Subjects to the King's Divorce: Equivocation, Infidelity, and Resistance in Early Modern England
Indiana University Press, 2003 - 274 pages
"[C]oncerns with gender, politics, and religion (the political and the domestic) are brought together in an important, compelling way.... [Subjects to the King's Divorce] makes an important and fresh contribution to the new scholarly/critical interest in the importance of religion in this period... and especially to our understanding of post-Reformation England.... [I]interesting, important, original, distinctive."
Focusing on the rhetorical aftermath and political consequences of Henry VIII's double divorce from Katherine of Aragon and the Church of Rome, this book views divorce as culturally powerful and as a useful instrument for examining division in early modern England. For Olga L. Valbuena, the uses of divorce include equivocation and strategies of concealment among the persecuted; internal self-division, the effect of divided loyalties; and strategies by Protestants who wanted to separate from Catholicism and popish idolatry. "Divorsive" thinking, precipitated by Henry's divorce and the oaths of allegiance the king imposed to strengthen the monarchy, turned out instead to organize resistance to monarchical power, which culminates in Milton, defender of regicide. Subjects to the King's Divorce centers on key texts by Donne (Pseudo-Martyr), Shakespeare (Macbeth), Elizabeth Cary (Tragedy of Mariam), and Milton, the "hot Protestant" who wrote of removing a king as one would divorce an unfit spouse. Valbuena offers a fresh view of the English reformation and its potentials.