Anti-Episcopacy and graphic satire in England, 1640-1645

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This article examines the role of graphic satire as a tool of agitation and criticism during the early 1640s, taking as its case study the treatment of the archbishop of Canterbury and his episcopal associates at the hands of engravers, etchers, and pamphlet illustrators. Previous research into the political ephemera of early modern England has been inclined to sideline its pictorial aspects in favour of predominantly textual material, employing engravings and woodcuts in a merely illustrative capacity. Similarly, studies into the contemporary relationship between art, politics, and power have marginalized certain forms of visual medial, in particular the engravings and woodcuts which commonly constitute, graphic satire, focusing instead on elite displays of authority and promoting the concept of a distinct dichotomy between 'high' and 'low' culture and their consumers. It is argued here that the pictorial, and in particular graphic, arts formed an integral part of a wider culture of propaganda and critique during this period, incorporating drama, satire, reportage, and verse, manipulating and appropriating ideas and imagery familiar to a diverse audience. It is further proposed that such a culture was both in its own time and at present only fully understood and appreciated when consumed and considered in these interdisciplinary terms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-848
Number of pages40
JournalThe Historical Journal
Issue number4
Early online date29 Nov 2004
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004


  • Early Stuart England
  • censorship


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