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Lying in early modern English culture: from the oath of supremacy to the oath of allegiance

posted on 2023-06-09, 12:40 authored by Andrew HadfieldAndrew Hadfield
Lying in Early Modern English Culture is a major study of ideas of truth and falsehood from the advent of the Reformation to the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot. The period is characterized by panic and chaos when few had any idea how religious, cultural, and social life would develop after the traumatic division of Christendom. Many saw the need for a secular power to define the truth; others declared that their allegiances belonged elsewhere. Accordingly there was a constant battle between competing authorities for the right to declare what was the truth and so label opponents as liars. Issues of truth and lying were, therefore, a constant feature of everyday life, determining ideas of identity, politics, speech, sex, marriage, and social behaviour, as well as philosophy and religion. This book is a cultural history of truth and lying from the 1530s to the 1610s, showing how lying needs to be understood in practice and theory, concentrating on a series of particular events, which are read in terms of academic debates and more popular notions of lying. The book covers a wide range of material such as the trials of Anne Boleyn and Thomas More, the divorce of Frances Howard, and the murder of Anthony James by Annis and George Dell; works of literature such as Othello, The Faerie Queene, A Mirror for Magistrates, and The Unfortunate Traveller; works of popular culture such as the herring pamphlet of 1597; and major writings by Castiglione, Montaigne, Erasmus, Luther, and Tyndale.


Publication status

  • Published


Oxford University Press

Place of publication

Oxford, UK



Department affiliated with

  • English Publications

Research groups affiliated with

  • Centre for Early Modern and Medieval Studies Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

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