Multilingualism at the Tudor Court: Henry, Elizabeth and the Love Letter Genre

  • Iolanda Plescia
Part of the Queenship and Power book series (QAP)


This essay proposes to reappraise Elizabeth’s much commented-upon linguistic and rhetorical achievements by exploring the multilingual environment she was brought up in, and in particular by evaluating the alternation in use of French and English at the Tudor court, starting with the reign of her father, Henry VIII. In a momentary change of perspective, and a flashback of a few years, the essay examines the small corpus of seventeen love letters written by Henry to Elizabeth’s mother Anne Boleyn, which were stolen and brought to Rome after her death, before returning to Elizabeth’s own foreign language abilities in her letter writing—in particular, in her letters to the Duke d’Anjou. An analysis of the pragmatic context and linguistic strategies employed in both sets of letters is provided as a way to explore the monarchs’ use of a foreign language to express sentiment and deploy tactics of persuasion.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iolanda Plescia
    • 1
  1. 1.Sapienza University of RomeRomeItaly

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