Elizabeth the first was born on Sunday the 7th of September 1533, she was born a princess but after her mother, Anne Boleyn’s death and her father Henry VIII re married she was declared illegitimate. She became queen in 1558. Elizabeth never married despite many petitions from parliament. She is known as the ‘virgin’ queen. 20 years after her death in March 1603 aged 69, she was celebrated as the ruler of a golden age.
Elizabeth was intelligent, at age 10 she was tutored by Roger Ascham. She had love and aptitude for her studies. Ascham wrote “her mind has no womanly weaknesses” and “her perseverance is equal to that of a man”. It was this intellect that enabled her to become a superb Queen. Instead of forcing her people, she chose no religion and allowed both catholic and protestant. Elizabeth also saw what marrying a foreigner did to her sister and cousin, and knew that choosing an English man would give him too much power. Preserving peace and stability was her goal.
The Elizabethan era was a time of expression of values and ideals through fashion; it reflected the strict social order and created superiority among the upper class. Everyone had a position or social standing and their clothes reflected where they stood in society. These categories were; peasants, middle class and nobles. Your wealth was determined by what you could afford to wear.
Elizabeth grew up in rags, not elegant and highly embellished clothes of her reign. In Elizabeth’s mature years before she became queen, she dressed the ‘image of chastity and modesty’ and did not use cosmetics. She wore mostly plain black or white.
Elizabeth formed a love of rich gowns, though it wasn’t just to compensate for her lack of as a child, she used them as political aid. The masculine shaping enforced her power and the fabrics showed wealth and prestige. She wore corsets under gowns to give a flattened and triangular shape accentuating the shoulders. A big influence on Elizabeth was Christopher...
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British Costume from Earliest Times to 1820 by Emily Jessie Ashdown, Charles H. Ashdown
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