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Title: The reception of English government propaganda, c.1530-1603
Author: Harris, Jonathan Charles
ISNI:       0000 0004 3717 336X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Despite a wealth of scholarship on the Tudors’ printed and visual propaganda, little has been written on how the population received this material. Doubts over how far either media penetrated a largely illiterate society with questionable access to the visual arts have likely been partly responsible, but as studies increasingly disprove these assumptions the need to address this gap becomes more pressing. After establishing that the governments from Henry VIII to Elizabeth were interested, to varying extents, in propagating particular messages to their subjects, this thesis employs a diverse range of sources to analyse popular responses to official pamphlets, portraits and other visual iconography. Primarily using inventories, the ownership of these different types is examined, in particular exploring the mixed motives that underlay the display of monarchical portraits and royal devices. Broadly positive reactions to propaganda are then discussed, similarly uncovering the different, potentially subversive reasons that drove people to accept government materials. The evidence of marginalia in surviving copies of polemical works is then used to show both the different approaches taken to reading official books, and how people engaged with several specific pamphlets, illuminating the success of particular arguments and propagandistic techniques. Finally, negative reactions to government images and books are investigated, highlighting not only opposition but, conversely, more evidence of propaganda’s positive impact. Analysing reception in these ways not only permits judgements about the extent and nature of propaganda’s success; it also provides valuable insights into important historiographical debates, like the progress of the English Reformation and the potential emergence of a public sphere, besides more generally revealing widely-held attitudes that underpinned sixteenth-century society and conditioned the relationship between rulers and ruled.
Supervisor: Sowerby, Tracey; Brigden, Susan Sponsor: AHRC ; IHR Scouloudi Fellowship ; History Faculty Arnold Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Early Modern Britain and Europe ; Propaganda