The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1311 Friday, 23 July 1999.
Date: Friday, 23 Jul 1999 00:12:28 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Virginity of Elizabeth I
Elizabeth's "virginity" should be understood as a political, and
religious, decision of policy, a brilliant symbolic maneuver in an age
when such symbolism was very potent, not a physiological fact. For all
its historic inaccuracies the recent film got that larger issue pretty
A useful contribution from the perspective of modern anthropology was
made by Clifford Geertz in his essay, "Centers, Kings, and Charisma:
Reflections on the Symbolics of Power," which can be found in his book
Local Knowledge and many anthologies.
Very much to the point was Henri IV of France's observation, "Elle est
vierge comme je suis catholique."