Welcome to the final day of Elizabethan Intrigue week, here at White Rose of Avalon! Elizabeth I was far from being without her share of scandalous rumors! In this post I will take a look at three of the most interesting rumors spread about her!
I will start with a rather obvious rumor. This is that she was not a virgin, and we will never know for sure. Frankly, I personally feel that she loved the finer things in life a bit too much to not have indulged in at least a fling or two (but, carefully). Rumors spread further to state that she possibly even had children that were spirited away (and this would have been hidden by her various illnesses). The film Anonymous took this theory on, and used it to the extreme, to recreate real rumors that were spread about her during her life. She certainly was known to have various male favorites including Robert Dudley, Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh, and Robert Devereux. She could have slept with any of them, and certainly was young enough when Dudley was in her favor to have borne a child. As it remains, we will never know, but we have plenty of films that take on these theories. I will put a list of these films in the suggestions section for anyone interested.
The second rumor I would like to address is that Elizabeth I was actually the author of the Shakespeare plays! This one has been in the mix with anti-stratfordians for years. While she is not a major player in the authorship question, some continue to put her forth as a candidate. She was certainly in far too powerful a position to put her own name on the plays. She was definitely intelligent enough to have written them (she was a polyglot, and was given an excellent education). However, it is one of the most far fetched of the authorship contenders. Personally I wonder where she would get the time, with her duties as queen, her illnesses, and the plots against her to focus on.
The final rumor I would like to discuss is the most outlandish of all rumors about Elizabeth I. This rumor is that she was in fact a man! Yes, you read that correctly, a MAN! This theory stated that she died as a baby (or young child) and was replaced by another child, who looked like her, but was a boy. This boy was then raised as the princess. The theory is set out by some as a way to explain her virgin status, lack of children, and even her ability to rule. It is a truly chauvinistic theory, and it is honestly comical that anyone would believe this one!
Thank you so much for joining me for Elizabethan Intrigue week! I hope you have enjoyed this overview of three famous rumors about Elizabeth I! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is a childhood portrait of Elizabeth I. I found the image on khanacademy.org.
- Anonymous (2011)
- The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)
- The Virgin Queen (1955)
- Mary Queen of Scots (1971)
- Young Bess (1953). Be warned this one takes the point of view that Elizabeth loved Thomas Seymour, instead of being disgusted by his attentions!
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