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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The English lyrics of the Henry VIII manuscript Siemens, Raymond G.


The Henry VIII MS (BL Additional MS 31,922)—a song book with lyrics by Henry VIII, Thomas Wyatt, William Cornish, and other literary figures of the early Henrician court—is a document that contributes greatly to a critical understanding of the connections between poetry, patronage, and power in early Renaissance society because of the prominence of its chief author, the King himself, and the manuscript's reflection of literary, social, and political elements of the early Tudor court. Acknowledging that the contents of the Henry VIII MS have been thoroughly treated as "words for music" by the musicologist John Stevens, whose Music and Poetry in the Early Tudor Court and Music at the Court of Henry VIII are the standard works in the area, my thesis builds on existing scholarship to treat the lyrics of H chiefly as "words," as literary texts. The chief focus of this work is the fifty-three English lyrics longer than one line, many of which are extant in the Henry VIII MS alone; the four English incipits and seventeen foreign lyrics and incipits are gathered in the appendices. Intended to be the beginning of a larger work toward the demonstration of the Henry VIII MS' importance both as a poetic and cultural document, my thesis provides the first text of the English lyrics of this manuscript intended for an audience of literary scholars and students. In introductory chapters, my thesis provides an analysis of the manuscript's content, text, and context; ultimately, my work aims to provide the basis for a more complete consideration of the Henry VIII MS' foundation in literary tradition, its influence, and its place within the court culture of early Tudor England.

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