Anglo-Scots Relations and Representations of Women, 1560-1612

Gibbs, Joanna Bridget. 2000. Anglo-Scots Relations and Representations of Women, 1560-1612. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The thesis contends that dramatists, pamphleteers and poets mobilised issues of gender in a bid to negotiate transitions in the relations between Scotland and England during the period 1560-1612. It examines the extent to which the sexual politics of, amongst others, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and Robert Greene are informed by concerns over the balance of power between Scotland and England if brought together in the formation of Great Britain.

The discussion opens with an investigation into the ways in which images of women were used to address the balance of power between territories. Chapter One explores the metaphor of union as marriage in tracts from the Edwardian and Jacobean union debates, Greene's The Scottish History of James IV, and Shakespeare's Cymbeline and The Winter's Tale. The chapter argues that, given the patriarchal basis of early-modern marriage, and with England most often figured as husband, Scotland as wife, the trope tends to perpetuate the discourse of English suzerainty. However, John Russell and Shakespeare are shown fruitfully to complicate the metaphor and the imperial meanings which accrue to it.

Focusing on selected texts from the Elizabethan Succession Debate--including Thomas Norton's and Thomas Sackville's Gorboduc and the co-authored play The Misfortunes of Arthur--Chapter Two reads representations of Mary Queen of Scots as an index of Protestant polemicists' conceptions of the impact the Queen's Catholicism might have on Scotland's place in a 'godly' nation.

Chapter Three argues that Macbeth., like The Misfortunes of Arthur, contains territorial divisions between Scotland's Celtic, Highland region and the Lowlands and England. The Anglo-Lowland alliances of both dramas are shown to be informed by the discourse of suzerainty, and their Lowland/Highland divisions to suggest religious difference and the necessity of containing a Highland region implicitly identified with Catholicism.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Scotland; England; women; gender; sexual politics; 1560-1612; literature; Anglo-Scot relations

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

01 Jul 2020 09:16

Last Modified:

18 Oct 2022 12:37


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