Date of Graduation
Early Stuart court culture and the representation of majesty and power have been the subjects of considerable scholarly debate in recent years, yet Henry, Prince of Wales, one of the most significant figures of this dynamic historical period, has remained largely in the margins of scholarship and criticism. The heightened sensitivity to the fusion of power and aesthetics in the representation of early modern majesty that has characterized new historicist and revisionist scholarship has revealed tensions and disruptions within the framework of the court itself. Representational strategies at court operated in the context of social systems, often functioning harmoniously but also frequently exhibiting conflict, distortion, and fragmentation. These combined systems and conflict theory-based views have broad implications informing contemporary critical understanding of the construction of authority and power in the early Stuart years. The court of James I was not monolithic, with all power radiating from the monarch, but rather it was diffuse, exhibiting multiple centers of competing authority. Prince Henry's emergent court was enmeshed in these energies of contest and opposition. Although Henry's role in the Jacobean court might traditionally fall within the province of social or political history, the present study positions the prince's emergent majesty in theatrical terms, examining the dynamic relationship between courtly politics and performance. It is not surprising that in the midst of this period of distinctive dramatic achievement, frequent employment of theatrical metaphor and self-conscious theatricality were pervasive at court. Public and private theater flourished, and, despite the dubious social standing of their trade, players gained status as gentlemen within the households of the royal court. This highly theatrical court culture that emphasized revelry and spectacle, visual art and performance was integral to the performance of monarchy, the grandest of London venues.
McNamara, Gregory Vaughn, "'A Perfect Diamond Set in Lead': Henry, Prince of Wales and the Performance of Emergent Majesty." (2000). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9402.