Monday, June 4, 2007

1549 to 1559

Defense et illustration de la langue francaise. Joachim DuBellay. French. 1549. Nonfiction. Defends the French language as a mode of poetic expression against those who wrote in Latin. Embellishes by borrowing from Greek and Latin. Advocates use of archaic, dialectical, technical words and the adoption of poetic forms like the classical ode and the Italian sonnet.

Journey to the West. Wu Ch'eng-en. Chinese. 1550? Novel. Fictionalized adventures of a historical Buddhist priest on quest to India to search for scriptures. He is accompanied by three magical helpers. Monkey is the most famous comic creation in Chinese fiction.

1552. The land of the convent garden owned by the abbey of Westminster, now part of London, was confiscated along with other church properties in 1534 and will serve as London's produce and flower market beginning in 1661, called "Covent Garden."

1553. England's Edward VI dies of tuberculosis, July 6, at age 15 and is succeeded by his Catholic half-sister Mary, 37, who has been raised by her mother, Catherine of Aragon.

1553. Mary enters London, August 3, to begin a harsh 5-year reign. England's new queen has Protestant bishops arrested and restores Roman Catholic bishops.

1553. England's Princess Elizabeth, now 20, is sent to the Tower of London in March. She is released in May.

Ralph Roister Doister. Nicholas Udall. British. 1553. Play. Earliest English comedy. Swaggering fellow tries to win rich widow.

La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes. Anonymous. Spanish. 1554. Novel. Autobiography of wily Lazarillo. Experiences with various masters. Ends as town crier of Toledo. Realism and irony.

1555. Bloody Mary returns Roman Catholicism to England and persecutes Protestants.

1556. England's archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer is degraded from his office February 14 in humiliating ceremonies and burned at the stake March 21 at age 66 after renouncing the Church of Rome and refusing all recantations.

1556. The worst earthquake in history rocks China's Chanxi province January 24, killing more than 830,000.

Tottel's Miscellany. Richard Tottel. British. 1557. Poetry. Includes many poems never before published. Marks the beginning of modern English poetry.

1558. England's glorious Elizabethan Age begins November 17 as Mary Tudor dies at age 42 and is succeeded by her half-sister Elizabeth, now 25, daughter of Henry VIII by Anne Boleyn.

1559. Mary Queen of Scots claims the title Queen of England.

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