Queen Elizabeth I was a successful queen

Elizabeth I. - the self-image of the ruling woman

The reigning Queen - Elizabeth I of England pp 175-351 | Cite as

Part of the Geschichtswwissenschaft book series (REIGE, volume 39)


Elizabeth's situation as a ruling woman was determined by the ideal context of female rule and the specific conditions that arose from it with their advantages and disadvantages. The question arises as to whether and how these particular circumstances influenced the image of the female sovereign that the Queen drew in the staging of herself that she herself designed. The most important key to her self-image as a ruling woman are the speeches she gave in person to parliament or its delegates. Since it can be proven that they were written by the Queen herself1, offers direct access to her personal management of the problem of female domination, which has not received sufficient attention in the numerous studies on the origin of the Elizabeth cult2 In all, the Queen spoke to Members of Parliament twelve times, more often than any English sovereign before her.3 Royal messages to the upper and lower houses were an integral part of the opening and closing ceremonies of a session at the latest since the beginning of the 16th century, but were usually delivered by Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper.4 In his 38-year reign, Henry VIII deviated from this procedure for only one time in order to speak in person before Parliament. His daughter Mary I completely refrained from appearing in public of this kind. She only responded once to a delegation from the House of Commons to a marriage petition, but it was more of an outburst of temper than a carefully prepared speech.5

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  1. ; ELTON, Geoffrey R., The Parliament of England 1559–1581, Cambridge 1986, p.26. P.126 Google Scholar
  2. HARTLEY, Thomas E., Elizabeth’s Parliaments. Queen, Lords and Commons 1559-1601. Manchester 1992, 11, 13 Google Scholar
  3. GIFFIN assumes that Elizabeth cleverly used her rite to manipulate Parliament in line with her own political goals. He overlooks the fact that the Privy Council and Parliament often formed a united front against the queen. See GIFFIN, Frederick C., “Good Queen Bess”: The Monarch as Master Politican. In: International Review of History and Political Science, Vol.X, No.1, 1973, p.111ff; ELTON, Geoffrey R., Parliament. In: HAIGH, Christopher (ed.), The Reign of Elizabeth I, London 1984, p.100.Google Scholar
  4. It is a speech from 1585 against Presbyterian reform efforts, two speeches from 1586 about the condemnation of Mary Stuart and Elizabeth's so-called Golden speech from 1601. Although the gift to Lady Stafford seems to indicate a single print of the speech from 1559, it cannot be clearly proven. As part of contemporary chronicles, the text of the speech was published several times during Elizabeth's lifetime. See NEALE, John E., Elizabeth I and Her Parliaments 1559–1581, London 1953, p.50, note 1. ‹In the following cited as: NEALE, John E., Parliaments I.›; HEISCH, Allison, Queen Elizabeth I: Parliamentary Rhetoric…, p.45.Google Scholar
  5. In contrast to KING, I agree with SMITH that Elizabeth, in her parliamentary speech of 1559, expressed her real intention to remain single as openly as possible. See KING, John N., Queen Elizabeth I: Representations of the Virgin Queen. In: Renaissance Ouarterlv. Vol.XLIII. No.1. 1990. pp.39f: SMITH. Lacev B .. Elizabeth Tudor…, p.120.Google Scholar
  6. For the importance of seeking advice in Elizabeth's rhetoric, see CRANE, Mary Thomas, “Video et Taceo”: Elizabeth I and the Rhetoric of Counsel. in: Studies in English Literature 1500–1900, Vol.28 (1), 1988. pp.1–15. I agree with CRANE on the main results. However, it makes no connection between Elizabeth's rhetorical use of seeking advice and Sapientia as a ruling virtue. This does not take into account the importance of seeking advice as an essential aspect of Elizabeth's self-portrayal as sovereign in CRANES 'interpretation. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Lady Margaret Beaufort had established various lectureships and founded Christ’s College and St John's College in Cambridge. See HOGREFE, Pearl, Women of Action in Tudor England, Iowa 1977. S.147ff.Google Scholar
  8. HAUGAARD, William P., Elizabeth Tudor’s Book of Devotions: A Neglected Clue to the Queen’s Life and Character. In: The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol.XII, No.2, 1981, pp.81f. Google Scholar

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© Centaurus Verlag & Media UG 1996

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