Sekse en soevereiniteit. Gender in de politieke carrière van Elizabeth I
Elizabeth Tudor became monarch of England
at the very moment that sovereignty
became considered the prerogative of males.
Throughout her reign (1558-1603) she had to
address issues of authority, engendered by
her sex. In this article, Elizabeth’s problems
are discussed from an anthropological point
of view. It addresses how patriarchy worked
within European aristocratic culture and how
authority became synonymous with masculinity.
Her public gender politics can only be
properly understood in the context of the
dynamics of the dynastic policies of the early
modern era and the specific role of women.
To highlight Elizabeth’s political skills, her
addresses to the general public are compared
to her debates with Parliament. In the former
she presents herself as a monarch and a
woman, by referring to the mediaeval political
theory of the king’s two bodies. In the latter
she names herself ‘prince’. The proverbial
exceptions can only be found in the debates
on marriage. In these instances she does
acknowledge her femininity, all the while referring
to her opponents’ prejudices. In doing
so Elizabeth addresses her various subjects
differently – or rather, their notions on womanhood.
She does so systematically and consistently.
This indicates she is able to make
use of her sex in a strategic way rather than