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OLIVER J. W. COX -- FREDERICK, PRINCE OF WALES, AND THE FIRST PERFORMANCE OF ‘RULE, BRITANNIA!’ (2013). | The Historical Journal, 56, pp 931-954. - Cambridge Journals Online - Abstract
OLIVER J. W. COX - University College, Oxford -- The words and music of ‘Rule, Britannia!’ are synonymous with the expansionist, triumphalist, and imperialist Britain symbolized by fluttering Union Jacks on the Last Night of the Proms. This article explores the cultural and political contexts of the first performance of this important national cultural artefact as the finale of Alfred: a masque to suggest that this opening night served a very different purpose. The first audience was a court in exile from the metropolitan heart of London, popular amongst the general public, but without any prospects of government. Two of the most important members of this group of peers, politicians, poets and a prince had recently died, and with them any cohesive identity. Alfred is both a desperate plea for unity, a rallying cry which forcefully restated the key tenets of this group's identity, and a delayed expression of patriotic celebration occasioned by Admiral Vernon's capture of Portobello. Through addressing this performance, this article makes an important contribution to our understanding of Hanoverian political culture and highlights the continuing impact of Anglo-Saxon England on mid-eighteenth-century Britain. -* For comments and advice on earlier versions of my argument, I am grateful to Dr Hannah Smith and Dr Geoffrey Tyack. - Thanks are also due to John and Virginia Murray who ensured archival work at 50 Albemarle Street was always a pleasure.
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august 2014 by dunnettreader

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