Goddesses and Queens

The iconography of Elizabeth I

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.

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