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Queen and Country

The Relation between the Monarch and the People in the Development of the English Nation

Edited By Giuseppe Brunetti and Alessandra Petrina

Focussing on the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, this collection of essays investigates the relation between the Queen and her subjects, which shapes contemporary and future politics and is actively crucial in the debate upon the divine right of kings. The book explores the ways in which political power, intensely aware of the possibilities of literature, encourages, ostracizes or manipulates the production of writing. Through the act of writing, the Queen and her country communicate: the moulding of this act of communication is no minor task for the Queen, no minor privilege for her country. The book investigates the Queen’s own writings, with particular attention to her poems and the speeches to the nation; the production of literary culture during her reign, including the presence of oppositional voices; and the treatment of her image and memory, as well as her political legacy, during the reign of James I and Charles I.

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Section 2: Oppositional Voices

Extract

PETER DAVIDSON Opposing Elizabeth Elizabeth I of England was cordially detested in Catholic Europe, as well as by many of her own subjects, particularly by her reluctant sub- jects in Ireland, and by those English and Irish Catholics marginalised at home or driven into exile by her religious policies. In this paper I would like to suggest, perhaps controversially, that the images, literal and symbolic, with which the persecuted Catholic community op- posed Elizabeth were as cogent as the improvised (if magnificent) iconography which was set forth in her praise. There has been a very great deal of work on the presentation of the image of the Queen, work which continues, develops, and deepens. This work, by its very depth and authority, tends to suggest that depictions of Elizabeth are accomplished English manifestations of an international symbolic language.1 On the whole, this work has not stressed the degree to which the presentation of the image of the Queen had to be invented, almost without precedents, by the ingenious circle of Protestant human- ist ‘new’ men and women who surrounded the Queen. Indeed, a proc- lamation from very early in Elizabeth’s reign explicitly forbidding the circulation of unlicensed images of the new monarch would appear to reflect anxiety in her immediate circle on this score. This proclamation, a manuscript draft corrected in Cecil’s own hand, outlaws the circula- tion of all representations of the Queen, until 1 The classic work is Roy C. Strong’s The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth (Oxford: Clarendon,...

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