The posthumous representation of medieval queens-consort and royal paramours in the Elizabethan period

  • Lauren Browne

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis examines the posthumous representations of six medieval queens-consort and three royal paramours primarily in the Elizabethan period, with a greater focus on the 1590s. By using various sources – such as chronicles, ballads, plays, and poems – it assesses how the representations of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Eleanor of Provence, Eleanor of Castile, Rosamond Clifford, Jane Shore, Piers Gaveston, Isabella of France, and Margaret of Anjou evolved. In exploring a variety of different genres of Elizabethan historical writing, this study sheds light on the intertextuality between these narratives, and the increasing popularity of history in the 1590s.

By using these historical figures as case studies, this thesis explores the various ways authors and their audiences thought of and engaged with their medieval past, as well as the ways in which narratives surrounding these well-known figures were negotiated into the changing political and social agendas of the Tudor period, with a particular focus on the Elizabethan era. Through an analysis of predominantly female figures connected to medieval monarchs, it explores how powerful or influential women were represented during a period in which England experienced its first two queens regnant. This period coincided with rising fears over the succession and the general crisis of the 1590s, and the historical narratives surrounding the case studies all reflect periods of social unrest and political upheaval.

The reputations of monarchs and those associated with them has become an increasingly popular field of research, but the connections between the posthumous representations of historical figures have remained under-explored. Similarly, the way in which various genres of history writing influenced one another has received less attention from historical scholarship. By adopting an interdisciplinary approach to Elizabethan literature and through the examination of multiple figures in comparison to one another, this thesis takes a broader look at the phenomenon of representation. By examining these narratives within the context of Tudor and Elizabethan historiography and the political culture of the 1590s, this thesis concludes that authors used the past to comment on their present situation in more nuanced ways than previously imagined.
Date of AwardJul 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsDepartment for Education
SupervisorChristopher Marsh (Supervisor) & James Davis (Supervisor)


  • Queenship
  • royal mistresses
  • tudor
  • Elizabethan
  • Eleanor of Aquitane
  • Eleanor of Castile
  • Rosamond Clifford
  • Jane Shore
  • Piers Gaveston
  • Margaret of Anjou
  • Isabella of France
  • historical representations
  • Tudor authors

Cite this