‘Now published for the satisfaction of every true English heart’: The war over the Palatinate, Protestant identity, and subjecthood in British pamphlets, 1620-26
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This thesis explores the presentation of the war over the Rhine Palatinate in British printed pamphlets of the 1620s, looking at the relationship between writing and reading about the conflict and notions of religious and civic duty. It examines how printed news pamphlets, sermons and polemics dealt both with developing events in the Palatinate and with changes in British foreign policy. The importance of this conflict to British culture and politics has been widely debated. However, there has not been a study specifically charting the development of discourse about the Palatinate in cheap print. This thesis explores such texts within multiple contexts: political and military developments, Calvinist theology, and the British print market. It argues that pamphlets dealing with the Palatinate articulated subject positions which challenged royal notions of decorum, and promoted a model of active Protestant subjecthood. The first chapter contextualises the significance of the Palatinate to British Protestants, through an overview of the relationship between the two countries: from the 1613 marriage of the Elector Frederick V to Elizabeth, daughter of James I and VI, through Frederick’s doomed bid for the Bohemian crown and the resulting battle to recover his ancestral lands. James’s attempts to deal with the crisis through diplomacy met with dissatisfaction from many British subjects, who pushed instead for direct military action. The two central chapters deal with the period 1620-23, in which the defence of the Palatinate was largely in the hands of British volunteers; first examining the connection forged through printed ‘news from the Palatinate’, and then the ways in which polemical texts and printed sermons relate the conflict both to Calvinist eschatology and notions of subjecthood. The fourth and final chapter considers how these ideas developed through preparations for war with Spain in 1624, and the military and domestic upheavals during 1625-26.
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