The Failure Of Edward VI And Mary I

1940 Words 8 Pages
Edward VI and Mary I’s brief reigns combined with their lack of understanding on the impact of powerful visual imagery created a void in distinctive royal portraiture beginning from the time of their father’s passing. Henry VIII was portrayed as a fearless Warrior King and to much of the public was seen as such. This level of engrained iconography would not be present again until the reign of Henry VIII’s second wife’s daughter, Elizabeth I. When Queen Elizabeth I ascended the throne, she was succeeding an unsuccessful regime led by her half-sister Mary I. Flattery was a key purpose of royal portraiture at the time and considering how Mary I was thought of as a failure, the two sisters were not compatible, and that Elizabeth represented contrast, …show more content…
A majority of the aversion within the sisters’ relationship cultivated during Mary’s sovereignty. At first, Elizabeth tried to make it clear that she would not be troublesome but her sincerity was never truly believed by the Queen. In court, even though Elizabeth was heir to the throne, she was forced to publicly give precedence to her cousin Margaret Douglas, a longtime companion of Mary. The queen believed that Margaret Douglas had stronger claims to the throne (she was born out of a legitimate Catholic marriage), and went as far as to suspect that Elizabeth wasn’t even Henry VIII’s daughter but rather the child of Anne Boleyn and her musician, one of the several men that with whom Anne was alleged to have committed adultery with. At the height of strain between the two half-sisters, Elizabeth was jailed in a tower from implications that she was to play a role in the Wyatt Rebellion. Along with being jailed, Elizabeth was never given an interview with the Queen to explain her innocence. All the way …show more content…
Each of these elements feeds towards the idea of Elizabeth’s divinity. Placing the Queen on top of her empire not only shows that she is the ruler but creates the image of her being more than her subjects or more than mortal. Adding to this effect, are the clothes Elizabeth I is placed in. She is given angelic wings that clearly connect her with heavenly beings but more importantly, the pearls and white dress relate the Queen to Astraea the Virgin Goddess. Pearls showed wealth, but its symbolic value was that of virginity. Her dress was also the color of ‘virgin’ white reminding viewers of the purity Elizabeth represented. It is evident that these items were employed to connect the Queen with Astraea because an association between the two had been a consistent suggestion during the previous years of her reign. ‘In pageant and poems, especially after the armada, Elizabeth was Astraea, the just virgin of Virgil’s fourth eclogue, who had inaugurated a golden age of peace and eternal spring. In the lord mayor of London’s pageant of 1591, Astraea overcame superstition and ignorance, and tended her flock as a virgin shepherdess.’ Another incident where Elizabeth is related to a virgin goddess is in Isaac Oliver’s ‘Rainbow Portrait,’ (Figure 4) where

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