This collection of essays is in part the result of an international research project “Revisiting the Renaissance: Poland and the Low Countries in Early Modern Europe – The Culture of Self-Deception”, which was carried out by the British and Commonwealth Department of the University of Lodz in Poland and the Vakgroep Nederlandse Literatur en Alegemene Literatuuretenschap of the University of Ghent in Belgium (2009–2012). The goal of this project was to validate the ongoing debate on the Renaissance by looking at its significance in European civilization through the prism of marginalized cultures. As the essays presented in this volume demonstrate, the scope of our interest has grown over time so that issues such as literature, religion, diplomacy, politics, and arts are seen not only from Polish and Netherland perspectives. This book is a unique publication on the sixteenth-seventeenth European culture, politics and societal studies. Although the book is primarily addressed to scholars and academics who study the Renaissance / Early Modern episteme, it can also attract the attention of many other circles of readers interested in an interdisciplinary discourse devoted to e.g. governance, theology, religion, politics, diplomacy and literature. Since the essays focus on facts, processes, texts and state formations, which do not generally belong to the general discourse, they pose a challenge to the conventional perception of the period under discussion.
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Krystyna Kujawińska Courtney, Grzegorz Zinkiewicz – University of Łódź
Faculty of International and Political Studies
The Department of British and Commonwealth Studies, 90-131 Łódź, 59a Narutowicza St.
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Introduction: Concepts and Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Marta Wiszniowska-Majchrzyk ~ The Dismissal of the Greek Envoys—A Forgot-
ten Trajectory Within the Web of European Renaissance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Krystyna Kujawińska Courtney ~ The Marginalization of Lucrece’s Story in the
Early Modern Polish Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Natalia Brzozowska ~ Revisiting the Jacobean War of the Sexes: Righteous Anger,
Patriarchal Anxiety and the Swetnam Controversy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Stanisław Obirek ~ The Founding Rupture. From Strong to Weak Identity . . . . .
Paul Hulsenboom ~ “Have the Menacing Alcaean Muses Blown the War Trum-
pets Again?” Two Versions of Jacobus Wallius’ Ode to Mathias Casimirus
Sarbievius . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Andrzej Wicher ~ On Going to Hell. The Conception of the Underworld in Prze-
raźliwe echo trąby ostatecznej (The Shrill Sound of the Ultimate Trumpet)
(1670) by Father Klemens Bolesławiusz (1625-1689), and of the Otherworld
in Lucifer (1654) by Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mariusz Misztal ~ Giovanni Della Casa’s Galateo: A Serious Treatise on Manners
or “Only a Joke” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Katarzyna Kozak ~ Evolution of the Political System in the Kingdom of Sicily
(Sixteenth-Seventeenth Century) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Works cited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Index of Names . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
T his collection of essays, even more than most, has been a collabora-
tive effort. I am grateful to its contributors, especially those who co-
operated with me on the original project. My gratitude equally goes
to the “late comers”, whose work so significantly helped with the final shape of
this monograph. Since the publication of the volume took me longer than I in-
itially envisioned, I also thank all of the authors for their patience, good humor,
stimulating advice and criticism.
I should most warmly like to thank Ms. Ewa Bluszcz, the Director of the
University Publishing Press and Ms. Lilianna Ladorucka for their friendly sup-
port in assistance in the final publishing stages of the book. Dr Grzegorz Zinkie-
wicz helped me with the final editorial responsibilities, for which I am grateful.
My particular gratitude goes to Professor Jürgen Pieters of the University of
Ghent, for our collaboration in the preparation and administration of the pro-
ject “Revisiting the Renaissance: Poland and the Low Countries in Early Mod-
ern Europe—The Culture of Self-Deception”, which was carried out by the
British and Commonwealth Department at the University of Lodz in Poland
and the Vakgroep Nederlandse Literatur en Alegemene Literatuuretenschap
at the University of Ghent in Belgium (2009-2012). Without our discussions
both in Ghent and in Lodz, the book would not have materialized.
Last, but not least, my most sincere thank you goes to Dr Shala Barcze-
wska, for having read parts of this book and for offering detailed remarks and
suggestions during the last stages of manuscript preparation, along with her
Krystyna Kujawińska Courtney
Krystyna Kujawińska Courtney
University of Łódź
CONCEPTS AND STRATEGIES
This collection of essays is in part the result of an international research
project “Revisiting the Renaissance: Poland and the Low Countries in
Early Modern Europe—The Culture of Self-Deception”, which was
carried out by the British and Commonwealth Department of the University
of Lodz in Poland and the Vakgroep Nederlandse Literatur en Alegemene Lit-
eratuuretenschap of the University of Ghent in Belgium (2009-2012). The goal
of this project was to validate the ongoing debate on the Renaissance by looking
at its significance in European civilization through the prism of marginalized
cultures. As the essays presented in this volume demonstrate, the scope of our
interest has grown over time so that issues such as literature, religion, diploma-
cy, politics, and arts are seen not only from Polish and Netherland perspectives,
but also from the vistas of other European countries. These varied frames of
reference present an intercultural impact upon early modern civilization.
Once the project began, our attention became occupied with the question
of terminology. Although “Renaissance” was the initial term we applied to the
period of our interest, with time we also included the term “Early Modern”
in our discussion. After all, the word “Renaissance” (it. “rinascita”), which ap-
peared for the first time in Giorgio Vasari’s Le Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scul-
tori, ed architettori [Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects]
in the sixteenth century, has somehow lost its initial meaning. This was the
result of its popularization through the works of two historians, Jules Michelet
(1798-1874), a Frenchman, and Jacob Burckhardt (1818-1897), a Swiss. Both
scholars, working independently, used the term to mean rediscovery, or rebirth,
of ancient learning and knowledge, as well as the employment of this renewal in
the arts and sciences. They also extended the meaning to signal the restoration
of European culture in general through the resumption and appropriation of
The other concern, which made us re-examine the term “Renaissance” re-
sults from its literal meaning. The term introduces the idea of optimism and
well-being in that it announces restoration and renewal, while at the same
time discounting and/or ignoring innumerable cultural phenomena, such as
the prevalence of poverty, the emerging concepts of sex, gender and national
identity, the existence of lusus naturae, and questions of print and authorship.
In addition, the word “Renaissance” implies fracture or even rupture: before
something is reborn, it first must die. In this perspective, the study of “Renais-
sance” or “Rebirth” is inseparable from appraisement, and the appraisement
reveals a hierarchy of values, placing epochs preceding the “Renaissance” in an
The term “Early Modern” has a shorter history. It appeared only in the
twentieth century in the works of École des Annales, mainly in his periodical
Annales d’histoire économique et sociale, which was published for the first time
in 1929. As the title of this periodical shows, the historians, also called the “an-
nalists”, used social sciences methodology in their studies. Furthermore, they
departed from the research apparatus of classical political history, concentrating
on the processes of, as they called it, “long continuation”. “Long continuation”
meant taking lengthy time perspectives as the subject of their studies. Instigat-
ing research on those aspects of civilization, which are usually marginalized or
even ignored, this approach extends the boundaries on time periods researched
and spans the centuries between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning
of the Industrial Revolution. In other words, the term “Early Modern” covers
the period from the late fifteenth century to the late eighteenth century.
Since its inception, the “Early Modern” approach has drawn attention to
the significance of interdisciplinary studies. For example, in the study of literary
texts, the methodological achievements of history, arts, politics, religion, archi-
tecture, anthropology, linguistics, philosophy or even sciences do not assume an
auxiliary function; they are as important as the theory of literary studies. Their
inclusion helps with not only discovering, but also interpreting the meaning
and civilizational significance of the literary works under study and places them
~ Krystyna Kujawińska Courtney, Grzegorz Zinkiewicz ~in a wide interdisciplinary context. Moreover, texts coming from various disci-
plines are regularly studied with the methodological literary theory apparatuses,
usually postmodern. In this way, the term “Early Modern” contributes to blur-
ring the boundaries between disciplines and indicates new research perspectives
on facts and processes that in the past were limited by the homogeneity of the
As this collection of essays demonstrates, in our research we have included
the “Early Modern” multi-faced cultural/civilizational approach, studying texts
coming from history, theatre, religion, politics, linguistics, literature and art
with the use of the postmodern literary apparatus. As a whole, it embraces the
current vogue of “microhistory”, a term that freely encourages critique of the
“master Narrative” of the rise of modernity and the Western civilization. The
“Early Modern” galvanizes, for example, the shift of interest from great men as
Leonardo da Vinci, Martin Luther or Shakespeare to common people, some-
times anonymous. After all, who “canonized” these great personages, burying in
the vaults of oblivion such eminent personages as Klemens Bolesławiusz, Joost
van den Vondel, Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski, Jan Kochanowski and Giovanni
della Casa, the men whose achievements our essays describe?
Yet, while developing our ideas, we soon realized that we could not discard
the term “Renaissance.” As it is reflected in the many publications surveyed by
Alex Davis (2011: 22-23 and 145-150), currently “Early Modern” is frequently
used as a substitute for the term “Renaissance”, and vice versa. After all, on
a daily basis we see that the meanings of terms such as “modern,” “modern-
ism,” “postmodernism,” “modernity,” “postmodernity” are also inconclusive.
Although the studies of the centre, which focus on some of the most vibrant
and internationally known cultural facts, processes and eminent personages,
definitely occupy an important position in the genealogy of humanistic ideas as
found in Europe, our studies also attempt to reclaim some space for the edges
of early modernity as seen in Poland, the Netherlands, Sicily, and Britain. It is
this space that we bring to the center of cultural debate.
It is a cliché in contemporary cultural criticism to say that the margins
should be treated with caution because they have a potential capacity to change/
reform the centre. Nevertheless, we believe that in our collection of essays, the
center is enriched by receiving this new dimension. After all, reexamination of
the centre does not mean simply telling the stories of the “others,” usually dis-
counted by the Western humanistic discursive practices. Instead, it is to re-de-
fine the centre, to see how it has been re-shaped by its encounters with cultural
~ Introduction: Concepts and Stratregies ~marginalization. We hope that our collection of essays will join the debate over
the politics of culture, stressing the contingent play between constantly shifting
centres and margins at individual, group, and societal levels.
“The Dismissal of the Greek Envoys—A Forgotten Trajectory Within the
Web of European Renaissance” by Marta Wiszniowska-Majchrzyk takes up Jan
Kochanowski’s dramatic text that plays a prominent role in the history of Polish
literature. Yet, as the author points out, it also evokes ambivalent feelings among
critics and readers. Regarded as the first fully developed drama in Poland, The
Dismissal of the Greek Envoys (1578) is also labelled and classified as “occasional”
and pertaining to a specific historical moment. The work attempts to justify its
importance by employing diverse research strategies and different perspectives,
including extensive commentaries that range from traditional to postmodern.
In the essay “The Marginalization of Lucrece’s Story in the Early Modern
Polish Culture” Krystyna Kujawińska Courtney reflects upon the reception of
the story of Lucrece, a Roman martyr who chose to commit suicide rather than
to suffer disgrace after having been raped by Sextus Tarquinius. The text decon-
structs the mechanism of marginalisation, which is shown as a gradual process
that begins with faithful description of the actual legend, but then the story of
Lucrece becomes fused with that of the implicitly more important Christian
saint, Pelagia, finally existing on the outmost margins of cultural discourse.
Such gradual eclipsing of Lucrece’s story in Poland, as the work in question
demonstrates, concurred with the increased power of Polish nobility at the ex-
pense of royal prerogatives.
The essay “Revisiting the Jacobean War of the Sexes: Righteous Anger, Pa-
triarchal Anxiety and the Swetnam Controversy” by Natalia Brzozowska dis-
cusses a challenging moment in the history of English drama that occurred after
the demise of the golden age of the Elizabethan theatre. Outright misogyny
in the texts of some English writers and playwrights as well as the responses it
generated among women could be considered as an attempt to renegotiate the
role of gender under new circumstances. In a word, a growing cult of masculin-
ity combined with disparaging remarks with regard to the “weaker sex” could
signal the forthcoming events that would bring an abrupt change to the course
of British history.
In “The Founding Rupture. From Strong to Weak Identity” Stanisław Obi-
rek discusses the historical and contemporary situation of the Jesuit Order. The
emphasis is placed on the moments of crisis when Jesuits faced both the external
~ Krystyna Kujawińska Courtney, Grzegorz Zinkiewicz ~threats of dissolution and internal conflicts within the structure of the Catholic
Church. Such instances of the rupture in the Congregation in turn affected its
unity and identity. Bringing to the fore the proceedings and postulates of the
Second Vatican Council (1962), the author opens up a space for exploring new
opportunities for the Order and the Church, which, however, have been largely
forfeited. On that account, the contemporary position of the Society of Jesus
is mainly presented from the perspective of its missionary activities, while the
future of ecumenical dialogue is vested not so much in the Church, but it needs
to be founded in the very fabric of society.
Paul Hulsenboom analyzes two versions of Jacobus Wallius’ “Ode to Mathi-
as Casimirus Sarbievius”. By exposing substantial differences between them, he
suggests that the reader deals with two de facto separate poems. In the paper
“‘Have the Menacing Alcaean Muses Blown the War Trumpets Again?’ Two
Versions of Jacobus Wallius’ Ode to Mathias Casimirus Sarbievius”, the author
offers a broad intertextual study of the seventeenth century early modern period
as the background of the texts under discussion. The thematic range of the es-
say extends beyond the specific locus and tempus, i. e. The Low Countries and
Poland, of two Jesuits, Jacobus Wallius-the author and Casimirus Sarbievius or
Maciej Kaimierz Sarbiewski-the addressee. At the same time, the semantic shift
that occurs in the second version as compared to the first is significant: in the
face of external threats, Europe must act in unison as one body bound by its
religious and cultural heritage.
The essay “On Going to Hell. The Conception of the Underworld in “Prze-
raźliwe echo trąby ostatecznej” [“The Shrill Sound of the Ultimate Trumpet”]
(1670) by Father Klemens Bolesławiusz (1625-1689), and of the Otherworld
in Lucifer (1654) by Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679)” by Andrzej Wicher
investigates two long poems from the Netherlands and Poland, respectively.
Both texts, in one way or another, relate to the national epic of England, namely
John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Despite their varied popular reception and literary
renown, all the three seem to share common codes and values embedded in the
broadly conceived early modern episteme. The analysis of the texts in question
results in their relocation from the specifications of time, place and circum-
stances, to the universal qualities of European cultural discourse.
In “Giovanni Della Casa’s Galateo: A Serious Treatise on Manners or ‘Only
a Joke’?”, Mariusz Misztal offers a new interpretation of probably the most
famous treatise on manners in history, namely Giovanni Della Casa’s Gala-
teo (1558). Having utilized a number of archival sources, the author points
~ Introduction: Concepts and Stratregies ~at alternative possibilities of its reading or even different original intentions
regarding the entire content and purpose of the cinquecento Italian text. In
a word, the intricate narrative pattern and the choice of the interlocutors might
well indicate that Galateo was not meant to be taken seriously and that Della
Casa could in fact consider his guide to be little more than a mere joke. The
veracity of this presupposition is debatable, but the essay forces the reader to
ponder again whether they really “know the Galateo”.
If, in literary criticism, the affective fallacy is defined as a “confusion be-
tween the poem and its results”, then, by analogy, the same criteria can be
applied to political systems and parliamentary representations. Two of such sys-
tems are discussed in the paper “Evolution of the Political System in the King-
dom of Sicily” by Katarzyna Kozak. It seems that the forms of governance in the
Kingdom of Sicily and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth are perhaps too
hastily rejected merely on account of the fact that both state formations did not
stand the test of time. Yet, the text signifies more than just a rendition of histor-
ical specifications and minutia of the early modern period in Sicily and Poland:
the ultimate point of reference appears to be the political situation in contem-
porary Europe. Possible scenarios for further alternations, improvements and
ramifications do not exclude some concepts and proposals from the statutes and
constitutions of the now long defunct parliaments.
~ Krystyna Kujawińska Courtney, Grzegorz Zinkiewicz ~Marta Wiszniowska-Majchrzyk
Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Warsaw
THE DISMISSAL OF THE GREEK ENVOYS
—A FORGOTTEN TRAJECTORY
WITHIN THE WEB OF EUROPEAN
I n Saint-Pierre le Jeunne church in Strasbourg there is a late medieval
fresco showing a procession of European nations heading toward
a mountain with a cross on which“Ave spec unica” is inscribed. The
fresco presents figures on horseback or on foot with Poland followed by Lithu-
ania and the Orient, coming at the very end of the cavalcade (Jaromska 2000,
316). Obviously, Poland and Lithuania, both of them christened, the former
in 966 and the latter in 1385, must have been considered as part of the great
medieval family of the Christian countries of Europe.
Likewise, studying Polish Renaissance, in its originality and recognizabil-
ity, conviviality and seriousness, one seems to find himself/herself within the
best of European tradition, balanced so well that disregarding some linguistic
ambushes (not unduly significant as a huge bulk of Polish Renaissance litera-
ture still used Latin) there seems to be little to no difficulty in further studies.
The same holds true for Jan Kochanowski (1530-1584), the most brilliant
creative talent, to hastily add—one of quite a number of great poets of his
time in Poland. Generations of Polish Renaissance scholars considered Ko-
chanowski an indispensable topic in their studies. Thus, taking into account
the scholarship past and present, it comes as a considerable shock to observe
both the poet and Polish Renaissance literature virtually non-existent within
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