Elizabeth the Writer

Leah Marcus shows the Tudor queen to have been a mistress of the English language as much as of the English people.

In July 1597, a dashing young Polish ambassador made his debut at the Elizabethan court. The English welcomed him with pageantry that was more splendid than usual and prepared to celebrate a ‘great day.’ But the young ambassador’s formal Latin oration of greeting froze the cordial environment, offering the aging Queen Elizabeth a series of rebukes rather than the diplomatic platitudes that had been expected. What happened next was predictable to those who had seen the Queen in action before, but astonishing to those less acquainted with her oratorical skills.

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