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January Digital Seminar

23 January 2024


Seminar:  A Newly Discovered Anti-German Text in the Reign

of Queen Mary I

Valerie Schutte, Independent Scholar


This presentation will discuss the newly discovered copy of Luis de Ávila y Zuñiga’s The Comentaries of Don Lewes de Auela, and Suniga printed by Richard Tottel in 1554. The text was originally written in 1547 and commemorated the struggles of Emperor Charles V over his Lutheran subjects, a topic relevant for the new English queen. According to the Universal Short Title Catalogue (USTC), it was printed at least thirty times from 1548 to 1620. In total, there are at least 378 extant copies of Ávila’s The Comentaries. Until recently, only seven extant English-language copies have been noted, all dated 1555. Two are held in England, while the other five are held in the United States. Yet, in summer 2022, Dr Schutte purchased a copy of The Comentaries dated 1554.


To present a fresh perspective of the English translation of Ávila’s text, this paper will give an overview of its textual transmission, from manuscript through its sixteenth-century printed editions. Then, the presentation will discuss the English vernacular edition of Ávila’s text, including this newly discovered singular 1554 English vernacular copy. For this particular copy, the paper explores its provenance, its relevance to English politics, its connection to Tottel and Edward Stanley, third Earl of Derby, as well as Roger Ascham’s discussion of the text in his A Report and Discourse printed in 1570. A 1554 edition of The Comentaries was significant because of the moment in which it was published. It embodied the confluence of Mary’s new (yet natal) family, the defeat of the Schmalkaldic League, and the future potential of a Catholic Anglo-Spanish empire. 



William B Robison


Seminar Timetable

17:00 – 17:10: Introduction (Chair)

17:10 – 17:55: Presentations

17:55 – 18:15: Q&A


Presenter bio

Valerie Schutte has published widely on royal Tudor women, book dedications, and queenship. She has published two monographs: Mary I and the Art of Book Dedications: Royal Women, Power, and Persuasion (2015) and Princesses Mary and Elizabeth Tudor and the Gift Book Exchange (2021). She has also edited or co-edited seven volumes on Mary I, Shakespeare, and queenship. Her edited volumes Mary I in Writing: Letters, Literature, and Representations and Writing Mary I: History, Historiography, and Fiction (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2022), have won the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender Collaborative Project Award. Her most recent edited collection - Mid-Tudor Queenship and Memory: The Making and Remaking of Lady Jane Grey and Mary I - was published in Palgrave Macmillan's Queenship and Power series in September 2023. Her article "Mary and Her Stepmothers" was published in BBC History Revealed, no. 127 (December 2023). She also edited a cluster of short essays on royal Tudor sexualization that will appear in the December issue of the Royal Studies Journal. A podcast episode previewing the cluster can be found here: Valerie is currently editing two other volumes, one on Tudor monarchs and myths, and the other on Mary I and humanism. She is also writing a cultural biography of Anne of Cleves. Valerie also has a forthcoming essay on 500 years of reprints of Juan Luis Vives's Instruction of a Christian Woman, that will be published this winter in the Journal of the Early Book Society.

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