n Gender Questions - The Queen's queendom : negotiating the rhetoric of the Elizabeth-Anjou courtship (1572-1584)

Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2309-9704



This article juxtaposes the letters written by Elizabeth I to her last suitor, Francis, Duke of Anjou, with John Stubbs' virulent tract (1578) that opposed the match to propose that Elizabeth I challenged her belligerent male subjects in a game of semiotic control. I suggest that Elizabeth I fashioned her own 'queendom' - a discursive realm that complemented her political kingdom - where she attempted to formulate a code of masculinity that would celebrate gynaecocracy and facilitate a consummation of her sexuality. I show how, in her correspondence with Anjou, Elizabeth I sought to create a model husband for herself who would be sympathetic and subordinate to her political authority. I tease out the playful intercourse between the amorous and the political in Elizabeth I's language to argue that she insisted on a unique union of her two bodies (the male body politic and the female body natura) which has largely gone unnoticed in current scholarship. Through a close engagement with Elizabethan rhetorical practices, this article aims to inspire a more nuanced reading of gendered identities in early modern England.

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