Elizabeth I as Deborah the Judge
Exceptional women of power
in Goddesses and Queens
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This chapter probes the pairing of Elizabeth I with Deborah the Judge, the Bible figure most often used to describe Elizabeth's gynecocracy. It is also used to view the cultural constructs of the Hebrew woman who stood in both political and religious authority within Scriptures, and to link those constructions to the era's representations of the English queen. The Italian reformer Pietro Martira Vermigli's argument supports Elizabeth, whom he backed as a defender of Protestantism, while reinforcing Deborah's exceptionality. Deborah was discussed in the print dialogue concerning women prior to Elizabeth's reign, although there was a marked increase in the number and types of references to the female Hebrew judge during and even after the British gynecocracy. Although many of the writings on Elizabeth as Deborah attempted to restrain her authority and contain her, perhaps her own example helped disrupt the male mythology of kingship.

Goddesses and Queens

The iconography of Elizabeth I

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