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Michael Graves' new study of Henry VIII leaves one wondering whether

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Michael Graves' new study of Henry VIII leaves one wondering whether  [#permalink]

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New Project RC Butler 2019 - Practice 2 RC Passages Everyday
Passage # 462, Date: 19-Nov-2019
This post is a part of New Project RC Butler 2019. Click here for Details


Michael Graves' new study of Henry VIII leaves one wondering whether the travails of modern politics may be doing serious damage to our understanding of the past. His study of Henry's kingship has many merits: Graves deploys some lively description, has a nice eye for detail, and advances some intelligent and astute judgments. Graves' reiterated message is that Henry's great skill was that of 'image projection', which may well be true, but is of little use when left hanging in a miasma of modern associations. Henry VIII was not trying to win any elections. Unless we can deconstruct both the composite image being used according to the rhetoric of the time and, even more importantly, unless we know who were the intended recipients of this royal propaganda, the argument makes little progress.

Henry was undoubtedly skilled at acting a variety of parts, according to need, but to send the modern reader away with a vague sense that some kind of Tudor 'spin-doctoring' was at work is to leave far too much unsaid. Henry's 'image' worked at many different levels, reflecting the intricate stratification of society: at different times his propaganda might be aimed at nobles, religious reformers, traditional churchmen, foreign rulers or the Pope, as well as what might (just) be termed 'public opinion'. Moreover, most of the parts he acted were not about 'ego-fulfilment' but about the complex nature of political obligation, where his duty to his subjects required him to fulfil the role of warrior, arbitrator, humanist scholar or godly prince. Graves appreciates some of the nuances within Henry's construction of himself as Renaissance prince, but he doesn't think hard enough about the king's intended audience, and the relationship between ruler and ruled.

Despite some undoubted insight into Henry VIII's kingship, therefore, this study stands too far back from its subject. This is evident also in the slightly embarrassed way Graves writes about Tudor attitudes, as when he comments that 'Henry VIII's priorities may seem confused and unrealistic to the modern mind'. Leaving aside the fact that modern politics are arguably just as confused and corrupt as anything the Tudors could produce, to imply that the past should have to apologies' for being itself suggests some debatable assumptions about the existence of 'progress'. Politics, then as now, were a messy business, but Tudor society had its own political codes, even if we find those codes hard to break.



1. The author’s attitude towards Graves’ study can be best described as one of:

A. Enthusiastic agreement
B. Uneasy questioning
C. Acerbic criticism
D. Measured disapproval
E. Skeptical reproach



2. The author of the passage is primarily concerned with

A. comparing the political codes of today with those of the Tudor society
B. analyzing the complex political obligations of Tudor kings
C. evaluating a work of scholarship about Henry VIII
D. exposing the weaknesses of a study of Tudor rule
E. questioning the popularity of a historical work



3. According to the author, each of the following is a weakness found in Graves’ study, EXCEPT:

A. superficial information narrated in a dreary style
B. lack of depth in analyzing the royal propaganda of Henry VIII
C. deficiency of thought regarding the relationship between the ruler and the ruled
D. an incorrect implication that the past must apologize for itself
E. an aloof treatment of the subject of study



4. According to the author, Henry VIII’s ‘image projection’ [lines 6-7] was driven mainly by:

A. a desire to win the royal elections
B. a craving for ego-fulfilment
C. political obligation towards his subjects
D. a need to break free of churchmen and the Pope
E. an intention to rewrite the political codes of the Tudor era

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Re: Michael Graves' new study of Henry VIII leaves one wondering whether  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Nov 2019, 10:34
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Re: Michael Graves' new study of Henry VIII leaves one wondering whether   [#permalink] 19 Nov 2019, 10:34
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