SPENSER'S TERRITORIAL HISTORY: BOOK V OF THE "FAERIE QUEENE" AND "A VIEW OF THE PRESENT STATE OF IRELAND".
AuthorMCLEAN, GEORGE EDWARD.
AdvisorUlreich, John C.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractHistory in Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene Book V and his View of the Present State of Ireland reflects the basic assumptions and characteristics of Elizabethan territorial history, a form observed in the geographic basis of chorography, in the metaphoric expression of the British past, and in the contemporary English enthusiasm for state, county, and city histories. William Lambarde's A Perambulation of Kent, the earliest English model for Spenser's territorial history, employs the antiquary's tentative empirical methodology in a study of sources newly freed of myth, legend, and unreliable antiquity. Accepting the developmental historical perspective of the territorial historians, Spenser in his View discusses the susceptibility of certain positive laws to the ravages of time and circumstance and argues for a reformation of those laws and their administration in Ireland. Similarly, justice in book V is a virtue of reformation that requires a "physician" who diagnoses, cures, and prescribes a diet of new, well-ordered laws for the patient-state, the primary danger to "recural" existing in laws abrogated or perverted since their inception. While accepting the workings of divine and natural law in history, Spenser focuses on the justiciar's secular role in terms of political more than providential causation, legal more than moral justice, and practical more than theoretical law. As England's first justiciar Artegall presents a righteous response to original tyranny in a prelegal society and acquits himself on the charges of "unmanly guile" and "reproachful cruelty" by representing human justice based on laws responsive to season. In the historical domains of Book V Arthur's presence exemplifies providence in human justice, Artegall's actions man's secular control over responsive lawmaking and territorial rebellion, and Radigund's tale the imposition of natural law on justice. The legal and topical content of Book V's poetic journeys suggest the territorial historian's "perambulation" in which Spenser's heroes learn the history of each canto's territory before a reforming justice can operate. As feigned antique history merges with topical event, the Legend of Justice becomes an innovative, optimistic, and uniquely Elizabethan glimpse of new territory.