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It was whispered that she was infertile, that she had some physical deformity, that she was half woman, half man, or even completely male.The difficulty for the historian lies in determining how much significance to attach to these rumours, and determining their timing, and social, regional and cultural origin.
Yet, by treading cautiously through this melange, tracing as far as possible the origin and development of various trains of thought, in the process extricating both prevarications and truths, it is perhaps possible to get closer to what Elizabeth was really like as a person and a monarch.
But the history of Elizabeth's reputation is a subject of interest in itself.
Arthur Southern, who preferred to be known as Arthur Dudley, even claimed to be an illegitimate son of the Queen and the Earl of Leicester.
Those who clearly saw that Elizabeth did not have any illegitimate children, put forward other theories to explain why, after all this sexual activity, the Queen was still childless.
According to Constance Pratt, an entire legend emerged asserting that the real Princess Elizabeth was supplanted by a male or hermaphrodite imposter when she unexpectedly died of a childhood illness.
Evaluation Argument Essay - Essay On Reputation
It is unclear whether this belief was present during Elizabeth's own lifetime, or was a posthumous development.The belief that the Queen was really a man, is interesting in what it suggests about attitudes towards women and government in this period.The origins and prevalence of this belief are as yet obscure, but there is the suggestion that this belief was especially pronounced in the south west of England.It is not only the history of one woman, the way she was perceived by her people and subsequent generations, but the history of literature, of art, of politics, of religion, and culture, for each generation writes its own history, and they write it according to their understandings of the world, their experiences and expectations.To begin with, the Queen's reputation in her own life time, can perhaps give an interesting insight into sixteenth century life - their values and beliefs, attitudes towards monarchy, religion, sex and marriage, and the role of women in society.On the one hand there is the "cult of Elizabeth", which presents Elizabeth very much as the capable monarch, the virtuous virgin who renounced worldly happiness for the sake of her country, and on the other hand, the scandalous rumours which asserted that Elizabeth was a nymphomaniac who presided over a court of corruption and lasciviousness.It was asserted, amongst other things, that the Queen used malevolent powers to seduce the men, even women, around her; would have those who refused her advances beheaded; and had secretly mothered many children.This perception is of paramount significance in understanding the nature of Elizabeth's early reputation.In Catholic Europe, Elizabeth, simply by being Anne's daughter, was abhorred as "the concubine's little bastard", which became "incestuous bastard" (2) following the accusations of adultery that were hailed against her mother - a legacy that haunted Elizabeth's reputation in Catholic Europe for the rest of her life.The elite were certainly familiar enough with them - the Queen, who although admitted being perplexed by the rumours considering that her ever move was monitored, jested with the Scottish Ambassador about them, and Christopher Hatton was sufficiently familiar with his reputation as one of the Queen's lovers, to fervently deny that his relationship with her was a sexual one.However, there certainly appears to be a correlation between the intensity of the rumours and regional distance from London.