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Ralph Knevet, a member of the Norfolk gentry and client of the Knevet and Paston families, completed his three-book continuation of Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene in 1635, on the eve of the English Civil War. Like Spenser's poem, Knevet's Supplement of the Faery Queene is a narrative and allegorical work, which weaves together a complex collection of tales and episodes, featuring knights, ladies, sorcerers, monsters, vertiginous fortresses and deadly battles - a chivalric romp in Spenser's cod medieval style. In his largely topical allegory, Knevet shadows recent English history, along with the major military and political events of the Dutch wars against Catholic Spain, and the first decades of the Thirty Years War. But his work also constellates a range of other generic, mythic, and scholarly sources, from Pliny's Natural History and Ovid's Metamorphoses, to the works of Italian poets such as Lodovico Ariosto and Torquato Tasso, to the popular French masterpiece, Du Bartas' La Sepmaine, along with more recent works on astrology, gem-lore, herbal medicine, and physiology. Knevet's encyclopaedic ambitions in the Supplement combine with his historical account of Protestant military and political struggle across Europe to produce an allegorical epic poem of considerable interest and power.
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