Food, Clothes, People, Entertainment, Books/Films

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Going on Progress

From Saturday February 19 until Saturday February 26th I will be going on Progress. What is a Progress you ask? Well, during the spring and summer, accompanied by her court, Elizabeth toured southern England, the Midlands, and parts of the West Country, staying with private and civic hosts, and at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The progresses provided hosts with unique opportunities to impress and influence the Queen, and became occasions for magnificent and ingenious entertainments and pageants, drawing on the skills of architects, artists, and craftsmen, as well as dramatic performances, formal orations, poetic recitations, parades, masques, dances, and bear baiting.

The most expensive "honour" of all was that of housing Queen Elizabeth and her household. Elizabeth hit on the clever scheme of going on constant "progresses" about the country. Aside from the benefit of bringing her into closer contact with her subjects, she saved a great deal of money by making the nobles with whom she stayed foot the bill for her visit. Many nobles begged off the honour of her stay for fear of bankruptcy.

My Progress is much less ornate, as I am only visiting family in California, but I'd like to think of it as an Elizabethan Progress!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Walter Raleigh Myth

As the myth goes, the explorer (and sometimes pirate) Sir Walter Raleigh once stepped forth from a crowd, gallantly doffed his cloak, and threw it over a mud puddle to protect the feet of the passing queen. This is unfortunately pure fiction, and Sir Walter Scott repeats this old legend in his famous novel "Kenilworth"

'Accordingly, she fixed her keen glance on the youth, as she approached the place where he stood, with a look in which surprise at his boldness seemed to be unmingled with resentment, while a trifling accident happened which attracted her attention towards him yet more strongly. The night had been rainy, and just where the young gentleman stood a small quantity of mud interrupted the Queen's passage. As she hesitated to pass on, the gallant, throwing his cloak from his shoulders, laid it on the miry spot, so as to ensure her stepping over it dry-shod. Elizabeth looked at the young man, who accompanied this act of devoted courtesy with a profound reverence, and a blush that overspread his whole countenance. The Queen was confused, and blushed in her turn, nodded her head, hastily passed on, and embarked in her barge without saying a word."

Or as Thomas Fuller puts the story:

Captain Raleigh found the queen walking , till, meeting with a plashy place, she seemed to scruple going thereon. Presently Raleigh cast and spread his new plush cloak on the ground; whereon the queen trod gently, rewarding him afterwards with many suits.
Thomas Fuller's 'Worthies'.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Portrait Crisis

At the very first glance, one can tell the portaits on the left and on the right are vastly different in color, attire, and symbolism. The portrait on the right is Elizabeth "in blacke with a hoode and cornet", titled the Clopton Portrait, (c. 1558-60). The portrait on the right is called The Hampden Portrait, by Van Der Meulen, (1560s). Apparently, the The Hampden Portrait was produced in response to a crisis over the production of the royal image, one which was reflected in the words of a draft proclamation dated 1563. The draft proclamation (though never published) was a response to the circulation of poorly-made portraits in which Elizabeth is shown "in blacke with a hoode and cornet", a style she no longer wore. The Hampden Portrait is also a full length portrait, which highlights the seriousness of the matter, since it is clear that the painter and Elizabeth's people were trying to emphasize that Elizabeth was no longer wearing the 'hoode and cornet.' The symbolism of the Clopton Portrait shows Elizabeth holding a book (possibly a prayer book) suggesting either studiousness or piety. In the The Hampden Portrait, Elizabeth wears a red rose on her shoulder, a symbol of the Tudor dynasty and of maidenly chastity, and holds a gillyflower in her hand. From these two portraits we can see that Elizabeth is in a transition from a recognisable human to a goddess, as she is for the most part unadorned in symbolism.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Let's Talk About Snoods

Snood. What? Yes, a snood. Snoods are a kind of women's headgear which resemble a close-fitting net worn over the back of the head. They were extremely popular during the Elizabethan time, though they did not originate there. The word was first recorded in Old English from sometime around 725. It was widely used in the Middle Ages for a variety of cloth or net head coverings, including what we would today call hairbands, as well as versions similar to a modern net snood.

During the Elizabethan age they went through a period of creativity in which women wore snoods adorned with beads, pears and other jewels matching with their dress-up. They also served a practical purpose for the women with long hair who went horseback riding, or for the average Subject who saving their hair from the possibilities of getting captured while working [on the farm].

Snoods can still be seen today, albeit rarely, but using a sheer/fishnet snood can be very pretty especially for formal occassions if you use the delicate silk type or if you go Elizabethan and wear one with pearls and jewels adorned.