“Beholde Me Thy Handmaiden”: The Pragmatics and Politics of Queen Elizabeth’s Prayers

  • Donatella Montini
Part of the Queenship and Power book series (QAP)


While Elizabeth’s linguistic excellence is widely acknowledged and easily verifiable in her writings, scholars have paid her prayers surprisingly little attention. Yet, the voice of Elisabetta supplex, of the queen at prayer, is one of the most revealing examples of Elizabeth’s strategic gendering of her self-representation in writing as a political persona. In particular, this essay focuses on a small corpus of four prayers in vernacular attributed to Elizabeth’s authorship, which provide a crucial example of the linguistic and discursive strategies used by the queen in her construction of a personal authorial voice directly addressing God. An idiolect of piety emerges in dialogue and confrontation with her political role, in what this essay proposes to call a form of ‘devotional Petrarchism’.

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donatella Montini
    • 1
  1. 1.Sapienza University of RomeRomeItaly

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