• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent was Elizabeth I able to create a positive image throughout her reign?

Extracts from this document...


To what extent was Elizabeth I able to create a positive image throughout her reign? Elizabeth I is most famous for her image as the Virgin Queen and Gloriana. Until recently historians have almost always seen Elizabeth as an amalgamation of these two images, and have scarcely questioned whether or not they were just illusions, or reality. The question of how well Elizabeth I lived up to her image, and how well she maintained it throughout her reign, especially in later years, has now become a topic that historians have a wide range of theories and answers about, that don't necessarily correspond. The assumption is that Elizabeth I created her own image, but there is debate over whether or not she did so. She strengthened it with her speeches and actions, but to a degree it was forced upon her at the beginning of her reign, and councillors advised her what direction to take a lot of the time. Elizabeth came to the throne in 1558 having being called a bastard, and "daughter of a whore" from the age of three. Catholics believed her illegitimate and Mary Queen of Scots the rightful heir, whilst her gender presented a great problem in Tudor patriarchal society. As a woman she was now associated with the largely disastrous reign of her sister Mary I, which didn't add to people's acceptance of female rulers. ...read more.


In 1560 the Clopton portrait was painted, and this shows Elizabeth wearing black, ermine (to symbolise purity and right to rule) and holding a bible. This was undoubtedly intended to counteract the effect of the rumours at court and shows that Elizabeth and her council were actively responding to any threats to her reputation as Virgin Queen, and they continued to do so throughout the first decade of her reign. The 1560-80's have been described by traditionalists as an age of political stability and one in which Elizabeth was an extremely popular Queen. Keith Randell says that Elizabeth was "widely thought of as a great leader who was worthy of her people's support and affection" during this time, and the fact the country was at peace until 1588 would have been celebrated by her subjects. Geoffrey Elton's view of an "accidental monarchy" seems probable at this time. Things went well for Elizabeth and through her "wait and see" policy she managed to remain secure in all apart from relations with Spain and the catholic church, when the pope excommunicated her in 1572. During this time Elizabeth's image remained largely intact, but different parts of it were emphasised, as she had failed to live up to the idealistic portrait that had been painted when she was still a young Queen. ...read more.


She became less and less able to keep a grip on men such as the Earl of Essex, who increasingly did as he wanted (eg: Ireland) and he rebelled. Some revisionist historians believe that the public took a shine to the new male role models, and the evidence certainly points that way: "the Council had to prohibit the engraving of pictures of Essex and other nobles." Elizabeth and her Council successfully created and maintained an image of a Queen who lived for and embodied England, and this endured until the 1590's when, with the death or retirement of most of those councillors, it is hardly suprising that the image failed to convince and became more negative. I am inclined to think that it was more of an illusion than the truth that traditionalist historians have been proclaiming since William Camden in the 1630's. Traditionalists have always had their own priorities when writing of Elizabeth:-Camden wanted to impress James I, and others have been influenced by the work which has gone before. Elizabeth's image was more of a smokescreen, but that is no different to the politicians who are in power today, and it has always been the way. Elizabeth's image was taken as the truth for about 30 years of her 45 year reign, and that is more successful than any other ruler has ever been. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 1500-1599 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree 1500-1599 essays

  1. To what extent can Wolsey be considered the master rather than the servant in ...

    Elton (1999) suggests that Wolsey was keen to remain close to the king and increase the influence he had over Henry, so he took it upon himself to organise and sustain the forces needed to secure victory. The result of this was Wolsey became a vital part of Henry's inner circle of advisors.

  2. Was Mary Queen of Scots a problem for Elizabeth I?

    This forces Elizabeth to "make windows into men's souls" and to treat Mary Stuart as a major threat and focus of Catholic threats. The second major threat to Elizabeth from Mary whilst she was in England was the Ridolfi plot.

  1. What were the major problems facing the eighteenth-century French Monarchy?

    Similarly, Pizarro's conquest of the Inca Empire relied on manipulating opportunities to his advantage. He arrived in the lands of the Inca's in the wake of a smallpox epidemic that ravaged the region and killed the Inca emperor, resulting in a civil war between his two sons.

  2. Assess the view that the Dutch rebels challenged Philip IIs rule primarily in defense ...

    This would seem to be a reliable account, as Morillion, confidante to Cardinal Granvelle4 would have seen firsthand the reaction to the oppression Granvelle dealt out. Not only this, but an account of this nature could get Morillion into trouble as he could appear to be speaking negatively of both

  1. Did the acquisition of Portugal in 1580 represent a greater success for Philip II ...

    But although this tension would have made the alliance difficult, Philip knew that participation in the battle would cost him dearly, which is what made him more reluctant to participate. Therefore in financial terms, the acquisition of Portugal, which brought Philip rich New World territories and tax revenue, was a

  2. How did the perception of Spain as the centre of a mighty European empire ...

    He was described as 'conductor to players in an orchestra'14, afraid to let anyone else take control, fearing, perhaps, some sort of undermining to his power. The geographic nature of the Spanish empire had an impact on the ability of rulers to make decisions: a message from the Netherlands would

  1. Why Were Some of the English Poor Laws passed between 1531 and 1598 Controversial?

    Punishment for these people was again harsh and brutal and consisted of, a whipping and boring through the ear for a first offence, condemnation as a felon for a second, and the death penalty for a third. However unlike the 1547 statute, which went largely unenforced as mentioned, there is

  2. Why was it so difficult to decide between true and false visions and apparitions ...

    the product of signs from the dead, protagonists were using methods similar to what the Catholic church had adopted many years previous, to distinguish between true and false illusions. Psychological reasoning was adapted as early as the days of St Augustine, therefore it was clear that both the confessional and

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work