The visual images of Queen Elizabeth I displayed in contemporary portraits and perpetuated and developed in more recent media, such as film and television, make her one of the most familiar and popular of all British monarchs. This book is a collection of essays that examine the diversity of the queen's extensive iconographical repertoire, focusing on both visual and textual representations of Elizabeth, in portraiture, literature, contemporary sermons, speeches and alchemical treatises. It falls into three sections. The first part looks at the diverse range of religious and quasi-religious images that were employed by and about Elizabeth, such as the Prophetesse Deborah, the suggestive parallel with Joan of Arc, and finally Lady Alchymia, the female deity in alchemical treatises. When Queen Elizabeth I, the first female Protestant monarch, was enthroned in 1558, male poets, artists, theologians, and statesmen struggled to represent this new phenomenon. The second part turns to one of the major enterprises of the Elizabethan era, the attempt to colonise the New World, during which the eastern seaboard of America was renamed Virginia in celebration of the Virgin Queen. The last part focuses on the ways in which the classical world was plundered for modes of imaging and figuring the queen. Finally, the book summarises the enormously wide range of Elizabeth's iconographical repertoire of its appeal, and provides a fitting end to a book which ranges so widely across the allegorical personae of the queen.
an extensive correspondence. 59 In a letter dated 7 February 1565, Lannoy
offered his services to the queen, claiming to be able to transmute
base metals into gold (at a rate of 50,000 marks a year),
manufacture precious stones, and distil the elixir of eternal youth.
To prove his claim Lannoy was granted a room in Somerset House,
where he produced a short alchemicaltreatise in Latin, De
chapters look at the diverse range of religious and quasi-religious
images that were employed by and about Elizabeth, such as Deborah, the
Jewish female leader from the Old Testament and one of the many Old
Testament figures to whom Elizabeth was compared, the unlikely but
suggestive parallel with Joan of Arc, and finally Lady Alchymia, the
female deity in alchemicaltreatises.
The Biblical figure of Deborah
Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and John Lydgate’s Troy Book
, and many
others, emerge across a variety of genres from courtly romance to
history to alchemicaltreatises testify as well to its systematic use in
late-medieval literary culture.
As Lydgate, referenced above, depicts an open example of the
emendation invitation through inviting all readers to correct the
text, Chaucer occupies a middle ground in his offer of an early
example of the emendation invitation in Middle English at the
end of Troilus and Criseyde following the ‘Go, little book’ address
of the Envoy. There, Chaucer famously expresses concern about
who, although they may travel to the edges of the known world, are ultimately subject to time, tide, and the threat of a less than credulous reception. 43 In an alchemicaltreatise written by Joseph Duchesne, and translated into English by John Hester in 1591, for example, a letter addressing the book’s readers contains the following defence, which privileges personal experience over abstract learning. The book’s author, in order to persuade his readers of the work’s validity, purposefully reaches for a far-fetched image and, like Spenser, resorts to a geographical
, disoriented by the music (‘[w]here should this music be?’, line 387). And yet this explanation does not seem sufficient. The reference to dogs and cocks becomes clearer, on the other hand, if one recalls that they are two of the most common symbols of sulphur – the male principle – mentioned in alchemicaltreatises.
I therefore regard the inclusion in the song of animal cries as Shakespeare's humorous suggestion that the male aspect of the matter (the dog,
as well as