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Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Elizabeth had many nicknames during her time (The Virgin Queen, Good Queen Bess, Belpheobe, etc.) one of the most well known is "Gloriana". But where did this nickname come from, and what does it mean, (if it means anything)? The name comes from Edmund Spencer's 1590 and 1596 epic poem. The piece was largely an allegorical work to praise Elizabeth I, and her England. The poem follows several knights who undergo various tests and are always enroute to Faerieland. As it was published in 1596, the poem follows 6 virtues: Holiness; Temperance; Chastity; Friendship; Justice; and Courtesy. According to Spencer, the Faerie Queen represents Glory, hence the name Gloriana. Unfortunately for Spencer and bibliophiles, he was unable to finish his 7th book (representing the virtue of "constancy") before he died in 1599.
Photo: Prince Arthur and the Faerie Queen, by Johann Heinrich Fussli

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