"Subjected Thus": Plague and Panopticism in Richard II
Nick Cox
Leeds Metropolitan University

Cox, Nick. "Subjected Thus": Plague and Panopticism in Richard II ." Early Modern Literary Studies 6.2 (September, 2000): 5.1-44 <URL:

  1. In the late summer of 1592 Elizabeth I went on progress through the rural counties of southern England, abandoning London to the ravages of one of the most virulent and prolonged outbreaks of plague in the city during her reign. Elizabeth's journey would be preceded by letters, like that to Lord Norris of Rycote, who was ordered to postpone the local fair at Thame "to the which doe usually resort many Londoners with wares, which in this tyme of the generall infection within the citty of London may be verie daungerous." [1] The fear of 'Londoners' who brought with them dangerous contagions to the fairs of north Oxfordshire would preoccupy Norris and the Privy Council later in the decade, when rumours of insurrection passed promiscuously amongst itinerant workers at the Michaelmas fair. Just as, on that later occasion, what concerned the authorities was the spread of sedition borne by London vagrants to the provinces, so in September of 1592 it was from the capital that the Council expected the pestilence to be spread, and on the mobile bodies of those 'dangerous trades': peddlers, tinkers, chapmen, ballad-singers and sellers, itinerant healers and entertainers proscribed by successive vagrancy acts. [2] Like riots, plague was regarded as an urban disorder incubated and spread by the marginal men and women who occupied the suburban fringes of the city. According to the foremost historian of early modern epidemics, Paul Slack, plague "was a problem potentially greater and personally more threatening than the problems of poverty, vagrancy and suburban disorder; but it was a problem linked with those other social diseases." [3] As Slack has shown, plague has its specific history but it is one which fuses with the more general history of the movement of disorderly bodies and of the mechanisms designed to fix, delimit and discipline them, in early modern England. The instability of the London suburbs, constantly transformed by influxes of vagrants and migrant workers, made them appear to the City authorities as a relatively lawless domain, more difficult to police because of their shifting population and marginal location. Once disease had gained a foothold in these peripheral communities, it was feared, it could invade the heart of the metropolis, just as the vagrant immigrants crept from the extramural zones into the City. [4] It is in the response of the Elizabethan government to these dangerous circulations that we can trace, I would argue, the emergence of strategies of discipline and surveillance that mark the installation within Renaissance England of a modality of power that has been meticulously delineated in the work of Michel Foucault.

  2. In Foucault's genealogy of disciplinary strategies, the order for "measures to be taken when the plague appeared in a town" offers "a compact model of the disciplinary mechanism." [5] The plague-stricken city is an "enclosed, segmented space, observed at every point, in which individuals are inserted in a fixed place, in which the slightest movements are supervised,... in which power is exercised without division, according to a continuous hierarchical figure, in which each individual is constantly located, examined and distributed among the living beings, the sick and the dead" (DP, 197). The English plague orders, first systematically formulated in the 1570s and given their final form in 1583, can be read precisely in these terms. They commanded Justices of the Peace to meet once every three weeks during the visitation of the plague to hear reports on the progress of the infection from the 'viewers': those appointed to keep a tally of the dead, the sick and the living in each parish. Agents of a constant surveillance these men oversaw the sealing-up of infected houses and the incarceration of their inmates, "whether sick, or healthy," for at least six weeks. [6] In this carceral space, Foucault argues, "inspection functions ceaselessly. The gaze is alert everywhere" (DP, 195). The Elizabethan orders instituted their own vigilant militia: the watchmen, appointed to enforce the confinement of the diseased within their stricken houses, to oversee the passage of food into these small prisons and to prevent all movements from them, except for the final journeys, undertaken at dusk to prevent the formation of crowds around the grave pits, of the bodies of the dead. [7] In London, where the threat of plague was most serious, the Privy council advocated the imposition of regulations that were "more rigorous and more elaborate than [those] imposed on the kingdom as a whole," including the construction of a "large corps of officials" with the role of establishing and sustaining constant supervision of the city and enforcing "the policy of household segregation." In every parish there were to be 'visitors and keepers of the sick, "purveyors" of provisions with which to supply them, and overseers' who would supervise the confinement of the sick, the movements of the healthy and the burials of the dead. [8] Whilst the pesthouse built in St Giles Cripplegate in 1594, in which the victims of the plague were to be isolated, might have signalled the persistence of the model of segregation and banishment provided by the medieval lazar houses, the regulations instituted by the Privy Council image urban space as a site on which power seizes hold: "the town immobilised by the functioning of an extensive power that bears in a distinct way over all individual bodies." The Orders figure "the plague-stricken town" not, or not only, as the site of dangerous contagions but as the "utopia of the perfectly governed city" (DP, 198).

  3. The monarch's abandonment of the city in her flight from the plague does not, then, signal the suspension of government. Rather the withdrawal of sovereign presence is the occasion for an installation of a technique of "meticulous tactical partitioning in which individual differentiations were the constricting effects of a power that multiplied, articulated and subdivided itself" (DP, 198). As the monarch vacates the city and draws with her the spectacular constellation of courtly individuals that revolves around the splendour of the absolutist prince, the metropolis is transformed from a stage to a prison: "Everyone locked up in his cage, everyone at his window, answering to his name and showing himself when asked - it is the great review of the living and the dead" (DP, 196). This carceral city seems, superficially, reminiscent of the utopia of unbroken visibility and unrelenting surveillance envisaged in Bentham's Panopticon. Yet, as Foucault is at pains to point out, the panoptic institution and the plague-stricken town stand at opposite ends of a historical process which marks "the transformation of the disciplinary mechanism" (DP, 205). In the case of plague regulations the modernity of the strategies to which civic and state governments resorted arise from "an exceptional situation: against an extraordinary evil, power is mobilized; it makes itself everywhere present and visible; it invents new mechanisms; it separates, it immobilizes, it partitions; it constructs for a time what is both a counter-city and the perfect society." This "ideal functioning" of power is limited by its similarity "in the final analysis" to "to the evil that it combats," for it subjects the entire city "to a simple dualism of life and death: that which moves brings death, and one kills that which moves" (DP, 205).

  4. In England, where the resort to threat of execution seems to have been rendered unnecessary by the rigour with which the practices of confinement and surveillance were implemented and enforced, it is perhaps not the entrapment of the regulations in a thanatocratic schema that prevents the perpetuation and extension of such strategies but the contradictory character of the late Renaissance social formation. The development and spread of disciplinary mechanisms corresponds, in Foucault's account, to the "increase in the floating population" and "the growth in the apparatus of production" that is discernible in the "classical period." Disciplinary strategies emerge as a response to the "need to adjust the correlation" between population growth and economic production: turning the idle mass into productive labourers. The disciplines become necessary because "neither the residual forms of feudal power, nor the structures of the administrative monarchy, nor the local mechanisms of supervision, nor the unstable, tangled mass they formed together could carry out this role" (DP, 218).

  5. Even during epidemics, when the Council at least sought to establish a quasi-panoptic regime of confinement and surveillance, they were confronted by a Renaissance metropolis which assumed the aspect of an ungovernable morass. The divergence of interest and mutual antagonism between the City and the State authorities in the response to the plague is symptomatic of a wider incoherence in the governmental reaction to the expansion of the urban populace. This unstable and potentially dangerous multiplicity presented "a number of problems for which the old economy of power was not sufficiently equipped" (DP, 219). The complex amalgam of institutions and individuals who sought and fought to govern London in the 1590s were, as Foucault says of the Ancien Regime, "hindered from doing so by the irregular and inadequate extension of their network" and "by their often conflicting functioning" (DP, 218-219). In its ambitious proposals for the plague orders the Privy Council dreamt of establishing, in the disorder and confusion of the Elizabethan capital, a city "traversed throughout with hierarchy, surveillance, observation, writing" (DP, 198). This invocation of the disciplinary citadel delineates not so much the premature modernity of the plague orders, as the lacuna at the centre of urban government in the late sixteenth century. The orders figure an urban populace segmented, individualised, observed and policed. The appeal of this image of the city for the late Renaissance governors lay in the radical alterity of its ordered spaces to the Elizabethan capital, whose population swarmed amidst a confusion of imperfectly supervised and overlapping domains. To arrest the disorderly flows of people; to prevent the dangerous conglomeration of bodies in buildings thrown up in chaotic proximity; to construct a knowledge of those who lived on the city's margins; these were objective that would remain the urgent but ultimately elusive goal of the Elizabethan governing strata throughout the crisis years of the 1590s.

  6. The rationale of the plague orders could not be sustained and generalised because, for all their affinity with the disciplinary techniques they remained, in Foucault's phrase, "turned inwards towards negative functions." The plague-stricken city forms a "discipline-blockade" (DP, 209) which is constructed within an economy of power whose functioning is "costly." Proceeding by deduction: funded by unpopular new levies on the citizen; centred on the prohibition of movement, labour, exchange and discourse; the deprivation of liberty and even of life, the plague orders produced nothing, apart from resistance. They mark the emergence of disciplinary techniques but they differ, crucially, from panopticism, which Foucault describes as "a functional mechanism that must improve the exercise of power by making it lighter, more rapid, more effective, a design of subtle coercion for a society to come." The "movement from one project to the other, from a schema of exceptional discipline to one of a generalized surveillance, rests on a historical transformation: the gradual extension of mechanisms of discipline throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, their spread throughout the whole social body" (DP, 209).

  7. The disciplines emerge, in early modern societies, "in specific, relatively closed spaces," their "total implementation... imaged only at the limited and temporary scale of the plague-stricken town" (DP, 209). Nonetheless in Renaissance England the plague orders provide a glimpse of an economy of power fundamentally different from that of the absolutist state. For, although the response to the plague does not represent the installation of panopticism within the social body, it does mark the onset of a historical process which has as its outcome the "swarming of the disciplinary mechanisms," when the subtle techniques of coercion "emerge from the closed fortress in which they once functioned... to circulate in a 'free' state; the massive compact disciplines are broken down into flexible methods of control, which may be transferred and adapted" (DP, 211). The "panoptic arrangement provides the formula for this generalization" for Bentham's "celebrated, transparent, circular cage, with its high tower, powerful and knowing" was both "a perfect disciplinary institution" and the key to "'unlock' the disciplines and get them to function in a diffused, multiple, polyvalent way throughout the whole social body"; forming "a network of mechanisms that would be everywhere and always alert, running throughout society without interruption" (DP, 208-209). If it is not quite the sign of its realisation, the plague-stricken town is the mantic diagram of power through which the Renaissance might glimpse the panoptic society to come.

  8. It is not, perhaps, coincidental that the regulations for the plague are implemented as the monarch abandons the city for "the body of the king, with its strange material and physical presence, with the force that he himself deploys or transmits to some few others, is at the opposite extreme of this new physics of power represented by panopticism" (DP, 208). If the "meticulous tactical partitioning" (DP, 198) of the city envisaged by the plague orders intuits the formation of a disciplined society, then the evacuation of the sovereign which preceded their implementation in 1593 prefigures the process by which "a procedure of subordination of bodies and forces" would "increase the utility of power while dispensing with the need for a prince" (DP, 208). A profound irony, for the plague orders "derived their authority from the royal prerogative unrestrained and undiluted"; they "had no statutory support until 1604" and "did not even have a royal proclamation to legitimise them." [9] Yet the power which the orders imaged, which fixed individuals within a cellular grid of observation and registration, and operated through a hierarchy of supervisory gazes, follows "the general principle of a new 'political anatomy' whose end and object are not the relations of sovereignty but the relations of discipline" (DP, 208).

  9. If, in London, the visitation of the plague signalled a temporary occlusion of the sovereign presence, the systematic regulation of urban space instituted by the plague regulations did not always end with the cessation of an epidemic and the disciplinary techniques deployed to confront the contagions of the mass were not always subsumed by the restoration of the spectacular power of the prince. In Salisbury the plague of 1627 provided the town oligarchy with what they interpreted as "a heaven-sent opportunity for complete social reform." In his speech to the first quarter sessions after the plague, the Recorder of Salisbury -- Henry Sherfield -- demanded "a reformation, a true and real reformation of this city." During the epidemic his ally, the mayor John Ivie, had claimed that the epidemic was caused by "all the drunkards, whoremasters, and lewd fellows" in the city. He had determined that his "first priority" in the struggle against the plague "must be to control the 'great unjust rude rabble.'" In the wake of the visitation Sherfield listed the "gross and foul sins" that had brought the plague: "drunkenness, Sabbath-breaking, prophane swearing and idleness" and the oligarchy determined that the city should be subject to a regime that would foster "a new discipline, a new cleanliness, a new godliness." The implementation of "a radical and expensive scheme for poor relief" was followed by the erection of "a new workhouse, a new storehouse and tight control of the drink trade." [10] The urban elite at Salisbury, like that of Dorchester or Gloucester in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, sought to establish in their cities "a reformed, disciplined, more truly godly community." [11] Their towns were increasingly subject to a regime characterised by, in Christopher Hill's words, "the discipline advocated by the Puritans' typified by 'supervision, control, education, examination, punishment." [12]

  10. The urban context of such projects was not coincidental. The minister John White, who was the catalyst for the reformation of Dorchester, considered towns the ideal arena for the imposition of discipline on the populace: "bodies nearly compacted are more easily and better governed... than a people scattered and dispersed abroad," he claimed. In Dorchester, according to David Underdown's recent study, "good order would be enforced in family, workplace, town and parish. Children educated in piety, obedience and industriousness; work provided for the able-bodied, support and relief for the aged and infirm; drunkenness, idleness and immorality punished and their perpetrators reformed." [13]

  11. Such sustained attempts to regulate, order and transform the disorderly urban poor indicate the potentiality for the perpetuation of disciplinary techniques beyond the moment of extreme crisis represented by the plague. The 'bastions of moral reformation' in late Elizabethan and early Stuart England were all transformed in the wake of catastrophic events (plague in Salisbury, fire in Dorchester, economic collapse in Gloucester); these crises operated as the point of rupture with the old regime with its tolerated or incorrigible quotient of disorder. [14] The trajectory pursued by these towns provides an indication of the potential the urban space provided for the ramification of disciplinary techniques beyond the crisis that elicited them. They remain isolated laboratories of coercive and regulatory strategy but within the "discipline blockade" marked by their walls a molecular revolution in the exercise of power is made permanent. It is not coincidental that these towns were to typify "that factious humour which possessed most corporations" [15] during the English Revolution: they were infused by a political rationality whose elaboration was radically at variance with the "old principle of 'levying-violence', which governed" the absolutist economy of power (DP, 219).

  12. The absolutist monarchy and with it the state and the legal apparatus are constituted on the basis of and in opposition to what Foucault describes as the "dense, entangled conflicting powers" of feudal society: "powers tied to the direct or indirect dominion over land, to the possession of arms, to serfdom, to bonds of suzerainty and vassalage." The absolutist state emerges as a machine "of regulation, arbitration, and demarcation, as a way of introducing order in the midst of these powers, of establishing a principle that would temper them and distribute them according to a fixed hierarchy." The superpower of the monarch is promulgated as "a principle of right" that transcends all the "heterogeneous claims" of the medieval edifice: "the slogan of this regime, pax et justitia, in keeping with the function it laid claim to, established peace as the prohibition of feudal or private wars, and justice as a way of suspending private lawsuits." [16]

  13. It is precisely this position that Richard II seeks to assume in the first scenes of Shakespeare's play. The aristocratic contention figured in Bolingbroke and Mowbray's dispute elicits Richard's exhortation: "Wrath kindled gentlemen, be ruled by me" (1.1.152) [17] and his pacific discourse alludes to a body politic whose integrity will be guaranteed only by the elimination of conflict through the acceptance of the sovereign's right to enforce a rapprochement amongst the nobility:

    Let's purge this choler without letting blood.
    This we prescribe, though no physician;
    Deep malice makes too deep incision.
    Forget, forgive, conclude, and be agreed;
    Our doctors say this is no month to bleed. (153-157)

    Crucially the monarch's capacity to exact the obedience he commands is, however, immediately challenged. Bolingbroke and Mowbray re-deploy the discourse of fealty to articulate their rival claims with renewed vigour and the monarch is forced, it seems, to allow "swords and lances" to "arbitrate/The swelling difference" (200-201) he has failed to placate, in the ritualised violence of formal combat. Richard's reluctance to see the "kingdom's earth... spoiled/With that dear blood which it hath fostered" (1.3.125-126) is manifested once more, however, in his ultimate prohibition of violence. In checking the ritual blood-letting he had earlier ordained, Richard discloses the contradictions of absolutism. Whilst he seems willing, initially, to see the violent conflicts of the nobility played out in the classically feudal rite of personal combat, he is terrified by the prospect that the "grating shock of wrathful iron arms,/Might from our quiet confines fright fair peace" (136-137) and reads in the "rival-hating envy" of the combatants "the eagle-winged pride/Of sky aspiring and ambitious thoughts" (129-131).

  14. Richard's anxieties mirror precisely those of Elizabeth who, according to Lawrence Stone, displayed "extreme caution, even timidity... in the face of aristocratic violence," a circumspection he suggests provides "striking evidence of the insecurity of [her] position." It was with the objective of eliminating the threat posed by aristocratic rebellion that the institutions of the centralised state emerged. Crucial to the gradual pacification of the nobility would be the law for, as Stone points out, "the lengthy process of sixteenth-century lawsuits allowed tempers to cool, acted as a lightning-conductor for local violence, and transferred the battle from the countryside to Westminster." "Slowly the Tudors taught the lesson that there was a higher authority whose will could in the last resort override that of even the greatest magnates in the realm." [18] This 'lesson' was instilled through the exercise of a power that Foucault describes as "centred primarily around deduction (prevelement) and death". [19] Aristocratic resistance was confronted by the subtracting machine of the absolutist state manifested in the Privy Council, the Court of Star Chamber and the Councils of Wales and the North, which exhausted the time, money, influence and cultural capital of the elites and appropriated the lands, property, liberty and ultimately the lives of the recalcitrant.

  15. It is this logic of deduction that Richard pursues in his attempts to counteract the violence of his powerful subjects. The banishment he imposes on Bolingbroke and Mowbray is accompanied by the extraction of a string of promises designed to prohibit future words, deeds and alliances:

    You never shall, so help you truth and God,
    Embrace each other's love in banishment,
    Nor never look upon each other's face,
    Nor never write, regreet, nor reconcile
    This lowering tempest of your home-bred hate,
    Nor never by advised purpose meet
    To plot, contrive, or complot any ill
    'Gainst us, our state, our subjects, or our land. (183-190)

    The insistent repetition of "never" and "nor" punctuates a prospective temporality structured by prohibited gazes, words, meetings and plans. The King's sentence eschews the most severe of penalties: imprisonment or death but, as Mowbray complains, banishment imposes on the subject a silence which is akin to both. "Within my mouth," he laments, "you have engaoled my tongue,/Doubly portcullised with my teeth and lips" (166-167) for if "My native English, now I must forgo" (160) then "dull unfeeling barren ignorance/Is made the gaoler to attend on me" (169). "What is thy sentence then but speechless death," he demands of Richard, "Which robs my tongue from breathing native breath?" (172-173).

  16. Gaunt, too, figures Bolingbroke's banishment in terms of death; the father's "inch of taper" will "be burnt and done" before his son's return "And blindfold death" will "not let me see my son" (223-224). Moreover Richard's attempt to mollify Gaunt elicits a remarkable critique of the modality of power he embodies; the King's insistence that the old man "has many years to live" (225) prompts Gaunt to reply "But not a minute, King, that thou canst give" (226). Gaunt's words figure sovereign power as curiously ineffectual: "Shorten my days thou canst," he acknowledges, "but not lend a morrow" (227-228); the ravages of time can be exacerbated by monarchs, Richard's "word is current with him for my death/But dead, thy kingdom cannot buy my breath" (231-232).

  17. "Power," according to Foucault, "is tolerable only on condition that it mask a substantial part of itself. Its success is proportional to its ability to hide its own mechanisms." [20] Gaunt's words provide a limpid insight into the functioning of sovereign power and of the juridical mechanism through which it operated. In the absolutist state the monarch "evidenced his power over life only through the death he was capable of requiring. The right which was formulated as the 'power of life and death' was in reality the right to take life or let live"; its operation was limited to that of "a subtraction mechanism, a right to appropriate a portion of the wealth, a tax of products, goods and services, labour and blood, levied on the subjects" which "culminated in the privilege to seize hold of life itself." [21] Gaunt's capacity to figure Richard's power in terms of its lacunae suggests that a recognition of the inadequacy of the absolutist mechanism was coextensive with its formation.

  18. This 'negative' aspect of power-as-deduction is vividly evinced by Richard's admission that "for our coffers with too great a court/And liberal largess are grown somewhat light" he is "enforced to farm our royal realm,/The revenue whereof shall furnish us" for the wars in Ireland (43-46). This process involves the simple expropriation of his subjects' wealth by "Our substitutes" who are to "have blank charters/Whereto when they shall know what men are rich," they will "subscribe them for large sums of gold/And send them after to supply our wants" (48-51). Here, precisely, is that concept of power as "a right of seizure." [22] The death of Gaunt is, therefore, not only welcomed but willed by Richard for "The lining of his coffers shall make us coats/To deck our soldiers for these Irish wars" (61-62).

  19. The representation of sovereign power as a regime of expropriation demonstrates, however, that it is increasingly incapable of operating as an efficient political technology. If, as Foucault argues, tyranny might be defined as a form of power whose exercise is made visible, whose legitimating discourses fail to disguise its functioning, in Richard II the deductive mechanism of monarchical power is no longer obscured, as it was, at least partially, in the absolutist states, by the apparatus of the law. The law is figured as simply coextensive with the will of the monarch, Richard's need for money subsumes all other rights and interests and obliterates their legal sanction: the property of his subjects is simply redefined as his.

  20. The rupture marked by this is most clearly manifested in Richard's seizure of the dead Gaunt's "plate, coin, revenues, and moveables" (2.1.161). York's response figures this as a violent breach of the process of "fair sequence and succession" and, as such, the mechanism by which "thou art King" (198-199); for "to seize and grip into your hands/The royalties and rights of banished Hereford" is to "take from Time/His charters and his customary rights" (189-190;195-196). As York implies, Richard's gross manipulation of the machinery of the law radically undermines the basis of his own power, for the absolutist state is constituted on the basis of its capacity to subsume the conflicting claims and ambitions of the feudal aristocracy within the legal apparatus. Richard's explicit manipulation of the law to fine "The nobles.../For ancient quarrels' and the "daily" imposition of "new exactions" (249-250) is not fundamentally dissimilar to the process by which the Tudors crippled aristocratic resistance. Whilst the gradualism of Elizabeth and her predecessors who, Stone records, "relied on the slow shift of habits and customs during a prolonged period of peace... rather than on ruthless intervention from the centre" worked to "reduce the authority of the magnates," this text, by compressing the process dramatically, makes it explicit as an act of expropriation. [23] The violent breach of legal process manifested by Richard's deduction of his subjects' rights, lands and wealth ensures, according to Ross, that he has "quite lost their hearts" (246-248).

  21. The political mechanisms through which Richard's power is manifested is represented in the text as a form of tyranny because it operates within a discursive framework which implicitly, but insistently, offers alternative models of government. Gaunt's famous admonition of the King, for instance, condemns Richard for breaking the relationship between the ruler and the state and simultaneously insists that this connection is, or should, be indissociable. "A thousand flatterers" occupy the space of Richard's "crown,/Whose compass is no bigger than thy head" and "encaged in so small a verge" the monarch abandons the "land" which reverts, according to Gaunt, to ungoverned "waste" (100-13). His misrule consists in failing to recognise the realm for which the sea performs "the office of a wall,/Or as a moat defensive to a house" (47-48) as a space in which the government of souls is integral to the maintenance of territorial security. For Gaunt the dominion is composed not only of "this dear dear land" but also, and crucially, of the "dear souls" (57) who inhabit it, work it, make it productive. The condition of the state "now leased out.../Like to a tenement or pelting farm" (59-60) marks a radical fissuring of the governor from the governed, in which Richard is reduced to the status of "Landlord of England..., not king" (113). The "state" that is "bondslave to the law" (114) makes "a shameful conquest of itself" (66), the "inky blots and rotten parchment bonds" (64) of legal practice functioning increasingly and explicitly as a "repressive state apparatus" which leaves the state "bound in with shame" (63).

  22. The deductive mechanism of Richard's (mis)government is radically inefficient because it works to produce not "souls" but "slaves," not to augment the productivity of "This blessed plot" (50) but to bleed it dry. Gaunt's critique of this attempt to rule through expropriation and seizure, in consuming the targets and the agents of power (subjects, territory and their productive imbrication) deprives him of the means of manifesting his power: "light vanity... /Consuming means, soon preys upon itself" (2.1.38-39), he says, warning Richard "Thy deathbed is no lesser than thy land,/Wherein thou liest in reputation sick" (95-96). Richard cannot evade the spreading contagion of the sick land for his misrule has itself brought down the pall of miasmic dis-ease on the state. Like the "Contagious fogs which, falling in the land" (A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2.1.90), condemn "The human mortals" (101) in A Midsummer Night's Dream to famine and a plague of "rheumatic diseases" (105), the "progeny of evils" (115) that mark the "distemperature" (106) of the English state finds its "parents and original" (117) in the malaise at the centre of power. Richard is figured in Gaunt's discourse as a "careless patient" who "Commitest thy anointed body to the cure/Of those 'physicians' that first wounded thee" (97-99). In a body politic wracked by the ravages of absolutist power Gaunt's "present sickness" operates as the symbol of the monarch's "unkindness" which works "like crooked age,/To crop at once a too-long withered flower" (135-137). Richard's deprivations leave "the king stand[ing] generally condemned" (2.2.131) by "the wavering commons" (128), whose "love" -- according to Bagot -- "Lies in their purses" (129); for the king who "empties them/By so much fills their hearts with deadly hate" (129-130). The unmitigated and explicit inequity of the regime over which Richard presides necessarily generates resistance and Bushy's fear of a rising, in which "the hateful commons" will turn "like curs" to "tear" the courtly elite "to pieces" (137-138), inscribes in the text a trace of that fear of popular resistance which was to be a recurrent preoccupation of the governing strata in the 1590s. What is significant here is that the text indicates that political mechanisms which correspond to those of the Tudor state are wholly inadequate technologies of subjection, generating rather than eliminating resistance.

  23. Richard leaves for Ireland with the state teetering on the point of revolutionary turmoil and, as his support withers before the returning Bolingbroke, the Welsh captain reads "signs" that "forerun the death or fall of kings" as "lean-looked prophets whisper fearful change" (15;11). A reversal of the expropriatory logic of Richard's rule seems imminent as, according to the captain,

    Rich men look sad, and ruffians dance and leap
    The one in fear to lose what they enjoy,
    The other to enjoy by rage and war. (12-14)

    This crisis of subjection, marked by what York calls the "sick hour" that the monarch's "surfeit" has "made" (84), is, significantly, the moment which Bolingbroke exploits as the aperture through which to project an alternative modality of power. Just as the monarch's withdrawal from the plague-stricken city institutes an unacknowledged interregnum, which provides the space for a regime of disciplinary government to take hold of the disordered city, so Richard's withdrawal from and ultimate abandonment of the English state generates the political hiatus which Bolingroke's new regime will fill.

  24. Whilst the subtracting mechanism of Richard's reign fosters discontent and disorder Bolingbroke's return is signalled by the enunciation of a "fair discourse" which, for Northumberland at least, "hath been as sugar,/Making the hard way sweet and delectable" (2.3.6-7), whilst Ross and Willoughby "wanting" his "company" (10) nevertheless have their journeys "sweetened with the hope to have/The present benefit I possess" (13-14). In contrast to Richard's identification in the text with deprivation, impoverishment and death, Bolingroke's "presence," according to Ross, "makes us rich" (2.3.63).

  25. Bolingbroke is possessed of no 'legitimate' claim to the English state and his capacity to pose as governor is grounded in the success with which he harnesses and deploys the bodies of the population to work in the pursuit of his own strategic objectives. Like other Shakespearean texts written during the 1590s Richard II offers a representation of the installation of disciplinary tactics in the late Tudor polity, but it provides a more radical and systematic figuration of the increasing redundancy of absolutist sovereignty consequent on that process than perhaps any other text of the period. Richard's demise provides a textual trace of an only incipient occlusion of the absolutist regime. Bolingbroke's simultaneous ascent marks, I hope to demonstrate, the emergence, in the receding shadow of the spectacular corporeality of Renaissance absolutism, of a disciplinary technology and temporality.

  26. At his return to England Richard greets the land, the territory he possesses (or possessed), rather than the subjects who inhabit it: "weeping, smiling, greet I thee, my earth,/And do thee favours with my royal hands" (3.2.10-11). In a vivid, if bathetic, articulation of the metaphysics of absolutist sovereignty, Richard claims a mystical power to command the land itself, urging:

    Feed not thy sovereign's foe, my gentle earth,
    Nor with thy sweets comfort his ravenous sense
    But let thy spiders that suck up thy venom,
    And heavy-gaited toads, lie in their way
    Doing annoyance to the treacherous feet
    Which with usurping steps do trample thee. (12-17)

    Richard seeks to activate the legitimating discourse which figures absolutism as a 'natural' phenomenon, ordained by the divinity and thus integral to His creation. Since the monarch's authority derives, in the last instance, from God then it can be expected that threats to that authority will be construed as 'unnatural.' Richard's appeal to the earth is therefore an appeal to a concept of 'order' which figures political authority as part of a 'natural' system of hierarchies. It is based not so much in a 'belief' that the earth will fight than in a conviction that the act of rebellion will not go unchallenged, even if the monarch lacks the means to suppress it. The claim that "This earth shall have a feeling, and these stones/Prove armed soldiers" (24-25) is, moreover, an attempt to re-establish, at the level of discourse at least, the severed connection between the land and "her native king" (25).

  27. For Richard the state remains, fundamentally, land, territory; in his rhetoric the populace are evoked only as a metonymic vehicle for the image of the loyal landscape. Bolingbroke, however, works by mobilising the population against the land which Richard invests with symbolic significance. Scroop recounts that Bolingbroke "cover[s]" the "fearful land/With hard bright steel" and, more significantly, "hearts harder than steel" (110-111). Whilst Richard laments impotently "Revolt our subjects? That we cannot mend./They break their faith to God as well as us" (100-101) and predicts "woe, destruction, ruin, and decay" (102), Bolingbroke enlists the populace in pursuit of his iron purpose. Scroop's account records a rebellion in which

    Whitebeards have armed their thin and hairless scalps
    Against thy majesty. Boys with women's voices
    Strive to speak big and clap their female joints
    In stiff unwieldy arms against thy crown.
    Thy very beadsmen learn to bend their bows
    Of double-fatal yew against thy state.
    Yea, distaff-women manage rusty bills
    Against thy seat. (112-119)

  28. The power that Bolingbroke exercises is, significantly, one which makes the relatively unproductive (the old, the young, women) work in its interests. In this it manifests a shift from a concept of the populace simply as subjects to be ruled and towards a concept of them as a useful population. If, as Foucault argues, disciplinary power emerges as the effect of a series of mechanisms for increasing the docility and utility of multiplicities then, in the spectacle of Bolingbroke's army, the text offers a vivid instance of a power that transforms unproductive individuals into a strategically useful collective. As such, the text provides a proleptic figuration of that moment when "the traditional, ritual, costly, violent forms of power" are "superseded by a subtle, calculated technology of subjection" (DP, 221).

  29. In the face of Bolingbroke's successful coercion of the populace Richard vacillates between a residual belief in the metaphysics of absolutism and a recognition of the vacuity of its claims. Whilst he insists that "The breath of worldly men cannot depose/The deputy elected by the Lord" (56-57) and maintains that "For every man that Bolingbroke hath pressed/...God for his Richard' has 'in heavenly pay/A glorious angel" (58-61), news of his dwindling support forces him to recognise the utility of material, living and obedient subjects. Hearing that the Welshmen, who constituted his last substantive means for resisting the coup, "Are gone to Bolingbroke - dispersed and fled" (73-74), he is brought to recognise that the bodies of his subjects need to be usefully deployed in order to guarantee the security of the state; their draining from him is a form of bleeding from the absolutist body politic:

    But now the blood of twenty thousand men
    Did triumph in my face; and they are fled.
    And till so much blood come hither again
    Have I not reason to look pale and dead? (76-79)


  30. The vulnerability of the absolutist edifice he represents is signalled by the complete failure of its technologies of subjection, a process manifested in the flow of men to Bolingbroke: "All souls that will be safe fly from my side" he admits (80). Ultimately the monarch, whose power is a power of death rather than over life, acknowledges his own mortality: "Within the hollow crown/That rounds the mortal temples of a king," Richard admits, "Keeps death his court"; the prince is allowed "a little scene,/To monarchize, be feared, and kill with looks" but this power-as-fear is a "vain conceit" which sustains the delusion that "this flesh which walls about our life" is "brass impregnable" (160-168). At the point when his power to command death and to sustain his own life has been arrested, Richard is divested of the spectacular carapace that encases the body of the monarch, his deposition is a fall into subjectivity. "Cover your heads" he urges the onlookers "and mock not flesh and blood/With solemn reverence" for his is an illusion of power, generated through the ritualised structures of "respect,/Tradition, form and ceremonious duty" (171-173). As the capacity of these practices to elicit obedience wanes, the king who is an effect of their functioning dwindles to a subject:

    I live with bread, like you; feel want,
    Taste grief, need friends. Subjected thus,
    How can you say to me I am a king? (175-176)


  31. Himself "subjected," Richard is brought to recognise that the system of rituals and representations through which his power is exercised has a very precarious purchase on the bodies it seeks to govern. The crisis of legitimation signalled here is an effect of the expanded domain of government that is revealed to Richard as a consequence of the enforced recognition of his own somatic materiality. The power he administers falls short of the minutiae of existence that are suddenly brought into focus by his deposition; its reliance on spectacle and ritual limits its effects to a calculated deployment of the royal image: the play of presence and absence, favour and disfavour, patronage and neglect, all of them overdetermined by the "last instance" of absolutist power: death. The recognition of the body, "subjected" by wants, needs, tastes provides a glimpse of a domain that sovereign power not merely neglects but utterly fails to comprehend. Only with "the setting up... of [a] great bipolar technology - anatomic and biological, individualizing and specifying, directed toward the performances of the body, with attention to the processes of life" was it possible to exercise "a power whose highest function was perhaps no longer to kill, but to invest life through and through." The establishment of these technologies would be the work of centuries as the mechanisms "centred on the body as a machine: its disciplining, the optimization of its capabilities, the extortion of its forces, the parallel increase of its usefulness and its docility" combine with those that "focused on the species body, the body imbued with the mechanics of life and serving as the basis of the biological processes: propagation, births and mortality, the level of health, life expectancy and longevity." This conjunction of the "anatomo-politics of the human body" with "a bio-politics of the population" awaits the end of the classical era and it is not the purpose of this essay to argue for the existence of such systematic practices of subjection, utilization and regulation in the much earlier conjuncture with which I am concerned here. [24]

  32. What Richard II provides, however, is a glimpse of the spaces, neglected in the operation of sovereign power, that these technologies and tactics will come to occupy. When Richard discharges "That power I have," bidding them "go/To ear the land that hath some hope to grow;/For I have none" (211-215) he figures his own demise as the inception of a productive articulation of the territory he laid waste and the subjects he taxed. The emergence of the disciplines would provide the mechanism through which the roving, unstable population of early modern society would be transformed into 'useful' labour power. Richard's words gesture towards this conjuncture and it is no coincidence that, at the moment of his own eclipse, he provides the most vivid projection of the political technology that would be integral to this process: panopticism.

  33. While he still hopes to recover control of the state and while still convinced of the veracity of absolutist discourse, Richard lays claim to an omniscient power analogous to that of "the searching eye of heaven" which, when "hid/Behind the globe, that lights the lower world," permits "Thieves and robbers" to "range abroad" and "unseen" commit "murders" and "outrage[s]" (37-40). This is a conception of power wholly compatible with absolutist sovereignty, for it not only images power in terms of an analogy with 'natural' processes and (implicitly) with the exercise of Divine authority but also as the effect of a full sovereign presence. As such it cannot prevent that interval, that suspension of power, that accompanies the eclipse of the royal body. Yet, in the instance of its functioning, this regal gaze is more extensive and penetrates the recesses of the social body with a precision that is radically incompatible with the splendid but localised blaze of regal glory that typified the spectacular power of the absolutist monarchy. The solar-sovereign gaze imaged in Richard's speech "darts" its unrelenting "light through every guilty hole," plucking off "The cloak of night" that covers "murders, treasons, and detested sins" to leave them "Stand[ing] bare and naked, trembling in themselves" (43-46).

  34. Just as, in the Panopticon, "visibility is a trap" since "full lighting and the eye of a supervisor capture better than" the "darkness" of any dungeon, so Richard's fantasy of unbroken surveillance pinions its targets in a beam of luminosity that not only immobilises the transgressor but also achieves those effects of individualising subjection that Foucault suggests are the objective of panoptic power. "He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and who knows it," Foucault argues, "assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; he makes them play spontaneously upon himself; he inscribes in himself the power relation in which he plays both roles: he becomes the principle of his own subjection" (DP, 202-203). And so it will be, Richard claims:

    ...when this thief, this traitor Bolingbroke,
    Who all this while hath revelled in the night
    Whilst we were wandering with the Antipodes,
    Shall see us rising in our throne, the east, (47-50)

    Fixed by the punitive gaze "His treasons will sit blushing in his face" and "Not able to endure the sight of day" he is imaged held in a state of "self-affrighted" subjection; policed by his own fearful interiority, "trembl[ing] at his" own "sin" (51-53).

  35. For a moment Richard dreams of occupying that place that Foucault suggests would actually be filled by Napoleon: "at the point of junction of the monarchical, ritual exercise of sovereignty and the hierarchical, permanent exercise of indefinite discipline" (DP, 217). In his speech the spectacular symbolism of absolutism, in which the figure of the Sun King operates as a legitimating model for the centralised monarchy which radiates power and justice, is combined with one of the most systematic projections of "a panopticism in which the vigilance of intersecting gazes was soon to render useless both the eagle and the sun" (DP, 217). In eighteenth century France the exercise of "permanent, exhaustive, omnipresent surveillance" is established through the operation of that "police power" which "linked the absolutist power of the monarch to the lowest levels of power disseminated in society" (DP, 214-215). In England the earliest deployment of that "faceless gaze that transformed the whole social body into a field of perception" (DP, 214) was in the plague-stricken city where proto-disciplinary techniques, instituted in the name of the monarch, functioned in her absence. Whilst Richard's return provides the opportunity for his dream of panoptic powers, the regime that Bolingbroke begins to establish in his absence manifests an emergent programme for its realisation. Richard's fantasy of subjecting Bolingbroke within the segmented space established by his panoptic gaze cannot, of course, be realised, for the disciplinary mesh that it envisions runs counter to the metaphysics of sovereignty to which he continues to cling. Indeed that solitary condition of tremulous self-scrutiny, in which he hopes to incarcerate the usurper, is reserved for him.

  36. Bolingbroke's show trial is organised around the objective of coercing Richard into "confessing" to "grievous crimes/Committed by your person and your followers'/Against the state and profit of this land" (4.1.221-223). Eschewing the spectacle of the scaffold, Bolingbroke's strategy is to bring Richard to "ravel out" his "weaved-up follies" and in placing his "offences... upon record" (227-229) ensure that "the souls of men/May deem that you are worthily deposed" (225-226). Once constrained to give "my soul's consent/To undeck the pompous body of a King," to practise upon himself the revolutionary transformation that makes "sovereignty a slave" and "Proud majesty, a subject" (248-251), Richard is stripped of the numinous power of spectacular sovereignty and, with "no name, no title" (253), "know[s] not what to call myself!" (258). The spurious autonomy he claims over the process of his deposition in the assertion "I will undo myself" (202) is ironically undercut as the "face/That every day under his household roof/Did keep ten thousand men" (280-282) is "cracked in an hundred shivers" (288) as he hurls his mirrored image to the floor. This fracturing of the sovereign self signals the demise of that spectacular and unique persona and the displacement of regal externality by what Francis Barker has called "an interior subjectivity." "My grief lies all within," Richard exclaims, pre-empting Hamlet's later claims to "that within which passeth show,"

    And these external manner of laments
    Are merely shadows to the unseen grief
    That swells with silence in the tortured soul.
    There lies the substance. (294-298)


  37. As Barker explains: the formation of this "secular soul" involves "the relocation of the body" as the spectacular corporeality, through which absolutist sovereignty is manifested, "is removed into 'complete and austere institutions', where... it becomes the object - and at its most efficient - the subject of discipline." [25] Richard's interiority, like that which Barker sees under timorous construction in Hamlet, is a hollow vault, marked by "silence" and "shadows," in which the "grief" of the deposed prince can hide "unseen." This figuration of the self as a place of retreat no doubt explains the appeal of the most petulantly absolutist of characters to bourgeois criticism, but in the new order inaugurated by Bolingbroke's rise to power there is no hiding place; even the soul, the soul especially, is a site which power will occupy and regulate.

  38. Bolingbroke's imprisonment of Richard deprives "the royal actor" of his "tragic scaffold," [26] a strategic marginalisation of sovereign power which discloses the modernity of his new regime for, as Foucault points out, the "spectacle of the scaffold" functioned as the site of resistance as well as the scene of punishment, when the crowd turned against the power that bore down on the body of the condemned. Richard II does not offer the cathartic and ambiguous bloodbath that precedes the closure of the tragic scenario and in this the text images that moment when "the old partners of the spectacle of punishment, the body and the blood, gave way"; "the end of a certain kind of tragedy" (DP, 17) when "the great spectacle of physical punishment disappeared; the theatrical representation of pain was excluded from punishment" and "the age of sobriety in punishment had begun" (DP, 14). But it is not simply to prevent a counter coup taking root at the foot of the scaffold, as it will do in Julius Caesar for instance, that Bolingbroke incarcerates the deposed Richard. The shift from 'spectacular' punishments to the 'corrective' technologies which are characteristic of disciplinary strategy is accompanied by a critique of the exercise of power in the absolutist state.

  39. The monarchies of the Ancien Regime came to be associated, in the moment before their demise, with "a badly regulated distribution of power, to its concentration at a certain number of points and to the conflicts and discontinuities that resulted" (DP, 79-80). This "dysfunction of power was related to a central excess: what might be called the monarchical 'super-power', which identified the right to punish with the personal power of the sovereign" (DP, 80). The emergence of "a new strategy for the exercise of the power to punish" will find its rationale in the objective of making punishment "a regular function, coextensive with society; not to punish less, but to punish better; to punish with an attenuated severity perhaps, but in order to punish with more universality and necessity; to insert the power to punish more deeply into the social body" (DP, 81-82). It is with these objectives that the institutions which eventually give rise to the prison, in its 'modern' form, the 'reformatories' or houses of correction, are constituted. In Shakespearean London the Bridewell, founded as early as 1553, stood as an austere prototype of the corrective penality that would be generalised when similar institutions were required by an Act of 1576 to be established in "all counties and corporate towns" in England. As A. L. Beier has argued, "the bridewell was novel, because it sought to transform the vagabond's character"; [27] its objective was the transformation of the idle vagabond into "the obedient subject, the individual subjected to habits, rules, orders, an authority that is exercised continually around him and upon him, and which he must allow to function automatically in him" (DP, 128-129).

  40. In the new dispensation marked by the emergence of these institutions "the expiation that once reigned down upon the body" is "replaced by a punishment that acts in the depths on the heart, the thoughts, the will, the inclinations" (DP, 16). Increasingly power will address itself not just to the body but to the soul, not only as a target to be manipulated but as an object to be constructed. The imprisonment of the monarch can be read therefore as marking the displacement of the old mechanisms of spectacular power by a political technology that typifies the disciplinary society. Bolingbroke's new order manifests itself not in the public annihilation of the monarch's body but in the process of its subjection to individualising confinement.

  41. Disciplinary power operates through a "principle of elementary location or partitioning" and "disciplinary space" is fundamentally cellular; it is "divided into as many sections as there are bodies... to be distributed." In the plague-stricken town early modern social formations instituted one of the earliest forms of this 'carceral' order as every plague-ridden house was transformed into a prison for its occupants. In the bridewells cellular confinement was linked with the 'corrective' penality that would become central to modern technologies of subjection. In these novel institutions the individual malefactor was forced to direct his or her thoughts inward, to begin the process of subjection through which the body and the soul were brought into a hierarchical relation, the latter coming to function as "a factor in the mastery that power exercises" over the former (DP, 30). Early carceral institutions like the houses of correction provide, in Foucault's account, "the 'space between two worlds' the place for the individual transformation that would restore to the state the subject that it had lost" (DP, 123).

  42. Richard's solitary confinement in Act V may be read, therefore, as part of the process through which he will be forced to accept the condition of 'normal' subjectivity. In prison his thoughts are turned back on the wasteful practices of his dissolute reign, as if he has already come to acknowledge the justice of his punishment: "I wasted time, and now doth time waste me" (5.5.49), he muses, recognising the quid pro quo which operates in the mortification of the flesh which he is forced to accept. The soliloquy which will be his last functions also to disclose the implantation of a principle of temporal regulation as integral to the formation of this subjected monarch. "For now hath time made me his numbering clock" he admits:

    My thoughts are minutes, and with sighs they jar
    Their watches on unto mine eyes, the outward watch
    Whereto my finger, like a dial's point,
    Is pointing still in cleansing them from tears. (50-54)


  43. It is a perfect image of that process, fundamental to the operation of disciplinary power, through which an "anatomo-chronological schema of behaviour is defined" and "time penetrates the body and with it all the meticulous controls of power" (DP, 152). "So" Richard's "sighs, and tears, and groans/Show minutes, times, and hours" (57-58) in a textual premonition of that "body, required to be docile in its minutest operations" (DP, 156) that was to be the object of those disciplinary techniques that had the function of "adjusting the body to temporal imperatives" (DP, 151). Such practices would have the objective of increasing the utility of individuals, to "extract from bodies the maximum time and force" through the "use of those overall methods known as time-tables, collective training, exercises, total and detailed surveillance" (DP, 220). In Richard's case the reverse is the case, time does not augment but rather wastes him, body and soul. This should not be surprising, for the intensification of the hold of this new disciplinary temporality over his body natural has as its necessary corollary the withering of the body politic for which he is the symbol. The time whose insistent rhythm dominates the most minute of his movements is avowedly Bolingbroke's time: "my time/Runs posting on in Bolingbroke's proud joy" (58-59), he is forced to acknowledge, "While I stand fooling here his jack of the clock" (60).

  44. The subjection of the 'legitimate' monarch to a regime of carcereal power, realised in the insistent beat of a temporality that subtracts the last vestiges of power from the symbolic body of the prince, provides an indication of the radical breach with what the text figures as a moribund technique of government that Bolingbroke's coup represents. It is, then, not so much the scene which offers a representation of the deposition of the monarch, a scene which, it seems, Elizabeth's censors had excised from the play, that contains the most troubling message for the Tudor monarchy. Even the King's profoundly unspectacular death is less significant than the judgement Bolingbroke passes on his murderer. As Exton offers the usurper, now King Henry IV, the body of the dead king he lays claim to a reward for regicide. Bolingbroke, however, offers neither payment nor, more importantly, the usual punishment for regicide. His response is, rather, to order him to "go wander through the shades of night/And never show thy head by day nor light" (5.6.43-44). This condition of benighted exile will be policed not by some watchful gaoler but, Bolingbroke pledges, by "The guilt of conscience" (41). Like the sentence of "life" (26) in the cell-like confines of some "reverent room" (25) that he imposes on Carlisle, this attenuated penality marks the onset of a new epoch, a disciplinary temporality in which our own concept of 'doing time' begins to acquire its grim significance as the punishment imposed, with monotonous regularity, on the modern subject. Enclosed in their own regulated, policed and delimited space within the Liberties, Shakespeare's company had come, it seems, to understand this modality of power, which imposed itself on the capital and brought a halt to their own practice when pestilence stalked the streets of the Bankside. For it is likely that they pre-empted the inevitable suppression of their play when, from at least 1597, they passed sentence upon themselves and removed the scenes that they knew would incite the wrath of the censor from the text. So it was from within the walls of the 'wooden O' of theatres like the Rose that early modern culture glimpsed the carceral society to come and, as he traced the outline of the self-regulating subjectivity that would inhabit it, the dramatist seems to have imaged the figure who, according to Foucault, occupies "the darkest region" of this new "political field": that "symmetrical, inverted figure of the king," the modern soul "which, unlike the soul represented in Christian theology, is not born in sin and subject to punishment, but is born rather out of methods of punishment, supervision and constraint" (DP, 29).


1. Acts of the Privy Council of England, new series, edited by John R. Dasent (London, 1903), XXIII, 195.

2. A. L. Beier, Masterless Men: The Vagrancy Problem in England 1560-1640 (London and New York: Methuen, 1985), 86-105. For an account of the sedition spread at Oxfordshire fairs and markets see John Walter, "A 'Rising of the People'? The Oxfordshire Rising of 1596," Past and Present 107 (May 1985), 90-143. My own rather different view of the relations between sedition and the rising is outlined in "Rumours and Risings: Plebeian Insurrection and the Circulation of Subversive Discourse circa 1596," in Subversion and Scurrility: The Politics of Popular Discourse in Europe from 1500 to the Present, ed. Dermot Cavanagh and Tim Kirk (Ashcote Press, forthcoming).

3. Paul Slack, The Impact of Plague in Tudor and Stuart England (London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985), 195.

4. Slack, Impact, 188.

5. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979), 195, 197. Hereafter all references to Discipline and Punish are given as DP, along with page numbers, in parenthesis.

6. Slack, Impact, 210.

7. Slack, Impact, ibid.

8. Slack, Impact, 213-214.

9. Slack, Impact, 209.

10. Slack, Impact, 305; Slack, Poverty and Policy in Tudor and Stuart England (London and New York: Longman, 1988), 151; Slack, Impact, 262.

11. David Underdown, Fire From Heaven: Life in an English Town in the Seventeenth Century (London: Fontana, 1993), 90.

12. Christopher Hill, Society and Puritanism in Pre-Revolutionary England, third edition (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986), 121, 239.

13. Underdown, Fire, 91.

14. David Underdown, Revel, Riot and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Culture in England 1603-1660 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1987), 51.

15. Peter Clark, "'The Ramoth-Gilead of the Good': Urban Change and Political Radicalism at Gloucester 1540-1640," in The English Commonwealth 1547-1640: Essays in Politics and Society, ed.Peter Clark, Alan G. R. Smith and Nicholas Tyacke (Leicester: Leicester UP, 1979), 167-187, 167.

16. Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality Volume One: An Introduction (New York: Random House, 1978), 86-87.

17. All references are to the Penguin edition.

18. Lawrence Stone, The Crisis of the Aristocracy 1558-1641, second edition (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1967), 86-87.

19. Foucault, History of Sexuality I, 89.

20. Foucault, History of Sexuality I, 86.

21. Foucault, History of Sexuality I, 136.

22. Foucault, History of Sexuality I, ibid.

23. Stone, Crisis, 115.

24. Foucault, History of Sexuality I, 139.

25. Francis Barker, The Tremulous Private Body: Essays on Subjection (London and New York: Longman, 1984), 36, 13-14.

26. Andrew Marvell, "An Horation Ode Upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland" , in Collected Poems, edited by Elizabeth Story Donno (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972), ll. 53-55.

27. Beier, Masterless Men, 164. For a more detailed account of corrective penality in the Renaissance see Richard Wilson, "The Quality of Mercy: Discipline and Punishment in Shakespearean Comedy," in Will Power: Essays on Shakespearean Authority (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993), 118-157, and my essay "The Great Enlargement: Illegalities, Delinquency and Henry IV Part One," forthcoming in Literature and History, Spring 1998.

28. On the excision of the deposition scene from printed editions of the play see Gerald Eades Bentley, The Profession of Dramatist and Player in Shakespeare's Time, 1590-1642 (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1986), 168.

Works Cited


Responses to this piece intended for the Readers' Forum may be sent to the Editor at L.M.Hopkins@shu.ac.uk.

© 2000-, Lisa Hopkins (Editor, EMLS).