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By Rayne Allinson

Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) despatched extra letters into extra far-off kingdoms than any English monarch had prior to, and her exchanges with an ever-growing variety of rulers display how transferring conceptions of sovereignty have been made happen on paper. This e-book examines Elizabeth's correspondence with numerous major rulers, examining how her letters have been built, drafted and awarded, the rhetorical recommendations used, and the position those letters performed in facilitating diplomatic kinfolk. Elizabeth's letters did greater than authorize diplomatic motion in another country: mostly they mirrored, and occasionally even motivated, the course of international policy.

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Additional info for A Monarchy of Letters: Royal Correspondence and English Diplomacy in the Reign of Elizabeth I (Queenship and Power)

Sample text

Of letters, vinets, flowers, armes and imagery,” including the use of “gold and silver . . 72 However, in order to save money, Elizabeth frequently “outsourced” the responsibility (and cost) of limning royal letters to merchant companies. 73 Elizabeth’s exquisitely ornamented letters to Ivan IV and Murād III were highly unusual in the context of her correspondence with the western European powers, who valued simplicity of form over ostentatious embellishment. Nevertheless, Elizabeth did adopt the French custom of sealing her holograph letters with colorful silk ribbons.

The importance of keeping one’s princely word of honor would be a recurring theme in Elizabeth’s later correspondence with her fellow monarchs. ”84 Such arresting imagery invited the reader in and focused their attention on the topic at hand—as well as providing an opportunity to show off her knowledge of classical adages. indd 14 3/15/2012 4:23:14 PM Tedius and Paynefull 15 continental examples, but their sudden popularity in the vernacular signifies a growing demand for epistolary style-guides tailored to the needs of English merchants and other professional men of business.

12 Although the dazzling variety of watermarks found in Elizabeth’s foreign correspondence shows that much of her paper was still being imported from the continent, it is clear that (like her grandfather, Henry VII) she appreciated the symbolic power of writing on paper made especially for her, and produced within her own realm. Elizabeth’s letter-writing habits are difficult to describe with accuracy, but the passing remarks of courtiers and travelers shed some light. ”17 Harington’s description of Elizabeth’s ability to multitask may be apocryphal, but it points to the queen’s general reputation for mental dexterity, efficiency, and dedication to affairs of state.

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