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Class Year

2003

Abstract

In the mid-1500s, England was reeling from its first experience under the rule of a female queen. Mary Tudor had proved to be a ruthless Catholic, a monarch who took every opportunity to persecute Protestants, yet in all other realms of politics, was ineffective. Near the end of her reign, England was torn by religious strife and suffered from a huge government debt.1 England was not to be alleviated of female rule even after Mary died in 1558, as she named her half-sister Elizabeth to succeed her. Not long after, Mary Stuart, the daughter of a French princess, and the heir-apparent to the Scottish throne ascended to the French throne upon marrying the young Dauphin.2 Now, it seemed, the fate of two key players, England and Scotland, lay in the hands of queens. The fate of these women’s monarchies rested not only on how they presented themselves as formidable rulers, but on the reign of the other, as well. Both brought significant strengths to the table, as well as some detrimental weaknesses. The outcome of their reigns would be determined by whether or not the effectiveness of their ruling styles challenged the very nature of the misogynistic society over which they governed. In the end, only one queen, Elizabeth I, would remain standing, showing that her style of rule clearly outweighed that of Mary’s.

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