How historically accurate is the movie Elizabeth to the real time period?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several discrepancies in the film to what really happened in the Renaissance time period.  First, there is the issue of the ages of many of the key players.  Sir William Cecil was not quite so ancient when Elizabeth took the throne as they portray him.  In fact, he was only in his 30's, and she never retired him...he was a trusted advisor for 40 years.  On the other hand, Kat Ashley was much older in reality than they portray her in the film.  She actually acted as Elizabeth's governess from the time that Elizabeth was only four, and remained a friend/mother figure until her death in 1565.

Elizabeth did indeed know that Robert Dudley was married to Amy Robsart, and she attended the wedding.  There is also a hint or two that she knew in advance of Amy's mysterious death and the method of it (falling down a flight of stairs and breaking her neck).  She might not have been aware of his second marriage to Lettice Devereux.  For several years she did consider marrying him, but it was not in her best political interest as he was not the popular choice in England and did not offer her the benefit of foreign alliance.  Whatever the case, there was scandal surrounding the Queen's and Dudley's relationship although they were close friends and remained so until his death.  It is unlikely that he was involved in any plot against her.

Read Alison Weir's book The Life of Elizabeth I.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I guess I ran out of space in my last post. Here's what else I was trying to say:

England was still climbing out of the Middle Ages during the reign of Henry VIII. So the English Renaissance didn't really begin until around the end of Elizabeth's reign (1558-1603). Shakespeare's first play was staged in the 1590s.

As for the portrayal of Elizabeth, except for when she tells Dudley that there's "one mistress and no master," I don't see much Elizabeth I in the movie. The movie Eliz. is indecisive unsure of herself. The real Eliz. was born a princess. She had the best education. She had people to open doors for her, dress her, even take punishment instead of her (there is a story that Katherine of Aragon didn't know how to turn a doorknob!). She was Henry VIII's daughter. I think she would have known how to rule.

The movie also makes it appear that Eliz. never married because she couldn't decide who to marry. Think about it. Her own mother was beheaded for not bearing a son, and she had four stepmothers by the time she was 14. She couldn't have had a good impression of marriage. Besides, before her sister Mary, England had never had a ruling queen. Even Mary went through a marriage with the king of Spain to secure her place on the throne. Elizabeth knew that whoever she married would eventually become king and take the power from her. She would not have anyone rule her!!

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many scholars will disagree with me, but I will give good reasons for saying that you are not learning about the Renaissance when you study the Elizabethan Era.

The Renaissance began in Italy around the end of the 14th century and then spread to the rest of Europe. There was a "flowering of culture as the art, literature, and philosophy of the Greco-Roman world were rediscovered." Think of the great artists and writers, like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Dante.

It came very late to England, mainly because the nobility (who were the patrons of art and artists) were too busy fighting each other to see who would be king.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I watched the new movie last night. Loved the costumes. Loved the sets. Hated the history. Where was Essex???? Why did Elizabeth hold Raleigh's baby at the end? She put him in prison for marrying Elizabeth Throckmorton, and their baby died as an infant. And what's with Philip and his daughter?

Anybody care to wager whether there'll be a third movie focusing on Elizabeth and Essex?

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While looking for info on another question, I came across this web site, which addresses the historical accuracy of this movie: