Playing and power

Book Section

First, I shall cite one or two examples to suggest how far a Tudor monarch could go in maintaining his or her iconographic status. Ac- counts of the debate on the Act of Supremacy reveal that some members of Parliament felt that to name a woman Supreme Head of the Church was more than most Catholics and many Protestants would tolerate. Although her brother and father had assumed the title of “Supreme Head�? of the Church of England, Elizabeth agreed to revise the title she bore to “Supreme Governor. " This was just one of many occasions where she allowed her image to be sexed. But when sexuality was used in any way to compromise her patriarchal prerogatives, the queen reacted in an entirely different manner. In 1576, for instance, the recently appointed Archbishop Grindal wrote her to request that “you would not use to pronounce so resolutely and preemptorily, quasi ex auctoritate, as ye may do in civil and extern matters …. "4 The queen immediately sequestered Grindal and would have removed him entirely from his post, had he not “forstalled the arrangements … by dying, still in office. "5 Where she would tolerate minor changes in title, then, she would brook absolutely no challenge to the power inherent in her blood. By the same token, upon assuming the throne, she renewed the practice initiated by her father and continued by her brother which installed the royal coat of arms over the chancel arch of the churches of England. Her coat of arms thus replaced the religious images which had been condemned in the iconoclastic reform of the English Church. “Honor toward this royal emblem, if not civic veneration,�? writes John Phillips, “was now demanded from Englishmen …. "6 As the church came to house the secular emblems of state, the queen’s sexual body acquired the power of a religious image. Bishop Jewel, for one, referred to her as “the only nurse and mother of the church. "7 Elizabeth treated sex as her particular signature upon the body politic which in no way changed the essential nature of its power.8.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Tennenhouse, L

Published Date

  • January 1, 2017

Book Title

  • Staging the Renaissance

Start / End Page

  • 27 - 39

International Standard Book Number 10 (ISBN-10)

  • 0415901677

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9781138181601

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.4324/9780203821565

Citation Source

  • Scopus