The Heart and Stomach of a King: Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power

Carole Levin, Author
Carole Levin, Author University of Pennsylvania Press $26.5 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8122-1533-5
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-0-8122-3252-3
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This study uses Elizabeth Tudor's life to show ``the intersection of politics with gender, of sexuality with power,'' but its real strength is the intriguing portrait of Elizabeth Levin constructs from anecdotes, trivia and gossip often overlooked or dismissed by traditional biographies. A study of Elizabeth I, who successfully ruled England when women were considered too ``feeble and foolish'' to manage their own private affairs, can tell much about power and gender expectations, but too often this book shapes the material to fit the thesis. Concerning the healing royal touch ritual, we're told: ``One can see, however, the gendered nature of the way she approached these ceremonies,'' although Elizabeth doesn't seem to have acted differently from her male predecessors. Similarly, a full chapter isn't needed to convince the reader of a sexual double standard where male and female rulers were concerned and that rumors about Elizabeth's wantonness reflected public unease with a female ruler. Despite some awkward repetitions, this study of how the public responded to Elizabeth and to her extraordinarily successful reign will appeal to anyone interested in Elizabeth Tudor or, more generally, women in power. (Sept.)
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