Arabella stuart portait dating 1610
There was a feeling of ennui during Elizabeth’s final decade.
Her godson, Sir John Harington, said that among the students and professors at Oxford there was a feeling that the world itself had gone beyond its glory days, that the ‘world had waxed old’.
Instead, there seems to me to be something rather tender about it.
The skeletal figure of Death who hovers over the Queen’s shoulder makes more sense as a revived than as a ghoulish game of point-settling.
Elizabeth here looks more careworn and exhausted than she does in any of the portraits painted from life, but the artist in question had evidently studied them or perhaps even seen the Queen regularly enough in her waning years to recall with perfect precision the contours of her face.
It’s all there – the slender frame, the dark Boleyn eyes, the Beaufort nose and the Tudor-York colouring.
She was out-of-step with the new generation, many of whom regarded her as a dithering old woman trapped by her pathological conservatism.
The betrayal of her last favourite, Robert, Earl of Essex, wounded her deeply, although she did not hesitate to have condemned to the traitor’s death which he unquestionably deserved by the standards of the time.
Father Time robbed her of most of her contemporaries and closest friends – Boleyn cousins dropped like flies with the death of the last, Katherine, Countess of Nottingham, causing Elizabeth particular sorrow; the stalwarts of the first part of Elizabeth’s reign, like Lord Burghley, Sir Francis Walsingham, and her beloved Robert, Earl of Leicester, were also gone.Which is bad, because you’re now stuck with entitled pets. I want to write – at least twice a day I think of something I want to expound on – but by the time we get the kids to bed, I’m exhausted and I have to do dishes and then work for at least four hours.Get pets after you have kids – that way they come into the family knowing the pecking order… I laughed, but didn’t respond re: the “still blogging” comment. Nine times out of ten I completely forget that I wanted to write in the first place and the odds are good that if I did remember, I would’ve forgotten what I wanted to write about. I’m glad the Peanut will have a sibling and that we had them relatively close together.It seemed as if the kingdom itself was rotten, diseased and unutterably tired.This portrait is therefore a perverse celebration of the idea of the king’s two bodies, the fusion of the personal and political in early modern monarchy: Elizabeth’s malaise is also her kingdoms’. Elizabeth, still receiving her crown from God as it is held above her by frolicking cherubim, is submitting to our common end: Death.