By George Sale, George Psalmanazar, Archibald Bower, George Shelvocke, John Campbell and John Swinton.

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Their appeal and plausibility for the ‘dramatized’ society in Elizabethan England (cf. Sales, 1991) can hardly be overestimated. So what an adherent to the Roman Catholic liturgies like Machyn describes as the sense of loss or deprivation that he experienced in the maimed rites of Elizabethan funerals, could still offer an occasion for more overt political uses of mourning. This, indeed, is what my second example of a 1559 London funeral ceremony shows. When King Henri II of France died in the first year of her reign, Elizabeth ‘according to the custom of Princes in shewing honour to each other even at their deaths, appointed his obsequies to be solemnly observed in the chief Church of her Realm’ (Nichols, 1823, I, p.

5–6), and it is not delivered before its intended audience has arrived. Significantly though, this scene evokes the traditional piety of respectful and attentive care for the dying English History Plays 45 only to mark a contrast to the current situation where the younger generation, far from mourning the impending loss, can hardly wait to take control. The same happens in the deathbed scene at the dynastic transition from Henry IV to Henry V, with its conflict between the desire for power and the dutiful expression of mourning.

Machyn, 1848, p. 193, brackets and emendations in the published source) The diarist was a London citizen working as a furnisher of funeral trappings. This is why, apart from personal inclination to the old religion, he took a professional interest in elaborate forms of worship and all sorts of holiday-making in the city as the best incentive to his trade. So the diary he kept throughout the 1550s and into the early years of Elizabeth’s reign contains many standard accounts of aristocratic funerals, describing their pageantry, the number and sequence of mourners, their order and ritual conduct.

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