Thursday, June 30, 2011
Elizabeth I and the Problems of Queenship
Hey y'all. Before I begin to write on the subject of Elizabeth I and the Problems of Queenship, I would like to apologize for not being on lately to post an entry or two. I had some trouble with my internet last week, but everything is fixed now and I'm ready to get back in to the swing of things! As always, I hope you enjoy this post.
Elizabeth I was the daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. She was born a princess but her mother was executed two and a half years after her birth, and Elizaneth was labeled an illegitimate child. Elizabeth reigned as Queen regnant of England and Ireland after her half-siblings Edward VI and Mary I from November 1558 until her death. She is often referred to as the Virgin Queen because she never married, and is known for the leader during the time of defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, giving credit to "Protestant winds" (a storm at sea).
Now, the problems of queenship
~~Salic Law forbade female monarchs on the "Continent"
~~She was an illegitimate daughter
~~She was taking over from the turbulent rule of legitimate (Catholic) Queen Mary, her half-sister
~~Could she lead troops? Would she lose grip of the kingdom through marriage? Was she tough enough to rule in the rough world of British politics? Can a woman be the Supreme Authority of the Church of England?
~~She needed to overcome significant negative stereotypes about women in the public sphere
Married to the Nation
~~She called her own shots and used her sexuality to gain allies
~~She believed in religion without fanaticism
~~She was tough enough--she signed her own cousin's death warrant
Problems to Solve
Just like there are problems to solve with a kingship and a presidency, Queen Elizabeth I also had many problems to solve during her reign as Queen of England.
~~The currency supply in Europe doubled thanks to Spanish mining which triggered mass inflation.
~~The English are early adapters of calorie-dense American foods like potatoes and the new frost-resistant wheat.
~~The population soars from 3 million in 1500 to 5 million by 1630; there is a lot of productive potential but wages are falling even as prices are going through the roof--poverty is a huge problem.
To solve these problems, Elizabeth I aggressively pursues policies designed to build economy--assisted manufacturers, looked outward to new markets, competed with more established mercantile nations such as East India, the Turks, and Africa, and also hired privateers like Sir Francis Drake and John Hawkins who would steal from the Spanish to benefit the Crown.
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