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Elizabeth I’s Men: Patriots or Profiteers?


Course Information

UOK Tonbridge

Study Morning

Study morning                                     10am – 1pm

Saturday 4 November at the University of Kent Medway Campus, Chatham Maritime

This study morning is in association with Medway U3A and will be held at the University of Kent Medway Campus, Chatham Maritime.

Course Code


Course Date

4th November 2017

Places Available

Course Leader

Julia Cruse PhD

Course Fee

Course Description

The names of Ralegh, Drake and the Earls of Essex and Leicester, alongside other favourites who circled around the Virgin Queen, reverberate in history. Were they were self-sacrificing heroes, altruistic courtiers and pioneers committed to serving their queen or self-seeking adventurers who found her court a profitable place to be?

'I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a King': Elizabeth's famous speech to her troops at Tilbury before the Armada reinforced the fact that she was 'determined to be governed by no one'; the words suggest that she was both authoritative as well as vulnerable. It is this vulnerability that has given rise to the countless questions about her relationships with the men who surrounded her.

During this lecture morning we will consider her relationships with those well-known favourites of her courtiers (Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester; Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex; Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Ralegh) by considering their ambitions and roles within the context of the emotional and ritualistic arena of the court. And what of her advisers, men like the adept William Cecil, who persuasively endeavoured to get her to follow their counsel?

Her reign saw significant world-wide discovery and the development of new trading routes, together with the ensuing political problems and conflict that such expansion brought. These exciting, frightening times where powerful relationships developed but were often ruthlessly crushed, have given rise to a myriad of ideas and questions which continue to fascinate.

Consider the question: Did the courtiers, adventurers and explorers who served the queen manipulate her need for security as a woman, who was ruling alone and unmarried, or was it Elizabeth who used them in her endeavours to secure her authority as a single female monarch?


About the tutor

Julia Cruse has a PhD in Medieval and Early Modern Studies and has taught undergraduates at the University of Kent. As a mature student she graduated from the University of Kent with a degree in History; her BA dissertation focused on the Paston letters. Her doctoral thesis continued her research into late medieval letter-writing and looked at gentry identity and the politics of letter-writing. She is currently developing education packages to inspire school children and young people about medieval life and history. 


For any queries, please email tonbridgeadmin@kent.ac.uk

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