SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

The Renaissance developed the concept of a ‘middle age’ between the classical period and their own culture, while ‘medievalism’ is associated with the aesthetic nostalgia of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Although the idea of Shakespearean medievalism applies a Victorian category anachronistically to Shakespeare, it provides an opportunity to consider the coherence and significance of Shakespeare’s relationship to the Middle Ages, as well as the purpose and agenda behind his adaptations of medieval material. After the periodization debates of the 1990s, which sought to undermine many of the traditional disciplinary distinctions between the Middle Ages and Renaissance, scholars are now turning their attention to how the Renaissance invented the idea of the Middle Ages. This has produced a wide range of new perspectives on Shakespeare’s representation of the Middle Ages that includes the possibility that Shakespeare did not conceptualize history according to fixed periods, such as Medieval and Renaissance. This article argues that Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale is a key source for Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, and that Cymbeline’s use of the Franklin’s Tale provides a key example of Shakespearean medievalism that resists the traditional borders and boundaries of periodization.