Tuesday, December 29, 2009

(St) Philip Howard takes upon him a quarrel

I came across this thrasonical document on EEBO, where it is attributed to St Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel. It is a challenge at tilt, issued in print, and in the spirit of Elizabethan neo-medieval chivalry of which Sidney and Essex were exponents – the opening flourish here could be in the Arcadia:

Callophisus, being brought by the greatest perfection in another to the smallest liberty in himself, having the foundation of his choice so firm as it cannot decay, and finding the place of his imprisonment so strong as he cannot escape: will be at the Tilts end upon the two and twenty day of January next ensuing, at one of the Clock in the afternoon, there to defend and maintain against all men whosoever, for six courses a piece, the whole six, or any of the six Articles which follow, whereunto he challengeth all, that either Honour any Lady, whom they may brag of for any worth: or serve a Mistress, which hath reason to boast of her self for any beauty, by these first three Articles.

1 The first, that his Mistress is for Beauty of her face, and the Grace of her person, the most perfect creature, that ever either the eye of man hath beheld, the Arte of Nature hath framed, or the compass of the earth hath enjoyed.

2 The second, that it is as impossible for any other whosoever, to abide the beams of his Mistress’ look, as for the Clouds to endure the shining and appearing of the Sun, and that the one doth not sooner vanish at the showing of the Sun, then the other will suddenly fade at the presence of his Mistress,

3 The third, that the perfections of his Mistress, are in number so infinite, in quality so excellent, and in operation so effectual, as she by the help of them, and they by the direction of her, do make more men without liberty, and more bodies without hearts, then any, or all the women in the world besides.

And because Callophisus doubteth that the taking upon him a quarrel which is so just on his side, will make that he shall have none to defend the contrary against him, and that the worthiness of his mistress will steal away the Servants of other Ladies, he will with one only assistant, challenge all that either have opinion in the constancy of their love, or assurance in the greatness of their affection, by these other three Articles.

4 The first, that Callophisus for his faith will yield to none, and for his loyalty doth think himself above all, and in these two respects pronounceth himself most worthy to be accepted into favor with his Mistress· or to receive grace at the hands of the fairest.

5 The second, that the good will and affection of Callophisus to his Mistress, is for impression so deep, for continuance so lasting, and for passion so extreme, as it is impossible for any other to carry so perfect love, or to conceive the like affection.

6 The third, that those adventures and hazards, which cannot but be most sour, to any other for the pleasing of any Lady (whom they Honour) are most sweet unto him, for the contentment of the Mistress whom he serveth.

And if they neither will contend with him for the superiority of his Mistress in worthiness, nor for the prerogative of himself in affection, having not their judgement veiled with so partial an humor as may lead them to resist of manifest and open truth, and doubting a bad success in a wrong opinion, because Veritas vincet omnia, then will he, & his said assistant, with all such, run six courses, to join with them in honouring of his Mistress, which hath no equal, and expressing of his affection which cannot be matched.

Whereas this challenge of Jousts, was signified by way of device before her Majesty, on Twelfth night last past, to have been performed the fifteenth day of January, her Majesty’s pleasure is for divers considerations, that it be deferred until the two and twenty of the same month, and then to be held at Westminster, the accustomed place.

Proclaimed by the sound of Trumpet, and a Herald.”

The final paragraph betrays a moment where reality intrudes upon this fantasy. Howard, swarthy of skin, and long of face and body, had the money to sustain his role as ‘Callophisus’ (I guess that the romance name is meant to suggest ‘beautiful face’), but didn’t have, in the all-important opinion of the Queen, the looks to hold her attention. He seems to have spent enormous sums of money on these efforts to draw favour to himself (in an account cited in the ODNB, he “Wasted a great part of that Estate which was left him, by profused expences of great Summs of money in diverse Tiltings & Tourneys made upon the anniversary dayes of the Queen's Coronation to please her, and at the entertainment of Certain great Embassadors, and also by the entertaining of the Queen her self”). But it seems that on 12th Night 1581, the Queen could not face sitting through another set of jousts by the lanky Earl, and put him back a week. I assume that she would have been the royal ‘Mistress’ whose virtue and beauty are so extravagantly touted in the challenge.

If this big event ever came to anything (for the printed announcement seems to come down to Howard actually expecting no challenger, and that he anticipates going through the motions with his ‘assistant’), it cannot have gratified his hopes, for 1581 was the year when Howard flung away from the court in pique at his neglect, and found that Arundel Castle was seething with the Jesuits and priests harbored there by the wife he had been ignoring for ten years. Disaffected, Howard was an easy mark. At last he had someone prepared to give him the attention he had sought. He wavered in faith straight away, and was converted by 1584. In 1585 he tried to flee abroad, but like his other enterprises, this was ineptly carried out: he was captured, and spent the rest of his life in the Tower of London.

His sainthood (1970) seems largely to have been founded on the still surviving inscription he carved on the walls of his cell: “quanto plus afflictionis pro Christo in hoc saeculo, tanto plus gloriae cum Christo in futuro’ (‘the more affliction we endure for Christ in this world, the more glory we shall obtain with Christ in the next’, the ODNB author translates it, though wouldn’t ‘in this age’ seem more accurate for ‘in hoc saeculo’?)


He was also alleged to have died of poison, and so he had been a kind of martyr. But it does seem to me that he was potentially worth more to the Queen alive. She didn’t like him, the Howards were far too wealthy, and he’d turned Catholic: but I’d have thought the Queen rather hoped for a big payout when he had finally had enough of the Tower. He, though, was offended enough, obstinate enough (or sincere enough) to hold out. As for the Queen, she did promise to restore him to all his honours if he attended Church of England services, but just maybe with the thought that his freedom would involve her in having to pay polite attention to all that jousting all over again.

After his unlikely canonization, Howard’s remains were installed in a shrine in the Catholic Cathedral at Arundel, where he is visited by Catholic bloggers who otherwise busily seek out the 39 martyrs, their relics, and Tridentine masses.

But what a surprising document his announcement that he will be on display jousting at the tilt-yard is! The spirit of medieval romance, but put into print - no doubt circulation was confined to court circles, but wasn’t it still classier to send your herald round with a trumpet and a vellum scroll? In print, Howard seems more nakedly self-advertising, to be desperately promoting an entertainment already bumped down the royal schedule. It survives in the Folger Shakespeare Library, I do not know with what provenance. An early hand has practiced penmanship on it, the reverse has a superscription “O Lorde save my soule, for I doe put my truste in thee”. I suppose this might even be the Earl himself, for that was the reverse side of the posturing Callophisus, searching for an ideal to defend, a service in which to be the unchallenged paladin.

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