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 Elizabeth I and heirs

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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth I and heirs   Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:02 pm

But the child on the far right would prefer some protein it seems. What is that on her plate, a cat, monkey, rat?
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth I and heirs   Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:12 pm

Looks like a marmoset to me. She does seem to have a slightly different expression however, the rest appear to have been cloned.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth I and heirs   Sun Nov 11, 2012 3:47 am

In the More picture the man in the doorway is supposed (by rumour) to be Richard, the younger son of Edward iv, who was supposed to be employed as a Tutor to Thomas's children. The gentleman who looks like Henry viii is apparently Thomas's fool. There was an earlier, similar portrait without the man in the door.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth I and heirs   Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:04 pm

@nordmann wrote:

It just strikes me as simplistic to analyse Elizabeth's silence on the matter of providing a successor through marriage as evidence of an ambivalence on her part and especially one based on a virginity psychosomatically explained by childhood experiences.


Simplistic maybe, but we surely have to consider it. Long-distance psychoanalysis is never wise, but one can't help but wonder what a psychiatrist today would say if a patient presented with Elizabeth's tale of family dysfunction, marital violence and sexual abuse. One doesn't have to study too much Freud to see that a possible link existed in this woman's mind between complete sexual surrender and death. Robert Dudley, Elizabeth's friend from childhood, reported years afterwards that his little royal playmate resolutely declared - just after Kat Howard was dragged off to be decapitated for enjoying sex too much - "I will never marry!". OK, the eight-year-old Elizabeth wouldn't have understood too much of what was going on, but the message that death and marriage went together like a horse and carriage - certainly where her all-powerful father was concerned - no doubt registered.

Richard Rex notes (in The Tudors, his book, not the Showtime series): "It certainly looks as though Elizabeth had a rooted dislike to the concept of matrimony."

And a "rooted dislike" indeed to anyone marrying. Rex points out that ET reacted extremely badly to marriage - or even the *contemplation* of marriage - on the part of men and women around her. Certainly this can sometimes be put down to political rather than personal consideration - for example when, in the 1560s, Lady Catherine Grey married Edward Seymour. They ended up in the Tower. Possible claimants to the throne (and Lady Catherine Grey, Henry VIII's great-niece, had a *very* good claim) knew perfectly well that they were supposed to obtain royal consent before they married, so this was fair enough. Catherine Grey probably threw caution to the winds because she was very much in love and knew ET would never let her marry. She somehow - despite being in the Tower - managed to spend some time with her husband, and to Elizabeth's *fury* they produced not one, but *two* boys, both possible heirs to the throne. (The marriage was later annulled and the little boys bastardised - the queen saw to that.)

But Elizabeth's "peculiar" (Rex's word) reactions to marriage extended beyond the blood royal to almost *any* marriage contracted by men and women of her court. Marriages had to be concealed: the queen's wrath was expected and feared, especially if babies were involved.

Elizabeth's bishops and clergy also suffered from her intense dislike of the holy state. She refused to allow the wives of bishops to accompany their husbands to court, and as long as she remained on the throne, the law permitting the marriage of priests - which had been repealed by her sister Mary - was not restored to the statute book.

There is also the distinct possibility that Elizabeth knew she was physically incapable of bearing a child. Ben Jonson's nasty little comment (see below) can possibly be dismissed as distasteful misogynist gossip, but it was long rumoured that Elizabeth's menstrual cycle was irregular or non-existent. Could Elizabeth - always underweight since her mysterious illnesses following the Seymour affair in her teens - have been what today would be described as borderline anorexic? It has been suggested. She fits the pattern: traumatic childhood; rejection by a father who wanted a son; need for absolute control; always striving for perfection, especially academic perfection. Girls suffering from anorexia stop menstruating, or suffer an irregular cycle. Even if menstruation is re-established, fertility is often permanently destroyed by the illness. Dr Huick, Elizabeth's personal physician, who had known her many years, reckoned in the 1560s that she was physically incapable of sexual relations. On the other hand, at much the same time, a committee of doctors judged her *fit* to bear children! A later committtee, when she was *forty-five*and in the midst of negotiations for a marriage with the Duke of Anjou, convinced Cecil that there was no reason why Elizabeth should not, even at this improbable age, produce an heir. But as Richard Rex remarks: "Despite their privileged knowledge of Eliabeth's bodily functions, the sceptical historian might observe that, if the truth was otherwise, neither of these committees had much reason to report it." (The Tudors Ch. 5: Marriage and the Succession)



PS Here's Jonson's comment - the man certainly knew how to be offensive!

"Yet I suspect that the greatest bar to an extended feminist reading of Jonson has been his own seemingly uncomplicated, consistent, and virulent misogyny. In the case of Queen Elizabeth, for example, whose virginal image connoted feminine power, Jonson iconoclastically represents the Fairy Queen in The Alchemist as a be-costumed whore who appears to a fool in a privy as part of an elaborate con-game. In his 1619 conversation with William Drummond, after recounting Elizabeth's virtual senility in her old age--Jonson reports that once she became old, Elizabeth never saw herself in a mirror and that her attendants would sometimes in making her up "vermilion her nose" - he offers this scurrilous explanation for the queen's mystical virginity:

'that she had a Membrana on her which made her uncapable of man, though for her delight she tryed many [ . . . ] at the comming over of Monsieur, ther was a French Chirurgion [surgeon] who took jn hand to cut it, yett fear stayed her & his death.' (Conversations with Drummond 342-46; H&S 1, 142)"


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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth I and heirs   Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:18 pm

Apologies for adding more, but just wanted to give some backing for what I said about Elizabeth possibly being a borderline anorexic, or, if not quite that, a woman suffering from what used to be covered by the catch-all diagnosis of neurasthenia.

There is a very interesting book, published by OUP in 1995: The Cost of Competence: Why Inequality Causes Depression, Eating Disorders and Illness in Women. Its authors, Brett Silverstein and Deborahy Perlick, are not silly American psychobabblers, but respected psychologists (Perlick I think is a psychiatrist - medically trained). This is from the OUP blurb:

In The Cost of Competence, authors Brett Silverstein and Deborah Perlick argue that rather than simply labeling individual women as, say, anorexic or depressed, it is time to look harder at the widespread prejudices within our society and child-rearing practices that lead thousands of young women to equate thinness with competence and success, and femininity with failure. They argue that continuing to treat depression, anxiety, anorexia and bulimia as separate disorders in young women can, in many cases, be a misguided approach since they are really part of a single syndrome. Furthermore, their fascinating research into the lives of forty prominent women from Elizabeth I to Eleanor Roosevelt show that these symptoms have been disrupting the lives of bright, ambitious women not for decades, but for centuries.


You can "look inside" this work on Amazon. The authors say this about Elizabeth:

"At age 14, Elizabeth developed 'pains in the head...which reduced her capacity for concentrated study'. At 15 she suffered 'a breakdown of the nervous system', lost her appetite, refused to eat, lost much weight and exhibited insomnia and crying spells. By age 26 she was described by her ladies as being 'quite melancholy' and she was again having trouble sleeping. She was said to be a 'light eater'. to have 'a spare appetite' and to eat 'smally or nothing'. By age 36 she was experiencing 'episodes of mild hysteria', including fainting and pains in her stomach, legs and head. A physician called in to examine her the next year claimed the queen was so thin 'that her bones may be counted'. She was also described as 'frail', 'fleshless' and 'thin and emaciated'. "

So we possibly have here a queen regnant who was a ferociously intelligent woman, and one educated to within an inch of her life, but one who was also severely emaciated, highly-strung to the point of hysteria, and who regularly suffered from numerous symptoms, probably psychosomatic in origin, but nonetheless extremely distressing.

No wonder Cecil was driven to distraction by her! And he possibly realised quite early on in the reign that a woman such as this thin, neurotic queen was turning out to be was unlikely ever to prove "bonny and buxom in bed and at board". And definitely *not* the sort of female usually regarded as being a "good breeder".

Such women do make dramatic and effective performers though, and a consummate actress Elizabeth certainly was. But did she write all her own lines, or did her councillors provide them for her? Possibly they handed her the official script which she then edited - ruthlessly. But she could certainly get up there - in front of any audience - and deliver.


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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth I and heirs   Mon Nov 12, 2012 4:53 pm

There are another couple of suggestions posited as to the origins of anorexia which might also be relevant. I haven't got references to hand, sorry, but one is a rejection of femaleness which is triggered by the onset of puberty and the appearance of secondary sexual characteristics. As has been said, she had plenty of reasons to do that in her observations of what can befall women.
The other is about the powerless using the consumption of food as a way of exercising some control in the only way open to them.

Despite this was she still a puppet being manipulated by those with their own agendas? Was it both? Will we ever know?

I had lunch today with a friend who was telling me about her American cousin who came over to St Andrew's to do Medieval History but has left after the first year saying he couldn't cope with the lecturers saying "We believe....." and " We might interpret this as......". He complained that there weren't enough facts. Poor boy, 't were only that simple. He is also a fundamentalist Christian; how can those positions possibly co exist without his brain exploding?
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth I and heirs   Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:11 pm

She outlived Karen Carpenter, so she was getting something into her.

But seriously, I wouldn't quibble with any of that. Elizabeth, by all contemporary accounts, was not an easy person to deal with. Even those who advertised themselves as "suitors" were probably reading too much into access to her private quarters (which for monarchs were very populated areas indeed) and might even in fact have been taking advantage of her unwillingness to pronounce on her private life to exaggerate their status as favourites into something which might imbue them with more political clout than they really deserved. But then if that was the case it simply underlines her flaw as a monarch rather than enhances whatever advantage such reticence might have accrued in her favour. A reticent monarch opens the door to opportunists to act in their name and there is reasonable evidence suggesting several who wasted no time in doing so.

That is why I like the Grace O'Malley story so much (however apocryphal it has been dismissed as in English histories). But in its favour it was one that O'Malley herself put about at the time and she was never a woman to exaggerate or feel the need to defend her part in things - in a world of men she, like Elizabeth, had long ago established herself as a boss to be reckoned with. So the image of the two women, having for years assumed total enmity one to the other, realising on their first meeting that they held more in common than the many things which divided them, sitting in private for hours and emerging best buddies, is one that rings true. And it wasn't just that either. In the wake of their summit meeting O'Malley was exempt from further English aggression - as the records show - and she in turn desisted from looting English ships, so there is evidence of a real treaty having been thrashed out too.

What the story suggests to me too is a very isolated monarch, for all her trusted advisors, suitors, courtiers and guards. A woman who had executed her last closest relative with whom she had anything in common, was prevented through politics from forging replacement amities beyond her shores and who, as life went on, must have felt that she had less in common with anything or anyone in the world. The defeat of the Spanish Armada - the event which should be the one that can be held up to refute this prognosis - simply reinforces it in light of the failure to pursue the political initiative it provided. She'd done her duty, provided her spin doctors with one last hurrah, and then retreated back into the political undergrowth leaving her council to do what they pleased. She even forgot to pay her seamen after the victory. Or maybe just didn't care much one way or the other.

I would imagine, Ferval, that a fundie Christian likes their facts ready-polished and delivered on a platter, even if they turn out to be scatological. Having to actually form an opinion from extraneous data and concede that it is as vulnerable as the next piece of extraneous data could immediately render it is not up there with The Rapture or Divine Scapegoating when it comes to raising the level of substituted phenethylamines in the grey matter. Each to their own, I suppose. Personally that is exactly what gets my own dopamine levels spiking about history. It is never finished.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth I and heirs   Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:20 pm

There is also some evidence that Elizabeth would from time to time go on a what we would now call a mad binge: she would eat sweets voraciously, cramming her mouth full of "crisply sugared rose-leaves, primroses and violets, fruit suckets, comfits and sticky, cloying marchpane". Her doctors warned her that her teeth would "go black and fall out in old age", but she ignored them.

And her teeth did go black and rotten, of course.

@ferval wrote:
He is also a fundamentalist Christian; how can those positions possibly co exist without his brain exploding?

Very easily, I should think. You just convince yourself that the Good Book (and it is indeed a very good book, written by some very inspired *humans*) is completely factual - no tiresome, tricky metaphor, allegory or myth. Dead easy - and life becomes so much more simple than it is for the average poor woolly agnostic who agonises over it all.

Being a fundamentalist atheist must be just as simple.


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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth I and heirs   Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:21 pm

Crossed posts.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth I and heirs   Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:28 pm

It's not that good a book. It was probably the best in the bookshops dealing with the themes involved (if one never made it over the philosophy shelf to pick up Hume and thought all the Greeks had ever done was steal the kebab idea from the Turks), at least until Wilde wrote De Profundis. Blows the bible out of the water, that one. But what would you expect - not written by a committee including some very dodgy Iron Age moralists, and written by a genius at that.

Wonder what fundies think about Wilde?
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth I and heirs   Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:57 pm

The symptoms you describe Temp, could also be Type 2 Diabetes

The classic symptoms of [Type 2] diabetes are polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst), polyphagia (increased hunger), and weight loss.[5] Other symptoms that are commonly present at diagnosis include: a history of blurred vision, itchiness, peripheral neuropathy, recurrent vaginal infections, and fatigue.
Many people, however, have no symptoms during the first few years and
are diagnosed on routine testing. People with type 2 diabetes mellitus
may rarely present with nonketotic hyperosmolar coma (a condition of very high blood sugar associated with a decreased level of consciousness and low blood pressure).[3]


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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth I and heirs   Mon Nov 12, 2012 6:03 pm

@nordmann wrote:
Wonder what fundies think about Wilde?

Would they even bother to read anything that doesn't support and re-inforce their own narrow views though?
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth I and heirs   Mon Nov 12, 2012 9:28 pm

Reading and forming opinions are two very distinct disciplines, ID.

Here is Wilde's take on the requirement to be spiritual (note there is no "you just must or God will get you" about it. It's personal, and at the same time universal). He is writing from prison:

"I have said of myself that I was one who stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age. There is not a single wretched man in this wretched place along with me who does not stand in symbolic relation to the very secret of life. For the secret of life is suffering. It is what is hidden behind everything. When we begin to live, what is sweet is so sweet to us, and what is bitter so bitter, that we inevitably direct all our desires towards pleasures, and seek not merely for a 'month or twain to feed on honeycomb,' but for all our years to taste no other food, ignorant all the while that we may really be starving the soul."

Now, if Jesus had said that it would (rightly) be considered one of his most eloquent moments. And there are so many other excerpts from De Profundis which get right to the heart of the matter.

Here is Wilde proving that Jesus Christ belongs to a great Greek tradition, not a Jewish one:

"And to me, the pleasure is doubled by the reflection that it is extremely probable that we have the actual terms, the ipsissima verba, used by Christ. It was always supposed that Christ talked in Aramaic. Even Renan thought so. But now we know that the Galilean peasants, like the Irish peasants of our own day, were bilingual, and that Greek was the ordinary language of intercourse all over Palestine, as indeed all over the Eastern world. I never liked the idea that we knew of Christ’s own words only through a translation of a translation. It is a delight to me to think that as far as his conversation was concerned, Charmides might have listened to him, and Socrates reasoned with him, and Plato understood him: that he really said εyω ειμι ο ποιμην ο καλος, that when he thought of the lilies of the field and how they neither toil nor spin, his absolute expression was καταyαθετε τα κρίνα του αγρου τως αυξανει ου κοπιυ ουδε νηθει, and that his last word when he cried out ‘my life has been completed, has reached its fulfilment, has been perfected,’ was exactly as St. John tells us it was: τετέλεσται—no more."

This is genius.

But getting back to Elizabeth ...
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth I and heirs   Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:50 pm

I have just lost a longish post responding to the above very moving message. I haven't the heart to start it all again. Probably just as well; it was trite stuff after what you have written.

I'll just quickly say that I have no quarrel at all with anything you - or Wilde - have said. Ironically enough it's helping me sort out my own muddled thoughts.

I suppose you feel that fundamentalist Christians would be offended because Wilde identified himself in De Profundis with Christ. They shouldn't be of course. A gay man - an artist and outsider who mixed with "sinners" and who was reviled, mocked, abused and spat upon; a man smashed physically, spiritually and emotionally, but a man who came, through terrible suffering in body and soul, to understand the "heart of things". What more is there to say? Isn't that indeed what Christianity *is* supposed to be all about? Behold the man.


"Ah! happy they whose hearts can break

And peace of pardon win!

How else may man make straight his plan

And cleanse his soul from sin?

How else but through a broken heart

May Lord Christ enter in?

(The Ballad of Reading Gaol)

I've just been reading the section of De Profundis where Wilde declares he "became the spendthrift of my own genius" - the section beginning: "The gods had given me almost everything..." and ending with: "There is only one thing for me now, absolute humility." It has given me much to think about.

I've been thinking too about Robbie Ross - who didn't do a St. Peter. In the middle of that hostile crowd - full of vicious onlookers who were jeering at the man whom he loved - Ross stepped forward and tipped his hat in a simple gesture of loyalty, support and respect. Wilde said of this: "Men have gone to Heaven for less." As they no doubt have; as indeed have men who cared deeply about children who were in prison "for the rabbits".

There is so much more I'd like to say, but this is not the right thread, and it is getting late.

So yes, back to Elizabeth...


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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth I and heirs   Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:53 am

But may I just add that I've spent the last few hours re-reading De Profundis.

I first read it years ago, and thought I had understood it. I hadn't of course. Perhaps I still don't, but as I turned over the pages in the early hours of this morning I found myself continually thinking, "Yes - yes - yes."

The idea of Christ as the imaginative artist - "Christ's place is indeed with the poets...Shelley and Sophocles are of his company...While in reading the Gospels - particularly that of St. John himself, or whatever early Gnostic took his name and mantle - I see the continual assertion of the imagination as the basis of all spiritual and material life, I see also that to Christ imagination was simply a form of love, and that to him love was lord in the fullest meaning of the phrase."

Can anyone argue with that, or be offended by it?

And Christ indeed not just as *artist*, but as a work of art, the subject of "the four prose poems" of the Gospels - "But his entire life also is the most wonderful of poems. For 'pity and terror' there is nothing in the entire cycle of Greek tragedy to touch it..."

"Indeed that is the charm of Christ, when all is said: he is just like a work of art. He does not really teach one anything, but by being brought into his presence one becomes something. And everybody is predestined to his presence. Once at least in his life each man walks with Christ to Emmaus."

A mass of jumbled thoughts this morning, but De Profundis, lying dusty on my bookshelf for so long, is perhaps an answer to a prayer. I've been struggling recently and, like the father in St. Mark's gospel, I have found myself saying, "Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief."

Wilde's epistle should be required reading for all theology students.

After he came out of Reading Prison I believe Wilde applied to go on a six month retreat with the Jesuits.

His application was rejected.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth I and heirs   Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:03 pm

Absolutely superb article here from Simon Critchley:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/jan/14/religion-wilde

Really will shut up about this now.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth I and heirs   Sat Nov 17, 2012 9:48 am

I seem to have killed the thread with my enthusiam for Oscar Wilde - sorry, Caro - so here is an attempt, I hope appropriate for November 17th, to revive it, and to get the conversation back to the Virgin Queen.

I've been checking out what some of the ambassadors to Elizabeth's court had to say about the queen's health and fertility. Ambassadors were regularly fed misinformation, of course, but is there good reason to believe that the "spies" and informants here were lying?

1559 - de Feria, the Spanish ambassador: "If my spies do not lie, for a certain reason which they have recently given me, I understand that she will not bear children."

1561 - de Feria's successor, de Quadra: "The common opinion, confirmed by certain physicians, is that this woman is unhealthy, and it is believed she will not bear children."

The Venetian ambassador informed the Doge that Elizabeth was "barren" adding that he had been told certain "secrets" about her that "he dared not write".

But most enigmatic of all was Elizabeth's own comment to the the Earl of Sussex. She confided to this nobleman: "I hate the idea of marriage for reasons that I would not divulge to a twin soul."

There is surely no doubt about Gloriana's sexual orientation, so what she meant by this is a mystery. She remains as baffling to us as she was to her contemporaries.
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