Next Article in Journal
The System Isn’t Broken. It’s Fixed
Next Article in Special Issue
Martin Luther and Lucas Cranach Teaching the Lord’s Prayer
Previous Article in Journal
The Negative Theology of Wallace Stevens’s “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction”
Previous Article in Special Issue
Luther, Bach, and the Jews: The Place of Objectionable Texts in the Classroom
Article Menu
Issue 4 (April) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Religions 2017, 8(4), 55;

Spenser’s Blatant Beast: The Thousand Tongues of Elizabethan Religious Polemic

Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages, University of Tennessee Martin, Martin, TN 38238, USA
Academic Editor: Christopher Metress
Received: 31 January 2017 / Revised: 24 March 2017 / Accepted: 28 March 2017 / Published: 4 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching the Reformations)
Full-Text   |   PDF [515 KB, uploaded 4 April 2017]   |  


This article addresses the final two books of the 1596 edition of Spenser’s Faerie Queene, in which there arises a formidable adversary: the Blatant Beast. This monster, whose presence dominates the end of Book Five and a substantial portion of Book Six, represents the worst excesses of caustic and satirical rhetoric as manifest in the theological and ecclesiastical pamphlet disputes that erupted after Fields and Wilcox’s 1572 Admonition to Parliament. That these disputes were about serious and far-reaching matters is undeniable; it is also undeniable that the means by which these disputes were waged, especially in notorious cases like those of Martin Marprelate, caused significant intellectual, rhetorical, and religious anxiety among combatants and observers alike. Spenser’s heavily allegorized presentation of polemic and pamphleteering in the figure of the Blatant Beast—and the travails of the Knights of Justice and of Courtesy in bringing the beast to heel—can illustrate for students the full extent of that anxiety in Reformation England, as well as articulate Spenser’s call for the timely application of “well guided speech” as the solution to these reckless disputes. View Full-Text
Keywords: polemic; allegory; satire; rhetoric polemic; allegory; satire; rhetoric

Graphical abstract

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Hill, C.A. Spenser’s Blatant Beast: The Thousand Tongues of Elizabethan Religious Polemic. Religions 2017, 8, 55.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Religions EISSN 2077-1444 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert Logo copyright Steve Bridenbaugh/UUA
Back to Top