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1IntroductionEdwin Starr asked in 1970, “war, what is it good for?” before answering his own question: “absolutely nothing.” War has, however, been good for satire. From Aristophanes’ The Acharnians to Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, satire is the long-favored literary medium for commenting on war. Attempts to define satire have often focused on its warlike violence—from Northrop Frye’s description of satire as “militant irony” to William R. Jones’s stance that “Satire was, and remains, a weapon,” satire is frequently figured as warfare.1 This essay considers how war and satire interacted in two early modern prose texts, Thomas Nashe’s The vnfortunate traueller (1594) and Thomas Dekker’s Worke for armorours (1609). In both texts, war is the foundation of the narrative and a backdrop for serious arguments about social conflict. Nashe’s narrator Jack Wilton begins his unfortunate travels across early sixteenth-century Europe in the military camp of Henry VIII before flying “like a crow that still followes aloofe where there is carrion” between battles across the continent.2 While Nashe depicts historical warfare, Dekker provides a war “likely to happin this yeare”—an allegorical battle between the queens of Money and Poverty, in which the armies, advisors, and strategies of each queen are carefully laid out.3Despite its integrality to the narrative, war is not the target of Nashe and Dekker’s satire. Instead, I argue that Nashe and Dekker’s use of war interacts with satire in two ways. The first is that sites of war, both literal and textual, function as vehicles for social satire—for Nashe this is located in the military camp and the body-strewn battlefield while for Dekker social satire is found in his allegorical warfare. The social satire presented by both writers targets a readership anxious about foreign belligerents by forcing them to recognize the enemy within as both texts see members of English society in conflict and allude to civil unrest. Second, war also functions in these texts as a formal re-enactment of the genre of satire, specifically Juvenalian farrago, or “mish-mash” and the suspension of social hierarchy associated with the carnivalesque. In Jones’ analysis of Elizabethan satire as an “activistic” and often reformative art, he argues that satire often used the “paradoxical, Carnival power to promote chaos in order to bring about order.”4 Satire is socially disruptive in order to be corrective. This essay argues that in Nashe and Dekker’s prose, war and satire intersect as both disrupt social cohesion as a means to correct social abuses.2War in Early Modern EnglandBefore we can understand how war functioned as a vehicle for social satire and, like satire, as a disruptive yet corrective force in Nashe and Dekker’s prose, we need to understand how it functioned literally in the society they were writing in. Warfare was a near-constant backdrop for early modern English writers. Jack S. Levy suggests that the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were the most “warlike” period of European history, noting that there were ongoing wars ninety-five percent of the time during these two centuries.5 The summer of 1593, when Nashe wrote The vnfortunate traueller, marked the beginning of the Nine Years’ War in Ireland, conflict in Spain continued in the Low Countries, and the threat of a second Armada loomed. Paul E.J. Hammer describes the period of 1589–94 as “deep war,” a period “when no end to the fighting seemed in sight and Elizabeth’s regime could only seek to endure, as new threats and commitments mounted up on all sides.”6 Even when foreign enemies were kept at bay, 1590s London was often a place of civil strife as economic and food riots plagued the decade.7Dekker was writing at a markedly different moment. Worke for armorours first appeared at the end of Dekker’s The seuen deadly sinnes of London (1606) under a separate section titled “Warres” and was republished separately in 1609. Two years before The seuen deadly sinnes was published, James I signed the Treaty of London, bringing an end to the nineteen-year conflict with Spain. Dekker was writing in the relief of peace after the period of “deep war” and uncertainty attached to the end of Elizabeth’s reign. But wars of religion and other conflicts still raged on the continent and the English appetite for news of war was insatiable, even in times of peace. Writing upon his return from Bohemia in 1620, where the Bohemian Revolt was taking place, the poet John Taylor complains about the discussions of battles in English taverns:And as for newes of battells, or of War,Were England from Bohemia thrice as far:Yet we do know (or seeme to know) more heereThen was, is, or will euer be knowne there.At Ordinaries, and at Barbers shopps,There tydings vented are, as thick as hopps,How many thousands such a day were slaine,What men of note were in the battell ta’ne,When, where, and how the bloody fight begun,And how such sconces, and such townes were won;How so and so the armies brauely met,And which side glorious victory did get:The month, the weeke, the day, the very houre8As Taylor suggests here, Londoners discussed the intricacies of recent battles at “Ordinaries” (inns and taverns) and at “Barbers shopps”—so much so, he remarks, that they seem to know more of the battle than those who had been there. Here, Taylor refers to oral war reportage. But the details of battles were also printed in pamphlets. David Randall suggests that “Military news was a spur to the production of news in general: an explosion of news pamphlets followed England’s entry into the war with Spain in 1585,” adding that even outside of periods of open war, “English readers expressed continuous interest in military news throughout this period, and associated it with the constant context of international religious strife.”9 Even in a time of peace such as when Dekker published Worke for armorours, news of wars abroad continued.Taylor’s comments remind us that war was entertainment as often as it was news, but in late Elizabethan and early Jacobean debates on the purpose of warfare, war could also be remedial. Writing in 1601, William Cornwallis echoed a typical viewpoint on the necessity of war as a “remedy” for the abuses associated with peace, despite the risk of death and dissolution:Warre is the remedy for a State surfetted with peace, it is a medicine for Common-wealths sicke of too much ease and tranquilitie, but that it carrieth a reforming nature, and is a part of iustice; yet is it better knowen then vsed, better to keepe in awe then to punish; for it can hardly bee taken vp or pacified, since it begets in Generals the two dangerous humours of reuenge and ambition; in the limmes obeying this head, dissolutenes and riot: betweene which, and the heate of contention, the innocent perish aswell as the guiltie, and in stead of reforming nations, they depopulate them.10Cornwallis argues that war is remedial, reformative, and corrective, but adds that the threat of war is better than its enactment, since real war brings with it “dissolutenes and riot” and loss of life. Francis Bacon echoes Cornwallis’s sentiment that war is remedial, arguing that “No Body can be healthfull without Exercise, neither Naturall Body, nor Politique: And certainly, to a Kingdome or Estate, a Iust and Honourable Warre, is the true Exercise. A Ciuill Warre, indeed, is like the Heat of a Feauer; But a Forraine Warre, is like the Heat of Exercise, and serueth to keepe the Body in Health: For in a Slothfull Peace, both Courages will effeminate, and Manners Corrupt.”11 In their medical metaphors for the value and purpose of warfare, both Cornwallis and Bacon suggest that peace can become a sickness akin to sloth, corruption, and effeminate excess—and war is the cure. At their most literal, these sentiments, Paul A. Jorgensen argues, reflect the Elizabethan practice of using conscription as a means to remove “economic misfits” to wars abroad.12 Elizabeth I had no standing army. Instead, England had militias made up of volunteers and conscripts. Many of the latter were prisoners, rogues, and vagabonds. Barnabe Rich, a professional soldier and writer, explains the process of musterers in London who “scoure their prisons of théeues, or their streates of roges and vagabondes … so they may haue them good cheape.”13 Rich complains that this practice leads to poor soldiering, but it was a cheap way to muster soldiers while also removing deviants from London. This is echoed by Nashe, who writes in 1593 that “There is a certaine waste of the people for whome there no vse, but warre: and these men must haue some employment to cut them off … If they haue no seruice abroad, they will make mutinies at home.”14 If the “dissolutenes and riot” that Cornwallis warns of are inevitable, better they take place in the “exercise” of foreign wars rather than the “Feauer” of civil wars. And by relocating potentially rebellious portions of English society to foreign battlefields, hierarchy and order could be more easily maintained at home.Despite the professed socially corrective function of war, the reality of war and its aftermath in early modern England paints a different picture. An understanding of contemporary anxieties surrounding the destabilizing effect of gunpowder on the field and the presence of veteran soldiers at home in England shows us that war could be just as socially disruptive as it was corrective. The widespread use of gunpowder transformed the early modern battlefield. In his 1598 military treatise, Robert Barret writes, “then was then, and now is now; the wars are much altered since the fierie weapons first came vp: the Cannon, the Musket, the Caliuer and Pistoll.”15 Aside from its effect on the physical reality of wars, many writers of the period displayed anxiety surrounding gunpowder’s destabilizing effect on the social order of the battlefield. In Don Quixote (1605), Miguel de Cervantes, who was permanently crippled by a bullet wound, laments the rise of gunpowder and guns,Happy were those blessed times that lacked the horrifying fury of the diabolical instruments of artillery, whose inventor, in my opinion, is in hell, receiving the reward for his accursed invention, which allows an ignoble and cowardly hand to take the life of a valiant knight.16The “valiant knight,” trained in swordsmanship and filled with courage, once held superiority on the battlefield, but this changed with the arrival of artillery. Now, even the bravest knight can be killed by a “stray shot” fired by an “ignoble” coward. Cervantes not only laments the brutality of modern warfare, but also complains of the loss of hierarchy on the field. Gunpowder, and the new forms of warfare that came with it, was a leveler. This anxiety was felt acutely by English writers upon Philip Sidney’s death from a bullet wound in the Low Countries in 1586. In his elegy for Sidney, Angel Day describes the “Dulket shot,” which rose from the battlefield, “leuelling iust against the worthie knight.”17 Day, like Cervantes, bemoans the loss of hierarchy on the field that gunpowder and the gradual erasure of hand-to-hand combat create. These concerns were felt in practical and literary military texts of the period. Analyzing the popularity of the chivalric romance in the early modern period, a genre tied to Sidney that often prized individualized acts of heroism over the massy anonymity of gunpowder-fuelled warfare, Sheila J. Nayar asks, “how did one assert knightly courage in the face of the proverbial “meaner” sort with a loaded musket?”18 Day’s and Cervantes’s complaints reflect a wider concern that the changing military landscape and the increased use of gunpowder disrupted the social hierarchy of the battlefield.Warfare caused disruption to social order at home in England too. As A.L. Beier shows, “no occupational groups increased as much as sailors and soldiers among vagrants from 1560 to 1640,” especially since, as discussed above, many had already been recruited from “the poor and criminal classes.”19 If, at best, they had been conscripted from honest jobs, it was still unlikely that employment would be waiting for them upon their return, especially for those disabled from battle injuries.20 These soldiers’s training in military violence coupled with the difficulty of reintegrating them into society meant many turned to crime to support themselves.21 Poor, disabled, and potentially dangerous, an underclass of impoverished veterans was present in early modern London. With them came the threat of social unrest. Despite Cornwallis’s, Bacon’s, and Nashe’s claims that war could temper social abuses at home, largely by preventing civil unrest, early modern war was rife with social disruption which was felt as much by those at home as by those on the battlefield.Early modern war was regarded as both disruptive and corrective, a paradox found in theorizations of satire in this period too. Cornwallis’s and Bacon’s medical metaphors for war’s remedial capabilities are mirrored in contemporary discussions of satire’s similarly corrective function. As John Dryden writes in 1681:The true end of Satyre, is the amendment of Vices by correction; And he who writes honestly, is no more an enemy to the Offender, than the Physitian to the Patient, when he prescribes harsh Remedies to an inveterate Disease … If the Body Politick have any Analogy to the Natural, in my weak judgment, an Act of Oblivion were as necessary in a Hot, distemper’d State, as an Opiate would be in a raging Fever.22Dryden was writing much later than Nashe and Dekker, but his metaphor comes, as Mary Claire Randolph has shown, from a long-standing early modern tradition of likening satire’s corrective function to medical treatment.23 What Dryden, Cornwallis, and Bacon’s metaphors also share is the “harsh,” “raging,” and feverish properties of war and satire’s remedies, suggesting that in order to correct disorder and disruption, further disorder and disruption is needed. This paradox has been recognized in Jones’ study of the employment of the carnivalesque in Elizabethan satire, which also disrupts social order as a means to correct it.24There is a tension in these suggestions that war and satire can be both disruptive and corrective. As argued by Cornwallis, the potential of war is better than the reality of it, since war “can hardly bee taken vp or pacified.”25 How do war and satire disrupt and correct social abuses and, once the disruption has begun, can it be stopped? This tension is explored by Nashe and Dekker, who both use war as a vehicle for social satire in their prose while meditating on the remedial possibilities of both war and satire.3Thomas NasheWar drives the narrative of the first half of The vnfortunate traueller. Nashe’s narrator, Jack Wilton, moves across military camps, famous battles, and jousting tournaments in a fictionalized account of a journey across early sixteenth-century Europe. The satiric vein of these scenes has often been located in Nashe’s textual parodies—Wilton’s narration mimics historical chronicles, travel narratives, and chivalric romance.26 This generic “medley” is linked by Ann Rosalind Jones to the Bakhtinian “comic reversals of carnival, and the juxtaposition of serious and comic modes in Menippean satire.”27 But the targets of Nashe’s satire are not solely literary. Closer inspection of the military components of The vnfortunate traueller show war to be a vehicle for social satire, in which the reader is confronted by conflict between compatriots rather than foreign belligerents. The social warfare that takes place disrupts and confuses social hierarchies, creating a mingling of persons akin to the “mingling of forms” and “mish-mash” associated with satire as well as the temporary suspension of hierarchy found in the carnivalesque.28 Ultimately, as Jones argues, “carnivalesque mockery of social orthodoxies is allowable only in the service of supporting, rather than undermining, those orthodoxies.”29 Nashe employs both satire and war as two disruptive forces that upend social order with the intention to correct it.The locus of Nashe’s social satire, where social order can be undermined with ease, is a space that should be one of compatriotism and strict hierarchy—the English military camp. With almost all of Wilton’s experiences as an “unfortunate traveler” taking place abroad, critics have often read Nashe’s work as foregrounding the threat of “foreignness” compared to the safety of “Englishness.”30 But in the camp, Wilton is surrounded by the English and the “enemy” is often found within as compatriots, including Wilton, feud and undermine each other, disrupting the social hierarchy.Hierarchy and enclosure were key components of the early modern military camp. Nina Taunton’s study of camp diagrams in military treatises in this period shows us that camps were minutely designed to be both securely enclosed and “to enable the effective exercise of power.”31 Camps were organized according to rank, and the maintenance of civil order was an essential part of governing a camp. Early modern military writers often compared the inner structure of the military camp to a city, such as in one 1589 treatise, which states that the camp should:shew like a little Citie, equally deuided, and aptly distributed, aswell for the lodgings, as for the publike places, so that to liken it wholly vnto a Citie, there would be no other difference, but that the stuffe whereof the walles and houses are built would bee different, for the one is mooueable, and the others do not sturre from their place, for in the other points they haue many things alike: and also a campe must be gouerned by lawes as a Citie is.32Not only should military camps be structured like cities, they should be governed accordingly. And it was not only soldiers that needed to be governed in these mobile cities. The early modern military camp was, as Geoffrey Parker and Angela Parker explain, a “vast moving city with its own community life” and with its own “shops, services and families.”33 As well as soldiers, there were sutlers, servants, women, and children in the military camp, known as the “baggage train,” which, at times, could outnumber the size of the actual army.34 Populated by shops, taverns, and civilians, the military camp had much in common with city life. Despite being a temporary structure built abroad, society within the military camp was a reflection of urban society at home.The comparison between the camp and the city is readily made by Wilton as well. Wilton explains that “Whosoeuer is acquainted with the state of a campe, vnderstands that in it be many quarters, & yet not so many as on London bridge.”35 The comparison between London and the military camp alerts readers that although the military camp is located in France, it should be read as a microcosm of London. As John Twyning suggests, London was an increasingly cramped social space in which poverty and wealth existed “cheek-by-jowl.”36 The camp is smaller than London and so, we might imagine, is even more confined. The “quarters” that designate social standing, be they the soldier’s huts or the king’s tent, are physically adjoined. In The vnfortunate traueller, the supposedly strict hierarchical boundaries of the structure of the camp are shown to be porous, as social spaces collapse into each other.The merging of social spaces is made clear in the opening paragraph of The vnfortunate traueller. Wilton tells readers that he follows two spaces in his travels: the court and the camp. This pairing offers a useful frame for understanding how Nashe uses the military camp as a space in which social hierarchies are mangled and disrupted. Wilton tells his audience that he “followed the campe or the court, or the court & the camp.”37 In the first instance, the court and the camp define the binary structure of the text: Wilton begins at the “camp” as he follows great battles around Europe for the first half of the text before heading to the “court” when he travels across Italy with the English courtier, the Earl of Surrey, on the earl’s mission to woo his lover. But the “court” and the “camp” are also repeatedly collapsed in The vnfortunate traueller, specifically within the military camp. Wilton’s initial mention of these spaces begins by separating the supposedly opposed spaces of the lowly battle camp and high king’s court with “or” but quickly merges them together with an ampersand. The “court & the camp” is a space that is at once opposed and elided, resulting in a satiric space where social order is often upended. Nashe’s choice of the military camp, where the court and camp were physically adjoined—the king and his advisors are within walking distance of the lowly soldiers—is a deliberate starting point for this narrative.In the confined space of the military camp, the social divide between the court and the camp is less clearly defined. Wilton tells us that, “In those quarters [of the camp] are many companies: Much companie, much knauerie, as true as that olde adage, Much curtesie, much subtiltie” (Sig. B1v). “Companie” refers to the soldiers of the camp, who perform “knauerie” and these are paralleled against the “curtesie” of the court and its “subtiltie.”38 Wilton’s use of “knauerie” and “subtiltie” marks a social difference between the actions of those at the camp versus those at the court but ultimately suggests that both engage in acts of deception. And the military camp and court, despite existing on the peripheries of the ‘real’ battles, are shown to be rife with conflict as well.Much of this social conflict is initiated by Wilton himself. Wilton is, to follow Samuel Fallon’s definition, a satiric persona, much in the way that Nashe’s other “reflexive author figure” often is—Pierce Penilesse.39 Fallon defines satiric personae as characters that “arise along boundaries, as characters that point beyond themselves, to a world outside of any particular text—and that, in the process, invite others to reimagine them” (7). As a literal and textual hanger-on, an “appendix or page” in Wilton’s own words, Wilton embodies the type of peripheral, highly mobile satiric persona common in prose in this period.40 Wilton’s function as a satiric persona is coupled with his function in the camp as the embodiment of both war and satire, since he also disrupts social order at the camp as a way to remedy it.Wilton manipulates the social melting pot of the military camp first to enact a carnivalesque reversal of social hierarchy. He positions himself as “sole king of the cans and black iackes, prince of the pigmeis, countie pallaine of cleane strawe and prouant, and to conclude, Lord high regent of rashers of the coles and red herring cobs” (Sig. B1r). Merging positions of status—king, prince, county palatine, and “Lord high regent”—with the quotidian parts of the battle camp he rules over—drink, food, straw, and “pigmeis” (small people)—Wilton becomes, as Mihoko Suzuki argues, an “alternative authority” in the camp.41 This continues when Wilton describes his relationship to the other soldiers:the prince could but command men spend theyr bloud in his seruice, I coulde make them spend all the monie they had for my pleasure … I was prince of their purses, and exacted of my vnthrift subiects, as much liquid allegeance as anie keisar in the world could do.42Wilton’s claiming of authority in the camp also provides social satire. His linking of his position over the soldiers of the camp with that of the king highlights the parasitic nature of both of these relationships. The king extracts blood from his subjects; Wilton extracts money—both forms of “liquid allegeance.” The metaphor also suggests that monetary exchange in the military camp is akin to the “exchange” of blood on the battlefield, in effect revealing a different kind of warfare in England, as lords and subjects prey on each other. Extracting blood for military service and money for “pleasure” are two forms of such behavior, only differing in that the former is enacted by the “court” and the latter by the “camp.” Either way, the figures who are leeching, stealing from, and attacking those around them are not the foreign enemies but fellow compatriots.Wilton’s actions at the camp further emphasize that the driving conflicts are not those initiated by warring belligerents on the battlefield but by members of society. Wilton’s function as a satiric persona means he enacts the “vilification, ridicule or mockery” often associated with satire and he does so to target English compatriots rather than foreign enemies.43 We see this when Wilton gulls several members of the camp, which is made up of a collection of personae akin to the stock characters of Roman satires—braggart soldiers, money-grabbing sutlers, and parasites. Wilton’s first target is a greedy sutler who runs an alehouse. Wilton convinces him that the king believes him to be a spy and that he should be “liberall” with his cider amongst the “poore souldiers” if he wishes to win back the King’s affections. This gulling results in cheap drink for all the common soldiers at the camp:But the next daie I thinke we had a dole of syder, syder in houles, in scuppets, in helmets, & to conclude, if a man would haue fild his bootes full, there hee might haue had it, prouant thrust it selfe into poore souldiers pockets whether they would or no. We made fiue peals of shot into the towne together, of nothing but spiggots and faussets of discarded emptie barrels: euerie vnderfoote souldiour had a distenanted tunne, as Diogenes had his tub to sléepe in. I my selfe got as many confiscated Tapsters aprons, as made me a Tent, as bigge as any ordinarie commanders in the field.44This scene transforms the military camp into a carnivalesque tavern. The soldiers’ armor, from their helmets to their boots, become drinking vessels and the empty barrels are likened to shot being hurled into the nearby town. Wilton even manages to acquire the tapster’s (the barman’s) apron and make a tent out of it—one as big as a military commander’s tent. Wilton’s subversive position as a “king” or “commander” at the camp is part of the wider confusion of high and low taking place. Members of the military camp are all grasping for power, foregrounded when Wilton remarks that captaincies are only granted to those with a “cappe in hand”—in other words, willing to beg to their superiors. After tricking the alehouse keeper, Wilton’s next target is an “vgly mechanical Captaine”—“mechanical” in reference to his status-seeking aspirations—by manipulating his desperation for recognition (Sig B4v). Wilton tricks the captain into entering the enemy camp as a spy and pretending to be a defector. The plan leads to the captain’s torture by both the French and the English, an example of the “extreme” punishment commonly found in satire.45 The violence inflicted by both Wilton and the English on allies within the camp urges readers to consider where the real enemy lies. The military camp is full of these hangers-on, parasites, and ‘mechanical’ aspirants, and, as Wilton’s likening of the camp to London suggests, these warring men exist in London as well.In the satiric space of the military camp, Wilton’s gulling is often to fool and humiliate those who seek to raise their station. The alehouse owner claims to be from “an ancient house” and the “armes of his ancestrie” are “drawen very amiably in chalke, on the in side of his tent doore.”46 The captain is a mechanical aspirant, easily tricked into embarking on a foolhardy mission in the hopes it will impress his superiors. Wilton’s claiming of an alternative and disruptive authority in the camp is one that seeks to punish those who would themselves disrupt the hierarchy of the camp and English society more broadly. War and the camp may be shown to collapse social hierarchy in The vnfortunate traueller, but Wilton’s gulling is a way to correct it.The social confusion threatened in the camp and the violent means needed to correct it come to fruition when Wilton and the readers move from the camp to the battlefield. Leaving the relative safety of the camp to witness a real battle, the quashing of the Anabaptist rebellion, Wilton’s description tells us that any remnants of social distinction apparent in the camp are blurred further in the mass of bodies on the field:all theyr weapons so slaying, empiercing, knocking downe, shooting through, ouerthrowing, dissoule ioyned not halfe so many, as the hailing thunder of their great ordenance: so ordinary at euerie footstep was the imbrument of iron in bloud, that one could hardly discerne heads from bullettes, or clottered haire from mangled flesh hung with gore.p. E2vDespite his extended attack on the Anabaptists and eager support of their impending doom in the pages preceding the battle, once the bloodshed begins Wilton cannot tell the difference between victor and loser due to the confusion of body parts and weaponry on the field. In The vnfortunate traueller, places, bodies, and social roles are destabilized and “mangled” and on the battlefield all distinction is lost. Like Wilton’s satirical gulling of ambitious members of the military camp, war quashes disruption and rebellion by creating even more discord.The mangling enacted by war in The vnfortunate traueller is not only an opportunity for Nashe’s satiric persona, Wilton, to gull stock characters in the military camp or to revel in grotesque battle scenes, it is also analogous to satire itself. The Roman satirist Juvenal, who Nashe was readily associated with by his contemporaries, describes his satires as farrago—variously defined as “hotch-potch,” “mish-mash,” “cattle-cake,” and “pigswill,” and even an allusion to the genre’s etymological links with the Latin satura, meaning both verse satire and a mixture or medley of food.47 In The vnfortunate traueller, the mish-mash of food is exchanged for a mish-mash of bodies, alluding to the earlier confusion of social bodies in the military camp where a hanger-on like Wilton can become a king. Mangled bodies are not the only enactment of farrago in The vnfortunate traueller. The chronology of the text is likewise a “mish-mash” of historical episodes. The sieges of Thérouanne and Turney, where the narrative starts, and the French-Swiss battle at Marignano that Wilton travels to next both took place in 1513. The defeat of the Anabaptists in Münster, which Wilton witnesses immediately after Marignano, took place in 1535. At the end of the narrative, Wilton witnesses a royal summit between Henry VIII and Francis I of France, the Field of Cloth and Gold, which took place in 1520. In The vnfortunate traueller, history itself becomes as mangled and indiscernible as the bodies on the battlefield.In The vnfortunate traueller, sites of war are vehicles for social satire that also enact the genre itself, in which mingled forms, bodies, and persons disrupt established hierarchies. But despite Wilton’s attempts to generate social conflict in the camp as a means to remedy it, neither Wilton’s satiric disruption nor the literal confusion and dissolution of bodies on the battlefield offer a cure. After his account of the battle at Münster, Wilton says, “This tale must at one time or other giue vp the ghost, and as good now as stay longer, I would gladly rid my hands of it cleanly if I could tell how.”48 Wilton moralizes his own account of the violence, switching between reveling in the grotesque details of war and chastising his inability to “rid [his] hands of it.” Yet before Wilton can pursue a line of thought that might remedy the horrors he has witnessed and give both the war and this satirical text their didactic end, imagined questions from his listeners urge Wilton to continue with his grotesque accounts of war:What is there more as touching this tragedie that you would be resolued of? saie quickly, for now my pen is got vpon his féet again: how I. Leiden dide, is yt it? he dide like a dog, he was hanged and the halter paid for. For his companions, do they trouble you? I can tel you they troubled some men before, for they were all kild, and none escapt, no not so much as one to tel the tale of the rainbow.p. E2rThe battle scenes in The vnfortunate traueller are intentionally voyeuristic and sensationalist, but Wilton’s suggestion that it is the probing reader that gets his pen “vpon his féet again” places culpability in the reader’s desire for violence over moralization. Despite contemporary assertions that war was remedial and that satire could be reformative, Wilton’s comedic inability to resolve the chaos surrounding him pessimistically exhausts the possibility that either may work as a social corrective.The target of Nashe’s satire shifts from a society at war, to the reader eagerly consuming sensationalist conflict and biting satires under the guise of both war’s and satire’s promised remedial and didactic ends. These themes are repeated in Nashe’s earlier reflection on his satirical pamphlet ‘wars’ with Gabriel Harvey, of which Nashe writes:Were there no warres, poore men should haue no peace,Vncessant warres with waspes and droanes I crie:Hee that begins, oft knows not how to cease,They haue begun, Ile follow till I die.Ile heare no truce, wrong gets no graue in mee,Abuse pell mell encounter with abuse:Write hee [Harvey] againe, Ile write eternally.Who feedes reuenge hath found an endlesse Muse.49War and satire are inseparable for Nashe as both encompass a ceaseless cycle of conflict. Just as Cornwallis feared that war, even when used as a remedy, cannot be pacified, Nashe connects his satirical pamphlet wars to literal wars through his and Harvey’s inability to make peace. Later in his career, Nashe, like Wilton, shifts culpability to his readers, as he writes that readers of his quarrel, “care not how they set Haruey and mee on fire one against another, or wher vs on to consume our selues.”50 Goaded by each other and their readers, Nashe and Harvey are akin to belligerents in a war who are unwilling to retreat, feeding the reading public’s insatiable hunger for war, both literal and literary.The wars in The vnfortunate traueller are often literary, metaphorical, or take place in a historic England already distant enough to be the “true subiect of Chronicles,” but in Nashe’s “war” with Harvey, the only shots fired are paper bullets.51 Still, real wars weighed heavily on the minds of many subjects in 1590s England. Not only was this a period, as Hammer suggests, of “deep war” with the constant threat of foreign invasion, it was also one marked by the threat of civil strife, as economic riots plagued 1590s England. Though Nashe’s use of “Vncessant warres” in Strange newes refers to his literary feud with Harvey, it also points to Nashe’s broader satirization of the incessant warfare, both foreign and civil, felt by Elizabethan subjects at this time. Nashe’s satirization of war and satire in The vnfortunate traueller and during his feud with Harvey may present it as cyclical, inevitable, and even productive, but the mangled bodies on the battlefield and Nashe’s remark that he and Harvey would consume themselves in fire before making peace present the hollow aftermath of warfare.Responding to Nashe and Harvey’s pamphlet war in 1606, Thomas Dekker described Nashe as one “from whose aboundant pen, hony flow’d to thy friends, and mortall Aconite to thy enemies: thou that madest the Doctor [Harvey] a flat Dunce, and beat’st him at two sundry tall Weapons, Poetrie, and Oratorie.”52 The “two sundry tall Weapons” are a reference to the pike and long gun, placing Nashe and Harvey’s literary war on the early modern battlefield. With a writing career that spanned the end of Elizabeth’s life and the entirety of James I’s reign, Dekker often responded to ongoing wars abroad, civil unrest in London, and conflicts between Catholics and Protestants. As far as we know, Dekker never served in the military. He spent his life in London, working as a playwright and pamphleteer who, given his seven-year stint in debtor’s prison, was more likely to be bearing the brunt of civil law rather than serving it. But Dekker often situated his writing in the realm of warfare. He wrote in 1608 that pen and ink were more dangerous weapons than guns and powder, suggesting instead that “The Pen is the Piece that shootes, Inck is the powder that carries, and Wordes are the Bullets that kill.”53 And Dekker did not only inherit this conception of writing-as-warfare from Nashe; he was a keen satirist too. For Dekker, war offered an opportunity to satirize conflicts between the rich and poor in London and further comment on war and satire’s shared properties of disruption and correction.4Thomas DekkerWhile Nashe exposes social warfare through a satiric mingling of forms and the failed remedial powers of incessant war, Dekker uses social conflict as the foundation of his narrative in Worke for armorours (1609). In this allegorical war between Money and Poverty, social groups mingle and divide in unexpected ways as both literal war and social war damage social cohesion. As discussed earlier, Dekker’s two printings of this prose text came at renewed times of peace. James I’s accession in 1603 had been more peaceful than expected. In 1604, England made peace with Spain and began to withdraw from the war in the Low Countries, the Dutch Revolt, and in 1609 a ceasefire between the Low Countries and Spain ended the forty-year conflict.54 As we have seen, peace abroad could be a catalyst for social unrest at home. Dekker addresses his text directly to the soldiers who fought in the Dutch Revolt, but he does not celebrate their return:You haue for a long time scarce made sauing voyages into the Field: So far as the Red Sea (of bloud) haue you venturde, and yet instead of Purchasing Glory, haue brought home nothing but Contempt and Beggary, or at least little or no money. The Hollander and the Spaniard haue bene (and I thinke still are) your best Lords and Maisters: If euer Captaines did pray, they haue prayed for them onely. Cutlers and Armorers, haue got more by them within these few yeares, then by any fowre Nation (besides them) in Christendome all their whole liues … Yet euen those Dutch warres, haue bene vnto you that seru’d in them, but as wares in these dead times are to Merchants and Tradsemen: you were the richer for hauing them in your hands.55The returning soldier should be greeted with glory and respect, but Dekker highlights how, more often, they return to “Contempt and Beggary,” signaling the ongoing poverty and vagrancy amongst veterans. The subtitle of Worke for armorours is The peace is broken[:] Open warres likely to happin this yeare 1609. Referencing the recent peace achieved in Europe, Dekker’s text functions as both a battle report, and as an almanac—a prediction of what is to come. Dekker published a satirical almanac in the same year, The ravens almanacke (1609), which predicts several civil wars, one between “Lawyers and their clyants, and Westminster-hall is the field where it shall be fought,” another between players, and, finally, an uprising against the “Merces, Silkemens and Gold-smithes” of Cheapside.56 Almanacs were a genre of cheap print that Dekker could adopt as a vehicle for social satire. Worke for armorours, from its dedication to soldiers to its detailed battle report, combines the almanac form with that of the military text. In both works, Dekker leverages cultural anxieties surrounding civil unrest and clashes between the rich and poor by using established textual forms, almanacs and military books, and a satiric authorial persona that slides between mock battle reporter and social satirist. But it is in Worke for armorours that the predicted social war comes to a head as the queens of Money and of Poverty battle one another.Dekker does not state in the opening paratexts that the “war” in Worke for armorours is an allegorical one between “Money” and “Poverty,” but he sets up hostility between the two immediately in his address to soldiers. These impoverished ex-soldiers are placed in opposition to those who benefit financially from war—“Cutlers and Armorers” and “Merchants and Tradsemen.” Here, Dekker’s stance on war and the ex-soldier’s position in society marks a shift from his earlier pamphlet The wonderfull yeare (1603), in which the peaceful ascension of James I is praised as Dekker writes, “by this time King James is proclaimed … the Souldier now hangs up his armor, and is glad that he shall feede upon the blessed fruites of peace.”57 In this instance, “the Souldier” refers broadly to the military action of England, which acts as a collective soldier returning from battle. England may collectively be enjoying the fruits of peace, but as Dekker suggests in his direct address to soldiers, peacetime was not so rewarding for individual military men. For many veterans, peace brought poverty rather than “blessed fruites.”The vagrant veteran, often disabled and living in poverty, was a common sight on the streets of London. Dekker had already used the veteran character in his dramatic works. In The shomakers holiday, Ralph, a conscripted soldier, returns from France disabled—“lamde by the warres”—and discovers his wife is to marry someone else.58 In the final act, the other shoemakers rescue Ralph’s wife from her would-be husband, Hammon; a moment Linda Woodbridge argues “must have brought cheers from public theater audiences.”59 Though the plight of the impoverished ex-soldier elicits audience sympathy here, these men were a source of anxiety for many. As outlined above, given their previous work, ex-soldiers were thought more prone to violence than other sorts of vagrants. They were trained in handling weapons and had been known to incite civil unrest throughout the sixteenth century.60 But in 1609, Dekker predicts work for these soldiers, ending his address, “But be of good courage, the wind shifts his point … For in this present yeare of 1609 drummes will be strucke vp, and cullors spread, vnder which you may all fight, and all haue good pay.”61 Sending veterans, vagrants, and criminals to war was a long-standing method used to clear the prisons and streets of undesirables in early modern England, but it was necessary that these wars be abroad. Dekker’s promise of work for soldiers becomes increasingly anxiety-inducing when it becomes apparent that this war could be taking place at home, in England.The location of the war “likely to happin this yeare” in Worke for armorours is never specified, but when Dekker’s main text opens with a reflection on various metaphorical wars taking place in plague-time London, the English reader can easily situate it at home. The first “war” is the plague, which is “still marking the people of this Cittie, (euery weeke) by hundreds for the graue,” causing the citizens and the city itself to become “mourners” and “their cheekes (like cowardly Souldiers) [to] haue lost their colours” (Sig. B1r). In search of entertainment, Dekker visits London’s Beargarden and encounters a second metaphorical domestic war where the animals “play their Tragi-Comaedies as liuely as euer they did” (Sig. B1v). Continuing his theme from his address to soldiers of pitting the poor against the wealthy, Dekker likens their conflict to the battles between the dogs and beasts in the Beargarden—“for the Beares, or the Buls fighting with the dogs, was a liuely representation (me thought) of poore men going to lawe with the rich and mightie” (Sig. B2r). The dogs represent the poor because they have “nothing” and are so often crushed by their stronger adversaries—the rich. But Dekker then shifts the plight of the poor onto the bear itself, which he likens to the “leading of poore starued wretches to the whipping posts in London (when they had more neede to be reléeued with foode)” (Sig. B2r). The following scene at the Beargarden, in which a clothed ape enters riding a donkey, calls to mind for Dekker, “the infortunate condition of Soldiers,” whom he likens to the donkey that is forced to carry “apish beastly and ridiculous vices” of those proclaimed “great”—the powerful instigators of war (Sig. B2v). The impoverished ex-soldiers, economic inequality, and even food shortages that were pervasive in London at this time all unfold in this scene as Dekker observes the conflict between the poor and rich theatrically played out in a mock-civil-war between the animals and their baiters.Worke for armorours sets up its allegorical war between Money and Poverty by portraying an early modern London at war with itself, with baiters and animals dramatizing tensions between the rich and poor in the cramped, plague-ridden city. After wearying of these mock wars, Dekker returns home and sits at his window reading “Histories”—tales of battles that he can witness “without danger to [his] selfe” (Sig. B2v). This reading is interrupted when the metaphorical wars that Dekker witnessed in London are manifested: “on a suddaine all the aire was filled with noise … But at the last drummes were heard to thunder, and trumpets to sound alarums, murmure ran vp & downe euery streete, and confusion did beate at the gates of euery City” (Sig. B3r). The text shifts from plague-time London to the promised war, one that Dekker puts in the context of civil wars when he compares it to the War of the Roses, “The showers of bloud which once rained downe vpon the heads of the two kingly families in England, neuer drowned more people” (Sig. B4v). The war that Dekker goes on to describe may be allegorical, but his extended treatment of plague-time London as a space full of conflict between rich and poor and the lack of a boundary between Dekker reading by his window and the outbreak of civil strife on the streets urges readers to understand this war as taking place at home, rather than at a safe enough distance to be observed “without danger.”Dekker’s description of the two sides of this allegorical war also allows him to use war as a vehicle for social satire. The two warring queens, Money and Poverty, and their councils made up of allegorical figures, including Discontent, Hunger, Sloth, Industry, and Despair for Poverty and Covetousness, Deceit, and Usury for Money, evoke the personification of abstract qualities found in medieval allegory, but along with his initial urban setting, Dekker’s descriptions of these warring armies repeatedly reminds readers that this war should be understood in an English, civil context (Sigs. C2v-D3r). Anna Bayman suggests that “Sly references to the characters of Elizabeth’s councillors lurk in Dekker’s descriptions of Poverty’s advisers” while James I’s court is mirrored in Money’s court.62 Money’s court is certainly tied to excess and idleness—we are told that her councilors ask her to refrain from her usual “reuellings, maskes, and other Court-pleasures” during war. These activities are not unlike the abuses of peacetime that Cornwallis and Bacon suggest must be remedied with war, and link a peaceful, yet idle, Jacobean court to Money’s revelry. This link suggests that both James I’s and Money’s courts need the fevered exercise of war to correct their excesses.Another catalyst for the war in Worke for armorours is the widened gap between rich and poor created by “the golden mines of the west & east Indies,” which have inflated Money’s pride and greed.63 As a result, Money banishes the subjects of Poverty from her cities and instructs her subjects to exclude them:[Money] on the soddaine, (most treacherously and most tyrannously) laboured by all possible courses, not onely to driue the subiects of Pouerty from hauing commerce in any of her rich & so populous Cities … Hereupon strict proclamation went thundring, vp and downe her dominions, charging her wealthy subiects, not to negotiate any longer with those beggers, that flocke dayly to her kingdome, strong guards were planted at euery gate, to barre their entrance into Cities.p. C1rIn an act that reverses the social “mish-mash” of both early modern London and the scenes in Nashe’s military camp, Money resorts to an extreme form of social stratification that forcibly divides social classes. If war and satire enact necessary disruptions of social hierarchies with an aim to correct them, Money’s desire to widen the divide between rich and poor to the point of physically barring Poverty’s subjects from entering her cities is a rejection of this restorative process. The response to this rejection is swift as rather than running in fear, Poverty’s subjects:grew desperate, and sticking closely, (like Prentises vpon Shrouetuesday one to another, they vowed (come death, come diuels) to stand against whole bands of browne rusty bille men, though for their labours they were sure to be knockt downe like Oxen for the slaughter; but a number of Iack-strawes being amongst them, and opening whole Cades of councell in a cause so dangerous, they were all turned to dry powder, took fire of resolution, and so went off with this thundring noise, that they would dy like men, though they were but poore knaues, and counted the stinkards and scum of the world: and yet as rash as they were, they would not run headlong vpon the mouth of the Canon.p. C2vAlthough Money and Poverty are presented as two different nations, Dekker invokes a range of anxieties about civil uprising and social disruption at home in England. Poverty’s subjects are linked to gunpowder, as their rashness and eagerness to fight makes their constitution akin to quick-burning gunpowder as they turned to “dry powder,” “took fire,” and “went off with this thundring noise.” Gunpowder’s socially disruptive potential is embodied by Poverty’s subjects. This passage also evokes real civil uprisings that were prominent in the English early modern cultural imagination. Dekker first likens Poverty’s subjects to “Prentises vpon Shrouetuesday,” a reminder of the regular apprentice riots during Shrovetide and other periods of carnival festivity.64 The ignition of the rebellious spark, we are told, is a “number of Iack-strawes” amongst the poor who opened “whole Cades of councell.” A jackstraw is a term for a “worthless, insignificant, or contemptible man,” and it is these men that open “cades,” or barrels (another reference to gunpowder), of counsel to their compatriots to encourage them to fight.65 Dekker’s use of “Jack,” “Straw,” and “Cade” have additional cultural resonances, since they conjure in the minds of English readers the names of Jack Straw, one of the leaders of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt, and Jack Cade, the leader of the eponymous 1450 popular revolt. These nods again remind readers that this war is taking place at home in England, and is rooted in civil discord rather than foreign conflict. Money’s attempts to peaceably enforce social hierarchy has generated not just disruption, but a civil uprising.The allegorical battle of Worke for armorours ends in a ceasefire and a necessary return to the status quo. The divide between poverty and wealth continues as Dekker concludes, “Shop-keepers fell to their old, What doe you lacke: The rich men feast one another (as they were wont) and the poore were kept poore still in pollicy, because they should doe no more hurt.”66 The conflict has ended in a fashion unusual to satire—with an anti-climactic ceasefire in which neither side is punished. Yet Dekker also adds that following the truce, Money and Poverty formed “two Nations so mighty and so mingled together, and so dispersed into all parts of the world, that it was impossible to seuer them” (G3r). The status quo that is returned to is one of “mingled” civil union, in which confusion and conflict between rich and poor are as necessary as order and peace. Merridee L. Bailey argues that Dekker takes the reader “from emotional and social harmony before the war (although importantly, the world before these events does not contain moral harmony or fairness), to imbalance during the war, and back to harmony (but again no moral fairness) after the truce.”67 For Dekker, the cyclical nature of war and peace as a means to maintain social balance and order is key, and his social satire ameliorates conflict. Whereas Nashe pessimistically satirizes his readers for their desire for “incessant warres” and incessant satire without any remedial, corrective function, Dekker offers an optimistic scenario whereby both war and satire have the power both to disrupt and, in turn, restore social cohesion.This essay has argued that literal and literary wars not only act as vehicles for social satire, but that they also mirror satire’s function as a force that is both disruptive and corrective. Nashe and Dekker each explore these forces, but come to different conclusions. Nashe satirizes his readers’ desire for entertainment, whether it comes in the form of war or satire, and finds little remedy or peace in incessant cycles of real, social, and literary warfare. The ensuing “mish-mash” is just that, a chaotic mess of social and political disorder, one Nashe satirically enacts throughout his works. Although Dekker also engages in these ongoing wars, he writes at a time of renewed peace. Disruption is reframed as a necessary reshuffling aimed to mock social disorder, but also to express its potential. By linking the satirical mode’s penchant for metaphorical violence, mingling destructive and corrective rhetorical strategies with invocations of early modern warfare, Nashe and Dekker satirize their respective historical moments of civil unrest as they probe the question as to what constitutes civility writ large. Through their shared deployment of war as a rhetorical vehicle, both ask not only: “war, what is it good for?” but also: “satire, what is it good for?”68
Explorations in Renaissance Culture – Brill
Published: Apr 11, 2022
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