Edmund Spenser's epic poem, The Faerie Queene, is largely a symbolic tale, dedicated to Elizabeth I.
Spenser needed a patron to provide for his support while he worked, and patrons expect that the artists they support will write flattering words. This was certainly the case with Spenser's work,
Spenser needed a patron to provide for his support while he worked, and patrons expect that the artists they support will write flattering words. This was certainly the case with Spenser's work, The Faerie Queene, which is meant to celebrate Elizabeth I and, oftentimes, flatter her.
In the poem, Spenser creates the the premise that Elizabeth I is descended from King Arthur of the Round Table.
Arthur is presented as himself, however he is enamored of the Faerie Queene, rather than Guinevere. He worships and pursues the Queene when not helping the other knights of the Round Table.
Prince Arthur is the Knight of Magnificence, the perfection of all virtues.
The Redcrosse Knight (an allusion, perhaps, to the knights of the Crusades with a red cross on a white "robe," as well as symbolizing piety and morality) represents the country of England. (He is shown the future to learn that, one day, he will be the patron saint of England, Saint George.) He travels with Una who represents the "True Church."
The dragon (that, according to some sources, represents Death) is attacking Una's parents' castle, and the Redcrosse Knight has joined her to battle the dragon. Una defeats the false church and the recreated Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I's archenemy (who is already dead, executed for treason against the British Crown).