Primary Source Analysis of Queen Elizabeth I

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This essay aims to analyse two historical primary sources in relation to Queen Elizabeth I, also known as the ‘Virgin Queen’; the essay will attempt to use the source in order to understand what it is able to reveal about the past and her influence during her reign. The first source to be analysed consists of a portrait of the Queen in her late sixties produced, apparently, by the French born artist Isaac Oliver in the sixteen hundreds. In his portrait of the queen the artists, despite her age, presents Elizabeth I as a healthy young woman who is still fit to rule her country; he maintains the idea of the Queen being an iconic figure to look up to. The second source that will be analysed in order to understand the past is a written documentation of a speech given by the Queen in order to motivate her army in regards to the Spanish Armada in 1855. Through this Elizabeth in this source is presented as a devoted and authoritative leader.
During her rule, Elizabeth I was faced with disadvantages that many assumed would hinder her potential as an effective ruler. For example, the mere fact that she was a woman automatically meant that she was ‘weak’ and ‘feeble’ in the eyes of her subjects. A common solution to this, however was creates, she was to marry in order to have a male guide to aid her in her throne. Despite the numerous proposals she had the Queen did not marry, opting to dedicate her life to her kingdom, proving her abilities as a ruler.
Having analysed the sources it is clear to see that they both offer similar ideas concerning Elizabeth I’s characteristics as a Queen. The most noticeable quality highlighted by the two sources would be that Elizabeth appeared to have God like abilities. For example, the Rainbow Portra...

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...the two sources together it is clear that Queen Elizabeth I’s rule was an effective one; it offered stability, control, order and commitment. Both the portrait and the speech made at Tilbury clearly highlight the authority possessed by the Queen despite facing many uncertainties in her life. Both sources reveal a lot of about the characteristics of the Queen, most notably her devotion to her ‘kingdom and my people’ and to God. This also highlights that her rule was focused on religious disputes.

Works Cited

Elizabeth I, A message to her army at Tilbury on the eve of the Spanish Armada, (1855)

Graziani René, ‘The ‘Rainbow Portrait’ of Queen Elizabeth I and its Religious symbolism, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Vol. 35, (1972)

Havelin Kate, Queen Elizabeth I, (USA: Minneapolis 2002)

Oliver Isaac, Rainbow Portrait of Elizabeth I, (1602)
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