'Effeminate Dayes'
(draft version)

Carol Banks & Graham Holderness


Thomas Nashe (in chains)

 

'Why this it is, when men are rul'd by Women'1

 

     1. In 1592 Thomas Nash attempted to justify historical drama with an argument which rested entirely on the notion of historical difference: that reconstructions of the 'valiant actes' of the past might provide 'reproofe' to the 'effeminate dayes' of the present:

Nay, what if I prooue Playes to be no extreame, but a rare exercise of vertue? First, for the subject of them (for the most part) it is borrowed out of our English Chronicles, wherein our fore-fathers valiant actes (that haue lyne long buried in rustie brasse and worme-eaten bookes) are reuiued, and they them selues raysed from the Graue of Obliuion, and brought to pleade their aged Honours in open presence: than which, what can bee a sharper reproofe, to these degenerate effeminate dayes of ours?2

The notion that England in the 1590s had become feminised seems to be further corroborated by report of a contemporary proverbial saying; in 1599 the Swiss traveller, Thomas Platter, recorded in his journal that:

there is a proverb about England, which runs, England is a woman's paradise . . .3

Whilst acknowledging that these accounts, or primary historical sources, are observations and possible generalisations from a male perspective, and that many Elizabethan women may have provided an alternative appraisal, it cannot be denied that in the 1590s a woman had successfully governed England for more than forty years, a lifetime by contemporary standards; most English men and women at this time would therefore have known none other than female rule. This situation did not occur again until the second half of the nineteenth century when, significantly, the first official step towards female suffrage was made by the philosopher and politician -- John Stuart Mill -- who proposed the motion for women's right to vote in 1867, thirty years after Queen Victoria had ascended to the English throne. Of course the situation is similarly repeated in our own time, not least between 1979 and 1990, a decade in which feminism reached its peak, when, in addition to a female monarch -- Elizabeth II -- England also had a female Prime Minister -- Margaret Thatcher.

     2. In the 1590s, far from being 'man's estate' (the Shakespearean title chosen by Coppélia Kahn for her influential study of 'masculine identity in Shakespeare'),4 the kingdom, the power, and the glory of 'this sceptred Isle'5 remained singularly hers, for the virgin queen chose never to marry and share her estate with a man. Indeed, Elizabeth's unmarried status sets her apart from the few women of power who gain a place in Tudor history and historical drama, women who, with the notable exception of Joan of Arc, all owe their social positions to men, being wives, would-be wives, widows and mothers. But for a woman to hold a position of political power in the sixteenth century was not in itself unique; indeed the second half of the century enjoyed an unprecedented flux in female rulers and heads of state: Mary Tudor, Elizabeth I, Mary Stuart, the dowager Queen Catherine de Medici in France all held the reigns of social and political power at a time when, paradoxically, the dominant ideology endorsed male supremacy.6 As Anne Laurence rightly points out, 'men's dominance is not synonymous with the oppression of women'.7 In England women had been active within Tudor government even before the arrival of a female monarch: Henry VII's mother, Margaret Beaufort, acted as regent in establishing her grand-son as king, and Henry VIII's wives, Catherine of Aragon and Catherine Parr, were both formally appointed as regents to serve when their husband was in France. In terms of the sixteenth century approbation of queens, it is also worth remembering that the only serious attempt to usurp Queen Elizabeth I was made on behalf of another woman, Mary Stuart, and with regard to Elizabeth's successor there were those who still favoured another female monarch: Robert Cecil was accused of secretly negotiating with Spain to establish the Spanish Infanta as Queen of England after Elizabeth's death,8 and Sir Walter Ralegh was imprisoned by James I, and finally executed, for his treasonable support of Arabella Stuart as contender for the crown.9

     3. Unlike the male monarchs of England's medieval past, men who seized and/or maintained power by military force, Elizabeth I (like her grand-father, father and siblings before her), maintained her position of supremacy in England by law and diplomacy, the Tudors having dismantled the private armies, active during the preceding 'Wars of the Roses', in order to secure civil peace.10 Describing Elizabeth's political power in 1579, Stephen Gosson explained:

God hath now blessed England with a Queene, in vertue excellent, in power mightie, in glorye renowned, in gouernmente politike, in possession rich, breaking her foes with the bent of her brow, ruling her subjects with shaking her hand, remouing debate by diligent foresight, filling her chests with the fruites of peace, ministring justice by order of law. . . .11

In comparing past and present, Gosson also lamented the loss of the more manly physical pursuits, such as wrestling, running and archery, in favour of more womanly pleasures:

the exercise that is nowe among us, is banqueting, playing, pipying, and dauncing, and all suche delightes as may win us to pleasure, or rock us to sleepe . . . Our wrestling at armes, is turned to wallowing in Ladies laps, our courage, to cowardice, our running to ryot, our Bowes to Bolles, and our Dartes to Dishes.12

     4. By 1595 Sir John Smithe noted a distinct decline in military prowess, claiming that: 'the discipline Militaire of our auncestors . . . is so forgotten and neglected amongst us'.13 Although military battles continued to be fought during Elizabeth's reign, they were largely fought on foreign soil and on the high seas; the memorable 'heroes' of the Elizabethan era, men who upheld and glorified the traditional 'masculine' values of courage, action and adventure, were no longer the brave hearts of the battlefield, but sailors and explorers, men such as Drake and Ralegh who sailed into the unknown world and returned to delight their mistress with strange stories of those far-away foreign places, bringing back bounty to enrich the Queen's coffers. There were of course soldiers and military leaders who gained recognition for their successful exploits in battle: Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, is perhaps the prime example of an Elizabethan Earl who attempted to win glory, supremacy and popularity via this route. The French Ambassador, André de Maisse, observed in 1597 that he was 'entirely given over to arms and the war', describing him as 'courageous and ambitious, . . . hoping to attain glory by arms';14 but glory in Elizabethan England was not to be gained in this out-moded fashion15 and Essex ended up on the scaffold, not the throne. Indeed, the only member of the Elizabethan aristocracy to actually die from wounds incurred on the battlefield was a man who not only noted that the Queen was 'very apt upon every occasion to find fault with him',16 but who gained his place in history not so much as a soldier, but as a poet -- Sir Philip Sidney.17 Military service was far from rewarding under Elizabethan rule. In 1588, following the successful Armada campaign, the Queen refused to issue cash payments to her war veterans; not until 1593 were disability pensions awarded, by which time many entitled to claim had already died.18 Susan Frye has even put forward a very convincing case which throws doubt on the authenticity of the much publicised image of the Queen clad in armour and wielding a trucheon to personally rally her troops at Tilbury before arrival of the Armada. Frye argues that 'No reliable eye witness account exists of what Elizabeth I wore or said when . . . she visited her troops at Tilbury', and that this Boudica like figure was probably fictional propaganda created by a later generation of anti-pacificts.19

     5. In the 1590s military skills had in fact become as much a sport as a necessity, increasingly celebrated at home as games and the arts of warfare. The Elizabethan descendant of Henry Hotspur, that 'braue Percy . . . great heart',20 who is killed in single combat by Prince Hal in Shakespeare's The First Part of Henry the Fourth, provides a perfect example of this change of heart between past and present for, unlike his war-like ancestor, the Elizabethan Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland, nick-named the 'Wizard Earl' for his interest in science and the occult, declined to take part in repressing border warfare on his Northumbrian estates;21 instead he collected books on militaria and wrote on the arts of war himself; he even invented an an elaborate board game which he called 'art militaire', a game played on an inlaid table with 460 toy soldiers.22

     6. The most elaborate military games were of course the 'Accession Day Tilts', pageants which were themselves staged spectacles recreating images, not of real battles, but of idealised military power and glory, performances produced in honour of the Queen. The ladies' 'champions' who played at knights in shining armour at these events were far removed from the real soldiers of the battle field. Perhaps the gallants who participated in these elaborate forms of entertainment informed Vernon's description of Prince Hal and his comrades in Shakespeare's Henry the Fourth, a mere verbal account which is never visibly presented in the play:

All plum'd like Estriges . . .
Glittering in Golden Coates, like Images,
. . . young Harry with his beuer on,
His Cushes on his thighes, gallantly arm'd,
. . . like feathered Mercury
23

However, young Harry's mission in this history play is not to win a lady's favour but to gain honour by military violence; the brutal, bloody nature of that fight is tellingly revealed in the chivalric covering of Hotspur's 'mangled face' with the Prince's own plumes.24 Indeed judging from contemporary paintings of the young men of the Elizabethan nobility, they appear to have had more in common with the 'Popingay' ridiculed by Hotspur for being 'neat and trimly drest' and 'perfumed like a Milliner', and for speaking in 'many Holiday and Ladie tearme . . . like a Waiting-Gentlewoman',25 than with the medieval warriors of the histories -- Edward III, Hotspur, Henry V, the Bastard and the warlike Talbot.

     7. Detailed portraits of the Elizabethan champions of the tilts present these glamorous young men in staged settings, wearing colourful, star-spangled costumes and brightly polished armour, their plumed helmets removed to display loose flowing and curled locks; according to one contemporary spectator some even wore their hair 'hanging down to the girdle like women'.26 Male fashions in general took on a decidedly female shape in the Elizabethan period, padding out the chest and widening the trunk hose to effectively narrow the waistline; nevertheless these glittering young men of the nobility continued to display their maleness by exposure: wearing flesh-coloured stockings and discarding the trunk hose altogether, they wore their doublets so very short as to be almost indecent.27 Thomas Nash described Elizabeth's male courtiers as 'Peacockes . . . buckram giants . . . stuft with straw and letters . . . glittring Attendaunts on the true Diana'.28 These paste sparklers who imitated the real star (they often wore white and silver to complement Elizabeth's virgin state), were not seeking advancement by acts of courage against the enemy, they were vying for the attention and favour of their powerful queen.

     8. The men who were achieving personal success at Elizabeth's court were certainly men of letters -- faithful servants such as the Queen's secretaries, Lord Burghley and his son, Robert Cecil, and these civil servants dressed in relative sobriety, gaining their prestigious places not by bravery in dress or in battle, but by ingenuity and learning. Robert Cecil was himself no 'buckram giant', being of diminutive stature; born with curvature of the spine, he may be physically compared with Shakespeare's Richard III: 'halfe made vp, / And that so lamely and vnfashionable',29 a physical disadvantage which prevented neither from successfully seducing ladies of the court.30 However, whereas Richard III's deformity equipped him for the ferocity of real war: 'To fright the Soules of fearefull Aduersaries', in an Elizabethan 'weake piping time of Peace', Robert's prevented him from participating in the contemporary equivalent of warlike exercise -- the fashionable tilts -- now 'sportiue trickes' for which neither were shaped.31 But in Elizabethan England even the unlettered men of the lower social classes, men unaffected by the fashions of the fabulously rich, were no longer called upon to fight like feudal peasants for their ruling overlord as did the followers of Bolingbroke against Richard II and the ordinary labourers levied to fight for him as king against rebel forces; the average tradesman or farmer in the 1590s was more likely to injure himself in a drunken brawl than in fighting for territorial rights. But if in Elizabethan England man's traditional 'masculine' image was undergoing revision, woman was likewise beginning to free herself from conventional restraints.

     9. Until recently the paucity of documentation relating to the individual lives of women of the past contributed to the general view that women were insignificant, oppressed members of all past patriarchal societies, a view which served to equate rather than differentiate the lives of women across the centuries, generalisations filling the unknown gaps in the historical record. Blanket terms such as 'early modern' further serve to bracket together disparate experiences, locating equivalences rather than differences in the lives of women from the Renaissance right up to the modernity of the present. Many of the first appraisals of woman's history were gleaned from 'official' documents, documents produced almost entirely by men -- historical chronicles and theological and theoretical treatises -- but the current interest in woman's history has begun to shed greater light on woman's past, unearthing a wealth of additional material -- letters, diaries and previously neglected documents -- private, rather than public sources, documents relating to lives lived rather than models to live by, and perhaps, most significantly, reassessing the situation from a woman's perspective.

     10. Whilst there can be no denying that in the sixteenth century women were officially regarded as inferior to men and, as a result, some suffered cruelty and hardship at the hands of their male superiors, there is also evidence to suggest that although female subordination was the theological and theoretical rule, in practice the situation may have been somewhat different. The sixteenth century theoretical argument concerning the nature of woman and her role in society32 is evidence in itself of contemporary anxiety over attitudes which had come to be regarded as contentious at this time and an obvious explanation as to why such a debate should arise is that in practice women were not corresponding to the pattern outlined in theory. Hence that violent 'Blast of the Trumpet' (1558) from John Knox, retaliating against female rule itself:

To promote a woman to beare rule, superiority, dominion or empire above any realme, nation or citie, is repugnant to nature, contumelie to God, a thing most contrarious to his reveled will and approved ordinance . . . Nature I say, doth paynt them furthe to be weake, fraile, impacient, feble and foolishe: and experience hath declared them to be unconstant, variable, cruell and lacking the spirit of counsel and regiment.33

In spite of such animosity, woman continued to rule successfully for a further forty five years. But even at a more popular level women were contravening the codes of convention. For example, whereas the good woman was supposed to confine herself to the home and remain in obedience to her husband or father, the women of Elizabethan England were gaining a reputation for freedom and insubordination. On the subject of obedience A homily on the state of matrimony, published in 1562, reminded wives of their subjection, providing justification for their compliance as if anticipating objections:

For thus does St Peter preach to them: ye wives be ye in subjection to obey your own husband . . . For surely this doth nourish concord very much, when the wife is ready at hand at her husband's commandment, when she will apply herself to his will . . .34

Vives' popular instruction for Christian women paid special attention to 'How the maid shall behave herself forth abroad', claiming that:

Forth she must needs go sometimes, but I would it should be selde as maybe, for many causes. Principally because as oft as a maid goeth forth among people, so often she cometh in judgement and extreme peril of her beauty, honesty, demureness, wit, shamefastness and virtue.35

On the same subject Thomas Becon's Catechism (1564) applied more sensational tactics, warning 'maids and young unmarried women' of the dangers which lurked beyond the safe confines of the home:

Let them remember what chanced to Dinah, Jacob's daughter through going abroad to see vain sights. Was she not deflowered and lost her virginity?36

But by the end of the century that same Swiss traveller, Thomas Platter, observed a flagrant breach of these requirements, maintaining that:

the women-folk of England . . . have far more liberty than in other lands, and know just how to make good use of it, for they often stroll out or drive by coach in very gorgeous clothes, and the men must put up with such ways, and may not punish them for it, indeed the good wives often beat their men . . .37

Furthermore, in spite of Becon's warnings relating to a maid's chastity, that most guarded virtue in the patriarchal society, this too was soon surrendered, for even if the Queen preserved her virginity, many of her unmarried ladies did not. Shakespeare's own patron Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, married his mistress, Lady Elizabeth Vernon, in 1598 when she was nine months pregnant, and other ladies of (or connected with) Elizabeth's court who found themselves with child gave birth to bastard off-spring.38 Mary Fytton, pregnant in 1600 by William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, left the court for a new life in the country when her lover refused to marry her39 and Aemilia Lanyer (née Bassani), mistress of Henry Cary, Lord Hunsdon (the drama loving Lord Chamberlain, patron of the company to which Shakespeare belonged), was married off to a court musician, Alphonso Lanyer, after giving birth to Hunsdon's son.40 Some married women were no less protective of their chastity: the sister of Robert Devereux, Lady Penelope Rich, the 'Stella' of Philip Sidney's Astrophel and Stella and his sometime mistress, gave birth to several of Lord Mountjoy's bastards, openly disregarding her marriage vows to her lawful husband.41

     11. That the women of Elizabethan England had no individual legal rights is not disputed, yet in spite of this at least some succeeded in achieving positions of personal power. As the author of The Law's Resolutions of Women's Rights (1632) observed, even when the law is an obstruction which denies female independence, 'some women can shift it well enough.'42 The formidable Bess of Hardwick, who became the Countess of Shrewsbury by her fourth marriage, has been described as 'the circumventor par excellence' 43 and is perhaps the most famous example of the powerful Elizabethan matriarch, a woman who managed both her children and her many husbands well enough, amassing a personal fortune into the bargain. But for the majority of women who remained financially dependant upon men, male dependancy was not necessarily synonymous with male control. Henry Percy, the earl with the toy soldiers, was particularly harassed by the behaviour of his wilful wife, the Lady Dorothy, sister of the less than chaste Lady Penelope Rich and Robert Devereux (who lost his head for trying to set it above that of his sovereign Queen). Even after the Queen's death, when James I imprisoned her husband in the tower for his cousin's part in the gunpowder plot, this far from silent woman was reputedly bold enough to impede Sir Robert Cecil (Secretary of State) in the palace gardens, confronting him in a torrent of words in pursuit of her husband's release, and, as report has it, she did not stop there, going on to rail at the King himself, like Paulina in The Winter's Tale. Henry was duly reprimanded by Cecil for his wife's behaviour, but the Earl, now himself confined by prison walls to his books, toy soldiers and magic tricks whilst his wife had her freedom, could do no more than write to his son on the management of women, admitting that: 'wyffes will have their wills . . . and will believe better of their own ways then of yours',44 perhaps hoping that the next generation of male Percies might succeed in reasserting male control where he had failed. His son, Algernon Percy, had ample opportunity to put his father's advice into practice, for he fathered five fine daughters himself.45

     12. Although Platter's description of women beating their men-folk seems to imply a reversal of gender roles, the claim that these were 'effeminate dayes' suggests this was not the case, but that women were exercising their own prerogatives in a decidedly female fashion -- not least the Queen herself. The advent of women in positions of political authority meant that by the 1590s the relationship between gender and power was undergoing revision. Female heads of state had begun to forge new images of authority, images which figuratively borrowed from the past, and from mythical and religious sources, in order to establish an authoritative image for the early-modern female prince.46 These images of female power were not monolithic. For example, Elizabeth I was quick to deny comparison of herself with Catherine de' Medici, as revealed by Francis Bacon's reference to a letter conveying a message from Elizabeth to the French Queen-Mother:

. . . finding that her secretary had inserted a clause directing the Ambassador to say to the Queen Mother by way of a compliment, that they were two queens from whom though they were women no less was expected in administration of affairs and in the virtue and arts of government than from the greatest men, -- she [Elizabeth] would not endure the comparison, but ordered it to be struck out; saying that the arts and principles which she employed in governing were of a far other sort than those of the Queen Mother.47

But in terms of gendered identity the semiotics of power was complicated by the notion of the monarch's two bodies -- political and natural, a notion which Elizabeth was able to use to advantage. 'She beareth two persons', wrote Edmund Spenser, 'the one of a most royall Queene or Empresse, the other of a most virtuous and beautiful lady'.48 Verbal and pictorial images of the monarch's body politic could transcend the limitations of the natural body, as, for example in the portrayal of Francois I of France en travesti (Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris) where he is depicted as an amalgam of gods and goddesses, an androgynous image of the body politic created without detriment to his personal masculine identity.49 Likewise, Queen Elizabeth's political authority could be described in androgynous terms, that she was 'king and queen both',50 whilst her physical appearances before court and country ensured that she was personally recognised as decidedly female. Even in her advanced years she would make a point of deliberately drawing attention to her natural female body. For example, a French ambassador described how:

attired in a dress of silver cloth, white and crimson . . . She kept the front of her dress open, and one could see the whole of her bossom, and passing low, and often she would open the front of this robe with her hands.51

However, since the female body was traditionally equated with weakness, portraits of Elizabeth displayed her political power in symbol, emblem and allegory, manifestations which, like her own virginity, were not outwardly visible in her female body. In contrast to antique, allegorical images of woman, which continued to equate power with physical strength (Historia, on the title page of Sir Walter Ralegh's History of the World, is a near naked, muscular woman holding the globe above her head, like Hercules), portraits of Elizabeth often emphasise her femaleness, and locate her power away from her actual body. For example, in the 'Ditchley Portrait', painted around 1592 (National Portrait Gallery, London), the image of Ralegh's Herculean Historia is actually reversed. Here the globe supports the Queen, her dainty feet resting on the map of England, near to Ditchley, home of her master of the Armoury; the Queen's body is concealed in a rich, jewel-encrusted gown which bears little resemblance to the shape of the human form beneath, and in her long elegant fingers she holds a fan to maintain her female cool, and a pair of gloves that her soft hands may remain so. The Queen's political power is manifest in her land, her wealth, her armoury and, as the sonnet to her left explains, in that greater invisible 'power divine'.52 Of course Elizabeth used her femininity -- in particular her own invisible virginity -- as a source of power to command respect and obedience and to induce her many rituals of courtly love, epitomised by the 'Accession Day Tilts'. Regal power itself was therefore no longer identified in terms of 'masculine' physical strength, but with woman and with her allusive omnipotence.

     13. The images of the masculine, medieval past recreated in Elizabethan historical drama must indeed have provided a sharp contrast to those 'effeminate' days in which they were first produced. Co-existing as they did with the comedies of the 1590s -- plays in which women repeatedly wield power -- they may be regarded as no more than an opportunity for men to behave badly in retaliation against female supremacy, to flaunt male values in the face of female power. But this is to imply that they were designed to please an all male audience and this we know was not the case. Furthermore, in so many of those Elizabethan plays about a past world of male violence and aggression the official 'masculine' story is expanded to include female characters and female speech -- an expansion notable in terms of actual production, since there were no female actors to keep employed. In Shakespeare's histories, even in the midst of military conflict, scenes are created to bring vocal women into the picture. Constance, prefiguring Ophelia's performance, enters the French camp in The life and death of King John, in a state of madness in order to gain a critical stance to defy the system which hears only a man's voice: 'And rowze from sleepe that fell Anatomy,/ Which cannot hear a Ladies feeble voyce'.53 In The First Part of Henry the Fourth, even as the men prepare for battle, a dreamy, magical scene is introduced, bringing women into the picture with music and song. Here, traditionally enclosing women within a domestic setting, a Welshwoman speaks a language the English do not understand and sings to please her husband; the northern warrior, Hotspur, wants his wife to do likewise, but Kate Percy is an Englishwoman, forerunner to Dorothy Percy, no doubt currently 'stroll[ing] out or [taking a] drive by coach in very gorgeous clothes', enjoying the freedom of England in the 1590s. Hence, when Hotspur says: 'Come quick, quick, that I may lay my Head in thy Lap' , unlike the obedient Welshwoman Kate is quick with her mocking reply, threatening her warrior in the physical terms he will understand: 'Goe, ye giddy-Goose. / . . . Wouldst haue thy Head broken?'54 In fact, Hotspur's Lady comes so close to the contemporary moment of production that her husband picks up on her speech and compares her to a tradesman's wife from London, repeating a catalogue of everyday sayings, not recorded in the history chronicles:

Not yours in good sooth?
You sweare like a Comfit- makers Wife:
Not you, in good sooth; and, as true as I liue;
And, as God shall mend me; and, as sure as day.
55

But, as that later Henry Percy observed women 'will have their wills', and in keeping with late sixteenth century tradition Hotspur's Lady refuses to obey, simply replying in plain terms: 'I will not sing'.56

     14. It has been argued that this Welsh scene presents an effeminised world, 'a world that is feminine, effeminating, and also theatrical';57 certainly the Welsh Lady Mortimer provides a contrasting image to the 'beastly' Welshwomen referred to in Westmorland's report at the start of the play, women who mutilated the corpses of English soldiers on the battle field,58 a report which echoes the official view recorded in Holinshed's chronicle:

The shamefull villanie used by the Welshwomen towards the dead carcasses, was such, as honest eares would be ashamed to heare, and continent toongs to speake thereof.59

The fictitious, romantic scene of warriors and wives counteracts the grotesque impression of woman in the official record of events, an 'effeminate' implant within the historical drama to offset that brutal, 'masculine' past as recorded in the chronicles, providing an alternative view of woman which, at one level, extends the contemporary debate on the nature of womankind and, at the same time, servs as a reminder of the playful pleasures enjoyed by the contemporary spectator in those peaceful 'effeminate dayes'. In The first Part of Henry the Sixt, when those medieval lords, Gloucester and Winchester (representatives of the hot-headed nobility), are again involved in a physical fight for power, the Mayor concludes the incident with a remark, which could be delivered as an aside to the audience, the actor stepping out of the past into to present to voice what may be interpreted as a distinctly modern observation on war and peace:

Good God, these Nobles should such stomacks beare,
I my selfe fight not once in forty yeere.
60

Those re-enactments of 'our fore-fathers valiant actes' may indeed have provided a contrasting source for the effeminate present, but it was a present which many women and men must certainly have preferred.

 

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Notes

1 The Tragedy of Richard the Third, as reproduced in The Norton Facsimile: The First Folio of Shakespeare (London: Norton, 2nd ed., 1996), line 66. Further quotations from Shakespeare are from this edition.

2 Thomas Nash, Pierce Penilesse his Supplication to the Deuil (1592), (Menston: Scolar Press, 1969), p. 26.

3 Thomas Platter's journal (1599) reprinted in Peter Razell, ed., The Journals of Two Travellers in Elizabethan England: Thomas Platter and Horatio Busino (London: Caliban Books, 1995), p. 46.

4 Coppélia Kahn, Man's Estate: Masculine Identity in Shakespeare (Berkley: University of California Press, 1981). Kahn's title is from Shakespeare's Twelfe Night, or What you will , The Norton Facsimile, line 2564.

5 Gaunt's description of England in The life and death of King Richard the second, The Norton Facsimile, line 681.

6 See for example Lisa Hopkins, Women Who Would Be Kings: Female Rulers of the Sixteenth Century (London: Vision Press, 1991), and Merry Weisner, Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), Chapter 8: 'Gender and power'.

7 Anne Laurence, Women in England 1500-1760: A Social History (London: Phoenix, 1996), p. 4.

8 Anne Somerset, Elizabeth I (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1991), pp. 560-61, and David Cecil, The Cecils of Hatfield House: Portrait of an English Ruling Family (London: Constable, 1975), p. 114.

9 Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 67, ed., Sidney Lee (London: Smith & Elder, 1896), p. 196.

10 Griffiths & Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty (Gloucester: Sutton, 1985).

11 Stephen Gosson, The School of Abuse (1579), Facsimile copy (London: The Shakespeare Society, 1841), p. 19.

12 Ibid., p. 24.

13 Sir John Smithe, Observations of Orders Militaire (1595), quoted in Geoffrey Bullough, Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare vol. 4 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966), pp. 431-2.

14 André Hurault de Maisse, A Journal of All That Was Accomplished by Monsieur de Maisse Ambassador in England from King Henri IV to Queen Elizabeth Anno Domini 1597, quoted in Carolly Erickson, The First Elizabeth (London: MacMillan, 1983) p. 386.

15 As previously observed, the allusion to Essex in the 'First Folio' version of The Life of Henry the Fift (Norton, lines 2880-82), seems to depict the Earl in a deliberately out-moded caste; see Holderness, Shakespeare Recycled: The Making of Historical Drama (Hemel Hempstead: Harverster Wheatsheaf, 1992), pp. 112-4.

16 Quoted in Somerset, Elizabeth I, p. 423.

17 At the outset of the Netherlandish campaign Elizabeth tried to minimize casualties amongst the aristocracy, sending a directive that young men 'of best birth' should be 'spared from all hazardous attempts', quoted in Somerset, Elizabeth I, p. 423.

18 See Geoffrey Parker, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare: The Triumph of the West (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 149.

19 Susan Frye, 'The Myth of Elizabeth at Tilbury', The Sixteenth Century Journal 23:1 (1992), pp.95-114.

20 The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry Sirnamed Hot-spvrre, The Norton Facsimile, line 3052.

21 Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 44, ed. by Sidney Lee (London: Smith & Elder, 1895), Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland 1564-1632, pp. 411-413.

22 G. R. Batho, Thomas Harriot and the Northumberland Household (London: Historical Association, 1983), p. 16.

23 First Part of Henry the Fourth, Norton, lines 2329-2337.

24 Ibid., 3061.

25 Ibid., 355-377.

26 See Roy Strong, The English Renaissance Miniature (London: Thames and Hudson, 1984), quotation from p. 95.

27 On male fashions of the period see Jane Ashelford, A Visual History of Costume: The Sixteenth Century (London: Batsford, 1983); Diana de Marly, Fashion for Men: An Illustrated History (London: Batsford, 1985), pp. 29-43; Aileen Ribeiro, Dress & Morality (London: Batsford, 1986), pp. 50-73.

28 Nash, Pierce Penilesse, p. 39.

29 The Tragedy of King Richard the Third, lines 23-4.

30 David Cecil observes of his Elizabethan ancestor, Robert, that 'He was not by nature celibate . . . in later years his name was to be coupled with . . . various married ladies: Lady Suffolk, Lady Derby, Lady Anne Clifford', The Cecils of Hatfield House, p. 97.

31 Richard the third, lines 13, 26 & 16.

32 On the contemporary debate about women see Katherine Henderson and Barbara McManus, eds, Half Humankind: Contexts and Texts of the Controversy about Women in England, 1540-1640 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1985).

33 John Knox, The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women (1558), quoted from Susanne Trill, Kate Chedgzoy and Melanie Osborne, eds, Lay by Your Needles Ladies, Take the Pen: Writing Women in England 1500--1700 (London: Arnold, 1997), p. 33.

34 Quoted from Kate Aughterson, ed., Renaissance Woman: A Sourcebook: Constructions of Femininity in England (London: Routledge, 1995), p. 24.

35 Juan Louis Vives, The instruction of a Christian woman (text from 1540 English version) quoted from Renaissance Woman, p. 71.

36 Becon, Catechism (1564) 'Of the Duty of Maids and Young Unmarried Women', quoted from Renaissance Woman, p. 27.

37 Platter, as note 3 above.

38 For an account of this belated betrothal and the conduct of other ladies in waiting to Elizabeth I, see Anne Somerset, Ladies in Waiting From the Tudors to the Present Day (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1984).

39 Lady Newdigate-Newdigate, Gossip From a Muniment Room: Being passages in the lives of Anne and Mary Fytton 1574 to 1618 (London: David Nutt, 1897), 'Mary's Downfall & Disgrace', pp. 26-47.

40 A. L. Rowse, The Poems of Shakespeare's Dark Lady: Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (London: Johnathan Cape, 1978).

41 Violet Wilson, Society Women of Shakespeare's Time (London: Bodley Head, 1924), pp. 72-83; see also Anne Somerset, Ladies inWaiting.

42 Quoted by Pearl Hogrefe 'Legal Rights of Tudor Women and the Circumvention by Men and Women', Sixteenth Century Journal, 3:1 (1972), p. 98.

43 See Hogrefe, above cit., pp. 103-105.

44 Violet Wilson, Society Women, pp. 168-175.

45 Algernon Percy, 10th Earl of Northumberland (1602-1668), married Lady Anne Cecil, daughter of Robert Cecil; one of their five daughters died in infancy, DNB, vol. 44, p. 389.

46 The iconography of Queen Elizabeth I has been the subject of much contemporary analysis. See for example Frances Yates, Astraea: The Imperial Theme in the Sixteenth Century (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975); Roy Strong, The English Icon: Elizabethan and Jacobean Portraiture (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1969), and Gloriana: The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I (Thames and Hudson, 1987); Louis Montrose,'"Shaping Fantasies": Figurations of Gender and Power in Elizabethan Culture', in Representations, 1:2 (1983), pp. 61-94; Andrew Belsey & Catherine Belsey, 'Icons of Divinity: Portraits of Elizabeth I', in Gent & Llewellyn eds, Renaissance Bodies: The Human Figure in English Culture c.1540--1660 (London: Reaktin, 1990). Leonard Tennenhouse, Power on Display: The Politics of Shakespeare's Genres (London: Methuen, 1986); Graham Holderness & Carol Banks, 'Bravehearts: Images of Masculinity in Shakespeare's History Plays', in Parergon, 15:1 (1997), pp. 137-160.

47 Francis Bacon, Works (Spedding, Ellis and Heath 1860-4), vol. 6, p. 317, quoted from Winfried Schleiner, 'Divina virago: Queen Elizabeth as an Amazon', Studies in Philology, 75:2 (1978), p. 179.

48 See Marie Axton, The Queen's Two Bodies: Drama and the Elizabethan Succession (London: Royal Historical Society, 1977).

49 For an analysis of this image of Francois I see Norbert Schneider, The Art of The Portrait: Masterpieces of European Portrait-Painting (Koln: Benedikt Taschen, 1992), pp. 94-95.

50 On Elizabeth's androgynous titles see Marcus, Puzzling Shakespeare, p. 58.

51 Quoted by Louis Montrose, 'Shaping Fantasies', above cit., p.63.

52 For a detailed analysis of the portraits of Queen Elizabeth see Roy Strong, Gloriana: The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I (London: Thames & Hudson, 1987).

53 The Life and Death of King John, lines 1425-6.

54 The First Part of Henry the Fourth, 1772 & 1782.

55 Ibid., 1793-6.

56 Ibid., 1804.

57 Phyllis Rackin, Stages of History: Shakespeare's English Chronicles (London: Routledge,1990), p. 172-3.

58 The First Part of Henry the Fourth, lines 47-50.

59 Reprinted in Bullough, Narrative and Dramatic Sources, vol. 4, p. 182.

60 The first Part of Henry the Sixt, lines 461-2.

 

 

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