Censorship and Poetry at the Court of Charles I: The Case of Georg Rodolf Weckherlin [with illustrations]


  • I am grateful to J.R. Watson, Michael O'Neill, Arnold Hunt, Robert Carver, and John and Judy McKinnell for many inspiring discussions.


This essay examines the pressures of censorship on an individual licenser who was at once a dutiful official, a militant agent for a controversial political cause, and a famous polyglot poet. G.R. Weckherlin was one of the most important figures in shaping public opinion during the reign of Charles I: as licenser of news he decided what the English public was to read about the Thirty Years War. Weckherlin's multilingual activities spanned both England and the Continent. His checkered career from spectacle impresario in Protestant Germany to Whitehall bureaucrat and closet poet illustrates how foreigners were integrated at the court of Charles I and how they dealt with the conflicting demands made on them. Weckherlin's case thus enables us to learn about political tolerance (or its limits) in early Stuart England. Above all, it demonstrates what it was like for an early modern individual to think and write in several languages and live the cultures connected with each. (B. R.)