Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English (PhD)

Degree Level





Dorothy Stephens

Committee Member

Joseph Candido

Second Committee Member

John DuVal


Language, literature and linguistics, Social sciences, Devonshire manuscript, Margaret Douglas, Earl of Surrey, Henry VIII, Henry Howard, Mary Shelton, Thomas Wyatt


This project aims to consider the use, at the Henrician court, of the strategies of translation, transcription, and tradition to cushion and to code the presentation of dangerous and radical ideas. Each of these strategies allows the authors deniability, while nonetheless allowing them to communicate clearly with their readers. These writers speak in a code that can be interpreted by anyone at court, but use that code to create just enough distance to avoid overt confrontation with the king. This is further complicated, though, by the king’s own deeply influential role in the creation of that code. Each strategy also establishes each author’s work within a larger continuity; this continuity serves to give verses greater context, greater interpretive potential, and greater authority for their contemporary readers. Further, those continuities could be accessed to support a range of goals–for the centralization of power, the preservation of aristocracy, or a push towards greater equality for those of lower birth–according to the goals of a particular poet. The impact of these varied and often conflicting modes and goals of subversive energies must be recovered in a complex negotiation of simultaneously separating and relating political, personal, and poetic strategies as understood and used by the Henrician court poet. A more thorough understanding of the energies that guided the production of these texts and of the outlets through which courtiers sought expression should enable a more thorough understanding of the relationships that constituted Henry’s court. More importantly, though, understanding those relationships will create new avenues to understand the changes that came to all of England in the 16th century, charting the negotiation between the increasing centralization of power and the increasing push for popularization of power.