In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Preface to the Second Edition Elizabeth Tudor—better known as Elizabeth I, queen of England from 1558 to 1603—is one of the most studied and mesmerizing historical personages . Her allure has many sources, just as she herself seemed to have many identities: she was an unwanted daughter born to a father who needed a son, she was an innocent political prisoner during her half-sister Mary’s bloody and dramatic reign, she was the Western world’s most eligible and elusive bride. Elizabeth reigned over great cultural flourishing and worked to maintain peace during a time of religious and political unrest in the rest of Europe, but she also served as a staunch protector of her country, defending England from the invading Spanish with, as she stated herself, “the heart and stomach of a king.” Perhaps most impressively for a woman on a man’s throne, Elizabeth ruled for almost forty-five years alone. She has often been described as one of the greatest of all English monarchs, and from her age until our own we have wanted to know more about her and her success. The first history of Elizabeth’s life and reign was published by William Camden in Latin in 1615, translated into English in 1625.1 At the end of the seventeenth century, Edmund Bohun in The Character of Queen Elizabeth claimed that Elizabeth “had been celebrated not only in her times, but in all that have since followed,” concluding that this celebration will continue “to the end of the world.”2 While this is certainly hyperbole, during the twentieth century more than a thousand nonfiction books in English were published about Elizabeth, with more than twenty released just in the last year. She has also been the subject of novels, plays, and movies, and there are books about her not only for adults but also aimed at a much younger audience, ranging from alphabet books to young adult novels and biographies. People are so fascinated by Elizabeth that her story has been used in a wide range of media, including full-color comic books depicting her defending England from the Spanish Armada and how-to texts suggesting that emulating her actions is a way to be successful in today’s business world.3 Why is Elizabeth so endlessly intriguing? Might it be the irony of her success as queen when her father so intensely wanted a son to rule after x  Preface to the Second Edition him? Or the fact of her brilliant political and survival savvy even as a young girl? Is part of our fascination because she was queen in the age of Shakespeare ? Certainly some of Shakespeare’s strong female characters have evoked comparisons with Elizabeth. Perhaps people are most intrigued because at a time when power and femininity appeared antithetical, she ruled as an unmarried woman and was still highly successful. Given the four centuries of fascination with Elizabeth, one might think that so much has been published and presented about her that there is nothing else to add. Despite all the representations of her, however, and despite all that we know about her life and her reign, she remains an elusive figure, with the keys to her success and the details of her personal life still shrouded in mystery. And yet new and exciting scholarship about the queen continues to be published. In 1994 University of Pennsylvania Press published my own study, The Heart and Stomach of a King: Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power. I am proud of this work, as well as the scholarship that has followed which this work may have influenced. In this preface to the new edition I would like to discuss what is important about this study, how it fits into a scholarly field, and what impact it has had both on my own career and in the field of Renaissance studies. I spent many years working on The Heart and Stomach of a King, and my interest in Elizabeth went back far before I started work on this project . I read my first biography of Elizabeth when I was ten years old. Like so many young girls I was fascinated by Elizabeth, how she survived the many perils of her early life, how she triumphed, and it was an interest that has never left me. I am amazed by how many adults tell me they read or heard about Elizabeth as a child and continue to find her enthralling...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.