chapter  2
25 Pages

The Queen and the Church

When Elizabeth became queen, she was immediately cast as a ‘pushy’ woman. Philip II’s agent, the Count of Feria, reported on her bossiness, and an Imperial envoy was contemptuous: ‘Like a peasant on whom a barony has been conferred, she, since she came to the throne, is puffed up with pride and imagines that she is without peer.’1 She was bossy, she was something of a fishwife (or fish-virgin), partly because she had to establish immediate authority over sceptical men and pardy because she had a sense of her own God-given destiny. In the collection of private devotions she com­ posed in about 1579, Queen Elizabeth presented herself as God’s instrument for the restoration of the Gospel, as mother of the Church in England, and as protectress of religious refugees. It is true that in her prayers she dressed herself as she would like God to see her, rather than as she actually was: she had to feign humility before the Almighty! But her self-image was as patroness of the Gospel, and she took her religious duties seriously.