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ELIZABETHAN CHIVALRY: THE ROMANCE OF THE ACCESSION DAY TILTS

O n the anniversary of the Accession Day of Queen Elizabeth I on 17 November 1558, it became the custom to hold an annual tilt at which the Queen's loyal knights jousted before her. Though material for the reconstruction of the Accession Day Tilts is scarce and scattered, there is reason to believe that this annually enacted romance of chivalry of which the Queen was the heroine exercised a very potent influence on the Elizabethan imagination. Unfortunately, we have no visual records of these brilliant scenes, such as the Valois tapestries in the UfEzi show us of ceremonial tilting in fancy dress at the French court, but the richly woven word-picture of the Iberian annual jousts in Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia is a reflection of Accession Day Tilt pageantry.