Mirrors For Princes

literary mirrors have typically presented positive examples for readers to follow, but A Mirror for Magistrates's title relies on a second meaning for mirror—warning (ca. 1325-1610)—and thus demonstrates conduct to be avoided.

Most of the stories are told in first person by the "fallen prince." In every version, the vignettes are written in rhyme royal, and prose bridges connect the poems. The common verse form provides uniformity, while seven authorial styles give variety.

This collection of tragedies rendered in verse reinforces Renaissance views of morality and teaches English history with a Tudor political inflection. one of the overarching themes is lust of varying sorts: The lives of Henry Percy, Owen Glendower, and Jack Cade caution against lust for power; Richard II tells readers that his lust for admiration allowed him to be easily deceived; Eleanor Cobham lusted after power (she wanted her husband, Duke Humphrey, to be king so badly that she conspired with witches); Jane Shore, mistress to Edward IV, describes the effects of physical lust on her life.

Another common strain throughout A Mirror for Magistrates is the inevitability of punishment for vice: Neither position nor secrecy can protect those who behave immorally. Fortune's wheel turns and throws the one on top to the bottom. Just as Lady Philosophy in Boethius's The Consolation of Philosophy is the servant of God, so, too, is Fortune in A Mirror for Magistrates, dispensing God's justice in earthly life. See also Wars of the Roses.

further reading

Budra, Paul. A Mirror for Magistrates and the de casibus Tradition. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000. Kiefer, Frederick. "Fortune and Providence in the Mirror for

Magistrates." Studies in Philology 74 (1977): 146-164. Winston, Jessica. "A Mirror for Magistrates and Public Political Discourse in Elizabethan England." Studies in Philology 101 (2004): 381-400.

Karen Rae Keck

MIRRORS FOR PRINCES A genre of political writing popular during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Poems and prose treatises in this genre were, essentially, instruction manuals for rulers. As lit erary works, they often include historical or literary examples designed to illustrate positive or negative examples of rulers.

Perhaps the most famous example is Niccolo Machi-avelli's The Prince (1532), but numerous other examples exist from a wide variety of cultures. The early 16th century text A Mirror for Magistrates, a continuation of John Lydgate's The Fall of Princes, was particularly popular in England.

eurther reading

Meens, Rob. "Politics, Mirrors of Princes and the Bible: Sins,

Kings and the Well-Being of the Realm." Early Medieval

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