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Title: 'Baytyng the Bochers Dogge' : a study of John Skelton's satires against Cardinal Wolsey as a source for the politics of the 1520s
Author: Walker, Greg
ISNI:       0000 0001 1809 9684
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 1985
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This thesis studies the later political satires of the poet John Skelton, and the value of those texts as historical source material. As the major figure in those satires is Thomas, Cardinal Wolsey, it also considers in some detail the character of Wolsey and his role in government during the years of his ascendancy (1514-29). It is based upon both a close reading of the texts themselves and upon a range of other literary and historical source material. During the course of the study the career and role of the poet in the Tudor Court is considered, and it is concluded that, contrary to previous accounts, he was neither a client of the powerful Howard family nor an eminent Court poet. It is argued that it was this lack of success which prompted his writing of the satires against Wolsey in 1521-2 in an attempt to win patronage, first from Henry VIII at a time when Wolsey seemed to be out of Royal favour, and subsequently from the citizens of London when Wolsey was associated with the unpopular Forced Loans of 1522. The texts themselves are studied in detail both to ascertain what maybe gleaned from them concerning the circumstances of their creation, and to determine how valuable a representation of the political situation of the period they provide. Close attention is paid to a number of key political themes in the texts: Wolsey's relationship with the nobility and with Henry VIII, his handling of personal suitors and his role in the conduct of English foreign policy. Skelton's portayal of these themes is compared with what can be ascertained from other sources, and it is concluded that the poet's testimony only rarely provides any valuable insights into such subjects, due to his limited access to information, his reliance upon literary sources for inspiration and his overall antipathetic intentions. Finally the political work produced by Skelton under Wolsey's patronage after his rapprochement with the Cardinal is considered and it is argued that the Crown became closely involved in the production of the poet's last political satire, 'The Douty Duke of Albany'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature