From Philip Sidney Funeral Project
The Funerary Procession of Sir Philip Sidney: An Early Modern Multimedia Site and Pedagogical Venture
Welcome to our multimedia website dedicated to the funeral procession of Sir Philip Sidney, which took place in London, England in 1587. Though the procession survives as one of the most richly documented Elizabethan public events, with a panoply of visual, poetic, and musical records, the funeral materials have not been presented in a multimedia format until now. On this site you will find links to a selection of these funeral materials, including a multimedia presentation that brings Lant’s roll and William Byrd’s funerary songs together for the first time on the web. Each link has a description of the materials and methods for archiving that we have chosen, along with brief bibliographies for further study. We are happy to collaborate here with students and faculty from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, who performed and recorded the funeral music. We are still adding to the collection of transcribed material relating to Sidney’s death.
When I was a boy 9 yeares old, I was with my father at one Mr. Singleton's, an alderman and wollen-draper in Glocester, who had in his parlour, over the chimney, the whole description of the funerall, engraved and printed on papers pasted together, which, at length, was, I beleeve, the length of the room at least; but he had contrived it to be turned upon two pinnes, that turning one of them made the figures march all in order. It did make such a strong impression on my young phantasy, that I remember it as if it were but yesterday. I could never see it elsewhere. [....] Tis pitty it is not re-donne (Aubrey Brief Lives 2, 249-50)
John Aubrey’s childhood sense of wonder for the animation of Sir Philip Sidney’s funeral cortège spins Sidney’s courtly and poetic legacy into both a moving picture and a commonplace for collective cultural memory in early modern England. The description of Thomas Lant’s engravings captures the possibilities of visual media in constructing identity in the Renaissance; portraits, miniatures, heraldic devices, and imprese could add layers of representation to a highly crafted public persona. Yet, the representation of Sidney’s funeral, while it commences with a portrait of the vital young man, evokes the possibility of endlessly replaying the memorial of Sidney’s death. The friction between medium and subject would certainly not have been lost on Sidney, who populated his prose with many a miraculous resurrection from false or staged deaths, and I hope that our effort to ‘re-do’ the spectacle with the help of modern technology will enliven the funeral Engravings, Music, and Elegies for a new generation. The Multimedia Presentation thus becomes a way of re-animating Aubrey’s moving picture in a modern context, and gives us the opportunity to consider how such public displays effected identity formation and cultural nostalgia in the early modern period.
Our presentation is crafted in Flash. While the images scroll, a panel appears at the bottom of the screen with transcriptions of the engravings’ captions. You can pause, rewind, and fast-forward the presentation, and for plates with large amounts of text, you can scroll down the text panel to read. We hope that you enjoy the presentation.
The Multimedia Presentation, we’re pleased to announce, was featured in the Folger Museum’s exhibit “History in the Making: How Early Modern Britain Imagined Its Past,” January 24-May 17 2008, curated by Alan Stewart and Garrett Sullivan.
This project is made possible with funding from the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), the Department of English, and the Office of the Dean of Humanities at the University of Maryland, College Park. The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) has also provided us with valuable advice and technical training. A special thanks goes to the University of Nebraska Chamber Singers and their conductor, Therese Hibbard, for their performance of Byrd’s songs. We also thank the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection of the Brown University Library and the Library of Congress for permission to use images of Lant’s roll and sheet music for Byrd’s funeral songs respectively. Finally we express our gratitude to the graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Maryland who have contributed to the research and transcription of funeral materials.