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The Patriot Opposition to WalpolePolitics, Poetry, and National Myth, 1725-1742$
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Christine Gerrard

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198129820

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198129820.001.0001

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Political Elizabethanism and the Spenser Revival

Political Elizabethanism and the Spenser Revival

(p.150) 6 Political Elizabethanism and the Spenser Revival
The Patriot Opposition to Walpole

Christine Gerrard

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the Elizabethan revival of the Robert Walpole era. Surprisingly little scholarship exists on one of the most inescapable features of this period: the widespread cult of Elizabeth I. Elizabeth's reign supplies the focal point for Bolingbroke's major political writings of the 1730s and historians have duly examined its significance. But most readings are confined to equating Bolingbroke's Elizabethan ‘nostalgia’ with his reactionary conservatism. The Elizabethan cult of the 1730s found expression in a wide variety of media, from the plethora of pamphlets generated by popular pressure for war with Spain, through to drama, painting, poetry, and statuary. For the aggressive, expansionist Protestant mercantilism associated with the victories of Cadiz and the Armada, an Elizabethanism shaped above all by pressure for war with Spain. But war with Spain was only one source of the complex patriotic manipulations of Elizabeth's golden age. Both Patriot Whigs and Court Whigs, operating from within a shared Protestant Hanoverian idiom which stressed the continuity of Protestant freedoms, competed over rival claims to represent ‘Elizabethan’ values.

Keywords:   Elizabeth I, Elizabethanism, Robert Walpole, Bolingbroke, mercantilism, Spain, Patriot Whigs, Court Whigs, drama, poetry

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