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Ponet, John


Subject Literature » Renaissance Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405194495.2012.x


John Ponet (c.1514–56), Protestant reformer, controversialist, and political theorist, is best known for proposing a systematic theory of disobedience against unjust kingship. His work was influential in shaping early modern resistance theory and affords an extremely evocative framework for understanding treatment of this subject in literary works by Shakespeare and others. Ponet received the BA (1533) and MA (1535) degrees from Queens’ College, Cambridge. He studied there under Thomas Smith, whose De republica Anglorum would advocate, in the 1560s, a system of shared sovereignty by describing England as a ‘mixed monarchy’. This notion positions the monarch alongside a body of learned counsellors in parliament and an articulate citizenry outside of parliament and places the burden of government equally on all three. Ponet's political thought was considerably influenced by these ideas. He also joined Smith in supporting the controversial new method of Greek pronunciation being promoted in Cambridge during the 1530s and 1540s. Ponet occupied a series of clerical posts during these last years of Henry VIII's reign, including a chaplaincy to archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer. Cranmer's patronage placed Ponet at the centre of the Reformation imposed by the regime of Edward VI beginning in 1547. Ponet dedicated his defence of clerical marriage to Protector Edward Seymour, duke ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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