Gown Before Crown: Scholarly Abjection and Academic Entertainment Under Queen Elizabeth I
In 1592, Queen Elizabeth I and the Privy Council made a rather audacious request of their intellectuals at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The Christmas season was fast approaching, and a recent outbreak of the plague prohibited the queen's professional acting company from performing the season's customary entertainment. To avoid having a Christmas without revels, the crown sent messengers to both institutions, asking for university men to come to court and perform a comedy in English. Cambridge's Vice Chancellor, John Still, wished to decline this royal invitation, and for advice on how to do so he wrote to his superior, William Cecil, Lord Burghley, who was not only the Chancellor of Cambridge but also Elizabeth's chief advisor. In this letter, Vice Chancellor Still implies the impropriety of having academics participate in such a performance...
Used by permission of the Publishers from ‘Gown before crown: scholarly abjection and academic entertainment under Queen Elizabeth I’, in Early Modern Academic Drama eds. Jonathan Walker and Paul D. Streufert (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009), pp. 19–44. Copyright © 2009