Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Fire and Steel: An Elizabethan Political Pamphlet


Today, I published a recreation of an Elizabethan political pamphlet entitled "Fire and Steel: Or; Of Devices Using That Villainous Saltpetre and the Degradation of the Art of Defence". It is available for your download by clicking on the title. This was written for my amusement and to practice my writing of the Elizabethan language, using the spelling and grammar of that period. It was also an exercise in writing to a particular format, that of the political pamphlet.

Unlike our modern political pamphlets which are usually a single piece of paper, sometimes double-sided, the Elizabethan political pamphlet was an essay of some length, published in quarto size, with a full argument described within its pages. This allowed the writer of the pamphlet the full range to discuss their argument and allow their point of view to be made known. There was quite a period in which this form of communication was quite popular and you can find more information from the Wikipedia page, here.

For many people in our modern age these pamphlets would qualify as an essay, or even a small book, but in this age the printed word was the prime source of communication. There was not social media where a person's opinion about subjects was immediately broadcast to the world in a split-second. The pages had to be printed by hand, and the spread around, often by the individual. Most of these were addressed to someone important to gain some authority behind their argument, and also gain some attention.

In my case I used the persona names of individuals in the medieval and Renaissance group that I am a member of, the SCA. I used the subject of firearms on the field of combat, as it is a subject which would have been of concern in the Elizabethan period, and is somewhat of a subject of concern in the SCA, at least to some. I personally think they are just a part of the game that we play like many other things, but they were a suitable subject. It was a useful project and it allowed me to exercise my language abilities which was nice.



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