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Petticoats and Politics: Elisabeth Parr and Female Agency at the Early Elizabethan Court

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Chapter Summary

This chapter offers an examination of the manner in which female courtiers participated in politics during the foundation of the Elizabethan age by demonstrating the extent to which the agency of the previously unstudied Elisabeth Parr, Marchioness of Northampton, was a part of court affairs, confirming the political importance of female agency in sixteenth-century England. Parr's agency in the Habsburg suit seems positive and well conceived in order to advance Elizabeth's reputation and marital project. In the case of Parr's agency in the Swedish suit, however, rather the opposite was true. The involvement of Elisabeth Parr in the rejection of the Swedish suit in 1562 is a clear illustration of the depth at which women could be and were involved in diplomatic and political activity at Elizabeth's court. In order to assert her monarchic authority, Elizabeth herself distinguished between her corporeal body and the body politic that she embodied.

Keywords: early Elizabethan court; Elisabeth Parr; female agency; Habsburg suit; sixteenth-century England; Swedish suit



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