A Manual for Murder
Size: H:200mm, W:154mm
Made in: London
Made by: George Carleton
Rulers are always at risk. In our democratic age they may simply be ousted by votes. But through much of history and in much of the world, people who wanted to change rulers, kill them.
We’ve all heard of the notorious Gunpowder Plot, but it’s still quite alarming to realise that during their respective times on the throne, Elizabeth I and James I were frequent, almost constant, targets for assassination.
A contemporary of Shakespeare’s, George Carleton, compiled a book published in 1624 that thrilled and frightened readers with fifty years of conspiracies and murderous plots – each tale ending happily with the king and queen of England safe and well. He called it A Thankfull Remembrance of God’s Mercy and it was a public success, reprinted three times within four years.
This object is from the British Library
Quotations'For God's sake let us sit upon the ground/And tell sad stories of the death of kings-/How some have been deposed, some slain in war,/Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed,/Some poisoned by their wives: some sleeping killed,/All murdered ...' Richard II, Act 3 Scene 2
- George Carleton had a significant academic career at Oxford and was also a noted orator
- A Thankfull Remembrance, published in 1624, was reprinted at least three times in his own lifetime (he died in 1628)
- The basic premise of the work is presenting evidence of the divine preservation of Elizabeth and James from plots and conspiracies
- The longest chapter in the book is devoted to the Gunpowder Plot (41 pages)
- The assassination and murder of heads of state are frequent occurrences in Shakespeare's history and tragedy plays
More from Radio 4: The English Armada
We remember the defeat of the Spanish Armada as a triumph for the English underdog. But we forget that England sent a fleet of similar strengh back to Spain the very next year.
More from Radio 4: The Spanish Armada
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Spanish Armada, the fleet which attempted to invade Elizabethan England in 1588.