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Petrarch’s Triumphs and the Elizabethan icon
Heather Campbell

Prominent among the personae adopted by Elizabeth I in her self-presentation is Petrarch's Laura, the unattainable love-focus of the Canzoniere and the central figure in the Triumphs. The popularity of the Triumphs in sixteenth-century England provided a crucial element in the creation of the Elizabethan icon. It offered a vocabulary and a cluster of associations through which Elizabeth could be presented to her own subjects and to other European political figures as the Virgin Queen, but in a context resonant of military victory and masculine royal authority. The tradition of civic celebration that precedes Elizabethan entries and progresses owes much to the central presence of both the Roman victory procession and Petrarch's poem in processions at home and across Europe. The illustrative tradition which accompanies the poem seems to have developed simply in response to Petrarch's choice of the Roman triumph as an organising motif.

in Goddesses and Queens