Elizabeth I’s Use of Virginity to Enhance Her Sovereignty: Managing the Image of a Sixteenth-Century Queen

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This work demonstrates that earlier Christian perceptions of virginity, once dominant in Catholic England, although suppressed by Protestantism, maintained enough influence to transform an unmated queen with no successor into a divine virgin goddess


“This study offers an important insight into that process and makes a worthy addition to the field of cultural and literary history.” – Prof. James S. Hart Jr., University of Oklahoma

“Professor Kendrick challenges ubiquitous scholarly and popular culture interpretations which limit the significance of Elizabeth’s virginity by restricting definitions of the concept solely to the physical realm. This study emphasizes how classical ideas about the purity of the soul and mind as symbolized through the purity of the body are refracted through a Protestant lens to magnify the Virgin Queen’s power, especially in literary works by the Sidneys, Raleigh, and Spenser.” – Prof. Susan Cosby Ronnenberg, Viterbo University

“Drawing on materials often ignored, especially Thomas Bentley’s Monument of Matrones, Dr. Kendrick demonstrates convincingly the contexts in which Elizabeth I’s virginity was imagined. It was a source of power, a means of reconciling Medieval and Reformation ideas of women, and a way to sanctify the monarch.” – Prof. Gwenn Davis, University of Oklahoma

Table of Contents

Foreword Professor James S. Hart, Jr.
1. Precedents: The Idealization of Virginity
Saints’ Lives and the Significance of Virginity
The Perception of Virginity and the Unmarried Queen in the English Renaissance
2. The Canonization of Virtue, 1582-1590
Blenerhasset’s A Revelation of the True Minerva: A Goddess on Earth
“A Most Renowned Virgin Queen”: Poetic Images after 1582
The Monarch as Model for Virtue: Bentley’s Monument of Matrones
3. "Mirrors More than One": The Elevation of the Elizabethan Image, 1590-1603
The Sidneys: Addressing the Queen
Sir Walter Ralegh: The Ocean to Cynthia
Spenser: Books III and IV of The Faerie Queene
4. Posthumous Panegyric: The Deceased Monarch and the Re-Creation of Imagery
1603: "Women's Glory, England's Mother"
Elegy and Prophecy: Shakespeare’s Henry VIII
'Her memory much magnified': Elizabeth in the Jacobean Era
Rewriting the Monarchs: Edward VI, Mary I, Charles I
'The glory of our Sex': Women Writers Re-presenting the Queen

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