Folger call number: V.a.658
Folger holdings ID: 495108
Accession Number: 269387
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Item information about Folger V.a.658
Sotheby's catalog description: Scribal manuscript in a single professional secretary hand, red ruled margins, 64 pages, folio (290 x 195 mm), early seventeenth century; damp staining. Contemporary panelled calf gilt, tie-holes; rebacked with new endpapers [with:] bound with a printed copy of the preface to the 1867 Camden Society edition of the text (Accounts and Papers Relating to Mary, Queen of Scots, ed. Allan J. Crosby and John Bruce, for the Camden Society (1867)) Sotheby's catalog note: "There hath not happened sithence the memorie of man, not, peradventure, in any age beyond, soo strange a case on every behalf to be considered, as this of that unfortunate Ladye the late Scottishe Queneâ€: a contemporary manuscript copy of a defense of the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. This text is remarkable both as the work of a major Elizabethan prose writer, George Puttenham, and also as an insight into the public discourse that surrounded the most controversial act of Queen Elizabethâ€™s long reign. Puttenham begins by outlining the accusations made against Queen Elizabeth by â€œdiscontented personsâ€ who oppose her religious policy or who were â€œundeservedlie maligning her Highnes greate prosperityes and glorie.â€He admits that potentially damaging arguments had been advanced, such as that a foreign sovereign was not subject to English law, that pleas for clemency from across Europe had been ignored, and that it was unmerciful that â€œa Quene to a Quene, a woman to a woman, whould shew soo smale favour.â€The tract is dedicated to defending Queen Elizabeth against such accusations. The arguments range from detailed examinations of the Queenâ€™s action to precedents from British and even Biblical history. He dwells on the luxurious conditions of Maryâ€™s imprisonment and explains that although the Queen has not repented of the execution, she â€œnever absolutelie determined her pleasure in it, more than by subsignacion of the sayd warrant in generall tearmes.â€ She had hoped that the threat of imminent execution would be sufficient to prevent Maryâ€™s followers from acting in a manner that would require that the sentence be carried out, and blame that the sentence was carried out is neatly devolved to overeager councillors. This is the only manuscript copy of the â€œJustificacionâ€ known to be in private hands, but the work survives in fourteen manuscripts, indicating that it enjoyed an extensive scribal circulation. The text was undoubtedly written in the immediate aftermath of the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, probably the final months of 1587; however, manuscript copies continued to be made into the early decades of the seventeenth century. Two surviving manuscripts (both in the British Library) identify the author as George Puttenham and the work is nowhere attributed to any other author, so this attribution is generally accepted. Puttenham is also generally thought to have been the author of The Arte of English Poesie, the most ambitious and systematic work on English poetics of the Elizabethan period. He also wrote plays, romances and other prose tracts, almost all of them lost. There is nothing to indicate that Puttenham was commissioned to write the â€œJustificacion,â€so this treatise was almost certainly written in the hope that its display of sophisticated rhetoric and enthusiastic loyalty would bring future patronage. He may in fact have had some success in this: Puttenham was gifted property by the crown in May 1588, and this reward may well have been connected to the â€œJustificacion,â€ a rare gesture of support from Elizabethâ€™s parsimonious court Sotheby's literature: Accounts and Papers Relating to Mary, Queen of Scots, ed. Allan J. Crosby and John Bruce, for the Camden Society (1867) Acquired at the Robert S. Pirie sale, Sotheby's, New York, 2-4 December 2015, lot 670 Sotheby's catalog provenance: Sir Thomas Winnington, Bt. (1811â€“1872), of Stanford Court, Worcestershire (bookplate). acquisition: Bernard Quaritch Accompanied by 2 prints (19th century) tucked in the back
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former owner: Pirie, Robert S.