Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Virgin Queen

I saw Elizabeth: The Golden Age this weekend. I was initially concerned due to the poor reviews that I had read, but I ended up enjoying it. The sets and costumes were amazing—the golden dress my favorite. Perhaps the story line was a bit weak…..but the acting was well done.

I was reminded of my “Elizabethan period” which occurred during my freshman and sophomore year of high school. Or perhaps more likely it was Miss Brilliance who went through an Elizabethan period, and I tagged along for the ride. In any case, I wrote my first research paper on Elizabeth I, and the following year, I illustrated and wrote a children’s book about a rat, Esmond, who protected the queen. The illustrations leave a whole lot to be desired--I never was an artist--but the story is quite amusing….even now.

The plot more or less goes like this: Esmond came from a long line of Anglo-Saxon rats who serve as protectors to the Monarchy. (Note: Esmond wore a green satin doublet and matching bloomers. Royal rats are well dressed….just so you know.) He enjoyed roast venison, bread, cheese, and custard (the little foodie) and slept on the furniture. Esmond also appears to be either gay or very metro-sexual since he “delighted in going into Queen Elizabeth’s bedchamber and playing in her makeup and wig.” Most important, however, was his duty in protecting the Queen’s virginity. This he did by scaring away all the eligible suitors but squeaking in their ears, making it impossible to sleep and attacking them until “he made them cry,” (illustrated showing the rat chomping down on a person’s calf). For such selfless devotion and bravery, he was awarded a medal of honor. Thus, we are to thank Esmond, the royal rat, for the Queen’s intact virginity.

Yes, the fact that Elizabeth was a spinster queen intrigued me. Perhaps a foreshadowing of my own spinsterdom? Who knows? Or perhaps I just reveled and rejoiced in the example of a strong woman figure in an otherwise male dominated history.

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