A Monarchy of Letters: Royal Correspondence and English by Rayne Allinson

By Rayne Allinson

Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) despatched extra letters into extra far-off kingdoms than any English monarch had ahead of, and her exchanges with an ever-growing variety of rulers display how moving conceptions of sovereignty have been made take place on paper. This booklet examines Elizabeth's correspondence with numerous major rulers, studying how her letters have been built, drafted and provided, the rhetorical innovations used, and the function those letters performed in facilitating diplomatic relatives. Elizabeth's letters did greater than authorize diplomatic motion in a foreign country: quite often they mirrored, and occasionally even prompted, the course of overseas policy.

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

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Nevertheless, Elizabeth did adopt the French custom of sealing her holograph letters with colorful silk ribbons. These ribbons were wrapped around (and sometimes even threaded through) the paper and then sealed under wax with her own small signet. Surviving examples suggest that the recipient usually cut the silk with a knife instead of tearing off the seals, indicating that the ribbons provided an extra layer of security as well as added ornamentation. 74 Thus, silk ribbons provided another indication of the time and expense she was willing to bestow on her correspondent.

Lake was meticulous in his secretarial duties, and his daily reports often make note of the queen’s moods, what papers he had read to her, and any additions she had made to the letters presented for her signature. ”47 Lake had obviously learned to take such precautions from hard experience. 52 Windebank was frequently frustrated at not being able to get letters signed, but he occasionally noted small triumphs: “almost out of hope of dooing any thing, yet w[ith] that poore co[n]ning that I could deuise, I got accesse to her ma[jes]tie.

This discussion also addresses the complex issue of royal authorship and suggests that while the early modern definition of the term encompassed (and often even assumed) the participation of secretaries, Elizabeth’s contemporaries made a clear distinction of value between letters written in her own hand and those only signed by her. indd 18 3/15/2012 4:24:21 PM My Skrating Hand 19 and the role of ambassadors in translating and extending the ritual impact of royal correspondence at a foreign court.

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