Journal or Book Title
Early Modern Literary Studies
During two particular decades of her reign—the 1560s and the 1590s—Queen Elizabeth I strategically and publicly represented herself as a learned prince. In the 1590s alone, she staged several significant demonstrations of her erudition: she delivered a Latin oration at the University of Oxford (1592) while university officials, prominent nobles, and international dignitaries looked on; in the months after Henri IV converted to Catholicism in 1593, she translated Boethius; in 1597, she trounced the Spanish-allied Polish ambassador with a pert Latin speech; and in 1598, she translated excerpts from Horace Ars poetica and Plutarch's essay De curiositate. Although modern scholars have long praised Elizabeth's impressive education, more attention should be devoted to the political implications of this public, royal self-image and its effect on the queen's highly educated statesmen. Throughout the sixteenth century, civic humanist philosophers drew upon the centuries-old association between good learning and good government to advocate different variations on a similar theme: that an ideal monarchy consisted of a learned ruler surrounded by similarly educated advisors. When Elizabeth represented herself as a philosopher-prince, she portrayed herself as wise, politically potent, and morally upright—characteristics that helped to justify her personal right to rule the nation, even as an unmarried queen.
Annaliese Connolly and Matthew Steggle
Shenk, Linda, ""To Love and Be Wise": the Earl of Essex, Humanist Court Culture, and England's Learned Queen" (2007). English Publications. 16.