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“This is Attested Truth”: The Rhetoric of Truthfulness in Early Modern Broadside Ballads

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the range of truth claims that were available to the readers of Early Modern news ballads, which aimed to establish the truth of their accounts of a variety of events deemed 'news-worthy' by the broadside trade. Whilst acknowledging the significance of the material text, recent work on ballads has tended to privilege the ballad as an inherently spoken or oral genre, with the printed text largely reduced to the status of a 'container'. In contrast, the effectiveness of many of the markers examined in the chapter is clearly the product of print. Purely in terms of the numbers produced, broadside ballads must have been one of the most widely available printed sources for news in early modern England, accessible to a broad audience owing to their relative cheapness.

Keywords: ballads' truthfulness; broadside ballads; print trade



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