Representations of the Queens: Fact vs. Fiction


Representational Themes

These themes are based upon the historical context. To learn more about each theme, click it.


Historiographical Analysis

This provides an extension of the main period of textual analysis from 1569-1683, by starting a brief textual examination of some sample works from the 1600s-2000s.


Image Gallery

This section not only holds a title page or frontspiece image (if available) from the primary sources in the archive, but also from the later works in the Historiographical Analysis, in conjunction with TokenX visualizations of word counts and keyword-in-context from each primary source.


In the early modern period, religion was an element (albiet of greater or lesser degree within individuals or regions) that influenced many aspects of life, more so than a person in a modern or postmodern society could easily imagine. The effect of the Protestant Reformation within England, similar in some ways to the situation in Germany or France, was to divide the country, with responses varying from violent uprisings to printed literature. Elizabeth and Mary represented the opposing factions in the religous debate--Mary was an ardent Catholic, while Elizabeth had Protestant leanings. See the textual analysis...

Religion and Politics

Religion and politics in pre-modern Western Europe were closely tied together, almost in a symbiosis. A person's opinion of a ruler or relgious faith was largely defined by their own relgious convictions. Very few persons or rulers attempted to implement a more modern idea of 'religous toleration'. Some possible examples include the cuius regio, eius religio ("whose realm, his religion") element of Peace of Augsburg (1555) that ended the first wave of wars sparked by Martin Luther and other Protestants within the Holy Roman Empire. A later attempt in this same region would be the Peace of Westphalia (1648). There were also the French religious wars (1562-98), punctuated by truces and treaties (like the Edict of Nantes, 1598) that attempted to end the civil conflict over religion. Elizabeth I in England has become famous for her declaration that she had "no desire to make windows into men's souls." In all of these examples, however, it should be noted that the the political leader held the key role in determining the 'acceptable' faith of their country (all others being persecuted, at worst, or ignored, at best), and eventual pressures would prod even Elizabeth to enforce a harsher line against Catholics. See the textual analysis...

Ancestry and Succession

For Elizabeth and Mary, even though their differing religous opinions made 'picking sides' easier, their close blood relations could not be ignored. Their own correspondence with each other, even though they were only second cousins, was filled with kinship terms like "sister," "mother," "daughter"--a common epistolary tradition that attempted to create and maintain close bonds through kinship terminology that often did not reflect the actual blood relationship. This terminology, however, reflected the close political alignment, as Mary was Elizabeth's closest surviving relative, and thus her rightful heir. The relgious situation, though, meant any public acknowledement by Elizabeth that Mary was her heir (compounded by many Catholics seeing Elizabeth as a bastard and excommunicated heretic) could lead to assassination or usurpation. Even without ever recieving a public acknowledgement of her right, many plots and invasions were attempted by Catholic symphathizers. Therefore, ancestry and succession were crucial elements in any discussions about these two queens. See the textual analysis...

Gender and Marriage

With religion creating division, and politics (heightened by blood ties) compounding an already tense situation, the fact that both Elizabeth and Mary were women, in a highly patriarchal age, was yet another possible point of contention or polemic. Women in the sixteenth century were supposed to be ruled by a man, normally their father or husband, and were expected to marry, produce heirs, and fulfil acceptable economic roles that increasingly became trivialized, marginalized, or closed to women in the later stages of the early modern period. Both Mary and Elizabeth clearly were not silenced, subordinated, or domesticated. Rather, they were highly visible rulers (over men and women), who approached marriage in different ways. Mary had three husbands and one surviving son, and the death of her second husband, and the murder's links to the third husband led to Mary's downfall and abdication, not to mention a flood of writings that attacked or defended her through interesting rhetorical methods. Elizabeth famously never married, but her courtships and flirtations provoked heated debate and rumor as well. See the textual analysis...