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History Head Start - Week 9

This week’s article and related questions were suggested (and written!) by another member of our Warwick History department, Aidan Norrie. Aidan is a historian of monarchy, gender, and early modern England – with broad research interests in royal authority across the globe, and a particular emphasis on female kingship. They have published a number of articles and essays, covering a range of topics, and more information on all of these can be found on Aidan’s website:

Aidan’s primary focus, however, is Elizabeth I – and they are working on a book examining the way that Elizabeth I and her supporters used biblical analogies to perpetuate the Queen’s claim to be England’s providential Protestant monarch. This focus on Elizabeth I is reflected in this week’s reading, which is raising some important questions about the use and interpretations of her famous Tilbury speech in film and television depictions of Elizabeth’s reign – and how these have often struggled to come to terms with Elizabeth as a ‘female king’.



Aidan Norrie - 'Kings' Stomachs and Concrete Elephants: Gendering Elizabeth I through the Tilbury Speech'


Please read the above article, and then answer the following questions:

  1. Using just a few sentences for this answer, what is the argument of this article?
  2. What does Elizabeth I’s claim, ‘I have the body, but of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king’, reveal about early modern understandings of gender (and patriarchy)?
  3. Why is religion so central to the article’s analysis?
  4. Why do you think there are a variety of surviving versions of the Tilbury speech from the seventeenth century? What challenges (and opportunities) does this present to historians?
  5. How does the context of when the film/TV show is released impact its depiction of Elizabeth I and the Tilbury speech?
  6. Why do you think it is important for historians to engage with modern adaptations of historical events?

General Information:

Remember: academic journal articles can be difficult and complicated pieces of writing, It may take some time to read through and don’t be surprised if you need to have a few goes at it. This is normal!

To help you, use the list of questions to guide your thinking as you read the article. You should be thinking about what has been written, to assess for yourself whether it makes sense, whether it is backed up with supporting evidence, and whether you agree with it.

Tips for Reading
History Articles: