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Groupe de recherches du Centre de Recherches Anglophones, EA 370
Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense

Arden of Faversham

Anny Crunelle Vanrigh

Peripatetic Arden: the Spectral Geographies of Arden of Faversham



La mobilité dans l’échelle socio-économique induite par la dissolution des monastères se traduit dans Arden of Faversham par la mobilité dans l’espace. Arden et ses poursuivants sillonnent les routes du Kent, selon un itinéraire circulaire proche de celui qui, pour Derrida, définit le récit économique, proposant en parallèle un relevé topographique du Kent, à la manière des cartographes qui dressaient pour les nouveaux propriétaires terriens les plans des domaines achetés à la couronne. Cependant la pérégrination d’Arden entre Faversham et Londres, entre une abbaye et une cathédrale, sur la route empruntée autrefois par les pèlerins qui se rendaient à Canterbury, montre que la circularité du récit économique ne parvient pas à s’inscrire ailleurs que dans le pas du pèlerin, dont il suit les traces sans jamais pouvoir, telle l’empreinte du corps d’Arden, les effacer jamais.


The dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII induced a degree of social mobility that literalizes in Arden of Faversham as the protagonists’ peregrination on the roads of Kent. Arden’s circular journey between Faversham and London appears as a statement about what Derrida terms the circularity of economy, as well as an analogue of land surveying and the estate maps commissioned by new landlords. Yet Arden’s economic peregrination between the abbey of Faversham and Old St Paul’s cathedral in London follows the road once trodden by pilgrims on their way to Canterbury, and the new economy proves unable to erase the ghosts of its religious origin. Informed by the “logic of haunting”, the play summons a number of religious and political spectres, including the ghostly print of Arden’s body in the grass.

Texte intégral

1English society experienced between 1540 and 1640 “a seismic upheaval of unprecedented magnitude”, in the phrase of Lawrence Stone.1 “Seismic” it was, for the land shook and moved as a result of the dissolution of the monasteries, causing social groups to move up or to slide down as on tectonic plates. For reasons combining the need to establish Royal Supremacy over existing religious orders and to fill the State’s coffers, Henry VIII disbanded religious houses, hospitals, and oratories, seized buildings, estates, and valuables.2 Confiscated endowments were transferred for liquidation to the Court of Augmentations established by Thomas Cromwell in 1536. A hefty portion of the land in the King’s possession went on the market in the largest transfer of property since the Norman Conquest. The landed gentry seized the opportunity to add to their estates. Those aspiring to status acquired land “for it was still the ownership of landed estates that served, better than anything else, to mark the most important of all divisions in early modern society: that between the nobility and gentry on the one hand and the commonalty on the other”.3 The land market, at a standstill before the dissolution, rose to a peak in 1600s, declined from the 1620s, and did not return to pre-dissolution figures until 1700.4 Statistical evidence shows that the chart of social mobility over the period followed that of property transactions.5

2Among those flocking to the Court of Augmentations was Thomas Arden (or Ardern). Born to a mother who reportedly begged on the streets, he is first traced in 1537 as an assistant to Sir Edward North, then Clerk of Parliament. He soon after married North’s stepdaughter Alice,6 and on the strength of North’s recommendation moved on in 1539 to serve Sir Thomas Cheyne (or Cheiny in Arden of Faversham), Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, Treasurer of the Household, and the most powerful man in Kent. Under his protection, Arden was appointed the king’s customer for Faversham (1540), then the king’s comptroller of the port of Sandwich (1543), and became mayor of Faversham in 1548.

3Arden was rich but, lacking the sanction of landed property, not gentle. He worked in the Court of Augmentations during his years as a clerk to North, and from 1540 began to acquire land for himself in and around Faversham, including abbey property. In December 1544, Cheyne alienated to him the site of the abbey, which he had acquired from Henry VIII in 1540 and had used as a quarry, sending stone across the Channel to repair the defences on the coastline in Guînes and Calais.7 After it had yielded as much as it could, a good margin of profit could still be accrued by selling it.

4This is the backdrop of the anonymous play Arden of Faversham (1592) which narrates the plot hatched by Alice and her upstart lover Mosby to take Arden’s life in 1551. In this play informed by social mobility, the protagonist himself is constantly on the move, travelling back and forth between London and Faversham. I wish to argue a connection between objective and social mobility that extends beyond the requirements of analogy. The to-ing and fro-ing of Arden and his assassins on the roads of Kent is a statement about the circulation of riches and what Derrida terms the circularity of economy. But the specific context of Arden’s peregrination—the confiscation of church property by the monarch—confers it additional meanings of a metaphysical and, more crucially, religious nature. In particular, the general offensive against monasteries strikes a religious chord which I wish to argue is responsible for the play’s singular form: Arden’s peregrination between Faversham and London, an abbey and a cathedral, is conceived as the ghost of a pilgrimage. The circularity of economy retraces the steps of the pilgrims but is unable to quite erase them. Like the print of Arden’s dead body in the grass, they endure, palimpsest-like.

1. Socio-economic flux and Arden of Faversham

5“Henry’s seizure of the monasteries unleashed a deluge of social flux deriving from the suddenly movable status of hitherto rock solid land, once the uncirculating sign of the aristocracy, now increasingly a commodity”, Frank Whigham has noted.8 The metaphor of flux and circulation also informs contemporary representations of the confiscation. In Arden of Faversham, “flux” registers socially, economically, and ethically, and is insistently figured as restless journeying along the roads of Kent. Arden’s wealth and influence are predicated on being away from home on business: he is on his way to London 80 lines into the play, suggesting restlessness as a natural metaphor of upward mobility.

6Socially, the divide is large between the play’s haves and have nots. The former have reached the top by acquiring land or marrying up, like Arden (land and woman serve similar functions in this respect); some are still on their way up, like the former tailor turned steward, Mosby, and Michael, the servant planning to share the benefits of Mosby’s rise by marrying his sister.9 Among the have nots are expelled tenants (Reede10) and leaseholders (Greene), their claims voided by the land transfer, and now likely to join the numbers of migrant poor and demobilized soldiers turned thieves (Will and Shakebag). These mostly appear in outdoor scenes, a stage location designating them as men of the road and signalling vagrancy as the natural outcome of the dissolution.

7Economically, the circulation of land, now identical to the circulation of money, has changed its formerly fixed nature. Once a “rock solid” asset, it now changes hands like any commodity, and just as quickly. No longer a fixed landmark and the bedrock of hierarchy, it is now a feature of the market place, exchanged for profit, not for services as in the old feudal system. Historically, Arden seems to have dealt in property as others did in hops, herrings, or hoops of barrels in the port of Sandwich where he collected customs. In September 1543, he purchased the manor of Ellenden, one among his many transactions, and by October had transferred it to a new owner. What matters for him is not property per se but the accumulation of capital it allows, Greene bitterly recognizes:

Desire of wealth is endless in his mind,
And he is greedy-gaping still for gain.
Nor cares he though young gentlemen do beg,
So he may scrape and hoard up in his pouch (i.474-477)11

8In the process of its commodification, land acquires a disturbing susceptibility to unethical “rerouting” and misappropriation. The chain of ownership that eventually goes down to Arden is traceable to the Church, via Henry VIII, Edward VI, the Lord Protector, and Lord Cheiny (i.1-4), but it is distinct from the transmission that delivers the father’s property into the hands of the son from generation to generation. It is more like defalcation or larceny. The play aligns Henry VIII’s original misappropriation of land with Alice’s misappropriation of money as she unashamedly pledges Arden’s gold to Mosby:

My saving husband hoards up bags of gold
To make our children rich, and now is he
Gone to unload the goods that shall be thine (i.220-222)

9The indecision over whose children “our” designates, those of Alice and Arden or those she plans to have with Mosby, speaks volumes as to the moral and social confusion mobility generates. Land and money repeatedly come together in terms pressing home their similarities and the side effects of the economic revolution under way: “Twenty angels?” Black Will exclaims on receiving the gold sent by Alice via Bradshaw in a parody of pure transmission:

Give [us] twenty angels, and if thou’lt have thy own father slain that thou mayest inherit his land we’ll kill him […] Ay, thy mother, thy sister, thy brother or all thy kin. (ii.88-90)

10Nor are these sporadic deviations from honesty. Money transactions in Arden are invariably illicit. The plate stolen from Lord Cheiny is sold to Bradshaw, an unwitting fence, for no other reason than to signal that exchange, any exchange, is inherently invalid. The goldsmith Bradshaw, albeit innocent, is executed, a collateral victim of Alice’s plot. One is tempted to allege that his profession—he is a goldsmith—plays a symbolic part in his punishment. It is not so much the man as his trade that is scapegoated. In the play’s economics, the circulation of goods and money is akin to theft, holding property to the possession of stolen goods, and transfer to double selling. Land is by nature inalienable. To trade it is always to trade someone else’s property:

Master Arden, being at London yesternight,
The Abbey lands whereof you are now possessed
Were offered me on some occasion
By Greene, one of Sir Antony Ager’s men.
I pray you, sir, tell me, are not the lands yours?
Hath any other interest herein? (i.292-97)

11The same holds true of woman, who is commodified in the process. “As for the lands, Mosby, they are mine / By letters patents from his majesty / But I must have a mandate for my wife” (i.302), Arden muses. The possession of a wife is as uncertain as that of land: both are likely to illicitly change hands. Like letters patents, the love letters “pass[ing] ‘twixt Mosby and [Alice]” (i.15) spell the transfer of property. For women as for land, it is a matter of entitlement, of deciding which one, the lover or the husband, holds a valid claim: “Love is a god, and marriage is but words, / And therefore Mosby’s title is the best” (i.101-102). But Alice’s passionate defence of the rights of adulterous lovers is pointless anyway as she is secretly married to Mosby (viii.38). Like Arden’s land, Alice is a commodity that is transacted twice, as is her serving maid Susan, promised in marriage both to Michael and to Clarke. The dissolution of the monasteries translates as moral “dissolution” (iv.8)—strikingly the only occurrence of the word is in the moral sense.

12In this context of burgeoning capitalism, domestic peace itself is conceived in economic terms. Arden moves away from home in order paradoxically to keep his wife under control. Oddly enough, a betrayed husband is well-advised to leave his wife free to roam at liberty, Franklin argues. Arden is more likely to steer Alice from a distant vantage point in London than in Faversham “[f]or women when they may will not, / But being kept back, straight grow outrageous” (i.52-53). The suggestion only seemingly “abhors from reason” (i.54). It actually applies the law of supply and demand to moral behaviour. Excess supply (“when they may”) causes the market price of a commodity to fall and the desire for it to subside (“will not”). But should supply diminish out of some restriction, the value of the commodity is sure to rise. There is an economy of desire, Franklin suggests, and one can equally speculate on chastity as on land. Like an economist contending that price control is counterproductive, he considers moral control to be harmful and ineffective. Constancy in his view is an equilibrium quantity between desire and prohibition. Poised between contrary forces, steadfastness itself is predicated on movement, the movement of economy.

13Socio-economic flux translates as geographic mobility on the road and up, down or across waterways. Arden is “of” but rarely “in” Faversham”. He sails with the tide from Gravesend to London, crosses the River Medway at Rochester—a realistic touch that nonetheless retains a homiletic dimension with the figure of the Charon-like, semi-allegorical Ferryman (sc. xi). His journey from Faversham to London and back is a circle, the figure of economy par excellence in Derrida’s view:

[…] economy implies the idea of exchange, of circulation, of return. The figure of the circle is obviously at the center […] of a problematic of oikonomia, as it does of any economic field: circular exchange, circulation of goods, products, monetary signs or merchandise, amortization of expenditure, revenues, substitution of use value and exchange values. This motif of circulation can lead one to think that the law of economy is the—circular—return to the point of departure, to the origin, also to the home. So one would have to follow the odyssean structure of the economic narrative. Oikonomia would always follow the path of Ulysses. The latter returns to the side of his loved ones or to himself; he goes away only in view of repatriating himself, in order to return to the home from which […] the signal for departure is given and the part assigned, the side chosen [le parti pris], the lot divided, destiny commanded (moira).12

14In order to accomplish his being as an homo economicus, Arden must prove an “odyssean” man, leave and return, markedly so to the counting-house where his moira lurks as Black Will, “the very man, / Marked in my birth hour by the Destinies, / To give an end to Arden’s life on earth” (iii.153-154). There he is, in a recurrent phrase, “paid home”. There he receives his assigned part and meets with his destiny, according to the two senses of moira. There too he “renders his account” to God, in keeping with the old morality structure informing the play.13 This is why his “odyssey” does not end in the counting-house, but, after a final displacement of his dead body, on the plot snatched from Reede. The land of the Friars opens its own book of reckoning for Arden to leave his imprint on: “in the grass his body’s print was seen / Two years and more after the deed was done” (Epil.12-13). Print answers letters patent (i.4), closing the circle of Arden’s odyssey.

15Reading Arden economically resolves the tension between private and public spaces, a recurrent interrogation in the critical literature on the play.14 Economy is rooted in the oikos: the home is a correlative of the land, a man’s wife of his estate. The economic focus of the play combines with patriarchy and cultural archetypes to relocate economic anxiety within the bodies of Alice Arden and Susan Mosby. Adultery is the domestic form of economic exchange, and betrayal a version of the law of the market.

16Alone of the protagonists, Franklin is an ever-fixed mark, economically and morally unshaken. He remains fast and firm in the general turbulence of emergent ideologies. Acting as the chorus of the play, he observes the action and speaks the epilogue, reporting how the murderers died in Southwark, Flushing and Osbridge, somehow bringing the play’s agitation to a standstill. More crucially, his name designates him as a representative of freehold, the permanent tenure of land. Together with his moral stature, this makes him the yardstick by which to assess agrarian capitalism and the social upheaval resulting from the dissolution. “[T]he land speaks an ethics of ownership that has its origins in feudalism”, Garrett Sullivan notes.15 Feudalism is the model nostalgically pitted against early modern restlessness. Upward mobility and its by-product, individualism, prompt criticism from the outcasts who nostalgically recall feudal society, with its unchanging hierarchy and ideals of mutuality. In feudal days, circularity and exchange used to conjure up ideas of reciprocity16 and the system valued fixity above all. “My golden time was when I had no gold” (viii.11), Mosby admits,

But since I climbed the top bough of the tree
And sought to build my nest among the clouds,
Each gentle gale doth shake my bed
And makes me dread my downfall to the earth (viii.15-18)

17The wise man does not have to “table” with “foul suspicion”. He always “fares” well “however his cates do taste” (viii.7-8). Poised between the road and the table, “fare” is an arresting word. Only for one blissfully uninvolved in society’s restlessness can the word retain its commensal sense of “provision of food”, suggestive of hospitality and the social space of feudal mutuality.

2. A metaphysical upheaval

18The alienation of land by the monarch induced a metaphysical crisis, identified as such by Robert Crowley in a pamphlet issued in 1551, the year Arden was murdered. Lamenting the greed of landlords, Crowley indicts “men that liue as thoughe there were no God at all, men that would haue all in their owne handes, men that would have nothyng for others, men that would be alone on the earth”.17 A quadruple anaphora circumscribes and materializes the problematic space where there is “no God at all” and greed is free to develop. Unable to refer to a centre organizing it as a structure, society might break down, were not the loss of a divine centre immediately relegated as an unthinkable proposition to the hypothetical space of “would”. The monarch is God’s lieutenant and the centre guaranteeing the structure. But by alienating the land of which he was the ultimate lord under the terms of terra Regis, he himself has created that space where there is “no God”, and triggered a crisis of metaphysical proportions, leaving a country peopled by men “that would be alone on earth”. A few decades later, James was to reassert his centrality in terms where the land is reinstated as the linchpin of authority:

and as ye see it manifest that the king is overlord of the whole land: so he is master over every person that inhabiteth the same, having the power over the life and death of everyone of them.18

19The land and the Lord—the latter as a representative of the law, the former as an index of status endowed with the capacity to generate symbols—are two structuring figures of society. They are conjoined in that one word, landlord, which it is hazardous to dissociate, R. B. Smith recalls in his analysis of the outcome of the dissolution. The void at the centre is the starting point of severe dehiscence:

In the dispersal of monastic property we see land not as a sacred trust but as the object of multifarious transactions whose ultimate object was to gain more gain. The King himself set the trend in motion, for it was to increase his wealth that he dissolved the monasteries in the first place.19

20In Arden of Faversham, decentring occurs both in the State and in the oikos. At the head of the State, the Lord Protector from whom Arden received abbey land is a mere stand-in for King Edward who is still a minor. The status of “gentle” Alice is elusive. Boasting to be “descended of a noble house” (i.202), she likes to pose as the touchstone of gentility by which Mosby and Arden are regularly assessed and found worthy or not, depending on the mood of the moment. But her status is problematic on at least two accounts. There is no mention of the powerful North family in Arden. Their influence at the time of composition made it impossible to associate their name with that of a murderess. Moreover, Alice was but North’s stepdaughter, born of his second wife’s first marriage to a captain of the navy. Her self-proclaimed gentility ultimately proves a mere perspective trick.

21The centre is equally void in the oikos from which Arden absents himself as a husband and as a landlord. Confident that he can control the domestic structure from a point outside it, Arden decentres himself as a husband, spending most of his time in London, like an absentee landlord.20 In a 1596 proclamation, Elizabeth lamented the phenomenon in terms identifying the centre as that which holds the social structure together, a stability sorely compromised by absenteeism:

[…] sundry persons, of ability to keep hospitality in their countries, […] leave their said hospitalities and […] come to the city of London […] thereby leaving the relief of their poor neighbors as well for food and for good rule, and with covetous minds […] live in London.21

22The presence holding society together only survives as the ghost of feudalism—or a perverted version of it. Arden insists on playing host to his wife’s lover, the feudal duty of hospitality returning as the complaisance of the wittol;22 Alice offers protection and assistance to whoever will murder her husband, rewriting the feudal bond as petty treason;23 oaths that guaranteed the landlord’s moral responsibility to his tenant now seal murderous bargains “in which human beings become commodities”.24

23The lack of a presence calling for a supplement—with its inherent dangers familiar from Derrida—the play of substitutions can begin, on the estate, at home and in the bedchamber. “The supplement adds itself, it is a surplus, a plenitude enriching another plenitude” which “cumulates and accumulates presence”.25Buyers of land may have thought that the king’s vast transfer of property supplemented one form of value with another, the plenitude of market value enriching the plenitude of symbolic value.The valence of land as a source of both status and profit in the first moments of Arden of Faversham suggests that moment of illusory poise when the logic of supplementarity is still unrecognized even as it is secretly at work. For the supplement, both compensatory and vicarious, adds only to replace. Somerset, a temporary substitute for the king, “the supplement of the thing itself”,26 historically conspired to supplant him. Mosby at first is only to supplement Arden, an exciting, non-threatening addition to him in Alice’s ideal fantasy of a ménage à trois:

[…] Might I without control,
Enjoy thee still, then Arden should not die (i.274-275)

24“But seeing I cannot, therefore let him die” (276), she consents. In the logic of supplementarity, the subaltern eventually supplants the original, insinuating himself literally in his “stead”, in the sense of “estate”. Alice called Mosby’s name in her dreams and “[i]nstead of him, caught me about the neck”, Arden relates. “Instead of him? Why who was there but you?” (i.70-71), she rejoins curtly, attempting to conceal in broad daylight the logic of the supplement that prevails during the night. The upstart Mosby “must be” and aspires to appropriate Arden’s social and sexual attributes (“You’ll give me leave to play your husband’s part” [i.637]), and purposes to sit in his chair. He eventually does on the night of the murder, opposite his displaced victim. “Now I take you” is the signal for the assassins to rush forth (xiv.104). Mosby however perceives the trap in the logic of supplementarity. In the absence of a true lord, there is no limit to the play of substitutions:

You have supplanted Arden for my sake,
And will extirpen me to plant another (viii.40-42).

25In the oikos, the responsibility for unleashing this dreaded potential first rests with the wittol Arden and ultimately with Alice who, Catherine Belsey notes, “rejects the metaphysics of presence which guarantees the social enforcement of permanent monogamy, in favour of a free sexuality”.27 In the State, the responsibility rested with Henry VIII, for reasons that were not unlike those of Alice.

26Instability gradually extends to signification. Belsey sees the conflicting representations of Alice’s motives in Machyn, Stowe or Holinshed as evidence of “contested” meanings in need of “redefinition”.28 The same is true of most signs in the play. When signification cannot be discovered in the binding of signifier to signified, value, the determination of signs by other signs in a system of differences, is a viable alternative, as is familiar from Saussure.29 One may remember that, at this point in his argument, Saussure develops an analogy between linguistics and economy.30 It seems that Arden of Faversham, which features the exchange of linguistic, social and economic signs, is one of the sites where linguistics meets with the market, gold acting as the ultimate standard of value in the determination of signification. The dissolution of the monasteries sets social signs at play, and their uncertainty reflects in the signifiers of status, “master”, “gentleman”, or “villain”, which, Neill notes, are used to flatter or to hurt, not as objective descriptions of actual standing.31 But then, where do the protagonists “stand” when dissolution extends to hierarchy? Who, with the possible exception of Lord Cheiny on his isle of mystical mists, is legitimately to be termed “gentle”? Instead, “any claim to status” becomes “dependent on the claimant’s power to enforce it”, Neill suggests.32 Signs of status must be appropriated for oneself. They are detachable, transferable items, like the sword which Arden snatches from Mosby, considering he is not entitled to wear one. Arden’s own claim is precarious, despite his self-proclaimed status as “a gentleman of blood” (i.36).33 In the post-dissolution system, his value can only be differential, determined by his difference from Mosby. But with similar aspirations and apparently a wife in common, differences are slight between the two men, and there is in Arden more than just a trace of Mosby. The tailor is a mirror in which the upstart landlord is afraid to see a reflection of himself. Individual identities fail to harden into social categories and the protagonists exist in a social mist as thick as that which covers the Thames estuary.

27Words are likewise engaged in the play of difference and value. In a heated exchange with Mosby in which Alice hotly contests Arden’s rule, the decentring of the husband triggers paronomasia, an instance of rhetorical dissemination:

Why should he thrust his sickle in our corn,
Or what hath he to do with thee, my love,
Or govern me that am to rule myself?
Forsooth, for credit sake, I must leave thee!
Nay, he must leave to live that we may love,
May live, may love; for what is life but love?
And love shall last as long as life remains,
And life shall end before my love depart […]
[…] let our love be rocks of adamant,
Which time nor place nor tempest can asunder (x.82-98)

28Alice evicts her legitimate lord from the central position patriarchy assigns him, his role reduced to that of a mere farmer “thrusting his sickle” in his master’s “corn”. Over the space of three lines (82-84), his grammatical presence dwindles to nothing, leaving her to fill the space with her own “presence”. By the end of line 84, she has triumphantly established herself as a self-appointed “ruler” of “herself”, and endowed her coup with a sense of finality that seemingly closes off the argument. Finality is counteracted, however, by the interrogative form in which the speech is phrased. Alice’s series of purportedly rhetorical questions fails to convey anything but wishful thinking. Female authority is undermined even as it is asserted—it never reaches beyond the virtual (“why should?”)—and love is unsure to ever act as an organizing principle. Instead of involving a movement from sound to concept, her redefinition of love as the essence of life involves a movement from sound to sound that sets leave, love, and life at play in circular pursuit. The new creed—interestingly termed “credit”—is unable to establish love as a new presence endowed with the majestic fixity of monogamy. Like the transfer of land and the circulation of money, Alice’s sexual freedom contributes to the representation of the “deluge of flux” that seized early modern society after the dissolution.

3. “Pilgrims going to Canterbury with rich offerings and traders riding to London with fat purses”34: mapping out Arden’s journey

29The conquest of social space is powerfully imaged in Arden of Faversham as figures travelling thick and fast on roads and waterways, or pacing up and down streets and alleyways. They walk the roads of Kent as did surveyors, in a perambulatio that bespeaks journeying as much as appropriation. A map of Northern Kent emerges out of Arden’s carefully recorded criss-crossing as from the pen and quadrant of a landmeter. Nor is it a mere upshot of the play’s topical focus. The transfer of property triggered by the dissolution saw the development of surveying on a large scale. Christopher Saxton’s mapping of England and Wales (1579) is a familiar example (Fig. 1), as is Ralph Agas’s twenty-sheet survey of Lord Cheyne’s estates.35

Fig. 1 Christopher Saxton, Map of Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Middlesex, Atlas of the Counties of England and Wales (1579)

30Maps function on behalf of social elites as a statement of power, J. B. Harley has noted.36 The emergence of new elites registered as more estate maps designed for administrative use and for display. A merchant or a landowner would use wall maps as an ornament in his home or his study “so that at pleasure he may see his land before him”.37 But if most maps were intended as confident displays of wealth and influence, “some were commissioned by landlords […] nervous of their tenants’ claims”.38 They were “pictorial title-deeds”,39 in the phrase of John Gillies, a representation of shadowy forests and wide-skirted meads as much as a nervous statement of one’s claim to them. The etymology of the English chart, from the Latin carta designating a formal document, is an intimation that maps do not merely exist to record physical topography but are chiefly social texts reflecting power relationship.

31Arden’s “odyssey” is related in what precedes to the circularity of economy. Its focus on topography and place names—a mapmaker’s concern—confirms the nature of what is being traded. The analogy of Arden’s journey with surveying—his route unfolding as on Ogilby’s strip road maps (Fig. 2)—imparts to his “progress” some of the power which maps existed to proclaim. But Arden’s “mapping out” of Kent simultaneously points to the anxiety of contested or uncertain boundaries. The vast expanse of Rainham Down where Black Will and Shakebag lie in wait for him is an uncharted point, the repair of “tramps, highwaymen, and ruffians of every sort”.40 Unsettling forces are at work there to contest his claim, and the “mystical mist” covering the estuary is actively “deconstructing the map”.41 The strands of property, map and murder come together in that one word plot, whose various senses, conspiracy, piece of ground, burial site, and map coalesce when the dead body of Arden is dragged to “that plot of ground” (Epil.10) snatched from Greene. Its print on the grass ironically reads like an estate map the size of a grave, mapping death as the wages of misappropriation.

Fig. 2 John Ogilby, The Road from Dover to London, Britannia Atlas (1675)

32Arden’s circular, well-charted trade trip between Faversham and London starts from an abbey and returns to an abbey via a cathedral, an additional feature of the play’s geography that has not been engaged yet. They loom large at either end of the way. The Abbey of Faversham is the prime mover of the action, a large section of which—Black Will’s first murder attempt (sc.iii)—takes place in Old St Paul’s in London. Not incidentally, Arden’s route is the old Pilgrim’s Road that travellers took to the shrine of Thomas a Becket and most of the places listed were stations along that road. Pilgrims would travel from Southwark (Epil.4) to Greenwich (Epil.5) and Gravesend, either by land, or, like Arden, by water from Billingsgate (vi.1). They travelled from there to Rochester (ii.108), crossing the River Medway on to Sittingbourne (ii.61), then through Ospringe (“Osbridge”, Epil.7), a few miles off Faversham, to Boughton (“Bolton”, i.173) and finally to Canterbury (xviii.30).42 The journey, so vividly reproduced in The Canterbury Tales, was long and tiresome. Arden’s companions, like Chaucer’s pilgrims, request “pretty tales” to “beguile[] the weary way” (ix.92), a task assigned here to Franklin in a key intertextual signal.43 The play’s geography of movement, so far envisaged as a metaphor of social and economic upheavals, now fully coheres with the religious crisis that precipitated them.44 Even as the First and Second Suppression Acts (1536 and 1539) dissolved abbeys and religious houses, the Injunctions of 1536 and 1538 discouraged pilgrimages. The plot and the form of Arden of Faversham register both the effects of the Suppression Acts and of the Injunctions: the peregrination of the man who made a fortune out of the dissolution is set in the form of a pilgrimage.

33The pilgrim’s perspective and that of the landowner, conflicting as they may appear at first, nonetheless cohere smoothly. They are methodically “haunted” by each other, down to surveying and mapmaking. Pilgrims mapped out the land long before landowners did.They had to come to terms with the terrain, wrote travelogues and drew maps, an aspect of early pilgrimages frequently overlooked. Mapmaking owes as much to pilgrims as to the surveyors of newly endowed landlords.45

34The details of Arden’s journeying are carefully devised to blur the boundary between the secular and the sacred, the business trip and the pilgrimage. Pilgrimage was encouraged at first to ease the soul. John de Burgh advocates it in 1385 as a remedy “contra acediam”,46 the temptation of taedium vitae described by Evagrius and Cassian that tormented the souls of desert monks and monastic communities.47 Spiritual acedia eventually merged with secular humoral melancholia in the sixteenth century, the very melancholy that is foregrounded in the opening line of the play: “Arden, cheer up thy spirits and droop no more”, Franklin entreats. Arden shows the symptoms, described by Bright and Burton, of a “weary life” (i.9)

35That shows me nothing but torments my soul,
And those foul objects that offend mine eyes;
Which makes me wish that for this veil of heaven
The earth hung over my head and covered me (i.11-14)

36Franklin proposes the same remedy to assuage Arden’s domestic gloom that Burgh recommends: travelling. “Presently take horse, / And lie with me in London all this term” (i.50). It will not exceed “a month at most” (i.84), a duration in line with the three weeks a canon was allowed to visit shrines within the kingdom. The objections of scandal (i.499-501) and neglect of domestic duties (x.13) attached to Arden’s absence are the same that Erasmus mentions in his indictment of “Religious Pilgrimage”.48 The journey was notoriously fraught with traps and dangers. Pilgrims carried badges as a protection against mishaps: pilgrims to Compostela had the scallop shell; pilgrims to Canterbury ampullas (flasks) allegedly containing Thomas a Becket’s blood diluted with water. Arden has no such apotropaic sign, but nonetheless escapes repeated attempts against his life with “wondrous holy luck” (ix.133), which prompts Greene to comment that “[t]he Lord of Heaven hath preserved him” (ix.142). The commercial peregrination gradually acquires a tinge of the supernatural. The merchant increasingly looks like one of Chaucer’s pilgrims.

37Arden is next termed a “lamb” set to be sacrificed (iii.184), “ironically attain[ing] the status of a Christ-figure”.49 No longer the pilgrim but the martyr, he now walks to his death and “miracles” ensue. Water will not wash away his spilt blood, in ambiguous reminiscence of the Canterbury martyr’s blood and the Canterbury pilgrim’s badge. The print of his body preserved on the grass, a witness of his changed status, completes his transmutation from pilgrim to ghostly, supernatural presence—whatever its real nature. The ambiguity of Arden’s peregrination and of his body’s print belongs with the indeterminacy of his status, sinful oppressor, or guiltless victim that has so exercised critics.50 The final lines of the play point to a plot of ground that has turned into a haunted place, a sinister shrine, or an unholy land visited (or shunned) by fearful travellers, the formerly secularized abbey now redelivered to the occult in fearful circularity.

38The same elaborate, deliberate indeterminacy that characterizes the status of Arden’s peregrination applies to the play’s religious houses. One is a dismantled abbey sold for profit, the other a partly secularized cathedral used as a marketplace. Paul’s Walk, where Arden noisily upbraids Michael and is subsequently spotted by Shakebag and Black Will, was the central aisle of Old St Paul’s Cathedral, used as a fashionable meeting place for business (Fig. 3). Known as the “grapevine”, it had long been a venue for such as wished to keep in touch with gossips or merely to be seen. Merchants and other visitors repaired there for news of politics, business, and court matters. It was the haunt of beggars, thieves (iii.54), and prostitutes. The Queen vainly issued repeated proclamations

for avoiding of divers outrageous and unseemly behaviors used as well within and near the cathedral church of St. Paul […]. [H]er majesty […] commandeth all and singular her subjects that none of them during the time of preaching within the same church of Paul’s, or churchyard of the same, or of any divinity lecture, reading or of divine service in the same church […] shall walk up and down, or use any kind of disturbance, or spend the time in the same about any bargains or profane causes […] upon pain of imprisonment.51

Fig. 3 The Nave of Old St Paul’s, after Wenceslaus Hollar. William Benham, Old St. Paul's Cathedral, London, 1902

39Paul’s Walk emblematizes the connection between the demise of the sacred and the emergence of the market. Buildings in the churchyard, dismantled during the dissolution, were sold as shops to printers and booksellers who stored their stock in the crypt—a facility that proved disastrous during the Great Fire.52 Arden owes his life to one of these bookstalls:

Prentice. ‘Tis very late; I were best shut up my stall, for here will be old filching when the press comes forth of Paul’s. [Then lets he down his window, and it breaks Black Will’s head] (iii.47-48).

40Old St Paul’s, the abbey of Faversham and the memory of the old Pilgrims’ road sustain the theme of secularization/desecration and the blurring of spaces. They make Arden of Faversham into a pilgrimage in reverse, to Mammon and not to God, spelling punishment, not salvation. The stations once used for resting and prayer are named in connection with contemplated or actual crimes, death, and punishment. In Bolton is a farm for which Michael is willing to kill a brother; Greene is hanged in Osbridge; Black Will broke a tapster’s head in “Sittingburgh” and is murdered in Southwark, where the pilgrimage used to start from; Alice Arden is burnt at the stake in Canterbury, where it ended. The commercial and the sacred, the criminal and the holy, memories of punishment and the death of martyrs are superimposed in deliberate uncertainty. The merchant’s retrace the pilgrim’s steps. The line is blurred between economy and the sacred.

41Like Arden’s (un)dead body, the play exists in a liminal state, oscillating between thresholds, clear-cut oppositions and definite categories. It is informed by the “logic of haunting” where seemingly opposite terms are contaminated by each other,53 warranting a hauntological approach to determine the nature of its discourse. The spectre of the pre-reformation past returns to haunt the present, the previous inscription of the land survives as a trace or rather a web of traces, under erasure but not effaced, pointing to other traces in infinite deferral of meaning.

Fig. 4 The Shrine of St Erkenwald, after Wenceslaus Hollar. William Benham, Old St. Paul's Cathedral, London, 1902

42The first of these traces or ghosts is recoverable in Old St Paul’s. The relics of Erkenwald, bishop of London (675-693), had long made the cathedral a site of pilgrimage and were, in the words of Dean Henry Milman, its “fountain of wealth” (Fig. 4).54 Kings and Queens regularly visited the shrine, as did Katherine of Aragon on the occasion of her entry into London prior to her fateful marriage to Prince Arthur. The name of Erkenwald is now associated with a Middle English alliterative poem (c. 1386), whose context and circumstances deeply resonate with the play. The poem starts with a recollection of how the realm was converted from pagan to Christian belief, how pagan temples were converted to Christian churches, and how it affected land and society. It goes on to report one of the bishop’s miracles observed during the construction of Old St Paul’s on the site of a pagan temple. A tomb is uncovered on the site in which lies a body miraculously preserved. At Erkenwald’s command, the uncorrupted body tells its story. He had been a judge in London, renowned for his just decisions and mourned of all when he died. Albeit righteous, he could not be saved along with the just as he had died while Britain was still pagan, and is doomed to spend eternity in Limbo. A merciful tear rolls down the bishop’s cheek onto the judge’s face, whose body, now baptized, at last falls into dust. With a common context (a change of faith), and location (St Paul’s), the poem is in many ways an image of the play in reverse. Erkenwald, remembered for establishing the abbeys of Chertsey and Barking, is associated in the poem with the foundation of St Paul’s. Of all the saints revered in medieval England, he was “the great priest who […] repaired the house and fortified the temple in his days”, according to Ecclesiastes 50:1-5 which was read on his feast day. He is the antitype of Henry VIII, building what the king destroyed, and the righteous judge appears as Arden’s antitype, a body in Limbo whose trace cannot be effaced. On either side of Erkenwald the builder and Henry the destroyer of monasteries, the righteous judge enters into a dialogue with the unprincipled mayor, the abiding traces of their undead bodies a distant reflection of, and on each other. The judge’s soul is eventually saved and he finds a resting place on the site of the consecrated building. Arden’s body remains exiled on the site of the desecrated abbey, the sign of a soul in peril.

43The second trace, half-erased but still visible, is that of the Pilgrimage of Grace. Henrician reformation had met with resistance in the Northern counties. In October 1536, insurgents rose in protest against the dissolution of religious houses and drove tenants out of their newly acquired monastic holdings to reinstate expelled nuns and monks. A mix of religious and economic reasons, Edward Hall argues, prompted the insurrection:

thei also declared by their proclamacions solemply made, that this their insurreccion, should extend no farther but only to the maintenaunce and defence of the faith of Christe and deliueraunce of holy Churche sore decaied & oppressed, and also for the furtheraunce aswel of priuate as publik matters in the realme touchyng the wealth of al the kynges poore subiectes. They named this there sedicious and traiterous voiage, an holye and blessed Pilgrimage.55

44Fifteen years later in Faversham, the dissolution was still a source of unrest. In 1551 as in 1536, a cross-section of the population rose in protest against dispossession of “the kynges poore subiectes”. Grievances were the same as in York. The pilgrimage of Arden in Kent, stalked by irate tenants and discontented leaseholders, may well gesture in an inverted form toward that defining moment in Yorkshire when self-proclaimed pilgrims first protested the confiscation of the land they lived on. By conjuring the myth of the “deliueraunce of holy Churche”, their own discourse revives the trace of ghostly voices. They defer the meaning of their enterprise, successively defined as an “insurrection”, a “pilgrimage”, and finally as a crusade. Speaking for the State, Hall stops the dissemination of meaning at “treason”. The pilgrims were executed as traitors not martyrs, and their leader Robert Aske was convicted of high treason. Alice Arden, the mastermind of what might be termed a “pilgrimage of disgrace”, is convicted of petty treason, burnt at the stake and her accomplices executed. The coincidence of their places of execution with the stations of the Canterbury pilgrimage betokens a reassertion of the State’s authority and the King’s supremacy identical in 1551 as in 1536.

45Considered together, the echo of Erkenwald and that of the more recent Yorkshire rebellion rehearse the script of Henrician Reformation from its premises to its bloody outcome. The cartography of reformed Kent, with its stakes, scaffolds, and gallows in place of abbeys and monasteries, reveals the play’s “hidden agenda”,the subtext beneath its location data.56 It is a map of power edited with a theological and a political purpose: to eradicate unwelcome spectres and readjust “the identity to itself of the living present”.57 But can ghosts be conjured away?


47Arden of Faversham is a play of traces and the ghost of things past. Emergent agrarian capitalism prospered on the demise of “bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang”.58 As repressed meanings return to haunt the final text, the past revisits the present as a spectre. “Traders with fat purses” retrace the footsteps of “pilgrims with rich offerings”, encouraged by the common origin of trade and tread.59 But then as now, the threat of returning spectres must be conjured away. The Pilgrimage of Grace brutally effaces the memory of Erkenwald’s shrine, and the play transforms the stations on the old Pilgrims’ road into rebels’ gibbets. The landowners and mapmakers of Henrician England join “into a holy hunt against this spectre”60 much as, in the 1990s, old Europe appeared to Derrida to be joining against the spectres of Marx.

48However, the moment when meaning is closed by Franklin’s report of how violence was eventually visited upon the enemies of agrarian capitalism (Epil.2-8) is also the moment when a new ghost returns, in the form of the print of Arden’s body in the grass. What is the meaning of his (un)death “[t]wo years and more after the deed was done” (Epil.13)? Is it another ghost of things past, belatedly conjured up? A tardy punishment visited on Arden? If so, is it meted out for his greed and his injustice? For deriving benefits from the desecration of holy land? Or simply for turning land into a commodity? What is this spectral presence seemingly conjured up by the conjuration against him? I wish to regard it instead, in those far-off days of budding capitalism, as the spectre of a coming threat, occupying somehow, in early modern England, the place Marxism occupied in nineteenth-century Europe.

49Money is a ghost, Marx argues in Das Kapital. It is moreover endowed, he writes in German Ideology, with a capacity to spectralize what it touches, or in Derrida’s rephrasing of it in Specters of Marx, with a property of “spectralizing disincarnation”.61 It “neutralizes, disincarnates, deprives of its difference all personal property”.62 Derrida’s musing on Marx’s appraisal of Geld, Geist, and Geiz—he brings them together “as if money (Geld) were the origin both of spirit (Geist) and avarice (Geiz)”—could have been written with Arden in mind. For Marx, “the speculator becomes a martyr to exchange value”, for speculation is “always fascinated, bewitched by the spectre”.63 Arden may eventually turn into a spectral presence because it is in the nature of speculation, living on the spectralizing power of money, to engender ghosts. But is the print in the grass an instance of, or a warning against the “phantomalization of property”,64 itscommodification? Is the ghostly presence of Arden a spectre of the future, the coming threat of the spectralization by money that Shakespeare detected in Timon; or, like Marcellus on the platform at Elsinore, does it watch against the return of “the ghost” of the pre-Reformation past to “conjure” it away on behalf of newly endowed landowners? The answer undecidably lies in that lapse of two years, which must be interrogated now. By the time Arden’s print in the grass allegedly disappeared, in 1553 as arithmetic goes, Mary I had come to the throne. The dreaded ghost was back, but monastery lands, to the relief of the landowning classes, were never returned to the Church.


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1 Lawrence Stone, “Social Mobility in England, 1540-1700”, Past and Present, vol. 33, 1966, pp. 16-55, quote p. 16.

2 Church estate yielded 400 000 pounds in annual revenue, ten times the amount of Crown land.

3 Michael Neill, “ ‘This Gentle Gentleman’: Social Change and the Language of Status in Arden of Faversham”, in Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, vol. 10, London, Associated University Press, 1998, pp. 73-97, quote p. 75.

4 Stone, p. 33.

5 Frank Whigham, Seizures of the Will in Early Modern Drama, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996, p. 77.

6 Patricia Hyde, Thomas Arden in Faversham: The Man Behind the Myth,Faversham, The Faversham Society, 1996, p. 37.

7 Hyde, p. 50.

8 Whigham, p. 77.

9 Matters of status register in the importance of signs: calling a man “master” or “gentleman” or carrying a sword. Arden seizes the sword of Mosby, his social inferior, suggesting a pressing iron would be more fitting (i.309 [s.d]); see Neill, p. 80.

10 Reede’s name suitably means to vacate. OED rede, v.2, 1.e and f: “To quit, vacate (land, a property). Obs. rare”; “To remove (a person or thing) from a place; to clear (a thing) away”.

11 All references are to Arden of Faversham, Martin White (ed.), New Mermaids Series, London, A&C Black, 1990.

12 Jacques Derrida, Given Time: I; Counterfeit Money, trans. Peggy Kamuf, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1992, pp. 6-7.

13 See for instance Leonore Lieblein, “The Context of Murder in English Domestic Plays, 1590-1610”, Studies in English Literature, vol. 23, n. 2, 1983, pp. 181-196, quote p. 185.

14 “[T]he dramatist […] matches the obviously immoral actions of Alice and Mosby in the ‘private’ world of the play against Arden’s own obviously immoral […] actions in the ‘public’ world” (White, p. xviii). See also Catherine Belsey, “Alice Arden’s Crime”, Renaissance Drama, vol. 13, 1982, pp. 83-102; Julie R. Schutzman, “Alice Arden’s Freedom and the Suspended Moment of Arden of Faversham”, Studies in English Literature, vol. 36, n. 2, 1996, pp. 290-314.

15 Garrett A. Sullivan, Jr., “ ‘Arden lay murdered in that plot of ground’: Surveying, Land, and Arden of Faversham”, English Literary History, vol. 61, 1994, pp. 231-252, quote p. 231.

16 Reede, Arden’s expelled tenant, is ironically entrusted with the discourse of the moral economy in which the feudal landlord provides for his tenants. Sullivan notes that he curses Arden in terms that are an inverted echo of the tenant’s prayer for a kind landlord in The Book of Common Prayer (233). After Reede’s death, his wife will keep the curse alive: “This charge I’ll leave my distressful wife; / My children shall be taught such prayers as these” (xiii.51-52).

17 Robert Crowley, The Way of Wealth, Select Works of Robert Crowley, London, Early English Texts Society, 1872, p. 132.

18 King James VI and I, “The Trew Law of Free Monarchies” (1598), in King James VI and I: Political Writings, Johann P. Sommerville (ed.), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 74-75.

19 Ralph B. Smith, Land and Politics in the England of Henry VIII, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1970, p. 259.

20 On the question of absentee landlords and the social crisis, see Lawrence Stone, The Crisis of the Aristocracy 1558-1641, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1965, p. 333; also Sullivan, p. 245.

21 Tudor Royal Proclamations, vol. III, Paul L. Hughes and Francis Larkin (eds.), New Haven, Yale University Press, 1969, pp. 171-172.

22 “[…] rather frequent it more. /To warn him on the sudden from my house / Were to confirm the rumour that is grown” (i.349-352).

23 See Frances E. Dolan, “The Subordinate(’s) Plot: Petty Treason and the Forms of Domestic Rebellion”, Shakespeare Quarterly,vol. 43, n. 3, 1992, pp. 317-340.

24 See Alexander Leggatt, “Arden of Faversham”, Shakespeare Survey, vol. 36, 1983, pp. 121-133; on the distinction between oath and deal or bargain, see especially pp. 124-126. Ironically, it now proves impossible to keep one’s word, evil as it may be—it takes four attempts before Black Will and Shakebag can keep their promise to Alice. Regardless of its nature, the Word holds no sway in a system subject to decentring.

25 Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatry Chakravorty Spivack, Baltimore and London, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998, p. 144.

26 Derrida, Grammatology, p. 145.

27 Belsey, p. 134.

28 Belsey, p. 131. “These repeated reinterpretations of the events, reproblematizations of the murder, may be read as so many attempts to elicit a definitive meaning for Alice Arden’s crime. In each case the definitive meaning remains elusive, in the sense that each text contains elements not accounted for in its overall project”. For Belsey, “what is at stake in these contests for the meaning of the murder is marriage itself” (p. 135).

29 “Language is a system of interdependent terms in which the value of each term results solely from the simultaneous presence of the others”, F. de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics, trans. Wade Baskin, New York, Philosophical Library, 1959, p. 114.

30 “[I]t is not the metal in a piece of money that fixes its value. A coin nominally worth five francs may contain less than half its worth of silver. Its value will vary according to the amount stamped upon it and according to its use inside or outside a political boundary. This is even more true of the linguistic signifier” (p. 118). See also p. 115.

31 Neill, pp. 79-95.

32 Neill, p. 84.

33 Lena Cowen Orlin (Private Matters and Public Culture in Post-Reformation England, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1994, p. 63), and Frances Dolan take Arden at his own estimate. Neill interprets his sensitivity about rank as “the over-anxious prickliness of an arriviste” (p. 82).

34 1 Henry IV, act 1, sc.2.

35 BL Add. MS 38065. On the political importance of Saxton’s maps, see Richard Helgerson, “The Land Speaks: Cartography, Chorography, and Subversion in Renaissance England”, in Representing the English Renaissance, Stephen Greenblatt (ed.), Berkeley, University of California Press, 1988, pp. 327-361.

36 J. B. Harley, “Maps, Knowledge and Power”, in The Iconography of Landscape, D. Cosgrove and S. Daniels (eds.), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1988, pp. 277-312.

37 William Leybourn, The Compleat Surveyor (1653), London, 1722, p. 114.

38 Maurice Beresford, History on the Ground, London, Lutterworth, 1957, p. 66.

39 John Gillies, Shakespeare and the Geography of Difference, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994, p. 46.

40 White, p. 51, n. 18, citing Lionel Cust, “Arden of Faversham”, Archaeologia Cantiana , vol. 34, 1920, p. 125.

41 See J. B. Harley, “Deconstructing the Map”, in The Map Reader: Theories of Mapping Practice and Cartographic Representation, Martin Dodge, Rob Kitchin, and Chris Perkins (eds.), Oxford, Wiley, 2011, pp. 56-64.

42 On the established route of the pilgrimage to Canterbury, see Diana Webb, Pilgrimage in Medieval England, London, Hambledon and London, 2000; Hilaire Belloc, The Old Road,London, Constable, 1911.

43 Franklin’s tale of female betrayal and how “the gentleman did check his wife” (ix.73) is intended as a mise en abyme of Arden’s predicament, in support of his view of himself as a victimized husband. But the intertext of Chaucer’s “Franklin’s Tale”, in which a husband encourages his wife’s adultery, is equally appropriate.

44 There is in Arden a pervasive presence of religious signs, though not of doctrinal issues, singularly manifested in repeated instances of desecration. One of the devices envisaged to kill Arden is a “crucifix impoisoned / That whoso look upon it should wax blind, / And with the scent be stifled, that ere long / He should die poisoned that did view it well (i.611-614). The prayer book Alice proposes to use as a cache for Mosby’s letters in blasphemous proof of her love is another instance of desecration (viii.116-120). But it is difficult to identify a consistent doctrinal stance. A recusant would have looked at the poisoned crucifix with horror, while the desecrated Book of Common Prayer is more likely to have incensed a protestant audience. The dissolution itself, albeit pivotal, is never discussed as anything but a matter of real estate. The point, it appears, is not in the upholding of a particular doctrine but in the desecration of places, objects or practices that were once deemed hallowed. Marguerite A. Tassi analyses the poisoned crucifix and the poisoned portrait in connection with the protestant bias against images in The Scandal of Images: Iconoclasm, Eroticism, and Painting in Early Modern English Drama, Selingsgrove, Susquehanna University Press, 2005, pp. 145-146; see also Yan Brailowsky’s paper in this volume. On prayer books on the stage, see Elizabeth Williamson, “The Uses and Abuses of Prayer Book Properties in Hamlet, Richard III, and Arden of Faversham”, English Literary Renaissance, vol. 39, n. 2, 2009, pp. 371-395.

45 See Blake Leyerle, “Landscape as Cartography in Early Christian Pilgrimage Narratives”, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, vol. 64, n. 1, Spring, 1996, pp. 119-143.

46 John de Burgh, Pupilla Oculi o[mn]ibus presbyteris precipue Anglicanis summe necessaria (1386), London, 1510, fol. 63.

47 Evagrius Ponticus, The Praktikos & Chapters on Prayer, tr. John Eudes Bamberger, Cistercian Studies Series, vol. 4, Spenser, Mass., Cistercian Publications, 1970; John Cassian, The Institutes, tr. Boniface Ramsey, Ancient Christian Writers, vol. 58, New York, Newman Press, 2000. On acedia, see Siegfried Wenzel, The Sin of Sloth: Acedia in Medieval Thought and Literature, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1967.

48 Desiderius Erasmus, “The Religious Pilgrimage”, in Familiar Colloquies, N. Bailey (trans.), London, 1733. Unlike Arden, the wise man does not heed advice on the virtues of journeying. He travels at home and keeps an eye on his wife and his household: “I go to my Study, and take care of my Daughter’s Chastity; thence I go into my Shop, and see what my Servants are doing; then into the Kitchen, and see if any thing be amiss there; and so from one place to another, what my Wife, and what my Children are doing, taking care that every one be at his Business. These are my Roman Stations” (p. 348).

49 Ian McAdam, “Protestant Manliness in Arden of Faversham”, Texas Studies in Literature and Language, vol. 43, n. 1, 2003, pp. 42-72; quote p. 51.

50 For a summary of the question, see Mary Floyd Wilson, “Tragic Action at a Distance”, in The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Tragedy, Emma Wilson and Garrett A. Sullivan Jr. (eds.), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2010, pp. 188-199, esp. p. 192.

51 30 October 1561. Tudor Royal Proclamations, vol. III, pp 175-176.

52 The title page of the Quarto of Arden of Faversham, Martin White recalls, “indicates that its publisher, Edward White, had his business at ‘the little dore of Paules Church at the sign of the Gun’ ” (p. 36).

53 Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx, The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, & the New International, translated by Peggy Kamuf, London, Routledge, 1994, p. 10; originally published as Spectres de Marx, Paris, Galilée, 1993.

54 Henry Hart Milman, Annals of St Paul’s Cathedral, London, John Murray, 1868, p. 151.

55 Edward Hall, “The xxviii Year of King Henry the viii”, The Union of the Two Noble and Illustrate Families of Lancastre [and] Yorke, London, imprinted by Richard Grafton, 1548.

56 See Harley, “Silences and Secrecy: The Hidden Agenda of Cartography in Early Modern Europe”, Imago Mundi, vol. 40, 1988, pp. 57-76.

57 Derrida, Specters, p.xx.

58 Shakespeare, Sonnet 73, 4.

59 To trade means both to exchange and to come and go (OED v.†1 and †2). As a noun, it designated a path (OED, n. I. †1) long before it meant a transaction—words haunted by each other.

60 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), quoted in Derrida’s Specters, p. 49.

61 Derrida, Specters, p. 51.

62 Derrida, Specters, p. 51.

63 Derrida, Specters, p. 57.

64 Derrida, Specters, p. 31.

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Anny Crunelle Vanrigh, «Peripatetic Arden: the Spectral Geographies of Arden of Faversham», Quarto [En ligne], Publications, Apocrypha Redivivus, Arden of Faversham, URL :
mis à jour le : 08/12/2013.

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Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, Quarto. Professor of English Literature, Anny Crunelle Vanrigh has edited Arden of Faversham for the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade. Other publications include articles and notes on early modern drama for SEL, Word & Image, English Text Construction, Cahiers élisabéthains, ANQ, The Shakespeare Yearbook, The Upstart Crow.