Several members of the Warwick community have been recognised by the international Sixteenth Century Society this month for their outstanding publications that showcase Warwickshire’s rich cultural heritage.
Dr Elizabeth Goldring, an Associate Fellow of the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, was awarded the 2015 Roland H. Bainton Book Prize for Art History for Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and the World of Elizabethan Art: Painting and Patronage at the Court of Elizabeth I (Yale University Press, 2014). This cultural biography of Queen Elizabeth I’s favourite – and Kenilworth Castle’s most notorious resident – has been hailed by critics as ‘a model of scholarship’ (Choice), ‘a delightful read’ (Journal of British Studies), and ‘the finest case study of an Elizabethan patron of the visual arts which we have’ (Journal of the Northern Renaissance).
The product of more than twenty years of archival research, Dr Goldring’s book reconstructs the extensive picture collection assembled by Dudley (but dispersed immediately after his death), in the process setting his patronage and collecting in the context of his political career and his romance with Queen Elizabeth. In its award citation, the Sixteenth Century Society praised Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and the World of Elizabethan Art as ‘a game changer’, ‘a landmark publication’, and ‘a long overdue reconsideration of a key figure’.
In addition, Dr Goldring, Dr Faith Eales (formerly an Associate Fellow, Centre for the Study of the Renaissance), Professor Elizabeth Clarke (English), and Dr Jayne Elisabeth Archer (formerly an Associate Fellow, Centre for the Study of the Renaissance) were jointly awarded the Roland H. Bainton Book Prize for Reference for their work as General Editors of John Nichols’s The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth I: A New Edition of the Early Modern Sources (Oxford University Press, 2014). This five-volume edition of seminal texts relating to Elizabethan pageantry sheds new light on several episodes in the history of sixteenth-century Warwickshire, including Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Warwick in 1572 and her visits to Kenilworth Castle in 1566, 1568, 1572, and (most famously) 1575, on which occasion she spent nearly three weeks at the castle for what has sometimes been described as the most lavish party mounted in sixteenth-century England.
These volumes are the primary output of the Warwick-based John Nichols Research Project, to which more than forty scholars (many of them trained at, or based at, Warwick) contributed as section editors and translators. The work has been praised by critics as ‘an outstanding edition’ (English Historical Review) and an ‘astounding scholarly accomplishment’ (Renaissance Quarterly). In its award citation, the Sixteenth Century Society described the new edition of Nichols’s Progresses as ‘a treasure trove that is sure to delight, not only British historians, but any early modernist with an interest in politics, ritual, or social history’.
Dr Elizabeth Goldring, Associate Fellow of the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, said on receiving the prizes,
‘It is a tremendous honour to receive the Bainton Prize for Art History for Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and the World of Elizabethan Art and to share the Bainton Prize for Reference for John Nichols’s The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth I with my fellow General Editors and, indeed, with the many scholars worldwide who contributed to this new edition of Nichols’s work. Both prizes speak to the University of Warwick’s long-standing strength in – and continuing commitment to – interdisciplinary scholarship, particularly in the realm of early modern studies. It is also gratifying that two publications in which the artistic achievements of sixteenth-century Warwickshire are celebrated should receive recognition by the international scholarly community.’
The Bainton Prizes, which recognise the best books written in English dealing with the period 1450-1660 (‘the long sixteenth century’), are awarded annually by the Sixteenth Century Society in four disciplinary categories: Literature; History/Theology; Art History/Music; and Reference. The selection criteria include: quality and originality of research; methodological skill and/or innovation; development of fresh and stimulating interpretations or insights; and literary quality.
The prizes are named in honour of one of the most distinguished historians of the twentieth century (and a great supporter of early modern studies): Roland H. Bainton, Titus Street Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Yale University for more than twenty-five years and the author of thirty-two books, including a celebrated biography of Martin Luther. The Bainton Prizes are formally announced each year during the Sixteenth Century Society’s annual conference, which this year took place in Vancouver, 22-25 October. Members of the Society hail from academic institutions around the world and are drawn from a wide variety of disciplines, including art history, history, history of science, literature, music history, philosophy, religious studies, and theology.
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