‘The Vow is Made’: Communal Swearing and Succession in Titus Andronicus

‘The Vow is Made’: Communal Swearing and Succession in Titus Andronicus Abstract This article considers the extent to which William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus endorses a politico-legal system in which succession can be authorized by communal swearing. Through exploring instances of vowing in relation to the rhetorical and affective properties delineated by the Bond of Association, this article debates whether the transference of power from one regime to another is as smooth as it first appears when sovereignty is legitimized by the emotional component of a group vow. The sustained emphasis on fellow-feeling as a central aspect of group vowing does not always result in implementation of the conciliar power structures emblematized by the spectacle of communal swearing on stage. Rather, it can be a method by which personal ambition is fostered through manipulation of the perceived association between mass pledging and political consent by ambitious claimants. One of the most complex and unusual emotional relationships in the early modern period was the bond imagined to exist between monarch and subject. The obligatory structures of kingship, tempered by law and made manifest in strict rules regarding the requisite fealty attendant on royal authority, were also present, surprisingly in the human body. It was not enough to swear homage in accordance with the law; the subject had to conceptualize their love as a natural emanation of the duty which was the right of every ruler to expect. Such attestations in the sixteenth century were dependent on the level of threat to the monarch, but they were particularly acute in the mid-1580s, when the claim to the throne by Mary, Queen of Scots was endorsed by many of England’s enemies. To reinforce his love for Elizabeth at this dangerous time, the Church of England divine Michael Renniger outlined the bond between monarch and subject in particularly emotional terms: The subjecte powreth out his hearte and bowels of tender compassion to his Prince, and in the faith of a subject voweth himself to his Prince; The Prince powreth out her pietie and bowels of motherly affection to her subjects, and from the very roote of heroical nature, tender compassion issueth out unto them. What hart can heare of this heroicall emulation, contention, (I should rather say) compassion, and not melte?1 The dutiful subject not only offers his ‘faith’ to the Queen as an abstract intent, but emits it as a type of humoral effluvia, a pouring forth of politicized compassion from his own body. This in turn is emulated by Elizabeth, who returns her own ‘affection’ as a mother would for her child. The effusion of bodily fluids attests to the sheer physicality of the bond between monarch and subject, in which the ‘tender compassion’ was a real, fluidic substance rather than a mere metaphor; just as a mother’s affection for her baby is actualized in the nourishing blood in the womb and the milk which she expresses, so the deep feeling of attachment is produced by liquid in the active, responsive body.2 To be a good subject in early modern England, you had to feel it in your ‘hearte and bowels’ as well as swear it with your tongue. The emotional basis of fealty was a central rhetorical feature of communal vows to Elizabeth in the mid-1580s, when the Bull Regnans in Excelsis (1570) issued by Pope Pius V excused Elizabeth’s Catholic subjects from their duty of allegiance. The Bond of Association, written by William Cecil and Francis Walsingham in 1584, factored in the ‘love’ each swearer felt for their ‘Prince’ by utilizing a model of fellow-feeling which configured political obligation in egalitarian terms.3 Shakespeare’s early tragedy Titus Andronicus (1594), written a few years after the Bond was disseminated across the realm, similarly charts the extent to which emotionally based vowing is able to intervene in notions of fealty through exploring the affective foundation of political loyalty in the state of Rome. There are two examples of group swearing in the text which will form the basis of this discussion, the first when Titus gathers the body parts of the living and dead to ‘vow’ revenge against Saturninus (Titus, iii. 1. 277–83), the second when Marcus learns about the precise circumstances of Lavinia’s rape (iv. 1. 87–94).4 In both instances, the emotional outrage expressed by the Andronici is redirected into the decisive and channelled action of a violent militaristic endeavour under the duress of a promissory vow. What occurs at the end of the play, though, is a change of political regime in Rome and the establishment of a new ruling body with a claim on the allegiance of its citizens. Group swearing appears to facilitate the transition of government from Saturninus and his dynastic line to that of the Andronici, with minimal objection at the end of the play from the Tribunes or the populace. However, it would be a mistake to extract from this an ideological bias in favour of radical intercession; rather, a careful reading of the play reveals a deeper scepticism regarding the susceptibility of emotional iterations of allegiance to manipulation by ambitious political agents. The bond between subject and sovereign might be a natural bodily emission, but its slippery and volatile nature can render it unusually vulnerable to interference when it is redirected by a new, possibly unlawful ruler towards him or herself in the binding rhetorical structure of a vow. When swearing, for example, the Andronici couch their two group pacts in distinctly emotional terms; the heightened grief and lamentation they express is rhetorically converted into emotive action which is intense enough to bind the family together.5 Yet the ultimate purpose of the vow is oblique, eliding revenge against Saturninus with a desire to inhabit his role as emperor. What starts as a plot to avenge the dead becomes a political drive to seize control of the state, ratified by a vow which re-situates authority from the imperial figurehead of Rome to the consensual and shared emotion of the family members. Emotional group vowing is therefore ambiguous, acting as a successful basis for co-operative political intervention on the one hand, but capable of producing the opposite outcome – in this case, a substitute emperor, Lucius for Saturninus – on the other. This article traces the various types of slippage attendant on emotional swearing in relation to succession in Titus Andronicus. The custom is unusually adept at emblematizing fellow-feeling at the level of spectacle in order to associate the transfer of rule with shared emotional consent. However, the deep attachment that is felt to exist between each swearer is often exploited by dynastic competitors at court, who perceive the love for a new sovereign to be spontaneous and impulsive, rather than controlled. As such, the structures of group swearing are often subject to artful manipulation by rival claimants to promote the accession of a new ruler as conciliar, rather than unlawful.               * The common law prioritization of seniority between claimants for the throne was at the root of Elizabeth’s relationship with parliament for much of her reign.6 Matters came to a head in the 1580s when various plots were exposed in relation to the likely accession of Mary, Queen of Scots who, as the eldest surviving descendent of Henry VII’s daughter Margaret, was Elizabeth’s next lawful heir. In order to combat this threat, and reinforce the prerogative initiated by the earlier Henrician Succession Acts of 1534 and 1536, William Cecil and Francis Walsingham created the Bond of Association, in which all participants swore to ‘bind [them]selves, every one of us to the other, jointly and severally in the band of one firm and loyal society’ with the aim of protecting the Queen against anyone who would ‘risk harm upon her person’, and agreeing ‘never to allow, accept or favour any such pretended successor’ imposed on them from without.7 The Bond was sworn by the Privy Council and leading ecclesiastical figures at Hampton Court on 19 October 1584 before being disseminated to local magnates across the realm, amongst whom it was enthusiastically received.8 Indeed, swearing the Bond became something of a cultural trend, particularly in the fringe counties of the North which returned a huge number of signatories reaffirming their loyalty to the legitimate English queen.9 Like the earlier Succession Acts, the root of fealty was imagined by Elizabeth and her council to derive from the emotional inclination of her subjects to ‘love’ their natural ruler. In a transcription of an exhortation to execute Mary, Queen of Scots, which was published for mass consumption by the Queen’s printer Christopher Barker, Robert Cecil describes the origin of the Bond as a spontaneous overflow of public feeling: Thousands of your Majesties most liege and loving Subjectes, of all sorts and degrees, that in a tender zeale of your Majesties safetie, have most willingly both by open subscription and solemne vowe, entred into a firme and loyall association, and have thereby protested to pursue unto the death, by all forcible and possible meanes, such as she is by just sentence nowe found to be.10 The ‘vowe’ was carefully orchestrated by Cecil and Walsingham to establish a common groundswell of support for the monarchy in case of a possible assassination. It meant that each subscriber could be called on to resist the new regime under the threat of being labelled an oath-breaker. Even so, it is imagined that the vow emanates from the wellspring of emotion inside every subject. The ‘tender zeal’ in particular, cited as the basis of the vow, is unusually coercive in its stress on the shared and affective nature of the action being articulated. The word ‘zeal’ is defined in the OED as ‘rendering Latin zelus (or æmulatio), Greek [zelos], denoting ardent feeling or fervour’, whilst the word ‘tender’ suggests ‘delicacy or feeling or susceptibility to the gentle emotions’.11 Taken together, the ‘tender zeal’ which causes the Bond to manifest itself in the populace is the materialization of an inner feeling of care mobilized through imitative corporeal action. Put another way, it is a pact whose affective potentiality to bind is generated by the replicated emotional behaviour of the fellow swearer. In the letter to Leicester, Elizabeth is quoted as having particularly noted the import of this aspect of the Bond, stating ‘I doe acknowledge […] your true heartes, and great zeale to my safetie.’12 Not only is the oath regarded as an expression of loyalty which has its basis in emotion, but it is also recognized as politically binding because it is produced by the common body as one mass – literally, in corporeal terms, as well as metaphorically. The Bond, however, was problematic in relation to the laws of succession. In the event that Elizabeth was killed and a vacuum was opened in the State, a conciliar body would have the power to suspend the transference of royal authority until a suitable claimant could be agreed upon.13 What was imagined to happen in the interim at the level of government was left tellingly vague, but several historians have interpreted the slightly revised Bond, known as the Instrument of an Association, as authorizing a radical intervention in monarchical politics. Patrick Collinson, for instance, has gone so far as to define the text as a ‘quasi-republican statement’ which, in the event of Elizabeth’s murder, would account for the period following her death ‘without reference to any laws or rights of succession’.14 Although it may have been understood by some of Elizabeth’s contemporaries to act as a short-term deterrent to Catholic aggression rather than an ideological manifesto, the Instrument does indeed promote a model of statehood which is conciliar and proto-oligarchic in the handling of power, particularly in relation to the channels through which sovereignty is both instituted and legitimized. That the source of this power is to some extent emotional as well as legal is a useful way for Cecil and Walsingham rhetorically to link the interregnum they envisage to the mobilization of the common body in the Instrument; just as the zeal for the Queen is shared and even generated through group action, so can the government harness a similar type of fellow-feeling to ensure a conception of sovereignty which is diffused among its members. In the late sixteenth century such concerns turned out to be moot. As we know, there was no regicide, and on Elizabeth’s death the succession bypassed Henry’s will to settle on the common law claimant James VI of Scotland. But the seriousness with which the emotion of the swearer was factored into a lawful pact, a pact which could feasibly have turned a monarchy into a non-elective oligarchy, attests to the potency of feeling as a very real agent of political change. * The Bond of Association’s influence can be felt on the title page of the first published edition of William Shakespeare’s play Titus Andronicus.15 The earliest quarto famously states that the text was ‘Plaide’ by ‘the Earlie of Derbie, Earle of Pembroke, and Earle of Sussex their Servaunts’. Of these three patrons, there is definite proof that Henry Stanley, 4th Earl of Derby, held a sumptuous ceremony in Wigan proclaiming his assent to the Bond in a ritualized display of compliance. Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, and Henry Radclyffe, 4th Earl of Sussex, were both members of the Privy Council in 1584, and would have taken their oaths at Hampton Court. Trusted as they were with defending the Welsh heartland and the Solent respectively, it is highly likely that they would have also reinforced their support for Elizabeth by gathering their own subscriptions.16 So the theatregoer who picked up a copy of Shakespeare’s text would have been reminded, albeit subtly, of the condition of due allegiance and fealty which was a standard expectation of each and every subject, regardless of their rank; the three patronic titles, so unusual in early modern printing practice, almost function as the emulation of a shared aristocratic confederation in miniature. The scenes of communal swearing amongst the Andronici, collapsed fairly close together in the quarto text, would have resonated with a readership that had recently been called on to reinforce their sense of solidarity to the Queen and each other through the imitative structures of a group vow. Titus Andronicus opens with a debate on different forms of government. Andrew Hadfield has summarized this succinctly, stating that Saturninus ‘expects absolute obedience from his subjects’ whereas Bassianus’ speech is ‘rooted in an ideal of consent’. For Hadfield, Shakespeare stages a debate between hereditary right and meritocratic endorsement, with Titus as a supplement to Bassianus’ more elective claim.17 However, this misses some of the specificity in the precise ideological nature of the lawful basis of election put forward by Marcus. The phrase ‘pure election’ (Titus, i. 1. 16) cited by Bassianus would have carried connotations of hereditary privilege, the word ‘pure’ used ‘in reference to breeding or lineage; of unmixed origin or descent’.18 In this sense, it would have evoked a limited type of election from amongst the immediate claimants; it may also have been redolent of the propinquity outlined in the Succession Acts of the 1530s and 1540s. Marcus uses the word ‘election’ in a slightly different context: […] the people of Rome, for whom we stand A special party, have by common voice In election for the Roman empery Chosen Andronicus. (Titus, i. 1. 20–24) The association of ‘election’ with the ‘common voice’ acts as a subtle corrective to Bassianus and introduces a third ideological concept of unbridled merit based on military service, supported by the section of the populace which most closely aligns to a proto-democratic body. The word ‘election’ carried its more politicized meaning of communal assent in relation to state policy at this time, so Shakespeare correlates the vote of the commons for Titus with both the recognition and the endorsement of choice as a crucial aspect of Roman government.19 In the first scene of the play, the Andronici are fashioned as a competing faction with a distinct political identity; familial, communal and egalitarian, in direct opposition to the fractious members of the royal bloodline. When Titus rejects the vote of the Tribunes, he instantly arouses the suspicion of Saturninus, whose claim to rule is dependent on birthright rather than character or talent. In particular, Saturninus rails against Titus’ ability to secure the emotional endorsement of the populace: ‘Andronicus, would thou were shipped to hell | Rather than rob me of the people’s hearts’ (Titus, i. 1. 210–11). Although Titus repeats this phrase a few lines later, stating that ‘I will restore to thee | The people’s hearts, and wean them from themselves’ (Titus, i. 1. 214–15), the ability to do so is perceived to lie with Titus alone; only he has the authority to unloose a form of political recognition which has been bestowed on him by the assent of the commons. The metaphor of the heart is used expressly to associate this kind of elected ratification with feeling, as is the corresponding notion of Titus as a parent who will ‘wean’ the people from their own bodily appetites; recall, for instance, Michael Renniger’s conceptualization of fealty for Elizabeth as emitting from the ‘harte’. However, the heart image also acknowledges the existence of a reserve of emotional agency in the common body which can be used as the basis for a non-hereditary conception of government. Securing the goodwill of the people was not necessarily a signification of democratic affiliation: Thomas Elyot used similar corporeal imagery to advise Henry VIII that the ‘benevolente mynde of a governour’ should be able to bind ‘the hartes of the people unto hym, with the chayne of love’ as part of a reminder that widespread political support had a significant emotional component.20 But in the context of the competing models of rule developed throughout the opening act of the play, the imagery of emotional attachment further associates the Andronici with a lawful claim to sovereignty which is generated, on some level, by the passionate goodwill of the ‘citizens, burgeses & yeomen’ who are ‘accompted to make the commons’.21 When Saturninus orders the execution of Martius and Quintus on flimsy evidence without the hope of pardon, Titus is subject to the whims of the royal prerogative. Not only this, the entire machinery of government which coalesces around Saturninus, including the mediating figures of the Tribunes who are able to intercede for the people in particularly contentious matters, refuses to acknowledge Titus’ plea for a pardon. When faced with a form of legal redress which is blatantly corrupt, Titus and the Andronici communicate their frustration to each other through heightened displays of pain: ‘Sorrow concealed, like an oven stopped, | Doth burn the heart to cinders where it is’ (Titus, ii. 3. 36–37), cries Marcus, as he simultaneously voices his private despair at seeing the mutilated Lavinia and ventriloquizes her own imagined response in an insistence on the purgative power of utterance. If the affiliation of the people is understood on some level to be emotional in early modern political thought, then the Andronici stand in at this moment, almost metonymically, for a common body which is end-stopped and glutted rather than participatory. Just as the metaphorical ‘cinders’ are imagined to burn the oven they are placed in, so the potential for social obligation, in which the support of the state through military service is rewarded through the implementation of due redress, is heartbreakingly turned inwards. Shakespeare’s imagery of conflagration not only evokes the horrors of extreme pain but hints at wider damage to the civic infrastructure when such a process is ignored. The lack of justice is evidently distressing for the Andronici, given their exemplary military service and willingness to prioritize their fidelity to the ‘empery’ (Titus, i. 1. 14) above their own familial cause. However, the use of affective imagery, particularly the tears which are obsessively mentioned throughout Act iii Scene 1, suggesting their sheer volume and excess, re-orients, quite subtly, the basis of loyalty away from the perpendicular structures of monarchical rule and directs it instead to the family members themselves. In Act iii Scene 1, Titus associates his tears with impotence in relation to linguistic affect: for some reason his plight is unable to move the listener, which is all the more distressing considering the horror which he is trying to convey. Quintilian argues that the skilful orator should be able to produce feeling in the listener or interlocutor by re-creating an approximation of the emotion of the subject being articulated. Intrinsic to this idea is the conception of emotion as simulated or produced through linguistic effects, rather than something that is genuinely experienced by the speaker: If we wish to give our words the appearance of sincerity, we must assimilate ourselves to the emotions of those who are genuinely so affected, and our eloquence must spring from the same feeling that we desire to produce in the mind. (Institutio, vi. 2. 2–3)22 One reason Titus fails to persuade the Tribunes or anyone else to heed his plea is that the emotional source from which the language is drawn is too intense, precluding the synthetic mimicry which is a fundamental aspect of Quintilian’s dictum: ‘My tears are prevailing orators’ (Titus, iii. 1. 26) Titus states, substituting the fluidic response to affective rhetoric for the language used to initiate the act of purgative weeping. Evidently there is a problem with Titus’ conception of emotion in relation to political language, encouraging stagnation rather than action. Adrian Streete has characterized the linguistic register at this point in the play as a prolonged lament, with an attendant focus on the inactivity which results from the overuse of this particular mode: ‘Rhetoric personifies the lamenter either through stasis or excess as he tries to find some way of engaging with the past and the future.’23 The notion of the Andronici as time-stopped and permanently arrested in the present moment is also an indication of the blockage of their emotional fealty to Saturninus, which is unable to run in the proper civic channels due to his obstruction of justice. Action is turned into re-action as the family reflect on their own situation without hope of converting their pain into the dynamic, affective redress which they so evidently desire, and which they should be able to reasonably expect as members of an advanced polity with a secure system of law and equity. The urgent need to substitute inactive lamentation for political action is noted by Titus. At one point he offers a plea to an undefined entity: ‘If any power pities wretched tears, | To that I call’ (Titus, iii. 1. 209–10). The appeal for empathy is not only unheeded but reinforced by the grotesque raising of a severed hand in an oxymoronic gesture of non-vocation. Yet the Andronici are able to use their family bond as a means of recouping a type of emotional solidarity which they are no longer able to direct towards Saturninus. In a political context defined by the abuse of prerogative, the affective recognition of familial pain is a form of agency which is mutual and self-supporting rather than deferential; as such it can be harnessed to associate obedience to lawful government with obedience to the principle of civic cohesion between members of the state. One way in which the Andronici are able to exploit the potential for rhetoric to envision a form of action is through recourse to a very different linguistic custom to that of lamentation: the vow. Titus You heavy people, circle me about, That I may turn me to each one of you And swear unto my soul to right your wrongs. The vow is made. Come, brother, take a head, And in this hand the other I will bear. And Lavinia, thou shalt be employed: Bear thou my hand, sweet wench, between thy teeth. (Titus, iii. 1. 277–83) The dismembered Andronici are reunited at the moment of pledging to associate emotional co-operation with the reinstitution of the family as a political force. The severed heads of Martius and Quintus are held aloft by the living members, along with Titus’ hand, to define the vow temporally as a future act of revenge for the past wrongs done against the dynasty. It is significant that Titus does not situate the precise moment at which the compact is made in an easily identifiable place in the syntax. Rather, it is displaced to the circle of bodies on stage, suggesting a physical bond that is reflexively able to guarantee itself.24 John Kerrigan has stated that ‘the corporeal is […] active when its concreteness is used to secure what is slippery in language,’ so the potentiality of a rhetorical oath to be scrutinized by an audience, some of whom may well have been trained in disputation, is offset by a visual tableau which indicates that the bond sworn by the Andronici is self-generative and contained.25 However, this action also conceptualizes the vow as emotional in nature, participating in a culture of swearing that is alert to the embodied nature of assent. As stated earlier, the Bond of Association required the ‘loving Subjectes’ to draw on their ‘tender zeale’ when making the ‘vowe’, situating feeling itself as a substance with the potential to turn a simple promise into a sacred endeavour. For Titus and the Andronici, this moment charts the shift from lamentation to decisive action by utilizing the physicalized image of fellow-feeling to associate their own intervention with a more conciliar model of participation in the State. In line with Quintilian’s precepts, the emotional blockage that preceded the swearing ceremony is transferred from the Andronici to the vow itself, in that it is able to convert emotion into effect through providing an outlet for the desired redress to be rendered permissible and even possible. The communal vow sworn by the Andronici would also have recalled the paradoxical assumption of licence which existed at the heart of the Bond of Association.26 Just as Cecil and Walsingham initiated a group pact which had the ability to ‘isolate sovereignty’, to quote Stephen Alford, so the Andronici are able to subsume to the supra-natural authorities which govern licit swearing into their own cause and endeavour, all the while acting to preserve the polity.27 Their vow is reinforced in Act iv by a second oath involving ritual movement of kneeling and rising, and presaged again on the participation of different members of the Andronici dynasty: Marcus And swear with me […] That we will prosecute by good advice Mortal revenge upon these traitorous Goths. (Titus, iv. 1. 89, 92–93) Prosecution had already acquired its legalistic connotations in the late sixteenth century, meaning ‘to bring a charge against; to arraign before a court of justice; to indict’.28 It is also used twice in the Bond of Association alongside the variants ‘prosecution’ and ‘prosecuted’, making it one of the most prominent promissory verbs in the text.29 Taken together, the deployment of the word implies that the Andronici perceive themselves not only to be acting in accordance with the law by positioning themselves in opposition to Saturninus and the court, but also to be interpreting it in a manner that is more in line with accepted custom. To prosecute ‘by good advice’ also implies that the second oath is not strictly limited to the swearers alone, but will be shaped and modified by the council of others, possibly because any outside observers, such as the Tribunes, perceive the action of the Andronici to be more egalitarian in emphasis. Although it is notable that the promissory aim to elicit revenge is complicated by Lucius’ allegiance with the ‘traitorous Goths’ (Titus, iv. 1. 93), the second vow suggests that Marcus is shifting some of the more ambiguous tenets of Titus’ oath into a politicized and legalistic framework. When Lucius returns to Rome at the end of the play he is at the head of an army, conflating private revenge with a public takeover of the State. A vacuum has evidently been opened up by the massacre of the extended royal family, which Marcus skilfully exploits, recalling the rhetoric and imagery of corporeality to associate the Andronici with a conciliar model of government: Marcus people and sons of Rome […] O let me teach you how to knit again […] These broken limbs again into one body. (Titus, v. 3. 65, 69, 71) The recovery of the body politic is analogous to the reunion of the severed Andronici in the stabilizing structure of a vow, particularly through the use of the word ‘knit’; a corresponding restoration of civic values will result from this first, tentative step in societal re-organization: Marcus The poor remainder of Andronici Will hand in hand all headlong hurl ourselves And on the ragged stones beat forth our souls And make a mutual closure of our house. (Titus, v. 3. 130–33) The projected ‘mutual’ suicide of Marcus and Lucius recalls the ritualized movement of group pledging which insisted on communal solidarity. Indeed, the phrase ‘hand in hand’ is repeated a few lines later (Titus, v. 3. 135), acting as a citation or even a slogan which explicitly associates the Andronici cause with egalitarianism and proto-democratic co-operation; it also evokes the communality of the mass swearing which was a central component of the Bond of Association. At the start of the play, Shakespeare debated the differing conceptions of government, measuring the privileged notions of heredity and ‘pure election’ (Titus, i. 1. 16) against a form of meritocracy supported by the Tribunes. Ultimately, the model that is settled upon is the third, with Lucius serving as an avatar or proxy of Titus as elected representative. What has happened here is quite astonishing, particularly in light of the self-legitimization produced by the rhetorical features of swearing: the Andronici have harnessed the affective feeling which solidifies a group oath to promote it as a binding model of ideal government, which is then actualized – or even literalized – in the closing moments of the text. The oath does not emblematize an existing abstract model of succession in law, but rather prefigures it. Marcus is a canny politician who has seen the potential of communal swearing to offer a conception of fealty which insists by its very nature on the primacy of the common body, but which can also be used to institute a change in political regime. It is telling that the ‘floods of tears’ which cause him to ‘break [his] utterance’ (Titus, v. 3. 90–91) are an example of aposiopoesis rather than the genuine stultification of expression; the emotion which was channelled into the oath to provide redress is now a means of coercing the people into accepting his own nephew as ruler. * On the accession of Lucius at the conclusion of Titus Andronicus, it would be easy to assume that Shakespeare is attuned to the radical potentiality inherent within group swearing. However, the case is more intricate than it first appears. The people of Rome express a preference to be governed by Titus but revert to hereditary monarchy almost by default, or even on his direction, when the ‘empery’ (Titus, i. 1. 14) is rejected. The notion of election appears to be reinstituted when Lucius is offered the crown and the Andronici cause is ultimately ratified, but the people never express a preference for Lucius. Instead the two models are oddly unified through the institution of an elected ruler which manifests itself as the start of a new ruling dynasty, with Lucius as a kind of heir apparent. The communal oath is supple enough to bring both forms of government into uneasy consort without decisively settling on one or the other. This troubling multivalency at the centre of group pledging was also identified by some of the first swearers of the Bond of Association, particularly Thomas Digges who warned against ‘all degrees and estates then risinge in Armes at such a tyme as there is no cowncell of estate in Lyfe, no Lawfull general […] no presidente, no Judges, no sheriffes, no justices’.30 In the early 1590s, when the idea of a temporary oligarchy was a very real possibility of governance following the death of Elizabeth, the success with which the Andronici use the emotional feeling attendant on fealty to lock themselves into a licit oath is suggestive of revised societal relations inherent in group swearing; what is truly striking is that it is able to act as the basis of the institution of a new ruling power. Group swearing may be a method of exploring the ideological possibility of conciliar rule, even as an interim between monarchies and with no real access to those outside of the aristocracy. However, it is also a force potent enough to activate a change which may not have been envisaged in the rhetorical terms of the original binding pact. Emotion is a suggestive substance to use in the solidification of lawful obligations, particularly those central to government such as the succession, but its messiness and unpredictability, its sheer human qualities, are apt to blur the abstract principles which it is often called on to verify. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Many thanks to Adrian Streete for reading an early draft of this article, and to the guest editors for their scrupulous notes and comments. Footnotes 1 Michael Renniger, A Treatise Conteining […] an Exhortation to True Love, Loyaltie, and Fidelitie to Her Majestie (London: 1587), sig. B3r. 2 My understanding of early modern emotion as fundamentally material in nature is indebted to Gail Kern Paster’s conception of ‘psychophysiology’: ‘For the early moderns, emotions flood the body not metaphorically but literally, as the humours course through the bloodstream carrying choler, melancholy, blood, and phlegm to the parts and as the animal spirits move like lightning from brain to muscle, from muscle to brain.’ See Gail Kern Paster, Humoring the Body: Emotions and the Shakespearean Stage (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), pp. 12–15 (p. 14). For other works which develop and extend the corporeal ‘turn’ in criticism of the emotions, see: Reading the Early Modern Passions: Essays in the Cultural History of Emotion, ed. by Gail Kern Paster, Katherine Rowe and Mary Floyd-Wilson (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004); and Michael C. Schoenfeldt, Bodies and Selves in Early Modern England: Physiology and Inwardness in Spenser, Shakespeare, Herbert, and Milton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). 3 Elizabeth I, ‘The Bond of the Association’, in Elizabeth I: Collected Works, ed. by Leah S. Marcus, Jane Mueller and Mary Beth Rose (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2000), pp. 183–85. 4 William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, ed. by Jonathan Bate (London: Arden, 1997). All references to this play will be to this edition, unless otherwise stated, and given parenthetically. 5 The term ‘vow’ is unusually supple in grammar, acting as both a noun and a verb, as noted by John Kerrigan in Shakespeare’s Binding Language (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), p. 7. As a verb, it is able to reinforce an infinitive through the phrase ‘I vow to’, situating its promissory properties within a network of reinforced lexical action, and making it highly amenable to group vowing. 6 In order to counter the legitimacy of the Princess Mary in the eyes of Catholic Europe, and amongst a large number of his own subjects after his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, Henry initiated a series of Succession Acts in the 1530s and 1540s which separated the right to rule from the abstract and programmatic system of male-preference primogeniture, and redirected it to the law as willed by the king’s prerogative and ratified by parliamentary assent. For more detailed scholarship on the development of the Succession Acts, and their impact on thought surrounding the law of succession in Elizabeth’s reign, see: Mortimer Levine, The Early Elizabethan Succession Question (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1966); and E. W. Ives, ‘Tudor Dynastic Problems Revisited’, Historical Research, 81 (2008), 255–79. 7 Elizabeth I, ‘The Bond of the Association’, p. 184. 8 Patrick Collinson, ‘The Monarchical Republic of Elizabeth I’, in Elizabethan Essays (London: Continuum, 1994), pp. 31–57 (p. 48). 9 David Cressy, ‘Binding the Nation: The Bonds of Association, 1584 and 1696’, in Tudor Rule and Revolution: Essays for G. R. Elton from his American Friends, ed. by Delloyd J. Guth and John M. McKenna (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), pp. 217–34 (pp. 221–25). 10 Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, The Copie of a Letter to the Right Honourable the Earle of Leycester (London: 1586), sig. B4r. 11 ‘Zeal, n.1.’; ‘tender, adj. and n.8.a.’, in OED. Accessed at <http://www.oed.com> [accessed 11 July 2017]. 12 Cecil, The Copie of a Letter, sig. C4r. 13 Stephen Alford, ‘A Politics of Emergency in the Reign of Elizabeth I’, in English Radicalism, 1550–1860, ed. by Glenn Burgess and Matthew Feinstein (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 17–36 (pp. 25–26). 14 Collinson, ‘The Monarchical Republic of Elizabeth I’, p. 50. 15 Although the Bond of Association was a highly visible and influential document in the 1580s, very little critical work has been undertaken to assess its impact on the aesthetic and political import of group oath-taking on stage. The most significant piece of work to emerge on this topic is John Kerrigan’s pioneering recent study of oaths and vows in early modern dramaturgy; Kerrigan, Shakespeare’s Binding Language, pp. 126–46. However, Kerrigan touches on the topic only briefly. For perhaps the only other major exploration of swearing in the play, see Thomas P. Anderson, ‘“What is Written Shall Be Executed”: “Nude Contracts” and “Lively Warrants” in Titus Andronicus’, Criticism, 45 (2003), 301–21. 16 For a detailed account of the political function of the Privy Council in relation to the succession, see Stephen Alford, The Early Elizabethan Polity: William Cecil and the Succession Crisis, 1558–1569 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). 17 Andrew Hadfield, Shakespeare and Republicanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 157. For two highly cogent explorations of the political and legal context of the play, see: Andrew Hadfield, Shakespeare and Renaissance Politics (London: Arden, 2004), pp. 120–37; and Derek Dunne, Shakespeare, Revenge Tragedy, and Early Modern Law: Vindictive Justice (Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), pp. 49–70. 18 ‘Pure, adj. and n. 2.d.’, in OED. Accessed at <http://www.oed.com> [accessed 11 July 2017]. 19 ‘Election, n. 1.a.’, in OED. Accessed at <http://www.oed.com> [accessed 11 July 2017]. 20 Thomas Elyot, The Boke Named the Governour (London: 1537), sig. Q6r. 21 Thomas Smith, De republica anglorum (London: 1583), sig. D1v. 22 Quintilian, The ‘Institutio oratoria’ of Quintilian, trans. by H. E. Butler (London: Heinemann, 1921). For further explorations of the rhetorical context of the play, see: G. M. Kendall, ‘“Lend Me Thy Hand”: Metaphor and Mayhem in Titus Andronicus’, Shakespeare Quarterly, 40 (1989), 299–316; and Nancy L. Christiansen, ‘Synecdoche, Tropic Violence, and Shakespeare’s Imitatio in Titus Andronicus’, Style, 34 (2000), 350–78. 23 Adrian Streete, ‘Titus Andronicus and the Rhetoric of Lamentation’, in The Bible on the Shakespearean Stage: Cultures of Interpretation in Reformation England, ed. by Thomas Fulton and Kristen Poole (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). 24 The phrase ‘the vow is made’ is in the present simple tense using the passive voice. However, the necessitation of the past tense form of the verb ‘made’ implies that Titus understands the actual compact itself to have previously occurred; scansion aside, it would not have been unfeasible for Shakespeare to use the continuous present, ‘I am making’, if he wanted to stress its present-ness. This implies that the moment the vow is activated exists in an extra-linguistic space, further emphasizing the desire of the Andronici to legitimize their political revenge outside of a rhetorical formation which can be easily scrutinized. 25 Kerrigan, Shakespeare’s Binding Language, p. 134. For a detailed exploration of disputation in relation to audience responses to early modern drama, see Michelle O’Callaghan, The English Wits: Literature and Sociability in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 35–59. 26 By this, I mean the irony of swearing to protect the Queen whilst using a custom which to an extent relies on royal assent. For a more detailed exploration of this complexity, see Collinson, ‘The Monarchical Republic of Elizabeth I’, p. 50. 27 Alford, ‘A Politics of Emergency’, p. 26. 28 ‘Prosecute, v. 4.a.’ in OED. Accessed at <http://www.oed.com> [accessed 11 July 2017]. 29 Elizabeth I, ‘The Bond of Association’, p. 184. 30 Thomas Digges, PRO, S.P. 12/176/26; quoted in Collinson, ‘The Monarchical Republic of Elizabeth I’, p. 51. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press for the Court of the University of St Andrews. All rights reserved. The University of St Andrews is a charity registered in Scotland: No. SC013532. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Forum for Modern Language Studies Oxford University Press

‘The Vow is Made’: Communal Swearing and Succession in Titus Andronicus

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© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press for the Court of the University of St Andrews. All rights reserved. The University of St Andrews is a charity registered in Scotland: No. SC013532.
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Abstract

Abstract This article considers the extent to which William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus endorses a politico-legal system in which succession can be authorized by communal swearing. Through exploring instances of vowing in relation to the rhetorical and affective properties delineated by the Bond of Association, this article debates whether the transference of power from one regime to another is as smooth as it first appears when sovereignty is legitimized by the emotional component of a group vow. The sustained emphasis on fellow-feeling as a central aspect of group vowing does not always result in implementation of the conciliar power structures emblematized by the spectacle of communal swearing on stage. Rather, it can be a method by which personal ambition is fostered through manipulation of the perceived association between mass pledging and political consent by ambitious claimants. One of the most complex and unusual emotional relationships in the early modern period was the bond imagined to exist between monarch and subject. The obligatory structures of kingship, tempered by law and made manifest in strict rules regarding the requisite fealty attendant on royal authority, were also present, surprisingly in the human body. It was not enough to swear homage in accordance with the law; the subject had to conceptualize their love as a natural emanation of the duty which was the right of every ruler to expect. Such attestations in the sixteenth century were dependent on the level of threat to the monarch, but they were particularly acute in the mid-1580s, when the claim to the throne by Mary, Queen of Scots was endorsed by many of England’s enemies. To reinforce his love for Elizabeth at this dangerous time, the Church of England divine Michael Renniger outlined the bond between monarch and subject in particularly emotional terms: The subjecte powreth out his hearte and bowels of tender compassion to his Prince, and in the faith of a subject voweth himself to his Prince; The Prince powreth out her pietie and bowels of motherly affection to her subjects, and from the very roote of heroical nature, tender compassion issueth out unto them. What hart can heare of this heroicall emulation, contention, (I should rather say) compassion, and not melte?1 The dutiful subject not only offers his ‘faith’ to the Queen as an abstract intent, but emits it as a type of humoral effluvia, a pouring forth of politicized compassion from his own body. This in turn is emulated by Elizabeth, who returns her own ‘affection’ as a mother would for her child. The effusion of bodily fluids attests to the sheer physicality of the bond between monarch and subject, in which the ‘tender compassion’ was a real, fluidic substance rather than a mere metaphor; just as a mother’s affection for her baby is actualized in the nourishing blood in the womb and the milk which she expresses, so the deep feeling of attachment is produced by liquid in the active, responsive body.2 To be a good subject in early modern England, you had to feel it in your ‘hearte and bowels’ as well as swear it with your tongue. The emotional basis of fealty was a central rhetorical feature of communal vows to Elizabeth in the mid-1580s, when the Bull Regnans in Excelsis (1570) issued by Pope Pius V excused Elizabeth’s Catholic subjects from their duty of allegiance. The Bond of Association, written by William Cecil and Francis Walsingham in 1584, factored in the ‘love’ each swearer felt for their ‘Prince’ by utilizing a model of fellow-feeling which configured political obligation in egalitarian terms.3 Shakespeare’s early tragedy Titus Andronicus (1594), written a few years after the Bond was disseminated across the realm, similarly charts the extent to which emotionally based vowing is able to intervene in notions of fealty through exploring the affective foundation of political loyalty in the state of Rome. There are two examples of group swearing in the text which will form the basis of this discussion, the first when Titus gathers the body parts of the living and dead to ‘vow’ revenge against Saturninus (Titus, iii. 1. 277–83), the second when Marcus learns about the precise circumstances of Lavinia’s rape (iv. 1. 87–94).4 In both instances, the emotional outrage expressed by the Andronici is redirected into the decisive and channelled action of a violent militaristic endeavour under the duress of a promissory vow. What occurs at the end of the play, though, is a change of political regime in Rome and the establishment of a new ruling body with a claim on the allegiance of its citizens. Group swearing appears to facilitate the transition of government from Saturninus and his dynastic line to that of the Andronici, with minimal objection at the end of the play from the Tribunes or the populace. However, it would be a mistake to extract from this an ideological bias in favour of radical intercession; rather, a careful reading of the play reveals a deeper scepticism regarding the susceptibility of emotional iterations of allegiance to manipulation by ambitious political agents. The bond between subject and sovereign might be a natural bodily emission, but its slippery and volatile nature can render it unusually vulnerable to interference when it is redirected by a new, possibly unlawful ruler towards him or herself in the binding rhetorical structure of a vow. When swearing, for example, the Andronici couch their two group pacts in distinctly emotional terms; the heightened grief and lamentation they express is rhetorically converted into emotive action which is intense enough to bind the family together.5 Yet the ultimate purpose of the vow is oblique, eliding revenge against Saturninus with a desire to inhabit his role as emperor. What starts as a plot to avenge the dead becomes a political drive to seize control of the state, ratified by a vow which re-situates authority from the imperial figurehead of Rome to the consensual and shared emotion of the family members. Emotional group vowing is therefore ambiguous, acting as a successful basis for co-operative political intervention on the one hand, but capable of producing the opposite outcome – in this case, a substitute emperor, Lucius for Saturninus – on the other. This article traces the various types of slippage attendant on emotional swearing in relation to succession in Titus Andronicus. The custom is unusually adept at emblematizing fellow-feeling at the level of spectacle in order to associate the transfer of rule with shared emotional consent. However, the deep attachment that is felt to exist between each swearer is often exploited by dynastic competitors at court, who perceive the love for a new sovereign to be spontaneous and impulsive, rather than controlled. As such, the structures of group swearing are often subject to artful manipulation by rival claimants to promote the accession of a new ruler as conciliar, rather than unlawful.               * The common law prioritization of seniority between claimants for the throne was at the root of Elizabeth’s relationship with parliament for much of her reign.6 Matters came to a head in the 1580s when various plots were exposed in relation to the likely accession of Mary, Queen of Scots who, as the eldest surviving descendent of Henry VII’s daughter Margaret, was Elizabeth’s next lawful heir. In order to combat this threat, and reinforce the prerogative initiated by the earlier Henrician Succession Acts of 1534 and 1536, William Cecil and Francis Walsingham created the Bond of Association, in which all participants swore to ‘bind [them]selves, every one of us to the other, jointly and severally in the band of one firm and loyal society’ with the aim of protecting the Queen against anyone who would ‘risk harm upon her person’, and agreeing ‘never to allow, accept or favour any such pretended successor’ imposed on them from without.7 The Bond was sworn by the Privy Council and leading ecclesiastical figures at Hampton Court on 19 October 1584 before being disseminated to local magnates across the realm, amongst whom it was enthusiastically received.8 Indeed, swearing the Bond became something of a cultural trend, particularly in the fringe counties of the North which returned a huge number of signatories reaffirming their loyalty to the legitimate English queen.9 Like the earlier Succession Acts, the root of fealty was imagined by Elizabeth and her council to derive from the emotional inclination of her subjects to ‘love’ their natural ruler. In a transcription of an exhortation to execute Mary, Queen of Scots, which was published for mass consumption by the Queen’s printer Christopher Barker, Robert Cecil describes the origin of the Bond as a spontaneous overflow of public feeling: Thousands of your Majesties most liege and loving Subjectes, of all sorts and degrees, that in a tender zeale of your Majesties safetie, have most willingly both by open subscription and solemne vowe, entred into a firme and loyall association, and have thereby protested to pursue unto the death, by all forcible and possible meanes, such as she is by just sentence nowe found to be.10 The ‘vowe’ was carefully orchestrated by Cecil and Walsingham to establish a common groundswell of support for the monarchy in case of a possible assassination. It meant that each subscriber could be called on to resist the new regime under the threat of being labelled an oath-breaker. Even so, it is imagined that the vow emanates from the wellspring of emotion inside every subject. The ‘tender zeal’ in particular, cited as the basis of the vow, is unusually coercive in its stress on the shared and affective nature of the action being articulated. The word ‘zeal’ is defined in the OED as ‘rendering Latin zelus (or æmulatio), Greek [zelos], denoting ardent feeling or fervour’, whilst the word ‘tender’ suggests ‘delicacy or feeling or susceptibility to the gentle emotions’.11 Taken together, the ‘tender zeal’ which causes the Bond to manifest itself in the populace is the materialization of an inner feeling of care mobilized through imitative corporeal action. Put another way, it is a pact whose affective potentiality to bind is generated by the replicated emotional behaviour of the fellow swearer. In the letter to Leicester, Elizabeth is quoted as having particularly noted the import of this aspect of the Bond, stating ‘I doe acknowledge […] your true heartes, and great zeale to my safetie.’12 Not only is the oath regarded as an expression of loyalty which has its basis in emotion, but it is also recognized as politically binding because it is produced by the common body as one mass – literally, in corporeal terms, as well as metaphorically. The Bond, however, was problematic in relation to the laws of succession. In the event that Elizabeth was killed and a vacuum was opened in the State, a conciliar body would have the power to suspend the transference of royal authority until a suitable claimant could be agreed upon.13 What was imagined to happen in the interim at the level of government was left tellingly vague, but several historians have interpreted the slightly revised Bond, known as the Instrument of an Association, as authorizing a radical intervention in monarchical politics. Patrick Collinson, for instance, has gone so far as to define the text as a ‘quasi-republican statement’ which, in the event of Elizabeth’s murder, would account for the period following her death ‘without reference to any laws or rights of succession’.14 Although it may have been understood by some of Elizabeth’s contemporaries to act as a short-term deterrent to Catholic aggression rather than an ideological manifesto, the Instrument does indeed promote a model of statehood which is conciliar and proto-oligarchic in the handling of power, particularly in relation to the channels through which sovereignty is both instituted and legitimized. That the source of this power is to some extent emotional as well as legal is a useful way for Cecil and Walsingham rhetorically to link the interregnum they envisage to the mobilization of the common body in the Instrument; just as the zeal for the Queen is shared and even generated through group action, so can the government harness a similar type of fellow-feeling to ensure a conception of sovereignty which is diffused among its members. In the late sixteenth century such concerns turned out to be moot. As we know, there was no regicide, and on Elizabeth’s death the succession bypassed Henry’s will to settle on the common law claimant James VI of Scotland. But the seriousness with which the emotion of the swearer was factored into a lawful pact, a pact which could feasibly have turned a monarchy into a non-elective oligarchy, attests to the potency of feeling as a very real agent of political change. * The Bond of Association’s influence can be felt on the title page of the first published edition of William Shakespeare’s play Titus Andronicus.15 The earliest quarto famously states that the text was ‘Plaide’ by ‘the Earlie of Derbie, Earle of Pembroke, and Earle of Sussex their Servaunts’. Of these three patrons, there is definite proof that Henry Stanley, 4th Earl of Derby, held a sumptuous ceremony in Wigan proclaiming his assent to the Bond in a ritualized display of compliance. Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, and Henry Radclyffe, 4th Earl of Sussex, were both members of the Privy Council in 1584, and would have taken their oaths at Hampton Court. Trusted as they were with defending the Welsh heartland and the Solent respectively, it is highly likely that they would have also reinforced their support for Elizabeth by gathering their own subscriptions.16 So the theatregoer who picked up a copy of Shakespeare’s text would have been reminded, albeit subtly, of the condition of due allegiance and fealty which was a standard expectation of each and every subject, regardless of their rank; the three patronic titles, so unusual in early modern printing practice, almost function as the emulation of a shared aristocratic confederation in miniature. The scenes of communal swearing amongst the Andronici, collapsed fairly close together in the quarto text, would have resonated with a readership that had recently been called on to reinforce their sense of solidarity to the Queen and each other through the imitative structures of a group vow. Titus Andronicus opens with a debate on different forms of government. Andrew Hadfield has summarized this succinctly, stating that Saturninus ‘expects absolute obedience from his subjects’ whereas Bassianus’ speech is ‘rooted in an ideal of consent’. For Hadfield, Shakespeare stages a debate between hereditary right and meritocratic endorsement, with Titus as a supplement to Bassianus’ more elective claim.17 However, this misses some of the specificity in the precise ideological nature of the lawful basis of election put forward by Marcus. The phrase ‘pure election’ (Titus, i. 1. 16) cited by Bassianus would have carried connotations of hereditary privilege, the word ‘pure’ used ‘in reference to breeding or lineage; of unmixed origin or descent’.18 In this sense, it would have evoked a limited type of election from amongst the immediate claimants; it may also have been redolent of the propinquity outlined in the Succession Acts of the 1530s and 1540s. Marcus uses the word ‘election’ in a slightly different context: […] the people of Rome, for whom we stand A special party, have by common voice In election for the Roman empery Chosen Andronicus. (Titus, i. 1. 20–24) The association of ‘election’ with the ‘common voice’ acts as a subtle corrective to Bassianus and introduces a third ideological concept of unbridled merit based on military service, supported by the section of the populace which most closely aligns to a proto-democratic body. The word ‘election’ carried its more politicized meaning of communal assent in relation to state policy at this time, so Shakespeare correlates the vote of the commons for Titus with both the recognition and the endorsement of choice as a crucial aspect of Roman government.19 In the first scene of the play, the Andronici are fashioned as a competing faction with a distinct political identity; familial, communal and egalitarian, in direct opposition to the fractious members of the royal bloodline. When Titus rejects the vote of the Tribunes, he instantly arouses the suspicion of Saturninus, whose claim to rule is dependent on birthright rather than character or talent. In particular, Saturninus rails against Titus’ ability to secure the emotional endorsement of the populace: ‘Andronicus, would thou were shipped to hell | Rather than rob me of the people’s hearts’ (Titus, i. 1. 210–11). Although Titus repeats this phrase a few lines later, stating that ‘I will restore to thee | The people’s hearts, and wean them from themselves’ (Titus, i. 1. 214–15), the ability to do so is perceived to lie with Titus alone; only he has the authority to unloose a form of political recognition which has been bestowed on him by the assent of the commons. The metaphor of the heart is used expressly to associate this kind of elected ratification with feeling, as is the corresponding notion of Titus as a parent who will ‘wean’ the people from their own bodily appetites; recall, for instance, Michael Renniger’s conceptualization of fealty for Elizabeth as emitting from the ‘harte’. However, the heart image also acknowledges the existence of a reserve of emotional agency in the common body which can be used as the basis for a non-hereditary conception of government. Securing the goodwill of the people was not necessarily a signification of democratic affiliation: Thomas Elyot used similar corporeal imagery to advise Henry VIII that the ‘benevolente mynde of a governour’ should be able to bind ‘the hartes of the people unto hym, with the chayne of love’ as part of a reminder that widespread political support had a significant emotional component.20 But in the context of the competing models of rule developed throughout the opening act of the play, the imagery of emotional attachment further associates the Andronici with a lawful claim to sovereignty which is generated, on some level, by the passionate goodwill of the ‘citizens, burgeses & yeomen’ who are ‘accompted to make the commons’.21 When Saturninus orders the execution of Martius and Quintus on flimsy evidence without the hope of pardon, Titus is subject to the whims of the royal prerogative. Not only this, the entire machinery of government which coalesces around Saturninus, including the mediating figures of the Tribunes who are able to intercede for the people in particularly contentious matters, refuses to acknowledge Titus’ plea for a pardon. When faced with a form of legal redress which is blatantly corrupt, Titus and the Andronici communicate their frustration to each other through heightened displays of pain: ‘Sorrow concealed, like an oven stopped, | Doth burn the heart to cinders where it is’ (Titus, ii. 3. 36–37), cries Marcus, as he simultaneously voices his private despair at seeing the mutilated Lavinia and ventriloquizes her own imagined response in an insistence on the purgative power of utterance. If the affiliation of the people is understood on some level to be emotional in early modern political thought, then the Andronici stand in at this moment, almost metonymically, for a common body which is end-stopped and glutted rather than participatory. Just as the metaphorical ‘cinders’ are imagined to burn the oven they are placed in, so the potential for social obligation, in which the support of the state through military service is rewarded through the implementation of due redress, is heartbreakingly turned inwards. Shakespeare’s imagery of conflagration not only evokes the horrors of extreme pain but hints at wider damage to the civic infrastructure when such a process is ignored. The lack of justice is evidently distressing for the Andronici, given their exemplary military service and willingness to prioritize their fidelity to the ‘empery’ (Titus, i. 1. 14) above their own familial cause. However, the use of affective imagery, particularly the tears which are obsessively mentioned throughout Act iii Scene 1, suggesting their sheer volume and excess, re-orients, quite subtly, the basis of loyalty away from the perpendicular structures of monarchical rule and directs it instead to the family members themselves. In Act iii Scene 1, Titus associates his tears with impotence in relation to linguistic affect: for some reason his plight is unable to move the listener, which is all the more distressing considering the horror which he is trying to convey. Quintilian argues that the skilful orator should be able to produce feeling in the listener or interlocutor by re-creating an approximation of the emotion of the subject being articulated. Intrinsic to this idea is the conception of emotion as simulated or produced through linguistic effects, rather than something that is genuinely experienced by the speaker: If we wish to give our words the appearance of sincerity, we must assimilate ourselves to the emotions of those who are genuinely so affected, and our eloquence must spring from the same feeling that we desire to produce in the mind. (Institutio, vi. 2. 2–3)22 One reason Titus fails to persuade the Tribunes or anyone else to heed his plea is that the emotional source from which the language is drawn is too intense, precluding the synthetic mimicry which is a fundamental aspect of Quintilian’s dictum: ‘My tears are prevailing orators’ (Titus, iii. 1. 26) Titus states, substituting the fluidic response to affective rhetoric for the language used to initiate the act of purgative weeping. Evidently there is a problem with Titus’ conception of emotion in relation to political language, encouraging stagnation rather than action. Adrian Streete has characterized the linguistic register at this point in the play as a prolonged lament, with an attendant focus on the inactivity which results from the overuse of this particular mode: ‘Rhetoric personifies the lamenter either through stasis or excess as he tries to find some way of engaging with the past and the future.’23 The notion of the Andronici as time-stopped and permanently arrested in the present moment is also an indication of the blockage of their emotional fealty to Saturninus, which is unable to run in the proper civic channels due to his obstruction of justice. Action is turned into re-action as the family reflect on their own situation without hope of converting their pain into the dynamic, affective redress which they so evidently desire, and which they should be able to reasonably expect as members of an advanced polity with a secure system of law and equity. The urgent need to substitute inactive lamentation for political action is noted by Titus. At one point he offers a plea to an undefined entity: ‘If any power pities wretched tears, | To that I call’ (Titus, iii. 1. 209–10). The appeal for empathy is not only unheeded but reinforced by the grotesque raising of a severed hand in an oxymoronic gesture of non-vocation. Yet the Andronici are able to use their family bond as a means of recouping a type of emotional solidarity which they are no longer able to direct towards Saturninus. In a political context defined by the abuse of prerogative, the affective recognition of familial pain is a form of agency which is mutual and self-supporting rather than deferential; as such it can be harnessed to associate obedience to lawful government with obedience to the principle of civic cohesion between members of the state. One way in which the Andronici are able to exploit the potential for rhetoric to envision a form of action is through recourse to a very different linguistic custom to that of lamentation: the vow. Titus You heavy people, circle me about, That I may turn me to each one of you And swear unto my soul to right your wrongs. The vow is made. Come, brother, take a head, And in this hand the other I will bear. And Lavinia, thou shalt be employed: Bear thou my hand, sweet wench, between thy teeth. (Titus, iii. 1. 277–83) The dismembered Andronici are reunited at the moment of pledging to associate emotional co-operation with the reinstitution of the family as a political force. The severed heads of Martius and Quintus are held aloft by the living members, along with Titus’ hand, to define the vow temporally as a future act of revenge for the past wrongs done against the dynasty. It is significant that Titus does not situate the precise moment at which the compact is made in an easily identifiable place in the syntax. Rather, it is displaced to the circle of bodies on stage, suggesting a physical bond that is reflexively able to guarantee itself.24 John Kerrigan has stated that ‘the corporeal is […] active when its concreteness is used to secure what is slippery in language,’ so the potentiality of a rhetorical oath to be scrutinized by an audience, some of whom may well have been trained in disputation, is offset by a visual tableau which indicates that the bond sworn by the Andronici is self-generative and contained.25 However, this action also conceptualizes the vow as emotional in nature, participating in a culture of swearing that is alert to the embodied nature of assent. As stated earlier, the Bond of Association required the ‘loving Subjectes’ to draw on their ‘tender zeale’ when making the ‘vowe’, situating feeling itself as a substance with the potential to turn a simple promise into a sacred endeavour. For Titus and the Andronici, this moment charts the shift from lamentation to decisive action by utilizing the physicalized image of fellow-feeling to associate their own intervention with a more conciliar model of participation in the State. In line with Quintilian’s precepts, the emotional blockage that preceded the swearing ceremony is transferred from the Andronici to the vow itself, in that it is able to convert emotion into effect through providing an outlet for the desired redress to be rendered permissible and even possible. The communal vow sworn by the Andronici would also have recalled the paradoxical assumption of licence which existed at the heart of the Bond of Association.26 Just as Cecil and Walsingham initiated a group pact which had the ability to ‘isolate sovereignty’, to quote Stephen Alford, so the Andronici are able to subsume to the supra-natural authorities which govern licit swearing into their own cause and endeavour, all the while acting to preserve the polity.27 Their vow is reinforced in Act iv by a second oath involving ritual movement of kneeling and rising, and presaged again on the participation of different members of the Andronici dynasty: Marcus And swear with me […] That we will prosecute by good advice Mortal revenge upon these traitorous Goths. (Titus, iv. 1. 89, 92–93) Prosecution had already acquired its legalistic connotations in the late sixteenth century, meaning ‘to bring a charge against; to arraign before a court of justice; to indict’.28 It is also used twice in the Bond of Association alongside the variants ‘prosecution’ and ‘prosecuted’, making it one of the most prominent promissory verbs in the text.29 Taken together, the deployment of the word implies that the Andronici perceive themselves not only to be acting in accordance with the law by positioning themselves in opposition to Saturninus and the court, but also to be interpreting it in a manner that is more in line with accepted custom. To prosecute ‘by good advice’ also implies that the second oath is not strictly limited to the swearers alone, but will be shaped and modified by the council of others, possibly because any outside observers, such as the Tribunes, perceive the action of the Andronici to be more egalitarian in emphasis. Although it is notable that the promissory aim to elicit revenge is complicated by Lucius’ allegiance with the ‘traitorous Goths’ (Titus, iv. 1. 93), the second vow suggests that Marcus is shifting some of the more ambiguous tenets of Titus’ oath into a politicized and legalistic framework. When Lucius returns to Rome at the end of the play he is at the head of an army, conflating private revenge with a public takeover of the State. A vacuum has evidently been opened up by the massacre of the extended royal family, which Marcus skilfully exploits, recalling the rhetoric and imagery of corporeality to associate the Andronici with a conciliar model of government: Marcus people and sons of Rome […] O let me teach you how to knit again […] These broken limbs again into one body. (Titus, v. 3. 65, 69, 71) The recovery of the body politic is analogous to the reunion of the severed Andronici in the stabilizing structure of a vow, particularly through the use of the word ‘knit’; a corresponding restoration of civic values will result from this first, tentative step in societal re-organization: Marcus The poor remainder of Andronici Will hand in hand all headlong hurl ourselves And on the ragged stones beat forth our souls And make a mutual closure of our house. (Titus, v. 3. 130–33) The projected ‘mutual’ suicide of Marcus and Lucius recalls the ritualized movement of group pledging which insisted on communal solidarity. Indeed, the phrase ‘hand in hand’ is repeated a few lines later (Titus, v. 3. 135), acting as a citation or even a slogan which explicitly associates the Andronici cause with egalitarianism and proto-democratic co-operation; it also evokes the communality of the mass swearing which was a central component of the Bond of Association. At the start of the play, Shakespeare debated the differing conceptions of government, measuring the privileged notions of heredity and ‘pure election’ (Titus, i. 1. 16) against a form of meritocracy supported by the Tribunes. Ultimately, the model that is settled upon is the third, with Lucius serving as an avatar or proxy of Titus as elected representative. What has happened here is quite astonishing, particularly in light of the self-legitimization produced by the rhetorical features of swearing: the Andronici have harnessed the affective feeling which solidifies a group oath to promote it as a binding model of ideal government, which is then actualized – or even literalized – in the closing moments of the text. The oath does not emblematize an existing abstract model of succession in law, but rather prefigures it. Marcus is a canny politician who has seen the potential of communal swearing to offer a conception of fealty which insists by its very nature on the primacy of the common body, but which can also be used to institute a change in political regime. It is telling that the ‘floods of tears’ which cause him to ‘break [his] utterance’ (Titus, v. 3. 90–91) are an example of aposiopoesis rather than the genuine stultification of expression; the emotion which was channelled into the oath to provide redress is now a means of coercing the people into accepting his own nephew as ruler. * On the accession of Lucius at the conclusion of Titus Andronicus, it would be easy to assume that Shakespeare is attuned to the radical potentiality inherent within group swearing. However, the case is more intricate than it first appears. The people of Rome express a preference to be governed by Titus but revert to hereditary monarchy almost by default, or even on his direction, when the ‘empery’ (Titus, i. 1. 14) is rejected. The notion of election appears to be reinstituted when Lucius is offered the crown and the Andronici cause is ultimately ratified, but the people never express a preference for Lucius. Instead the two models are oddly unified through the institution of an elected ruler which manifests itself as the start of a new ruling dynasty, with Lucius as a kind of heir apparent. The communal oath is supple enough to bring both forms of government into uneasy consort without decisively settling on one or the other. This troubling multivalency at the centre of group pledging was also identified by some of the first swearers of the Bond of Association, particularly Thomas Digges who warned against ‘all degrees and estates then risinge in Armes at such a tyme as there is no cowncell of estate in Lyfe, no Lawfull general […] no presidente, no Judges, no sheriffes, no justices’.30 In the early 1590s, when the idea of a temporary oligarchy was a very real possibility of governance following the death of Elizabeth, the success with which the Andronici use the emotional feeling attendant on fealty to lock themselves into a licit oath is suggestive of revised societal relations inherent in group swearing; what is truly striking is that it is able to act as the basis of the institution of a new ruling power. Group swearing may be a method of exploring the ideological possibility of conciliar rule, even as an interim between monarchies and with no real access to those outside of the aristocracy. However, it is also a force potent enough to activate a change which may not have been envisaged in the rhetorical terms of the original binding pact. Emotion is a suggestive substance to use in the solidification of lawful obligations, particularly those central to government such as the succession, but its messiness and unpredictability, its sheer human qualities, are apt to blur the abstract principles which it is often called on to verify. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Many thanks to Adrian Streete for reading an early draft of this article, and to the guest editors for their scrupulous notes and comments. Footnotes 1 Michael Renniger, A Treatise Conteining […] an Exhortation to True Love, Loyaltie, and Fidelitie to Her Majestie (London: 1587), sig. B3r. 2 My understanding of early modern emotion as fundamentally material in nature is indebted to Gail Kern Paster’s conception of ‘psychophysiology’: ‘For the early moderns, emotions flood the body not metaphorically but literally, as the humours course through the bloodstream carrying choler, melancholy, blood, and phlegm to the parts and as the animal spirits move like lightning from brain to muscle, from muscle to brain.’ See Gail Kern Paster, Humoring the Body: Emotions and the Shakespearean Stage (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), pp. 12–15 (p. 14). For other works which develop and extend the corporeal ‘turn’ in criticism of the emotions, see: Reading the Early Modern Passions: Essays in the Cultural History of Emotion, ed. by Gail Kern Paster, Katherine Rowe and Mary Floyd-Wilson (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004); and Michael C. Schoenfeldt, Bodies and Selves in Early Modern England: Physiology and Inwardness in Spenser, Shakespeare, Herbert, and Milton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). 3 Elizabeth I, ‘The Bond of the Association’, in Elizabeth I: Collected Works, ed. by Leah S. Marcus, Jane Mueller and Mary Beth Rose (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2000), pp. 183–85. 4 William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, ed. by Jonathan Bate (London: Arden, 1997). All references to this play will be to this edition, unless otherwise stated, and given parenthetically. 5 The term ‘vow’ is unusually supple in grammar, acting as both a noun and a verb, as noted by John Kerrigan in Shakespeare’s Binding Language (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), p. 7. As a verb, it is able to reinforce an infinitive through the phrase ‘I vow to’, situating its promissory properties within a network of reinforced lexical action, and making it highly amenable to group vowing. 6 In order to counter the legitimacy of the Princess Mary in the eyes of Catholic Europe, and amongst a large number of his own subjects after his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, Henry initiated a series of Succession Acts in the 1530s and 1540s which separated the right to rule from the abstract and programmatic system of male-preference primogeniture, and redirected it to the law as willed by the king’s prerogative and ratified by parliamentary assent. For more detailed scholarship on the development of the Succession Acts, and their impact on thought surrounding the law of succession in Elizabeth’s reign, see: Mortimer Levine, The Early Elizabethan Succession Question (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1966); and E. W. Ives, ‘Tudor Dynastic Problems Revisited’, Historical Research, 81 (2008), 255–79. 7 Elizabeth I, ‘The Bond of the Association’, p. 184. 8 Patrick Collinson, ‘The Monarchical Republic of Elizabeth I’, in Elizabethan Essays (London: Continuum, 1994), pp. 31–57 (p. 48). 9 David Cressy, ‘Binding the Nation: The Bonds of Association, 1584 and 1696’, in Tudor Rule and Revolution: Essays for G. R. Elton from his American Friends, ed. by Delloyd J. Guth and John M. McKenna (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), pp. 217–34 (pp. 221–25). 10 Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, The Copie of a Letter to the Right Honourable the Earle of Leycester (London: 1586), sig. B4r. 11 ‘Zeal, n.1.’; ‘tender, adj. and n.8.a.’, in OED. Accessed at <http://www.oed.com> [accessed 11 July 2017]. 12 Cecil, The Copie of a Letter, sig. C4r. 13 Stephen Alford, ‘A Politics of Emergency in the Reign of Elizabeth I’, in English Radicalism, 1550–1860, ed. by Glenn Burgess and Matthew Feinstein (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 17–36 (pp. 25–26). 14 Collinson, ‘The Monarchical Republic of Elizabeth I’, p. 50. 15 Although the Bond of Association was a highly visible and influential document in the 1580s, very little critical work has been undertaken to assess its impact on the aesthetic and political import of group oath-taking on stage. The most significant piece of work to emerge on this topic is John Kerrigan’s pioneering recent study of oaths and vows in early modern dramaturgy; Kerrigan, Shakespeare’s Binding Language, pp. 126–46. However, Kerrigan touches on the topic only briefly. For perhaps the only other major exploration of swearing in the play, see Thomas P. Anderson, ‘“What is Written Shall Be Executed”: “Nude Contracts” and “Lively Warrants” in Titus Andronicus’, Criticism, 45 (2003), 301–21. 16 For a detailed account of the political function of the Privy Council in relation to the succession, see Stephen Alford, The Early Elizabethan Polity: William Cecil and the Succession Crisis, 1558–1569 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). 17 Andrew Hadfield, Shakespeare and Republicanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 157. For two highly cogent explorations of the political and legal context of the play, see: Andrew Hadfield, Shakespeare and Renaissance Politics (London: Arden, 2004), pp. 120–37; and Derek Dunne, Shakespeare, Revenge Tragedy, and Early Modern Law: Vindictive Justice (Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), pp. 49–70. 18 ‘Pure, adj. and n. 2.d.’, in OED. Accessed at <http://www.oed.com> [accessed 11 July 2017]. 19 ‘Election, n. 1.a.’, in OED. Accessed at <http://www.oed.com> [accessed 11 July 2017]. 20 Thomas Elyot, The Boke Named the Governour (London: 1537), sig. Q6r. 21 Thomas Smith, De republica anglorum (London: 1583), sig. D1v. 22 Quintilian, The ‘Institutio oratoria’ of Quintilian, trans. by H. E. Butler (London: Heinemann, 1921). For further explorations of the rhetorical context of the play, see: G. M. Kendall, ‘“Lend Me Thy Hand”: Metaphor and Mayhem in Titus Andronicus’, Shakespeare Quarterly, 40 (1989), 299–316; and Nancy L. Christiansen, ‘Synecdoche, Tropic Violence, and Shakespeare’s Imitatio in Titus Andronicus’, Style, 34 (2000), 350–78. 23 Adrian Streete, ‘Titus Andronicus and the Rhetoric of Lamentation’, in The Bible on the Shakespearean Stage: Cultures of Interpretation in Reformation England, ed. by Thomas Fulton and Kristen Poole (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). 24 The phrase ‘the vow is made’ is in the present simple tense using the passive voice. However, the necessitation of the past tense form of the verb ‘made’ implies that Titus understands the actual compact itself to have previously occurred; scansion aside, it would not have been unfeasible for Shakespeare to use the continuous present, ‘I am making’, if he wanted to stress its present-ness. This implies that the moment the vow is activated exists in an extra-linguistic space, further emphasizing the desire of the Andronici to legitimize their political revenge outside of a rhetorical formation which can be easily scrutinized. 25 Kerrigan, Shakespeare’s Binding Language, p. 134. For a detailed exploration of disputation in relation to audience responses to early modern drama, see Michelle O’Callaghan, The English Wits: Literature and Sociability in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 35–59. 26 By this, I mean the irony of swearing to protect the Queen whilst using a custom which to an extent relies on royal assent. For a more detailed exploration of this complexity, see Collinson, ‘The Monarchical Republic of Elizabeth I’, p. 50. 27 Alford, ‘A Politics of Emergency’, p. 26. 28 ‘Prosecute, v. 4.a.’ in OED. Accessed at <http://www.oed.com> [accessed 11 July 2017]. 29 Elizabeth I, ‘The Bond of Association’, p. 184. 30 Thomas Digges, PRO, S.P. 12/176/26; quoted in Collinson, ‘The Monarchical Republic of Elizabeth I’, p. 51. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press for the Court of the University of St Andrews. All rights reserved. The University of St Andrews is a charity registered in Scotland: No. SC013532.

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