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Juno versus Diana: The Treatment of Elizabeth I's Marriage in Plays and Entertainments, 1561-1581

Susan Doran
The Historical Journal
Vol. 38, No. 2 (Jun., 1995), pp. 257-274
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2639984
Page Count: 18
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Juno versus Diana: The Treatment of Elizabeth I's Marriage in Plays and Entertainments, 1561-1581
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Abstract

In the plays and entertainments performed before the queen from 1561 to 1578, the virginity of Elizabeth was not idealized but instead marriage was celebrated as a preferable state to chastity. Robert Dudley in particular commissioned such dramatic works to assist his courtship of the queen, but the earl of Sussex, and possibly others, used masques to press on her the suit of the Archduke Charles of Austria. The iconography of chastity appeared for the first time in 1578 when Elizabeth embarked on the Anjou marriage negotiations. During the queen's visit to Norwich in the summer she was offered entertainments which implicitly criticized the matrimonial project by idealizing her virginity. For the next three years, opponents of the match followed this lead and cultivated the image of the Virgin Queen as a means of sabotaging the royal marriage plans. Thereafter Elizabeth exploited the image for her own political purposes.

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