By Rayne Allinson
Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) despatched extra letters into extra far away kingdoms than any English monarch had ahead of, and her exchanges with an ever-growing variety of rulers demonstrate how moving conceptions of sovereignty have been made appear on paper. This booklet examines Elizabeth's correspondence with numerous major rulers, examining how her letters have been built, drafted and awarded, the rhetorical thoughts used, and the function those letters performed in facilitating diplomatic family members. Elizabeth's letters did greater than authorize diplomatic motion out of the country: often they mirrored, and occasionally even prompted, the path of international policy.
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Additional resources for A Monarchy of Letters: Royal Correspondence and English Diplomacy in the Reign of Elizabeth I (Queenship and Power)
19 Royal holographs were thus an important way of personalizing otherwise abstract relationships between states, and served to reaffirm amity between countries. Considering the diplomatic importance of royal holographs, it is surprising that so few of Elizabeth’s survive from the 1560s and 1570s. However, absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence: during these decades Elizabeth received many holographs from Mary Queen of Scots and Catherine de’ Médici, indicating a reciprocal exchange.
Because of the inadequacy of the regular post, Elizabeth’s letters were often carried by personal servants of the ambassador, by merchants, or by any other trusty men of means who happened to be traveling in the right direction. Exchanges between England and the continent were subject to the tides, the weather and the availability of ships, as well as the variable political climate. indd 32 3/15/2012 4:24:24 PM My Skrating Hand 33 (such as Russia), special ambassadors or envoys carried letters back and forth, and their journeys were sponsored by the merchant companies whose trade depended on the regular flow of friendly royal correspondence.
75 This letter passed through many hands before it was ready for dispatch: from the Latin Secretary’s “man,” to the merchants who applied the silk ribbons, to the clerks of the privy seal who finally closed it. As will be shown in Chapter 8, such attention to detail highlights the importance of England’s trade with the Ottoman Empire. The last stage of preparing a royal letter for dispatch was applying the seal, which could also vary in color, shape, and size according to the form of the letter and the recipient.
A Monarchy of Letters: Royal Correspondence and English Diplomacy in the Reign of Elizabeth I (Queenship and Power) by Rayne Allinson