Preseruing the Memory of so Memorable an Action’: Narrative, Example, and Politics in Sir Anthony Sherley’s Relation of his Travels into Persia (1613)
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This thesis presents a detailed study of the seventeenth century diplomat Sir Anthony Sherley’s Relation of his Travels into Persia (1613). Sherley and his younger brother Robert travelled to Persia with a sizeable company of experienced English military officers who had originally been detailed to bolster the defences of Ferrara against an expected invasion by the Papal States in late 1597. Sherley remained in Persia for six months, which coincided with the Shah’s return from a military expedition that had effectively secured his eastern frontiers against invasion, and as he embarked on preparations for a war of reconquest against the Ottomans, which was seized on by Sherley and his brothers to produce a stream of books, assuming credit for the later outbreak of war between the Muslim powers. Anthony and Robert Sherley were celebrated for inciting the Persians to war against the Turks, and their reputation was cemented with the publication of John Day, William Rowley and George Wilkins’ play entitled Travails of the Three English Brothers (1607). Day, Rowley and Wilkins’ Travails, as well as the brothers’ persistent self-promotion through the medium of popular print, has led to the erroneous notion that they were responsible for the establishment of Anglo-Persian diplomatic relations. This thesis provides an account of Sir Anthony Sherley’s experiences prior to his journey to Persia, traces his shifting objectives as reflected in the clusters of texts published by and about the Sherley brothers, argues that his account was partly presented as an allegorical romance, and highlights the Machiavellian and Tacitean influences behind the Relation.
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