Cross-channel cavaliers

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Cavalier poetry has often been regarded as quintessentially English: a product of the Caroline court, a fervent aspect of Civil War royalism and a very English version of amorous classicism. This article argues a contrary case: that in significant ways Cavalier verse was indebted to continental poetry in one or other of the European vernacular languages, defined by continental culture and recognized by contemporaries for these qualities. I explore poetry writing in relation to the activities of Cavalier poets in Europe before, during and after the British Civil Wars, either as diplomats, other kinds of political agent, soldiers, tutors, exiles, merchants or just as simple travellers. European poets also came to England, and, while firmly preoccupied in their own business, also directly confronted English matters and people, and wrote poetry about their experiences that may be seen as an integral part of English courtly, literary and royalist identity. I draw on two French examples and one Dutch example, all kinds of libertine verse. English Cavalier verse was strongly, distinctly and enduringly marked by this international literary and experiential encounter, and in some continental poetry we have a new category of Cavalier verse to acknowledge and explore.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-453
Number of pages21
JournalSeventeenth Century
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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