The Early Education of Queen Elizabeth I and her later translation of Boethius’s De Consolatione Philosophiae
Medieval English Studies, vol. 10 (2002) No. 2
Popular biographies of Elizabeth I, such as one recently published by Alison Weir often dwell too heavily upon the theatrics of Elizabeth on the stage of her reign, paying attention to her elaborate costuming, her flamboyant spectacles, and her flirtatiousness among the cast of her court. These are elements of her being which should not be ignored. After all, Elizabeth, too, is that stuff that dreams are made on. Yet, too often an appreciation of the appearance the queen projected fails to appreciate the intellectual substance that lay beneath the gowns.
For this reason, the tour de force of her translation of the Consolation of Philosophy beginning at the last decade of her life is usually dismissed as though it were but a memo dashed off casually in the work of her day. In the paragraphs that follow, I would like to examine aspects of that translation in the context of the queen’s early education. This context may permit that translation to appear as more than a bagatelle to fill her idle loneliness.