"Dying Men's Wordes:" Treason, Heresy, and Scaffold Performances in Sixteenth-Century England

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Title: "Dying Men's Wordes:" Treason, Heresy, and Scaffold Performances in Sixteenth-Century England
Author: Bouldin, Elizabeth
Advisors: Dr. John Wall, Committee Member
Dr. Charles Carlton, Committee Chair
Dr. Dudley Marchi, Committee Member
Dr. James Banker, Committee Member
Abstract: Between 1535 and 1603, hundreds of people in Tudor England were executed as political traitors, religious traitors, or heretics. Most of these executions were public, and the state almost always gave its victims the opportunity to say a few last words. These scaffold speeches became popular during the sixteenth-century and were often printed in ?chapbook? or pamphlet form for those unable to attend the actual execution. The purpose of this thesis is to examine how scaffold performances evolved during the course of the sixteenth-century in response to legal, cultural, and religious changes. In forming their last speeches, convicted traitors and heretics projected an identity to the crowd and the scaffold authorities; they died either as repentant political traitors, Protestant martyrs, or Catholic martyrs. Those who died for crimes against the state came to give fundamentally different speeches from those who died for crimes against the state religion. Religious traitors and heretics also developed two distinct formulas for their scaffold performances depending on whether they were Catholic or Protestant. Only the crowd remained consistent in how it approached the scaffold; spectators continued to respond to individual performances rather than to ideologies.
Date: 2005-12-02
Degree: MA
Discipline: History
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/1256


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