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By Foster Hirsch

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As such, a historical text is always predisposed to ideological appropriation and is therefore always available to anyone who decides to use it for purposes the author may (or may not) abhor. The practical consequence of this for our study of the drama is that even as the princes in the plays - or, for that matter, James I through his Master of the Revels - sought to control representations of the past, those representations were also beyond the crown's control and therefore fodder for sedition.

The most visible medieval legacy in the development of renaissance historical thought, therefore, was the continued acknowledgment of these theological boundaries; it was left to late medieval and renaissance thinkers to start pushing against these boundaries and reduce their prominence in the analysis of the past. Thomas Blundeville's The True Order and Methode of Wryting and Reading Hystories (1574),22 which D. R. Woolf correctly identifies as the first sustained attempt by an Englishman to explore the theoretical premises underlying historical discourse {Idea of History 3), is also the first text earnestly to test historiography's boundaries from within.

This phenomenon is by no means merely a mark of the "vulgar" compilations of the popularizers of history, for we will notice a similar disparity between theory and Renaissance historiography 31 practice in Bacon's highly sophisticated and ambitious history of Henry VII (chapter 6). Historiography's status as a mode of inquiry in renaissance culture is further confounded by the continued cultural currency of older ideas about the past, even when these could have been supplanted by the emergence of newer and more sophisticated conceptions of history.

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