Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Question from Ben - Phrase about Elizabeth I and James VI/I

I would like to ask where did phrase that Elizabeth was King:now james is queen "Rex fuit Elizabeth:nunc est regina Jacobus"?

1 comment:

PhD Historian said...

The question is confusingly worded, but I assume Ben is wanting to know the origin of the phrase ... why Elizabeth is called King and James called Queen? The answer is relatively straightforward. Elizabeth made a conscious and active choice to remain unwed, thereby rejecting the roles of wife and mother that English and even European culture and society dictated that she, as a woman, should take. Elizabeth instead declared herself to have the "heart and stomach of a king." Though the declaration was largely rhetorical and did not reflect any desire to actually be viewed as a man, many observers of the day saw both it and her refusal to marry as decidedly "masculine" actions. In contrast, James VI&I was well known for surrounding himself with male "favorites," especially young and attractive males. It was often speculated, both then and now, that he had some level of sexual attraction to those men. Whether he actually engaged in sexual activity is unknown, but certainly he referred to some of his favorites in ways that did imply a physical sexual relationship. This was especially true regarding James's relationship with George Villiers, later Duke of Buckingham. Many of James's letters to George have wording and an overall tone similar to what one would expect from a wife writing to her husband. Thus James was sometimes accused of being a "queen," in the modern pejorative sense of that word (an overtly feminine man).