Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Shakespeare's Fugitive Politics$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Thomas P. Anderson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780748697342

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748697342.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Sovereignty’s Scribbled form in King John

Sovereignty’s Scribbled form in King John

(p.99) Chapter 4 Sovereignty’s Scribbled form in King John
Shakespeare's Fugitive Politics

Thomas P. Anderson

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter explores a concept of the nation-state defined in terms of leagues, friendships, and amity between England and France in King John. The play consistently describes the evolving relationship between nations in terms of friendship and hospitality. Constance’s desperate question, ‘France friend with England! What becomes of me?’ (2.2.35) after the rival nations become momentary allies, captures the challenge that national sovereignty poses to a subject’s liberty. In its depiction of this geo-political friendship, King John interrogates the powerful claims of an emerging bureaucratic network of authority exemplified by the Bastard’s relationship with what the play calls ‘borrowed majesty’ (1.1.4) and ‘perjured kings’ (3.1.33). In arguing that King John makes explicit the political condition of friendship in depicting rival nation-states, the chapter makes the case that the Bastard’s new sovereign relationship radically redefines a political subject as a bawd or broker in a bureaucratic network with radical, albeit unrealized, political potential. The Bastard—a bureaucrat with royal blood—is well aware that his fugitive survival and political efficacy are contingent on how he responds to the unintended contours of the sovereign decision, to its collateral effects that exceed ordered and absolute power, in other words, to that which allows him to act legitimately, with bureaucratic sovereignty, both inside and outside of the law.

Keywords:   hospitality, sovereign friendship, bureaucracy, bastardy, Bastard, nation-state, France, Constance, women in history plays

Edinburgh Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.