Early modern literature played a key role in the formation of the legal justification for imperialism. In this insightful and ambitious study, Brian Lockey analyses how such authors as Shakespeare, Spenser and Sidney helped develop new legal discourses, and uncovers new contexts for the genre of romance.
Introduction: romance and the ethics of expansion; Part I. Romance and Law: 1. Transnational justice and the genre of Romance; 2. Natural law and charitable intervention in Sir Philip Sidney's Old Arcadia; 3. Natural law and corrupt lawyers: Riche, Roberts, Johnson, and Warner; 4. Spenser's legalization of the Irish conquest; Part II. The Prerogative Courts and the Conquest Within: 5. Historical contexts: common law, natural law, civil law; 6. Roman conquest and English legal identity in Cymbeline; 7. Love's justice and the freedom of Brittany in Lady Mary Wroth's Urania Part One; Conclusion: English law and the early modern Romance.
"The strength of this study is that it foregrounds a very lively and extremely compelling dialectic at the core of early modern British imperialism and shows how this pressure percolates up into literature of the period."
- Peter Kanelos, University of San Diego, Renaissance Quarterly
"To his credit Lockey's reading of the early modern romance tradition avoids any simplified narrative of literary development. Instead each writer is presented as balancing the potentially deep contradictions between nationalism, sovereignty, and the basic human rights possessed by both conqueror and conquered-as the English empire grew, so too did the complexity of its literary responses. This approach yields fresh readings of often somewhat neglected texts."
-Todd Butler, Early Modern Literary Studies
"Lockey's impulse to revivify the romance genre by placing it in wider context is laudable"
Sixteenth Century Journal, Andrew Kau, Yale University