To Masme/ The Tudor Guy

Please, just one more question. In The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain, John Guy writes the following: ‘Elizabeth I has attained a pothumous reputation far in excess of her actual achievements.’ What do you think he means by stating that?

Just what he says. It’s such a pitty you didn’t read any further, because Guy reinforces this fact with arguments persuasive and apt evidence to prove how Elizabeth I’s reputation was actually created.
It goes without saying that Elizabeth’s immediate entourage and a lot of her true and loyal subjects admired and even idolized her - as Sir Robert Naunton declared: ‘Though very capabable of counsel, she was absolute enough in her own resolution, which was apparent even to her last’. To quote Sir Francis Bacon: ‘Elizabeth allows herself to be wooed and courted and even to have love made to her - in the sense of flirting and taking part in innocent romps - and that these dalliances detracted but little from her fame and nothing at all from Her Majesty’.
During Elizabeth’s reign, culture flourished; William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson lent their pen to writing. English mucisians were influenced from all over Europe, especially Itally, Flanders and Spain. Nicholas Hilliard and two of his apprentices, Isaac Oliver and Samuel Cooper all contributed to the art of painting; again the Dutch influence was clearly made visible by Hans Holbein, Marcus Gheeraerts The Younger and Joris Hoefnagel.
Additionally, Sir Francis Drake’s expeditions, Martin Frobisher’s voyage to the New World and enormous military operations such as the raids in and around the Spanish Main as well as the defeat of the Spanish Armada, made England, once a non-significant, little island in the Atlantic, a powerful nation state to be reckoned with - a process Elizabeth’s grandfather, Henry VII, had already begun. These events helped shape the Queen as the mythical Gloriana but they both coincided.
Whether it is fair to say that ‘Elizabeth quietly left England to become ungovernable’ is, in my opinion, debatable; was she physically and mentally incapabable to conceive and raise children? Or was she just unwilling to do so? It was no secret that she herself found being the center of attention exhilirating.
However, it has been proven that Elizabeth I was charmed by the Duke of Alençon (Anjou). For the Privy Council this was the last desparate attempt to solidify a union between England and France; after all, a joined Anglo-French connection of that nature would guarantee the succession and expansion of the realm. Yet, regrettably, Elizabeth had to send ‘her little frog’ home, because of the massacre of the Huguenonts in Paris (1572).
Despite rampant inflation, unemployment and prices rising, England, nonetheless, witnessed an economic growth during the 16th century.
Throughout the ensuing centuries people have been led to believe that Elizabeth I was a queen of hearts; a great leader with the ‘feeble body of a woman and the heart and stomach of a king and of a king of England too’.


Wonderful to read. Do you think you could put some pictures online - even if it were only to brighten things up a bit? No, black-and-white pictures, please.


I’m sorry Siohbahn, but there’s plenty to find about that on the web. And since, as you indicated, you have read my dissertation, you’ll also find plenty in there. This is the end of the interview.

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Hi Siohbahn, I’m sorry. Here are some portraits and paintings and an explanation of each. I hope you’ll like them.

The Rainbow Portrait of Elizabeth I by Isaac Oliver.

If you take a closer look, the eyes and ears depicted on Elizabeth’s mantle symbolise the omnipotence of the monarch. On her head she wears a crown with the Serpent of Prudence which stands for carefulness and avoiding risks. A few years ago historians found a piece of gown. After careful examination, it was established that it belongs to the authentic gown Elizabeth I wears in this portrait. In her right hand Elizabeth holds a rainbow and the words ‘Non Sine Sole Iris’ mean ‘No rainbow without the sun.’ and reminds viewers of the Queen’s wisdom, her bringing peace and prosperity and ofcourse her personification as a divine light and grace.

Source: The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain.

A fête at Bermondsey or A Marriage Feast at Bermondsey.

Flags on rooftops, although very hard to find, I’d say and people attired colourfully; they dance, laugh and have conversations while musicians play wonderful tunes which add to the happy atmosphere. In the distance: a church spire and the Tower of London.

The Month of September.

Harvesting, ploughing and sowing happened earlier in the year than now. Sowing was done on long, narrow fields with a good drainage system. Probably Antwerp, Friesian horses were used as well as ploughs, such as the Harfordshire wheel plough.

The Tudor Succession attributed to Lucas D’heere.

On Henry VIII’s left left side is Edward VI kneeling and holding his father’s hand. Elizabeth is followed by the Godess Flora and the Fruits of Peace. On Henry’s right side is Mary I and Philip II of Spain followed by Mars, the Roman god of war and agricultural guardian.

Source: Jasper Ridley’s The Tudor Age.


Don’t worry, Masme. Believe me, I know what you’re going through, right now. I love the photo’s of the portraits.

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Thank you for reading and being so interested in the subject. Yet, I wonder what you mean by
Believe me, I know what you’re going through, right now. I’m not going through anything. I’m just very busy in writing texts for my upcoming website. That’s all.

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Hi Masme, do you think we could continue this interview after all? I think you’ll agree and therefore my next question: Can you tell me something about the divine right of Kings and Queens?

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Hi, Siohbahn, I thought I made it clear that this interview can continue. By the way, call me Marc, would you? As for your question, I’ll be back soon.

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Well, strictly speaking, the concept of the divine right of Kings asserts that the monarchs derive their authority directly from divine mandate. According to this doctrine, a monarch is not accountable to any earthly authority such as a parliament or pope, since their right to rule is derived from divine authority. In other words, they are not subject to the will of the people, aristocracy, or any estate of the realm. Only divine authority can judge a monarch and an attempt to depose, resist or restrict their powers is considered contrary to God’s will and may even be sacrilegious. However, this does NOT imply that their power is absolute.
Although the Tudors saw a rise in absolute power during their reigns, emphasizing their divine ligitimacy and authority, they did take the political manuals of Thomas Starkey, Sir John Fortescue and those of others into consideration. According to Fortescue ‘the kings do not make laws nor impose taxation on their subjects without the consent of the three estates - the King, the Lords Temporal or the nobility and gentry and the Lords Spiritual, comprising the clergy/ the king cannot at his pleasure change the laws of his kingdom’. Ofcourse, reality often diverged from this ideal. For instance, Henry VIII influenced his Privy Council, Parliament and clergy to recognize him as the Supreme Head of the Church in 1534, demonstrating how political maneuvering could shape their actions.
So, while the theory of divine right provided a powerful self-ligitimization for absolute monarchies, it was not without its complexities and contradictions.

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Wonderful, now, I at least understand a bit of the divine right of kings. Was the term Anglican Church invented by historians?

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No, it originates from historical developments rather than being an invention. That’s all I want to say about the matter.

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Thank you Marc, can you describe Elizabeth I’s character?

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I’ve always found it a very captivating exercise to analyse historical figures’ personalities and that of Elizabeth I is no exception. The Queen could be very charming and witty, but when, for instance, her ladies-in-waiting acted against her sincerest desires or wishes, she would just give them a few sharp blows about the ear or erupt in fury. Compared to what her father would have done to disobedient courtiers within his immediate entourage, that was, after all, not so lethal as having someone beheaded. Mind you, although, Elizabeth sometimes wished she could be more like her father, she could never bring herself to that.
Yet, the Queen was not all to keen on seeing other women at court with a beautiful dress upon which others bestowed the most fullsome compliments. Moreover, no one was allowed to wear clothes which betokened a higher rank than that which the owner could properly lay claim to or which outshone the Queen’s own glory, as was once the case with Lady Mary Howard whom the Earl of Essex greatly admired. One day, young Lady Mary Howard appeared at court with a sumptuous velet dress, embroidered with pearls. She was fullsomely complimented on it by most courtiers. Upon seeing that, Elizabeth called Mary to her room and put on the dress. Since she was taller, the dress did not fit her and she said: ‘Why then, I am minded, if it become not me as being too short, it shall never become thee as being too fine. So, it fitteth neither well.’ Poor Lady Mary Howard never dared wearing the dress in the Queen’s presence again. But, be that as it may, when in order to succeed politically, it was necessary to pretend to be in love with Elizabeth and make sure not to take courtesy too far, though she might have liked it at times.The frontispiece of George Gascoigne’s manuscript ‘Hemetes, the Heremyte’ is valuable proof of that. See below.
Where political and marital issues were concerned, she could procrastinate for years or change her mind a hundred times within a minute. A very complex woman, indeed, with an enormously high IQ - she was extremely intelligent. There’s more to her personality, but this, I should think, must suffice for now.

Gascoigne’s story is about three lovers who get barred or separated from their mistress, however in the miraculous presence of the Queen, the three of them are restored and satisfied. An allegory of courtship, ‘Hemetes, the Heremyte’ was translated into four languages, in the sense of wooing or making love to another, also in the sense of being a courtier, suing for favour and reward.

Sources: The Oxford Illustrated History of Tudor & Stuart Britain/ Tudor Monarchy and Political Culture, by John Guy./ The Virgin Queen, The Personal History of Elizabeth I by Christopher Hibbert. I hope this helps you a bit.

P.S.: for the origins or the etymology of ‘procratinate’, see The Myth of Procrustes.

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Again, thank you so much. Can you also get me some sort of summary of how the Renaissance and Humanism came into being? I would be every so greatful.

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I’m sorry for my being late, but I had some other things to do that took priority.

Well, during the middle ages, the Church emphasized a doctrine that prioritised heavenly salvation as humanity’s primary goal. According to this perspective, individual concerns were of secondary importance. People were encouraged to focus on their spiritual well-being, often at the expense of their earthly experiences.
However, during the Renaissance - a period of cultural and intellectual revival in Europe - the individual gained importance, since a new class, the bourgoisie started to enjoy wealth and therefore luxury - and people began to appreciate the beauty of the world around them, recognizing that life on earth held value beyond mere preparation for the afterlife.
Happiness and fullfilment in the present became essential pursuits.
One crucial concept that emerged during this time was humanism, which shifted the focus from religious matters to a broader exploration of what it means to be human.
For one, the humanists looked back to ancient Greek and Roman texts, seeking wisdom and inspiration. They believed that studying classical literature, history and philosophy could enrich their understanding of humanity. It also emphasized education, particularly in classical subjects. The goal was to cultivate well-rounded individuals who could contribute to society. Virtue - both public and private - was highly valued.
Renaissance humanists believed that each person had untapped potential. By developing their talents, individuals could contribute meaningfully to their communities and lead fullfilling lives.
It’s, however, essential to recognize that humanism wasn’t a monolithic philosophy. People with humanist educations could still hold diverse beliefs - whether Catholic or Protestant - and pursue various fields of study.
The Renaissance began in Italy, where scholars like Petrarch (1304-1374) actively sought out lost ancient manuscripts. From Italy, the spirit of humanism spread across Europe, influencing art, literature and thought.
So, the Renaissance marked a shift towards celebrating human potential, appreciating earthly beauty, and valuing individual experiences.

Enjoy, it.

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Thanks, Marc. Can you tell me something about the educational system in Tudor England? I would be ever so greatful.

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Hi, Siohbahn,

I’ll answer your question next week, but right now I have some other duties to attend to. Please, forgive me for not writing back sooner.


Hi Siohbahn, I’m back, sooner than I expected and then you expected.

Well, in 16th-century England, and educational revolution was underway, resulting in a lack of a clearly defined scholarly system with distinct primary, secondary, and higher stages. Between the ages of five and eighteen, attending school was more of an exception than the norm. Addionally, formal education exhibited gender bias, as only boys were expected to attend school, while girls were primarily taught to read, partcularly for their appreciation of the Bible. Although some girls received better education through private guidance, schools specifically for girls did not emerge until the 17th century.
Regarding literacy and women’s education, young learners utilized a straightforward yet effective tool known as the hornbook. This basic children’s primer was commonly used from the 16th century to the late 18th century. The hornbook consisted of a single sheet containing the alphabet, mounted on a wooden frame and protected by thin, transparant plates made of horn. Shaped like a tennis-table paddle, it had a handle that made it easy for children to hold. The hornbook typically began with a large cross large and small letters, along with a large cross, followed by the alphabet in both large and small letters, along with the Lord’s Prayer and Roman numerals.
Upper-class girls from affluent families often received education at home from private tutors. Middle-class girls were taught by their mothers, covering reading, writing, arithmetic, and practical skills like knitting and spinning. Some girls attended ‘ABC’, ‘Petty’, or ‘Dame’ schools, where they learned household tasks such as spinning and knitting. Additionally, some girls were educated in nunneries or convents. Literacy during this period was also fascilitated by itinerant schoolmasters.
Grammar schools focused on teaching Latin, classical literature, rhetoric, and logic. While the humanist movement influenced the curriculum, emphasizing the study of esteemed authors like Cicero, Vergil, and Ovid, other subjects such as mathematics, natural sciences, and vernacular languages played a minor roke in their educational programs.
The daily routine for grammar school students was rigorous. They spent long hours at school, often from dawn until dusk, engaged in reciting Latin texts and participating in singing or chanting prayers and hymns. Typically, each classroom accomodated five or six groups of students, resulting in potentially loud noise levels.
The universities were male dominated and did not offer courses beyond religious matters; their basic degree courses lasted four years and a Master’s degree could take up to seven years; the subjects focused on grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music, also called the liberal arts. Moreover, the humanists held a critical view of the universities of Oxbridge; they championed a classical education, the study of ancient Greek and Roman texts like rhetoric, philosophy, and history. They also found the curriculum outdated, since their scholastic approach centered medieval theology, logic, and Aristotellian philosophy. Fluency in Latin was valued as a mark of education, but again, since the universities focused on a Latin tool for theological debates, the humanists found them not suitable for educating statesmen and gentlemen.
The universities were male-dominated institutions that primarily offered religious courses. Their basic degree programs spanned four years, while achieving a Master’s degree could take up to seven years. The curriculum centered around grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music - collectively referred to as the liberal arts.
Humanists, however, held a critical perpective on the universities. They advocated for a classical education, emphasizing the study of ancient Greek and Roman texts, including rhetoric, philosophy, and history. The prevailing curriculum, rooted in medieval theology, logic, and Aristotelian philosophy, was deemed outdated by the humanists.
While fluency in Latin was highly regarded as a sign of education, the universities primarily utilized Latin as a tool for theological debates. Consequently, the humanists found these institutions ill-suited for educating future statesmen and gentlemen.

This is a woodcut from a grammar school in 16th-century England.

Photo of a hornbook.

Source: ‘An Educated Society’ by Rosemary O’Day/ The Oxford Illustrated History of Tudor & Stuart Britain.

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Thank you Masme. I have enough information now, so, again, thanks for this wonderful interview.

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