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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Department of English


Kingly Infirmity and the Remedy: The Importance of Counsel in Thwarting Divinely Ordained Incompetence

  • Author(s): Mikhaelpour, Talin
  • Advisor(s): Shuger,, Debora
  • et al.

This thesis examines the influence of the divine right theory in George Peele’s The Love of King David and Fair Bethsabe , and the way that ineffectual monarchs are protected under this theory. The early modern period was heavily influenced by the divine right theory, as well as the Protestant theology that undergirded much of everyday life. I look at Peele’s play through the lense of Protestant theology, and show that Peele does adhere to the traditional orthodoxy by condemning those who disobey and rebel against their monarch. However, as much as Peele’s work is a product of his time, his play raises the issue of what to do with a weak monarch, who must nonetheless rule due to divine right theory. He puts forth an answer to this theoretical issue by way of the counselor, someone who is able to correct and criticize a weak monarch, without being considered damned for their disobedience or rebellion. I put forth that the disobedience and rebellion that is apparent in Peele’s counselor, although subverting from traditional orthodoxy, are necessary in the success of David’s kingdom.

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