Queen Elizabeth I & Venetian Ceruse (part 1)

During the Elizabethan era, white skin was highly desired by women as it symbolized youthfulness and an elevated social class.

When Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) one of the greatest English monarchs in history, was 29, in 1562, she was struck by what was initially believed to be a violent fever. Therefore she was ordered by doctors to remain in her bed at Hampton Court Palace.

But her illness was more than just a fever: it was smallpox, a dreaded , deadly, viral disease that was highly contagious.
At first, the Queen refused to believe that she could possibly have contracted such a terrible disease. It is said that when a notable German physician, invited to visit her, diagnosed smallpox, Elizabeth sent him away, accusing him of being incompetent.
Eventually, her illness became so severe that it was even feared that she was going to die.
But she recovered and, while she wasn’t so terribly disfigured as many other people, she had her face scarred, On the contrary, her loyal friend and lady-in-waiting who spent hours by her bed, making sure she had plenty of water and tea and being a constant comfort for her, caught “the dreaded pox” and was completely disfigured.

When Elizabeth eventually rose from her sick bed and realized that her skin would always bear the scars of that disease,beauty she felt devastated.
She considered a tragedy what had happened to her, who had always been celebrated for her glamour, her elaborate clothes and her white flawless skin. Above all since she believed that much of her power was due to her beauty. Now that her physical appearance had been altered, she felt vulnerable to criticism and judgement.

Therefore she set about ensuring her beauty was restored, but also much later she continued to feel that a sovereign had to be perfect even in her physical appearance.
For example, while addressing Parliament in 1586, she still commented on the weight of these expectations : “We princes, I tell you, are set on stages in the sight and view of all the world duly observed; the eyes of many behold our actions, a spot is soon spied in our garments; a blemish noted quickly in our doings.”
The choice to frame the concern around spots and blemishes suggested that the queen was very concerned about her appearance, not just her actions.

To be continued

Durante l’era elisabettiana, la pelle bianca era desiderata dalle donne in quanto simboleggiava la giovinezza e un’elevata classe sociale.

Quando la regina Elisabetta I (1533-1603), uno dei più grandi monarchi inglesi della storia, aveva 29 anni, nel 1562, fu colpita da quella che all’inizio si riteneva fosse una febbre violenta. Quindi le fu ordinato dai medici di rimanere a letto, nel suo palazzo di a Hampton Court,
Ma la sua malattia era più di una semplice febbre: si trattava di vaiolo, una malattia virale temutissima, mortale e altamente contagiosa. Dapprincipio la regina si rifiutò di credere che avesse potuto contrarre una malattia così terribile. Si dice che quando un noto medico tedesco, invitato a visitarla, le diagnosticò il vaiolo, fu cacciato via e accusato di essere incompetente.

Alla fine, la malattia della regina divenne così grave che si che si temette addirittura che non sarebbe riuscita a sopravvivere.
Invece si riprese e, pur non restando orribilmente sfigurata come capitava a moltissime persone, ebbe il viso segnato. Al contrario, la sua amica e dama di compagnia che trascorreva ore accanto al suo letto, contrasse “il temuto vaiolo” e rimase completamente deturpata.

Quando alla fine Elisabetta si riprese, ma si rese conto che la sua pelle avrebbe sempre portato le cicatrici di quella malattia. ne fu devastata.
Considerava una tragedia quello che era capitato proprio a lei, che era sempre stata celebrata per il suo glamour, i suoi abiti elaborati e la sua pelle bianca e perfetta. Tanto più che era convinta che gran parte del suo potere fosse dovuto alla sua bellezza. Ora che il suo aspetto fisico era stato alterato, si sentiva vulnerabile di fronte a critiche e a giudizi.

Pertanto si accinse a garantire che la sua bellezza fosse ricostituita ma anche
molto più tardi continuava a sentire che un sovrano doveva essere perfetto anche nell’apparenza fisica. Per esempio, in un discoro al Parlamento nel 1586, commentava il peso di quelle aspettative “Noi principi, vi dico, siamo posti su un palcoscenico alla vista di tutto il mondo e debitamente osservati; gli occhi di molti scrutano le nostre azioni, subito scorgono una macchia nelle nostre vesti e notano prontamente un’imperfezione nelle nostre azioni”.
La scelta di inquadrare la preoccupazione attorno a “macchie e imperfezioni” suggeriva che la regina era preoccupata molto per il suo aspetto, non solo per le azioni

Continua

Image: Queen Elizabeth I of England in her coronation robes. She wears her hair loose, as traditional for the coronation of a queen, perhaps also as a symbol of virginity. The painting, by an unknown artist, dates to the first decade of the seventeenth century and is based on a lost original also by an unknown artist. /La regina Elisabetta I d’Inghilterra nelle sue vesti da incoronazione. Porta i capelli sciolti, come da tradizione per l’incoronazione di una regina, forse anche come simbolo della verginità. Il dipinto, di autore ignoto, risale al primo decennio del Seicento e si basa su un originale perduto sempre di autore ignoto.

84 thoughts on “Queen Elizabeth I & Venetian Ceruse (part 1)

  1. Excellent, dear Luisa. This is so fabulous. I enjoyed reading this post on Queen Elizabeth I and Venetian Ceruse♥️♥️♥️😊😊😊. Wonderful. Have a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. (Quasi un seguito alla due poesie inviate — la seconda forse non di tuo gradimento, Luisa — a commento del precedente post)

    Ah, la luna . . . e il suo colore che caratterizza sguardi e silenzi, spesso ben avvertiti . . . . . .

    D O P O ( Lui )

    Che bello, aprire gli occhi e vederti
    . . . dopo . . . che ancora il volto mi accarezzi,
    che segni il mio profilo e poi lo spezzi
    infra le labbra, e qui con modi incerti

    lieve cercar di assaporarle ancora,
    certa che non ti veda, chè lo sai
    che . . . dopo . . . mi assopisco, e quel che fai
    è solo cosa tua, bella signora!

    Ed hai sguardo che io non conosco,
    dolce e sicuro, sembra fatto a cera,
    quasi lunare . . . sì, come sul bosco
    quieta Selene splende nella sera.

    Padrona assoluta ora ti senti,
    in quanto più nessuno ora può
    distoglierti da me e non ti penti
    di avermi amato per poi fare ciò.

    Neppure io ci riuscirei,
    neppure se mi alzassi dal torpore
    in cui sono caduto . . . ora sei
    all’acme del tuo fare all’amore.

    Sei così bella nel sentirti sola
    con chi tu ami, e tutto ci puoi fare . . .
    che fingo di dormire e mi consola
    sottecchi te guardare e riguardare

    mentre risuona un silenzio lunare

    . . . ed i sospiri tuoi un po’ rubare!

    (Cassandro)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Luisa ! A nice story about a Queen who was once the Queen of the half world . The Queen ELIZABETH- I . And she was caught by Smallpox , a deadly disease at that time . People hardly survived of that disease . If survived , he/she with disfigured face at least . Very dreaded disease of that time . Very painful also . It was considered as the divine curse the world over . In INDIA it was considered in the olden days as an effect of the Goddess’ Anger . Anyway , when the Queen ELIZABETH-1 was suffering from Smallpox , she was rightly conscious of her beauty as her beauty was also one of the characteristics/tools to rule over the country . Luisa ! Any authority is asserted by three means : 1. By Charismatic Personality ; 2. By Rational Leagality ; and 3. By Traditional Background . It is not I but Max Webber wrote when he was studying about the Authority and Legitimacy . So for as the Legitimacy of the Authority is concerned , a Charismatic Personality was required . And the beauty is one of the elements of the Charismatic Personality . And it was natural that the Queen ELIZABETH-I was rightly worried about that , that she might be loosing her beauty , so loosing some of her Authority to rule over England as such . Thanks !

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What a wonderful and in-depth dissertation on authority and its sources.
      I thank you with all my heart for sharing it and also on the remark that certain diseases were considered a divine punishment in the past (and perhaps still today in our world)
      Have a lovely day ❣️❣️❣️

      Like

      1. Thanks !

        On Sun, 18 Sept 2022, 16:07 words and music and stories, < comment-reply@wordpress.com> wrote:

        luisa zambrotta commented: “What a wonderful and in-depth dissertation on > authority and its sources. I thank you with all my heart for sharing it and > also on the remark that certain diseases were considered a divine > punishment in the past (and perhaps still today in our world) Have” >

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It is a sociological law that most people who have or aspire to attain some prominence pay attention to their appearance. Even the Indian gurus do, but among them a disheveled outlook may just accentuate the spiritual influence they carry.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Amazing how much importance was put on physical beauty, even then as opposed to other more desirable character traits…fairness, compassion, wisdom, etc. I think vanity must be one human character trait that is stronger than most others. Thanks for a great history lesson Luisa. Have an excellent Sunday. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Interessante questa storia sulla Regina Elisabetta I, 🙂. Terribile quello che il vaiolo poteva causare ad una persona. All’epoca, purtroppo, non esisteva ancora il vaccino che avrebbe potuto, in qualche maniera, contenere la sua contagiosità. Per fortuna che ora, grazie alla scienza e alle ricerche, i vaccini sono un utile mezzo di prevenzione e anche di contrasto contro le malattie. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Eh, oltre che a essere una sovrana in primis era una donna con la sua ambizione legata all’aspetto fisico, come allora anche oggi è così e non dolo i regnanti ma anche le persone comuni, come ci si pone esteticamente: ordinati, pre idi e ben vestiti, è anche un rispetto nei confronti del prossimo e credo sia giusto avere un pò di amor proprio anchecesteticamente senza esagerare però 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  8. We forget that the pedestal also has mirrors – I know I have days where I feel less than confident in myself, when I imagine on those days, taking myself onto an important world stage or into a meeting I feel a sense of dread. I loved this post illuminating the human side of even the most powerful people.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. This is fascinating, Luisa. I look forward to the continuation.
    It’s interesting and sad that appearance plays such an important role in world affairs. In my first novel, “Counselor,” one of the main characters (the counselor) is the wisest man Liz (the other key character) knows, even though – perhaps BECAUSE – he is legally blind. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

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