The Relation between the Monarch and the People in the Development of the English Nation
Edited By Giuseppe Brunetti and Alessandra Petrina
ALESSANDRA PETRINA - Introduction - 9
ALESSANDRA PETRINA Introduction Edmund Spenser’s ‘Most peereles Prince, most peereles Poëtresse’,1 England’s most memorable Queen and a source of endless specula- tions on the part of historians and literary critics alike, Elizabeth polar- ises scholarly attention as a sovereign who lived in, was part of, and partly sparked an extraordinary era for literature and the arts.2 The Tudor kings and queens inherited a sense of the closeness and mutual dependence of politics and poetry, already consolidated under the Lancastrian régime, together with the fruits of the ongoing debate on the relation between history and propaganda, triggered by the human- istically-oriented biographies and chronicles which began to be popu- lar under the York kings. Elizabeth, presented with a formidable chal- lenge, showed herself equal to the intellectual inheritance she had re- ceived: sitting on an insecure throne after decades of political and re- ligious instability, she transformed liabilities such as her gender and her unmarried status into assets, and made active use of the surpris- 1 The Teares of the Muses, line 577. The poem appears in The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, ed. by J.C. Smith and E. De Selincourt, London: Oxford Uni- versity Press, 1912, pp. 479-86. 2 Among the classical studies on the cult of Elizabeth, we should note at least the following: Frances A. Yates, Astraea: The Imperial Theme in the Sixteenth Cen- tury, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975, and Roy C. Strong, The Cult of Elizabeth: Elizabethan Portraiture and Pageantry, London: Thames...
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