By Rayne Allinson
Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) despatched extra letters into extra far-off kingdoms than any English monarch had sooner than, and her exchanges with an ever-growing variety of rulers exhibit how moving conceptions of sovereignty have been made happen on paper. This e-book examines Elizabeth's correspondence with a number of major rulers, reading how her letters have been built, drafted and provided, the rhetorical suggestions used, and the function those letters performed in facilitating diplomatic family. Elizabeth's letters did greater than authorize diplomatic motion in another country: more often than not they mirrored, and infrequently even stimulated, the path 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)
This was not so much a gesture of deference to the French monarchs as a matter of established protocol, arising from the close cultural link established between France and England since the Norman conquest (indeed, English did not become the language of government in England until the reign of Henry V). 58 Italian was another popular language for diplomatic exchange. 62 English was the least common language used in Elizabeth’s foreign correspondence, and was mainly used for correspondence with the Scottish rulers Mary, Queen of Scots, and James VI—although, curiously, several English letters were also sent to Tsar Ivan the Terrible, perhaps to reciprocate the letters he had sent in his own vernacular.
53 Elizabeth’s involvement in the drafting or dictation of autograph letters is often difficult to ascertain, but it is clear she often read through drafts attentively and sometimes made corrections to their phrasing. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon on March 17, 1596, Windebank was about to send off a letter for Cecil’s approval when suddenly Elizabeth sent for him and made him “read the co[m]mission” he had presented to her earlier that day. ”54 That Elizabeth would require a letter to be entirely rewritten for such an apparently minor change of phrasing reveals how closely she scrutinized the documents that passed her signature, not to mention how pedantic she could be when she discovered an error.
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. Letter-writing manuals were also indispensable for those at court: letters of petition, for example, were expected to conform to recognized rhetorical formulas, including self-deprecation and supplication. In order to keep up with court gossip, international news, and family intrigue, one had to tap into the epistolary networks that crisscrossed the land.
A Monarchy of Letters: Royal Correspondence and English Diplomacy in the Reign of Elizabeth I (Queenship and Power) by Rayne Allinson