Reynolds, Kimberly Kay
Master of Arts, History, Louisiana State University, December (2006)
Elizabeth I of England was one of the most celebrated monarchs in history. Authors, playwrights, and artists venerated her in their art. At her accession, however, her subjects were unsure about their new queen. She was an illegitimate female ruling a religiously divided kingdom. In response to this, Elizabeth and her council initiated a propaganda campaign that created an image of Elizabeth as a wise, just, and well-beloved ruler. This thesis will examine Elizabeth’s coronation procession, the performance of plays and masques at court, and the queen’s annual progresses to show how Elizabeth and her subjects used drama, pageantry, and spectacle to communicate with each other, laying the foundation for the Cult of Gloriana.
The Cult of Gloriana flourished during the second half of Elizabeth I’s reign. Authors, playwrights, and artists venerated the queen in their art. This cult had its beginnings in the first years after her ascension because of the propaganda used by Elizabeth and her council. “The monarchy of Elizabeth I,” according to Christopher Haigh, “was founded upon illusion.”1 The accession of Elizabeth brought a cautious optimism about the future. Years of upheavals and religious strife left England a divided nation and the new queen faced a difficult situation. She faced more threats to her power than any Tudor monarch since her grandfather, Henry VII.