Date of Award

8-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

History

Major Professor

Jeri L. McIntosh

Committee Members

Robert Bast, Thomas Burman, Heather Hirschfeld

Abstract

“A Body Politic to Govern: The Political Humanism of Elizabeth I” is a study that examines the influence between the virtues and thoughts of the political humanists of the Italian Renaissance, and the political persona of England’s Elizabeth I. In order to do this I have dealt with questions concerning how Elizabeth constructed literary works such as letters and speeches, as well the style in which she governed England. I have studied Elizabeth’s works and methods within their literary and historical contexts. This has included the examination of the works of relevant humanist contemporaries such as her own advisors, Members of Parliament, and fellow monarchs.

In the course of my research I have traveled to libraries and archives in the United States, England, and Scotland to study original manuscripts when possible as well as microfilm copies of the originals in other cases. My focus was to examine the literary works of Elizabeth I within their historical contexts in order to see what possible influence might be discernible from contemporary humanist as well as classical sources.

In this dissertation I demonstrate a discernible influence between the thoughts and virtues of political humanism upon the public presentation of Elizabeth I’s political persona. Elizabeth exemplified the virtues of political humanism through her dedication to the vita activa, amor patriae, and service to the greater good of her realm. In so doing I argue that Elizabeth presented herself as a prince stressing her classical education and divine-sanction as the authority by which she ruled England’s government and church.

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