1. The Dutch Humanist Hadrianus Junius of Hoorn [Adriaen de Jongh, 1511 - 1575], praised by Justus Lipsius, Jan Dousa, and Johannes Sambucus as second to Erasmus, and a physician to boot, was no stranger to England. He had been invited there by Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London, in about 1543, and had become the family physician of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk and tutor to his son Henry, the future poet and Earl of Surrey. Then he returned to Holland, in about 1550, but came back to England in 1554. The motivating reason for both moves was his inability to find satisfactory patronage after the downfall of Norfolk, and he thought that the marriage of Queen Mary to Philip II of Spain in July 1554 would provide a suitable opening. Hence the present work, printed at London by Thomas Berthelet later in the same year. NOTE 1 Despite the rather pretentious title Philippeis, which suggests a full-blown epic, it might better be called a lengthy epyllion (727 lines) describing the marriage.
2. Whatever the intrinsic literary merit of the Philippeis may or may not be, the work commends itself to our attention for two reasons. First, for all the myth-making and rhetoric with which it is tricked out, Junius’ poem contains enough circumstantial detail that it can in all probability be classified as an eyewitness account of at least one of the central events it describes, the royal entry into London. Second, it is a rather dramatic illustration of the lengths to which a Humanist was prepared to go to obtain patronage. Although the Philippeis takes an outspokenly Catholic line, hails the restoration of the Old Religion, demonizes the recent revolt of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, who had tried to set his daughter-in-law Lady Jane Grey on the throne, and fails to include any unambiguous mention of Henry VIII, NOTE 2 Junius himself was no Catholic. Indeed, during his earlier stay in England, he had dedicated his Lexicon Graeco-Latinum to Edward VI, with the result that all his writings were placed on the Index, NOTE 3 and in later life he had no difficulty in invoking God’s blessing on Elizabeth in a dedicatory epistle accompanying his 1568 Latin translation of Eunapius. NOTE 4 Like many another esurient Humanist, in other words, in writing the Philippeis Junius displayed his willingness to play the trimmer and place his pen at the service of political propaganda. And this in turn is a good illustration of the reason so much Neo-Latin literature of the period (including plenty of other items in The Philological Museum) is of a more or less frankly propagandistic nature.
3. In a dedicatory epistle to the royal pair, Junius characterized himself as one of the many ambassadors come to convey congratulations on their marriage:
Non dubium est, invictissimi principes, quin universus pene terrarum orbis auspicatissimis vestris congratuletur nuptiis, suamque laetitiam missis legationibus publice testata fuerit, id quod a maximis regibus, potentissimis nationibus, florentibusque rebuspublicis factum fuisse nos quoque oculata fide attestari possimus. Prinde nos totius prope orbis consensum sequentes nuptias vestras, publicae huius laetitiae auspices, ad posteritatem literarum monumentis transmittere sategimus. Vos itaque, felicissimi principes, poematium istud, cui Philippeidi nomen indidimus, velut republicae literariae poeticisve nomine ad vos venientem ac gratulabundum legationem, benigna fronte suscipite.
[“There is no doubt, indomitable princes, that virtually the whole world congratulates you on your highly auspicious marriage, and it has publicly attested its rejoicing by sending embassies, as I can attest as an eyewitness has been done by the greatest kings, the most powerful nations, and the most flourishing commonwealths. And so I, in agreement with the sentiment of nearly the entire word, have attempted to transmit to posterity the auspices of this happiness in a literary monument. And therefore, most happy princes, pray accept with a kindly face this little poem, which I have entitled the Philippeis, as if it were an embassy of the Republic of Letters, or that of Poetry, to offer its congratulations.”]
Nevertheless, when Junius presented the Philippeis to Philip and Mary, he received a chill reception, being given a payment of a mere thirty-six golden crowns. NOTE 5 It was probably a mistake on their part to pay so little attention to this ambassador from the Republic of Letters, for they needed all the help they could get. Despite the poet’s silence on the subject, the marriage was very unpopular. Many of Mary’s subjects, Catholics included, found it objectionable, because of the potential risk it posed to national sovereignty (even the prelate who officiated at the wedding ceremony, Mary’s appointee as Bishop of Winchester, Stephen Gardiner, had in his capacity as Lord Chancellor joined with the House of Commons in petitioning her to marry an Englishman instead). It was very unpopular among the Londoners, which is why the marriage had to be celebrated at Winchester. And in his description of the royal entry into London, Junius fails to mention a contretemps which marred the occasion. He describes two paintings that were conspicuously displayed on the occasion, one an equestrian portrait of Philip (615ff.) and the other of the Nine Worthies (622ff. — see the note ad loc.). But he does not include any record of a third, showing Henry VIII passing the Word of God, in the form of a Bible — no doubt the Great Bible — to Edward VI. According to contemporary accounts, after Philip had passed by this painting, Bishop Gardiner sent for the hapless painter, rebuked him, and obliged the artist to replace the Bible with a pair of gloves. NOTE 6 In the context of this inauspicious atmosphere, when a doctus poeta of Junius’ stature offered to contribute his talents to the effort of making her reign more palatable, Philip and Mary might have done well to take him up on his offer and recruit him as a fugleman for their reign.
4. Sidney Anglo has written an enormously useful and interesting book on the Tudor use of masquing and other forms of spectacle on important public occasions. But he might have paid greater attention to the transformative effect that occurred when the texts devised for such occasions, or at least descriptions of these displays, were printed. On numerous such occasions (especially when they were controversial), public spectacles, performances and displayed texts were intended to provide their witnesses with guidance as to how to think and feel about the events being celebrated. But, as such, they could only address an audience of, at most, a few thousand. Junius was right to speak of literature’s monumentalizing capacity and mult. For literature could convert ephemeral street theater into something enduring and, thanks to the multiplying power of the printing press, disseminate its message to a far wider audience.
5. In the past, Junius’ poetic abilities have been savaged. NOTE 7 At least in the case of the Philppeis, such a verdict deserves to be questioned. When dealing with this specialized form of literature (not just the present work, but also, say, the texts written by Nicholas Udall and John Leland for the pageantry associated with the coronation of Anne Boleyn), we need to realize that normal considerations of literary quality do not really come into play, and that another yardstick needs to be applied. It is important to appreciate that such publications were significant political gestures in their own right. The distinctive feature of the Philippeis is that Junius managed to furnish his monumentalization of transitory masquing and spectacle with a deeper and more meaningful context by combining it with a narrative move very familiar in Humanistic epic, the mythologizing of contemporary history (a tactic one sees, for example, in George Peele’s Pareus, and Gunpowder Plot epics by such poets as Campion and Milton). Au fond, all the machinery of the gods with which the poem is invested is designed to assure the reader that the marriage is in accordance with God’s will, just as similar divine machinery in the poems just mentioned, and many other like them, are meant to place a favorable theological interpretation of current events. All in all the Philippeis is an effective and successful work of its particular kind.
6. I should like to extend my thanks to Dr. Martin Wiggins for suggesting this project, and for his advice and encouragement while working on it.
NOTE 3 Gordon, pp. 231f. (who, admittedly, could not find Junius listed in any version of the Index prior to 1559).
NOTE 5 Although he may justly have expected better remuneration for his efforts, Junius exaggerated the labor the Philippeis cost himself. Heesakkers (p. 331) cites in an undated letter in which he claims, or at least implies, that writing the work had taken six months. In point of fact, the dedicatory epistle prefacing the work is dated Oct. 4 (of 1554), so its composition only took six or seven weeks.
NOTE 6 See the contemporary account quoted by Anglo, pp. 329f.
NOTE 7 Heesakkers pp. 327f. summarizes the mordant critique of his poetry by the nineteenth century Dutch philologist Petrus Hoffman Peerlkamp.
Donald Gordon, “Veritas Filia Temporis: Hadrianus Junius and Geoffrey Whitney,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 3: 3/4 (July, 1940) 228 - 40 (this article was reprinted in Stephen Orgel (ed.), The Renaissance Imagination (Berkeley - London, 1975), 220 - 32).
Chris L. Heesakkers, “The Ambassador of the Republic of Letters at the Wedding of Prince Philip of Spain and Queen Mary of England: Hadrianus Junius and his Philippeis,” in Rhoda Schur (ed.), Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Abulensis: proceedings of the tenth International Congress of Neo-Latin Studies, Avila, 4-9 August 1997 (Tempe, Arizona, 2000) 325 - 32.