The Accession of Elizabeth

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The Accession of Elizabeth

Elizabeth's coronation procession was exceedingly grand. As she processed through the streets of London she was hailed as the restorer of Protestantism by the numerous tableaux that mether on her way. She was met with images of 'Deborah', the one to restore Israel. And a child dressed as 'Truth' handed her a version of the Bible in English. Keith Randall points out that these propagandists probably had two aims in mind. On the one hand they wanted to flatter the Queen and on the other they wished to influence her policy.

There were other images present, mainly of Tudor stability.

The Accession of Elizabeth
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Elizabeth was to use propaganda as a strong political tool throughout her reign.

"The monarchy of Elizabeth I was founded upon illusion. She ruled by propagandist images which captivated her courtiers and seduced her subjects - images which have misled historians for four centuries." Christopher Haigh

Elizabeth used a variety of types of propaganda:

  • Portraits
  • Pageants
  • Plays
  • Tableaux
  • Speeches

She immediately began to discredit Mary's reign. Her propaganda pointed towards her predecessor's reign being a failure due to the government and the reliance upon Spanish help.

Images of Kingship

Her various images were:

The English Deborah

As explained above

The Phoenix and the Pelican

The pelican, as Susan Doran points out was an image to represent the Protestant religion.

The phoenix is linked with this. The phoenix is a mystical bird that rises from its ashes, thereby creating an analogy with the re-birth of Protestantism after Mary's reign. It is also an image of strength as well as being mystical. And finally, it made a link with her mother.


The Sieve Portrait

The sieve was a symbol of virginity dating from Roman times.

She was influenced by reading the letters of St Basil's epistles to St Gregory, which were given to her in her teenage years. They extolled the virtues of a single life.

When she was crowned she had a ring placed on her wedding finger to symbolise her marriage to the realm. She took this seriously. She proclaimed on more than one occasion that she was married to the realm, and for that reason would not take a husband.

This image was, perhaps, based on that of The Virgin Mary: chosen by God for a special purpose.

She tried to create the impression that she was not of this earth, and therefore, not prone to (what Tudors believed to be) the shortcomings of womanhood. Women of the C16th were portrayed as meek, humble, domestic and obedient, and married. Elizabeth was none of these. In 1558 John Foxe published The First Blast of the Trumpet in which he claimed that rule by a woman was 'monstrous'. However, Calvin expounded the idea that she was a special woman, whom God had sent to try and do His work with a woman's special touch.

Christopher Haigh says that she was a 'political hermaphrodite', trying to be a King as well as a Queen.