In Dekker’s Old Fortunatus (1599) the character of Andelocia provides a compelling image for the Reformation of the dead in sixteenth-century England. For this prodigal youth in Dekker’s patriotic drama the absence of ghosts is a liberating achievement of the reformed graveyard. The abolition of Purgatory by decree had denied doctrinal legitimacy to ghosts in their affiliation to the souls of the deceased. In recent years, however, we have learned to set doctrinal developments alongside the lived experiences of religious change, uncovering the ways in which radical modifications in liturgy and practice mapped onto a shifting landscape of belief.2 Reconceptualizing the Reformation as a long and contested process of cultural adjustment has shed light on the extent to which various pre-Reformation habits of thought and modes of social action persisted within ostensibly reformed areas. In the scene from Dekker’s play we find a comic working through of these contradictions. The material vision of Reformation as a series of security measures to contain the dead reveals the conceptual debt of the young Andelocia to the old ways: the absence of ghosts here stems from a vigilant act of suppression that is satirically paralleled in the son’s disregard for the wishes of the deceased.
|Title of host publication||The Arts of Remembrance in Early Modern England|
|Subtitle of host publication||Memorial Cultures of the Post Reformation|
|Editors||Andrew Gordon, Thomas Rist|
|Number of pages||18|
|ISBN (Print)||9781306069953 |
|Publication status||Published - 7 Sep 2013|
|Name||Material Readings in Early Modern Culture|