On 10 January 1547, Thomas Thirlby, first and last bishop of Westminster and Henry VIII’s envoy to Emperor Charles V, informed his master ‘that th[e] Emperour gothe to Ulmes [Ulm], thear to take the diet for the cure of his gowt, and as some hathe said, He well have a Diet there for the cure of Germany.’1 In this witty wordplay on the homonymy of the word ‘diet’, Thirlby relayed news about the emperor’s health problems and his issues with the Schmalkaldic League, an association of Protestant Imperial Estates. The solution was represented by the same word ‘diet’ in both cases, albeit with different meanings. What was proof of eloquence and humanist rhetoric in this primary source, however, today presents certain heuristic challenges for historians who encounter the word ‘diet’ in edited sources.Continue reading The Emperor’s Diet or the Empire’s Reichstag? Sixteenth-Century English Wordplay on the ‘Diet’ and its Heuristic Use
- The National Archives, Kew (TNA), SP 1/228, Thirlby to Paget, 10 Jan. 1547, fos. 41r–42v, at 41r.