“It Is Consent that Makes a Perfect Slave”
Love and Liberty in the Caroline Masque
Chapter Six studies to a genre that has often been understood as celebrating exactly the sort of voluntary enslavement that writers like Wroth examined: the Caroline masque. This chapter suggests that the politics of court entertainments look very different when we read them in terms of the erotic tradition traced in this book. To this end, this chapter examines several masques of the 1630s: Jonson’s Chloridia, Townshend’s Tempe Restored, Carew’s Coelum Britannicum, and Davenant’s Salmacida Spolia. It is usual to read Caroline spectacles as promoting a theory of monarchal absolutism. This chapter maintains instead that these masques function as a form of counsel for both Charles I and his elite subjects. On the one had, they remind Charles of the Elizabethan principle that kings rule with the consent of their people. On the other, these masques’ Petrarchan view of love warns subjects that the affection that should distinguish king from tyrant may just as easily convert loyal service into helpless slavery.
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