Elizabeth's Age ( Since 1558 to 1603)
Elizabeth I succeeded her sister Mary in 1558 and became England’s most popular leader even if Catholics considered her illegitimate and preferred Mary Queen of Scots, who became a focus of rebellious.
With Elizabeth I there was a period of stability and prosperity; she was very important for England because:
- She balanced the rival power of France and Spain; for example Spanish Armada was defeated by the superior design of English ships -> the only war- 1588. The despite of Invincible Armada caused the beginning of Spanish decline and the beginning of British supremacy.
- She encouraged overseas and land exploration, making England a commercial and a naval power.
English sea captains like Drake, Raleigh and Hawkins were engaged in piracy, secretly encouraged by the Queen, who took a share of the profits (potatoes, tobacco..)
- She established the “ Act of Supremacy and Uniformity” (1559) made obligatory the use of the "Book of Common Prayer" for religious services, which is a synthesis of tradition and Catholic Protestant innovations designed to ensure (garantire) uniformity on the one hand and on the other a tolerance of religious faiths.
Is considerate the “Golden Age of Poetry” for the great circulation of songs and sonnets that were the result of experimentation and showed a selective aristocratic tone and a high craftsmanship (abilità).
The sonnets came from Italy by “Jacopo da Lentini”; the form refers to that of Petrarch: 14 line poem in iambic pentameters with a carefully patterned rhyme scheme.
Italian sonnets: consists of an octave usually rhyming ABBA ABBA and a sestet with many rhyme CDC DE or CD CDC.
English sonnets: divided into three quatrains and a couplet; it rhymes ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.
The poet can use the quatrains to present a theme or three different arguments and draw a conclusion in the final couplet.
Sir Thomas Wyatt introduced the Petrarchan sonnet into England; Wyatt’s rhyme scheme is ABBA ABBA CDDC EE.
Wyatt successor was Henry Eaward Earl of Surrey who introduced the one which was later used by Shakespeare.
Elizabethan sonneteers were master of rhetoric and showed their ability in the use of concerts.
The concert is an elaborate poetic image that gives depth ( profondità) and variety to an opinion.
The traditional subjects of sonnets is LOVE : love sought, love satisfied, woman that cannot return poet’s love.
The lady is the personification of both physical and moral perfection; is beautiful but cruel, desiderable but chaste.
Figures of Speech: assonance, consonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia, enjambments, inversion, archaic form; usually there are “ yet, although, but”.
During the reign of Henry VIII the most poetry was Wyatt , Sidney, Spencer and Shakespeare.
Sidney's Astrophel and Stella was begun in 1574 during his courtship with Penelope Devereux (108 sonnets and 11 songs). This work was the first in the long line of Elizabethan sonnet cycles