Glass Houses: Why the Subjects of Queen Elizabeth Avoided the Subject of Pope Joan.
Rustici, Craig (2001) Glass Houses: Why the Subjects of Queen Elizabeth Avoided the Subject of Pope Joan. In: 21st Hofstra University Distinguished Faculty Lecture, Hofstra University.
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This lecture (delivered as the 21st Hofstra University Distinguished Faculty Lecture on October 10, 2001) investigates why sixteenth-century English printers published extraordinarily few texts devoted to the sensational exploits of Pope Joan, an apocryphal, medieval woman who allegedly disguised herself as a man and became a Roman Catholic pontiff. An explanation lies in the troubling comparisons that English exiles and hostile foreign observers drew between the public careers and personal lives of Pope Joan and Queen Elizabeth I of England. Royal ceremonies, the Queen's ecclesiastical role, and the recurrent tropes of anti-Elizabethan propaganda all lent credibility to the charge that Elizabeth, "Supreme Governor" of the Church of England, acted as "ceste nouvelle Papesse." The popess analogy cast doubt on the legitimacy of Elizabeth's unprecedented reign as an unmarried English queen and, consequently, threatened to inspire sedition among her (sometimes restless) subjects. Not surprisingly, then, printers operating within the reach of the Queen's government chose to handle the Pope Joan legend with care.
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