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Seminar 10:
The Transition from
Mary I to Elizabeth I

It is still common for the reign of Elizabeth I to be discussed as if she faced the problems of an English queen regnant de novo. That is, in part, a mark of the success of Elizabethan propaganda aimed at total delegitimation of the previous reign, that of Elizabeth's half-sister, Mary Tudor, which has masked the many debts the second Tudor queen owed the first.

Elizabeth's first and most enduring debt to Mary followed from the disputed accession of 1553, after Edward nominated Jane Grey as his heir. Elizabeth was in no position to make a claim for the throne against Edward's preferred candidate. And so, perforce, she waited upon Mary's success in retrieving the Tudor throne from Jane Grey. Mary had the considerable advantage of being Henry's acknowledged next heir, both by his will and by parliamentary statute.

During her reign, Mary had parliamentary legislation enacted to confirm that the powers of a female monarch were precisely equivalent to that of a king. Mary set many other precedents for her younger sister in embodying and enacting female regality, including exercising the semi-sacral royal power of healing those afflicted with scrofula, a capacity many believed to reside only in men.

Elizabeth as queen was, however, always reluctant to acknowledge any debts she owed to the precedents established by England's first crowned female monarch. For centuries, one effect of the wide-ranging propaganda drive against the Marian regime, designed to legitimate and entrench Elizabethan policies, has been to obscure the many significant ways in which Elizabeth followed the precedents so carefully established by Mary.

Date Thursday 14 August
Time 7.30 pm - 9.30 pm
Venue St Peter's, Eastern Hill
Cost $15 (concession: $12)
Conductor Judith Richards
taught History at La Trobe University, specialising in Tudor history. She has written extensively about the two Tudor queens.

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