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A Monarchy of Letters: Royal Correspondence and English by Rayne Allinson

By Rayne Allinson

Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) despatched extra letters into extra far-off kingdoms than any English monarch had prior to, and her exchanges with an ever-growing variety of rulers demonstrate how moving conceptions of sovereignty have been made occur on paper. This publication examines Elizabeth's correspondence with a number of major rulers, examining how her letters have been built, drafted and offered, the rhetorical suggestions used, and the position those letters performed in facilitating diplomatic family. Elizabeth's letters did greater than authorize diplomatic motion overseas: in general they mirrored, and infrequently even motivated, the course of international policy.

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Additional resources for A Monarchy of Letters: Royal Correspondence and English Diplomacy in the Reign of Elizabeth I (Queenship and Power)

Sample text

Her handwriting was formed under the tutelage of William Grindall (a Greek scholar from Cambridge) from c. 76 Elizabeth began writing letters from at least the age of eleven, and, notably, her first letters were written to rulers: namely, to her father, Henry VIII; to her stepmother, Katherine Parr; to her brother, Edward VI; and to her sister, Mary I. In these early missives it is possible to see Elizabeth testing out rhetorical strategies and turns of phrase that she would later use in more formal diplomatic contexts as a queen.

Tedius and Paynefull 11 means and education, Mary also felt comfortable dictating routine letters of business to an amanuensis: in June 1544 five shillings were paid to “Mr. ”59 Mary did not take as much pleasure in letter writing as her younger siblings, however. ”65 Henry’s only son and heir, Prince Edward, received a slightly different style of training than Mary, partly because of his gender but also as a result of the new reformist influences at court. 67 Like Henry, Edward used Erasmus’s De conscribendis epistolis to practice framing formal letters in Latin and English to his father, stepmother, sisters, tutors, and friends.

67 Similar rules governed the layout of royal letters. ”68 In her letters to fellow monarchs, however, Elizabeth’s signature usually appears an inch or two below the main text, in the bottom-right corner of the page. 70 Most of Elizabeth’s letters to European rulers were unornamented, apart from the skilful calligraphy of the clerk’s hand and the queen’s swirling signature. On some occasions, however, she adapted the appearance of her letters to suit the cultural expectations of the recipient. Limning, a common form of ornamentation used in medieval manuscripts, was also a feature of some of Elizabeth’s most special letters—especially those intended for public display, such as charters or letters patent.

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