Queen Elizabeth's Self-Representation

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Elizabeth I effectively addressed concerns about her gender in her self-representation through being direct about the nature of such concerns and positioning herself as an anomaly to the conventions and conceptions of her gender. Concerns about her gender were more prevalent at certain points in her reign, such as in times of crisis, like the Spanish armada 1588. I think that the concerns about her gender and capability always remained at the back of people’s minds but through directly answering their concerns, Elizabeth helped to reassure her audiences that her gender was not a concern for her or for them. In examining her self-representation, it is important to consider what concerns about gender existed in the sixteenth century. The precedent…show more content…
Elizabeth effectively addressed this concern through focusing on the ancient institution of the monarchy as being appointed by God. A boundary has to be set between presentations of Elizabeth and her self-representation, as it is hard to ascertain how much control Elizabeth yielded over her iconography. The distinct different between these two forms of representation has led to historians assessing which of the two methods proved more successful. It is thought that self-representations of Elizabeth I were more successful than presentations of her. This could be due to the direct address of concerns, gender related or not, by the queen. In contrast, presentations of Elizabeth tend to be subtle in addressing concerns and asserting the queen’s authority. There is also a distinction between the two representations of Elizabeth as self-representations tended to be more concerned with concerns about religion, through affirming Elizabeth as a protestant monarch. Whereas, representation by her counterparts tended to portray her as ‘the virgin…show more content…
This can be shown through representations of her having both masculine and feminine qualities, which were both advantageous to the monarch. Elizabeth’s subjects desired a king and in response to this desire, Elizabeth fashioned and portrayed herself as being both their king and queen. One might suggest that this is the reason why the myth of Elizabeth at Tilbury places her as being dressed in masculine armour. This can be seen in the Golden speech 1601, where Elizabeth recognises her “sexile weakness”, but at the same time asserts her possession of the “glorious name of the king” and the “royall authoritie of a queene”. Elizabeth is portraying herself as the embodiment of the strengths of both genders, using the perceived weakness of being a woman to her advantage. This is a perfect example of the theory of the king’s two bodies, as used by Kantorowitz in regard to Elizabeth’s father. The combination of the personal and political body is clear in the Golden speech as her personal body is female but her political is that of a king. The notion of the two bodies was also used in presentations of Elizabeth. For example, in a speech made by the Archbishop of York, Nicholas Heath at the start of her reign. Heath described Elizabeth as simultaneously having the two identities, one female and one male, which both incorporated
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