you don’t know the players.” He first provides us with sketches of each of the participating “tribes”, beginning with the “first inhabitants” and the “manner of the Britains”; he then proceeds to characterize the Romans and the tribes of the post-Roman diaspora (Armoricans and the Britons of Wales and Cornwall), the Picts, Scots, Saxons, Danes, and Normans. The sequence is periodized but it is also historically “comprehensive” in that there is overlap in the accounts, so that his focus is emphatically on people rather than specific cultural or political entitlements. Camden’s is an anthropological conception of society and political organization that works from his observation of the growth and transformation of indigenous institutions. The people and the physical setting are privileged, not the institutions (princes, laws, governing bodies), events, and the struggle for power. Typical of Camden’s rhetorical style, he presents much of the ethnographic activity of Britain not in terms of the thirst for power and domination, but in terms of the power vacuum left by Rome’s withdrawal: “The Romans having now withdrawn their Forces, and abandoned Britain, the whole frame of affairs fell into great disorder and misery”. Long before the Leviathan’s appearance, Camden presents a Hobbesian image of the human appetite for self-interest, destruction, and violence in the absence of authority. Precipitated by Rome’s departure is a litany of social disarray: “Barbarians invading it on the one hand, and the Inhabitants breaking out into factions on the other; whilst each one was usurping the Government to himself ” (col. cxxvii). From this débâcle of physical and social violence comes not a particular governing structure, but a new wave of immigrants to stabilize the political eco-system: “Upon this, Vortigern sent for the Saxons out of Germany”.194 His mode of representing historical phases in this way, as effects rather than through agency, is characteristic of so much of Camden’s writing and living, and is an extension of what we have described as his rhetoric of indirection. 226

Westminster & the “Britannia” What emerges from Camden’s combined chorographic and “historical” design is a naturalized periodization as one wave of “inhabitants” succeeds another – Roman, Saxon, Pict and Scot, Dane and Norman. The effect of Camden’s shaping of events is quite remarkable: in no other work before the Britannia is there such a clear, organized articulation of the sequence of history or so a lucid presentation of all the major patterns of immigration to Britain. As a result, his work has a familiar look to it: the recognizable British, Roman, Saxon, and Norman periods take their place in the work, although they are brought together as they are not anywhere else – as part of history’s discernible pattern of change: not cast stereotypically within a polemical design, but as part of a historical movement that Camden presents as secular and as having multiple causes affecting events – the characteristics for which his work is best known. With their wealth of original documentary information, Camden’s chapters thus reimagine the past and remove it from the overdetermined framework usual in sixteenth-century histories. Reaching back in time, Camden writes of the “first inhabitants”, avoiding the kind of religious and political conjunction that Grafton gives his chronicles, “from the creation … to Queen Elizabeth”. For Camden, the British are accorded seniority, the Romans are associated with law, the Saxons with language and the advent of Christianity, the Normans with unification; contemporary Britain is a cumulative interracial gene-pool of the several cultures. All together are seen in the context of their actions on the stage which is Britain: “These are the People which have inhabited Britain; of whom there remain to this day the Britains, the Saxons or Angles, with a mixture of the Normans, and towards the North the Scots” (cols. ccxix–ccxx). For the first time, readers could see the whole sequence of British history systematically laid out before them in terms of its people rather than the politics, personalities, and legends that muddle the history in otherwise systematic chronicles such as Hardyng’s and Grafton’s. And even more interestingly, they can see themselves nationally as a diverse nation comprising a mixture of different stocks and characteristics. Camden’s method is remarkable in other ways as well. The vision of history that I have just outlined is itself distinctly modern, or early modern, in a political sense. That is, history and institutions – monarchs, parliaments, laws – are the creations of people ordering their environment. History, then, rises from the ground up, it does not descend from some great chain and settle on those below. Of the Saxons, for example, Camden observes (col. clxv) that they “divided [Britain] into seven kingdoms, and made it a Heptarchy … but even in that … there seems always to have been a sort of Monarchy”. We see 227

William Camden – A Life in Context Camden’s monarchism clearly here. But note how it is presented. The people have divided and politically united the realm. It is not the united kingdom divinely meant to be one whole that William Drummond of ­Hawthornden speaks of in Forth Feasting, for example, but more nearly the social “contract” praised by Jonson in epigram 5, “On the Union”. The heptarchy, paradoxically the model for James’s unification of Britain seventeen years later, is seen by Camden as a union resulting from the people’s decision; it offers a political vision comparable in its complexity to Jonson’s later vision of the Jacobean “contract” or Robert Cotton’s belief in shared government.195 His presentation of the monarch as “he who was most powerful” acknowledges the ancient precedent of monarchic government, but it is a precedent begun by the people and based on power and social necessity. Camden is decidedly ambiguous about the legitimation of monarchy because, he emphasizes, the records are vague – “there seems always to have been a sort of monarchy” (my emphasis). If it is clear that he is being careful to endorse monarchism, it is equally clear that he does so while acknowledging the ambiguity of its origins and locating the institution and the source of its authority in human society, the need for authority, and the pursuit of stability. Obviously we are dealing with a more sophisticated view of political legitimation than the simplified and anachronistic idea of divine right. Camden’s is a typically realistic Elizabethan politic dealing very carefully with the issue of kingship and the legitimacy of change. Accepting monarchy as the best form of government, Camden, in this instance, allows that there might be different “sort[s]” of monarchies, not only around the world, but specifically in Britain. Such secular pluralism is in one sense political support for Elizabeth and James, but in another sense, as later decades show, it is also the basis for change and a direct challenge to prerogative. Thus, instead of being apolitical, as critics usually describe it, Camden’s method is fundamentally political. Political structures are arbitrary methods of organizing human affairs that have their origins in tribal customs and social expediency, and Camden acknowledges the uncertainty of these origins and the erratic growth and transformation of human society and its institutions. Camden, then, is interested in the political life of people and society; his approach is not through the spreadsheet of regnal years but through the archaeology, demographic patterns and population shifts, anthropological concerns about language, customs, and adaptive institutions. To these areas of study he brings his “chronometric” standard of primary evidence and the importance of working as much as possible from contemporary documents 228

Westminster & the “Britannia” and artefacts. Taken together, this approach to the political life of social groups studied through specific physical settings constitute Camden’s chorographic, antiquarian, and historical methods. He refines them by adapting established literary genres, techniques, and styles to his own rhetoric of indirection. His success in deflecting attention from political partisanship while dealing with the fundamental processes of political change is realized best through the chorographic mode itself. By organizing much of the Britannia around the national landscape and by making historical geography his text, Camden places contemporary institutions and politics as an ostensible secondary concern, the “accidents” of the physical world itself. The chorographic form, however, was neither new nor in disuse. Like the other genres Camden used, it was classical in origin, had medieval religious traditions, and a revival in the specific context of the Reformation. We have already sampled Camden’s use of it in his “survey” of Westminster Abbey; the implications of the form there apply more broadly still in his national description. As most of his commentators explain, the chorographic description goes back at least to Pausanias (ad 150), and Camden in his lifetime was sometimes referred to as the Pausanias of his age. The genre is by nature descriptive and calls attention to what is and, obliquely, to what is not included in its frame. Because its concerns are often for the historical evidence on the landscape, the descriptive mode is also an indirect glance at the past. Pausanias, for example, a Greek writing late in the Roman period, offers his readers such an oblique view of his material. His perspective emphasizes the distant Greek past, and in its nostalgia for Hellenic antiquities his view of the Roman present becomes increasingly problematic. Dwelling on Greek piety, courage, and cultural achievement, his subtext emerges as a silent exhortation to like behaviour spoken through the shards of the past. His method of perambulation and recording the history inscribed on the contours of the landscape shows his reader what survives time, and therefore it privileges certain things – piety, courage, learning as memorialized in architecture. The rhetoric of indirection is characteristic of topographical writing. Similar methods inform medieval descriptions of cities (the “encomium urbis” and “descriptio urbis”), and their privileging of religious sites, architectural wonders, and military fortifications. The form is capable of extraordinary circumspection and understatement typical of antiquarian writing, although it can also raise the register to hortatory peals from pulpit and choir, when, for example, the perambulator is also a religious pilgrim. And it can also provide the occasion for political and cultural nostalgia, as a journey back in time and away 229

William Camden – A Life in Context from the present, as in Thomas Churchyard’s The Worthines of Wales, in which landscape’s mementoes trigger the trope of ubi sunt.196 While capable of this kind of subjectivity, where the physical object is fetishized, the chorographic mode begins in a process of displacement. It pretends to the scientific in its fixation on the thing itself; in so doing, it represents an act of psychological and political disengagement. As in contemporary environmental writing, it may be prefatory to a stage of engagement, but the descriptive mode itself attempts to locate the epistemological basis externally, removed from the ego and the subjective. It is, then, an act of looking away, “e-ducating” one’s self by seeking the concrete and external outside the self. The “self ” may be the personal or the cultural self – or both, as one suspects it is for Camden. Generally, in the perambulation the author’s selective vision creates a fairly ideologically uniform landscape, and there is little effort to conceal the criteria for inclusion. In contrast, comprehensiveness of vision is not usually a goal in itself – that is why Joyce’s perambulation of Dublin in Ulysses is such an ambitious achievement. In this, the diversity arising from Camden’s historical inclusiveness resembles what we encounter in Joyce. In most cases, though, the author silently imposes a selective taxonomy on the landscape which gives it its consistency – a tour of churches, classical antiquities, fortifications, or of the contours of a river, for example. Changes may be highlighted, but the details of change tend not to be. The descriptive design of the chorography by its nature tries to fix and stabilize its material, and that may be one reason why the form was so much in use at the time of the Reformation – perhaps enlivened by it. As Robin Flower’s still informative article on the “discovery of England” points out, the antiquarian movement in England has its beginnings at this time, and the perambulation is part of that discovery process.197

The “Britannia” and the “Description of Britain”


e have already seen that the impulse that motivated Leland also loosed others into a field of “topo-chrono-graphicall” writing.198 ­Frequently, it can be associated with the Reformation learning in England. We have already spoken of Holinshed’s Chronicles, and Harrison’s chorographic Description of Britain as direct descendants of Leland’s work and the desire to create a Protestant map of Britain. The surge of topographical interest and activity during first several generations of reform was a literary – and literal – manifestation of the changing geographical and political map of Europe as the Holy Roman Empire unravelled. 230

Westminster & the “Britannia” While the revitalization of topographical writing might be timely and tied to major cultural changes in this way, it does not necessarily partake of contemporary changes in methodology. After all, we are looking at an extended period of experimentation. Works contemporary to Camden’s and sharing this spirit can, therefore, help us better appreciate his originality. As with the medieval city description, in the English chorographies, the process of “describing” is also a process of image making: the boundaries between topographia and topothesia are permeable. In their Protestant revival they share some of the methods of the so-called historical revolution, but naturally many of the works are deeply immersed in the rhetorical tradition and are only loosely allied to historical writing per se. Not all Protestant histories and chorographies are methodologically “up to date”. Thomas Churchyard, in his chorographic The Worthines of Wales (1587), identifies his work with new standards in historical writing (“To the Reader”, p. 12), and he quotes extensively from original documents, but his strange marriage of heroic poem and historical documentary is intensely patriotic and polemical in its celebration of Welsh traditions, and crosses the border from disengagement to fetishism. In this context, then, Holinshed’s Chronicles and Harrison’s Description of Britain are part of the same intellectual current that carries Camden’s ­Britannia, but they have markedly different methodolgical assumptions. The two works, judging from Shakespeare’s extended meditations on them, were powerful cultural icons rivalling Camden’s Britannia. Together, the Chronicles and the Description of Britain are an odd mixture of anachronistic legend and fairly careful history, the mixture probably being in part, at least, a result of the collaborative nature of their composition. The Description of Britain, like the Britannia, contains some originally conceived cultural anthropology of the sort that is newly emerging during these decades and is best illustrated in the work of Montaigne. In its historical scope the work deals primarily with the period after the “Politike Conquest” of William the Conqueror. Much of the documentation is accurately drawn from primary sources and stands as a creditable though predictable work exposing the dangers of rebellion and the need for conformity – political and social lessons taken from the school of Burghley, the work’s dedicatee. It is just such overt lessons that are missing from Camden’s work, which we recall was also dedicated to Burghley. Taken as a whole, the chronicles and the chorography generally known as Holinshed’s Chronicles, with its description of the land, its people and their manners, is reflective of the Elizabethan topographical survey, the offspring 231

William Camden – A Life in Context of Leland’s Itinerary; like other exemplars, such as Lambarde’s Perambulation of Kent, it too exhibits the growing sophistication of the study of culture and politics, and the attempts to understand the influence of climate, geography, and soil and other factors on institutions, manners, and customs. Harrison drew heavily on Leland’s notes but, writing a generation later in a politically altered climate, he analyses the landscape for its role in human affairs more closely than Leland did. In this his purpose is more scholarly than was Leland’s celebratory act. Thus, in many respects the Description of Britain (1577) succeeds Leland’s Itinerary as a significant precursor to the Britannia. The descriptions of rivers, towns, languages, invasions, the interest in onomastics, all are subjects to be found, in one form or another, in Leland, Harrison, and Camden. While Harrison combines fuller accounts of legendary material than Leland, he is more spontaneous than Camden and evokes much of the immediacy that we find in Leland’s observations of contemporary Britain. In its eclecticism it is engaging, tends to be superficial and unquestioning in its methods, use of sources, and its conclusions, but it too strives for comprehensiveness and variety. It is these very idiosyncrasies that give it and the ­Chronicles the polyvocality that Annabel Patterson first makes note of. A largesized Tudor coffee-table book, it generally aims at a less scholarly, Englishreading audience than does Camden’s Latin work. Having said this, though, it must be remarked that it is significant that such a work emerges as a form approximating “popular culture”.199 Harrison’s and Holinshed’s work, like Camden’s own, speak volubly of the popular currency of such mixed-genre historical work. Although ideologically and methodologically more conservative in nature than the Britannia, the Description of Britain and the Chronicles offer their Protestant image of royal Britain as her own master, and thus participate in the national process of individuation that this genre of writing fosters. However, Harrison does not share Camden’s sense of the importance of using contemporary documents and suppressing the subjective voice. In describing the land, Harrison does not use the rhetoric of disengagement and indirection that we see in Camden’s work. His political agenda often rings confidently in a tone contrasting Camden’s elusive understatement; one would think that passages such as this one about the original unity of Britain would allay some of the concerns of the censorious Privy Council as it looked over the ­Chronicles as a whole: It is not to be doubted, but that at the first, the whole Iland was ruled 232

Westminster & the “Britannia” by one onelie prince, and so continued from time to time, untill civill discord, grounded upon ambitious desire to reigne, caused the same to be governed by diverse. And this I meane so well of the time before the comming of Brute, as after the extinction of his whole race & posteritie.200 This passage from Harrison’s chapter on the division of the isle can be contrasted with the one recently quoted from Camden on the heptarchy. Richly suggestive in its compact way, Harrison’s words focus on national unity. His survey builds on the assumption that the political and social structure fundamental to societies is an absolute monarchy; in his account, the “monarchy” is legitimized by its long “history” going back to the time before Brute; the “test” of history’s authenticity – his “methodology” and documentation – is legend and tradition for the time preceding Brute to that of Caesar, which is a period of approximately 1116 years.201 In this passage Harrison accepts the authenticity of this historical material unquestioningly, and he goes on to use it to advance his polemic through political contrasts. The non-specific forces of “civill discord” and the appetite for power – the dominant subject of the Chronicles to follow – stands here in opposition to national unity, the monarchy, and to the ancient traditions of British independence. Brute’s existence here is a given, as is the assumption that monarchy was the original form of government. But both assumptions are anachronistic in 1577 and 1587 (when the full three-volume edition appeared), by which time the Brutus legend was widely discredited and early tribal forms of “primitive” government were recognized. But for Harrison, Brute is too good not to be true; he is without question, after Albion, the author of Britain – “… concerning the denomination of our Iland, which was knowne unto most of the Greeks … by none other name than Albion … even unto Alexanders daies … notwithstanding that Brute … had changed the same into Britain, manie hundred years before … After Brutus I doo not find that anie men attempted to change it againe, untill … Theodisius”.202 There is a coherence to Harrison’s uncritical, seemingly uncontroversial assertions, although the methodology is precisely the one that Sidney, in 1579, described in his derision of the historian writing in the rhetorical tradition, “loden with old Mouse-eaten records, authorising himselfe … upon other histories, whose greatest authorities are built upon the notable foundation of Heare-say”.203 Harrison is also Spenser’s kind of historian, ready to use conventional lore to plaster over cracks in the evidence. Those who do not believe in the ancient histories are cast in the roles like 233

William Camden – A Life in Context those of Shakespeare’s Antonio and Sebastian in The Tempest – sceptics or worse; Harrison’s ideal reader is like Gonzalo, one who can listen to legend with humility, an open mind, and a mixture of common sense: we read of sundrie giants that should inhabit here. Which report is not altogither incredible, sith the posterities of divers princes were called by the name: so unto some mens eares it seemeth so strange a rehersall, that for the same onelie cause they suspect the credit of our whole ­historie, & reiect it as a fable, unworthie to be read.204 Those rejecting the existence of giants are, he suggests, simply lacking imagination; there is no question of the validity of the imagination as a source of knowledge. Doubters are not only proud; they deny sufficient evidence of the senses, deny the patrimony of princes, and dismiss the nation’s history. We can contrast Harrison’s faith in the miraculous with Camden’s invocation of “conjecture”, the early modern equivalent of the educated guess. Of course, the subtext of Harrison’s argument is not the existence of giants but the politics of faith and the subversiveness of historical empiricism. Harrison’s faith, however, is the unchallenged belief in old accounts, not to be mistaken for records. In later years (but not many) faith will help scholars turn away from the “received knowledge” of the ancients and will serve experimental method. Bacon most clearly calls for the disestablishment of false knowledge received through the “notable foundation of Heare-say” and urges scientific Gonzaloes to boldly confront the unknown. In his later plays Shakespeare dramatizes the importance of accepting the unseen and intangible as premise for action: in The Winter’s Tale Leontes’s senses lead him into error, but his faith allows him to believe that Hermione’s statue can come to life; in The Tempest Gonzalo accepts the miraculous events on the island and uses this faith to imagine a (somewhat) different and better social structure. Harrison’s imagination is called in to reinforce established authority and “reports” that sustain the popular British history; it denies historical revisionism based on more empirical methods as tampering with “history”. Faith or imagination in Harrison’s hands assists acceptance and continuity and serves stability; in Bacon’s and Shakespeare’s it enables change and discovery. Much happens to the relation between these two faculties of reason and the imagination during and immediately after Harrison’s generation. The “historical revolution”, if the phrase is at all useful, was a slow and subtle process without clear beginnings or endings. It is noteworthy that the same decade produces two works outwardly so similar, serving essentially 234

Westminster & the “Britannia” the same political goals (as well as the same patron), and coming from men with very similar backgrounds, but having such radically different intellectual premises and methods as do the Description of Britain and the Britannia. Similar as their backgrounds and education were, the two men were of different generations, and this may explain Camden’s greater scepticism. Harrison (b. 1534), seventeen years Camden’s senior, was also a Londoner, from the City, educated at St Paul’s and Westminster, where he was a protégé of Alexander Nowell. After a stint at Cambridge, he graduated B.A. (1556) and M.A. (1560) from Christ Church, Oxford. He was an early product of the educational, religious, political, and intellectual network that we have identified with Nowell and (of course) Burghley. It may be that the differences between their work are largely reflections of the increased influence of European models of historical study and writing, and their greater presence at Oxford during Camden’s youth. But it is little wonder that, given the their backgrounds, their interests turned in the direction they did and that their major work should be outwardly so similar. When we look at Camden’s 1586 quarto we see a volume that appears to be cousin germane to the folio Description of Britain, although the physical differences adumbrate deeper literary differences. While the authors worked from very different methodological assumptions, they have significant similarities – not only in the chorographic design but in the interest in cultural anthropology – the manners, dress, customs of contemporary England. These family ties give both works greater credibility, different as they are on substantive issues, and identify Camden’s work as politically correct while enabling him to articulate his unconventional image of Britain. Harrison’s English text endorses the most fanciful of national legends to preface a chronicle warning a popular English audience against civil disobedience. Camden’s Latin text, addressing an international and scholarly audience aware of the recent work in France and Italy, presents a politically modern image of Britain that emerges from an interpretation of history that accepts the fictionality of national legend and that presents a nation in terms of a documented Roman past and cycles of change and assimilation.

Camden and the Theory and Practice of Chorographic Writing


t is against Harrison’s and Holinshed’s project that we can ­appreciate Camden’s originality in the Britannia. Taking the chorographic design, submitting it to severer organization to make its topographical, philological, and historical information more accessible, he works with conventions 235

William Camden – A Life in Context that for the previous half-century had been linked with the Protestant recovery of England. For Harrison and others, including Leland, turning to the landscape was a way of getting modern Tudor England to “fit in” with its geographic and mythic past by temporarily looking away from contemporary political controversy in order to focus on ancestral and legendary origins. For Camden a similar process of redirection was followed but to quite different ends. The chorographic Britannia, turning to the documentary, rather than the mythical past, reconstructs the national image in spite of its destabilized mythology; it builds its meaning up from the evidence rather than trying to make the evidence conform to the legends. The process for Camden is a kind of emptying out of the national self as a way of recovering it. We can see this process at work in the ironies of his title. In naming his work Britannia Camden made as bold an assertion as one can about his subject; syntactically it stands in the foreground set off by the flourishing kingdoms that comprise it, defined by the ancient chorographers who knew it best: “… sive Florentissimorum Regnorum, Angliae, Scotiae, Hiberniae, et Insularum Adjacentium ex intima antiquitate Chorographica descriptio”. The most important and popular of Tudor “histories” use the name “England” rather than “Britain” in their texts and titles – Vergil, Hardying, Grafton among the most prominent. We remember that Harrison’s Description of Britain is one book within the larger work known as The Chronicles of England. The few works resorting to the name “Britain” were patently Welsh in perspective, polemical in their regionalistic stance, and marginal to mainstream historical writing. Thus, for most, Camden’s title would seem to promise a bold implicit or explicit identification with patronymic Brutus and his legends. If Brutus had been largely discredited by 1586, he remained nevertheless a popular fiction, and his implicit presence in Camden’s work would be taken for granted. It is after Camden, with a little added help from King James, that Britain became the usual way of referring to the nation; but Camden, already associated with the name change for eighteen years before James’s accession, continued to be viewed as the “author” of Britain even after James formalized the union of Scotland and England that legitimized the name – “Camden … to whom my country owes / The great renown, and name wherewith she goes”.205 Camden’s title sets the context for the deconstruction that follows. His opening chapter, “Britain”, is a thoughtful emptying-out of the name’s various assumed meanings. Camden’s technique here pervades the work as a whole. The name, then, balances originality and conventionality, and the opening sentences initiate a hermeneutic (a word Camden uses in reference 236

Westminster & the “Britannia” to the elusiveness of meaning in philological study) around the island and its name. In the first sentence, the name and title are withdrawn: “b r i t a i n , called also Albion … the most famous Island in the World, is divided from the Continent of Europe, by the Ocean. It lies over against Germany and France in a Triangular form, having three Promontories shooting out in three several ways” (col. ii). Here, we can clearly see Camden’s technique of turning to landscape and away from human social constructs, including names. In the next pages he goes on to define the island physically, in terms of its position in the surrounding bodies of water, its proximity to other landmasses, and its own shape and dimensions. He outlines his method of using the land instead of arbitrary political markers to image the nation in his introduction to the division of the land: let us now proceed to the Division of Britain. Countries are divided by Geographers either Naturally, according to the Rivers and Mountains; or Provincially, with respect to the several people who inhabit them; or Arbitrarily, and with Political Views, according to the pleasure and jurisdiction of Princes. The first and second of these divisions are here and there treated of throughout the whole work; but the third (i.e. Political) seems proper to this place; which yet is so much obscured by Time, that in this matter it is easier to detect Error, than to discover Truth (col. ccxxi). The passage, in which Camden states his overall chorographic design, distinguishes between the arbitrariness of political divisions and nomenclature and non-political, “natural” ones articulated in the topography itself. In this section he surveys the shifting and uncertain history of political division of Britain, only to concede that such an account is destined to error and uncertainty. Thus, a “definition” or delineation of Britain will best be served by describing the thing itself. Rather than force a correspondence between a generic label and his subject matter, Camden works empirically to define his subject in terms of its material reality. In his opening chapter on “Britain”, the word and other names are ultimately meaningless, but Britain the land emerges for us as we read. From the shapes that writers have used to describe it, to the properties of its fertile soil, temperate climate, its situation in the warming sea, the land takes on different “names” – is known for different things among different people, and Camden quotes passages from classical writers describing, if not naming Britain: for Orpheus it was “the very seat of Ceres”, and for the Romans the “fertility and pleasantness of Britain gave occasion 237

William Camden – A Life in Context to some to imagine that these were the Fortunate Islands, and those Seats of the Blessed” (cols. iv–v). Camden keeps clearly before us that he is calling up descriptive terms related to the qualities of the land; its “poetic” mythology rises like a mist from the landscape. He never loses sight of the fact that the mythic element is the creation of the mentalité of the ancients; the narratives may be fabulous but the descriptive qualities contain their heuristic truth.206 Thus, what to call this fortunate place concerns Camden only later. There is no infallible rationale defending the use of any one of its names: neither descriptive place-name (Albion), precedent based on “historical” people or events (reputedly Bri[u]t-ain), nor the names of its inhabitants (Angle-land) can claim to be the most appropriate or legitimate origin of its name. More to the point, Camden continues to dilate his narrative, to repeatedly defer naming by a process of deconstructing philological bases for the name that he has in fact conferred on his book instead of “England”. So, after describing the site of Britain he proceeds to unravel the reputed classical origins of its name. Camden approaches the demythologizing process methodically and diplomatically. The problem of naming, he notes, is shared by all nations except perhaps those appearing in scripture. It is the general lot of nations, says Camden, that the record of their first name and its origins have been lost. Sounding a bit like Sidney, he observes that often, people “studious to supply these defects out of their own invention”, create pleasant fables when they could not deliver the truth. Geoffrey ap Arthur of Monmouth and his legend of Brutus is Camden’s first and principal example of this practice of spinning fables to mend the holes in the mantle of history, and he details the story, with the ancestry of Venus and Jove, Aeneas and the Trojan connections, and the whole genealogy of Brutus, great-grand-child of Ascanius (col. vi). He then explains some of the other reasons offered for the name and their relative plausibility before going on to discredit entirely the authenticity of the Brutus story. Camden seems to view this task as a dirty job that has to be done – one that will only make him enemies. He approaches it as tactfully but firmly as possible: “could we be once well satisfied that this History of Brutus is true and certain, there would be no farther occasion for Enquiries after the Original of the British nation; that business would be at an end, and Antiquaries excused from a very troublesome and tedious Search”. While he finds no shred of historical evidence for the myth, “Absolutely to reject it would be to wage war against Time, and to fight against a received Opinion” (cols. vi–viii). To 238

Westminster & the “Britannia” distance himself from the position that he then outlines, he says that “many learned and judicious men” “are wont to attack” him when he tries to defend the Brutus story “with these or like arguments”. The careful exposition that follows shows that there was no mention of Brutus before Geoffrey, although there are records of Britain from the earliest time, and that writers contemporary with the alleged Brutus make no mention of him, nor do contemporaries of Geoffrey, except in reference to Geoffrey’s account. Camden’s “reporting” frequently makes clear that he shares the opinion of his “sources”, that the “Story is a heap of incongruities and absurdities” (col. x). Camden has carefully built up his review of Brutus’s credentials, starting from the oldest documents dealing with Britain and finally noting the legendary figure’s earliest mention and then scrutinizing the credibility of those documents. He takes nothing for granted other than that you can prove that something did exist, but you can not prove that something did not. Unlike Harrison’s opening assumptions, Camden’s argument does not attempt to “fit” the evidence to an institutional or cultural pattern that is legitimated by Brutus – that is, Harrison needs Brutus, defined in terms of antiquity, kingship, and social unity, to conform to his view of history and political conflict. Why he needed Brutus rather than another cultural model has to do with Renaissance rhetoric – argument ab origine was thought to be convincing. Such arguments from originary figures were weighed by Milton, for example, who instead considered (for a while) Alfred as a cultural model fit for a historical epic; such a model, however, only set off the contrasts with the realities of British behaviour, and since Alfred did not “name” Britain and lacked an institutional context like Arthur’s, the epic contemplated would have lost some of its galvanizing power. But Milton contemplated a historical figure as a moral, spiritual, and political example without feeling the need to have that example as the first from which we have deviated and to which we must return – the coherence that Harrison’s view of history longs for. Camden, hewing close to his methodology, in his role as “non-historian”, keeps clear the distinction between the rhetorical paradigm and the historical content; he does not proceed on the assumption that the name must be linked directly to the dawn of history (Homer or Moses), or that it must correspond to a man who can provide a moral and political starting point for national identity. Camden’s opening chapter, “Britain”, then, provides a good illustration of what I mean by the destabilizing effect of his methodology, and of the originality of his work in England. What we have sampled in the way of historiographic method, use of genre, and literary “effect” pervades the Britannia, 239

William Camden – A Life in Context and I would say all of Camden’s published work. The chorography has been submitted to a rigorous vertical chronological grid where he enters the information pertinent to the place and people. Camden viewed all ­information as grist for the mill of history, and felt that distinctions can be made between verifiable and unverifiable, authentic and inauthentic sources. In his treatment of Brutus, for example, Camden provides the corrective needed to answer his schoolmate’s charges against the historians who build their stories on the foundations of hearsay. Generically, Camden’s chorography is largely conventional and looks quite familiar, but it is radically reformed from within. The premises on which it tenders its information are fundamentally different from those of medieval and humanist chorographies. This destabilizing effect begins with Camden’s view of history and extends to his view of human and cultural institutions that grow out of it. We have seen how central the elements of uncertainty and doubt are in Camden’s thinking of the past. The full import of this intellectual position can, I hope, be better understood in this larger context. With a clarity of vision and a directness of expression that is quite remarkable in any age, and all the more so in Tudor historical writing, Camden presents his reader with the limitations of our ability to know the past and the arbitrariness of our reconstructions and explanations. In contrast with the complacent certitude of Harrison we hear Camden’s resignation that much of our history will “remain under a dark cloud of error and ignorance … Nor indeed could it otherwise be, considering how deep the revolutions of so many ages must have sunk and buried Truth” (col. vi). Camden ultimately counters such scepticism with characteristic positivism. It is in the face of such limitations on our faculty of knowing that we must learn to create tentative structures of understanding in order to believe, act, and form civil communities. In the case of Britain and Brutus, Camden makes clear the terms on which the legend can and cannot be accepted, although he has no objection to accepting it. Disingenuously using his role as disinterested reporter, he concludes: “If I have any way impaired the credit of that history concerning Brutus, none can reasonably quarrel with me, since every man is allowed the liberty of his own thoughts, and of publishing those of other men.” He is willing to accept the fiction – as fiction: “For my part, it shall never trouble me, if Brutus pass current for the father and founder of the British nation. Let the Britains descent stand good, as they deduce it from the Trojans. I shall never contradict it” (col. xi). Chances are that not many readers will stand firm in the face of Camden’s argument. At the same time, 240

Westminster & the “Britannia” Camden allows that the legend has the combination of undeniable appeal and the force of tradition that makes it a potent cultural expression having its own manner of truth. Not an absolutist insistent on historicity, nor an ­inflexible advocate of one or another of the sacred cows of vernacular lore, he finds a way beyond the limitations of his historical methods. His ability to analyse history is not paralysed by its inescapable imperfections: “… let Antiquity herein be pardoned, if she sometime disguise truth with the mixture of a fable, and bring in the Gods themselves to act a part, when she designed thereby to render the Beginnings either of a city or a nation, more noble or majestic” (col. xi). Veracity is not the only thing to be sought in the past. As we see, Camden keeps the strands of history and fable distinct. In such discussions he foregrounds the history (that being his métier if not his genre) without necessarily privileging it. He allows for their complementarity but does not blend them as Spenser does. The ontological and epistemological status of the historical detail cannot be denied once established. Like Sidney, he feels the undeniable weight of the clay of history on his boots, and he addresses Sidney’s fear that if we require the reality of history we cannot have Brutus. Camden, however, does not work from a Neoplatonic premise but entertains a more complex vision than Sidney does. Camden works from a kind of faith that accepts the fact that our ideals must adapt to the material reality of history, and that our body of knowledge is not constant, but grows and contracts. Understanding and personal and social action (“will”) are shaped in ad hoc ways as they adapt to the constructed body of knowledge we have tentatively accepted. There are various ways of understanding that “faith” that allows Camden to cross the threshold from dogma to dynamic. Psychologically, it is equivalent to the process of individuation, overcoming the overvaluation of the parent, the formation of ego-identity or personality development sufficiently to withstand the ego-loss resulting from other-object love. The process described in psychological terms of individuation is that which allows for growth and movement, and that is the cultural dynamic that is embodied in the emancipation from the overvaluation of legendary history that we see in Harrison and in Spenser’s admiration of the broadly heroic outlines of a legendary history. The dynamic that either fosters or frustrates change can be compared to that which blocks or enables character development in drama, and the exchange of cultural energy in social history.207 The overvaluation of history or historical institutions that slows change stands in contrast with the capacity for ahistoricity. Such a way of interpreting a cultural mentalité draws heavily on contemporary views of cultural materialism but it 241

William Camden – A Life in Context breaks away from the deterministic reading that cultural ­materialism imposes on history. What we see in Camden, then, is an ability to be independent of historical preconceptions that comes from a methodological sophistication enabling him to disclaim the role of historian and to bring his work into the realm of meta-history; what he is first in Britain to illustrate is a historiography that can accept different kinds of histories, that can break away from the exclusionary dialogic epistemology that pits history against myth and that recognizes only one kind of verity, and that can accommodate the pluralities of human experience. Like Shakespeare’s – a poet with whom he has strong intellectual affinity – his is a comic vision of history. Read against its principal contemporary, Harrison’s Description of Britain, then, the Britannia succeeds in redefining its chorographic form through a careful irenic design. Harrison’s work represents the genre turned to the ­service of the political establishment, its material, whether factual or fictional, turned toward a unilogical cultural and ideological end. Harrison and others having a similar dependency on historical narrative, unnecessarily tie their hands in thus committing themselves to the truth of their arguments. Harrison’s image of Britain is, as a result, more vulnerable because political image and historical fact are presumed to be linked, the two thus being tied ­anachronistically together. Camden’s Britainnia, on the other hand, adapts the chorographic form but deconstructs institutions and cultural structures by foregrounding landscape, geography, description, and facts rather than narratives. From his data, working from the premise of “conjecture” rather than certitude – “in matters of so great antiquity, it is easier to proceed by conjecture, than to offer at positive determinations” – he constructs pluralistic images of Britain. Camden’s phrase is apt: ease of proceeding is important for him – we must move forward and embrace change. Camden’s title invokes the name only to empty it of false pretensions, and to find a new way of seeing the nation he describes. The Britannia is thus first a denial of a unitary idea of Britain and an assertion of another transformative one which is defined in terms of the nation as it “is” at different moments rather than as it “would be”.


chapter vi Antiquarians, Historians, and the Economy of the Past


Camden as Antiquarian

n developing this comic vision Camden circumvents traditional   narrative techniques and works consistently to establish different ways   of speaking of the past. With gratulatory verses from Edward Grant, headmaster of Westminster, George Buck, Master of Revels, friend and librarian to the Palatine in Heidelberg, Janus Gruterus, and German scholar, Caspar Dorn, the Britannia identifies its international readership and its local coterie. What we have had to say about Westminster and Burghley is confirmed in the work’s dedication to him, where he is praised as patron of the “bonae litterae” and (in an important conjunction) also of Westminster College, as though the latter were the nursery of the former. In this chapter I want to explore some of the particulars of Camden’s methods of writing about the past. The oft-quoted reference to Abraham Ortelius is very specific in defining Camden’s project and what it entails: “to acquaint the World with the ancient State of Britain, that is, to restore Britain to Antiquity, and Antiquity to Britain … illustrate what was obscure, and settle what was doubtful; and upon the whole, to recover (as much as possible) a Certainty in our Affairs” (Preface). In one respect, the enterprise is one of international public relations – to provide the world with a coherent collection of British antiquities, to put together the oldest of what is known of Britain. The phrase, “restore Britain to Antiquity, and Antiquity to Britain”, applies quite literally to what Camden sees himself as doing. Camden’s language is very deliberate; he avoids mention of history and repeats the word “antiquity” in conjunction with the geographer’s influence to define his subject and its location in the material culture. The terms “antiquarian” and “historian” were not defined very precisely in the sixteenth century; while there was overlap between them, their activities and interests were seen as different. Cultural historians tend to agree on this, although they commonly locate the growing distinction in the 243

William Camden – A Life in Context mid-seventeenth century. Daniel Woolf, however, following the lead of T. D. Kendrick, emphasizes that the growth of the antiquarian movement was perhaps “the most significant Renaissance contribution to historical study”, and he offers that “the activities of the narrative historian and the antiquary were related by a common humanist parentage and a common focus on the past, [but] they were nevertheless not the same thing and, more important, were acknowledged to be different in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, even when the same individual was simultaneously both an antiquary and a historian”.208 Camden decisively locates himself among the antiquarians, and, I would argue, in doing so, he does more than any other writer in England to establish the firm distinction between the two. The distinction is important historically because Camden seems to be the first in England not to make the distinction, but to use both modes functionally in his work. Each endeavour, history and antiquarianism, comes with its own methods and interests, and in the latter Camden found a freedom well suited to his purposes. Humanist scholar and antiquarian-chorographer, then, Camden parts the ways and implicitly advances the distinction between the “disciplines”. At every turn, Camden explicitly or implicitly acknowledges the controversies surrounding historical study and writing, entrenches his role as antiquary, and defends himself against the anticipated detractors. In his preface he uses his guise as antiquarian as part of the humility topos serving the rhetoric of self-effacement, disarming criticism by granting his own unworthiness: “Possibly, I may seem bold and imprudent, who, though but a smatterer in Antiquities, have ventured upon the stage of this learned Age, and exposed myself to such a variety of censures and opinions, when I might quietly have lain hid”. Clearly these are no empty turns of phrase, for he vividly imagines the reception of his work: “I expect to be immediately attacked on all sides by prejudice, censure, detraction, and reproach”. While he momentarily poses as the humble antiquarian, his tone changes, and he looks boldly at the charges made against antiquarians, denounces the critics, and dismisses their censure: “Some there are who cry down the whole study of Antiquities, as a fruitless search after what is gone and past; but as I shall not altogether contemn the Authority of these men, so I shall not much regard their judgment”. Clearly the humility topos employed a moment before was Camden the faux-naïf. With customary even-handedness, he does not oversimplify the case – he does not condemn the critics as totally lacking authority, but he does upbraid them for lack of judgement. Camden knows who are his advocates: he is confident of the “approbation … of all true Englishmen, who value the honour of 244

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past their native country, and to whom I can promise a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction, in these Studies, becoming Men of Birth and Education”. His detractors are the unpatriotic, uneducated, and ungentlemanly. The political polarity Camden invokes here is hardly surprising, except that a letter usually regarded as “disarmingly” self-effacing in fact carefully balances its terms of historical study to give political and cultural weight to his antiquarian material. Camden concludes this initial defence of his antiquarian enterprise with a resonant allusion that elevates his researches and gives gravitas to his subject. Alluding to Plato, he suggests that those who deny the importance of antiquities alienate themselves from their own nation and, because of their ignorance of their own past, they are children in knowledge: “But if there are any who desire to be strangers in their own Country, Foreigners in their own Cities, and always Children in Knowledge, let them please themselves; I write not for such humours”. The charges here, of self-indulgent irresponsible juvenile behaviour and of cultural and psychological alienation, characterize a people who forfeit the rights of denizens through ignorance of themselves, and who are effectively outlaws in their land. The criticism is a charged one. It echoes one of the most sententious passages in Plato’s Timaeus, where Solon, commenting on the lost Atlantis, makes these charges against the Greeks, who, he says, are ignorant of their past. Cultural babes compared with the Egyptians, the Greeks are scorned for their shallowness, ignorance, indifference to the past. The lost Atlantis, cast to the bottom of the sea by a torrent, is an image also of the flood of time casting into oblivion the cultural wisdom of a nation unmindful of its past. In this image of epic magnitude Plato conflates the tropological dimension, the flood of time and oblivion, with the literal, the topographical detail, in order to fuse the whole into a myth of geography. The passage, of course, is perfectly suited to Camden’s chorographic survey of Britain and the cultural myth it will fashion. Camden also recognizes that the antiquary’s style will be less elevated – and less inhibited – than the historian’s. In a disclaimer just following the allusion to Plato, he defends his style with a canny irony and readiness of wit. In a parodic gallimaufry of locutionary inversions, imagery, allusion, exempla, aphorism, and macaronics, he defends his unpremeditated prose against his critics: There are others, perhaps, who will cavil at the lowness and roughness of my stile. And I frankly confess, that neither is every word weighed in 245

William Camden – A Life in Context Varro’s Scale; nor did I design to gratify the Reader with a Nosegay of all the flowers that I could meet with in the garden of Eloquence. But why should they object to this, when Cicero, the father of Eloquence, denied that such a subject … [should] bear a flourish; and when it is not, as Pomponius said, a proper subject for Rhetoric. So much for the plain style of the humble antiquary. Camden, putting aside any claim to the historian’s rhetorical mantle, makes his point about decorum – how an unadorned style has its own eloquence and can still be the vehicle for knowledge and insight. Slowed down and alerted by the admonitory allusion to Plato, the reader is prepared for a passage that oozes with sarcasm and irony as the author mocks the sniffers of rhetorical nosegays, those savourers of facile sentences who are more interested in a florid style than in substance, thus paradoxically turning erudite allusion and quotation to the defence of the plain style. The passage is a warning that we are reading a nuanced work of an international scholar at home in Greek and Latin, and that the study of Britain is part of classical scholarship and has a style and rhetorical range appropriate to its form and subject matter. Its crisp cunning dispels any thought of Camden, the Britannia, or the antiquary as being naïve, and lays to rest stereotypical views of the antiquarian. In passages such as this one we begin to see the man who so angered Ralph Brooke with his wit and verbal spriteliness. The preface defends the seriousness of the antiquarian’s enterprise, leaving the reader with a strong sense of its place among other learned endeavours. But it is clear, nevertheless, that it is materially different from narrative histories. The defence that we have just sampled legitimizes the study of antiquities in revealing ways. Camden wants to shake the stereotype of antiquities as mouldy and irrelevant. At the same time, he makes no effort to present the Britannia as civil or political history. Thus, the values that he invokes to justify his study of the material culture of the past are of some importance. Significantly, as we will see, as a “smatterer in Antiquities” he is free to introduce his reader to subject matter and forms not usually figuring in conventional histories: what is important for the antiquarian is often overlooked by the historian. The Britannia’s chorographic and geographic focus on objects rather than events creates a value system that narrative histories do not normally have and that presumes a more diversified audience than a traditional history would, although his choice to write in Latin narrows this group considerably. The Britannia is calculated to appeal to “all true ­Englishmen”; its 246

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past humanist cast will be appreciated by “Men of Birth and Education”, but his readership is conceived more broadly in terms of the civic-minded reader. In this, Camden recognizes a different market than that targeted by the historian. In assuming his readers’ esteem for the physical presence of antiquities, Camden works on a value system that will be meaningful only for the person who values the material past and is informed enough to appreciate its historical interest. In this, he develops an economy of meaning different from that of narrative history. His reader is the person who, through material circumstances or learning, or both, is able to recognize and value the symbolic, or semiotic significance of antiquities, and sees them as worth “acquiring” as either an intellectual or a material possession. A conjunction of material stability and intellectual sophistication is necessary for the essentially symbolic nature of antiquities to have value. Antiquarian interests are distinctly middle-class in nature; in the sixteenth century it did not take much financially to “collect” “worthless” coins or tumuli; at the same time, the sine qua non for such acquisitiveness, on whatever scale, is that the collector values in some way the artefacts that are otherwise “useless” and without material value. The large-scale collection of artefacts was only beginning to emerge in 1586; aside from a few significant exceptions (Cotton being among them), it would be several generations before the gentleman’s “cabinet” of curiosities would become a fashion. Camden’s antiquarian agenda, then, is central to an alchemical process by which the materials of history are transformed into the symbolic currency of the culture’s value system. The alchemy that makes the material become symbolic applies equally well to shards, tumuli, coins, inscriptions, architectural fragments, and virtually any object that can be transvalued by the historicizing process. Throughout the Britannia one sees this transvaluative process taking place – structurally in its balance of historical, geographic, and antiquarian sections, and more specifically, in Camden’s original analytic use of cultural artefacts. A particularly appropriate example of this is the increasing interest in ancient coins that is shown in successive editions of the Britannia. To illustrate his social history and to gain greater understanding of British and Roman history and political dynamic, Camden analyses ancient coins, including illustrations of them in his text: Since it is agreed among the learned, that ancient Coins do very much contribute to the understanding of ancient Histories; I thought it not amiss to present the Reader with some Pieces (as well of the Britains, 247

William Camden – A Life in Context who first stooped to the Roman Yoke, as of some Roman Emperors who had more immediate relation to Britain) out of the Collection of the famous Sir Robert Cotton of Connington. Although he admits to “hav[ing] groped in the dark” in his analysis, Camden is among the first to recognize the existence of British coinage (cols. cviii–cix). Our familiarity today with such archaeological methods should not blind us to the originality of Camden’s observation: he uses numismatics with considerable skill to discuss British, Roman, and Saxon economy, the material dynamic of conquest, issues of succession of rulers and governors, and imperial and indigenous imagery and iconography. Camden is there among the first in England to turn such materials to historical use, well before gentlemen collectors began to fill their cabinets with coins and other artefacts. This is but one example of the transforming process taking place in the Britannia and elsewhere in the antiquarian community of Westminster. His work is complemented, for instance, in a series of essays on the use and coining of sterling presented to the Society of Antiquaries in 1590.209 Obviously the process that I am describing could not be the work of one person alone, and we see other examples of it in the work of Camden’s colleagues, such as William Harrison and Walter Ralegh. What we observe during his generation is the emergence of an economy in which objects of no clear or significant material value are assumed into ideational realms that give them a currency based on non-material considerations. The process applies generally to artefacts that have ceased to have a functional value but are then absorbed into symbolic economy; the process has an ironic clarity when we see it occur in the monetary system itself, where ancient coins gain a new currency. But of more importance for the Britannia and for assessing Camden’s originality is how his comments amount to an intellectual tour de force, with the coin serving as the “text” for the history. Increasingly the historian immerses himself in the material dross of human affairs that repelled Sidney and that rhetorical historians preferred to ignore. We can see that the Britannia as a whole, in surveying such objects of local and national interest, draws on a cultural economy, the currency of which presupposes the existence of a community of shared values. Numismatics illustrates the cultural dynamic especially well: the coin assumed a semiotic and historical value, and Camden’s book promotes the value system that legitimizes intellectual interest in coins, rather than the coins themselves. As we have seen in Camden’s letter to Ortelius, the historical value of coins often 248

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past inverts the market valuation based on their gold or silver content. The Britannia, then, is an index of cultural symbols and a register of the value system by which they attain meaning. The encoding process is at once more symbolic and more materialistic than it is for the narrative history, and in this it appeals to its audience in different ways and in different terms of valuation. What we see at work in Camden’s antiquarianism is a significant transformation of humanist learning within a new cultural climate. When characterizing the readers of the Britannia as humanists, Camden forges the link that joins local antiquities, classical rhetoric, the bonae litterae, and the duties of citizenship; in doing so he implicates them in the antiquarian enterprise, legitimizes it, and reinforces the political merits of its study. The Britannia’s impact on the world of letters and learning, then, is radically different from Leland’s. In replacing Leland’s polemics with the rhetoric of the artefact, he brings the antiquarianism of Leland’s “New Year’s Gift” into the early modern world; where his gift was tendered specifically as a tribute to the monarchpatron, Camden’s is an offer to his readership to buy into British antiquity. For the British reader this is cultural property that is theirs already; the work valorizes history’s material presence and its real value, making antiquity “real property”. Such a literary phenomenon is possible only through the conjunction of the relevant socio-economic and political forces. Camden capitalizes on the recognition of a shared national heritage, and this is quite a different transaction from Leland’s presentation to Henry VIII of a miniature of his kingdom. Camden’s antiquities, then, history without events, are a commodification of the past in an age when such values were clearly ready to be made current. Part of the process of valuation is through the pre-established “exchange rate” of his classicism and his humanism. Since the Britannia ultimately posits a Britain that is comprehensible only through classical Rome, it is a work that uses contemporary social values to reinforce its conservative humanist cultural (and political) vision of Britain tamed by Rome.

Camden and the Invention of Periodicity


amden’s antiquarian evidence, particularly the numismatics, comprise some of his richest “textual” documents from the past, and it complements what is a historical prose mosaic of Britain. For Camden, antiquarianism steps in when the demands of written history cannot be met. With his goal to travel as far back as possible into the British past, documents and artefacts must pave the way for him, as far as they go. But his path is not 249

William Camden – A Life in Context a straight one – the documentary evidence is incomplete and does not tell the whole story of “Britain”. The fuller “history” requires many different kinds of narrative. Thus, the overriding regional survey, organized on chorographic principles, is the centrepiece of the work, but it is led up to and supplemented by a number of other sections, and interspersed with antiquarian materials drawn from different areas of study. He thus approaches the chorographic core of the work through a carefully and chronologically stratified survey of the inhabitants, starting with the British. A closer look at the contents of these sections will give a better sense of Camden’s view of the cultural histories of Britain. Thus, after first discussing the location and name of Britain he turns to the sociological and even anthropological customs of the different peoples, starting with the Britons, and here Camden faces the problems arising from the absence of original material. In writing this section on “The Manners of the Britains” he had hoped for assistance from Reformation humanist, diplomat, and amateur geographer, Daniel Rogers, who died before he could complete any of his projected work. In lieu of that assistance, and lacking documentary material descending directly from the Britons themselves, Camden collects passages reflecting on British manners out of Roman authors: most extensively from Caesar, Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, Pomponius Mela, Tacitus, Herodian, Dio Nicaeus, Solinus, Pliny, and Lucan.210 His methods become most evident here: in the absence of authentic “contemporary” records, he advances to those who are nearest in time to the Britons and uses his “conjecture” to analyse the material. Before the Roman occupation no documents survive; what we know of British manners is derived from Roman accounts and construed conjecturally from other sources such as coins and inscriptions. In this, he adapts his chronology from Varro’s theory of “three distinct Periods of time”: the first, from the creation to the deluge, about which “we know nothing”; the second, from the deluge to the first Olympiad (3,189th year of the world), known as the “fabulous” era because the “history” of the period is false; and third, from the first Olympiad to the present, known as the “historical” period, when reliable historians recorded events. British ­history per se begins with the Romans in Britain, and the pre-Roman British period, of which we “know nothing”, was the “fabulous” period ­reconstructed conjecturally. For the Britannia, then, the time of the Roman occupation is the threshold of history: “Here then our Historian … must begin his history, and not higher” (col. xlvii). From that vantage point he can peer backward into the mist of 250

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past the British past and look more clearly into the historical future. Camden is careful in his language describing these periods; we “know” nothing for certain about the “Britons”, although we can surmise; we do know some things about Roman Britain; he does not use the word “history” to describe his work on the Britons, as he does for the Romans, and he carefully distinguishes between the subject of a peoples’ “affairs” and “customs” and history (meaning narrative text). Moving beyond the period of conjectural reconstruction, he approaches the narratively rich period of Roman settlement: no Nation, how learned so ever, except the Jews only, had any true historical relations before that age [the first Olympiad] … Hence therefore (lest I lay a bad foundation, and the whole Building be accordingly weak) I will begin the history of the Romans in Britain … Not collecting it from Fables … but from the genuine Monuments of Antiquity (col. xlviii). From the sometimes conflicting evidence that Camden collects he creates a collage of British social customs: they practised communal living, they inhabited simple villages, their government was indifferent to gender and they were “in a great measure a Democracy”; they domesticated animals but did not eat fish or fowl; they resembled the ancients and the Gauls in that they were known for robbery; they fought ferociously and used chariots; they were skilled horsemen, and they generally went naked and painted their bodies in woad (cols. xli–xliv). He also surveys the Britons’ legendary involvement in European affairs – their supposed presence with Hercules at the rape of Hesione, British military involvement in Greece under Brenus, and the possibility that Ulysses, Alexander, and Hannibal came to Britain, for example. Camden concludes that the Greeks and Latins only knew of Britain fairly late, and that Polybius, who travelled extensively in Europe, did not know of Britain “370 years before Christ” (col. xlvi). These early chapters on the different immigrant “settlers” in the order of their arrival in Britain provide the reader with the necessary cultural and chronological framework for the historical geography that comes later. Immediately following this discussion of the “manners of the Britains” is a detailed account of Caesar’s expedition across the English Channel. There are different accounts of his reasons for embarking for Britain – the rumours of priceless pearls, the need for supplies, his pursuit of the Bellovaci, grand imperial designs and the desire that he “might by Conquests join Countries, which Nature had severed”, and, “rather than all these, for the sake of Glory” 251

William Camden – A Life in Context (col. xlvii). Citing extensively the Latin documents, Camden gives a detailed account of Roman presence in Britain; it is certainly the clearest and most coherent Renaissance survey of the material that I am aware of. Camden’s position is that of the citizen, not that of the subaltern or the subjected; he does not write from the post-colonial or anti-colonial perspective, as the Welsh historical writers do. Nor does he write as the Roman eulogist. He summarizes their influence as colonizers: by planting their Colonies here, and reducing the natives under the Rules of Civil Government; by instructing them in the liberal Arts, and sending them into Gaul to learn the laws of the Roman Empire … [they] did at last so reform and civilize them by introducing their laws and customs, that for their modes of dress and living, they were not inferior to the other Provinces (cols. lxxviii–lxxix). The buildings they erected were magnificent, regarded in later years as the work of giants, their highways opened up the land and helped unify it and populate and civilize it; such was the civilization of Roman Britain that it became known among the other provinces of Europe. Hence, the Britannia. The chapter on the Romans in Britain comes closest to a narrative history; it emphasizes the social and cultural developments under Roman aegis rather than major military achievements. His collection covers the arrival of Christianity in the island with Joseph of Arimathea, and the other vicissitudes of imperial involvement in Britain until Valentinian III and the massive depopulation of Britain’s young men sent in defence of Gaul. Depending on the edition, it is followed by sections on British and Roman coins and then “The destruction of Britain” and chapters on the inhabitants and immigrant peoples after Rome’s departure. Like that on Rome, the sections on the British in Armorica, the Welsh and Cornish Britons, the Picts, Scots, Saxons, and Normans, are brief historical surveys adhering closely to “authentic” sources, quoting them extensively, and frequently stopping to question the authority of the material. They are largely social histories, looking at the unique customs, laws, and social habits that characterize each group, locating them in the historical mosaic, and identifying their place in the political hegemony of their period – how they established their power, how they related to the dominant culture, and how they maintained or lost their cultural identity. The framing idea, however, stresses the domino effect resulting from the power vacuum left by Rome’s departure – “No wonder then that Britain was exposed to the Barbarians, when so many and such considerable forces 252

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past were daily drawn away into foreign parts” (col. cvii). The account of suffering and bloodshed of the British tribes “in these miserable and woful times” draws heavily on Gildas. In a comment that reminds us of his warning to his readers in the preface, Camden describes the inhabitants of Britain during this dark age as a people exiled and estranged from their own land: “The rest of the miserable Britains (who were forced to seek a Country in their native one) underwent such terrible Calamaties as are not to be expressed” (col. cxxxiii). Following his summary of the fate of the British tribes, he turns to the Picts, next in antiquity to the British, and probably related to that native people. Located in the northern realms they first separated themselves from Roman rulers but later joined them. The Scots too were aboriginal, although with roots difficult to identify. Camden (in the Jacobean editions especially) creates a complicated history that identifies western Scots with the aboriginal Irish and the eastern Scots, or highlanders, with the Saxons and hence English: “For the more civilized who inhabit the East part of the country, though adopted into that name, are not really Scots, but of the same German original with us English” (col. cxliii). Camden is somewhat edgy in his treatment of the Scots, and tries to deflect criticism from either English or Scottish parties, and to avoid being too closely associated with sources that portray the Scots negatively: “I am so far from casting any reflection upon them, that I have always loved them the more, as men of the same blood and extraction, and respected them highly, even when the Kingdoms were distinct …” (col. cxliii). The Saxons (the next group surveyed) were not aboriginal, but invited to Britain around 428 ce, when it was laid waste after the departure of the Romans and when Vortigern found that he could not protect the Britons against the invasions of the Picts and Scots (col. clx). Camden tells the familiar story with frequent reference to Gildas, Witichindus, and Malmesbury, but the framework that he creates for it makes the conflicts that led to the establishment of the English nation into a family feud where racially and (at that point in history) socially, the Picts, Scots, Britons, and Saxons had more in common than they had differences. If the Saxons were initially alien among the various warring aboriginal tribes, they were invited by the constituted British ruler (itself an interesting detail), and their “victory” was culturally penetrating rather than military (col. clviii). In describing their presence, he characterizes them not primarily in terms of military events but of cultural assimilation and their relation to the social fabric; Camden was among the earliest to begin to explore 253

William Camden – A Life in Context the ­ significant cultural role played by the Saxons in the history of Britain. Historical detail may at some points be uncertain, but of the Saxon’s place in the nation that emerges, he speaks confidently: “But at what time soever they came over, it is certain they shewed wonderful courage, and this tempered with great prudence. For in a short time they became so considerable, both for numbers, discipline, and Conquests, that they were in a most prosperous and powerful condition, and their victory in a manner entire and absolute”. Camden’s sense of social history is clear and emphatic. Their “entire” victory, matched only (and even then “perhaps”) by Rome’s, is one of assimilation, adaptation, and cultural influence – humanity and learning – not military engagements and the clash of individuals and armies: “All the conquered, except some few … yielded, and became one Nation with them, and embraced their Laws, name, and language” (col. clxi). Rome alone went further in infiltrating all three areas of life through intermarrying and becoming part of Britain. Language is the most important sign of acculturation for Camden, and the Saxon language, he points out, has been used continuously for 1,150 years. He goes on to characterize the manners and customs of the Saxons. He stresses their adaptability – the ways in which they change, and particularly their development from a warlike breed to one of civility and law, their ready acceptance of Christianity, and the subsequent flourishing of “humane learning” (col. clxvi). Their receptivity to Christianity is part of their national character. Interestingly, the readiness to change and grow peacefully is a national trait that enables them to be converted – the trait is not the result of conversion. As a view of history and human character, Camden’s survey stresses social order and the arts of peace and the spirit of compromise rather than the controlling presence of a providential God or a powerful prince. The remaining peoples to find their place in Britain, the Danes and the Normans, are presented in similar contexts – as part of the fabric making up the modern British community. They were invaders as the Saxons and Scots and Picts were not (although the last two were often dissident). The “miserable havoc” the Danes wrought on the Saxons just when their development was at its peak, was, Camden suggests, part of the natural cycle common to all things (precipitated in part by a weak and cowardly King Æthelred), and he avoids explanations in terms of providential history or national stereotypes, neither blaming the Saxons for becoming decadent, nor the Danes for being cruel and barbarous. The final section dealing with the peoples of Britain looks at the Norman presence. For much of this section Camden quotes from a draft of his own 254

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past history of Britain that he began in his youth before clarifying his plans for the Britannia: if you can have the patience to read it, take what I drew up (it is possible with too little accuracy and thought, but however with the integrity of an Historian) when raw and young, and very unfit for such an undertaking, I had a design to write the History of our Nation in Latin (col. ccx). Camden’s self-deprecatory introduction of the next several pages of narrative history reveal his real discomfort writing with the supposed authority and “accuracy” of an historian, and his retreat behind the arras of “integrity” or good intentions. Much of the narrative describes the bloody Battle of Hastings and the heroic face-off between Harold and William. Following the Norman victory, William, with some success, usurped the laws, lands, and customs of the Saxons, trying to impose an alien culture on a society that had evolved over a period of about a thousand years; the portrait is of a people again in exile within their own land: William … laid aside the greatest part of the English Laws, and introduced the Norman customs, and ordered that all causes should be pleaded in French. The English were dispossessed of their hereditary estates, and the lands divided among his Soldiers; but with this reserve, that he should remain the direct Proprietor, and oblige them to do homage to him and his successors (col. ccxvii). The Norman rulers expanded Britain’s international presence (partly through the crusades), and at certain levels introduced legal and social conventions, even influencing language and learning to some extent. Nevertheless, in ­Camden’s account, they failed to supplant the broad-based cultural institutions – language in particular – that the Saxon and Roman periods had ­created, so that theirs proves not to be the same pervasive victory that we see in the two dominant historical cultures he identifies (col. ccxvii). Their presence becomes an instance of an aristocratic imposition of power, separated from the people and from custom. Camden’s survey of the peoples who make up the modern Briton generally illustrates what has been said of his historical writing. As Camden promises, it sticks closely to its documentation, quoting heavily from the oldest available sources; it eschews legendary accounts of dubious accuracy while also acknowledging its own limitations. It avoids any sort of monologic 255

William Camden – A Life in Context ­explanation for historical change, finding multiple secular causes for events. In his overview of the successive inhabitants of Britain, he is largely impartial, excusing none from acts of cruelty and meanness, noting for each their contributions, and generally presenting rounded views of each people as a complex society subject to the changes that come through time. With the exception of his tactful treatment of the Scots, he does not appear to truncate data to support partisan views or to derive political homilies. In the case of the Scots, his compliment to James is ingenuous and isolated, indeed, reminding the reader that his vision of a united Britain significantly pre-dates James’s accession. The reader leaves this section of the Britannia well informed about the people who will be mentioned in the course of the topographical description.

Rome and the Theory of Historical Change


lthough scholars have spoken generally about Camden’s place in   British historiography, his views of history and his unique interpretation of the formation of the British nation have never been studied in any detail. However, from his approach to Britain through its people and the different native and immigrant groups emerges a distinctive vision of historical change. Lying behind it is an informing ideology that is important for our understanding of Camden and his work at Westminster. I want to explore this sense of the past as it finds expression in his view of the people of Britain. We are left at the end of this section with a picture of the contemporary British nation whose character has been shaped by several different cultural influences. His view of the formation of British character is inclusive in nature. He does not ask, either implicitly or explicitly, the rhetorical “What ifs” of history – what if the British had defeated the Romans; what if the Romans had not left the decimated British prey to invaders; what if the Saxons had resisted the Normans? Instead, he sees change as emerging from human motives, strengths, and weaknesses as they work through individuals and their institutions, and this differs significantly from other current views of history. For example, he does not adapt Johannes Sleidanus’s highly influential Calvinist theory of history, that assimilates change within a providential design. In his De quatuor summis imperiis (Of the Four Greatest Empires), Sleidanus develops a pattern of periodicity based on the theories of the fourth monarchy, which sees the overthrow of the Antichrist as immanent and denies mankind’s ability to give direction to history.211 Johannes Sleidanus’s work 256

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past was a model of Protestant historiography, but for Camden it wandered too far into the realm of theology and away from civil history. Nor is his history a cyclical one, a medieval wheel of fortune where the individual intersects with history through the ethos de casibus. Camden avoids the sententious lessons of such Christian stoicism. Thus, when the Saxons reach “the height of their glory” they are “ready for their fall”, but there is little sense of its being inevitable or part of a divine pattern; the sententiae we might have expected are packed away in a parenthetical phrase: “as such (according to the common fate of all things in this world) [they] were ready for their fall” (col. clxviii). Nor does Camden offer a positivist, prophetic view of history after that of Melanchthon, such as Halle’s and Holinshed’s, where each period contributes to eventual fulfilment in the established religious-political establishment. For example, he sees James’s union of the Saxon-Scots with the English as an important marriage of cultures and peoples, but not as the fulfilment of a pattern; Camden’s point is that historically their origins were the same – they were originally one. The reunion is part of a pattern but not its fulfilment. His vision of historical change and pattern do not embrace closure: the union of Scottish Saxons and the English is not the end of a long birth process like that suggested by the prophetic vision of the Scottish monarchs in Macbeth, nor is it the sort of prophetic history that provides the underpining of The Faerie Queene. Again, Camden appears to be intellectually compatible with his contemporaries while differing from them greatly. In presenting the historical strata in terms of the people, Camden writes a history that circumscribes narrative and allows for discontinuous and multiple forces to work; it is not a “geste” or story, but a group of phases with complex links to one another. As we will see, it is a history that builds the acceptance of change into its political vision. Acceptance is both a conservative, retarding force, and also a necessary condition for change. In the Britannia acceptance of the political order paradoxically goes along with the acceptance of change as a condition fundamental to all ages. Neither of these fundamentals in Camden’s historiography – the acceptance of the past and the acceptance of change – is typical of Tudor or Stuart history. For Camden, though, they work together to serve an ideology compatible with the politically accommodating view known as the Elizabethan settlement: “These are the People which have inhabited Britain; of whom there remain to this day the Britains, the Saxons or Angles, with a mixture of Normans, and towards the North the Scots”. His secular view of the state of things as they are is ­summarized by an avuncular, penultimate passage from Seneca: 257

William Camden – A Life in Context Let us then conclude this part with that of Seneca: From hence it is manifest, that nothing has continued in its primitive state. There is a continual floating in the affairs of mankind. In this vast orb there are daily revolutions; new foundations of cities laid, and new names given to nations, by the extinction of the former name, or the addition of it to that of a more powerful party (col. ccxx). Such a view of historical change is sound preparation for the survey of the nation’s physical landscape which follows. His stoic resignation in the face of change does not seek the comforting essentialism that Spenser does when confronted by Dame Mutability, finding solace from Dame Nature’s words that things “are not changed from their first estate” and in time turn “to themselves at lengthe againe” (vii.vii.58). Camden’s stoicism avoids closure in human affairs but, at the same time, offers a tolerant, politically tactful analysis that captures the spirit of change and accommodation. Lest Seneca’s secularism seem too irreligious, leaving humanity adrift before the indifferent winds of change, Camden provides a coda: And considering that all these nations which invaded Britain were Northern … Nicephorus’s observation, founded on the authority of Scripture is very true. As God very often sends terrors upon men from Heaven … So those Northern terrors are … reserved by God, to be sent out for Punishments, when, and upon whom, the Divine Providence shall think fit (col. ccxx). Seneca sung to the counterpoint of Nicephorous makes for an interesting, if somewhat unsettling harmony. Neither boldly invites humanity to take its fate firmly in hand and march into the future. The former accepts change as part of the dynamic of life, the latter casts it as an agent of punishment; its broad stroke does not identify any one scourge of Britain, but includes all the waves of change. Although the point is not made explicit, it suggests that Rome is the social condition from which Britain, over time, has declined. As Camden then turns to his next section, “The Division of Britain”, he also returns to the only useful focus for historical study – society and “civil” affairs. This section might be subtitled “a history of the people of Britain”. It contains an important political lesson that seems likely to have grown out of the influence of a political pragmatist such as Burghley rather than out of a monarch’s felt presence. Its “tribal” view of historical movements emphasizes the group rather than the individual; the political structure rather than the 258

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past extra-legal monarch. The major turnings in national history are assessed in terms of the people, their customs, and language. The depletion of national strength by Roman conscription, the national traits of the immigrant groups, the flight or assimilation of particular tribes characterize the effects of wars, policies, and only occasionally of individuals’ strengths, weaknesses, and decisions. National leaders (kings, generals) are “constituted”, rebelled against, killed; assemblies come and go; the people and the land suffer and prosper, but the community stands as a constant. Mindful of Seneca’s lesson, there is no institution or office that exists a priori around which society grows or that can claim entitlement by virtue of originality. The partisan readings of different periods, familiar to readers of Renaissance historical writing, are thus averted. That said, in the course of these sections, Rome, Camden’s historical starting place, occupies a unique generative place. The exclusionary nature of other histories becomes clear in contrast with the Britannia’s inclusiveness, in which the broad sweep of human affairs is often presented in terms of the social unit of the family: Whilst I treat of the Roman Empire in Britain (which lasted, as I said, about 476 years) it comes into my mind how many Colonies of Romans must have been transplanted hither in so long a time; what numbers of soldiers were continually sent from Rome for Garrisons; how many persons were dispatched hither, to negotiate affairs, publick or private; and that these, intermarrying with the Britains, seated themselves here, and multiplied into Families (col. cvii). History is read in terms of its people, who are the real bearers of its social force, its durability or weakness. Camden goes on from this passage, for example, to explain that from these transmigrations of people over hundreds of years we can plausibly argue that Britons are descendants of Troy through a common Roman parentage. Rome is both father inhabitant, and mother genetrix: “whenever … the Roman conquers, he inhabits”, says Camden, quoting Seneca. And yet Rome is also our nurturer and maternal home, making all Europe her citizens: “For Rome, that common Mother … challenges all such as citizens”. The social pattern acknowledged here is of assimilation and intermarriage, not one of uncomplicated genealogies and clear family lines distinguishing between Roman, Briton, or Saxon. I want to draw two conclusions from this, one general and one specific. The first is consistent with what has been said of Camden’s foregrounding landscape and chorography rather than history in 259

William Camden – A Life in Context his work. In defining historical strata in terms of broad population patterns, he also disestablishes institutions and offices. The “history” is the same as Holinshed’s perhaps, but the view of it is radically different, in fact inverted. The generation of readers of E. M. W. Tillyard’s Elizabethan World Picture and his studies of Shakespeare’s history plays will understand what I am describing. Instead of explaining or justifying history from the top down, in terms of divine or royal paradigms, the paradigms are found at ground level. Camden’s history makes sense in terms of, and has its motive force from, the broad popular base that translates to legions, soldiers, colonies, families, customs. This, in effect, de-emphasizes offices such as the monarchy while giving especial importance to custom, social stability, and strength. This is not to say that Camden was a populist; the “people” were rather the common denominator for change through history. He was, however, a pragmatist, and recognized that social structures and titles generally come from popular practices based on usage; flowing from the power structure of the community, ideally they strengthen the social and political enterprise. All things are subject to change in the Britannia, including language and political divisions; generally, dominant power changes in Camden’s Britain not through the valiant or tyrannical designs of a king or heroic leader, but through tribal strengths and weaknesses that may be set off by a Vortigern or Edward. This, Camden’s view of history, is resonant with political implications. While it erodes the political structure at the upper level, it entrenches it from below and defines empowered institutions as essentially political rather than philosophical in nature. The second point has to do specifically with the place of Rome in Camden’s historical scheme, and how it influences the Britannia’s political ideology. As I have suggested, Camden’s historiography should not be mistaken as politically disinterested, but as seeming so. The signal place of Rome in his historical survey helps to give political definition to the dynamic of change that has been presented. If Camden’s recognition of change as inevitable, and changing custom and use as the determinants of current norms in matters religious, civic, and personal (to use Milton’s classification of human experience), then the closest that history comes to offering something empirically fixed, a beacon in the mists of legendary lore, is the Roman past. Rome we have seen is literally the threshold leading in to the realm of documentary, authoritative history. It is the common stock on which the British have been grafted. Not idealized or otherwise isolated as exemplary, its texts make it the source by which we can understand much of the past; its has been the oldest non-aboriginal ­presence; 260

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past its nurturing of Britain made it part of the European family; beyond its role in historical “events”; in its impact on language, law, colonization, urban and economic development, it was, and for Camden continued to be the major influence on British institutions and national character. Like all else in Camden, the Roman presence is a mixture of good and bad, but because it is historically located through data, it is comprehensible as little else is in a world otherwise prone to slip into oblivion and confusion. This characterization that Camden gives Rome comments meta-historically on his enterprise; Rome is a reality, as pre-Roman and much of Saxon Britain cannot be for want of records. I say that Camden does not eulogize Rome and refrains from extended use of the traditional tropes often applied to Rome. He does not lament its loss in the international tradition of the ubi sunt that extends from Petrarch to Spenser. Nor does he turn to the form of the laudes romae popular in medieval tradition. Thus, he rejects two possible ethical responses to history: both the stoic scepticism that accepts the mutability of all in this world, and the ethos of empire that underpins the ideas of civitas and pietas and is examined so closely by Shakespeare in Coriolanus. Camden’s rhetoric in speaking of Rome is understated and does not resort to the stereotyping commonly used by even the most nuanced of writers. His reticence is important and reflects the tension surrounding his material and the overall undertaking, and originates in the same desire to avoid controversy, to appear to depoliticize his work that we have seen in his treatment of all the historical periods and ­peoples. As others who have studied the image of Rome in Renaissance ­ England have shown, the very implications of the word itself are complex and culturally weighted.212 Depending on context, for the Protestant reader, “Rome” might suggest the nemesis of religious contagion, loss of national autonomy, usurped authority, spiritual and material pride. From a humanist perspective, it can figure the apogee of secular cultural achievement, learning and the arts, law and orderliness, republicanism, or the providential march to the new dispensation and the revealed word prepared for by the pax romana. It was a resource for typological analogues that Elizabeth, James, and their counsellors used to hone their public image; its history also provided paradigms of political and social conflicts, as the dramatists, Shakespeare foremost among them, regularly show us. The point is that Rome was unavoidably charged with associations, good and bad, that could hardly be avoided, although they could be manipulated. Camden had the rhetorical skill and diplomatic sensitivity to circumnavigate the pitfalls and avoid controversy while subtly 261

William Camden – A Life in Context establishing Rome as the cultural touchstone for Britain. While Rome is not identified as the model to emulate or prototype to return to or to denounce, Camden’s bias emerges clearly enough in the ways that its presence permeates his “descriptive” portrait of the country. As in other aspects of the Britannia, Camden’s respect for Rome emerges from the landscape, and this assists with its depoliticization. Camden looks on Roman expansionism as part of a pan-European movement that, given his international audience, assumes greater meaning. Thus, as Camden says, when “Virtue and Fortune” come in alignment with “Providence” to ensure that “Rome should be Mistress of the world”, the possibilities of a European union seem to become attainable, so that “Caesar might by Conquests join Countries, which Nature had severed” (col. xlvii). Roman expansionism is presented in fairly neutral terms – neither enlightened despotism nor the illicit enslavement of sovereign nations, it is both positive and negative. Part of an irrepressible expansionism, Rome’s conquests served to unify and civil­ ize a world that had been barbarous and by nature divided. The politics of “atonement”, important late in Elizabeth’s reign and part of the first policies of James on ascending the throne, are thus part of the Roman legacy. Quoting extensively from Roman historians, poets, and playwrights celebrating the military achievements of the empire, Camden implicitly assents to its policy, although he also records the heroic self-defence by the British and the difficulty of subduing them. Historically, Britons became citizens of Rome and also adopted Christianity, thus taking their place in the major political and international affairs in which “romanitas” was a precondition for membership in the Christian community (cols. lxxxi–lxxxiii). Without praising Rome for any single ideology or ethos, Camden presents the period of Roman hegemony as the glue that held the world in place for civilized growth, the medium for relative social stability. It provided the internationalism that brought Britain into the world. Camden characterizes this quality through the design of the Britannia rather than through commentary. Thus, in preparation for his sections on each of the different peoples occupying Britain, Camden follows the chapter on Rome with an “insert” on “The Destruction of Britain”, describing a people’s diaspora. There follow, as we have seen, chapters on the aboriginal tribes, the British Armoricans, Welsh, Cornish, Picts, the Scots, and then the Saxons, who begin the restorative political process of nation-founding. Thus, while Camden does not expatiate on Rome’s role as civilizer, that is the fate that the history has assigned it. The section on the destruction of Britain is a pivotal chapter, for what follows 262

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past represents the efforts to restore that lost unity. After nearly half a millennium in Britain the Romans withdrew their presence, and the resultant vacuum contracted the forces of destruction and oblivion. The demise of Roman Britain is like a physical death: Now was the state of affairs, on all hands, miserable and desperate; The Empire, like a Body lame and decrepit, sinking under the weight of old Age, and the Church grievously pestered with Hereticks, whose poisons spread most successfully in times of war. One of these was Pelagius, a Briton born … (col. cvi). Camden’s interpretation is interesting in its use of the microcosm of the human body to explore the death of the body politic, the loss of unity, and the growth of factions. His is a view of human nature rather like Hobbes’s, and Rome, while whole, fills the role of the art of government that keeps the lust for power in check. Consistent with the fundamental principle of the Elizabethan compromise, the lesson of history here calls for placement of the public good over the private, the interests of the many over the few. Interestingly, Rome’s political institutions and the ideology of empire are left ill defined; effective power and stability are the identifying attributes. Camden’s treatment of the effects of Rome’s departure parallels, indeed draws heavily on, Gildas’s account in the de excidio Britanniae. One important difference, though, is that, unlike Gildas, Camden does not level anger and blame against Rome for its abandonment. Camden’s methodology serves this restraint; he lets Gildas’s impassioned words speak for themselves. The result is a mitigated critique of Rome. Camden depicts the empire as aged, infirm, and corrupt, incapable of sound leadership. This enervated Rome, then, is partly exempt from blame, and some of the responsibility for the destruction that follows shifts to the destabilizing factions that insisted on change and personal sovereignty. In the historical drama of Camden’s narrative, Rome is a “round” character; it is complex, made up of positive civilizing forces and of human weaknesses. Camden also succeeds, then, in showing the dangers of popular unrest and self-interest. The cost of the kind of factionalism that initiated the destructive process was, by Camden’s account, enormous suffering, pain, and large-scale social unrest that, we have seen, is emphasized in the opening of each successive chapter on the tribal groups. First, the Armoricans: “In these miserable and woful times, the remains of the poor Britains, who were found in the mountains, were butchered in great numbers” (col. cxxxi). Then, the aboriginal people of Wales and Cornwall: 263

William Camden – A Life in Context “The rest of the miserable Britains (who were forced to seek a Country in their native one) underwent such terrible Calamities as are not to be expressed” (col. cxxxiii). The English Saxons, themselves, like the Romans, originally foreigners, begin the process of restoration, a process amounting to reunification and the establishment of political stability and a strong military presence. Camden’s Roman bias, we might say, is built into his methodology and design, and, of course, is revealed as well in his decision to write in Latin. We should not take it for granted; it makes the Britannia into a tour de force the significance of which is illuminated by Shakespeare’s similar treatment of Romano-British relationships in Cymbeline. The historical place of Rome in the Britannia becomes essentially political in the way that it figures in the dynamic of stability and change within social structures and institutions. In his tolerant and heterodox treatment of different peoples, structures, and periods, and its acceptance of change as part of the historical process, Camden establishes a resilient national image contrasting sharply the factious and politically targeted works that fragment history by isolating periods, privileging peoples and institutions. As Shakespeare is in Macbeth, and as Jonson is in his repeated critiques of political manipulators such as those ­populating his Sejanus, Camden is suspicious of those who try to initiate change and force it along a preconceived path. But most significant about his vision of history are his readiness for change, his non-essentialist view of national character, and his ethos of accommodation. This last is also the lesson of history learned by the characters in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, where he presents a view of the periodicity of British history and Roman presence that closely resembles Camden’s. The Britannia’s lesson of historical accommodation – “And it is easy to believe, that the Britains and Romans, by a mutual ingrafting, for so many ages, have incorporated into one Nation” (col. cviii) – resonate in Shakespeare’s play, with its concluding vision of Rome and Britain grafted together and enjoying a future of peace and prosperity: Set we forward. Let A Roman and a British ensign wave Friendly together. So through Luds-Town march, And in the temple of great Jupiter Our peace we’ll ratify. (Cymbeline, V.v.479–83)


Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past

The “Britannia” and the Representation of the Landscape


hese socio-historical divisions provide the terminology and temporal structure for the core of the work, which is the chorographic survey of the British Isles along physical and tribal boundaries rather than political ones such as county divisions. In this chapter I want to look more closely at Camden’s achievement in representing the land. Set alongside each other, as we have seen, the chapters on the Britains, Romans, Picts, and others offer a chronometer for locating the geographical material in historical time. Any detail drawn from the landscape can be placed on the vertical scale ascending from the obscure British past to post-Roman history. The verticality, however, is purely temporal, not implying a myth of progress. Nor does this structure attempt to replicate the familiar political divisions of the realm: the shape that Camden gives the nation is not the one that his contemporaries had in mind when contemplating a description of Britain in terms of the divisions into counties. Camden attempts to capture the more amorphous, ill-defined shape of the land as it was defined physically and socially. Thus, each county description is prefaced by brief section on the people indigenous or associated with the area; the tribal group sometimes carries over several counties: for example, the “Danmonii” occupied areas of Cornwall and Devonshire; the “Trinobantes” inhabited Middlesex and Essex, and the “Iceni”, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, and Huntingdonshire. As we will see, this is an important detail for distinguishing Camden’s national representation from otherwise comparable undertakings such as the atlases and cartographic projects beginning as early as Saxton’s maps in 1574, John Norden’s county descriptions and maps of the 1590s, and John Speed’s important Jacobean project, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine from 1610–11. All of these share the patriotic impulse of the Tudor years that turned attention to the national landscape, but we must not assume that their nationscapes all look alike. Certainly Camden’s Britannia stands out as radically different, and we must be careful not to overlook nuances in thought among these political iconographers. Virtually all of the cartographers represent the political shape of Great Britain in terms of its counties; John Speed’s originality was to also include interior divisions into hundreds.213 This is not as inevitable as it sounds – maps that “ideographically” shaped the political outline of its subject matter were common. Cartographers of the period often gave 265

William Camden – A Life in Context mythic rendering to their geographical subject matter (such as the “maps” of Odysseus’s or Aeneas’s travels), or made their maps politically symbolic (such as the map of Belgium, “Leo Belgicus”), or iconographic (such as the maps evoking the ideal of a locus amoenus).214 For the major English enterprises, though, there is a visual endorsement of the political divisions and a subsuming of national character and custom within those barriers in county maps that are illustrated with “representative” figures appropriate for each county. Saxton, a decade older than Camden, stands as the presiding genius of the cartographic movement in England and his work is striking for its technical and artistic brilliance. The atlas and the individual maps are iconographic expressions of Elizabethan political orderliness. Working under the patronage of Thomas Seckford, Master of the Court of Requests and Surveyor of the Court of Wards, an extension of Burghley’s office, Saxton travelled the kingdom with special authority from the Queen and the Privy Council; the ambitious project was completed in 1579 and dedicated to Elizabeth. Seckford had also assisted William Harrison in his Description of Britain, who made use of Saxton’s maps. Saxton’s successors, most notably John Norden and John Speed, relied heavily on his work and refined it by adding more topographical details – roads and internal divisions, for example. In Speed’s hands the maps became increasingly symbolic representations of the counties; he enhanced their decorative qualities by adding human figures wearing their regional costume, and by bordering the map with heraldic images, and cartouches containing historical information.215 In 1607 Camden incorporated Saxton’s and Norden’s maps into the Britannia, making it one of the original volumes of topographical and antiquarian study to contain complementary cartographic material. While the Britannia is a major precursor to Speed’s popular Renaissance version of the coffee-table book, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine, the two works are radically different – the one permitting the land to speak for itself, the other being a visually impressive celebration of the political order of Britain. The Britannia itself actually works against the formal political borders of the county maps. Even in the 1607 edition, where the cartographic material is most abundant, the maps stand out anachronistically from Camden’s historicized chorography, reinforcing the power of Camden’s original vision of the natural shape of the nation. Indeed, the maps best suited to the imaginative conception of the Britannia are those adapted for Drayton’s Poly-Olbion, which is itself largely designed along the lines of Camden’s work. In these dehistoricized and edited Saxton maps (by William Hole, one of Saxton’s engravers) we see the 266

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past landscape shaped according to the “chrono-topographical” narrative rather than according to the contemporary county divisions. For us to appreciate Camden’s political image of Britain, though, we need to recognize the originality of his use of historical space in the Britannia, and how his antiquarian interests have their own distinguishing ideological implications. The connection between Camden’s antiquarianism and the popular success of the new collections of maps is itself significant. As the market for such collections grew in size, the cartographers responded with the growing sophistication of their work and technology. If the fashion begins with Saxton in 1574, it rides the crest created by Camden’s own work, which fostered interest in cartography, adding to the momentum that saw the completion of John Speed’s major work. In addition to their role in the development of applied mathematics and geometry, and their usefulness for travel, navigation, estate surveying, and other pragmatic tasks, the maps were a popular genre and they were sold individually as well as in collections. Like Camden’s antiquarianism and his chorography, the popular atlases are part of the socio-economic transformation to early modernism; their success, too, depends on a “demographic” that has attained the educational and economic levels needed to sustain the symbolic and even aesthetic value of such works. In the case of the atlases we see very literally the commodification of the national image and the capitalization on patriotic self-discovery as new kinds of texts are designed for a newly emerging market. Similarly, the Britannia’s non-polemical treatment of its material frees it for individual consumption. The Britannia’s antiquarian enterprise thus conceived is palpably bourgeois and carries with it political and social values that inhere in that essentially commercial social stratum. Its chorographic, guidebook design invites a reader with a degree of mobility; its variety of methods and media, however much based on scholarly premises, appeals to the amateur. With its own ­narrative providing a web holding together quoted historical texts, topographical description, transcribed inscriptions, engravings of monuments carrying epigraphs in a various languages and glyphs, all also located in a geographical “syntax”, the process of reading the Britannia involves correlating many kinds of literary and non-literary representation. Long before the rage for the sublime and the picturesque, before the reverence for the aesthetic of nature sets in, the appreciation of the Britannia’s textual landscape marks a significant preliminary step in the formation of a new sensibility. It takes a special kind of audience to value a plinth or borrow, to appreciate (if not read) a fragmentary inscription, to comprehend a map, walk the landscape 267

William Camden – A Life in Context and be ­observant of mounds, stone formations, hedges, and other details for “aesthetic” ­ “antiquarian” rather than utilitarian reasons. An appreciation of the Britannia, a text with no plot, and of the physical landscape it describes, calls for a good deal of abstract thinking and symbolic valuation. Whether its audience was primarily international or indigenous, they must have already invested heavily in bourgeois literary values. The Britannia, then, is essentially unaristocratic, and creates a national image that (unlike Speed’s Theatre) does not rely on rank, empowerment, or precedent for its value or esteem. Its political economy is based on what works, on performance not inheritance or patronage. As a political vision it is remarkably modern and prepares the way for change in spite of its respect for continuity. The evolving form of the Britannia contributes to this reshaping of history for consumption in the market-place. The changes that Camden makes to the work, including various indexes and other apparatus, make it more useful and accessible. The 1586 first edition, printed by Radulf Newbery, contains a “Rerum memorabilium Index”, and also a table of classical place names and their modern geographical counterparts, drawn from Tacitus, Caesar, Ptolemy, Antoninus, and the “Notitia Provinciarum”, with the location of their discussion in the Britannia indicated. Added to the 1587 edition is a Saxon alphabet, along with some discussion of the language, and engraved replicas of inscriptions. The third edition of 1590 was printed by George Bishop and contains many new kinds of “image” – including a poem, “Britannia”, probably by Camden, describing an engraved frontispiece, and more and more varied examples of engraved archaeological material such as coins, medals, and architectural designs bearing inscriptions and decorations. The expansion of the visual and tabular apparatus continues and becomes better organized and more accessible, so that the first large folio edition, of 1607, is an impressively well-conceived, polished format, with the full range of pretextual material appropriate for Camden’s new dedicatee, King James. Frontispiece, poem and map, dedication, and a veritable anthology of gratulatory poems (G. Carleton, J. Gruterus, H. Cuff, E. Bolton, Caspar Dorn) in the front, and maps for each county, several pages of well-presented coins, various drawings ranging from simple designs to topographical landscapes of archaeological interest, such as Stonehenge, interspersed within, together make the volume as a whole a treasure-trove of antiquarian delights. Add to this the expansion of the text itself, which is amplified with more detail and fuller quotations that also assume the status of “artefact” and constituting a “library” of original sources. This is not simply the story of an octavo’s growth 268

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past into a folio. The evolution multiplies the discrete elements of the past, the objects of history, each one of which can either be studied separately in the context of its particular county or placed in the larger national context. As we have seen, before proceeding to the regional surveys themselves, which are identified by the tribal names of the inhabitants, Camden first clears the way of political obstacles by foregrounding his chorographic interests and methodology in the brief section on “The Division of Britain”, where he differentiates between the three ways geographers divide countries: “naturally” (according to the landscape; anthropologically (according to the “people who inhabit them”); and politically. He deals succinctly with the political divisions in order to put them behind him. They, like language itself, grow “arbitrarily” from popular usage rather than from a providential pattern. Thus, he briefly presents the Roman and Saxon political divisions, and at equal length he describes current ecclesiastical divisions. The unobtrusive suggestion in his thumbnail survey, that the diocese of the ancient bishoprics probably corresponded to the original Roman political divisions and that their residences were probably those of the Roman governors, would probably have caught the attention of some of his readers (cols. ccxxi, ccxxxi). His point is a variation on Protestant arguments for the ancient origins of the vernacular church – but it is a significant variant. His readers, Anglican, Puritan, Catholic, British or international, if they were paying attention to this “digresssive” chapter, might have noticed how conveniently Camden’s point identifies the establishment of the Anglican episcopate within the structures of Roman governance, suggesting the political exigencies of the church, and their ancient precedents. These are subtly insinuated into the chapter and they offer a new wrinkle to the Elizabethan settlement. Drawing on enumerations conducted by Cardinal Wolsey, and information collected by Matthew Parker and later by King James, he goes on to discuss the number of bishoprics and parish churches in the realm (col. ccxxx). Camden’s historicized observations not only bring the ecclesiastical structure quite close to Rome, but they also identify its popular origins in the social dynamic. The ecclesiastical divisions, like others, emerge from basic human social imperatives. Camden’s overview of the political and ecclesiastical divisions of the kingdom underscores the arbitrariness of restructuring, or “reformation”. As we have seen, the appearance of the Britannia coincides with Elizabeth’s homilies warning against wanton destruction of historically important church property. Camden’s images of continuity and of the persistence of geo-political divisions in spite of religious changes, offer a commentary on wilful change 269

William Camden – A Life in Context and the durability of human institutions. Through the changes of Roman and Saxon times, through the vicissitudes of Catholic and Protestant leadership, Camden sees survival and continuity rather than revolution and change. From pagan times through the changes in Christian traditions, “monuments of piety” were erected by people, often in the same location and in comparable numbers, suggesting an essential piety shared by people of all ages. He looks back at the period of religious conflict and through the semiotics of place sees past doctrinaire divisions to fundamental religious instincts: There were also in the Reign of King Henry the eighth (if it be not a crime to mention them) monuments of the piety of our fore-fathers, erected to the honour of God, and the propagation of Christianity, and of learning, and the support of the poor; I mean the Religious houses (i.e. Monasteries or Abbies, and Priories,) to the number of 645 (col. ccxxx). Camden’s nuanced handling of the subject of the dissolution of monasteries is instructive. He goes on immediately after the above passage to point out that of these 645 religious houses, forty were suppressed by the Pope: Whereof 40 were suppressed by a grant from Pope Clement the seventh, obtained by Cardinal Wolsey, who had then laid the foundation of two Colleges, one at Oxford, and another at Ipswich (col. ccxxx). A marginal note observes that Henry V had dissolved 100 priories in his brief reign. Camden continues the sequential history by which the once numerous religious houses were dissolved and ultimately destroyed, turning next to Henry VIII’s continuation of the work begun by Pope Clement: And presently after, about the 36th of Henry the eighth, a torrent (as it were) casting down the banks, broke in upon the Ecclesiastical state of England; and, to the surprise of the world, and the grief of the nation, at once cast down the greatest part of the Religious, with their curious structures. For the same Liberty which the Pope had granted the Cardinal, the King, by consent of Parliament, took himself (cols. ccxxx–ccxxxi). Camden’s vertical history of the fate of the nation’s religious houses sidesteps matters of supremacy and doctrine. However, the precedents of Henry V and the papacy do not exculpate Henry VIII; they only place him in the same group as they, as profaners of places of piety and charity. Camden’s language is forceful and explicit: 270

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past Whereupon, in the year 1536 all Religious houses, with their revenues, which had 200L. a year, or under, were granted to the King … And in the year 1539, under a specious pretence of rooting out superstition, the rest were given up to the King’s disposal … Most of these, in a short time after, were demolished, and their revenues squandered away, and the rich Treasures which had been gradually consecrated to God by the pious munificence of the English from the time they received Christianity, were in a moment dispersed, and (if I may use the word without offence) Profaned (cols. ccxxxi–ccxxxii). A passage such as this shows how carefully Camden uses his subject matter – the people and places of Britain – to circumvent or defuse politically volatile topics, although in the above sentences Camden’s disingenuousness betrays his feelings, and he abandons his usual caution. The surprisingly unguarded phrase “under the specious pretense of rooting out superstition” hardly sounds like Camden in its overt criticism. He uses the Protestant method of arguing from authenticity and precedent to weight the charge of impiety and waste: Henry’s (and the Pope’s) acts violate the “pious munificence” of the primitive English believers, and “squander away … the rich Treasures” of these establishments – “rich Treasures” here referring not to monetary value, but to cultural and religious values. In one synoptic moment he uses generalization to essentialize England and envision a united country when he speaks of the “grief of the nation” at the casting down of the religious houses. Next, ­Camden’s wonted understatement and reserve are used with a cutting edge when he invokes the tropes of metanoia and permissio, and coyly hopes he can use the word “profane” without offence. This brief section on the “Divisions of Britain” shows us Camden’s most nuanced but hardly ambiguous rhetoric when dealing with sensitive matters. No period escapes his historical net; change sweeps universally across all, and in this case indicts all. The earliest reformers and the Catholic leadership participated in the suppression of primitive piety – the ostensible model for the ecclesia anglicana. Camden’s methodology and phraseology are interesting – clearly designed to add indirection to the political critique of his words, although his intentions are clear, almost provocative. He shows no reverence for Henry VIII as initiator of reform; his name is invoked by the way, merely to date the time in the recent past when these houses still existed. And at whom is Camden glancing when, with a further rhetorical twist he deploys the figure of erotema, asking “if it be not a crime to mention them”? He is 271

William Camden – A Life in Context certainly not pointing at his patron, Lord Burghley, who, we know from his correspondence with Parker, shared many of these feelings. His use of paraphrasis when referring to the “monuments of … piety … I mean the Religious houses (i.e. Monasteries or Abbies and Priories)” calls attention to, indeed, accentuates the sensitivity of his subject matter. His syntax, however, makes his own feelings clear: the sentence begins with the unambiguous affirmation of the institutions’ genuine piety and then, through a series of appositions, defines them through phrases with unmistakable Catholic associations. Although Camden, like Milton, sees the ancient British as true to the spirit of primitive Christianity, and Camden indicts both Pope Clement and Henry VIII, it is understandable that a passage like this one might lead Milton to accuse Camden of being unnaturally fond of the monasteries and religious houses. Camden’s criticism is unambiguous. The offence, as he presents it, is against the religious and pious, not against the Roman church – not all in that temple were Philistines; the reformers’ motives are criticized not for bad theology but for greed and mismanagement. Camden does not qualify his overall judgement, which is quite embracing; the victims were “the greatest part of the Religious”. His assertion that the dissolution resulted in the “grief of the nation” is a radical one that would not receive universal assent at any time after the Reformation, and that probably could not have been printed in 1545. His critique, couched in his respect for the artefacts of history and love of simple piety, locates the antiquarian movement within the intellectual context of the Elizabethan compromise. Recognizing the timeliness of this remark is to acknowledge some of the polemical dimensions of Camden’s antiquarianism and its methodology. If we interpret these details from the “Division of Britain” in the broadest terms, Camden presents political destabiliziation in terms of its effects on the citizenry. We can hear how Camden’s historical perspective in this section serves a political and social ideology by presenting and evaluating events, particularly the dangers of arbitrary power, from below, in terms of their effect on the people: the “liberty” appropriated by the pope and given to the King by Parliament, the “grief ” of a nation. The vanity of arbitrary power is strongly criticized. But most lamented is the waste. The futile destruction is what he sees, not the expulsion of idols. His bitterness at the violation of the embodiments of centuries of piety is a powerful indictment of the iconoclast movement. He is careful to emphasize that material objects were the expressions of the “pious … English” and of historical importance; their consecration came 272

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past through years of spirituality, and is not inherent in the object – thus excusing himself from charges of idolatry. But his respect for the objects of the historical church is clear – they embody a divinity that is profaned in their destruction. The chapter concludes as a remarkable and timely statement from the second master of Westminster School, whose mentor, Burghley, had been at the centre of the reform movement from the time of Edward VI. English piety is deeper and surer than the institutional structures that maintain it; thus stated, the argument could be embraced by any Anglican, whether listing towards Rome or Geneva. But Camden’s reverence extends further, to a deep respect for the tradition of that piety, embodied in the physical evidence which serves as reminder and inspiration. Camden’s variation on Protestantism allows for change through the continuity of the spiritual value and its material manifestations, but it discourages the pursuit of change and denounces acts that pretend to new structures by destroying old ones. Again, the lesson of the stones of Ludgate resonates against the antiquities of the Reformation. In placing the British people ahead of political and religious institutions that they have over time created, Camden, probably inadvertently, subverts some of the basis for the royal authority, and that is one of the ways that his influence enters the next generation as a destabilizing force. But ironically, in its immediate context, his words defend continuity and the status quo, not through dogged adherence to king, bishop, or Parliament, but through his evaluation of change and social growth in terms of the national will.

Lessons in the Landscape


hen camden goes on in the next sections to treat the land ­inhabited by the ancient tribes and nations, his antiquarianism amplifies a broader ideology of toleration and scepticism about wilful reform that resembles what we see in the panorama of Shakespeare’s collected histories. The materia of the past literally emerges from the earth and the people rather than from on high as an expression of the will of the great or the divinely ordained. His method, explicitly imitating classical models, is to travel east from the western­ most point: “I will begin this work at the remotest point westward, that is, at Cornwall, and thence will proceed to a Survey of the other Counties; in imitation of Strabo, Ptolemy, and the most ancient Geographers”. His survey will draw on the cumulative information that has been recorded thus far in his preliminary chapters: 273

William Camden – A Life in Context In my Description of each County, I will shew, with as much plainness and brevity as I can, who were the ancient inhabitants, what was the reason of the name, what are the bounds of the County, the nature of the soil, the places of greatest antiquity, and of greatest eminence at present, and lastly, who have been Dukes or Earls of each, since the Norman Conquest” (col. cclxviii). Camden’s survey crosses the county borders, discovering on the way local historical lore, describing events and antiquarian material of every sort, presenting narrative, pictorial, and tabulated data. For example, proceeding to Middlesex from Hertfordshire, he introduces the Trinobantes as the tribe indigenous to the area: “Next the Cattieuchlani; did the People call’d by Caesar Trinobantes … inhabit those parts which have now chang’d their names and are call’d Middlesex and Essex” (col. 363). Following the method employed when describing the nation as a whole, he deals with the legends and facts of its original name and inhabitants, always identifying fictions although not necessarily mocking their presumptions: From whence that old name was deriv’d, I cannot so much as guess, unless it came from the British Tre-nant, implying Towns in a Valley … [T]his conjecture is at least as probable as that of others, who out of a spirit of ambition have deriv’d these Trinobantes from Troy, as if one should say Troja nova, or new Troy. And let them enjoy their own Fancies for me (col. 363). With an easy manner, Camden moves freely between the patriotic fictions of New Troy cultivated by Spenser and other poets, and the modern etymological techniques that emphasize the importance of geography in the formation of place names. He could have spent more time demolishing the legendary status of New Troy, but he lets it stand with no historical basis, and allows it equal interest alongside his more factitious explanations. This is followed by an overview of the fluctuating ties between Rome and the region, particularly during the period of Cunobilin (Shakespeare’s Cymbeline), and the reproduction of some period coins (cols. 363–4). The survey, organized around topographical features – notably the Thames – rises and falls through historical time as it identifies the notable features of the landscape. The chorographic sections of the Britannia resonate with the undogmatic tone that we have noted in its prefatory sections. Camden’s speculations invite the reader’s further inquiries, and he makes no moral or political issue 274

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past depend upon historical accuracy for its significance. The name of London, for example, he derives “conjecturally” from what Caesar reports was the British word for “grove” or “wood”: For my own part, since Caesar and Strabo have told me, that the ancient Britains call’d such woods or groves … Llhwn; I am almost of the opinion, that London was … simply call’d … the City in a Wood. But if that do not satisfy, give me leave, without the charge of inconstancy, to guess once more, namely, that it might have its name from … [the word for] Ships, call’d by the British Lhong; so that London, is as much as as a Harbour or City of Ships (col. 370). Chorographic or topographic rather than antiquarian or historical in focus, the Britannia subsumes the nation, bit by geographical bit, into its compass, making it accessible in digestible units for the locally interested reader. The Romans inform him about the Britons, the Normans tell of the Saxons, the Saxons of the Romans; monks tell of piety and of superstition. He gets help from his contemporaries with matters of language, laws, coins, or other specialized areas where Camden is inexpert. There is a happy abundance of material and information, a free-market exchange of ideas wherein the value is derived from the shared interest in Britain and the preservation of its past – and therein enters unobtrusively a heavily political but undogmatic ideology. Threaded through his work is the accumulated cultural achievement for which Britain is repository. His catholic interests, presumably shared by his readers, weave into the national fabric the full array of anthropological and social evidence. Speaking, for example, of the early religious associations at the site of St Paul’s, drawing on a range of testimony, he relates Some have fansy’d that the Temple of Diana formerly stood here; and there are circumstances that strengthen their conjecture: as, the old adjacent buildings being called in their Records Dianae Camera, i.e. the Chamber of Diana; the digging up in the Church-yard, in Edward the first’s reign (as we find by our Annals) an incredible number of Ox-heads; which the common people at that time, not without great admiration, looked upon to have been Gentile sacrifices: and the Learned know that the Tauropolia were celebrated in honour of Diana. And when I was a boy, I have seen a stag’s head fix’d upon a spear (agreeable enough to the Sacrifices of Diana) and carry’d about in the very Church, with great solemnity and sounding of Horns (cols. 377–8). 275

William Camden – A Life in Context With textual as well as personal evidence for social customs and beliefs, ­Camden’s anthropology eludes polemics and delights in the richness of ­association and inherent interest of the history. As I have argued elsewhere, Camden’s own verses on the marriage of the Tame and Isis, interspersed throughout the volume, make clear that history is only one form for the expression of human values; the poeticized myth of the landscape transcends the ephemerals of political strife. His lines on London, for example, invoke the image of New Troy without qualification – “Stretch’d on a rising hill betwixt the strands, / London, her mother Troy’s great rival stands” (col. 396). His antiquarian and topographical interests were a medium for political analysis and provided him with a way of interpreting change. Many of his poetic successors – Daniel, Drayton, Warner, and others, for example – less politically analytic or less tolerant of change, looked to the landscape and antiquities for a single myth that would be adequate to their historical knowledge, and that could survive the empiricism of history that Sidney tried to deny. Camden, however, offers a plurality of myths, as well as a plurality of “histories”; the source of unity is the geography. For many of his and the next generation, the unacknowledged myth of geography, studded with antiquarian mementoes, was one that momentarily allowed identity to the world that yearly became more fragmented at the end of and after Elizabeth’s reign. It allowed identity because it provided intellectual and material involvement in their culture, but for most, like the deeply disillusioned Drayton, it did not provide the tools of political understanding that it did for Camden himself. It may be that its cultural materialism became a placebo for the politically disenfranchised (that is probably what Burghley’s instincts told him it would do); and it may also be perceived as offering the (or “an”) intellectual answer to the challenges of the new methodology that were rapidly undermining humanism, the authority of the ancients – the myth of the Renaissance – whose time was coming. The compromise that is antiquarianism, positivistic, and atavistic at once, is the legacy that is Camden’s, and he in turn assimilated it from the parents of the Elizabethan compromise – Burghley and Elizabeth herself. For Camden’s contemporary readers it was a haven of national interest and preoccupation: an uncontested land, even if the details of the “history” are but “conjectural”. As this form of antiquarianism is transmitted to his successors, it is a myth that holds for two centuries, perhaps longer. Its longevity is significant, since I expect that it is still alive as a means of holding together our own fragmented world. More important for our purposes, though, is 276

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past that it survived a direct blow by Puritan and parliamentary reformers during the Civil War, when links with the past were found to be fetters, when material culture was seen to be charged with political assumptions that retarded reform. Regardless of political ideology, the myth of geography and its attendant antiquarian interests was a medium for personal expression and ultimately national affirmation, as we see in the “antiquarian” and topographical work of Thomas Browne. Writers such as Milton saw the potential political power of this myth and challenged those aspects of it that he regarded as the retrograde force of antiquarianism. The opponents to the myth of geography, however, could never be completely successful because the land and its artefacts are by nature polysemous and pluralistic. However, the directness of the challenge confirms the force of Camden’s example.

The “Britannia” and the Transformation of Antiquarianism


uring the two decades when Camden lived most intensely with the ongoing process that was the Britannia, the world of antiquarian study was transformed, as that loose and diverse community, either directly or indirectly, responded to its influence. With the original publication as the bench-mark, the inbred London community and those more distant amateurs interested in local history could mull over the details of inscriptions, coins, local genealogies, land divisions, etymologies – with whatever interested them. The broad conception of the work was never questioned because, except for the landscape itself, there was no broad conception; it was a wealth of details seeking syncronicity of timeline and object. Outside the parameters of the work, antiquarians became more active exploring questions of titles, law, the origins of Parliament, names; collectors collected more avidly; regional writers and others appropriated it for imitation. The Britannia, however, was not an arena of philosophical debate. Thus, although I have described the Britannia as a process in its ongoing revision, as an expression of its community, it was a constant: while details within its borders changed from year to year, in its material representation of Britain, it remained unchanged from its “first estate”. In this, it nurtured the appetite for antiquarian activity, and provided a period of growth, experimentation, and discussion: in short, it provided the intellectual environment for the antiquarian movement to take root. Local historians as well as major collectors and statesmen fed off the Britannia, which validated their tastes for particulars, the minutiae of history. Certainly it also served those looking for larger historical issues as well, but 277

William Camden – A Life in Context the brilliance of Camden’s methodology is in the resilience of the diplomatic history that serves as the largely inconspicuous infrastructure for its antiquarian elements. Few works in any period capture a readership’s interest for as long as the Britannia did. Its long shelf-life helped to work its effects and to foster a value system that accommodated antiquarian appetites within the bourgeois community to which it appealed. The protracted attention given the work helped to change Camden’s life and shift its focus. He was drawn beyond the context of the school and into the larger arena, not exactly of public affairs but one wherein he is called upon to account for the antiquarian enterprise. He becomes a personality in his own right. During this time, and with Camden’s involvement, we observe a major change in the status of the cultural material of the past, one radically altered from what it had been in the previous generation. To be sure, Camden’s role in the transformation of antiquarianism is one part of a larger cultural shift, but within that circumscribed sphere, his presence was large and nurturing. Antiquarianism has its place in a pluralistic economy where rival interests compete in a market-driven world; this is not the ennobling role envisioned for Clio. Although such changes are largely intangible, it is such a shift in value systems that feeds Ralph Brooke’s fury as bourgeois values supplant the single-mindedly patrician interests of local and even national history served by the herald. We will look in detail at the methodological implications of his attacks, but here we can see Brooke’s behaviour as symptomatic of a tension between antiquarianism and other modes of historical enquiry during these years of Camden’s life. Inspired by the 1594 edition of Camden’s work, Ralph Brooke, York Herald, published in 1599 his Discoverie of Certaine Errours published in print in the much commended “Britannia” 1594, the first of two such assaults. Accosting Camden in his role as school teacher (“maister Camden” and “boy-beater”) with no reference to his office as Clarenceux, it may be that Brooke penned his attack near to the Britannia’s 1594 publication date, when Camden was still at Westminster School. Camden anticipated and tried to forestall such ant­agon­ ism through the exculpatory rhetoric that we have sampled in the preface. Brooke’s is the only significant surviving voice of antagonism to Camden during Elizabeth’s reign. It alerts us to the overlap between the study of antiquities and arms, and suggests that Camden’s appointment was not altogether a surprise to some people. As we will see, in trying to insist on the closed fraternity of heralds, Brooke seems to have foreseen Camden’s ­appointment, 278

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past and perhaps hoped initially to prevent it. It certainly suggests that in his paranoia about encroachments on the work of heralds, Brooke sensed the larger changes that are signalled by the popularity of the Britannia. Already in the mid-1590s Ralph Brooke had a reputation for irascibility and litigiousness among the heralds. But he insists that his assault on Camden was made in defence of the reputation of heralds, which he felt Camden had maligned. His vitriol adds several things to our discussion. First, his onslaught is evidence of the degree of contentiousness that existed in the London literary world: it is on the order of the Marprelate controversy – full of rancour, and ranting over small matters. Such contention, however, signals something of the free-market competition of a middle-class economy; it differs in manner from the debates surrounding the publication of Astrophel and Stella, for example, where the “name” and “honour” of the Sidney family are allegedly libelled by the commercial opportunism of the printer, and the issue is resolved by offical intervention. Brooke sees Camden entering into his protected sphere of genealogy; the “amateurization” of heraldry is seen as a threat to his professional identity and, of course, to his income. Camden is an arriviste, a bourgeois upstart. Notwithstanding the terms Brooke uses to draw the lines of conflict, the issue is a market-place squabble arising from the growing interest in antiquarian material as it overflows into the herald’s activity; Brooke wants to safeguard his monopoly in the face of emerging competition from other literary practitioners. The debate as defined by Brooke differs in nature from that between the College of Arms and the Painter-Stainers, two “guilds” with overlapping mandates. This face-off too was the result of changing socio-economics, but not specifically related to literary and antiquarian activity. The second, related thing that is signalled by his attack is also symptomatic of this market-place mentality, and that is the pettiness and particularity of Brooke’s material charges within an open literary forum. Within the wide range of subject matter in the Britannia, it is difficult to find one that is of commanding interest; debate will, perforce, be about particulars, and that is how Brooke had to define his complaint. Against the backdrop of the periodization of British history, of tribal identities of local and immigrant populations, the panorama of the county landscapes, the intermittent specifics of genealogies, which are but accidents of Camden’s chorography, loom very small. Not that the issues of genealogy were insignificant in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries: no question, they were very important. But Brooke alone seems to have construed this as an important aspect of 279

William Camden – A Life in Context the ­Britannia. The College of Arms had uncontested authority in matters of arms; Camden’s work posed no challenge to the decisions of the heralds. No one would look to this work to legitimate a property claim. Indeed, Camden makes clear that they should not. The matter was a literary one, the implications of which, for Brooke, spilled into the role of the College of Arms. The Britannia was symptomatic of changes he perceived in his world, defined as it was by patriarchy and aristocratic entitlement. Outside that sphere, in the pluralistic world represented by the proliferating editions of the Britannia, these issues were of little import. But Brooke, who mocks Camden as a historian, for his rhetorical flare, for his work in “antiquities”, cannot bear the thought of his entry into genealogical subjects, and finds the permeability of all these areas of study a threat. In his animosity we hear the sounds of the breaking up of old systems as the herald apprehends the influence of the new historian on his trade even before Camden does. We can appreciate how for Camden and his community the Britannia was more than a printed work, but was an effort that located him at the centre of activities involving many people and institutions in different ways. The process picked up momentum during the period leading up to Camden’s appointment as Clarenceux in 1597, and thereafter assumed greater coherence as his influence expanded to embrace the overlapping entities of the College of Arms and the Society of Antiquaries. Camden and his work acted as catalysts to the transformation of the antiquarian movement; although he was by no means the only personality involved, he was a major one. The popularity of the Britannia and its effect on the way people responded to historical artefacts confirms the value that society was prepared to place on the antiquarian enterprise; such a change will not occur without some backlash of suspicion and even anger, as in the case of Ralph Brooke. In these responses we hear different historical voices emerging, other ways of thinking of the past; people were noticing this, and in large measure they associated Camden with it. Another product of this gathering momentum, and himself a significant figure working with Camden to transform antiquarianism, was Robert Cotton. Together they brought the “discovery of Britain” into the early modern world. As his student and protégé, Cotton was Camden’s real heir, and although he made his own distinctive contribution to the antiquarian movement, he also helped to realize some of the potential influence of the Britannia in ways that Camden himself could not. Younger, wealthier, titled, a kinsman of James I, and a member of Parliament after the dissolution of the Society of Antiquaries (1604), he was a public figure, a collector and patron as well as a scholar. 280

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past He provided many of the resources, including energy, enthusiasm, money, and his library, needed to sustain Camden’s activities. Cotton’s precocity as a bibliophile is remarkable. By all accounts he was involved with the Society of Antiquaries and began amassing his collection before he was twenty.216 By 1594 he was settled in his house in Old Palace Yard, Westminster, within the precincts of his alma mater, now under the headmastership of his friend and former teacher; there his library served Camden and others who shared in the ongoing and increasingly pertinacious activities generated in part by the Britannia. Cotton, himself the brainchild of Camden and a product of the Westminster of the 1570s, is the embodiment of the bourgeois urban and literate culture that appreciated the values served by the Britannia. If Camden is the agent bringing early modern antiquarianism into being, Cotton, a major consumer of antiquities, helps bring it to maturity. In Cotton and the growth of his library, we have all the signs of patriotic, Protestant antiquarianism, following in the tradition that began with Leland and according to most accounts, gained focus under the influence of Matthew Parker. The origins of the movement leading to the “discovery of England” have been well researched and the material is generally familiar.217 The work of Flower, Piggott, McKisack, Levy, and Kendrick, among others, characterizing the surge of interest in the national past, including archival studies and collecting, emphasizes how it grew from the period of the dissolution and the years of reform. Contributing to this critical discussion, I have argued how the obsession with “fixing” the past began with the fear of losing it.218 Scholarly accounts of the growth of the antiquarian impulse have focused on the “new historiography” (although its newness has been qualified) and authors’ use of Roman, British, or medieval material, but have in large measure homogenized the movement, conflating the chronology and the diverse personal, political, and religious currents that made antiquarianism a major influence on future events in early modern history.219 For example, in discussing Parker’s role in the movement, F. J. Levy recognizes how religious reform contributed to the growing interest in vernacular history, but he does not see it as an ongoing factor in Camden’s work and the antiquarian movement.220 More recent scholarship has built on the foundations of these earlier studies and begun to revisit their work with different sets of questions. Kevin Sharpe’s study of Robert Cotton, for example, anatomizes the political motives behind the original collectors, moving beyond the general focus on patriotism to a more nuanced analysis of the work of major figures such as Burghley and Parker: “In general the impetus 281

William Camden – A Life in Context behind the new interest in libraries was utilitarian; in the case of Burghley and Parker it was propagandist and nationalist”. Sharpe recognizes the need to see antiquarians and collectors in the light of the dialectic between history and polemic, and driven by forces at once cultural and personal.221 A history of antiquarianism needs to recognize the shifts in emphasis and attitude from decade to decade as the political and religious terrain changed. There was a good deal more change taking place in the antiquarian movement during these years than is generally acknowledged: not only did political and religious concerns evolve, but so too did the interest in the British, Roman, and Saxon past. When we accept the existence of such change, it becomes clear that we cannot speak of Parker and Camden, or Camden and Cotton for that matter, as part of the same movement without qualification. One cannot speak of a single and stable antiquarian movement from Leland to Dugdale. We have already spoken about aspects of Burghley’s and Parker’s activities as antiquarians and advocates for vernacular history; they were famous as collectors who used their authority to amass collections that were polemical in nature and use. Their influence on the emergence of the antiquarian movement can hardly be overestimated, but it needs to be placed in its specific historical context. Burghley the “collector” confiscated whole libraries in the name of national security, and they found their way into his private collection. Not only suppressed monastic libraries were drawn into his nets, but also important collections – artefacts in addition to books – that were in the hands of “recusants”; works of historical interest were sought and the appropriate means of securing them determined. Letters between powerful men like Burghley and Parker bear witness to the fact that political and religious interests were used as pretexts for personal gain. Some materials were bought, others confiscated, others exchanged and bartered, as these collections of great man of state grew. It would be anachronistic to suggest that Burghley abused power to enlarge his personal collection. Whatever his political motives, he liked antiquities and wanted them; he liked power and wanted it – his collecting was a national event, and “policy” complemented personal interest. Perhaps we expect this from Burghley, but, judging from the scholarly tradition, we tend to look for different behaviour from Archbishop Parker (b. 1504), who is usually cast in the role of the patron saint of the Society of Antiquaries. But he and Burghley co-ordinated their strategies and their influence on the Privy Council to serve their ends. There is no doubting his genuine love of the subject – but it is not disinterested. His influence was certainly great, but it too must be placed in its proper historical context; he died in 1575, 282

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past well before the founding of the Society of Antiquaries in 1586. Thus, it was indirect rather than direct: as a policy-maker and official wielding great power, his pursuit of manuscript and antiquarian material in support of reform is quite different from the organization of a “society” – without a patron – by lawyers and amateur scholars dedicated to the methodical study (not collection) of antiquities. His initial association with the Society of ­ Antiquaries was the result of the erroneous dating of the organization, and seems to have begun with Richard Gough, although scholars continue to take his direct ties with it for granted.222 But Parker’s example certainly motivated Camden and others, and his library, destined for Cambridge, served the needs of the scholarly community; those of his generation who enjoyed his patronage and worked as members of his household helped to spread these tastes abroad to the public and to prepare for the next step in dissemination of antiquarian tastes. Thus, the persistent identification of him and his assistants with the “original” Society of Antiquaries passes over important steps in the history of antiquarian movement. The “Parker circle” largely consisted of a household staff who researched and acquired materials for him, “household” here including the overlapping spheres of public and private life in a pre-modern primate’s complex life.223 Parker, no less than Burghley, assumed different roles to indulge his voracious appetite for books, manuscripts, and objects. The scale and complexity of Parker’s quest for books and manuscripts gave a furtiveness to the collecting, even by Renaissance standards. As the account of his agent, Stephen Bateman, makes clear, Parker used his royal commission to search out material on a vast scale, in diverse areas of the “Artes and Sciences”.224 Some collecting served directly the polemical needs of the Archbishop; some was undertaken to preserve a “national heritage”; evident throughout is an appetite for antiquities and books and for the power latent in them. The threads of public and private interest cannot be separated; although respect for the inherent value of the material is certainly there, massive collecting was driven primarily by policy and ideology. These two men are the major forces traditionally associated with the encouragement of vernacular history, and Parker in particular is given the role of honorary antiquarian. But what distinguishes them and some others of their generation and public station is the way that their political, intellectual, religious, and personal ambitions and tastes run together. Words like “collecting”, “study”, “scholarship”, and “antiquarianism” fail to encompass what they are about. From the time of the Reformation through the last years 283

William Camden – A Life in Context of Parker’s life, Protestant policy-makers strove to take Catholic collections out of use, to limit access to potentially controversial material through the formation of large, tightly controlled collections. Their interests were not so much a matter of taste as of territory, and as public figures their concerns became national concerns. They mark the first step in affirming the value and potential importance of antiquities, and they signalled that it was worth buying into the market of the past. By the time of Parker’s death in 1575 things had changed. His collection, established in part to legitimize a royal divorce, royal supremacy, the English church, found its way into Cambridge University’s library, the first causes of its creation fulfilled. But by 1586 the collegial work of the Society of Antiquaries was antiquarianism of a very different order. Many of its members were collectors, and in many respects their studies and acquisitions were the result of a different dynamic reflecting a different perspective on the past. The oldest of the Society’s members, John Stow, an antiquary and a collector with close ties to Camden, in many ways illustrates the emerging political economy of antiquarianism over these decades. A tailor by trade, born to the same social class as Camden but never leaving it, Stow lived in and wrote from the margins throughout his life. Born in 1525, he was of the generation between Leland (b. 1504) and Camden, and his experience both resembles and differs from theirs. Like Camden, he asserted his independence and disinterestedness; as his biographer and contemporary, Edmund Howes, said of him, “He always protested never to have written anything either for malice, fear, or favour, nor to seek his own particular gain or vainglory, and that his only pains and care was to write truth”.225 That said, he worked for powerful patrons who had antiquarian interests, including the Earl of Leicester and Matthew Parker; he was granted an annuity from the Company of Merchant Taylors, was a member of the Society of Antiquaries, and earned the high regard of scholars as well as writers such as Ben Jonson. His career, however, reveals his unworldliness and dedication to independent study. Without formal attachment to any protective authority or institution (church, university, school, office-holder), his extreme disengagement and impecuniousness made him vulnerable to political harassment for what were perceived to be Roman tendencies. His troubles illustrate the close ties that existed then between ideology and artefact – we recall that Parker himself was known among Puritans as the “Pope of Lambeth” because of his attachment to the objects of the historical church. Stow, like Camden, tried to avoid polemic in his writing (something Leland could not boast), but interest in the past was 284

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past itself suspect. Thus, while both Leland and Stow denounced the destruction in the wake of the Dissolution, Stow formulated his critique in secular and material terms, against the “bad and greedy men of spoil” who made “private Benefit, the only Devourer of Antiquity”.226 Leland, in his “New Year’s Gift”, tactfully rendered Henry that which was Henry’s, while Stow’s ambitions were less grand, more scholarly in nature. He collected books and manuscripts as he worked and as his means permitted, but over time his library became suspect (as Cotton’s would later) and in danger of being impounded. During these decades a tension emerges in the valuation of historical artefacts within the public and private spheres. Collections made in the “national interest” – Burghley’s and Parker’s – grew to enormous size; those developed for “private” purposes were kept in check, not only by the limited means of men like Stow, but by the intervention of public authority. It is really with the flourishing of Cotton’s library that the conflict between the public and private spheres of collecting begins to occur in earnest. Thus, until Cotton’s library, the precedent set by Parker and Burghley ensured that for the most part collecting took on an aristocratic, if not royal perspective on the past, from the top down, as it were, supporting a largely univocal historiography. Stow, although initially supported by Parker, Leicester, and other potentates, was not sufficiently integrated into that controlled circulation of the past. His independence as a collector was not to be tolerated. Edmund Grindal, Bishop of London, regarding Stow with suspicion, had his library searched and inventoried. He was found to have “a great sort of old written English Chronicles … whereabout he seemeth to have bestowed much travaile … His bokes declare him to be a great favorer of papistrye”.227 While Burghley and Parker might collect such material with impunity, Stow’s efforts were suspect and kept under surveillance. But like Camden, who paid him an annuity of £8 for his autograph transcript of Leland’s work, Stow was a major collector in his own right, and a scholar-writer sharing in the same intellectual currents. A generation Camden’s senior, and no whit his inferior, under other circumstances he might have rivalled Camden in importance. Collecting by Camden and then by Cotton was different in kind from Parker’s, and were closer in scale, dynamic, and ideology to Stow’s. The differences underscore the cultural shift that marks the emergence of antiquarianism. Camden took up the tools of the trade directly from his masters, both Burghley and Parker, the latter of whose work, we have seen, he actually edited (mistakes and all) in his volume Anglica, Normannica, Hibernica, Cambrica. But antiquity for Camden was not that of the Henrician 285

William Camden – A Life in Context reformers. Born some forty-eight years after Parker, his vantage point on the past and the dynamic that brings him in contact with its books and manuscripts are very different from the archbishop’s. Camden was a professional man of letters as Archbishop Parker could not have been, given his public persona. Indeed, Camden can hardly be compared with Parker or his generation. His life and work in the Westminster Chapter place him in the midst of a scholarly community busy on the margins of the structures of authority. Emerging from the educated international and local community as Leland’s “New Year’s Gift” to Henry VIII did not, the Britannia had currency in a far wider market than its predecessor’s. The raison d’être of the “New Year’s Gift” was its patron. Camden’s work, on the other hand, though dedicated to Burghley, had an autonomy that freed it from dependancy on the patronage system; unlike Leland, who served variously as the King’s librarian, antiquary, and chaplain, Camden deliberately and publicly chose not to sue for such promotions. Further, the Britannia was the product of a print, rather than a manuscript culture, and it entered into a commercial milieu. In this capacity, it entered the market place making its own way on its own terms – as we have seen, it does not present the “authorized” view of the past, and it announces its own methodology and establishes its own historical values. Camden’s work, then, as well as his book and manuscript collection, have the same sort of independence that separates them from Leland. His library, like Stow’s, was shaped by his own literary output and research interests; it was not driven by religious polemics and did not aspire to a position of historical importance. For a number of reasons – the difference of a couple of decades, his closeness to Burghley, his improved social and financial status – Camden escaped the harassment, if not the suspicion, that beleaguered Stow. As I have suggested, his success and its importance are in large measure due to the kind of person he is – a middle-class collector and scholar-writer, a schoolmaster working through commercial venues in established areas of interest; not one of the rich and powerful needing to control the market, nor one of the disenfranchised or dependent needing either to please or to conceal a divergent ideology. Camden thus exemplifies a socio-economic autonomy distinguishing him from others both more and less influential than he. We see the way this autonomy transfers to the literary and material realms in his relationship to Leland’s work. Leland provided the King with a fragmentary manuscript gift; Stow copied it for Camden, circulating it outside its polemical context; Camden, in transforming the Itinerary, gives it form and a meaning inherent 286

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past in its literary design, publishes it and gives it an audience; the audience in turn multiplies and legitimizes its subject matter by increased antiquarian activity in the form of more books, collecting, scholarship, and interest in regional history. In this view of the eco-system of the antiquarian movement, Camden becomes an important turning point. We can describe this in terms of a shift in the ways that a society and its individuals comprehend and respond to the past: from pre-modern to modern; from one which is hegemonic to one which is pluralistic, with recognizable bourgeois values. The distance travelled from Parker to Leland, Stow, Camden, and then Cotton can be described not only in terms of differences in genres of historical and antiquarian writing (as Kendrick, Woolf, and McKisack do), but also in terms of the cultural dynamic by which society responds to historical information and objects. Camden and his influence, then, were part of the process through which the relationship between the culture and its past was being changed. His methodology breaks down what Sharpe describes as the dialectic between history and polemic. Dialectic is a closed system, and in making its borders more porous, Camden multiplies the voices and values available to the antiquarian. This is evident in other aspects of Camden’s life as an antiquarian. Consider, for example, his role as a collector. By the end of Elizabeth’s reign the roles performed by “individuals” in office, Primate Parker, Secretary Burghley, as protectors and keepers of the nation’s textual heritage, cease to exist: the kind of comprehensive sweep of personal, public, and institutional libraries and archives by a few men could never again be achieved, as Charles I learned. Instead, control of this heritage is increasingly entrusted to institutions and offices, as Oxford’s Bodleian Library and the University Library of Cambridge become depository libraries and the mandate of the Stationer’s office is enlarged. The result is, first, an implicit endorsement of the library as a valuable and important asset worthy of the entrepreneur’s competitiveness; and second, the emergence of the private collection, such as Cotton’s, existing on the margin of authority structures and national interest (but not necessarily at odds with them). In this market, then, collections of books, manuscripts, antiquities, or art, like other embodiments of the past, can to a degree be organized in ways to maximize their worth according to shifting values and markets, be they defined by taste, politics, antiquity, or rarity. Hence, at this time and not before, we see the growth in England of the special collection: coins, ancient marbles, rolls, dispossessed Italian art, for example. Parallel movements in increasingly sophisticated codification and cataloguing reflect this growth of the collector’s market.228 The emerging new 287

William Camden – A Life in Context private, bourgeois collector, then, coincides with other economic factors and trends associated with early modern social changes. During the later part of the sixteenth century, then, there was a flurry of activity and interest around public and private libraries. As the fashion for using primary documents spread, writers needed to know what the records were, where they were housed, and how to get access to them. There was more experimentation in library organization, cataloguing, and book and manuscript storage and conservation; there were proposals for new collections such as those from the Society of Antiquaries and the College of Arms; and we see increasing recognition in print of library resources, such as Selden’s list of public and private libraries that he consulted, added at the end of his History of Tithes. In locating “The ancient Records, and other Manuscripts” used in his work, Selden gives us an interesting account of the current state of the private library and the availability of printed books: in consulting his list, he says, “the more learned Reader (being perhaps, out of his owne Studies, furnished with the most or all of what we have out of printed Testimonies) may at one view … be directed to all of them”. He identifies the medieval manuscripts that he used for the History of Tithes and lists where each is housed – Tower, the Exchequer, the King’s Remembrancer, the libraries of Prince Henry, Oxford University, the Inner Temple, St Paul’s Cathedral, Robert Cotton (having the longest listing), Thomas Allen, Patrick Young, and his own. On another occasion Selden writes to Augustine Vincent of the major private libraries that he has found useful, one of them being Camden’s.229 Selden’s care in identifying collections as well as textual sources is symptomatic of the growing interest and professionalization among scholars and collectors; we see it as well in the work of his contemporaries, such as Arthur Agarde’s survey of libraries, their regulations, and contents, prepared in 1603 and published in 1631 as The ­Repertory of Records at Westminster, and in Thomas Powell’s Direction for Search of Records (1622). The last two decades of Elizabeth’s reign are not generally identified with the period of collecting – that comes later, in the seventeenth century. What we are witnessing in Camden, rather, is the emergence of that fashion: these years see remarkable activity in the area of collecting and use of records; recent, more specialized studies by James Carley, Colin Tite, Janet Backhouse, E. C. Teviotdale, to name a few, begin to document the extraordinary activity in different aspects of royal and individual libraries.230 If the history of later Elizabethan collecting has yet to be written, we can see that there was a growing taste for it, and that it was as different from the collecting done 288

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past in the early decades of her reign as it was from that of the bibliophiles of the next century, of Dugdale, Wanley, Evelyn, and Sloane, for example. The last decade of Elizabeth serves as an intermediate stage in the evolution of the English library, and it invites closer study of the unique social and political pressures influencing antiquarian collectors.

The Remains of Camden’s Library


amden’s influence on collecting is interesting in itself since he is not thought of today as a collector, although his was among the libraries that Selden identified among the important ones of his day. His library is not associated with any of the major medieval or ancient texts that have passed down from the Renaissance; his friend and former student, Robert Cotton’s is. Indeed, Camden’s works – the Britannia, the Remains, the Annals of Elizabeth, the Anglica, Normannica, Hibernica, Cambrica, and the Reges, Regina, Nobiles, et alii in Ecclesia … Westmonasterii – constituted his most significant antiquarian collections for his contemporaries; through their ample use of extended quotation and their record of non-literary antiquities, they were the major resources for readers working on historical subjects, and were powerful incentives for further scholarship. They served as small libraries in themselves, epitomes of his own collection and at some points having the appearance of a catalogue, with its pages of engraved coins and inscriptions and curiosities from the past, labelled for easy use by his readers. Thus, although eclipsed by Cotton, Camden was a collector in his own right, he was viewed as a repository of important documents and books, and there are frequent notes among his letters requesting information or the loan of a books or manuscripts. According to Richard DeMolen, “William Camden’s library ranked among the leading libraries of seventeenth-century England in both size and quality”, and this is consistent with the frequency with which it is referred to by his contemporaries.231 His library, or more particularly his life with books, tells us a good deal about the man himself. Camden was more a cipher than a collector of books; countless volumes and manuscripts must have passed through his hands, many coming unbidden, many staying only a short time, others sent on loan but staying with him until his death, when they were willed home. This aspect of Camden’s antiquarian identity is inseparable from his friendship with Robert Cotton, his acquisitive alter ego. The library itself can tell only part of the story since we have only a ­portion 289

William Camden – A Life in Context of it and we can only speculate about what else it contained. From the portion that we have we can detect something of his collecting patterns and intellectual interests, but more interestingly I think, we also see something of the Camden’s liminal place between polemical collectors and gentleman specialists or (phrased differently), between the person for whom books are merely sources of information, and the person who values them as material possessions. With Camden it will be helpful to keep before us the man rather than the library since Camden is many libraries at many different times; as is true of so much of his career, he is flexible, careless of borders, unconcerned about rigidly defining what is his and what others’. When we try to reconstruct Camden’s library from the copies known to have been his, it is well to remember that he lived among books, not all of them his own. Resident at Westminster, he was custodian of the chapter’s large library, and lived steps away from the records of the Exchequer. Burghley entrusted him with quantities of state papers; later, as Clarenceux King of Arms, he took possession of some of the papers left to that office and helped organize the College of Arms’ anarchic library system. And most important, his and Cotton’s households overlapped to such an extent that book ownership was a moot point. It would certainly be difficult to say what printed works were beyond his reach; almost all the resources of a city acutely interested in books, manuscripts, and collections were open to Camden. Given this milieu, the fact that Camden’s personal library comprised well over 600 volumes might be surprising; numerically, this is a very large collection at this time. Most of the books that we know to have been part of his collection consist of some 600 printed volumes preserved intact at the Westminster Abbey Muniment Room, representing works in his possession from 1570 to 1621, that is, both before and after his time at Westminster. They are probably part of (but not identical to) the 1623 gift of books to the chapter library, in Camden’s name, recorded in the Benefactors’ Book: “Wm Camden Esq. Clarenciaux King of Armes gave the 16th day of November in 1623”.232 These almost certainly represent only a portion of Camden’s collection, and the number includes no manuscripts. Richard DeMolen, who has worked most closely on Camden’s library, suggests sensibly that these 600 volumes are the leftovers after Cotton combed Camden’s collection in accordance with the terms of Camden’s will: As for my bookes and papers my will is that Sr Robert Cotton of ­Conington, Knight and Baronett, shall have the first viewe of them 290

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past that he may take out such as I borrowed of him. And I bequeath unto him all my imprinted bookes and manuscripts except such as concerne Armes and Heraldrie …233 We have so few English libraries of the period that the portion of Camden’s library at Westminster is something to be grateful for. Nevertheless, when looked at in its entirety, the collection immediately impresses one for its peculiar lop-sidedness, both literally and literarily. With row upon row of vellum and leather-bound octavo and quarto volumes, only the occasional folio and no manuscripts, this is clearly Camden’s “remains”; what the missing folios, manuscripts, coins, and other objects were cannot be reconstructed from our present information. If we think of contemporary libraries of collectors sharing Camden’s humanist training – the Arundel-Lumley library catalogued by Sears Jayne, the Tunstall library or Francis Russell’s – we see in the Westminster collection only the vestiges of a gentleman’s well-balanced library, with most of the usual cornerstones of collecting missing. Important theological, philosophical, rhetorical, and classical texts are not represented: little of the Church Fathers or major works of the reformers, no adequate Bible, hardly any Aristotle, no Cicero or Quintilian, only some sententiae from Homer, no Virgil, no Terence, no Petrarch, and only idiosyncratic selections of Erasmus texts. Even the standard texts for Aesop, Quintilian, and Terence that Camden would have used regularly in the classroom are lacking. The absence of these seemingly core texts means nothing; we need not question Camden’s erudition and cannot speculate on his acquisitions on the basis of missing material. We can, however, make some observations about what is preserved, and it is intriguing to have a very large number of books that represents almost exclusively the person’s quartos and octavos. Thus, we do know that he possessed a library of remarkably modern works. Most major collections carried the humanist canon to the exclusion of “modern” works (except perhaps theological controversy). The modernity and eclectic nature of Camden’s collection tells us quite a bit about him as a collector of books and adds a personal dimension to his identity as “antiquarian”. What we have is somewhat random – the rarer collectors’ items would have been picked out by his more selective and programmatic friend Robert Cotton; the remaining 600 volumes do not suggest any single criterion for inclusion: there are presentation copies, titles clearly relevant to his multi-disciplinary research and writing and professional activities, and works without obvious practical application but that he 291

William Camden – A Life in Context ­ robably found of interest – not a common criterion when discussing Renp aissance libraries.234 It is clearly a working library – meaning that the books were to be read and used – not a trophy library, and being the size that it is, it reflects much and broadly informed work. Preserved are some of the texts that would be fundamental for his antiquarian work, although they would hardly be regarded as core humanist tomes: Ptolemy, Tacitus, Antoninus, the major works of Guicciardini, Copernicus, Polydore Vergil’s edition of Gildas, Ortelius, the fragments of Varro, for example. He had a very full collection of his fellow historians’ work, including Richard Verstigan, Thomas Blundeville, John Hayward, John Norden, Samuel Daniel, Richard Braithwaite, Humphrey Llwyd, and also the work of Continental, mainly French contemporary historians and political theorists, including Barnabé Brisson, François Hotman, Giles Corrozet, Robert Dallington, Pierre ­Matthieu, and Jacques de Thou. In many cases, these are works of friends and correspondents who formed the intellectual community for the Britannia and the Annals of Elizabeth. Also heavily represented are works dealing with religious controversy, with strong interest in contemporary sermons as diverse as those of Hugh Broughton and Lancelot Andrewes. He read widely in Catholic theology and doctrine, particularly Jesuit texts, which probably contributed to his unique ability to communicate with the Catholic community. Most unusual and revealing without being surprising, however, is the large number of literary works, many of the sort not included among “respectable” collections – works by Marston, Nashe, and Greene, for example, as well as contemporary epideictic literature – by Chapman, Nixon, Munday, Peacham, and Mulcaster – and popular literature in different genres, including Drayton’s Heroical Epistles, Daniel’s Tethy’s Festival, and Ashley’s translation of Salluste du Bartas’s L’Uranie, ou muse celeste, and Ferrari’s Galateo. Many of these literary titles and other pamphlet material in prose, on Cecil, on the Essex rebellion, on Campion’s execution, and on the Gunpowder Plot, attest to a man who kept himself abreast of contemporary culture, and add to his qualifications as biographer of Elizabeth and chronicler of his own times. Indeed, Camden deliberately cultivated this aspect of his library – as he says in the address to the reader in his Annals of Elizabeth, “Though I have been a studious Regarder and Admirer of venerable Antiquity, yet have I not been altogether careless of later and more modern Occurrences”. It may be that Camden had presses full of humanist texts and a full array of patristic and classical editions. Given his erudition and his professional and literary interests, it is hard to imagine that he did not have the basic 292

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past components of a humanist collection – although while at Westminster he virtually lived in the school’s library. What we know he had, we know he used and valued; these quartos and octavos were not (as they were for many) throwaway items of no regard. At the same time, he valued them not as physical objects, but for what they contained, although not necessarily for their utility – the satires of Nashe and Marston, for example, would not qualify as useful in the usual sense. He signed his books, kept them, and read them, often making marginal notes. The range of works reveals a very modern man – or an identifiably early modern man who must have been a superior teacher. It shows a person ready to learn about the present not only from the past but also from the present itself (not a Renaissance virtue to be taken for granted). He was well read in contemporary issues in different disciplines, languages, and nationalities. He respected the national press – vernacular literature, lowbrow as well as middle- and highbrow. Trained as a classicist, his library nevertheless shows a person who is eager to know as much as possible about his culture and recognizes the diversity of experience: he is as interested in the court masque and contemporary poetry as he is in satire, and is ready to read about assassinations and coronations, Protestant reform, and CounterReformation theology. Undogmatic in its tastes, it avails itself of the modern press and its ability to respond to the times at popular and at sophisticated levels. There is very little that “smells of the lamp” here, and on reviewing its contents, we can appreciate why Camden and Ben Jonson (whose work does not appear among the books) were so compatible. Finally, we can also locate Camden’s library between the polemical collections of the early Reformation and the specialized library existing for its own sake, aesthetic rather than utilitarian in design. As with the “disinterestedness” and “objectivity” of his historiography, his undogmatic tastes should not be construed as disengaged or uninvolved. His library was designed for use, “use” here meaning something quite other than what it meant for Leland in 1536, Cranmer in 1549, or Parker in 1559: not control of the media in order to suppress rival ideas and not the amassing of documents for the purpose of promoting Tudor or British myths, a divorce, or a question of succession. Use, then, is not defined ideologically or monologically. With its popular literature, its share of the staple of news, of opinionated writings from the right and left, from Rome and Canterbury, the library is polyvocal, reconciles voices through accommodation, and like his view of political change expressed in the Britannia, it accepts the community’s popular base as a, if not the major agent of social movement. There is no question that he hoped 293

William Camden – A Life in Context for the stability of the realm under Protestant Tudor and Stuart monarchs, but his library shows tolerant tastes that tell us that he recognized that accommodation, and not appropriation or containment, is the best agent of stability. The use to which his library was put, like his literary work, is based on idea that social amelioration comes from understanding and compromise rather than polemic, and in this his collection represents the man himself.

Camden and Cotton as Collectors


amden’s library is an unusual one in its eclectic, unpretentious, and intellectual tastes, defined by the man, not by the parameters of subject matter. This is consistent with our assessment of Camden’s influence among his peers and the way that he fostered new kinds of work by individuals and groups. One measure of this is through Robert Cotton, who was among Camden’s greatest achievements. If libraries reflect their owners, Camden and his collection attest to his close friendship with the younger man, who brought a very different perspective to the art of collecting. I want to consider briefly what their collections reveal about the men and their relationship. The unusual dynamic between the two men and their libraries can be gleaned from the language of Camden’s will, where he tries to sort out their property only to leave his collection to Cotton: Cotton is willed to retrieve those “books and papers” “such as I have borrowed of him”, and after directing that his heraldic material relating to the office of Clarenceux be given to the College of Arms, he asks that remainder of his library also be made over to him. There is a quaint propriety to the over-complicated process of restoring borrowed books and manuscripts to Cotton and then giving him the entire collection (less the heraldic material) anyway. To be sure, he is also being legally fastidiousness here, but given that Cotton was named as the “overseer” of his estate and that he is the only individual named in the context of the library, the language of the behest could have been simpler. Camden’s wording calls attention to the intimacy between them. Their libraries were extensions of their friendship; it is clear that each had free access to the other’s collection, indeed, that much was simply held in common. When we look at the correspondence between them and with other individuals in Britain and abroad, we begin to see the extent to which their identities merged in the minds of the antiquarian community. In the two men we see two sides of antiquarianism that in the next generation are brought together in a person such as Selden, for example. 294

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past From Cotton’s time at Westminster School, their relationship expanded in scope over about four decades. The tenor of their friendship is worthy of study itself: it intensifies over the years but it also transforms as their public lives and personal sensibilities affect their intimacy. As Cotton’s association with James grew, he was drawn into the political arena where Camden chose not to go. Meanwhile, however, their personal lives continued to overlap, and their interests and activities continued to grow together and to be linked until the time of Camden’s death in 1623, when Cotton writes to Pieresc in France of their friend’s death. Thus, in about 1586, Cotton stepped into the tide of antiquarian movement, responding to the lure of the materia of Britain’s past, its manuscripts, books, coins, ruins, as well as its institutions and landscapes. To learn the mysteries of the guild of antiquarians from archpriest Camden would be a radically different experience than an initiation at the hands of John Leland. The cultural commodities of the past in 1586, for Camden anyway, are not the religiously surcharged shards of the dissolution as they were for an earlier generation; Camden’s secular antiquarianism is a product of and agent of religious stabilization. Cotton, still very young, began to establish his own place in the community of antiquarians and collectors. He and Camden were the galvanizing forces behind the Society of Antiquaries. They travelled extensively together. From the summer until December 1600 they went to Carlisle. During the plague of 1603 Camden retired to Cotton’s estate in Conington, and in 1605 he dedicated the Remains to his friend. The degree to which the identities of the two were merged in the minds of the world they ­occupied is remarkable. During the period we see another pair of men having a powerful homosocial affinity, the diplomat-courtiers Dudley Carleton and John Chamberlain; in contrast, though, in the eyes of their public, the two men remain dialogically seperate in their epistolary relationship. Not so with Camden and Cotton. Letters were sent to each man with messages for the other, questions were directed to the one who would defer his answer until the other could be consulted, as in a letter from Camden to Cecil in which he explains that “the proposition you make is oute of the realme of my profession … By reason of Sr Rob Cott[on’s] absence, I can impart nothing from him as yet”.235 This is not the usual odd blend of formal and informal address that we find in Renaissance epistleography; in this case, there is an unstated assumption that what is sent to the one will be shared with the other. Letters, information concerning local antiquities, coins, physical fragments of ­antiquities, as well as books and manuscripts came almost indifferently to Camden and Cotton from their 295

William Camden – A Life in Context shared friends and from virtual strangers joining their enterprise. Many items gathered into antiquarian collections and now in the Cotton library reflect the shared interests of Cotton and Camden together.236 During the early years, especially when the Society of Antiquaries was meeting, the materials related mainly to antiquarian matters, and grew out of their travel together and collecting habits. In later years many documents relate to more politically sensitive matters often involving international correspondents. This shift corresponds to an evolution in their relationship, and reveals Cotton’s growing political status, especially under James, and Camden’s reluctance to be lured down that path. During his last years Camden calls upon his friend for assistance in matters pertaining to the College of Arms and other sensitive issues, such as one having to do with Lord Arundel and (presumably) the office of the Earl Marshal – where Camden, hoping not to be drawn into the conflict, writes to Cotton “I hope I shall not be seen in the matter of Arundell”.237 Quite near his death, in October 1623, when Camden is being hounded by heralds smelling an immanent vacancy, he writes Cotton in a tone expressive of their intimacy and also of their changed roles. As the one-time protégé becomes patron, the mentor becomes suitor: “I entreate you (as ye deerest of all my friends) to be my just advocate unto yt noble person, whose birth & merit, I hold ever sacred to mee above all others”.238 In the changing relationship we see also the changing nature of their lives and responsibilities as their antiquarianism is drawn into the arena of public affairs. The extent to which their names were associated is underscored by the confusion that existed and still exists surrounding the composition of and impetus to complete and publish the Annals of Elizabeth. The confusion arises precisely because of the conflation of Cotton and Camden in correspondence from Jacques de Thou surrounding accounts of Mary, Queen of Scots. Between 1605 and 1608 de Thou was working on the Scottish material for his massive Historia sui temporis; not satisfied with the information available to him, he sought assistance from friends and scholars in England, and was told by Isaac Casaubon that Il y a dans cette ville un homme de condition qui joint a une parfaite connaissance de l’antiquitie une grande etude de l’histoire, soit ­ancienne soit moderne; il est instruit de celles des Reines Elisabeth & Marie, par des monumens publics & par les lettres de ces deux princesses.239 The ambiguity inherent in Casaubon’s diplomatic language is the stumbling point; traditionally, based on the lead of a contemporary account, Camden is 296

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past thought to be the person referred to here. The man of “parfaite connaissance”, though, may simply be a composite figure of both Camden and Cotton; the work on Mary, Queen of Scots being drafted in London at this time was, according to one well-connected authority, the joint effort of both men – “collected with the help of Sir Rbt Cotton and written by clarenceaux”.240 The ascription here, by John Chamberlain, is logical enough since Camden was known to have been working with Burghley’s papers for a study of Elizabeth. The conjunction of the two men, one as provider of material and the other as author, suggests the division of labour in their relationship. The story is told most fully by Kevin Sharpe, who also reverses the attribution, seeing Cotton as author of the material eventually sent to de Thou. The account suggests their close collaborative relationship: Camden, ensconced in Cotton’s library, works on the annals, his host prepares related material for de Thou, which Camden translates into Latin, making contributions of his own as he goes. The result is both men being given credit for the account of Mary, Queen of Scots, as the project overflows into the larger work, the Annals of Elizabeth. In Sharpe’s summary, the problem becomes cloudier because of “Cotton’s involvement both with the memoirs sent to de Thou and with the Annals … published by Camden”.241 The extent of each man’s contribution to the two projects is not entirely clear, but in his epistle, “The Authour to the Reader” at the opening of the Annals, Camden refers to draft portions of the work, apparently authored by himself, having been sent without authorization to de Thou, by whom he does not speculate. It seems clear that he wanted to avoid being drawn directly into the King’s project. This transgression motivates him to redouble his work on the Annals when a further unauthorized use of his work forces him to try to take control of his text. On this occasion part of his work was sent to press for publication, and we know from a draft letter that it was James himself who warranted it. Thus, the initial royal impetus to communicate with de Thou leads eventually to James’s pressure to publish the work expeditiously. In an apparently unsent letter, Camden expresses his concern that the King “gave a warrant contrary to my expectation for the printing and publishing, so much of my Annales as he had p[er]used … upon what motive, unlesse it were oute of France, I cannott imagine”.242 Camden’s view of the business corroborates an account that sees Cotton and himself involved on the two projects at the same time. Throughout this sequence of events we observe the readiness with which people associated Camden and Cotton and the inseparability of their contribution to the de Thou project, and as Sharpe suggests, the preparation of 297

William Camden – A Life in Context the Annals as well. While Sharpe’s argument realigning the responsibilities and giving greater authorial responsibility to Cotton is persuasive, Camden (perhaps in spite of himself ) seems to have been given the role of principal author, while Cotton provided the library resources and worked on the preliminary English drafts. In the correspondence with and about de Thou, Camden seems only too happy to have Cotton get credit for the work. The diplomatically choreographed sequence is, of course, complicated by Cotton’s own sensitive political position and his on-again-off-again closeness to his “cousin” the King; for Cotton, it was probably far more expedient to allow Camden to be the “first author” of the work. The net effect, however, reinforces the image that the two present to the world, wherein Camden provides the scholarly credibility and Cotton provides the resources, political contacts, and royal sanction. In the printed work that finally passes on to posterity, Camden carefully conflates their involvement on the work. In his letter to the reader acknowledging “all the Helps” that he received in researching the Annals – that is, the charters, grants, letters, edicts, and proclamations – Camden goes on to expound on Cotton’s role in it all: For the greatest part of all … I am beholden to that most Excellent Gentleman Sir Robert Cotton, Knight and Baronet, who hath with great Cost and successful Industry furnished himself with the choicest things relating to History and Antiquity; (for he readily and willingly gave me Light and Direction in my Business from his own Light and Knowledge of things:) so, Reader, if I shall in any thing profit or delight thee in this Undertaking, thou art deservedly obliged to give him Thanks for the same. Whatever the division of labour, and granted the passing back and forth of accountability, the final words from Camden on the subject suggest the full extent of their collaboration and shared credit. With the Annals of Elizabeth, we are speaking of a second phase of Camden’s life, between say 1605 and 1615, but the dynamic of their relationship remains unchanged. The two complement each other: each represents a different relationship to antiquarian objects and research. Camden’s was a carefully constructed personna as servant to Truth, objective and unbiased in his research and materials; the Annals of Elizabeth is dedicated to “Truth”, and the address to the reader is hypersensitive in its defence against bias, favouritism, and critical attack. Cotton, on the other hand, was the inspired visionary collector, with an infallible eye for books and manuscripts, a love of the 298

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past ­antiquarian community, and a ­wholehearted generosity when it came to sharing his collection. Cotton’s friendship served Camden much as Westminster had before. But as Cotton matured from student to baronet to parliamentarian, assuming roles appropriate to his different calling, Camden’s life and work also changed. Particularly after James’s accession, Camden was drawn into increasingly controversial situations, and was less able to maintain the relative anonymity and security he enjoyed at Westminster. After joining the College of Arms, he assumes a more independent and socially complex relation to the communities of scholarship and the court. Cotton becomes increasingly Camden’s mentor, deflecting some of the pressure generated by work on the Annals of Elizabeth in the College of Arms. As their roles reversed, Camden, like his library, was at times subsumed into the more complex agenda of the politically engaged master-collector. And so, efforts to determine the nature and size of their collections is in some measure gratuitous. While the importance of Cotton’s library would suggest that it was considerably larger than Camden’s, by current counts this is not the case: DeMolen numbers Camden’s books at 618 and Sharpe, working from Cotton’s catalogues, arrives at over 413 texts for his library.243 Clearly a quantitative comparison is unhelpful, partly because Cotton’s is largely a manuscript collection, and what we know of Camden’s consists of printed books alone. Individually, their collections meant different things to them; Camden was a worker and practitioner while Cotton was a provider. My suggestion that their libraries are extensions of each other helps to account for the absence of printed material in Cotton’s collection and the paucity of manuscripts in Camden’s. But neither a strictly quantitative nor qualitative comparison provides a totally convincing explanation here; rather, we need to look at the men themselves. Cotton has a different place in the history of libraries and collecting than Camden does, and each of them exerts a ­different shaping influence on the future of antiquarian activity. Cotton’s collection is one of the monuments in the history of collecting. He exemplifies an emerging new kind of early modern antiquarian and collector, different from what we see in Parker or in Camden, for that matter. For Cotton, his library was itself a source of influence, while Parker’s was a product and expression of power. The man who began as an antiquary and ended as a politician matured in a social milieu different from Parker’s; politically, he was in part the product of his library. From a wealthy Huntingdon family, Cotton, under Camden’s tutelage, was early on drawn into antiquarian and collecting activities. When James assumed the English throne the distant 299

William Camden – A Life in Context connection between him and the Stuart king seemed bridgeable to Cotton, whose public life began with the accession. He was in the first wave of Jacobean preferments to acquire a baronetcy, and ran successfully for Parliament in 1603–4. Even when Cotton was on good terms with James, he seems never to have exercised significant influence or to have entered the tight ranks of the King’s favourites. Notwithstanding his ascent into parliamentary affairs, Cotton’s greatest political potency was achieved through his library. Statesmen of all stripes consulted him and his library on sensitive matters; his collecting habits were noted for their political implications; and his library was regarded as an ­arsenal of potentially volatile powder, as is suggested by its confiscation during the skittish early years of Charles’s reign. Cotton’s was essentially a bourgeois career; his modest political and social success, assisted by a combination of money and the use of his royal connections gained whatever real distinction they had from his fidelity to his antiquarian instincts and the growth and cautious deployment of his library. These personal qualities, however, probably both served and limited his influence and advancement. He treated his library open-handedly, meaning he made it available to all factions, and, unlike his predecessors, did not limit its access to ideologically like-minded individuals; politically he was prone to supporting concepts of shared government, which was not the best complement to his personal ambitions with a monarch impatient of parliamentary advice. A man of his wealth and position might have gone farther along the route of power and influence had he been a single-minded careerist and used his library accordingly. Cotton’s library is born of the middle class, and was not begun as an attempt to secure or exert political power. That it became the political force that it did is the result of his astute strategic acquisitions, and not the result of the specific uses that he made of it. His collection was possible in part because of the active interest of comparatively small-scale collectors, and the availability of antiquarian materials. Kevin Sharpe’s study reveals that these efforts were eclectic and anything but methodical – largely the result of gifts and exchanges rather than purchases. For much of his life, his growing collection was even rather haphazardly stored and arranged, the organizing principle of the twelve emperors being devised only late in Cotton’s career.244 His collecting gained momentum from his antiquarian activities in the company of like-minded gentry.245 Judging from the records of Cotton’s acquisitions, throughout his career his interests were always eclectic, extending to medieval church history, chronicles, state papers, literary texts, topographical works, 300

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past international affairs, political documents dealing with religious controversy under Henry VIII, as well as still more recent papers that we have seen would to be useful for him and Camden when preparing the Annals of Elizabeth. Significantly, during the formative years of his library he urged the pooling of independent collections for the formation of a national archive associated with the Society. The scattered collections of individuals, he felt, might be joined with the larger collections of the previous generation and the crown to form a national library. Such a populist idea was radically different from the spirit of collecting in previous generations, and it received little support from above. By the time that the Society began to disband, around 1604, it was Cotton’s library that had become the core collection for the scholarly community. In later years he was the beneficiary of a number of antiquaries who left portions of their collections to him, presumably assuming that in this way, their value and their usefulness would appreciate over time.246 Then, still later, it appears that in his attachment to the office of the Lord of the Privy Seal he was informally entrusted with official documents, to the alarm of Thomas Wilson, the official Record Keeper. It is safe to say that Cotton’s collection, then, grew to such importance largely through the indifference of more powerful figures, including the monarch himself. The final stage in the political evolution of his library during his lifetime comes with the sequestering of his library at the order of the King in 1629. Cotton, riding the wave of opportunity coming from his connection to the house of Stuart, had a respected place in court and Parliament, but more important than his politics was the fact that he had also acquired enough potentially seditious political influence for Charles to clip his kinsman’s wings. Cotton’s library grew, then, from a dynamic arising from a cultural economy that was influenced by changing intellectual trends; its contents were shaped by socio-economic and political conditions, and thus was built from the bottom up. Ironically, when Cotton began his collecting, he aspired to its being a national archive; when it was confiscated, it was because it was a private collection. In time, his goal was attained, and it became the core of a national library. The tension between public and private is critical to the shift in collecting patterns, and, of course, it reflects the political conflicts of the period. The imagery commonly used to describe this “Arsenal … or magazine” of history and learning247 may be conventional, but its ­perceived subversive potential made that rhetoric more disturbing to the King in 1629. 301

William Camden – A Life in Context It was disturbing in two related ways. The first was the diversity of opinion that it served. Cotton opened its doors to virtually all comers and during this period of the erosion of royal prerogative, the uses to which the collection were and might yet be put was a problem. As Kevin Sharpe says: “After the stormy parliamentary sessions of 1628 and 1629, during which the leaders of the Commons had appealed to the past for their rights and liberties, Charles I thought it time to investigate Cotton’s library”.248 The danger foreseen by Thomas Wilson, Buckingham, and the King himself was the use to which such an independent collection might be put – rather like Brutus’s apprehension of Caesar’s transgression, it appeared to them as a serpent which, “hatched, would as his kind grow mischievous” (Julius Caesar II.i.32–3). The very absence of definition made the library insidious, gave it its polyvocality, and in this it shared the intellectual premise to be found in Camden’s historiography. The collection’s second and related disturbing quality was its autonomy: that it was an amorphous collection not attached to any official institution, office, or politically established individual or power base. Robert Bruce Cotton, baronet though he may be, by 1629, in the eyes of Buckingham and the King, is citizen Cotton. His library stands outside the defining embrace of the monarch and his policy, able to be defined in whatever way its users cared to fashion it. The state, it seemed, had lost control of its own resources, and with them go the powers of self-determination. Cotton’s library, like the relationship between him and Camden, provides a bridge between the period of Elizabeth and the increasingly destabilized Stuart reigns. While Camden remains closely allied to the centrist monarchic stance defined by his proximity to Elizabeth and Burghley, his historiography, his real behest to Cotton, provides the basis for intellectual disestablishment of the kind that we see in other of his contemporaries, such as John Selden. The collection itself is a manifestation of this newly defined political force emerging from an increasingly influential middle class. Its fate enacts the political struggles of the period. Like the antiquarian movement itself, it served numerous tastes and interests, some political, some not. As many scholars have noted, in its depth and breadth it rivalled the royal collection and others whose formation was allied to church and state interests. The debates about the appropriateness of a such collection being in private hands resonate with their own political polyphony: one side arguing that national security calls for it to be in the hands of the state; the other, that the safety of the collection is better served if it remains in private hands. The 302

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past arguments resemble those still used in debates about the repatriation of foreign or indigenous art and artefacts – the arguments, Camden might have thought, of strangers in their own homeland. The debates raised questions of eminent domain, and implicitly challenged royal prerogative. Similar questions were being raised in other contexts during the period of the library’s growth, from around 1610, when Parliament challenged James’s “Rights and Conscience” only to find itself dissolved by the King; again in 1629, arguments were being made for the ancient rights of Commons on the basis of precedents researched in Cotton’s library. The confiscation of the library in that year was an assertion of royal authority enacting in small the King’s increasingly unsuccessful conflicts with Parliament. If King Charles was successful in bringing the collection under royal control, citizen Cotton had already pre-empted the gesture by expressing his determination to contribute his collection to the state.249 This public benefaction, or expression of intent, in effect enacts the political crisis begun in 1610 and culminating in the major events of 1640, 1649, and 1672 (with the establishment of the constitutional monarchy), and the radical transformation of the relationship between the monarchy and the people. Cotton’s grant to the nation (not to the monarch as he had originally intended) represents a reversal of the roles and hegemonic patterns seen in Parker’s career as collector and in Leland’s “New Year’s Gift” to Henry VIII. In making a gift to the nation he distinguishes himself from someone who presides over or repatriates what is the nation’s and the crown’s. Cotton’s real and symbolic role in this is captured by the irony that Charles was finally kept in custody in Cotton’s house prior to his trial in Westminster Hall.250 At this point we need to ask where Camden fits into all this. We might answer generally, that the intellectual model that we studied in the Britannia prepared the way for Cotton’s willingness to question authority; the disestablished view of history through topography prepares for an antiquarianism whose multiplicity of interest undermines the ideological coherence of Reformation recovery and use of the vernacular past. More specifically, Camden served the political utility of the library in the kinds of antiquarian and historical interests that he brought to the enterprise and that we will see in our study of the Society of Antiquaries. Camden, emeritus worker in the Cotton library, stands as the presiding genius for the intellectual questioning that eventually helped destabilize institutional structures and thus paved the way for the political revolution of later years. 303

William Camden – A Life in Context

Camden and the Dynamic of Antiquarianism


he flourishing of antiquarian activity under the mentorship of ­ illiam Camden was, then, fundamentally unlike what had gone on W before. Bourgeois collecting of information and objects took on a momentum of its own; typical of early modern society, this led to the creation of institutions that in time assumed an autonomy of structure and purpose. During these years the nature of antiquarian enquiry too evolved: the questions being asked of the data changed, the methods of enquiry, defined by Camden, were turned to more specialized and varied topics than the broad patriotic Protestantism that occupied earlier generations. Presiding over this activity was a man having no more ostensible claim to authority than his broadly based antiquarian knowledge and his authorship of the Britannia; thus, a teacherscholar and sometime collector helped galvanize the men (most of whom were his social superior) who formed the Society of Antiquaries. Not an Erasmus or a Casaubon working from the pivotal point of classical or patristic scholarship; not a Machiavelli or Biondo, or a Guicciardini, a Bodin or de Thou working from diplomatic and courtly circles. The English antiquarian movement, as the momentum stepped up in the 1590s, was strikingly middle class, detached from court circles, and distinct in character from anything on the Continent. English antiquarianism during his lifetime, influenced by contemporary socio-economic and intellectual currents, evolved from a conservative force sympathetic to the interests of Burghley, to potentially revolutionary ones that go a long way toward destabilizing Stuart rule without actually challenging it. Studies of antiquarianism that continue to see the work of Camden as driven by uncomplicated patriotism offer a reductive view of how the enterprise fits into the social, political, and literary currents of the period. We can observe the growth of momentum in antiquarian activity and Camden’s role in it during the critical period from 1586 and 1606/7. These are the years of revising the Britannia prior to its translation by Philemon Holland, and also of the growth and dissolution of the Society of Antiquaries. For Camden the time is punctuated by his departure from Westminster School in 1597, and marks his first decade as Clarenceux King of Arms. With the publication of the Remains in 1605 and the 1607 edition of the Britannia, that phase of his life-work subsides, although it is not altogether completed. In 1606 he begins what was an important new correspondence with Jacques de Thou, which, as we have seen, would have a major impact on his life and 304

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past work in later years. After a riding accident in 1607 he endures another longer phase of bad health that effectively ended his days of travelling; in 1608/9 he moves to Chislehurst in Kent, distancing himself from Westminster, Derby House, and the court. The biographical trajectory also traces the arc of emergent antiquarian activity, both institutional and individual, that would define the mode for future generations. Camden’s work during these years was typically systematic and was not confined to his plans for the Britannia. The surviving documents from the period are quite full; particularly after leaving Westminster and assuming the more or less public duties of herald, Camden appears to have decided to preserve his papers with greater care. The extensive collections in the British and the Bodleian Libraries, the letters printed in Thomas Smith’s 1691 edition, and the surviving essays for the Society of Antiquaries (many printed in A Collection of Curious Discourses, 1772, 1775) record his interests and activities during these years.251 They testify to how Camden worked both institutionally, through the Society of Antiquaries, and individually, through independent correspondents, to pursue his interests and to foster the work of others. Camden’s personal correspondence shows the socially diverse range of individuals interested in the material past. The idiom of antiquarian discussion betrays the individualism and bourgeois value system that emerged by the beginning of the seventeenth century. Letters to Camden from friends in other parts of the country show attitudes to regional history that are readily recognizable by the modern reader, and range from the landscape gardener, to the collector of antiques, to the dilettante scholar. In 1603 Francis Godwin, Bishop of Llandaff, was at his diocese in Wales and if the letters are correctly attributed, he seems to have enjoyed keeping regular epistolary contact with Camden, sharing his latest antiquarian discoveries with him. One dating from 14 July 1603 relates how on travelling through Carleon and into Glamorganshire, he came upon “a monument of right venerable antiquity wch [he] cannot but impart to” Camden. One in particular is a large stone, 4 feet long, 1 foot thick, and 1 foot high, and bearing an inscription that he then proceeds to transcribe as best he can. He then records several local legends about the stone’s significance, and enthusiastically urges Camden to visit.252 The letter reveals the scholar’s concern to record the inscription as well as the incipient anthropologist’s interest in local customs associated with the region. Other of Godwin’s letters show that he made the most of his rural appointment, and took pains to gather information from the ­neighbouring districts 305

William Camden – A Life in Context against the time of Camden’s next visit. There is an explicit respect for the local setting of the objects discovered, as we see in one letter reporting to Camden the findings of one of Godwin’s agents, who described a megalith “uppon the topp of a mountaine called Mynydd Margan … in Glamorganshire”. The structure consisted of a cross in a circle atop a larger stone, and it was said that anyone able to read the inscription would die soon after. Apparently Godwin’s agent dismantled the structure, and the bishop tells Camden how “I was angry it should be digged up & … [did] order to have [it] placed againe”.253 The impulse to search for and excavate unexplored archaeological sites also leads the antiquarian to collect books and manuscripts that might fall into the wrong hands or perish through neglect. In Godwin’s example, we also see the emergence of the antiquary’s acquisitive instincts: Godwin plans to “bestowe some mony in digging certayne places, where by the report of people is lykelihood [sic] of fynding divers things worth the having”.254 While some of this information might ultimately find its way into a later edition of the Britannia, appreciation of the historical artefact is regional and aesthetic: Godwin writes to Camden that he has some fine Roman fragments, and he hopes to “afford them a place somewhere in my garden”.255 It took a certain temperament to want to and be able to undertake the kind of field-work – observing, excavation, and touring – that many of Camden’s correspondents undertook. Men like Godwin, Henry Savile, Francis Tate were significant and accomplished scholars with careers of their own, unmistakably middle-class figures working essentially independently, not as secretaries or factotums to the politically powerful. The “see Britain first” mentality took some getting used to in the early seventeenth century, as we hear in a letter from Brecknockshire by Francis Tate in 1604: he writes of having been “thoroughlie tried wth infinite vexation of the le[a]st and worst shire of Wales. where m[en?] endangereth the lives of honest men”. The natural landscape delights him not, but the human imprint stirs his interest, although like tourists after him, he finds the fare of castle ruins often repetitious: “the ruines of old castles are so common in everi place where we ride as thei are not worth the viewing since the memorie of their makers is peshed [perished] with them”.256 His preference for the landscape animated by human events and personalities is predictable enough, but we note his rather forced, and unsuccessful, attempts to appreciate the rugged terrain. Interesting also is his sense of the inaccessibility of the past, of the foreignness of the medieval castle dwellers. And, like Henry Savile, who also recorded information for 306

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past Camden during his own travels,257 Tate is very aware that what he reports might find a place in the Britannia. This temperament cuts across social class. Among Camden’s papers are also reports by agents working directly for him, local men of lesser stature as scholars but often inspired by their work and careful in its execution. One is what appears to be a running account of travels in Camden’s service by a schoolmaster named Bainbrigg, who shows some skill in utilizing a network of local authorities to assist him: “I began my journey the xvth daie of August 1601 at the towne of Bulnes. wher Mr. Lowther parson there a man of good learning diggin to make a gardin found two faire hewen stones …”258 It would be nice to know how much of his recording method was natural talent and how much came from Camden’s supervision and instruction, for it is impressive in its careful observation not only of antiquities, but also of natural phenomena, as though the distinctions between natural and human history were familiar to him. The descriptions tend to be vivid, often impressionistic, but also precise. After his account of Mr Lowther’s ploughing, he describes coins found beneath the stones, “as brode as an olde Queene Maryes grote, but thicker than six grotes”.259 Further into his report he provides a topographical description locating the beginning of the Picts’ Wall, and notes how the roots of oak trees can be seen in the sea below the town of Bulnes, taking this as an indication that the shoreline has altered.260 Near Netherbie, he records enthusiastically “some mightie great ruynes, of huge buyldings” where he “saw the rarest worke that ere I saw in my liff”, including a quadrangle four “ells brode it stode upon manie litle arches” on which were a “vant [vault], and upon that a faire leavell plaice smo[ot]hlie p[l]astered”.261 Bainbrigg is confident that he is presenting what his employer wants; he refers to “your book” – meaning the Britannia – several times, and presumes to suggest that “we could have wished that cumberland had been omitted in this last impression” until he had received the notes that were currently being prepared for Camden.262 He consistently relates local legends and expatiates on northern and local Roman history; a more modest man dealing with a more intimidating employer would have curbed these narratives, but not Bainbrigg, whose epitomes of historical events were to have provided a back-up for Camden’s own research. When repeating information obtained from others, Bainbrigg carefully describes their credentials, indicating their reliability or limitations, and noting whether or not the information is at first hand. He even tells Camden that the local inhabitants that he meets in his travels remember his and Cotton’s visit in an earlier year. 307

William Camden – A Life in Context The evidence of Camden’s agents and correspondents shows us the dynamic of his field-work, which contains elements of archaeology, anthropology, chorography, and travelogue. Bainbrigg’s information must have been a good deal more useful to Camden than the less disciplined, more informal material forwarded by friends such as Savile and Tate. The material provided by Bainbrigg shows how natural description and recording of antiquities are together part of the topographical record; his enthusiastic letters tell us how his work directly with Camden and with the Britannia together helped to refine his skills as an antiquarian. It is also clear that in his inquiries he is harnessing the interest and enthusiasm that are already alive among local citizens, that this is in large measure the collection of information that amounts to giving to the people what is already theirs – quite different from the collecting of manuscripts and books that will go directly to a royal archive or a potentate’s library. While other agents, such as the man who became Cotton’s librarian, Richard James, took pleasure in finding the plum collector’s item for their employer, what we see among these ephemeral papers is different kind of mentality, one revealing the observers’ spontaneous appreciation of the material of the cultural past, and the strong feeling that they too are involved in the restoration (in both senses of the word) and repatriation of the past. They are uncovering “commodities” of personal and cultural value, while men trained in the connoisseurship of antiquarianism, such as Richard James, also appreciated the rarity and collectable value of goods that passed their way. The fragmentary and colloquial record of Camden’s papers shows us a range of “collecting” by men as similar and yet socially different as baronet Cotton and local schoolmaster Bainbrigg. Even for the professional collector, Robert Cotton, this antiquarianism is an expression of values that emanate from regional pride and personal self-consciousness, and that in itself is part of an empowered mentality that serves increasingly articulate regional voices. Collector-scholars such as Camden and Cotton participate in what Henri Lefebvre describes as the “production of space” through the management of values associated with place. The enthusiasm of the period’s nascent antiquarianism, seen in people such as Camden and Bainbrigg, is itself a symptom of the changing valuation of space, where “lived space” is “experienced through complex symbols and images”.263 Antiquarianism is part of the emergence of a new symbolic “overlay” that gives meaning to the lived landscape. If Bainbrigg is enthused by his finds in his regional “backyard”, their value is enhanced by the prospect of their place in the larger mosaic of the Britannia. There can be no mistaking that Reginald Bainbrigg felt that he had a vested 308

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past interest in the library and cabinet of curiosities that was the Britannia: “I cannot find wordes to expresse my love towardes you who take suche paines, that our countrie maie live for er”.264

Camden and the Emergence of the Original Society of Antiquaries


hese documents give us a sense of the human dimension of growing antiquarian activity during the early seventeenth century, and of Camden’s extensive network of agents and accomplices. The centre from which this activity and influence emanated was increasingly his neighbour, Robert Cotton’s library. To this node were drawn the community of individuals whose shared interests and increasingly co-ordinated activity evolves into the Society of Antiquaries. The Society’s story has been told often, starting with what must be one of the most often cited doctoral dissertations, Linda Van Norden’s “The Elizabethan College of Antiquaries” (UCLA 1946) and supplemented by the early chapters of Joan Evans’s History of the Society of ­Antiquaries. Both Van Norden and Evans use their careful scholarship to document the growth and development of antiquarian study. As we saw in an earlier chapter, the many retellings of the story have been consolidated into a now standard, homogenized overview of antiquarianism, with a broad undifferentiating sweep from Parker to Dugdale. A more detailed examination of the origins and work of the Society, however, suggests a far greater role in shaping political and historical discourse of the period. From T. D. Kendrick’s work we can identify two seemingly distinct trajectories in the antiquarian movement during the early modern period. He describes the flourishing of topographical work, including the emergence of modern historical methods and a more accurate knowledge of the medieval past in the late Tudor period as the “age of Camden”, and he designates another major trajectory emerging in “the middle and later seventeenth century” as “the great age of heralds” – essentially an extension of what was earlier begun by Camden.265 What I think Kendrick has done in the interest of identifying distinct historical phases is to separate two elements in the same intellectual movement, speaking of one in terms of individual influence and the other in terms of institutional activity. But the individual – Camden – is also a herald; the movements that he describes are one continuous process in which Camden serves as both catalyst and cypher. Kendrick’s discussion of each “phase” is still highly relevant, but his creation of two artificial and 309

William Camden – A Life in Context sequential phases pushes the formation of the movement late into the seventeenth century, and this has been the chronology embraced by most historians. But if we look at the actual antiquarian activity without imposing period categories on it, we see multiple forces working simultaneously to galvanize the antiquarian effort. C. E. Wright, for example, helpfully sees the overlap between antiquarianism, the College of Arms, and the individuals involved in each enterprise when he says that “the strongest continuous force in the fostering of antiquarian studies in the sixteenth century … was … the College of Arms and its officers” – a major statement that has largely been ignored, and which allows for the conjunction of different influences.266 The tendency of scholars, then, has been to create arbitrary divisions – between periods (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries), organizations (Society of Antiquaries and College of Arms), genres and activities (history, antiquarianism, topography, language study, heraldry, collecting), and individuals – and this, seminal though much of the work has been, has fragmented our perception of what is occurring in historical study of the time. On the other hand, studies that treat individuals, such as Kevin Sharpe’s study of Robert Cotton, by their nature are usually more holistic. In looking quite deliberately at the institutions – the Society of Antiquaries and the College of Arms – from the inclusive perspective of Camden’s development, I hope to achieve a more coherent reading of the antiquarian movement and its contributions to the intellectual currents of the period. As we have seen, the enlargement of the Britannia reflected the growing appetite for antiquarian, rather than “historical” matter. Non-narrative material – artefacts, inscriptions, the material and otherwise evidentiary manifestations of the past – fill the narrative interstices of the historical and topographical structures. The result of such amplification of data is knowing in more detail what was generally known before, and as any student-educator knows, from such amassing of “fact” comes the multiplication of opinions and interpretations, rather than greater certitude or “truer” truth. As Camden and his agents returned from their different excursions to fill the accommodating cornucopia of the Britannia, they increased the amount of etymological, numismatic, anecdotal, genealogical, and archaeological detail, adding nuances, shadows, variants to the historical chambers of the work. As the letters and parcels received from Camden’s correspondents show, there was always more to be found; when the Britannia outgrew its design and the Remains appeared as a kind of annex to it, we recognize that Camden’s work tends naturally toward an anatomy. Given this tendency and its unpolemic 310

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past nature, it might be said that although there was more in the successive editions of the Britannia, there was not more to it; the basic “objective” is the same and, arguably, no better served by greater amplitude. It might be more “shapely” but no wiser. In one sense, of course, its data make it a repository, a printed museum. An extension of this would be a cultural materialist view that the commodification of the past is its rhetoric and design, and therefore this growth does serve an ideological end. The more Camden added, the more popular the work – not only in the sense that it spawned more and larger editions, but also in the increased activity that was energized by it, emulated it, built on it, refined it, and generally legitimized it by effectively confirming its cultural value. Its own growth adumbrates the cultural pattern of the next century and the spread of specialized “antiquarian” activity. Celebrity items are simultaneously the products of their cultural moment and creators of it, and this is true of the early modern phenomenon that was the Britannia. One of the direct manifestations of this energy was Camden’s shaping hand in the Society of Antiquaries. As the Britannia grew, so grew the formal interests and activities of the Society. The connection between the Society and the Britannia has been noted often since Linda van Norden and Joan Evans. However, the entrenched scholarly tradition that the lifespan of the Society “roughly coincides” with the Latin editions of the Britannia so understates the links between its author and the society that it is misleading.267 The nature of the group and its activities and Camden’s central place among them argues an essential, not a coincidental presence. Van Norden’s careful chronology of the Society, virtually unchallenged by her readers, suggests a very precise – not an approximate correlation between the Britannia and its meetings, and between the last edition of the Britannia, Camden’s retirement to Chislehurst, his growing infirmity, his problems with the College of Arms, and the Society’s dissolution. Furthermore, the interests, activities, and methods of the Society of Antiquaries have close ties to Camden’s own, and are at the very least a major example of the methodologies set in motion, in England, by Camden and his work. Much of what we know about the Society comes from the brief essays presented at their meetings and other miscellaneous documents relating to its organization and membership, and much of this material carries over into collections of Camden material.268 In important ways the Society shares the social and cultural moment that Camden’s work occupies, and confirms the view that in these decades we can locate the transition from early Tudor to early modern antiquarianism. 311

William Camden – A Life in Context The formation of the Society in 1586, around the nucleus of the thirty-fiveyear-old under-master, Camden, and the (approximately) sixteen-year-old Cotton, itself represents a significant new step in English study of the past. One of the most important details arising from Van Norden’s firm dating of the Society is that its inception dates from well after the death of Matthew Parker. The point remains largely unexplored by Van Norden, but its implications are significant for our effort to understand the emergence of antiquarianism in the late sixteenth century and to appreciate how it differs from the historical activity of previous generations. Van Norden’s work prepares the way for a more accurate contextualization of the movement. In particular, it corrects the account entrenched in the second (1775) edition of the Collection of Curious Discourses, which sees the development of antiquarian study in terms of a schematic “trickle-down” effect from royal, Edwardian reform, through Elizabeth, “herself an excellent scholar”, through the episcopate and its “great patron of letters Matthew Parker, archbishop of Canterbury” to a “set of gentlemen of great abilities”, who comprised the Society of Antiquaries based on rules set down by the primate himself.269 Although thanks to the corrected chronology, scholars no longer hold Parker responsible for the rules of the Society, the same seamless history of antiquarianism that the Curious Discourses gives us persists in current criticism, with Parker still foundational. Parker was an important influence in the history of antiquarian studies, but that will not keep him alive until 1586. This important detail encourages us to see the Society and the surge of antiquarian activities in terms of complex social forces, rather than as the by-product of royal polemical strategy. It also confirms for us that the Society of Antiquaries was an initiative distinct from what had been going on before, reflecting goals, interests, and capacities particular to a relatively coherent group of individuals. Indeed, that they formed a group is itself significant: it signals a self-conscious autonomy from official historical activity (and independence will become a major issue for the Society). It also marks an important new dimension to the collection and study of historical material: patronage and informal collaboration give way to independent, self-regulated organization. The Society of Antiquaries was hardly a dissenting group, but its organizational dynamic and the premise that each member pursued his own research independently and then shared it, fostered polyvocality and a collegial diversity of opinion. It has its prototypes in the fraternities and academies of Italy, which were also the product of a bourgeois civic spirit. Once we remove Parker from their midst, the entire hierarchic pyramid of 312

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past ­antiquarianism collapses. When we note further that the learned Lancelot Andrewes, prebendary and then dean of Westminster, was not a regular member though he petitioned to join the society, nor was Whitgift, nor Bancroft, we see a group careful of its independence, setting its own membership criteria, and determined to exclude any royal presence, primate, peer, or policy-maker, that might compromise their independence.270 There is a conspicuous egalitarian element to the membership. It appears to have lacked any planned hierarchy; it was not associated with any patron, although it eventually sought, but never received royal patronage. Aside from Stow and Camden, its members were drawn by and large from the privileged gentry, with many lawyers in their midst. Most were close to Camden in age, now (1586) thirty-five, with extremes represented by Stow, who was sixty-one, and Cotton, who was perhaps sixteen years old in 1586. Motivated by issues close to their own personal, professional, and academic interests, they defined their own operating procedures and structure. They deliberately chose not to place at their head an authority, symbolic or otherwise, beneath whom they would labour and study. During its prime, no peer or ecclesiastical authority, or major political figure is included in its membership, although this would change during the Stuart period, as would the entire social and political profile of organized antiquarianism. This organizational make-up is significant; not only did they vow to avoid pursuing topics that were overtly political (a vow that they did not keep), but they also avoided would-be members who would politicize their activities and compromise their research. This historical uniqueness of the Society of Antiquaries will be lost to us as long as we insist on its being an extension of Parker’s enterprise. The Society is a collection of individuals pretending to no common voice, representing no constituency, and not part of a vertical political structure. In so far as is possible in 1586, they are their own masters. As a group, heterogeneity rather than homogeneity is what one would expect – differing views rather than the conformity of political opinion to be expected of the royal antiquary or the archbishop’s agents. The Society’s demographic does not suggest subversive or anti-hierarchical intentions: it is the result of a group’s rather spontaneous organization made possible by the conjunction of various social, political, and intellectual circumstances. Such a group will come to antiquity with different questions and expectations than will the researcher commissioned by prince or bishop. In this, they share in the kind of apparent disengagement that we have noted in Camden’s work. The group formed around Camden, having the Britannia as its text and 313

William Camden – A Life in Context his scholarly methods as their model. As with the extensive correspondence with Camden that we have sampled, the early workings of the Society were evidently meant to harness the talent and enthusiasm of London antiquaries and to bring them into the service of improving, correcting, and adding to successive editions. As it became more organized, their meetings centred on presentations on assigned topics researched and prepared independently by each member. Many of the discourses presented at their meetings are explorations into topics generated by the Britannia, such as the division of the realm into shires, epitaphs, tombs, the origins of sterling, the diversity of names, the antiquity of cities, ancient land divisions, the origins of social institutions, including parliaments, courts, places of learning. Their methodology is essentially “modified humanist” – historical and philological in focus, almost scientific in its clinical circumscription of subject matter: the formulaic heading “Of the Antiquity and Etymology of …” identifies an agreed upon approach to their study. In many cases the reports are the first evidence of any systematic study of the particular topic in English letters, which attests to the group’s originality and its openness to new areas of study. Discourses on topics such as “the Antiquity, Etimology, and Variety of Dimensions of Land in England”, “the Variety and Antiquity of Tombs and Monuments”, and “the Antiquity of Motts and Words …” broaden significantly the conventional ideas of what constitutes a proper subject for historical study, and pre-dates Bacon’s call, in the Novum Organum, for a plurality of histories on different subjects and institutions. The topics can not be called apolitical, although the methodology is severely spare and refrains from any partisan debate. The Britannia seems to have provided the inspiration for topics; rather like a successful graduate seminar, the discourses were generated by the text and might take quite independent directions. And, like any research endeavour, they might founder because of the scholar’s limitations or the absence of primary materials: Francis Leigh, for example, complains about the paucity of materials on the British past, and Michael Heneage, keeper of the records of the Tower, when scheduled to speak on the subject “Of the Antiquity of Arms in England”, reports that “Touching the antiquitie of armes in England, the records wher I serve, give lyttel lyght, and my selfe therefore cannot say much”.271 Not uniformly well informed or judicious in the interpretation of their material, they have a range to be expected from a collection of seminar reports, although for the historian of the period they show an interesting freshness and variety. Adhering to the principles articulated first and most clearly in English historiography in the Britannia, they work consistently 314

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past with primary documents and invoke a high standard of accuracy: “for the manner of measuring of land in old time I find it to be set down in other terms than is used at this day, as by an ancient charter made by king Edward the elder … a copy of which charter I have here set down …”.272 In their recognition of the pastness of the past, they echo Camden’s humility in the face of the unknown, admit to the limitations of historical method, and keep distinctions clear between what is documented and what is conjectural: “In a question which cannot be proved by authoritie, probabilities and conjectures are to be used”, writes Dr Doyle in an essay entitled “Of the Antiquity of Arms”.273 In some cases it appears that the meetings were opportunities for individuals to report on the contents of their personal or institutional collection, or to share unique or specialized texts with the others.274 In most cases, the contributions can legitimately be called “essays”, in the sense that Montaigne used it, as unpolished “efforts” in one or another direction. They begin with a question or topic, often but not necessarily one that has been raised in the Britannia; the subject is always quite specialized and one not likely to figure in traditional narrative history; in methodology, they attempt to work closely from documentary evidence and to analyse the subjects in terms of historical precedent – the oldest examples of whatever is being studied – and of etymological, philological evidence: what the name actually suggests about a subject and how the name has changed. The methods are patently humanistic. The essays are informative in several different ways. They provide useful reference to the relevant documents available in London during these decades; they give us the first sustained, organized, and methodologically consistent incursion into cultural and institutional history; as such, they are also clearly exercises in historical method outside the parameters of traditional narrative and chronicle forms; thus, they offer us the fullest expression of the new historiography in England up to 1605 outside of the Britannia itself; and finally, they give us insight into a new class of bourgeois antiquarians and their views of the past. The originality and significance of the Society’s activities in the development of historical study in England have still to be fully explored. The meetings and the discourses worked on a premise quite different from that behind the rhetorical histories, with their emphasis on coherence of narrative and vision. The Society’s work was distinctly polyvocal – its members were expected to come to the seminar table with different information or views. Because at each meeting every member was to prepare an essay on the same topic, given 315

William Camden – A Life in Context the finite resources available to any single researcher, one could be certain to hear conflicting views that would invite controversy. This approach ensures that, at least at the outset, there will be no single orthodox version of the past. And while an individual’s reading may be inadequately informed, pluralistic readings are to be expected: “opinion” becomes an important word revealing a major concession to the past on the antiquaries’ part. Indeed, the very summonses to meetings make clear that one was to bring one’s informed “opinion” in writing to the gathering, as we see from one November notice sent to John Stow: Society of Antiquaries. To Mr. Stowe. The place appointed for a conference upon the question followinge, ys att Mr. Garters house on Frydaye the ii. of this November … at ii. Of the clooke in thafternoone, where your oppinioun in in [sic] wrytinge or otherwise is expected. The question is, Of the antiquitie, etimologie, and priviledges of Parishes in Englande.  …275 Stow records some notes on the back of his invitation – “630. Honorious Romanus, archbishop of Cantorbury, divided his province into parishes …” An invitation to Mr. Bowyer, for All Souls Day in 1598, using the same formula, asks his opinion on the “question” “Of the antiquitie of armes in England”.276 For one meeting in 1599 we know that at least seventeen men were “summoned”, each presumably with a similarly worded invitation containing one or two such topics.277 Invitees were enjoined not to share the notice of meeting with anyone who was not also invited. What each member made of the topic would vary according to his library, his general reading, and to a lesser extent his personal prejudices. If this procedure of having all members present respond to the same question approximates the methods of disputation within the universities, its goal was not rhetorical training, which these men already had. Rather it was to cast into the arena the several versions of the “truth” about a given subject to see which would hold up against scholarly scrutiny. We should not take for granted the existence of a forum in the 1590s that invites such polyvocality. Both the writing of histories and the collecting of documents were strictly controlled at this time. So, however reputable it was, an independent group 316

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past dealing freely and without supervision with antiquarian issues could not help but attract attention. Perhaps Camden, as Burghley’s protégé, was supervision enough, but the important point is that the Society had an autonomy and organizational structure that we have not seen before in the study of the past. Of course, the Society of Antiquaries was not born fully formed, with all its structures in place; nor did it live a life without change, so it is important to be careful when generalizing about its activities. From its Elizabethan formation to its Jacobean demise, it underwent a number of transformations, and we can speak of four distinct moments in its development. We know, for example, that they began meeting around 1586, using the format of oral presentations on assigned subjects. Many of these have been preserved, but none bears a date before 1590. There is a cluster of discourses for the period 1592–4, when Camden was busiest revising the Britannia. Although it may simply be that earlier discourses have been lost, the fact that so many survived together from these years and none from the time of the Society’s formation suggests that the presentation of prepared discourses began formally around 1590. Thereafter, the meetings and presumably the discourses continued apparently on a regular basis during the Law Term, with a hiatus during the plague years of 1594–8.278 The Society’s momentum reached its peak, it would seem, around 1602, when Cotton petitioned the Queen for the establishment of a Royal Society of Antiquaries. After 1607, however, the Society met with less regularity; this was the year that Camden suffered a seriously debilitating riding accident, after which (1609) he moved to his house in Chislehurst. Evidently the Society continued less vigourously, and in 1614 Henry Spelman endeavoured to revive its activities. Certainly their antiquarian activities thrived during these years, although the group was perhaps less tightly knit and never regained its original independence or organization. In 1621 Edmund Bolton, himself an antiquarian and an acquaintance of Camden, Cotton, and other members of the original society, seeking Buckingham’s patronage, proposed a “Roial Academ” with heroic royalist aspirations that would have made it wholly unlike the original society. The activities of the original, Elizabethan Society of Antiquaries, as it took shape around the Britannia, thrived for about two decades. In its membership, design, and supporting documents, we can see a society very different from what emerged later, in James’s reign. At first, it was an interesting mix of secret society and meritocracy; in place of hierarchy it had protocol. If there was indeed something of an egalitarian element to it, it was not 317

William Camden – A Life in Context without structure or procedures, although these no doubt evolved over the years. Once the meetings began, it is clear that the organization and membership were tightly structured. The membership is not altogether clear, and, of course, would fluctuate over the years. Documents in Harley ms 5177, Ashmolean ms 763.iv., fol. 197r, and another manuscript in the Norwich City Library provide draft lists of as many as twenty-four members, although they do not correspond perfectly with one another.279 The membership during the Elizabethan period, consisting mainly of lawyers and parliamentarians, collectors and antiquaries, differs radically from the membership for the Stuart society proposed by Edmund Bolton.280 During its Elizabethan years, the demographics of its membership was fairly consistent – controlled, but not rigidly exclusive – and attendance at the meetings was carefully monitored. Protocol was both rigid and secretive. Interestingly, the phraseology of the summonses to meetings raises the possibility that not all members were invited to all meetings. Only those summoned were to attend, and they were expected to be present with their discourses ready. Those receiving summonses were not to share the information with those who have not received like notification. The wording of Bowyer’s invitation, for example, specifies that “Yt is desired, that you bringe none other with you, nor geve anie notice unto anie, but to such as have the like somouns”, and a list of those others summoned is affixed.281 The language casts the aura of a secrecy in which members are not sure who’s in and who’s out; for some reason, the invitation list was tailored to the meeting and its agenda. This is further suggested by another document from 1599 which lists the “names of all those which were somoned att this tyme”; it also lists three “not sommoned”. The seventeen men called to this meeting are obviously not the entire membership. The phrase “at this tyme” may imply that the process of summoning was not yet complete, those “not sommoned” being the ones still to be invited; or it could mean that they are not to be invited to this particular meeting. The ambiguity of the wording of the lists of invited and the uninvited is all the greater, given the calculated secrecy of the summonses. Secret societies are a sure sign of the middle class. However much ambiguity there might be surrounding the summonses, we do know that some who felt that they ought to be invited sometimes were not, and one such case is interesting, although Joan Evans records it largely without comment. In a letter to Abraham Hartwell from Lancelot Andrewes, then Dean of Westminster, Andrewes fishes for an invitation, dropping Camden’s name (or more precisely title) to pave the way: “I talkt with Mr. Clarentieux, and he would 318

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past not certify me that I was made of your number, and yet he was at your last meeting, wher such things (as he said) used to be agreed on before any came in”.282 The letter illustrates the tight security surrounding the meetings, and the Society’s careful procedures. The drama here is revealing; that a dean of Lancelot Andrewes’s credentials should be supplicating an antiquary such as Hartwell in this way, and that former master Camden, who we recall still took his board at the dean’s table, should be so tight-lipped, says much about the extent of the secrecy, independence of spirit, and selectivity of the Society. In addition to the reversal of social roles, it suggests that a man of Dean Andrewes’s position might compromise the society’s autonomy. He was certainly antiquary enough to pull his weight intellectually. When the Dean of Westminster, a personal friend of Camden’s and a solid scholar at that is treated in this way by a group of lawyers, we can understand how such a group might get a bad name for itself and make enemies. Behind Andrewes’s letter we can detect the existence of a tightly ordered organization run cabalistically but not autocratically or hierarchically. Who the “they” were that Andrewes refers to is unclear. We do not have documentary evidence for the organizational structure of the Society. There seem to be a core of individuals making decisions about membership, attendance, and topics for discussion, and then a larger body of irregular participants. Otherwise, there was very little in the way of administrative structure, and it seemed to consist of the minimum number needed to plan, perpetuate, and run their meetings in an orderly fashion, and to adjudicate and preserve their discorsi. The meetings involved the presentation and discussion of the “dissertations”, the recording of the transactions, the formation of the “questions” for the next meeting, and selection of the moderators and participants. In Ayloff’s words, Their method of proceeding appears to have been this: At every meeting two of the body being appointed propositors and moderators, gave out one or more questions as they thought proper, upon which each member was expected at the subsequent meeting, either to deliver in, a dissertation in writing, or to speak his opinion: and in order thereunto a copy of each question was sent to such members as happened to be absent. The opinions spoken were carefully taken down in writing by the secretary, and, together with the dissertations delivered in, after they had been read and considered, carefully deposited in their archives.283 Thus, when Henry Spelman and some others attempted to reorganize the 319

William Camden – A Life in Context group around 1614, the only “office” seems to have been that of “Register” or “Convocator of our Assemblies” (probably the “moderator” and “propositors” referred to above). On the basis of a request to Cotton made by Francis Tate, asking for the return of one of his discourses that was not presented – the meeting was cancelled because of the Essex rebellion – it has been suggested that Cotton acted as secretary. Cotton seems to have provided the repository for the collected discourses and perhaps simply assumed the unofficial role of secretary. No record survives of a presiding officer or executive committee, although, significantly, the meetings were held regularly at Garter’s house, that is, at Derby House, or the College of Arms. It is likely that, in the absence of an elected president, the host, William Dethick, Garter King of Arms, presided. By the end of Elizabeth’s reign the Society of Antiquaries had evolved beyond the scope of a self-contained group of scholars working with Camden’s Britannia. During the 1590s antiquarian and historical interests carried over into virtually every academic and literary endeavour, collecting at one level or another had become more common, and the Society apparently flourished. With its interests and activities well entrenched, the Society aspired to greater heights, including a royal charter that would validate it and its concerns. A number of petitions were drafted by members of the Society, all quite different in character from proposals drawn up during the Jacobean period. Thus, when discussing the Society’s different proposals, it is misleading to speak of them very generally, for those drafted under Elizabeth reflect a different political atmosphere from those submitted to James.

The Society of Antiquaries and the Monarchy


he initiative to organize into a formal society devoted to the perpetuation of antiquarian study and enjoying a royal charter is itself an interesting development. Such a proposition presumes recognition of the value of the enterprise itself, the reliability of the group petitioning, and the sympathy of the patron. The Elizabethan proposals are closer in design and dynamic to a guild or “corporation” (the word that is used with care in the documents) enjoying royal recognition than it is to a “royal society”, which was Bolton’s plan. On the surface, the request by a group of lawyers and parliamentarians for royal patronage of their independent studies is an oxymoron – logical perhaps for a group of merchants or tradesmen representing their craft, but less so for antiquarians trading in the national past. The proposals were 320

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past ­careful to place the initiative within a larger international context; they noted that confraternities and academies flourished in German, French, and Italian cities. Just as England’s reformed historiography reflects European influence, so too did the proposals for a “society of antiquaries” with a royal patent; like their European counterparts, their proposals were galvanized by civic spirit and the desire to foster respect for learning, the exchange of ideas, and the establishment of publically supported libraries and historical study. Also true to their models, their goals were in part local, the fostering of antiquarian values within the London community: In forayne Countryes where most [?] Civility & learninge is thire … great regard had of the Cherising and encrease of this kynde of learning by publick lecturyes appoynted for that purpose and thear are erected publick libraryes & accademyes in Germany Italy & Fraunce to that end.284 They give a sense of timeliness to their petitions. The Society’s desire for a royal charter and thus to have its work recognized as of national importance has a presumption and incongruity that accentuates the liminality of these last years of Elizabeth. We are very aware that these are not “courtiers” or members of the royal household: they are private individuals with an interest in a past that they hope will be shared – and supported – by the Queen. Worthy and civic-spirited as this group of English scholars, jurists, parliamentarians were, the English monarch would have to be either more autocratic or considerably weaker before she would support such a request, which, if granted, would help to validate antiquities quite outside the hegemonic sphere of the crown. At least three drafts of the Elizabethan Society’s petition were drawn up; they reveal the anomalies of their decade and help measure the distance covered since the conjunction of Henrician reform and the revival of learning set the antiquarian movement in motion.285 The petitions envision very different kinds of activities for the Society than what we have seen thus far. Their scope is larger, comparable in conception to an institute or academy with a library, as the project heading announces: “A project touching a Petition to be exhibited unto her Majesty … for the Erecting of a Library and an Academy for the Study of Antiquities and History”.286 Its diplomatic and carefully nuanced wording reveal the savoir-faire of the authors as well as the sensitivity of the project. Growing out of the recognized need for a mechanism to gather and preserve documents of historical import, it reflects the peculiar circumstances 321

William Camden – A Life in Context existing at the end of the sixteenth century, with the proliferation of collections large and small, public and private, resulting in the disappearance and potential loss or destruction of rare and possibly important documents. Preservation and centralization of the materials – a long-time objective of Robert Cotton – was at the centre of the project, which interestingly runs counter to the fashion for private collecting: “the scope of this petition, is to preserve divers old books concerning the matter of history of this realm, original charters, and monuments, in a library to be erected in some convenient place”. The desire to centralize material in a donated facility open to “all noblemen and gentlemen studious of antiquity” is far removed from Parker’s and Burghley’s approach to archives of national importance – which was to make full use of their authority to bring such material within the security of their own collections. The Elizabethan Society’s petition is a second generation of collectors’ response to the frustrations arising not from the original diaspora of documents at the Dissolution, but from their subsequent disappearance into private libraries. Thus, among the reasons for this collective initiative is that there are divers and sundry monuments worthy of observation, whereof the originals are extant in the hands of some private gentlemen; and also divers other excellent monuments, whereof there is no record now extant, which by these means shall have publick and safe custody for use when occasion shall serve.287 Implicit in the proposal is a tension arising from the triangulation of public and private interest and access. The proposed “corporation” and its library would place public interest and accessibility ahead of private interest and individual collectors. The proposal is particularly interesting because of the place it occupies in the socio-economic dynamic of the times. Coming as it does from an existing group of men most of whom are themselves collectors on a fairly modest scale, but including the one person recognized as having the most powerful library in the kingdom, Robert Cotton, the document explicitly accepts the importance of accessibility and of preserving documents, and recognizes the need to control or “deprivatize” individual collecting in order to do so. It seems to acknowledge the very uneven playing field in the book and manuscript trade that puts the gentry and the working scholar at a disadvantage. The proposal, building on the co-operative efforts of the existing Society of Antiquaries, suggests that such a corporation and library would serve the scholarly interests of individuals as well as the national interests of the Queen: 322

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past There are divers gentlemen studious of this knowledge, and which have of a long time assembled and exercised themselves therein, out of which company and others that are desirous, the body of the said corporation may be drawn. That it would please the queen’s majesty to grant the custody, and to commit the care of that library to the said corporation, according to such ordinances and statutes, as it shall please the queen’s majesty to establish.288 In many ways, the petitions show the signs of their transitional place in the emerging early modern social structure. When the petitioners speak of the dangers of losing documents, charters, and proclamations, and of the need for preservation, they are not speaking of the same dangers that concerned Leland and Bale – the neglect, misuse, wanton destruction of ­materials by reformers. Rather, they conceive of loss in the modern collector’s sense, of papers disappearing into collections, of public documents entering the private domain, of the lack of information for locating material: in short, problems arising from a modern socio-economic environment in which the clash between private and public domain has become problem­atic, and where the interests of a middle class complicate what had been a relatively straightforward process of acquisition by the powerful. At the same time, the proposal is also clearly linked to its progenitors in reform. ­Envisioning itself as serving those studious of antiquity and not as a mouthpiece for royal or Protestant interests, it certainly – and carefully – recognizes that its members must be true to the Reformation and the monarch: “none shall be admitted into this corporation or society, except he take the oath of the supremacy, and to preserve the said library to the best of his endeavour”.289 By safeguarding important documents in this way, the corporation and its library will not only serve disinterested scholars and the “increase of knowledge in that [antiquity’s] behalf ”, but it will also “enable” its users “to do unto her majesty and the realm, such service as shall be ­ requisite for their place”.290 The proposal maintains a fine balance in articulating the ­“corporation’s” independent interests and its utility for the ­monarch. Further, it is clear that the corporation sees its goals as different from those of the early Tudor collectors. The petitioners know exactly what kinds of documents they want preserved: theirs is not a call to collect and protect ancient ­British antiquities heretofore unappreciated. Rather, it is a call for ­co-­ordinating collecting and for the institutionalization of certain 323

William Camden – A Life in Context kinds of historically important material so that its safety and access will be ensured: there are divers treatises published by authority for the satisfaction of the world in divers matters publick, which after they are by publick authority, printed and dispersed, they do after some time become very rare, for that there is no publick preservation of them. …291 While the petitioners find historical precedents for their initiative, they are not very close parallels – Edward I, who committed records to the monastic libraries for safekeeping, and Henry VIII: “when the Pope’s authority was abolished out of England … special care [was] had of the search of ancient Books and antiquities for manifestation unto the world of these usurpations of the Pope”.292 Their analogies only point out the different times and the uniqueness of their corporation. Newly heard is the voice – as yet ingenuous – of an emboldened middle class that, thinking itself respectful and tactful in its petition, assumes its right of access to such materials and unselfconsciously advises the Queen on the “safe custody” of her own collection.293 There is an awkward presumption as they pass over earlier monarchs’ readiness to appropriate any sort of historical material and assume their right to consult it. In this we can detect more than a whiff of independence of thought and a sense of entitlement that might well be off-putting for any self-respecting autocrat. The proposals for the Academy for the Study of Antiquities and History do not pretend to offer detailed operational guidelines; nor do they suggest that there would be complete independence from royal authority. Lest the corporation seem undisciplined, they suggest a loose governing structure and advisory body. By the time the original Society of Antiquaries was ready to request a royal charter, they had no doubt developed an administrative mode with which the diverse group was comfortable, and it may or may not be reflected in these proposals. What is included there, however, is interestingly loose and undefined: The persons and officers of which this corporation shall consist, viz. A governour or president, two guardians of the library, yearly to be chosen, and the fellows of the same academy, out of which fellows the governor or president, and guardians are yearly to be elected.294 It goes on to suggest that “divers gentlemen” active in antiquarian studies have been meeting for some time who could provide the needed leadership. 324

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past Further, they propose an honorary board who would visit the academy every five years: And that there might be ordained in the said letters patents of incorporation, certain honourable persons to be visitors to visit the said society from five year to five year, or as often as it shall please her majesty to appoint.295 Precisely what might be the nature and extent of their authority is unstated, but judging from the language and recommendations, it was clearly hoped that they would be quite uninvolved. The antiquaries were wise not to attempt to dictate to the Privy Council, most of whose members were among the visitors, including “The archbishop of Canterbury … The lord keeper of the great seal. The lord treasurer. The lord admiral. The lord chamberlain. The principle secretary. The lord chief justice of England”. Tactful as this suggestion was no doubt thought to be, it is always dangerous to invite powerful people into a group on the assumption that they will be ­content to do nothing. If it is obvious to us now that bringing these political ­figures together with a society composed mainly of lawyers and parliamentarians would be thoroughly impracticable, it must have been clear enough as well to the highly experienced authorities who chose not to act on the proposal. The petitions cannot camouflage their real desire, which is to have a working library where charters, proclamations, and other documents, new and old, of political and legal importance will be housed safely for the unrestricted use of gentlemen. Unlike the College of Chelsea that King James later sought to institute, which had an explicit mandate to serve the interests of the state in matters of religious and political controversy, the Elizabethan proposal inadvertently calls attention to the potentially different interests of the members and their patron, between the goal of “the increase of knowledge” and “service” “unto her majesty”.296 Given the particular historical moment and the nature of mixed government in 1599, it was inevitable that such a proposal, initiated “from below”, would encounter resistance. The initiative might hold some attraction were there political or economic incentives and a large degree of control. But the crown did not have a monopoly on antiquities; it had a large percentage of the outstanding shares in this commodity, but as the petition also makes clear, private individuals too possessed rare and valued papers, and quantities more remained to be acquired; there was no royal control over this “economy” and no way of “taxing” “goods” or “services”. Further, 325

William Camden – A Life in Context although the library, to be named “the library of Queen Elizabeth”, would “enable” noblemen and gentlemen to serve her majesty, such service was not a requirement – as Cotton’s library was, it might be used for any number of different purposes. Thus, their petition calls attention to the limitations of the crown and, without intending to do so, it pits the monarch and the collectorscholar against one another. To create such an organization would be to invite problems, with no promise of either economic or political benefit. These were problems that Elizabeth was able to ignore, but it was only a matter of time before they materialized far more ominously. By 1629 Charles felt threatened by the uncontrolled growth of Cotton’s library, and by the time of Milton’s Areopagitica (1644) the full range of questions surrounding “intellectual property” and public and private domain was in the open. The self-consciousness of the Elizabethan proposals accentuates the sensitivities of the requests and the climate out of which they come. At each tactful turning in the petition, the proposers reveal the anomalousness of their position. They offer to relinquish none of their scholarly independence, nor do they commit their new academy to the service of Queen and State. The authors provide historical precedents for their petition and its rationale, but instead of bolstering their case, they accentuate the differences from Elizabeth’s situation. Their allusions to Henry VIII point to an age when the all-powerful monarch acted alone. Instead of an image of the monarch able to summon to her the collected wealth of her nation’s history, they point to the monarch separated from her national archives by those private gentlemen, some known some not, in possession of various documents, records of state, valued books, and unique examples of royal authority. It is a picture of fragmentation. The institution that they call for is a reincorporation of a body of many parts. The “divers gentlemen” who are studious of the past might be brought into the service of the academy and the Queen; the academy will be maintained by “the costs and charges of divers gentlemen”; “diverse gentlemen studious of this knowledge” of antiquity will provide the administrative leadership of the academy and will incorporate to help preserve the “divers ancient books and rare monuments of antiquity” and manuscripts that Elizabeth and others would donate to the library. The incorporation promises to be an act bringing concordia discors. The proposal’s language inadvertently pictures the antiquarian’s world as one in which the nation and the texts of its past have been sundered and its parts distributed in “divers” directions, rather like the image of dismembered Osiris, the figure of Truth in Milton’s Areopa­ gitica. The word “divers” works as a refrain throughout the different petitions. 326

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past The well-meaning antiquaries figure like Isis gathering (“in-corporating”) the rent body of Truth. And yet couched in their document are also the Horus figures – the “private gentlemen” in possession of “originall” documents of which there “is no record”.297 “Private” stands out as a challenge to royal prerogative here; the royal reincorporation of the national past stands against the “divers” collections and interests of individuals, and implicitly suggests the monarch’s own inability to reconstitute itself. Elizabeth was not silly enough to rise to the bait of the antiquaries; why should she? In spite of the consistent (if undocumented) arguments that the Queen was well disposed to the group, I suspect that she was quite indifferent to it.298 If she wanted a royal archive and an academy she would be better off taking the initiative entirely on her own, as her father would have done. She was enough her father’s daughter to know not to enter into negotiations with her subjects if she could avoid it, and to avoid it whenever possible. Interestingly, there is no record of Burghley’s interest in the society or its ventures, although he died in 1598, when it was well into its most productive period. It seems safe to say that while both he and Queen Elizabeth both saw the importance of antiquarianism, they were not in favour of its becoming an organized enterprise having a life of its own, and this may also be the reason why Camden’s name is not listed among the petitioners. In him they have the ideal antiquarian: an individual, as opposed to a member of a formal organization; a product of state institutions, not a “new man” born of free enterprise and mercantile interests. He identifies not with the law but with the monarch and state, and in this he is nearer the Tudor courtier than to the bourgeois lawyer. In itself, the proposal stands as a testament to the deeply entrenched power of private – and pluralist – interests in one sphere of intellectual activity. It clearly attests to the difference that has emerged between the antiquarianism of the Reformation and that of the late Elizabethan period, when there is active and open trading in the economy of the remote and more recent past. Of the three versions of this petition to Elizabeth, one of them, Cotton Ms Faust. E.v., is signed by Robert Cotton, John Doderidge, and James Lee (or Leigh). All were (or in the case of Cotton, would become) formidable lawyers; Lee and Cotton were made barons under James; Cotton was an especially strong spokesperson for shared government. Yet, if Cotton had not been the signatory of the document, one would have suspected that he was the Horus figure – the private gentleman who has secreted away the fragments of the past and its Truth. That he, the most aggressive collector of his generation, 327

William Camden – A Life in Context and John Doderidge, author of The Lawyer’s Light and The English Lawyer, should subscribe to such a document, potentially circumscribing individual rights, underscores the Janus-like moment they occupy. Caught between being Tudor humanist courtiers and Stuart lawyers, these men and their proposal hover in the numinous twilight of their decade, and the result is that no such library and academy is given royal patent. Thus, the original, otherwise thriving independent Society falls between the generational cracks, unsuited in its time to royal patronage, and too early for the act of private philanthropy that Cotton later makes, although when he does make it, he does so in active defiance, as a private citizen.

James I and the Transformation of Antiquarianism


uring the decades of the Society’s active life, the topics that they discussed are increasingly specialized, and the narrower their scope the greater the scrutiny they gave to issues that were ultimately of political import. The particularity of their topics is itself the fragmentation of a history that previously had been painted in broad strokes and conceptualized in terms of the monarchy and larger national issues. The political relevance of their discourses is underscored by the methodology that they consistently used, which was to focus closely and directly on the historical origins of major social structures, institutions, and customs. The numerous discourses on the origins of titles such as duke and baron impinge on the social and political structure of the court – the nature and meaning of titles and privileges, and the authority to grant them. We can see that over the years these discourses assumed increasing political immediacy. A series of discourses on arms and titles was presented in the 1590s – “the Antiquity of the Name of Duke” (for example), was the subject of several presentations in 1590 and also in 1598, well before James’s accession. Those presented around 1598, dealing with arms and heraldry coincided with Camden’s appointment as Clarenceux and his involvement with the reform of the College of Arms; these topics themselves became public issues of moment around 1604, when James asserts his authority to grant arms as a means of raising revenue. Significantly for our review of antiquarianism, his creation of the title “baronet” for this purpose comes at the end of a decade of debates on the subject within the Society of Antiquaries. Selden’s Titles of Honor (1614), a magisterial study of the subject, is the culmination of the intellectual enquiry that had gone on for nearly a generation. Scholarship has not recognized the extent to which the Society anticipated, 328

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past even generated the politically sensitive issues that emerged during the Stuart period.299 The weekly presentations to the Society of Antiquaries, then, frequently reflect current concerns, sometimes anticipate political events or crises, sometimes seem to respond to them after the fact. Given that we do not have a complete list of meeting dates and topics, it is difficult to be more specific, although there are many issues asking for further study. As the antiquaries narrow in on their topics, they pin-point issues that are or become matters of moment in the larger political arena. Often the impetus occasioning their questions is fairly clear. In 1603–4, as James was pushing the unity of Scotland and England and the adaptation of the name “Britain”, there were many discourses dealing with the “Diversity of Names in this Island”, and Camden had already dealt with many of the relevant issues in the Britannia. There were many papers on heraldry and arms dating from around 1597, when the society was meeting in the College of Arms and Camden was assuming his responsibilities as Clarenceux. Within the larger political arena, some of the discourses anticipate the interest in the office of Earl Marshal at a time when the Earl of Essex is lobbying for that position. The Earl Marshal was the overriding authority over the heralds and represented the balance of power between monarch and peers; significantly, the position had been left vacant for many years, and the plans to revive it and install the Earl of Essex in office generated much discussion and concern.300 The apprehension about Essex’s suitability for the Earl Marshal’s position in turn gave rise to renewed interest in the roles of the Constable and the Steward. The offices of the Constable, the Steward, and the Earl Marshal were critical in the feudal aristocratic structure that buttressed the power and authority of the monarch; on those positions rested the precarious balance between king and peers.301 At the very least, the antiquarians’ minute scrutiny of these offices calls attention to the fragility of that compromise, and problematizes the involvement of interested parties such as the Duke of Norfolk. In this case, the Society’s scrutiny becomes one of the symptoms of the destabilization of a social structure in transition. On 8 February 1601 the Earl Marshal, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, in the name of his office, made his attempted coup, breaching the city walls at Ludgate.302 To a herald fell the risky office of following Essex, his official superior, the Earl Marshal, through the streets, denouncing him as a traitor: in Camden’s words, “In the mean time, Thomas Lord Burghley and Dethick Garter King at Arms, entering the City, proclaimed Essex and his Complices Traitours” – the relation between 329

William Camden – A Life in Context herald and Earl Marshal is dramatically tested, as it would be again in 1649 when Charles I is denounced as a traitor. After he was apprehended, Essex claimed that he saw no herald, “but that defamed loose fellow [Dethick], whom I took not to be a Herald”, to which Francis Bacon replied “though he may be a man of bad Report, [he] is nevertheless an Herald”. During this episode, when the Earl of Essex violated what Richard McCoy calls “the Elizabethan chivalric compromise” between nobility and monarch, the herald’s fealty was finally to the monarch rather than the aristocratic embodiment of personal honour and arms. As the work of Mervyn James and Maurice Keen has shown, this resolution, with the herald choosing the monarch over the peer, is not one we should take for granted.303 For 12 February 1601/2, that is, four days after the attempted coup, we have a number of dated discourses on “The Antiquity and Office of the Earl Marshal of England” by Mr Agard and others; Camden’s undated paper probably comes from this time, as do papers on the authority of the Court Marshal.304 Papers on the Constable’s office follow soon after, on 27 October 1601/2 at the latest, thus providing an extended study of the powers and privileges of two related offices which clearly needed to be re-examined and perhaps strengthened after the radical abuse of office by Essex. The historical methodology brought to each of these essays bears the unmistakable stamp of Camden and the Britannia. Timely as many of them are, they remain virtually unstudied. They are striking examples of the techniques and politically sensitive topics of antiquarianism during the last years of Elizabeth. Relatedly, they also reveal how the scholarly methods used by the antiquaries, of narrowly isolating its subject matter, constitutes a serious analysis of the nation’s institutions and social structures, how they function, and where we see them malfunctioning. The essays represent serious explorations into the origins of national institutions, many of which related directly to the routine operations of British society. The Society’s essays helped to foster new ideas by opening up previously unstudied subjects, and by responding to contemporary events and concerns with scholarly research, they reveal a new stage in cultural self-reflection different in nature from the mainstream historical work of the period. Because there were multiple presentations on the same subject, there was much diversity of opinion among the essays. In one way or another, most of them resonate against current political issues. For example, in spring and summer of 1603 at least ten discourses dealing with High Steward’s office and the differences between a court presided over by a male and a female monarch reflected concerns 330

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past over the transition from Elizabeth to James, and how it would affect court culture.305 Other groups of essays seem to have helped shape the course of public debate. For example, papers dating from 1601 explore subjects on law, legal instruction, the Inns of Court and the “Houses of Law”, the privileges of students and professors of law, the origins of the law term, the administration of justice, and even the rights of Parliament.306 This “cycle” of topics begins well before James’s arrival, and raises sensitive questions about prerogative and the independence of legislative and juridical bodies. As with the other papers, these are not explicitly controversial, but because many papers deal with each topic there is a multiplicity of perspectives and “voices”. Ostensibly, they are not occasioned by any single event; rather, they attempt to identify “origins” of the offices and institutions that are being influenced by current affairs. But when James takes steps to challenge the autonomy of these branches of government, insists on the court dispersing from London at the end of term time, dissolves Parliament, and then confronts the courts on the status of the laws and his legislative authority, he raises issues that have been studied by the Society of Antiquaries, and effectively takes his own controversial steps into an area that these men of law have already travelled. During the critical years of 1604, 1610, and 1614, the relationships between the legislative branches of the government and the monarchy were being tested and redefined, but the Society of Antiquaries had begun examining many of these issues years before. Generally, then, we can say that the antiquarian movement, with its specialized, sharply focused concentration on historical and philological origins of social structures and institutions, begins a process of anatomizing the nation’s political make-up, of isolating and defining areas of political and social significance prior to their being subject to official royal or legislative review. To what extent they initiate questions and views and to what extent they respond to them needs further study. However, in carrying on the kind of inquiry begun systematically by Camden, the Society continues a process of national self-examination from the margins of society’s authoritarian centre – a margin, though, that was to become increasingly important. Indeed, as the gloss comments on the social narrative, it recentres the text and redefines its authority, inscribing in it its own voice. This is essentially the historical pattern that prevails from the last years of Elizabeth through the Stuart kings. However much James would like to ignore these voices from the side, in hearing them he inadvertently makes their concerns real and responds to them, so 331

William Camden – A Life in Context the move from univocal to polyvocal is also part of the process of creating a more nearly pluralistic or mixed government. Because the work of the Society of Antiquaries was always focused on the social and institutional fabric rather than on explicit political issues, Camden was able to participate without losing his scrupulously clean political image. As we have seen in the Britannia, he is a man resigned to change and ultimately accepting of it. The Society, with its historicist approach, accommodates the processes of change rather than attempting to influence it. The clusters of essays present a self-fulfilling pattern as the questions they explore become issues in the political arena. Although it might seem, as it did to Richard Carew, that under “so learned a king” as James, the Society would flourish, this could be the case only if its concerns were mainly with the material of “moth-eaten” records – although there really is no such thing, only motheaten scholars.307 Kevin Sharpe usefully corrects the stringently depoliticized reading of the Society of Antiquaries and its work, suggesting that in its later years there was an increase in political involvement. As I have tried to suggest, though, from its beginnings it balanced the rhetoric of political disengagement with subject matter of significant political importance. In the years following 1607, when the Society’s formal meetings had largely dropped off, antiquarian activities began to be co-opted to explicit political agendas. The zealous antiquarian, Edmund Bolton, lobbied for a new kind of society, a “College of Honor” (1620), which would be a royalist and polemical group with a highly hierarchic organizational structure. His proposals are symptoms that a new phase in antiquarianism had begun. Kevin Sharpe sees such changes even earlier, soon after the death of Elizabeth, in the connection between Lord Howard and Robert Cotton: “From this time (1603)” he argues, “historical scholarship [of the society] had a political connection and potentially a master, other than truth, to serve.”308 But the Society was always closely attuned to current affairs, exploring the historical evidence of social structures and institutions as they were in the process of being transformed. Instead of seeing it as a victim of James’s political disfavour, we should recognize that the Society was always responding to and influencing the political current. And more particularly, that by the very nature and bourgeois composition of the Society and its methods of specialized scholarship, it would inevitably question, if not actually challenge establishment politics. We might compare Edmund Bolton’s vision of a “Cabinet Royal” with the intellectual assumptions and demographic make-up of the original Society. As Bolton’s attempt to ingratiate himself to James and Buckingham, it was 332

Antiquarians, Historians, & the Economy of the Past radically unlike the original Society in social composition, political posture, and in proposed historical methodology. Meant to bring history and historians into the service of royalist propaganda, it confronts the political challenge to antiquarianism head on. Putting aside Bolton’s Catholicism, we see his zealous royalism as evolutionarily akin to Leland’s and his politics as distinctly Jacobean. The original Society, however, remained true to its origins in Camden’s and the age’s reformed historiography, and the new political economy of the past. Thus, rather than see the Society as newly politicized, we should regard it as having always been interested in the history of England’s political fabric; it is the “political fabric” itself that becomes hypersensitive to their activities. The Society of Antiquaries seems always to have been on the scene when constitutional problems arose, and it is no surprise that it did not receive support from James. Its dissolution around 1607 was probably an act of silent acquiescence combined with natural instincts for survival on the part of its members. We know from Spelman’s account that when they tried to regroup in 1614 the potentially tense relation that probably always existed between them and the monarch was now acknowledged. In an effort not to encroach on sensitive political issues, members promised that they would “neither meddle with Matters of State, nor of Religion”. However, after a planning meeting, Spelman records, “we had notice that his Majesty took a little mislike of our Society”, and they resolved not to meet again.309 Obviously from the start, they were aware of the potential for conflict, and Spelman’s account of their demise is ingenuous. The topic that was proposed for discussion at this revival meeting – the Law Terms – was one that, in 1614, the year that James dissolves Parliament, was sure to be a royal irritant. Perhaps the antiquaries were testing the waters. As with the topics on heraldry and the Earl Marshal, the historically framed question had no explicit connection with current affairs. But the political world had changed by 1614, leaving the seemingly apolitical stance and methodology of the Society exposed. In this final chapter in the early history of the Society of Antiquaries, we see how the Society is superseded by the history itself, and that its vulnerability was something that no monarch was likely to want to change. Nevertheless, its methods were a catalyst to change, and in this its role is like ­Camden’s. The political repercussions of his antiquarianism took directions that he probably did not foresee or perhaps even approve of. But he knew change was inevitable and his presence fostered it – he presided over it rather like an unmoved mover. 333

notes: part two    1.  Inner Temple, ms Registry Books, 21 Feb. 1572; the Call Books were also consulted and have no mention of Camden.    2.  George Burke Johnston, “Poems By William Camden”, Studies in Philology, 72 (1975), p. 15; unless otherwise noted, Johnston’s edition and translation of the poems will be used, and lines noted in the text.   3.  Britannia, I, col. 385; Soden, Godfrey Goodman, pp. 24–6. The actual dates and nature of the support are not clear in the Britannia or in Soden.   4.  Register of the University of Oxford, II.i., pp. 8–24.   5.  Register of the University of Oxford, II.i., pp. 79–80.   6.  Stow, The Annales of Englande (1615), p. 967, here citing George Buck.   7.  Epistolae, pp. 47–8.   8.  John Lawson & Harold Silver, A Social History of Education in England (London: Methuen, 1973), pp. 103–7; Lawrence Stone is cited at p. 103.   9.  Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, p. 3; Tanner, Westminster School, pp. 1–10.   10.  Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, pp. 3, 12.   11.  Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, p. 11.   12.  Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, pp. 12–13. Camden’s appointment had to be confirmed by the Dean of Westminster.   13.  Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, p. 6; the same number was sent to Trinity College, Cambridge.   14.  Herendeen, “Coletus Redivivus”; see D. F. S. Thomson, Christian Humanism and the Reformation, ed. John C. Olin. Also Collected Works of Erasmus, IV, 1521, to Justus.   15.  Tanner, Westminster School, pp. 2–3.   16.  WAM ms 6478; Tanner, Westminster School, p. 4.   17.  Tanner, Westminster School, p. 4; Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, pp. 4–6. A few years later, in 1550, the bishopric was abolished, and the dean was given full responsibility.   18.  Beckingsale, Burghley, p. 123. Another of his influential offices, Master of the Court of Wards, had its offices in Westminster Palace.   19.  Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Historical Memorials of Westminster (London: John Murray, 1911), pp. 410–11; also Monumenta Westmonasteriensia (London, 1682), pp. 16–19.   20.  Beckingsale, Burghley, p. 246.   21.  Edward Carpenter, House of Kings: the Official History of Westminster Abbey (New York: John Day, 1966), p. 134.   22.  Carpenter, House of Kings, pp. 132–41, and Stanley, Historical Memorials of Westminster, pp. 404–18, for daily life in the college and the school; relatedly, it was customary to


Notes: Part Two have school prayers in Henry VII’s chapel; the dean not only preached but also often taught at the school. Ultimately, the dean was responsible for conduct at the school.   23.  Carpenter, House of Kings, pp. 139–40; Soden, Godfrey Goodman, pp. 23–5.   24.  Tanner, Westminster School, pp. 54–9; Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, pp. 14–16, 49–50.   25.  Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, p. 6; WAM ms Chapter Book 1, “Acts of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, 1542–1609”, fol. 36v.   26.  Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, pp. 10–11; in the Civil War the policy was abandoned.   27.  Simon, Education and Society, pp. 305–8, 321–2.   28.  For these features in Westminster’s statutes, Goodman draws heavily on those of Eton: Tanner, Westminster School, pp. 6–8, Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, p. 40; for Goodman’s regulations, see John Strype, The Annals of the Reformation and Establishment of Religion … in the Church of England, 4 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1824), II, ii, pp. 120–3, 613–16.   29.  Simon, Education and Society, for example, pp. 329–32.  30.  WAM ms 25122**, p. 25–6; this typescript is a translation by A. D. Hughes of the Latin manuscript text of the statutes, WAM ms 25122*; the material deasling with curriculum and daily life in the paragraph are from this manuscript: p. 53 details the study of Greek among the forms; chapter 10, pp. 49–61, outlines the daily regimen for the boys at the school.  31.  Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, pp. 38–41; Baldwin, Small Latine, II, pp. 617– 61 for comparative discussion of Greek curricula.  32.  For the rift during these years, see Wood, Fasti, II, cols. 303–41, 312–13.  33.  Baldwin, Small Latine, II, pp. 617–27. By 1575 Greek instruction was well integrated in the system at virtually all levels and at all kinds of schools, including Christ’s Church Hospital.  34.  Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, pp. 48–9.  35.  Simon, Education and Society, pp. 369–403. Examples of the fashion for vernacular writing are in Ronsard, du Bellay, Camden’s Remains, Carew’s essay and other discussions of changing view of vernacular “imitation” of classical writers.  36.  For Goodman’s statutes on school governance, see also Strype, Annals of the Reformation, II, ii, pp. 120–3, 613–16.  37.  Simon, Education and Society, pp. 115–24, speaks of how the classical curriculum was in ways at odds with the social role of the schools; note too the tension between the curriculum and the schools’ role in training clergymen.  38.  Camden’s poem is included in Grant’s 1575 memorial edition of the letters of his friend, Ascham. The young Camden probably knew Ascham, whose son Giles entered the school as a charity student the year that Camden started there. Ascham (b. 1515) died on the young side of middle age, at 53, in 1568. The text used here is that in George Burke Johnston’s edition and translation.  39.  See Johnston, “Poems By William Camden”, pp. 117–18.


William Camden – A Life in Context  40.  Although Camden imagines him as part of the fraternity of humanists, he was a good deal younger than most of those mentioned, and most had died decades before, including Erasmus (d. 1536), Bembo (d. 1548), Longolius (d. 1528), Sadoletus (d. 1547). With these his association is loose, but with others, notably Sturm, the Manutius family, and Osorius, he was a close contemporary and corresponded collegially.  41.  Areopagitica, in The Student’s Milton, ed. F. A. Patterson (New York: F. S. Crofts & Co., 1939), pp. 746, 748.  42.  The Scholemaster, in The Whole Works of Roger Ascham, ed. J. A. Giles, 3 vols. (London: J. R. Smith, 1864–5), III, p. 78.  43.  WAM ms Chapter Book 1, fols. 231–3; between 29 January and 13 June 1594 there were several meetings dealing with this issue.  44.  Richard McCoy, The Rites of Knighthood: The Literature and Politics of Elizabethan Chivalry (Berkeley: University California Press, 1989), pp. 43–4, 50–2.  45.  Nichols, The Progresses … of Queen Elizabeth, I, pp. 62–3.  46.  Henry Keepe, Monumenta Westmonasteriensia (London, 1682), pp. 18–19, sigs. Cv–C2; Carpenter, House of Kings, pp. 132–4.  47.  Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, p. 16.  48.  WAM ms Chapter Book 1, fol. 222v.  49.  See Epistolae for Camden’s continued use of the house; Tanner, Westminster School, on the dormitory.  50.  Britannia I., col. 384; Stow, Survey of London, p. 408, 412, on Elizabeth’s foundation of the abbey.  51.  Camden quotes Leland as describing the Chapel of Henry VII as “the Miracle of the World”: Britannia, I, col. 384; see Camden’s description of area, I, cols. 384–6.   52.  History of the King’s Works, ed. Colvin et al., vol. 4, p. 286; Stow, Survey of London, pp. 417–23.  53.  One of the most famous public executions under James is that of Guy Fawkes and his conspirators in 1606: [Henry Garnet], A t r u e a n d p e r f e c t re l a t i o n o f t h e w h o l e proceedings against … Garnet … and his Confederats (London, 1606). Garnet relates how Thomas Winter, Ambrose Rockwoode, Robert Keyes, and Guy Fawkes were executed at Old Palace Yard, Westminster.  54.  See Nichols, The Progresses … of Queen Elizabeth, I, pp. 62–3.  55.  Nichols, The Progresses … of Queen Elizabeth, I, pp. 83–4, citing Norden.  56.  For details of the coronation, see Nichols, The Progresses … of Queen Elizabeth, I, pp. 60–5.  57.  BL, Harl. ms 853, fol. 112; Nichols, The Progresses … of Queen Elizabeth, I, pp. 299–301.  58.  BL, Harl. ms 853, fol. 112; Nichols, The Progresses … of Queen Elizabeth, I, pp. 299–301.  59.  Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, p. 16.  60.  WAM ms 25,122**, pp. 27, 42–3; Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, p. 15.  61.  Nichols, The Progresses … of Queen Elizabeth, I, p. 487.


Notes: Part Two  62.  Soden, Godfrey Goodman, pp. 33–4, 36–7.  63.  Soden, Godfrey Goodman, pp. 32–4.  64.  There are differing figures for instructors’ salaries. Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, p. 12, puts the figure at £7 6s 8d per annum; he also says that the headmaster’s salary was unofficially raised to £20; in addition there was allowance of £1 3s 4d – WAM ms 25,122**, p. 65, and Leach, Educational Charters and Documents, p. 523. The statutes state that the headmaster’s salary was £12, with a stipend of 30s for livery and an allowance of £6 1s 8d, making a total of £19 11s 8d.  65.  “Epigramma Guil. Camd. In Anatomiam a Tho. Rogerio Elaboratam”, in Poems, pp. 60–1.  66.  “In Lemnium de Corporis Crasi, a Thoma Newtono in Linguam Vernaculam Traductum, Guil. Camdenus”, in Poems, pp. 62–3.  67.  BL, Harl. ms 551, fols. 63–119v; BL, Cotton ms Julius f. vi; BL, Harl. ms 530; BL, Harl. ms 2202, fols. 11–12; for Peter Beal’s synopses of these manuscripts, see his Index of English Literary Manuscripts (London: R. R. Bowker, 1980), I, pt. 1, CmW 57, 148, 152, 154, pp. 162–3. There is difficulty in dating much of the material.  68.  Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, p. 13.  69.  WAM ms Chapter Book 1, fol. 187, 5 December 1584.  70.  WAM ms 25,122**, pp. 5–7, 30–1; the limits, though mentioned, are not specified. The amount of tutorial responsibility is difficult to determine; for example, one cannot simply divide the number of students, 170, by the number of masters and prebendaries, 15.  71.  WAM ms Muniment Book 7, fols. 4–5; dating from about 1606–10, the manuscript “memorial” is an effusive testament to the close and generous attention Burghley and his wife paid to the students at the school.  72.  Eccles, “Brief Lives”, p. 20.  73.  BL, Cotton ms Titus f.VII & VIII (two volumes together), fols. 119v, 126v, 127, 132v, 134–134v are accounts for expenses; a “Mr Middleton” appears ambiguously among the data; there is frequent mention of expenses for shoes, laundry, mending, books, and paper.  74.  See WAM ms 33240, fols. 4–68b, and mss 33387–92 for gifts to the school over the years.  75.  Correspondence of Abraham Ortelius, ed, J. H. Hessels, no. 78, p. 181; for the dates of Camden’s travel, see Camden’s Memorabilia, pp. 85–6.  76.  For Godfrey Goodman on Camden’s correspondence, see Soden, Godfrey Goodman, p. 33.  77.  Ortelius, no. 71, pp. 167–8.  78.  For Parmenius’s religiously conflicted visit to England and Oxford, and his introduction to Camden, see The New Found Land of Stephen Parmenius, trans. and ed. David B. Quinn, Neil M Cheshire (Toronto: University Toronto Press 1972), pp. 8–16; see letter III, pp. 3–4; for Camden’s correspondence with Savile, see Epistolae, pp. 3–39.


William Camden – A Life in Context  79.  WAM ms 25,122**, pp. 5–7, 13, 24–5; evidently compliance with this was not to be taken for granted; the expectation that the master would be in orders was waived for Camden.  80.  Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, pp. 18–19, although Burghley kept a residence, and exception seems to have been made for his wife, Mildred; also Keepe, Monumenta Westmonasteriensia, pp. 18–19, sigs. Cv–C2.  81.  Epistolae, pp. 246–7, letter to Ussher, 1616.  82.  For Camden’s moderate view, see Annals of Elizabeth, 1583.  83.  WAM ms 25,122**, p. 59.  84.  WAM ms 25122**, p. 50.  85.  WAM ms 25122**, p. 51; other ritualized action extends to the second master, who will be in the upper form from 6:00–7:00 p.m., and to the heavily prescribed movements of the prefects carrying out their duties.  86.  Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, pp. 42–4.  87.  Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, pp. 36–9.  88.  There was some flexibility to the regimen to accommodate students with different needs: some students would be studying music, other small groups would be tutored in Greek or Hebrew, some students might simply require the respite of a “dor” – a few moments rest, heads down on a desk. The instructors’ lives were also carefully regulated – after dinner the second master was due back on the job at 1:00, the headmaster at 2:00; lessons continued to 6:00; the headmaster could be absent from 4:00–5:00, the second master absent for half an hour after 5:00. Supper and grace were at 6:00, more instruction began at 7:00; at 8:00 the Queen’s Scholars had a bit of small beer before evening prayers and bed: see WAM ms 25,122**, pp. 49–63; Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, pp. 38–46.  89.  WAM ms 25,122**, p. 54; Sargeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, p. 41.  90.  WAM ms 25,122**, p. 54.  91.  See Bruce Smith, Ancient Scripts and Modern Experience on the English Stage (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), pp. 101–20; Hillebrand, “The Child Actors”, pp. 22– 4, 253–75; and Grantley, Wits Pilgrimage, passim.  92.  WAM ms 25,122**, p. 27.  93.  Smith, Ancient Scripts and Modern Experience, pp. 107–8.  94.  WAM ms 25,122**, p. 61.  95.  Hillebrand, “The Child Actors”, p. 27; see also p. 22 on the essentially dramatic nature of the boy bishop’s role; see Chambers, Elizabethan Stage, p. 11, for these traditions at St Paul’s.  96.  See Chambers, Elizabethan Stage, II, pp. 14–17, 69–73.  97.  Hillebrand, “The Child Actors”, pp. 37–8.  98.  Hillebrand, “The Child Actors”, p.12; Grantley, Wits Pilgrimage; also White, Theatre and Reformation, pp. 1–11 and passim.  99.  For the continuity of theatrical performances at schools and universities as the public theatres emerge, see Yoshiko Kawachi, Calendar of English Renaissance Drama, 1558–1642


Notes: Part Two (New York: Garland, 1986) and Hillebrand, “The Child Actors”. For the possibility that school plays at Westminster may have been interrupted in 1575 because of the threat of plague, see Chambers, Elizabethan Stage, II, pp. 69–73. 100.  See The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G. Blakemore Evans (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974), pp. 1853–93, for a chronology of events relating to the development of the theatre and the emergence, especially in the provinces, of household companies, including in 1559, Dudley’s men, in 1562, Warwick’s men, in 1563, Lord Strange’s men, in 1569, Sussex’s men; more urban venues included the flourishing of drama in tavern yards, in 1557, at the Saracen’s Head and the Boar’s Head, and in 1567, at the Red Lion Inn; the schools and universities were the most fully established and long-standing theatrical venues. 101.  For details about the Queen’s authority, see Chambers, Elizabethan Stage, II, pp. 17–18, n. 2. 102.  Nichols, The Progresses … of Queen Elizabeth, II, p. 432. 103.  Hillebrand, “The Child Actors”, pp. 14–15. 104.  Chambers, Elizabethan Stage, II, p. 17, accounts for blurring of records in a similar way; Hillebrand, “The Child Actors”, pp. 14–18. 105.  For drama at Westminster, see Tanner, Westminster School, pp. 55–8. 106.  Ralph Churton, The Life of Alexander Nowell, Dean of St. Paul’s (Oxford, 1809), p. 10. 107.  Alexander Nowell, Adelphi, Prologue, Oxford University, ms Brasenose College 31, fols. 29–30; cited & trans. Smith, p. 142; Nowell may be expanding on similar views expressed by Thomas Elyot, in The Governor: see Wolfgang Riehle, Shakespeare, Plautus, and the Humanist Tradition (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer), pp. 17–18. 108.  Strype, Annals of the Reformation, I, pp. 408–10, and Churton, The Life of Alexander Nowell, p. 72; on the other hand, in 1564 he was reprimanded for speaking “slightingly of the crucifix”: see DNB account. 109.  Churton, The Life of Alexander Nowell, pp. 81–2; Nowell’s views on ecclesiastic dress and ceremony shaped the policies at Westminster, where there were strong, anti-Puritan policies about the use of surplices and church rites – WAM ms Chapter Book 1, 1574, and Churton, The Life of Alexander Nowell, pp. 113–15. 110.  Churton, The Life of Alexander Nowell, p.109. 111.  Probably written for St Paul’s and performed c. 1552. 112.  For Udall, see DNB; Four Tudor Comedies, ed. William Tydeman (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984), pp. 21–6; see also Riehle, Shakespeare, Plautus, and the Humanist Tradition, pp. 17–20. 113.  Chambers, Elizabethan Stage, II, pp. 69–73; DNB. 114.  Herendeen, “Like a circle bounded in itself ”, pp. 137–67; Ben Jonson, ed. Herford and Simpson, IX, pp. 188–9; Cynthia’s Revels was one of Jonson’s plays for the boy actors. 115.  Churton, The Life of Alexander Nowell, p. 259. 116.  WAM ms Chapter Book 1, fol. 108v (1562) and fol. 131 (1568). 117.  Alexander Grossart, ed., The Spending of the Money of Robert Nowell … Brother of Dean Alexander Nowell, 1568–1580 (Manchester, 1877). 118.  Churton, The Life of Alexander Nowell, pp. 287–8.


William Camden – A Life in Context 119.  See Retha M. Warnicke, “A Note on a Court of Requests Case of 1571”, English Language Notes, 11 (1974), pp. 250–6, clarifying Laurence Nowell’s family connections; also Paula Black, “Laurence Nowell’s Disappearance in Germany”, English Historical Review, 92 (1977), pp. 345–53. 120.  Thomas Hahn, “The Identity of Laurence Nowell”, English Language Notes, 20 (1982/3), pp. 10–19. 121.  C. Berkhout, “The Pedigree of Laurence Nowell the Antiquary”, English Language Notes, 23 (1985), pp. 15–26. 122.  Hahn, “The Identity of Laurence Nowell”, p. 11. 123.  Hunt., ms 26341; Nowell’s “Chronicle of Britain” (1565) passes on to Lambarde. 124.  Churton, The Life of Alexander Nowell, pp. 235–7. 125.  Remains, p. 29. 126.  Henry Spelman, Discourse on the Law Terms (1614), Preface; Bod., ms e.museo 167; Joan Evans, A History of the Society of Antiquaries (London: Oxford University Press, 1956), p.8–9, “divers Gentlemen in London, studious of Antiquities, fram’d themselves into a College or Society of Antiquaries, appointing to meet every Friday weekly in the Term”. 127.  Hunt., ms Ellesmere 35 b 60; this work was later edited and expanded by Thomas Powell for his Repertorie of Recordes (1631). 128.  J. Armitage Robinson and Montague Rhodes James, The Manuscripts of Westminster Abbey (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1909), p. 13; see WAM ms Chapter Book 1, fol. 157, for Goodman’s gift, dated 2 December 1574. 129.  WAM ms Chapter Book 1, fol. 223v, for the renovations to the library and “dorter” in December 1591; Camden’s added responsibility for the library dates from 1587. 130.  WAM ms Chapter Book 1, fol. 208. 131.  WAM ms Chapter Book 1, fol. 223v. 132.  WAM ms Chapter Book 1, December 1591, fol. 223v; January 1593/4, fols. 231–3; this was a contentious issue that resulted in numerous chapter meetings. 133.  Dudley Carleton to John Chamberlain, 1603–1624: Jacobean Letters, ed. Maurice Lee (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1970), p. 108. 134.  This popular work, going through three editions in six years, is barely a footnote for Camden scholars. Graham Parry, The Trophies of Time: English Antiquarians of the Seventeenth Century (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 211, in a chapter on John Weever, describes it as a “little guidebook”, and implicitly suggests that there is more to be said about the work. 135.  For discussion of the genre of the descriptio urbis, see Herendeen, From Landscape to Literature, pp. 102–8. 136.  For the forms and influence of the innovative European historians, see Eric Cochrane, Historians and Historiography in the Italian Renaissance (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981); see also F. Smith Fussner’s influential studies, The Historical Revolution: English Historical Writing and Thought, 1580–1640 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962), and Tudor History and the Historians (New York: Basic Books, 1970).


Notes: Part Two 137.  In his Historiarum sui temporis (1567), Guicciardini demonstrates how the new concern for fact and “objectivity” could serve, in its way, pro patria, and the lesson was not lost on Camden; Remains, p. 330, includes epitaphs from Guicciardini, showing his awareness of the Italian’s work in a similar mode. 138.  Herendeen, “Coletus Redivivus”. 139.  Duffy, Stripping of the Altars, chapter 11, pp. 379–423. 140.  17 Sept. 1560; Registrum Mattei Parker. Diocesis Cantuariensis a. d. 1559–1575, trans. E. Margaret Thompson, ed., W. H. Frere, 3 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1928), II, pp. 622, 624. 141.  Registrum Mattei Parker, II, p. 624. 142.  For the persistence of the elements of the “traditional religion”, see Duffy, Stripping of the Altars. 143.  Robert Steele, A Bibliography of Royal Proclamations of the Tudor and Stuart Sovereigns, Bibliotheca Lindesiana, 5 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910), p. 526, 19 September 1560. 144.  Another version of this proclamation can be found in Humphrey Dyson, A Booke Containing All Such Proclamations As Were Published During the Reigne of the Late Queene Elizabeth (London: Bonham, 1618), pp. 22–3. 145.  Visitation Articles and Injunctions of the … Reformation, ed. Walter Howard Frere, 3 vols., Allcuin Club Collections, 14–16 (London: Longmans Green, 1910), “Royal Injunctions of Edward VI, 1547”, 28: II, p. 126. 146.  Correspondence of Matthew Parker, ed. John Bruce and T. T. Perowne (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1853), no. cccxli, Parker to Burghley, 9 November 1573, p. 450. 147.  Reges, Reginae (1600), sig. e3. 148.  Stow, The Annales of Englande (1618), p. 846, uses the same formula; “Decanum, Praebendarios duodecim, Didascalum & Hypodidascalum, scholasticos quadrafinta (alumni Regii dicuntur) qui suo tempore ad Academias promouentur, ministros, Cantores, Organistam, Choristas decem & duodecem pauperes milites &c.ad Dei gloriam, verae religionis, & bonarum literarum propagationem instituit” (Reges, Reginae, sig. a2v). 149.  Anglica, Normannica, Hibernica, Cambrica, p. 2. 150.  Anglica, Normannica, Hibernica, Cambrica, pp. 39–40. 151.  Wood, Athenae Oxoniensis, II, col. 340. 152.  F. J. Levy, “The Making of Camden’s Britannia”, Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance, 26 (1964), p. 71. 153.  For experiments in mixed-genre historical writing, see Herendeen, “Wanton Discourse”. 154.  Wood, Athenae Oxoniensis, II, col. 341. 155.  BL, Add. ms 36, p. 294. 156.  For Francis Godwin’s critical view of Henry VIII’s break from Rome and for the limits of Godwin’s work compared to Camden’s, see Daniel R. Woolf, The Idea of History in Early Stuart England: Erudition, Ideology, and “The Light of truth” from the Accession of James I to the Civil War (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 1960), pp. 125–8. 157.  Wood, Fasti, II, col. 354.


William Camden – A Life in Context 158.  Herendeen, From Landscape to Literature, pp. 139–51. 159.  For the conjunction of these works and their contextual history, see Herendeen, From Landscape to Literature and “Wanton Discourse”; Richard Helgerson, in Forms of Nationhood (Chicago: University Chicago Press, 1992) brings many of these texts together in his discussion of “discursive forms of nationhood” (p. 11). 160.  Joseph Hall, The Collected Poems of Joseph Hall, ed. A. Davenport (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1949). 161.  Annals of Elizabeth, Author to the Reader. 162.  Discoverie, p. 1. Brooke’s language, his use of “antiquarian”, “historian”, “herald”, “scholar” and “learning” suggests how current the debates about historical writing and study were. 163.  Wylie Sypher, “Similarities Between the Scientific and the Historical Revolutions at the End of the Renaissance”, Journal of the History of Ideas, 26 (1965), pp. 353–68. 164.  T. D. Kendrick, British Antiquity (London: Methuen & Co., 1950), p. 167. 165.  In The Historical Revolution, p. xviii, Fussner sets the parameters for this between 1580 and 1640; the complement to this work is his Tudor History. 166.  Fussner, The Historical Revolution, p. 100. 167.  Fussner, Tudor History, p. 281. 168.  Fussner, The Historical Revolution, p. 230; within this context, Fussner sees Bacon as a theorizer and Camden as practitioner and agent of influence, p. 235. 169.  Fussner, The Historical Revolution, p. 300. 170.  Beatrice Reynolds, “Latin Historiography: a Survey, 1400–1600”, Studies in the Renaissance, 2 (1955), pp. 7–66; Cochrane, Historians and Historiography in the Italian Renaissance; George Huppert, “The Renaissance Background of Historicism”, History and Theory, 5 (1966), pp. 48–60; Woolf, The Idea of History. 171.  Fussner, Tudor History, p. 279. 172.  Annabel Patterson, Reading Holinshed’s Chronicles (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994). 173.  While there are differences among these writers they are consistent in locating the shift earlier than had been the case in previous formulations of the debate between the ancients and moderns. For example, Arnaldo Momigliano, “Ancient History and the Antiquarian”, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 13 & 14 (1950), pp. 285–315, develops an argument much like that of Fussner, Kendrick, and Sypher, in describing how “a new humanism competed with the traditional one” (p. 285), but he locates this shift in the eighteenth century; see also Joseph M. Levine, Humanism and History: Origins of Modern English Historiography (Ithaca: Cornell ­University Press, 1987). Daniel R. Woolf, The Social Circulation of the Past: English ­Historical Culture, 1500–1730 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003) shifts the focus of these ­discussions away from the idea of the humanist inheritance to a more fluid idea of ­historical culture. 174.  Sypher, “Similarities Between the Scientific and the Historical Revolutions”.


Notes: Part Two 175.  For Brisson’s remark (which I have slightly emended), see Thomas Smith, “G. Camdeni Vita”, in Epistolae, p. xiii; for Sidney, see the Apologie for Poetrie, ed. J. Churton Collins (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1907), pp. 14–15. 176.  Sidney’s phrase in the Apologie for Poetrie, p. 15. 177.  Sidney, Apologie for Poetrie, pp. 16–17, 23; see Herendeen, “Wanton Discourse”, p. 147. 178.  Epistolae, p. 36. 179.  BL, Cott. ms Jul. f.vi, pp. 288r–302v. 180.  See, for example, Bartlett and Herendeen, “The Library of Cuthbert Tunstall”. 181.  See Graham Parry, “Cotton’s Counsels: The Contexts of Cottoni Posthuma”, British Library Journal, 18 (1992), pp. 29–43. 182.  See, for example, Rosalie Colie’s study of the use of genres in Resources of Kind, ed. ­Barbara Lewalski (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994). 183.  Thomas Nashe, The Anatomy of Absurditie (1589), cited in Herendeen, “Wanton Discourse”, p. 143. 184.  George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie, cited in Herendeen, “Wanton Discourse”, p. 142. 185.  For discussion of the tradition of the river poem and related topoi, see Wyman H. Herendeen, “Spenserian Specifics: Spenser’s Appropriation of a Renaissance Topos”, ­Medievalia et Humanistica, n.s. 10 (1981), pp. 159–88, and Herendeen, From Landscape to Literature. 186.  For part of the marriage sequence, see Britannia, cols. 316–19; Johnston collects them together usefully in his edition, “Poems By William Camden”, pp. 91–5. 187.  For the idea of unity in these writers – Polydore Vergil and Edward Hall, see Woolf, Idea of History, pp. 39–40, 61–2. While it is true that there was, through Elizabeth’s reign, a common goal to attain a coherent Tudor history, it was never realized. And there were different ways of injecting differing views and controversy into works of historical nature; see, for example, Annabel Patterson, Shakespeare and the Popular Voice (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989), and more immediately related to the historiography, Reading ­Holinshed’s Chronicles. 188.  Woolf, The Idea of History, p. 94. 189.  Woolf, The Idea of History, p. 104. 190.  See Soden, Godfrey Goodman, p. 33, and Camden’s inscription in Emanuel van Meteren’s album, Bod., ms Douce 68, fols. 59v–60, for his international reputation at this time. 191.  John Leland, “New Yeares Gift”, The Itinerary of John Leland, ed. Thomas Hearne, 9 vols. (Oxford, 1770), I, p. xxii. 192.  Leland, Itinerary, I, p. xxii. 193.  Herendeen, From Landscape to Literature, pp. 187–9. 194.  Britannia, col. cxxvii; see also cols. cxxxi, cxxxiii, cliv. 195.  See Parry, “Cotton’s Counsels”, pp. 36–8. 196.  For fuller discussion of the form and these works, see Herendeen, From Landscape to Literature, pp. 102–6, 198–9.


William Camden – A Life in Context 197.  Robin Flower, “Laurence Nowell and the Discovery of England in Tudor Times”, ­Proceedings of the British Academy, 21 (1935), pp. 47–74. 198.  George Withers uses the phrase in his commendatory poem to the second part of Poly-Olbion (1622), “To his Noble Friend, Michael Drayton, Esquire, upon his Topochrono-graphicall Poeme”. 199.  See Lily B. Campbell, Shakespeare’s Histories (London: Methuen, 1947), pp. 56, 73–5; Campbell, remarking on Holinshed’s seeming conservatism, quotes Preserved Smith’s dismissal of chronicles as worthless; Patterson, in Reading Holinshed’s Chronicles, also sees this popular dimension and an implicit political diversity in the Chronicles as undermining hegemonic conservativism. 200.  William Harrison, Description of Britain, in Raphael Holinshed, Chronicles, ed. Henry Ellis, 6 vols. (London, 1807), I, vii, p. 26; as scholars have noted, the censorship of the Chronicles has an arbitrary element to it; see Patterson, Reading Holinshed’s Chronicles. 201.  Harrison, Description of Britain, p. 8. 202.  Harrison, Description of Britain, pp. 8–9. 203.  Apologie for Poetrie, p. 14. 204.  Harrison, Description of Britain, p.14. 205.  Jonson, epigram 14. 206.  This might be compared with a parallel passage in Harrison, Description of Britain, chapter 2, p. 4, where the historical, political, and demographic contexts precede the chorographic description. 207.  This theory of the exchange of cultural energy is, of course, one of the cornerstones of Greenblatt’s cultural criticism, set forth in Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1980). 208.  Woolf, Idea of History, p. x – his emphasis. 209.  See Curious Discourses, I, pp. 10–18, and II, pp. 315–22; these essays date from 1590. 210.  Britannia, cols. xlii–iv; Lucretius is the earliest Latin author Camden finds mentioning Britain, col. xlvi. 211.  A. G. Dickens, John M. Tonkin, The Reformation in Historical Thought (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985), pp. 102; 10–18, on Sleidanus. 212.  See, for example, Alexander Leggatt, Shakespeare’s Political Drama: The History Plays and the Roman Plays (London: Routledge, 1988), esp. chapters 6–8; Gail Kern Paster, The Idea of the City in the Age of Shakespeare (Athens, GA: University Georgia Press, 1985), esp. chapters 2 and 3. 213.  R. V. Tooley, Maps and Map Makers (New York: Crown Pubs., 1949), pp. 66–9. 214.  For the ideology of maps and landscape representation, see Herendeen, From Landscape to Literature, pp. 288–94 and passim, and Helgerson, Forms of Nationhood, pp. 108–28, 131–9. 215.  See also Helgerson, Forms of Nationhood, pp. 108–24. 216.  Evans, History of the Society of Antiquaries, p. 7, dates his involvement at 1588, when Cotton was seventeen or eighteen years old.


Notes: Part Two 217.  Camden has been fortunate in the quality of twentieth-century scholars who have been attracted to his work; while many of the details and chronology in these general studies remain sketchy or have been disproved, they have captured the patriotic and ­international spirit of the rise of antiquarian historiography. Flower, “Laurence Nowell and the Discovery of England in Tudor Times”, pp. 47–73, is among the pioneers characterizing the study of vernacular materials; Stuart Piggott, “William Camden and the Britannia”, Proceedings of the British Academy, 37 (1951), pp. 199–217, lays the foundation for its internationalism and links it with the “New Learning”; Levy, “The Making of Camden’s Britania”, pp. 71–97, takes a careful look at Camden’s international and British correspondents and influences (particuarly John Dee and Jean Hotman), begins to form a more accurate chronology of the movement, noting that Camden works toward the end of the movement to “discover England” (pp. 76–7). To these we may add the excellent work on collecting and organizational dimensions of antiquarianism, including the Society of Antiquaries and the heralds’ office, by May McKisack, Medieval History in the Tudor Age (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), and Kendrick, British Antiquity. 218.  Herendeen, From Landscape to Literature, pp. 181–211. 219.  For example, Evans, History of the Society of Antiquaries, p. 5, notes in a few lines the charges of Catholicism made against Stow, but does not explore their implications for the antiquarian movement; and Piggott, “William Camden and the Britannia”, p. 201, conflates the activities of Nowell, Parker, Cotton, and Lambarde. 220.  Levy, “The Making of Camden’s Britannia”, pp. 80–1. 221.  Kevin Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton, 1586–1631 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), pp. 49, 12. 222.  See Evans, History of the Society of Antiquaries, pp. 8–13, for Gough and the dating of the Society and its association with Parker and the seminal studies of Linda Van Norden, including “Sir Henry Spelman on the Chronology of the Elizabethan Society of Antiquaries”, Huntington Library Quarterly, 13 (1950), pp. 131–60, and “The Elizabethan College of Antiquaries” (doctoral dissertation, UCLA, 1946). 223.  McKisack, Medieval History in the Tudor Age, pp. 46–9, and Strype, Life and Acts of Matthew Parker, II, pp. 497–504, 515–22, on the Parker circle, Burghley, and the uses of authority in collecting; C. E. Wright, “The Dispersal of the Monastic Libraries and the Beginnings of Anglo-Saxon Studies: Matthew Parker and His Circle”, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 3 (1951), pp. 208–37, for their activities and the connections between Reformation politics, collecting, and the development of AngloSaxon studies. 224.  For more details, see Strype, Life and Acts of Matthew Parker, II, p. 399, McKisack, Medieval History in the Tudor Age, p. 28. 225.  DNB, John Stow. 226.  Evans, History of the Society of Antiquaries, p. 5. 227.  Edmund Grindal to Cecil, probably February 1569, cited in Stow, A Survey of London, pp. xvi–xvii. 228.  Cotton and his library, as well as other major collectors such as Lord Lumley, were catalysts not only for the collecting of books and antiquities but also for the “science” of


William Camden – A Life in Context developing and organizing collections; for some seminal studies on this phenomenon, see Colin G. C. Tite, The Manuscript Library of Sir Robert Cotton, The Panizzi Lectures, 1993 (London: British Library, 1994); Sears Jayne, Library Catalogues of the English ­Renaissance (Berkeley, 1956); The Library of John Lord Lumley: The Catalogue of 1609, ed. Sears Jayne and F. R. Johnson (London: British Museum, 1956); The English Library before 1700, ed. Francis Wormald and C. E. Wright (London: Athlone Press, 1958). 229.  Richard L. DeMolen, “The Library of William Camden”, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 128 (1984), p. 331 & nn. 20 & 21, p. 335; see Selden (1622) Works (1693), III, p. 2. 230.  James P. Carley, “The Royal Library as a Source for Sir Robert Cotton’s Collection: A Preliminary List of Acquisitions”, British Library Journal, 18 (1992), pp.52–74; E. C. Teviotdale, “Some Classified Catalogues of the Cottonian Library”, British Library Journal, 18 (1992), p. 74. 231.  DeMolen, “The Library of William Camden”, p. 332. 232.  WAM ms 57167, pp. 42–6. 233.  PRO, i.22.90 (prob 11/42). 234.  DeMolen, “The Library of William Camden”, p. 333, counts twenty presentation copies, but there are many more signed books here by his friends. 235.  BL, Cotton ms Jul. f.vi, fol. 464. 236.  BL, Cotton mss Faust e.v, e.vi, Jul. mss f.vi, f.ix. 237.  BL, Cotton ms Jul.c.iii, fol. 60. 238.  BL, ms Jul.c.iii, fol. 59. 239.  24 February 1611, cited by Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton, p. 90. 240.  PRO, sp 14/68/35, cited by Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton, p. 91. 241.  Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton, p. 94. 242.  BL, Add. ms 36,294, fol. 113. 243.  DeMolen, “The Library of William Camden”, p. 332; Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton, pp. 66– 71; Tite, The Manuscript Library of Sir Robert Cotton, pp. 14–15. 244.  Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton, pp. 67–73; Tite, The Manuscript Library of Sir Robert Cotton, pp. 1–24. 245.  BL, ms Harl. 6018, “Cataloque Librorum Manuscriptorum in Bibliotheca Roberti Cottoni” (1621), with lists of borrowers. 246.  These benefactors include Camden, Francis Thynne, Nicholas Charles, and Arthur Agarde; for these and other contemporary collectors whose work found their way into Cotton’s library, see Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton, pp. 55, 65; Kendrick, British Antiquity, pp. 120, 197–8; Wright, in The English Library before 1700, ed. Wormald and Wright, p. 211. 247.  Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton, p. 76. 248.  Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton, p. 81; see BL, ms Harl 6018. 249.  A decision reached in 1622: Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton, p. 80. 250.  The English Library before 1700, ed. Wormald and Wright, p. 211.


Notes: Part Two 251.  The section on Camden in Beal, Index of English Literary Manuscripts, I, pt. 1, pp. 143–65, is a useful resource for reviewing the manuscript evidence of Camden’s varied interests. 252.  BL, Cotton ms Jul.f.vi, fol. 297. 253.  BL, Cotton ms Jul.f.vi, fol. 298. 254.  BL, Cotton ms Jul.f.vi, fol. 299; 14 January 1603/4. 255.  BL, Cotton ms Jul.f.vi, fol. 296. 256.  BL, Cotton ms Jul.f.vi, fol. 303v. 257.  BL, Cotton ms Jul.f.vi, fol. 316. 258.  BL, Cotton ms Jul.f.vi, fol. 317–18. 259.  BL, Cotton ms Jul.f.vi, fol. 318. 260.  BL, Cotton ms Jul.f.vi, fol. 318. 261.  BL, Cotton ms Jul.f.vi, fol. 319. 262.  BL, Cotton ms Jul.f.vi, fol. 346. 263.  Lefebvre, The Production of Space; for discussion of Lefebvre’s theory, see Andy Meerfield, “Lefebvre”, in Thinking Space, ed. Mike Crang and Nigel Thrift (London: Routledge, 2000), pp. 167–82. 264.  BL, Cotton ms Jul.f.vi, fol. 337. 265.  Kendrick, British Antiquity, p. 167. 266.  English Library before 1700, ed. Wormald and Wright, p. 179. 267.  Evans, History of the Society of Antiquaries, p. 13. 268.  Curious Discourses, Introduction, *a, *viii; a number of the essays by Camden find their way, in manuscript form, into Cotton’s library. 269.  Curious Discourses, I, Introduction, *a, p. *iv. 270.  This is in contrast to the suggestion in Curious Discourses, I, Introduction, p. *vi, that it had close ties with church and court; Evans (History of the Society of Antiquaries) notes that the membership was largely from the gentry, but she too suggests an overarching hierarchy. 271.  Curious Discourses, I, p. 172; for Leigh, see I, p. 276. 272.  Curious Discourses, I, p. 39. 273.  Curious Discourses, I, p. 175. 274.  For example, Richard Broughton’s essay on forests, Curious Discourses, II, p. 381, ­discusses a chronicle in his possession. 275.  Curious Discourses, I, p. xv; I have silently normalized some of the text. 276.  Curious Discourses, I, p. xvi. 277.  Curious Discourses, I, pp. xvi–xvii. 278.  Evans, History of the Society of Antiquaries, p. 10. 279.  Evans, History of the Society of Antiquaries, p. 10, for discussion of the membership. 280.  For fuller discussion of Bolton’s project, see Herendeen, From Landscape to Literature, pp. 322–7. 281.  Curious Discourses, I, p. xvi. 282.  Bod., ms Smith 83, cited Evans, History of the Society of Antiquaries, p. 13.


William Camden – A Life in Context 283.  Curious Discourses I, pp. *iv–*v, referring to BL, Cotton ms Faust e.v. 284.  BL, Cotton ms Tit. b.v, fol. 210v (this is a copy of Cotton ms Faust. e.v, fols. 89–89v). 285.  BL, Cotton ms Faust. e.v, fols. 89–89v; BL, Titus b.v.210–210v; Curious Discourses, II, pp. 324–6. 286.  Curious Discourses, II, pp. 324–6. The passage is “extracted from the Minute Books of the then Society of Antiquaries” and is a transcript of BL, Cotton ms Faust e.v containing a number of variants. 287.  Curious Discourses, II, pp. 325–6; BL, Cotton ms Faust. e.v, fol. 90. 288.  Curious Discourses, II, p. 325. 289.  Curious Discourses, II, p. 325; BL, Cotton ms Faust. e.v. 290.  Curious Discourses, II, pp. 324–5. 291.  Curious Discourses, II, p. 326; BL, Cotton ms Faust. e.v. 292.  Curious Discourses, II, p. 326; BL, Cotton ms Faust. e.v, fol. 90. 293.  Curious Discourses, II, p. 326; BL, Cotton ms Faust. e.v, fol. 90. 294.  The drafts differ slightly in details; see BL, ms Cotton Faust. e.v, Society of Antiquaries, ms Minute Books; Curious Discourses, II, p. 325. 295.  It was expected that the letters patent would specify a number of “visitors” who would visit the society every five years, or as Her Majesty saw fit: Curious Discourses, II, p. 325; BL, Cotton ms Titus b.v; Society of Antiquaries, ms Minute Books. 296.  BL, Cotton ms Titus b.v, fol. 210v. 297.  Curious Discourses, II, p. 326. 298.  Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton, pp. 27–8, presents a more sanguine view. 299.  See Curious Discourses, I, pp. 168–86, for essays on arms and on the title of “Duke”, for example, and the discourses on the Earl Marshal and the office of the Constable; such essays predate the major public controversies surrounding titles and offices. 300.  See Noble, History of the College of Arms, p. 160, and Wagner, Heralds of England, pp. 208–9, on the Earl Marshal’s office, which was left vacant in 1590 and Burghley presided over the commission; McCoy, Rites of Knighthood, pp. 88, 36, on Essex and the Earl Marshal’s office at this time. 301.  McCoy, Rites of Knighthood, pp. 35–6, on the three offices. 302.  Mervyn James, Society, Politics and Culture: Studies in early modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), pp. 450–1, and McCoy, Rites of Knighthood, pp. 94– 9, on Essex’s justification of his conduct in terms of Marshal’s office; see Camden’s account in Annals (1601), pp. 604–12. 303.  James, Society, Politics and Culture, chapter 9; Maurice Keen, Chivalry (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984), chapter 7; For Camden’s account of Dethick’s denunciation of Essex and Bacon’s upholding of the herald’s authority, see Annals, pp. 610 and 619; for extended discussion of Essex’s view of the power and inherent authority of the Earl Marshal’s office, see Annals (1598), p. 556. 304.  Curious Discourses, II, pp. 90–129; Camden’s essay, pp. 90–7, is undated, but another, at pp. 327–9, is dated 3 November 1603.


Notes: Part Two 305.  Curious Discourses, II, p. 60. 306.  Curious Discourses, II, pp. 331–75. 307.  Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton, pp. 28–9. 308.  Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton, pp. 27, 29–30; the likelihood that Cotton’s essay on the office of the High Steward was prepared for Howard himself; Herendeen, From Landscape to Literature, pp. 322–5, Bod., mss Harl. 6103 and Tanner, Westminster School, p. 94; Ethel M. Portal, “The Academ Roial of King James I”, Proceedings of the British Academy, 7 (1915), pp. 192–6. 309.  See Evans, History of the Society of Antiquaries, p. 13; Spelman planned to renew the Society’s meetings in 1614, with an inaugural presentation on the law terms; when met with royal disfavour he chose instead to print the essay, which is reprinted in Curious Discourses, II, pp. 331–75.


part three Jacobean Camden

chapter vii Arms and the Man: Antiquarian in the College of Arms


Camden and the Life of Arms

here could hardly be a more appropriate penultimate phase to Camden’s career than that of herald and King of Arms. That the man who had Edmund Spenser as one of his first encomiasts should be sworn into the College of Arms by the Fox himself, William Cecil, Lord Burghley, in the year that Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, became Earl Marshal, suggests some larger pattern at work in the shaping of his life. Before looking at the details of Camden’s appointment and duties, we must stop to explore this appropriateness and the wider implications of Camden’s involvement in the world of arms. The literature of the period provides a useful lens for viewing Camden’s work as a herald. The theme of chivalry that informs Spenser’s Elizabethan epic, The Faerie Queene, was the subject of Camden’s life and work for a quarter of a century. Camden’s office as herald is a reminder (if we need one) that “arms” and “honour” were vital elements in the life of the privileged classes in the Renaissance. They were also essential components in the romantic epic, and were not just “literary” ornaments. Their reach went beyond literature and the armigerous. In complex ways, they were integral to the age and its ideologies; they provided the semiotics by which men and women negotiated personal and social identities and by which court society managed the processes of change. Richard McCoy has done most in recent years to bring discussion of chivalry and arms as a literary theme into the sphere of Tudor social reality, mainly in terms of the carefully codified symbolic action that is part of court ritual and reality.1 McCoy’s discussion of Essex’s aberrant chivalry and his rebellion is compelling evidence of the ways that such symbolic action exerts pressures on social and political realities. There are other paradigms as well that illuminate the unique place of the herald in early modern society, particularly economic, political, and intellectual ones. 353

William Camden – A Life in Context In the later sixteenth century the idea of chivalry and the institutions that maintained it were themselves unstable and in flux. Like other aspects of the social order, what was understood by the term “arms” evolved in meaning, value, and use during the late Tudor and earlier Stuart years; these changes are part of the intellectual transformation of the generation, and Camden had a significant hand in them. While Camden and an author such as Spenser were both interested in the subject of arms and chivalry, their relationship to the subject is complex. Spenser is a poet for whom chivalry provides a means of exploring the ethics and psychology of individual and social conduct as well as access to the patronage system. Camden, as a herald, is a court official, a liveried bureaucrat administering arms; the man responsible for converting those ideas into daily practice, interpreting them, translating them from idea to action. As anyone who has worked on the subject of arms and heraldry knows, the gap between the two is great – the “idea” of arms and honour is often at a far remove from the reality of tricking one’s arms. Significant as the gap is, the two had to be related to one another, and Camden, herald, poet, friend of poets, and historian, was there to negotiate it. Thus, while Spenser transformed the Elizabethan cult of chivalry into the substratum of his national epic, Camden, born into a family of Painter-Stainers, had a lifelong practical interest in it that spanned the period from Elizabeth nearly to the end of James’s reign. Camden is the translator of Spenser’s Platonic order of arms into the daily political realities of Tudor and Stuart life. As an administrator of its institutions and executor of its duties and responsibilities, he was a major player in the transformation of the culture of chivalry from Elizabeth’s reign to that of James. As such, he would be able to speak intelligibly and with equal grace to Spenser’s Scudamour and Jonson’s Sogliardo. Indeed, if the cultural historian seeks a path leading from Spenser, Shakespeare, and Jonson to arrive at Milton, Camden would be our guide.2 Before we can appreciate Camden’s unique contribution to the redefinition of chivalry over these years, it will help to have a sense of the scope of these changes. During Camden’s tenure, we see a shift from one model of patronage and honour – that distinguished by errancy and Petrarchanism – Spenser’s Redcross Knight, for example, the “Gentle Knight … pricking on the plaine, / Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shield” – to one of a different order, where home, piety, domesticity, and the arts of peace are the paradigm, as in Jonson’s “To Penshurst”: 354

Arms & the Man: Antiquarian in the College of Arms Each morn, and even, they are taught to pray, With the whole household, and may, every day, Read, in their virtuous parents’ noble parts, The mysteries of manners, arms, and arts. (lines 95–8) The extent of the interest in arms and related issues during the period from 1570 to the Civil War is quite remarkable. The College of Arms and its officers were the custodians of matters to do with arms, but the range of issues caught up in the net of chivalry and “titles of honour” is extensive, and goes beyond the reach of the college. During these decades, though, the College of Arms attracted a great deal of attention and experienced a rise and then a diminution of prominence and importance. Thus, as we will see, the activity in and around heraldic matters precedes considerably the “great age of heralds” of the later seventeenth century identified by Kendrick.3 And while we might be inclined to think of heraldic matters as A. L. Rowse does, in terms of hierarchy and the maintenance of the political order – “as an extension of Tudor and Stuart policy”, which it certainly was, we should not therefore assume that the interest in chivalry necessarily reflects identification with that ideology and political stance.4 Arms were part of the social structure and any systemic social changes naturally affect the role they play. There was much happening in areas having to do with arms and chivalry: the years leading up to and during Camden’s tenure as Clarenceux King of Arms saw radical redefinition of the idea of chivalry, accompanied by a careful examination of the social and official structures enforcing arms and the reorganization of the College of Arms itself. It was a truly tumultuous period distinguished by instability, change, and shifting values and structures rather than by hierarchy, order, and control. The discussion that follows explores this thesis. The pervasiveness of the chivalric theme coincides with the literary resurgence of different forms of historical writing that we have already discussed. During Camden’s lifetime we can watch the age of chivalry turn into the age of heraldry: the years of Woodstock, the accession day tilts, frequent tourneys in which the myths of honour were fostered show us one context for heralds and their craft. Camden’s formal involvement in 1597 comes only after the cult of chivalry has run its course, but we want to recall that his father, a Painter-Stainer, would have relied on work coming to him from the heralds’ office for much of his income; Charles Wriothesley, Windsor Herald, died in Sampson Camden’s house in 1562. Camden, at home as a boy and later as a 355

William Camden – A Life in Context young man at Westminster, where tournaments were regularly held, saw from close-up both the pageantry and the business side of chivalry. Of course, the myths of chivalry informing entertainments such as those held at Westminster, Woodstock, and Kenilworth could be viewed as a “nostalgic anachronism”, but this is not to say that they were not rituals vital to the cultural energy of the Virgin Queen’s courtly society.5 Anything but “escapist”, they were acts of social engagement on the part of their organizers and participants. Combats and rituals of chivalry were symbolic acts through which the energies and ambitions of courtiers found expression. As such they serve the mechanisms of change, movement from office to office, the scramble for power that are part of the reality of Elizabethan governance at several levels. They act also as a “safety valve” for the political rivalries in court and a release for the combative instincts of its soldier-knights. These rituals are codes and modes of conduct by which the relation of the armigerous and the central monarchic power relate to one another. On a larger scale, they help negotiate the social and political forces of the government, effecting, in ­Maurice Keen’s words, an implicit “compromise” between monarch and the nobility, enabling each faction to reconcile the personal aspirations of the knight and the “national” interests vested in the monarch.6 Questions of honour and nobility were at the centre of the delicate balance of power between the monarchy and the aristocracy, and the office of the Earl Marshal acted as a lynch-pin holding the potentially rival energies in equilibrium. The Kings of Arms and the heralds were the agents of the Earl Marshal and ­arbiters of the terms of this implicit treaty.7 Thus, whatever one thinks of the fashion for spurious medievalism, with the baggage of dragons, nymphs and satyrs, hermits, “salvage” men mingling with “real” ladies and knights, the notion of chivalry and nobility must, nevertheless, be seen as growing from the political reality and cultural traditions of the early modern court at a time when it is going through major changes. There is no question that during Elizabeth’s reign, particularly after 1560, when Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, began to pick up momentum in his rise to power, tournaments and heraldic occasions were vehicles by which some of the major political transactions were worked out, and the principal participants were the men who carried their ambitious rivalries into other areas as well: Robert Dudley, William Cecil, and Thomas Howard (Duke of Norfolk) most particularly. The well-known factions within the government (which also served as a system of checks and balances) act out their familiar power struggle within the sphere of arms. The ritualized play for power and position 356

Arms & the Man: Antiquarian in the College of Arms was enacted through the extravagant tourneys and entertainments staged to court the Queen, and the Earl Marshal was the senior ranking officer of arms who was meant to embody the active virtues and honour that bound the nobility to their prince. The fate of the Earl Marshal’s office during these years outlines the heavily (if not well) choreographed dance of power performed by the traditional aristocracy trying to secure or retain power in the Queen’s court. Richard McCoy captures the tensions between Thomas Howard, Earl Marshal, and the “arriviste” Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the extravagant suitor to Elizabeth. Drawing on documents describing the powers of the Earl Marshal, Howard saw in that office the point of contact between monarch and peer – at that meeting place was to be found the political equipoise between monarch and ancient nobility: in addition to presiding at all cases at the Court of Chivalry (or “Earl Marshal’s Court”) with the Constable, he acts as the “joint commander … of the Royal Army”, presides at the opening of Parliament, and has authority to “invoke a parliamentary commission” to arbitrate between the monarch and nobility.8 The real and symbolic powers granted to the Earl Marshal figure at the centre of civil unrest in England during the fifteenth century, and they would be invoked and contested again in the seventeenth. In reviewing the history of the office during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, and drawing on the views of David Starkey and others, Richard McCoy sees these documents and their use as a kind of missing link between medieval constitutional theories and seventeenth-century parliamentary opposition to Stuart autocracy. The passage of this volume [the Modus Tenendi Parliamentum] from Earl Marshal to parliamentarian [Edward Coke] shows the continuity of this oppositional tradition throughout the sixteenth century.9 It is precisely these offices and their history – the Earl Marshal, the Constable, the Steward, and the heralds – that, from their margin, the Society of Antiquaries scrutinized so carefully in the last decade of Elizabeth. Until his execution in 1572, Thomas Howard attempted to exert his power through the Earl Marshal’s office, thwarting Dudley’s aspirations wherever possible. He, of course, became the victim of his own machinations and was arrested and executed for treason. After Norfolk’s excesses, Elizabeth curbed the powers of the Earl Marshal, placing the office in the hands of a commission presided over by Burghley, effectively short-circuiting the upward potential within the system of chivalry. When the office was eventually restored as part 357

William Camden – A Life in Context of the “understanding” reached between the monarch and the nobility, it is because of the precarious balance that then existed between disaffected nobility, notably the rivalry between Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, and Charles Howard, Earl of Nottingham, Lord Admiral, and Lord Steward. The history of the overweening Essex’s increasingly erratic behaviour and excessive demands is well known. Through a series of tactical temper tantrums that threatened to cause serious diplomatic problems for Elizabeth, in 1597 Essex outmanœuvred Burghley and secured the office.10 Camden’s appointment as Clarenceux at the same time was one small means by which Burghley could exercise a degree of damage control. The cycle of using the position of the Earl Marshal to challenge royal authority was recapitulated five years later in Essex’s assault on the throne in 1601, which he legitimized on the authority of his office as Earl Marshal. Clearly the “compromise” between the monarch and the nobility was an on-again off-again method of shared government. Following Essex’s execution, the office was again neutralized by being put into Robert Cecil’s commissionership, until the Howard faction regained its control of the position after James’s accession.11 Obviously, the splendour and indulgence of the combats, entertainments, and other events undertaken in the name of chivalry are but the ornate brocades covering some of the heavy moving parts of the intricate political machinery of Elizabeth’s court society. Beside the towering egos of Elizabeth’s “favourites”, standing in the shadows of their chivalry, are Spenser and his veiled allegory, and Camden, with his royal commission to protect the dignity of arms and honour. Notwithstanding all this apparatus meant to enable the monarch to keep a largely unbureaucratized government working, and to keep the powerful courtiers who filled necessary offices in some sort of balance, when all is said and done, it was dysfunctional. Indeed, Elizabethan medievalism, vital as it was to its own reality, was out of touch with the formal institutions and functions of “arms”. We need to carry the historicizing of chivalry further; McCoy, Keen, Starkey, and James have helped show how the nobility themselves utilized the discourse of arms, but under Elizabeth the institution of chivalry was in the process of being taken out of the hands of both the collective nobility and the monarch. As we have seen, we cannot speak of Elizabethan and Jacobean chivalry in the same way. Just as the royal households changed in nature, so did the enactment of the chivalric enterprise. Most obviously, as the dynamic of the Elizabethan court was guided by the Virgin Queen’s use of her own sexuality and exhibitionism, so too the Stuart court was affected by paradigms based on the personality and gender of the Scottish king, married 358

Arms & the Man: Antiquarian in the College of Arms with three children, homosexual, and having an aversion to public audiences. As the monarch changes, so changes the “compromise” with the nobility. That said, a new monarch was but one significant factor contributing to the changing shape of chivalry. The ideology of arms and honour enters the social fabric of medieval and early modern England, cuts across the armigerous classes and empowered institutions, and is affected by the changing socio-economic structure of the country. The transformation of chivalry took place along with other social changes during and after the Reformation. The increasing permeability of class barriers, the self-effacement of financially hardpressed landed gentry and the assumption of the accessories of nobility by “upstart courtiers” (to use Robert Greene’s phrase, 1592) all shared in this welldocumented social paradigm shift that involves the College of Arms. Indeed, the concern for matters of heraldry was socially far more pervasive than one might guess, given its preoccupation with the relatively small constituency of the titled and aristocractic; the creative anachronisms of the grand entertainments and even of Spenser’s no less grand romance were but one aspect of the popular but increasingly vestigial codes of chivalry. But there were many different ways by which the core issues of arms, title, and honour entered the cultural discourse of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Relatedly, there were many manifestations of the questions surrounding shared governance and the uncertain relationship between the monarch and the rival brokers of political power, including the voluminous literature on the “barons’ wars”. Such works also anatomize the strains against the “compromise”, the inherent contradictions in a system that defined acceptable conduct in terms of both spirit and law, that both valorized the individual and insisted on the supremacy of the king.

The Literature of Arms: Chivalry, and the Process of Change


hakespeare’s history plays are the most extensive examination of the subject of chivalry and arms as it was understood in those transitional years, although they conceptualize the problem differently than, say, Spenser does. The relation between knight and master-king, the clash between honour and “law”, the very bases on which title and office rest, these constitute the shifting ground on which the conflicts of these plays are worked out. Their subject is precisely the ideology behind the Elizabethan entertainments that affirm the relationship that the drama presents as inherently ambiguous. Shakespeare’s perspective is from the nobility looking up rather than from 359

William Camden – A Life in Context the monarch looking down. The distinction is clearest, for example, in Richard II, with the many violations of trust perpetrated against the nobility by the king. Similarly, in the first tetralogy we see the multiplicity of rival claims by upwardly mobile barons, rather than an idealized coherent view of the pyramid of state which promises the bountiful descent of order from king to subject. As the dynastic claims to royal supremacy erode in the face of history, the first tetralogy can be seen as the contest between rival modes of legitimizing power and hierarchy, between the authorizing force of civil law and that of common law. Shakespeare’s history plays see the questions of arms and title as historical and political realities and factors in the processes of social change. Contemporaneous as the history plays are with the chivalric, courtly literature, they nevertheless reveal the pattern by which Elizabethan medievalism gives way to early modern historicism. If we read these plays as subversive and populist, or as conservative and royalist (there is good company for both readings), we create a dialogical scheme that oversimplifies the period by seeing the world in terms of clearly identified, if limited, social oppositions – monarch and nobility. This is to limit artificially the audience’s responses and force it to side with one or the other. But these are dramas about historical change, not about a single monarch or rebel offering a single political solution to a problem. Shakespeare’s exploitation of a changing cast of characters over a lengthy historical period points to process, not character as his theme. Thus, there is another way of reading the conflicts which avoids the binarism of court versus king. Like the Society of Antiquaries’ treatises on arms and nobility, the plays are interested in the nature of the institutions in conflict, the basis for entitlement to power or arms, the legitimacy of challenging order. The playwright frames these concerns in terms of both their humanitas and their social rank. In Richard II, for example, the audience member – noble or worker – is interested in Harry Hereford as a person, but bound up in his humanity is the question of his right, as a man and by law, to his father’s title and estates. Deftly as Shakespeare defines the conflicts of the play in essential human terms, the principles that lie behind them have everything to do with matters of arms, chivalry, and the compromise between king and nobility. The play animates the individual character within broadly conceived but carefully articulated chivalric codes. The opening scene, in which Hereford and Mowbray challenge one another, conforms to the laws of chivalry. Scene 3 in the lists at Coventry, with the Earl Marshal mediating between the King and two 360

Arms & the Man: Antiquarian in the College of Arms warring nobles, draws on the official protocol for such conflicts; the King’s conduct, his indecisiveness and arbitrariness begins the process of dismantling the compromise on which the scene is built. Richard’s prodigality and favouritism have also violated the chivalric terms of his office by forfeiting the land by which he holds title. The process by which the royal compromise is destroyed is complete when Richard seizes Gaunt’s lands and title and denies the “fundamental” right of inheritance and primogeniture; in so doing, he betrays the principle by which he holds his title, that binds his nobles to him in “honour and allegiance” (II.i.208), and that holds together the medieval social order: Take Herford’s rights away, and take from time His charters, and his customary rights; Let not to-morrow then ensue to-day: Be not thyself. For how thou art a king But by fair sequence and succession? (II.i.189–99) Throughout the opening two acts and culminating in Gaunt’s death and Hereford’s dispossession, Shakespeare has represented a social order that is built on the foundations of chivalric codes, only to show the pressures from within working to their destruction. Rather like Camden’s view of England, Shakespeare sees the nation in terms of constant change. Like others of his generation, Camden among them, Shakespeare was greatly interested in how society deals with change. The two tetralogies show us a culture caught in a cycle that needs breaking, a rhythm that begs for new direction and change. In this uncertain balance, Shakespeare’s acceptance of change in society and of how time transforms laws, language, and custom, is remarkably close to Camden’s. Paradoxically, Shakespeare’s tetralogies face the reality of change and radically demythologize the monarchy and the system of chivalry. They show us an early modern world where kings are perceived as emerging from below or from the wings, as the Earl of Gloucester does, but not from above – these are plays, not masques. Shakespeare, of course, was hardly alone in his interest in the Barons’ Wars and the Wars of the Roses; many contemporary “poets historical” were deeply preoccupied with the subject of medieval history and framed their work in terms of social change. Indeed, it is remarkable how much of the literary output of these decades impinges on the activities of the College of Arms, and how this phenomenon parallels Renaissance preoccupation with historical genres and medievalism. If, as I have argued above, Camden’s work prepares 361

William Camden – A Life in Context the way for a shift in focus in literary and historical genres from myth to history, Shakespeare is only one of a number of writers who are part of that trend.12 For example, the narrative poetry of Daniel and Drayton, particularly the Civile Wars and The Barons Warres, brings together themes of arms, civil disorder, and social change. The gestation period of both these historical epics overlaps with Shakespeare’s tetralogies; Daniel’s work was first printed in 1595 and was radically revised over the next fourteen years. Drayton’s The Barons Warres first appeared in 1603, and represented a radical rethinking of the material of the Mortimeriados, which appeared in 1596.13 The historiography of both these “poets historical” was shaped by Camden. We have seen how Camden helped to negotiate the widening gap between history and poetic myth, and Daniel, following his lead, acknowledged the problematic division with even greater concern. Over the years, half-way through his literary career, he began to question the appropriateness of historical verse and became an ardent proponent of the primacy of fact, saying of his Civile Wars that he was determined to “versifie the troth, not Poetize”.14 About a decade later, his reservations about the suitability of poetry for historical material had intensified; seeing more clearly how form affects content, he took the next step and abandoned the embellishments of verse and wrote his prose History of England, the first part appearing in 1612. Drayton’s re-examination of the socio-political structures in flux also manifests itself in a growing tendency to historicize the material and to see the past and present in terms of human conflict rather than hierarchy. His early Spenserian celebration of British history yields in time to a recognition of the need to distinguish between the nation’s legendary past and its more mundane historical reality. Notwithstanding differences in their poetical and political stances, each works, as Shakespeare does, within the cluster of issues surrounding chivalric social structures, political discord, and changing historiographic methods. Both Drayton and Daniel present the relationship between the monarch and the barons in ways that would be problematic when read against the backdrop of Essex’s personal drama, or in the context of the constitutional concerns being raised by men like Selden, Doderidge, and Coke. Drayton, himself more a poet and less the political theorist than Daniel, humanizes the monarchy in the manner of Shakespeare. For example, in Mortimeriados; the Lamentable Civil Wars of Edward the Second and the Barons (1596), his poetic interest is in Mortimer and his relationship to Isabel, although as the title suggests, it is also an “epic” about the charismatic rebel, an ineffectual king, 362

Arms & the Man: Antiquarian in the College of Arms and civil war. His deliberately ambiguous narrative perspective raises more than a few problems about decorum.15 Foremost among these is Drayton’s representation of the monarchy – Edward II is essentially poetic wallpaper providing the background for the amorous and rebellious intrigue of the Queen and Roger Mortimer. A bourgeois villain hero and the character of greatest psychological and artistic interest, Mortimer appropriates the play and destabilizes the conventional hierarchies of literary decorum, and these are also the hierarchies of arms and honour. Like Shakespeare’s Richard II, Drayton’s Edward is already dethroned by his ineptitude; the myth of entitlement that he offers in his own defence – “the awful right of an anointed King” crowned with “hallowed unction by a sacred hand” (V.15–16) – is as vacuous as it is futile. The impact of this invocation of divine right is in its pathos, not its indignation. The code of honour and entitlement that one might expect to give political seriousness to the threat to the crown is thus deprived of meaning; one may lament the social effects of civil war or the personal pain, but one is not likely to feel that a serious political outrage threatening the principles of order has been committed. By granting that the usurping nobleman is both personally more interesting and politically more effective than Edward, and at the same time implicitly undermining the monarch’s de jure claim to power, Drayton creates a rather subversive anti-heroic epic. Like Shakespeare’s chivalric, post-Conquest England, Drayton’s is one that offers a historical reminder that the monarchy is a social construct with limits defined from below, by human frailties, rather than from above. In these authors, then, we see disparities between the practice of chivalric ritual at court and its literary treatment. Judging from Elizabethan writers’ representation of political and social structure, the abstract, perhaps ideal but decidedly unrealistic dimension of chivalric social codes was taken for granted. Their representation of state and authority in works exploring the disruption of chivalric degree through civil war shows the reality of the body politic as quite removed from the ideas of divine right and the sanctity of degree. If these were ideas laudable in the abstract, they were not represented by these authors as ones to be sought out through political processes: Shakespeare, Daniel, and Drayton show the need for restraints and checks on both monarch and nobility. This preoccupation with history, then, parallels an interest in arms, and together they are part of the large scale re-examination of the political structures of the nation at a time when increasing pressures were being applied to them. This scrutiny is not to be mistaken as necessarily subversive or anti-authoritarian; it is a good example of how a culture finds its 363

William Camden – A Life in Context way forward by looking backward. This is part of Daniel Woolf ’s point when he says that Samuel Daniel “did what virtually no other secular historian had managed: he found a meaningful pattern of progress in the English past”.16 Through the brutality and greed of civil war and self-indulgence, Daniel saw English history as a process of fulfilment – as the gradual establishment of greater degrees of order, procedure, and law. As for Shakespeare and Camden, for Daniel too, history is a process that involves the whole community. Specifically, he sees civil history – Camden’s subject matter – as the gradual growth of regulating structures. The post-Conquest period that he is mainly concerned with is one marked by the institution of laws and due process that should, ideally, become part of the nation’s social fabric.17

Treatises on Arms and Honour: Reimagining Chivalry


he treatment of arms and honour in the works of these literary ­figures comments obliquely but clearly on the preoccupations of the Elizabethan court and the Society of Antiquaries. Elizabethan chivalry pitted the aspiring individual against the hegemonic structure represented by prince or lord; accommodation within the structure was always tested. It was based on an assumption and dynamic of the competitive, combative nature of the individual proving entitlement to title or “territory”. As Daniel recognized, it is a primitive form of social order, and there was much that was primitive about the way that chivalry operated in Elizabeth’s court – as a way of negotiating rival claims to lucrative and influential positions, of controlling ambitious courtiers and securing the attention of the Queen. The tournaments and pageants, the obsession with rank and title that c