Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Queen Elizabeth I: The Original Queen of Hearts

Queen Elizabeth I is commonly lauded for her shrewd politics as well as for bringing about England's golden age. Her savvy moves get attributed to her extensive education and her powerful use of rhetoric, but I had failed to consider how her manipulation of court culture truly solidified her role as a powerful ruler during the Renaissance. 

Court culture prior to Elizabeth was already intricate, flamboyant, and filled with courtiers taking on characters and dramatic roles as a form of theater/art. However, when Elizabeth entered the scene, the plot of the court structure changed to one where Elizabeth placed herself as the lovely maiden at the center of every courtier's wooing. The Elizabethan court became the act of literally courting Elizabeth, to no avail of course. 

Upon searching the meaning of the word sprezzatura I learned that it meant to do something so well and non-chalantly it seems effortless. This is exactly how Elizabeth managed to gain the loyalty and love of the many men who should've seen her as a liability to England, but instead praised her. By effortlessly placing herself as not only face of England, but also at the center of art (a muse of sorts) she became an emblem the court aspired to please (Cooper). I imagine this as something like a combination of propaganda and networking. Elizabeth promoted herself as a Queen who deserved to be courted—because someone could be the lucky man who ruled by her as King—all while creating alliances, loyalties, and connections with influential artists and nobility. She truly was the original Queen of Hearts. 

Works Cited:
Cooper, Tarnya. "Queen Elizabeth's Public Face." History Today 53.5 (2003): 38. Points of View
       Reference Center. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.


  1. I like this post and I didn't realize the meaning of the theme word until you mentioned it. I wonder how the Queen would have dealt with today's affairs and politics?

  2. "As a queen who deserved to be courted." That's a good way to put it. It fascinates me that she did this so deliberately, and sometimes I wonder how, exactly, she pulled it off. At what point did she go from 'a weak woman who shouldn't rule' to the embodiment of a goddess?

  3. The more i learn about her the more I realize how powerful she was. She took full advantage of privileges femininity and claimed the respect afforded to masculinity. What impresses me every time is her decision to remain single in order to maintain power. That shows not only control over her public perception, but a control over herself and denial of happiness for a greater good.