Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mary and Elizabeth: Queen Regnants

How the daughters of Henry VIII lay down the law.
Yesterday I came across an article by Cristy Beemer published only a month ago on ‘The Female Monarchy: Rhetorical Strategy of Early Modern Rule’ (Rhetoric Review, 30, 8, pp. 258-74). The article explores the manner in which Mary and Elizabeth, England’s first queen regnants, presented themselves to a kingdom accustomed only to male rulers. Beemer identified Mary and Elizabeth’s tendencies to employ ‘the figures of the spouse, the mother, and the maiden to embody conventional roles for women in Tudor society’ (p. 259) though naturally these two occupied very remarkable roles for women of that age. Unlike other ‘mothers’ and ‘maidens’ they were not answerable to a male figure. Like their fellow Tudor monarchs, they expected to be recognised as the superior authority in the realm. Their bodies, Beemer argues, naturally invoked traditional gendered roles but at the same time their speech denied such roles. In other words, Mary and Elizabeth did not adopt submissive language but rather formulated speech that demonstrated their authority, their independence as rulers – their right to govern as powerfully and freely as their male predecessors. (Read entire post.)

No comments: