Publication Date



debate, politics, Elizabethan chivalry


Long dismissed as an immature play with no intrinsic merit, Sir Clyomon and Sir Clamydes (ca. 1570-1583) quite thoroughly debates issues of contemporary political interest. This essay seeks to restore Clyomon from its undistinguished position in Renaissance studies by showing how it dramatically supports Queen Elizabeth's use of chivalry as an ideology of power and order and criticizes military adventurism. By reading this play as a political text, in this essay I employ the methodologies of New Historicism, which identifies literature as only one of many cultural discourses taking part in the negotiation of power. "Representations of the world in written discourse," observes Louis A. Montrose, "are engaged in constructing the world, in shaping the modalities of social reality, and in accommodating their writers, performers, readers, and audiences to multiple and shifting subject positions within the world they both constitute and inhabit." Necessary to this construction is the representation in these discourse of "ideology," the system of ideas, values, and beliefs common to any social group. "This vexed but indispensable term," Montrose continues, "has in its most general sense come to be associated with the processes by which social subjects are formed, re-formed and enabled to perform as conscious agents in an apparently meaningful world." In Sir Clyomon and Sir Clamydes, the playwright represents in the title characters the ambiguities of Elizabethan chivalry in order to show that in its most perfect form it requires strict allegiance to the monarch.