"By Instruments Her Powers Appeare”: Music and Authority in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I

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4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Queen Elizabeth I’s musical talents and the elaborate music of her courtly entertainments are widely acknowledged. However, while the effect of Elizabeth’s gender on her authority as a ruler has been the subject of much historical research, the impact of this musical activity on the creation and representation of her authority has not been recognized. Gender stereotypes were both exploited and subverted as music became a symbol and tool of Elizabeth’s queenship. Poets and courtiers drew inspiration from Elizabeth’s music-making, combining traditional notions of the erotic power of female music with the idea of a musical harmony that governed the heavens, the political world, and the human soul to legitimize female power. By blending the talents of Elizabeth’s natural body with those of her political body, and by merging practical musicianship with speculative harmony, Elizabeth and her courtiers used music as a source of political authority.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-84
Number of pages32
JournalRenaissance Quarterly
Volume65
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

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