Westminster Abbey: The Lady Chapel of Henry VIIby Tim Tatton-Brown; Richard Mortimer

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  • Westminster Abbey: The Lady Chapel of Henry VII by Tim Tatton-Brown; Richard MortimerReview by: Alexandrina BuchananThe Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 36, No. 2 (Summer, 2005), pp. 486-488Published by: The Sixteenth Century JournalStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20477379 .Accessed: 12/06/2014 18:35

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  • 486 Sixteenth CenturyjJoirnal XXXVI/2 (2005)

    debates into the text, but not in a way that disrupts the flow of what is often a good story. The book is also well organized and provides a helpful balance among the various factors that make for a relatively complete picture.The majority of the chapters provide a chrono logical framework of the major political and religious, as well as diplomatic and military, developments during the Tudor and Stuart periods.

    In addition, there are several chapters devoted to social and cultural history, and these are wisely interspersed in the text. The introduction provides an extensive background on "England and Its People, ca. 1485," that is, on the eve of the Tudor accession. Midway through the text, chapter 6 ("Merrie Olde England? ca.1603") is an in-depth discussion of social, economic, and cultural realities at the time of the transition from the Tudor to the Stuart dynasties.The conclusion on "Augustan Polity, Society, and Culture, ca.1714," is both a good summary of the Stuart era and a preview of Hanoverian Britain, concentrating on social and cultural developments. This layout works quite well and is a particular strength of the book.A related point worthy of mention is the authors' use of the concept of the "Great Chain of Being."They use this metaphor throughout the book to help the reader to under stand more vividly the hierarchical nature of early modern society and the widely held belief that this was based on both divine and natural law.

    Among the many issues and personalities discussed here, the authors are usually fair and reasonably thorough.Their discussion on the background to and development of the English Reformation is well done. As one example, they point out that the extent ofWolsey's power and the related extent of his pluralism of offices meant that when he finally fell, there was a huge vacuum on the Catholic side that was filled with relative ease by the emerging Anglican establishment. All the same, on the religious front, more could have been said about the

    Welsh, Scottish, and Irish Reformations. In terms of the seventeenth century, there is a good overview of the issues and debates regarding the early Stuarts and the background to and course of the Civil Wars in England, Scotland, and Ireland. On the other hand, some inter national issues, such as the French Wars of Religion and their impact on the Elizabethan regime, could be further developed.

    In general, the assessments of the successive Tudor and Stuart monarchs are balanced, HenryVIII being a good case in point. By way of contrast, the authors are probably a bit too harsh on Mary I and her regime, considering, in particular, her narrow window of oppor tunity of only five years. Lastly, the authors were wise not to end their discussion in 1688 89 as many other studies do, but rather to include the reigns ofWilliam and Mary and that of Queen Anne. This longer perspective allows Bucholz and Key to draw some important conclusions about the Stuarts as well as comment on the transition to the Hanoverians. In sum, there is a unity to this work, which is undoubtedly related to the solid narrative approach of the authors, combined with their insightful analyses. With some appropriate supplements, this will serve well as a text for courses on early modern Britain.

    V t, $ .s w .s % t #' R s t ts S

    Westminster Abbey: The Lady Chapel of Henry VII. E d. Tim Tatton-Brown and Richard Mortimer. Woodbridge: Boydell, 2003.366 pp. $85.00. ISBN 1-84383-037-X.

    REVIEWED BY: Alexandrina Buchanan, The Clothworkers' Company

    John Britton wrote that HenryVII "reigned as an attorney would have reigned; and he would have preferred a conveyancer to a Praxiteles" (Architectural Antiquities 2 [1809]: 12). The acknowledged position of his burial chapel as the ne plus ultra of Gothic architecture in

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  • Book Reviews 487

    England might therefore seem something of a paradox. But it is also something of a historical accident. The religious changes initiated by Henry's son and heir deprived the followers of the chapel's designer of the opportunity ever to attempt anything similar. At the same time, these changes divorced the building from many of the functional motivations that had ranked highly in the mind of its patron.

    The most important aspect of the present volume is its emphasis on what to some archi tectural historians might seem merely circumstantial factors, but which to Henry VII were evidently as important as aesthetic elements. The reader needs to look elsewhere for the wider political motivations, but is here treated to a wealth of detail regarding the conmmis sion. A new edition of Henry's will forms the centerpiece of the volume, and an essay by its editor, Margaret Condon, exposes the care Henry took to ensure that all would be carried out according to his intentions. Condon's study of the forms of the documents as well as their textual content shows what can be learned from true archival research rather than reliance on published editions.

    The chapel's liturgical role is explored in a number of essays. Barbara Harvey examines the devotion to the Virgin at Westminster Abbey, both within the previous Lady Chapel and elsewhere, and by participants both monastic and lay. Her analysis includes the all-important financing and servicing of the chapel as well as the documentation regarding its contents. Roger Bowers covers the music and musicians attached to the chapel from its erection until the first Dissolution, which throws interesting light on the difficulties of using a monastic church as a royal chapel once a liturgy appropriate for the latter required the use of a profes sional choir. The overlapping of functions, including liturgical, is explored by Christopher

    Wilson. Although, as he argues, the architecture was in no way constrained by functional criteria, it is nevertheless important for our understanding of Henry VII's "brief" to try to reconstruct how it was envisioned that the spaces would be used.

    The chapel's building accounts, which could have answered many questions, do not survive. In their absence,TimTatton-Brown uses archaeological evidence to propose a build ing sequence, exposing new evidence of minor design changes as work progressed. Other essays by Andrew Reynolds,Julian Munby, andJacques Heyman cover the archaeology, roof ing, and structure of the vault. The imagery of the chapel is treated by Philip Lindley in an essay encompassing the entirety of the sculpture (both monumental and architectural). For the stained glass, of which there is sufficient evidence for interpretation, the reader is directed to the essay by Richard Marks in The Reign of Henry VII, ed. Benjamin Thompson, Harlaxton

    Medieval Studies 5 (Stamford: Paul Watkins, 1995). This volume also contains an essay by Christopher Wilson that differs from Tatton-Brown in its identification of the chapel's designer.

    The breadth of the book is evidenced by the essays treating the later history of the chapel. Charles Tracy sets his study of the choir stalls within the context of their subsequent remodeling. John Physick examines the post-Reformation monuments, with particular emphasis on the history of their maintenance.Thomas Cocke celebrates the continued func tionality of the chapel during the later centuries, which contributed to its maintenance, though architectural historians may have cause to regret its appropriation by the Order of the Bath, whose banners now dominate the interior. This continued usage necessitated an ongoing preservation program, described in an essay by the volume's editors, showing how state aid caused the building to become something of a test case for early theories of archi tectural conservation.The controversy surrounding such a prominent building has continued into the present day. The final essay, an attempt by the architect, Donald Buttress, to validate

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  • 488 Sixteenth CenturyJournal XXXVI/2 (2005)

    his restoration philosophy, perhaps justifies its inclusion as evidence for later historians seek ing to compare the peculiar practices in benefices controlled by the crown with contempo raneous programs at buildings subject to adequate external control.

    The volume provides a mass of fascinating information for the specialist. In addition to its wide scope, the helpful addition of an index enables the browser to search for a single topic across the essays. The work needs to be read in tandem with the Harlaxton volume already mentioned, though one welcomes the avoidance of unnecessary repetition. To the present reviewer, however, there appear to be two unfortunate omissions. First, there is no essay exploring the earlier scholarship on the chapel. Its status as "miraculum orbis universali" John Leland) has provided it with an unparalleled historiography. Many of the scholars are quoted or their iconic images reproduced within the pages, but the context of their ideas is largely left unspoken. The chapel is thus examined in detail as a physical, functional, and institutional structure, but less attention is paid to its status as an image or intellectual con struct. The other topic still awaiting thorough treatment is that of the chapel's stylistic sources. This absence inadvertently throws the emphasis of the book on Henry the careful planner rather than on Henry the magnificent patron.There is indeed more on conveyancing (or at least planning) than on the art of the medieval Praxiteles. Nevertheless, the editors and authors are to be commended for proving that an ostensibly familiar subject can still foster valuable new research.

    John Donne and Conformity in Crisis in the Late Jacobean Pulpit. Jeanne Shami. Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2003. vii + 318 pages. $85.00. ISBN 0-85991-789-4.

    REVIEWED BY: Robert C. Evans, Auburn University, Montgomery

    Jeanne Shami's exhaustive study ofJohn Donne's sermons from 1620 to 1626 provides an exceptionally thorough examination not only of Donne's pronouncements but also of the pulpit oratory of numerous other significant figures in the late Jacobean church. Her book offers a detailed overview of the controversy that resulted in, and resulted from, James I's efforts to control preachers' comments on heated public issues. These issues included the proposed Spanish match and the king's other foreign and domestic policies, especially the possibility of greater toleration for Catholics. Shami, our leading expert on Donne the ser moneer, offers a painstaking and highly nuanced account of his religious and political evo lution during the period in question. In the course of doing so, she also helps us appreciate how important sermons were in the public discourse of this time. While not all scholars of the era will agree with all of her conclusions, everyone should appreciate the skill, thorough ness, and seriousness with which she has undertaken a very complicated task.

    One great strength of Shami's book, in fact, is that it provides comprehensive coverage not only of the numerous sermons it summarizes and analyzes but also of the scholarly debates those sermons have provoked. Shami has definite opinions about how these sermons should be interpreted, but she is a fair expositor of other scholars' arguments and is always civil and thoughtful when she disagrees. She exemplifies, in fact, many of the same qualities she attributes to Donne himself: she has obviously read widely and thought deeply about all the isues involved, and she exhibits the same kind of balanced, moderate tone with which she credits the great Jacobean preacher. Her disagreements with the likes of John Carey, Richard Strier, Jonathan Goldberg, and others are strongly felt but never intemperately expressed.

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    Article Contentsp. 486p. 487p. 488

    Issue Table of ContentsThe Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 36, No. 2 (Summer, 2005), pp. 321-640Front MatterSocial Control and Its Limits: Sodomy, Local Sexual Economies, and Inquisitors during Spain's Golden Age [pp. 331-358]Book Burning in Tudor and Stuart England [pp. 359-374]Appealing to the Senses: The Forty Hours Celebrations in the Duchy of Chablais, 1597-98 [pp. 375-396]Humanistic Self-Representation in Giovan Battista Della Porta's "Della Fisonomia Dell'Uomo": Antecedents and Innovation [pp. 397-414]"For Caesar's I Am": Henrician Diplomacy and Representations of King and Country in Thomas Wyatt's Poetry [pp. 415-431]Visualizing Devotion in Early Modern Seville: Velzquez's "Chirst in the House of Martha and Mary" [pp. 433-453]Book Notices [pp. 455-464]Book ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 465-466]Review: untitled [pp. 466-467]Review: untitled [pp. 468-469]Review: untitled [pp. 469-472]Review: untitled [pp. 472-473]Review: untitled [pp. 473-475]Review: untitled [pp. 475-476]Review: untitled [pp. 477-478]Review: untitled [pp. 478-480]Review: untitled [pp. 480-481]Review: untitled [pp. 481-482]Review: untitled [pp. 482-484]Review: untitled [pp. 484-485]Review: untitled [pp. 485-486]Review: untitled [pp. 486-488]Review: untitled [pp. 488-489]Review: untitled [pp. 489-491]Review: untitled [pp. 491-492]Review: untitled [pp. 492-494]Review: untitled [pp. 494-495]Review...


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