The Tale of Two Coronations

Posted By on September 23, 2009

Elizabeth I - Coronation Portrait

Elizabeth I - Coronation Portrait

I wasn’t going to do a blog post today but I just had to after listening to episode 3 of BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week on Tracy Borman’s “Elizabeth’s Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen”. Why? Because yet again, Borman talks about the influence that Anne Boleyn had over her daughter, even though she died when Elizabeth was just 2 years and 8 months old.

Today’s episode, which is mainly about Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting, starts off talking about Elizabeth I’s coronation. Elizabeth I was inheriting a country that was in a very bad way. At the end of Mary I’s reign, England was wracked with political uncertainty, religious divisions, a poor economy and widespread poverty, and had become embroiled in quite disastrous foreign wars, so for many people Elizabeth was a symbol of hope. She was youthful and attractive, compared to the aging and barren Mary I, and she came to the throne with the blessing and support of her people. However, Elizabeth knew how fickle this support could be and knew that the first step to winning the respect of her people and court was to win their love.

The first thing that Elizabeth I did when she came to the throne was to organise a lavish coronation as an exercise in public relations. The interesting thing for us Anne Boleyn fans is that she used her own mother’s coronation, the coronation of a disgraced queen, as her model.

You can click here to read the details about Anne Boleyn’s coronation and to see a video about it, but here are the things that Elizabeth used in her coronation in memory of her mother or that were inspired by the amazingly lavish ceremony that Anne had to show England that she was its true Queen:-

  • Symbolism and imagery – Elizabeth lined the streets of her processional route with beautiful scenery, including a vignette of Anne Boleyn as Queen.
  • The Virgin Mary – Anne had used representations of the Virgin Mary at her coronation but her daughter took this one step further by becoming the Virgin Mary. Elizabeth cultivated the image of she, herself, being the Virgin Mary on Earth, the Virgin Queen and Gloriana – a divine presence on Earth. Tracy Borman, in her book, writes of how this imagery secured the love of her subjects and is the image that Elizabeth is still famous for cultivating.
  • Elizabeth’s outfit – Elizabeth modelled her coronation outfit on her mother’s, appearing in a beautifully brocaded silk surcoat and an ermine trimmed mantle

We do not have a portrait of Anne Boleyn at her coronation but the above portrait shows Elizabeth at hers and gives us some idea of how Anne may have looked.

You can read a brief account of Anne Boleyn’s coronation in the “Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 6” – scroll down to the third box.

Read more about Anne Boleyn’s daughter Elizabeth I at our sister site www.elizabethfiles.com where you can also check out our new range of Elizabeth jewellery.

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