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By Philip Schwyzer

The Tudor period has lengthy been linked to the increase of nationalism in England, but nationalist writing during this interval usually concerned the denigration and outright denial of Englishness. Philip Schwyzer argues that the traditional, insular, and imperial state imagined within the works of writers equivalent to Shakespeare and Spenser was once now not England, yet Britain. Disclaiming their Anglo-Saxon ancestry, the English sought their origins in a nostalgic imaginative and prescient of British antiquity. targeting texts together with The Faerie Queene, English and Welsh antiquarian works, The reflect for Magistrates, Henry V and King Lear, Schwyzer charts the genesis, improvement and disintegration of British nationalism within the 16th and early 17th centuries. a huge contribution to the increasing scholarship on early sleek Britishness, this examine provides targeted awareness to Welsh texts and traditions, arguing that Welsh assets crucially stimulated the improvement of English literature and identification.

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250. [Protector Somerset], Epistle or Exhortacion to Unitie and Peace, in The Complaynt of Scotland, ed. Murray, p. 241. ‘‘The empire of Great Britain was . . the invention of the unionist pamphleteers who wrote on behalf of Henry VIII and Protector Somerset’’; Armitage, Ideological Origins of the British Empire, p. 42. Even this formulation slightly understates the radical innovation in Somerset’s approach to union. Henry VIII had relied largely on the traditional feudal claim – devised by Edward I – that the first English king, Locrinus, was overlord to Scotland’s Albanactus, giving English kings suzerainty over their Scottish counterparts; it was under Somerset that the idea of a unified British state inhabited by British subjects was mooted for the first time.

T. Evans, Wales and the Wars of the Roses (Stroud: Alan Sutton, 1995); W. Garmon Jones, ‘‘Welsh Nationalism and Henry Tudor,’’ Transactions Of The Honourable Society Of Cymmrodorion (1917–18), 1–59. Gwaith Dafydd Llwyd o Fathafarn, ed. W. Leslie Richards (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1964), p. 82. All translations from Welsh are my own, unless otherwise noted. What may strike some readers as the obscure sense and syntax of these verses is due in part to the extensive use of symbolism and sometimes sheer obfuscation involved in prophecy, but also to cynghanedd, a complex system of internal consonance (‘‘Pen aeth dan, peunoeth i tyn’’) and/or rhyme (‘‘Siasbar a fag in ddragwn’’).

Attacks on Polydore were unremitting throughout the sixteenth century, from John Leland’s Assertio inclytissimi Arturii Regis Britanniae (1544) to Sir John Prise’s Historiae Brytanicae Defensio (1573) to Richard Harvey’s Philadelphus, or a Defence of Brutes, and the Brutans History (1593). All in all, whatever harm Polydore did to Geoffrey’s reputation was ultimately far outweighed by his serviceability in providing a pretext for the proliferation of British nationalist discourse. If Polydore’s skepticism about the British past was unacceptable in 1534, it became even more so two years later, when the government took another step toward reviving Arthur’s empire.

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