A Monarchy of Letters: Royal Correspondence and English by Rayne Allinson

By Rayne Allinson

Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) despatched extra letters into extra far away kingdoms than any English monarch had prior to, and her exchanges with an ever-growing variety of rulers show how transferring conceptions of sovereignty have been made take place on paper. This publication examines Elizabeth's correspondence with a number of major rulers, studying how her letters have been developed, drafted and offered, the rhetorical innovations used, and the position those letters performed in facilitating diplomatic kin. Elizabeth's letters did greater than authorize diplomatic motion overseas: as a rule they mirrored, and infrequently even encouraged, the course of international policy.

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Additional resources for A Monarchy of Letters: Royal Correspondence and English Diplomacy in the Reign of Elizabeth I (Queenship and Power)

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Many of these writing gifts were exquisitely ornamented. ”9 Elizabeth’s acceptance of such accessories showed that she embraced and encouraged her subjects’s expectations of her as a letter-writing monarch. One of the most popular writing-related items recorded in the New Year’s gift rolls are “writing tables”: small, palm-sized notebooks with erasable leaves (made with a concoction of glue and gesso), usually accompanied by a metal stylus or “pen,” which the queen could use for jotting down thoughts while walking in her garden, on progress in her litter, or anywhere else she pleased.

Of letters, vinets, flowers, armes and imagery,” including the use of “gold and silver . . 72 However, in order to save money, Elizabeth frequently “outsourced” the responsibility (and cost) of limning royal letters to merchant companies. 73 Elizabeth’s exquisitely ornamented letters to Ivan IV and Murād III were highly unusual in the context of her correspondence with the western European powers, who valued simplicity of form over ostentatious embellishment. Nevertheless, Elizabeth did adopt the French custom of sealing her holograph letters with colorful silk ribbons.

Unlike the council clerks, who were responsible for taking minutes of privy council meetings and formulating rough drafts of foreign dispatches, the secretary’s private clerks were employed directly by them, rather than by the Crown. 46 Since the principal secretary could not be in all places at once, he relied heavily on his clerks of the signet to attend Elizabeth as her personal secretaries at court. These men (usually four in number) made daily reports on their activities with the queen, including copies of letters drafted or that the queen had signed.

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