• Marion Wynne-Davies
Part of the Transitions book series (TRANSs)


In many ways Queen Elizabeth I (1533–1603) could have been referring to herself when she spoke of the ‘daughter of debate’ in her short poem, ‘The Doubt of Future Foes’ (Wynne-Davies 1998, 12). Indeed, of all the political, religious and cultural debates to shake the country during the sixteenth century it was surely the convoluted events that surrounded Elizabeth’s parentage that had the most resounding impact and far-reaching repercussions. When Henry VIII finally affirmed his determination to divorce his first wife, the Catholic Queen Catherine, in order to marry Anne Boleyn with a view to producing a male heir to the throne, the result was to be more schismatic than he could possibly have predicted. For Henry’s marriage to his new Protestant queen was to produce more than the swaddled form of the young Princess Elizabeth. The English Protestant reformation, the successive violent purges affecting both faiths, internal political schism, and subsequent international allegiances were to a certain extent catalysed by and facilitated through Henry’s divorce. Elizabeth was, therefore, in very real terms the ‘daughter’ of a king and queen whose wedlock shifted the course of European politics and the English church. And as the unexpected, and unwanted, female heir to the English throne, Elizabeth was to overturn further expectations of gendered rulership and religious authority.


Direct Address Henry VIII English Poetry Gaping Mouth Male Heir 
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  1. 1.
    William Shakespeare, Richard II in the Arden Shakespeare series, ed. Peter Ure (London: Routledge, 1966).Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    Two other useful and influential analyses are: Arthur F. Marotti, ‘“Love is not Love”: Elizabethan Sonnet Sequences and the Social Order’, ELH, 49 (1982), 396–406, and Clark Hulse, ‘Stella’s Wit: Penelope Rich as Reader of Sidney’s Sonnets’, in Margaret W. Ferguson, Maureen Quilligan and Nancy J. Vickers (eds), Rewriting the Renaissance: The Discourses of Sexual Difference in Early Modern Europe (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1986).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Marion Wynne-Davies 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marion Wynne-Davies
    • 1
  1. 1.University of DundeeUK

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