In December I’ll be giving a paper called Tracing the reputation of Polydore Vergil: scholarly debates and cultural change during the English Reformation. This will be for the Society, Culture and Belief seminar taking place at 5.30pm in room G37, Senate House (University of London) on 5 December 2013. The Society, Culture, and Belief seminar is free and open to all so please feel free to come along.
My forthcoming talk for the Society, Culture and Belief seminar at the Institute of Historical Research is progressing by slow degrees. I chose to focus on Polydore Vergil as all of my work thus far has focused on Protestant scholars but they are only one part of the story. Vergil is interesting because he brought a humanist approach to history over to England at the beginning of the sixteenth-century and was highly acclaimed for doing so, yet he was also vilified in part because he was an Italian priest caught up in the politics and religious disputes of the century, but also because he had dared to question the validity of English origin stories.
I could easily spend the entire 40 minute paper just retelling Vergil’s story including a basic rendition of what happened to his reputation after he published his Anglica Historia. Indeed, I’m hoping to investigate exactly what John Leland and John Price said as rebuff soon after they had seen Vergil’s history. I’ll enjoy retelling the words of John Bale and John Foxe – both of whom describe Vergil as something of a pantomime villain. But there is more here than simple disagreement and debate amongst sixteenth century scholars. The numerous attacks on Vergil’s reputation and his history, presents to us in microcosm an aspect of the changes occurring more widely in England during and shortly after his life. This study can therefore tell us something more about English culture distant from the academic controversies.