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Portrait of Elizabeth I of England

Elizabeth I of England

The Coronation Portrait of Elizabeth I of England

This portrait of Elizabeth I of England in her coronation robes shows the Queen crowned, wearing the cloth of gold and holding the symbols of her authority, the orb, and scepter.

Her accession to Queen in 1559 was a day of celebration, with tournaments and the ringing of bells in parishes across England.

Queen Mary I, previously wore the cloth of gold shown in this portrait, and the order to the Queen’s tailor for the remodeling of Queen Mary I’s fabric of gold coronation robes for Elizabeth survives.

The painting reflects the written records, but it is not known why, and for whom, these portraits were created.

Elizabeth I of England

This portrait is a copy made between 1600–1610 of a lost original, which dated 1559. The pose echoes the famous painting of Richard II in Westminster Abbey, the second known portrait of a British sovereign. 

The portraiture of Elizabeth I of England illustrates the evolution of English royal portraits from the representations of simple likenesses to the more sophisticated imagery used to convey the power and aspirations of the state and monarch.

Elizabeth I, Queen of England

Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland from 1558 until her death.

Called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth, she was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, his second wife, who was executed two-and-a-half years after Elizabeth’s birth.

Anne’s marriage to Henry VIII was annulled, and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate.

Her half-brother, Edward VI, ruled until his death, bequeathing the crown to Lady Jane Grey.

Edward’s will was set aside, and Mary, his and Elizabeth’s half-sister, became queen, deposing Lady Jane Grey. During Mary’s reign, Elizabeth was imprisoned for a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels.

When Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister to the throne, it was expected that Elizabeth would marry and produce an heir. Elizabeth never married, and as she grew older, she became famous for her virginity.

During her 45 year reign, a cult developed around her, which was celebrated in the portraits, pageants, and literature of the day.

Elizabeth I of England

Encountering the Queen: Portraits of Elizabeth I

Tour of Portraits

Tour of the National Portrait Gallery, London

Elizabeth – From The Prison To The Palace

Elizabeth and her portraits

Elizabeth I of England Quotes

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“Anger makes dull men witty, but it keeps them poor.”

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“I don’t keep a dog and bark myself.”

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“The true sin against the Holy Ghost is ingratitude.”

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“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.”

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“All my possessions for a moment of time.”

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“Chastity is the ermine of woman’s soul.”

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“Though the sex to which I belong is considered weak, you will nevertheless find me a rock that bends to no wind.”

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“I have the heart of a man, not a woman, and I am not afraid of anything.”

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“A clear and innocent conscience fears nothing.”

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“There is no marvel in a woman learning to speak, but there would be in teaching her to hold her tongue.”

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“I would rather be a beggar and single than a queen and married.”

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“To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasant to them that bear it.”

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“I do not want a husband who honors me as a queen if he does not love me as a woman.”

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“God forgive you, but I never can.”

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“Grief never ends, but it changes. It is a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness nor a lack of faith: it is the price of love.”

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“Men fight wars. Women win them.”

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“Do not tell secrets to those whose faith and silence you have not already tested.”

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“Though the sex to which I belong is considered weak, you will nevertheless find me a rock that bends to no wind.”

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“Life is for living and working at. If you find anything or anybody a bore, the fault is in yourself.”

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“There is only one Christ Jesus, one faith. All else is a dispute over trifles.”

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“I have already joined myself in marriage to a husband, namely the Kingdom of England.”

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“Words are leaves, the substance consists of deeds, which are the true fruits of a good tree.”

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“To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasant to them that bear it.”

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“When we hang on to resentments, we poison ourselves. As compulsive overeaters, we cannot afford resentment, since it exacerbates our disease.”

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“One man with a head on his shoulders is worth a dozen without.”

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“He who placed me in this seat will keep me here.”

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“I observe and remain silent.”

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“Eyes of youth have sharp sight but commonly not so deep as those of elder age.”

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Queen Elizabeth I Coronation

Introduction to the Elizabethan Age

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“Men fight wars. Women win them.”
– Elizabeth I of England

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Photo Credit: JOM

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