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Elizabeth I, gender, monarchy, Tudor England, history, personality


European History | Women's History | Women's Studies


The sixteenth century poet, Sir Thomas Wyatt, once wrote,

" letters plain

There is written her fair neck 'round about

Noli me tangere for Caesar's I am

And wild for to hold, though I seem tame."

The lines are generally supposed to refer to Anne Boleyn, but they might just as easily be applied to that lady's famous offspring--Elizabeth Tudor. More than any other reference, those four lines sum up an important key to the character of an extraordinary person--Elizabeth I of England. As a monarch, and to a lesser degree as a personality, Elizabeth Tudor has probably been the topic of more discussion (and argument), had more books written about her, had more myths (both flattering and malicious) concocted around her, and gained more notoriety than any three other prominent females in all history. All agree that her accomplishments were remarkable--are remarkable by anyone's standards--but Wyatt's lines hint at an aspect of Elizabeth's character that helps to penetrate the aura of glory (in many cases, an obscuring fog) around one of the most remarkable women who ever lived.


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