“Set in portraiture”:
George Gascoigne, Queen Elizabeth, and Adapting the Royal Image

Stephen Hamrick
Minnesota State University, Moorhead

Hamrick, Stephen. "‘Set in portraiture’: George Gascoigne, Queen Elizabeth, and Adapting the Royal Image". Early Modern Literary Studies 11.1 (May, 2005) 1.1-30 <URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/11-1/hamrgasc.htm>.


  1. When scholars turn to the work of George Gascoigne, they praise his The Pleasant Fable of Ferdinando Jeronimi and Leonora de Valasco as an Elizabethan prose romance that influenced later writers, including Shakespeare. They also discuss his wide-ranging writing skills and his contemporary reputation as a craftsman of the English language that paved the way for later Elizabethans, such as Sidney and Spenser, and, more recently, for a film adaptation of Queen Elizabeth’s early life (1). While scholars have also noted that Gascoigne, the “chief poet of the young Elizabeth’s court,” participated in summer entertainments for the Queen and that he inaugurated the fashion of making her into a goddess, they have not adequately analyzed his complicated relations to her cult (2).

  2. Son of Catholic Sir John Gascoigne of Cardington, Bedfordshire, schooled at Trinity College, Cambridge, member of Gray’s Inn, and participant in Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, Gascoigne lived a complex and eventful life as a (struggling) gentleman (3). After the experience of courtly and financial failure, in which he was denied an elected seat in parliament and imprisoned for not paying his debts, Gascoigne reformed his image in a flurry of publishing and a period of increased public exposure. In 1573, Gascoigne anonymously published his wide-ranging collection of verse, drama, and prose fiction, A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres. In that year, he also fought in the Netherlands against the French and Spanish (later as a captain) under the Prince of Orange. In 1575, he republished his poems as The Posies of George Gascoigne, Esquire, ostensibly fashioning himself as a reformed poet who rejects his earlier, scandalous representations of courtly love affairs and his own youthful prodigality (4). In 1575, Gascoigne also published an influential book of sport, The Noble Arte of Venerie or Hunting, in which he depicts his and Elizabeth’s hunting together across the English landscape, stating that “I have here set in portraiture” (94) images of the Queen in order to exemplify the hunt (5). Entering the cult of Elizabeth in this fashion, Gascoigne then gained service with Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, writing and acting in entertainments for Elizabeth. At the Queen’s Kenilworth entertainment, given by Leicester in the summer of 1575, and once more that summer at Woodstock, Gascoigne performed directly for Elizabeth and subsequently received a royal commission in 1576 to work as her agent or spy in France and the Low Countries. While such a position distinctly advanced his fortunes, Gascoigne died in 1577, enjoying his new post for a relatively short time (6).

  3. As Gascoigne presents images of himself with the Queen in hopes of receiving employment, his texts embody the means by which courtiers and poets writing in the early days of the reign of Elizabeth negotiated complex relationships with her. In this essay, I analyze the visual and verbal images of Gascoigne and Queen Elizabeth presented in The Noble Arte of Venerie and The Tale of Hemetes the Heremyte (1576). In four visual images and their accompanying poetic texts, Gascoigne uses the political allegories of hunting and kneeling before the Queen to position himself advantageously within the symbolic world of the cult (7). Serving yet subtly containing Elizabeth’s power, Gascoigne’s manipulation of a political petrarchan discourse that underwrites the cult of Elizabeth communicates a complicated sense of both dependence and control (8). While scholars have noted the multivocal and multidirectional or contested nature of the cult of Elizabeth, they have not applied such a nuanced understanding to Gascoigne’s visual texts.

  4. II

  5. Scholars continue to complicate the traditional image of the cult of Elizabeth in which creative devotees happily generated unquestioned support for the Protestant monarchy through their cultural work (9). John King writes that “differentiation among the different ‘cults’ of the Virgin Queen demonstrates how the royal image was fashioned dynamically by Elizabeth and her government from above, and by her apologists and suppliants from below” (10). Reconsidering the “Elizabethan World Picture” from such a multivocal position, recent criticism demonstrates the many ways that Elizabethan writers and artists negotiated support for the cult. Creating discursive space for themselves and resisting a unified image of Elizabeth and her court, however, artists also worked to maintain creative freedom in the face of official images of the Queen and plans of the Tudor administration to suppress unwanted images (11).

  6. Representational practices surrounding the image of Elizabeth existed, in fact, along a continuum of participation and distance from those ostensibly normative or “official” images of the Queen (12). Rather than simply a means of controlling the populace or seeking the Queen’s approval, the cult embodied a contested discourse of power negotiations. As Louis Montrose writes, “Elizabethan royal images were employed in a wide range of cultural work, which included enhancing and subverting the charisma of the Queen; legitimating and resisting the authority of her regime; seeking to influence royal sympathies and policies in matters religious, civic, and military; and pursuing personal advantage by means of royal courtship and celebration” (13). As Gascoigne demonstrates through his own manipulation of Elizabeth’s image, by placing herself actively within public discourse, the Queen’s image becomes subject to others working within that discourse. As Susan Frye demonstrates, the image of Elizabeth was thus “a locus for the competing interests of merchants, policymakers, courtiers, and other writers.” Not simply tools used by the Elizabethan regime, allegorical, poetic, and other images of the Queen became the “center of represented power,” and many artists in Britain and Europe attempted to use that center to their own ends (14).

  7. Even with the widespread and dynamic abilities of many artists, the cult could deploy few unassailable models to justify the subordination of men by a woman in such a staunchly patriarchal culture. While Elizabeth and others manipulated the familial images of mother and sister, these images did not command unquestioned power in England’s patriarchal culture (15). The model of men serving female saints and biblical matriarchs and the model of the lover serving the petrarchan beloved, however, provided discursive analogs for the awkward political, religious, and social relations created by Elizabeth’s gender. After the Protestant Reformation had largely removed the cult of saints from public worship, Elizabeth and her supporters transformed the highly popular cult of the Virgin Mary into a civic glorification of the monarch and also manipulated the biblical models of female rulers and heroines to her advantage (16).

  8. The culturally widespread discourse of petrarchan worship engaged by the cult also helped Elizabeth to subordinate the political nation of men to a chaste, desirable, and sacred beloved by using a language both familiar and comfortable to them (17). Gascoigne, in fact, read Elizabeth and his own creative efforts precisely within the political context of petrarchan discourse, writing in the epilogue to Hemetes the Heremyte that “If god wolde deigne to make, a Petrarks heire of me / The coomlyest Queene that ever was, my Lawra nedes must be” (18). As a petrarchan mistress, Elizabeth tacitly engages with artists, like Gascoigne, who see her possessively as “my Lawra.” In his own extended search for place and power in The Noble Arte of Venerie or Hunting and Hemetes the Heremyte, Gascoigne directly engages and manipulates multiple (petrarchan) images of himself with Elizabeth (19). Much more than “imaginary representations of Gascoigne in favour with the Queen,” Hunting offers a site at which the poet, artist, and would-be courtier fashions a powerful and naratively developed self in the face of intense social pressures to celebrate the Queen solely and magnify her power (20).

  9. III

  10. A variety of scholars have demonstrated that at the Tudor courts of both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, courtiers translated the petrarchan discourse of love, service, and dissatisfaction for a beloved into an allegorical language of royal compliment, political courtship, and veiled complaint. As one component in this political petrarchan discourse, allegories of hunting played a central role in a wide variety of texts and genres. In the Tudor period, as Wyatt’s “Whoso List to Hunt” reminds us, artists might use “venery” or hunting as a central allegory of petrarchan love; the lover as hunter pursued the beloved who ran chastely away as a “hynde” or female deer (21). Within political discourse, the figure of the hunter could also serve as an allegorical representation of the courtier or servant seeking preferment or bemoaning his fate or both. In Hunting, Gascoigne extends this petrarchan allegory to construct an ideal sense of his own political and cultural identity as well as to encode the troubled state of Elizabethan court politics.

  11. A long, beautifully illustrated handbook, The Noble Arte of Venerie or Hunting, influenced a broad range of readers in early modern England. Gascoigne’s complex text teaches readers the art of hunting and focuses on all aspects of the sport from choosing and training hunting dogs to particular methods of tracking, chasing, killing, and cleaning a variety of hunted animals. Hunting manuals like Gascoigne’s were highly popular in the period. The medieval hunting manual The Boke of St. Albans, for example, was republished fifteen times in the sixteenth century. A relatively influential text itself, in fact “the most cited of the Elizabethan hunting treatises,” Gascoigne’s Hunting deserves a more complete contextualization within the cult of Elizabeth than has been previously provided (22). As translator, interpolator, and author, Gascoigne not only channels the work of others but also adds his own unique contributions to Hunting. Gascoigne or an artist directed by him renders three images of his and Elizabeth’s hunting across the English landscape that together create a symbolic narrative of courtly desire, assertion, and fulfillment.

  12. Gascoigne connects the first two visual images of Queen Elizabeth in Hunting with a strange story that projects an initially utopian but finally sarcastic sense of the court. In the section titled “of the place where and howe an assembly should be made, in the presence of a Prince, or some honorable person,” Gascoigne first describes the proper place to set up such an “assembly” or the sumptuous feast that often took place before a hunt. The feast must take place, as he instructs readers, in a beautiful “gladsome greene” “or Paradise.” Further evoking an edenic retreat, Gascoigne constructs this environment,
    Under shade of stately trees, where little sunne is seene:
    And neare some fountaine springe, whose chrystall running streames,
    May help to coole the parching heate, ycaught by Phoebus beames. (91)
    Altogether, the perfect place to entertain a prince enjoying the hunt is “where pleasure dwels at large, / Which Princes seeke in Pallaces, with payne and costly charge” (91). While the “shade of stately trees” might protect the monarch and her favorites from the harmful rays of the “sunne,” Gascoigne’s glance at the “costly charge” of princely excess potentially frustrates hopes for a comprehensive peace offered in this putatively edenic space.

  13. Facing the verse description of this pastoral landscape, Gascoigne’s text presents a woodblock print of Queen Elizabeth in a pastoral glade, where she observes courtiers, ladies-in-waiting, and frolicking children (see fig. 1). Dressed in beautiful clothing, these courtiers and children eat a bountiful feast and drink from beautifully crafted goblets. Elizabeth sits on an unseen stool or chair with her back to a shade tree as one of two flanked courtiers holds open a covered container, offering her a drink. The Queen, however, looks directly at the would-be courtier Gascoigne, who kneels before her on one knee as she motions with her right hand for him to come closer. In removing from the picnic image any sign of workers or dog trainers, Gascoigne’s visual text reinforces his poetic construction of an edenic, pastoral landscape (23). Where plainly dressed dog-handlers and trackers populate the many images of woodland glades in the rest of his text, here they remain conspicuously absent. Gascoigne dresses all members of the picnic assembly in costly, fashionable attire, graphically removing all signs of the lower classes and their labor. Effacing the social differences and hierarchies that materially constituted the complex ritual practices of hunting, Gascoigne’s visual text initially constructs a utopian and Italianate pastoral setting that buries class and courtly conflict, as well as the intensive labor required for the feast and the hunt, in favor of an apolitical, classless community in which everyone enjoys leisure and relative equality (24).


    Figure 1: George Gascoigne, The Noble Art of Venerie or Hunting (1575)
    Used by permission of The Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery.

  15. The would-be courtier, however, almost immediately troubles the pastoral “paradise” represented in the picture, providing readers with an alternative understanding of such a hunting scene. In the midst of his verse description of the picnic, Gascoigne introduces a unique vignette in which a butler (or “doctor”) and a cook fight a battle in which meat, drink, and hunger become allegorical weapons in a battle to see who can “winne his Princes thanke” (92). As Gascoigne’s descriptive poem continues, a group of huntsmen interrupt the comic battle of dueling waiters.
    Herewith to stint all stryfe, the huntsmen come in hast,
    They licence crave of King or Queene, to see their battell plast.
    Which graunted and obtaynde, they set on such as lyve,
    And fiercely fight, till both be forst, all armour up to give. (93)
    Through this humorous catering allegory, Gascoigne asserts that life at the Elizabethan court—whether hunting, on progress, or in “Pallaces”—consists of a social battle in which competing servants fight to “winne his Princes thanke.” Through such a battle, Gascoigne’s poetic allegory recreates a courtly environment in which social conflict abounds. When we recognize with Roger Manning that hunting represented both a symbolic substitute and preparation for war in the sixteenth century, Gascoigne’s transformation of the rituals of hunting into symbols of courtly infighting seems quite apt, recalling, moreover, Gascoigne’s unhappy youthful experience manipulated by rapacious courtiers (25). Using this absurd battle of provender to parody the courtly battle for preference and position within the court, the poetry and visual image together construct the Queen in an emblematic tableau, overseeing the elite assembly and tacitly giving “licence” to the battle for her favor.

  16. Alone, the printed image of Elizabeth smiling upon the picnicking Gascoigne contains or hides such subversive elements by depicting an Elysian field where bounty and pleasure obtain. However, in providing an ironic distance between the visual text and the comic poetry, which reconstructs this scene as courtly combat, Gascoigne provides readers with an interpretive dissonance or reading strategy that asks them to look beyond the obvious—beyond what Edward Berry sees as the “dominant tone” of celebration in the text—to latent or covert meanings, perhaps pictorially and textually utilizing what one critic refers to as the “doubly reflective language” Gascoigne uses elsewhere (26). As the combination of text and image offers here in Hunting, Gascoigne’s doubly reflective language points in two directions at once. To readers paging through the text and casually observing the woodblock image of Elizabeth and her court, Gascoigne appears to celebrate the beauty and opulence of the cult. However, to readers simultaneously engaged critically with the written text, Gascoigne markedly qualifies that idealistic pictorial celebration and invites them to look for alternative, less ideal meanings.

  17. The image of the Queen beckoning the hunter Gascoigne forward thus sets in motion a figurative and narrative process of Elizabethan service, reward, and critique that continues to provide dual registers of observation and interpretation. As a pastoral landscape in which kneeling suitors serve the Queen in a ritualized hunt, this complex textual and visual image of the picnicking Elizabeth offers a petrarchan reading—as Gascoigne’s wider ownership of the Queen as “my Lawra” indicates. In fact, kneeling before Queen Elizabeth in this fashion embodies the petrarchan practice of metaphorically and literally kneeling before one’s beloved, as well as the customary ritual subservience to one’s monarch or liege. In this case, Gascoigne kneels before the national beloved Elizabeth, an identification the Queen, her courtiers, and others actively cultivated (27). In this Hunting image, the text positions the would-be courtier Gascoigne not outside of court politics but as yet another courtier proactively seeking grace from the Queen. Addressing Elizabeth, the hunter Gascoigne suggests,
    Perchance the fight, which sodenly you saw,
    Erstwhyles betweene, these overbragging bluddes
    Amasde your mynde, and for a whyle did draw
    Your noble eyes, to settle on such suddes.
    But peerlesse Prince, the moisture of such muddes,
    Is much too grosse and homely for your grace,
    Behold them not, their pleasures be but base. (93)
    Here Gascoigne aggressively competes for the attention of the monarch and represents her as susceptible to manipulation and captivation through her “noble eyes.” Gascoigne wishes for those royal eyes to “settle” upon him and reject what he actively constructs as the low culture or “base,” muddy spectacle that “amasde” her mind. In this sense of queenly amazement, Gascoigne imaginatively subjects Elizabeth to the power of spectacle and discursively prevents her from acting solely as a purveyor of her own powerful image. He asserts that Elizabeth’s “mynde” would be “amasde” by the strange battle perhaps because he wishes to assert that she remains receptive to his spectacular images, that his woodblock or poetic images or both will “draw” or command and direct her “noble eyes” and mind. Without any guarantee that readers will accept such a claim, Gascoigne nevertheless provides a hermeneutic that submits the (royal) viewer to a gaze defined and directed by Gascoigne the poet and alternately by the images he engages in Hunting.

  18. Rather than allowing her to gaze only upon what he defines as those worthless “suddes” or “dregs” and “leavings” (OED 1), the poet compels the Queen to “behold them not” but “behold us here, your true and trustie men, / Your huntes, your hyndes, your swaynes at all assayes” (93-94). With this set of appellations, Gascoigne equates the printed image of courtiers with idealized hunters, i.e., “true and trustie men,” thereby evoking the “trusty” military bravado of aggressive masculinity as well as the sense of fidelity that lovers and servants regularly claimed. As we recall from Wyatt, the term “hyndes” refers both to female deer and the sought-after beloved (28). From these dual registers of courting and hunting, then, Gascoigne combines military service for Elizabeth, as “swaynes,” with a hunting allegory that simultaneously transforms her courtiers into “hyndes” or deer. Gascoigne’s poetic appellations suggest that, as allegorical deer, courtiers become potentially subject to Queen Elizabeth in her role as consummate hunter. While set within a practical manual of hunting, Gascoigne’s combination of poetry and picture evokes multiple frames of reference to convey a number of contemporary contexts in which these images create meaning beyond sport. The construction of a pastoral forest, the story of battling cooks, and the depiction of attention-seeking “swains” or “hyndes” multiply evoke a less-than-ideal petrarchan discourse and depict Gascoigne as a courtier working for “grace” or the right to serve the Queen, if he can avoid becoming the hunted “hynde” or out-of-favor courtier.

  19. While Gascoigne elsewhere admits to embodying this characteristically courtly combination of power and weakness, scholars have primarily focused on the representations of his weakness or dependence, thereby underestimating the complexity of both Gascoigne’s art and Elizabethan discourse. However, as he writes specifically for courtiers and the Queen, Gascoigne offers a flexible discursive strategy that asserts the power of spectacular images over all readers, including Elizabeth (29). In asserting the power of his own images as well as the Queen’s susceptibility to them, Gascoigne places himself actively within the tradition of offering both advice and complaint to the monarch.

  20. IV

  21. Even after the narrator Gascoigne draws attention away from the fighting servants as part of his courtly complaint and pursuit, the competition for what he has dubbed Elizabeth’s “grace” continues. Within the narrative of the hunt, the Queen must now choose which hunter to follow. In this hunting context, Gascoigne presents a description of how each hunter reports to the “Prince or master of the game in field” (94) what quality of deer he has tracked, as well as the great effort and skill used in doing so. Reading the butler’s battle text takes readers from the image of Elizabeth’s picnic assembly to an image of Elizabeth at the edge of a wood. Surrounded by courtiers and ladies-in-waiting, Elizabeth waits on a raised wooden platform or “standing,” receiving a report from Gascoigne (see fig. 2). She motions with her finger for the courtier Gascoigne to come forward as she holds what appears to be an olive branch in her hand, which may fashion this scene as an allegorical tableau (30). Gascoigne seizes upon this part of the hunt and records, “for the better declaration and lively expressing of all these things, I have here set in portraiture as well an assembly, as also the present of a report made by a huntsman to a Prince upon sight of Slot, view, entrie, portes, abatures, fewmishings, and such other tokens” used by hunters to analyze game (94) (31). With his hunting dog tethered to his side, Gascoigne kneels upon one knee and offers Elizabeth the physical evidence of his successful deer tracking. Upon receiving the report, Elizabeth would decide which quarry to pursue.


    Figure 2: George Gascoigne, The Noble Art of Venerie or Hunting (1575)
    Used by permission of The Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery.

  23. Within the courtly context of Gascoigne’s allegorical framing narrative, Elizabeth momentarily brings peace to courtly combat through her choice of one courtier. Other artists similarly depicted Elizabeth with an olive branch as the allegorical figure Pax in contemporary portraits and images. The ca. 1572 “Allegory of the Tudor Succession,” for example, depicts Elizabeth’s escorting Peace (the latter holding an olive branch) and bringing concord and plenty to an England previously threatened by Queen Mary’s warlike Catholicism. Painted by Lucas de Heere, an artist aligned with the Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, “Allegory” may have been known to Gascoigne, who became a client of the Earl’s shortly after publishing Hunting (32). In any case, choosing Gascoigne out of the battling fray of the court, Elizabeth performs her noble role as master hunter and wise monarch momentarily ending courtly competition.

  24. Like other social performances, the representation of the hunter’s report remains enmeshed within a cultural matrix of accepted norms, behaviors, and verbal codes, which Gascoigne has been teaching readers throughout Hunting (33). Central among other such hunting codes, the “fewmishings” Gascoigne depicts represent deer scat, which was examined to measure a tracked deer’s health, thereby communicating the degree of enjoyable challenge and reward awaiting the hunter. Within this overt context, the stage image of a discerning Elizabeth examining deer scat constructs the Queen as a consummate hunter performing her role as arbiter and choice maker, the judge of hunters, beasts, and courtiers alike. As Manning writes, moreover, “the pleasures of the hunt or her own amusement were of secondary consideration to spreading the cult of Gloriana and enhancing the royal mystique. Thus, hunting at the Elizabethan court had become merely another pretext for lavish theatrical displays which made the Queen’s subjects admire her all the more” (34). Gascoigne’s Hunting provides one representation of Elizabethan hunting as allegorical and “theatrical display” but does so by perhaps making Gascoigne a central actor in the performance; he ‘shares the spotlight’ with the Queen as a member of an ensemble cast.

  25. Rather than simply disappearing behind the “royal mystique” of the Elizabethan image, the text positions Gascoigne within the penumbra of Elizabeth’s specular presence in order to make him a glowing spectacle as well. At this allegorical, courtly site, Gascoigne’s text adapts the cult’s tendency to make hunting into royal display but does so by deploying this staged image as evidence that he can perform consummate courtly service. As a petrarchan political language, Gascoigne’s allegorical self-presentation constructs him not simply as a successful hunter but as a successful courtier. This depicted and visually enacted performance must be read, however, as complexly ironic because in his previously published poem “Gascoigne’s Wodmanship,” the poet admitted to being a lousy hunter even as the text worked to assert other forms of social and moral power (35). In the context of such a multivalent self-presentation, teaching others to hunt through his translation, ostensibly leading Elizabeth to the best quarry, and staging his own successful ritual performance, Gascoigne presents himself here as an idealistic figure distinct from the portrait of court intrigue and conflict he had initially provided. His earlier poetic construction of a chaotic court thus provides a useful foil that accentuates his ideal social performance here.

  26. Gale Carrithers and James Hardy have aptly detailed the early modern truism that “all the world’s a stage,” whereon individuals actively fashioned themselves performing the kind of ideally spectacular roles Gascoigne presents. Carrithers and Hardy succinctly analyze the trope of early modern public life as performance in the theatrum mundi:
    More than simple rank (if such could even be imagined) was displayed; approved social posture and attitudes were also presented. The presentation of virtue or triumph rivaled rank in importance, for the great were also the guarantors of right order. In the Renaissance, art alone possessed the potentiality to display triumphant virtue, so conspicuously lacking in mere political and theological polemic. (36)
    Where Elizabeth ostensibly provides both the symbolic and political guaranty of “right order,” the image of Gascoigne also transcends a relatively “simple rank” to represent the courtier as embodying “approved social posture and attitudes.” Within the formal construct of Elizabeth’s staged performance, the text positions Gascoigne not outside of the theatrum mundi but within an increasingly closer, publicly performed relationship with the Queen. Where scholars have tended to focus primarily on Elizabeth’s image in this woodblock print, it should be noted that she shares the public performance with Gascoigne; she stands in the midst of a ritual that requires an interlocutor to find and present possible game to her discerning view. As an author presenting his own performance through this staging, Gascoigne seizes the “potentiality” of art to create power through performance. Although scholars have aptly noted that Gascoigne lived “the life of someone very, very near—and never very quite near enough—to power,” here Gascoigne places himself at the center of the Elizabethan political world and discursively adapts that power to his own (hoped for) benefit through his deployment of Elizabeth’s image, which he tells readers he has “set in portraiture” (37).

  27. As Harry Berger demonstrates, early modern artists working in “portraiture,” engaged actively in fashioning the social “masks” or virtuous identities embodied overtly in Gascoigne’s portraiture. Not unlike Carrithers and Hardy, Berger focuses our attention on “the visual or scopic dimension of the dominant discourses by which a culture constructs its subjects to imagine and represent themselves” (38). Influenced by Renaissance humanism and neoplatonic idealism, early modern pictorial images of individuals like Gascoigne and Elizabeth provided the discursive exempla needed by both the individual and the state. In a society increasingly open to and dependent upon self-fashioning as a means of establishing identity, as Berger following Stephen Greenblatt and others indicates, such pictorial images served the cultural, political, and personal need “for exemplary images; images that commemorate the individual as the model, the embodiment, of the status, values, norms, and authority of a particular class, lineage, institution, or profession” (39). Evoking this exemplary or representative sense of identity performance, when Gascoigne seeks and obtains Elizabeth’s empowering attention and, in turn, presents an ideal image of himself—as a courtier gazed upon by other courtiers in the staged image—he deploys the pictorial embodiment of Elizabeth to construct his own ideal “status” and, most importantly, “authority” in “a particular class.” The logic of courtly discourse necessarily requires the depiction of the Queen yet would remain incomplete without the complimentary and discursively aligned representation of the best and brightest courtiers like Gascoigne.

  28. The self-fashioned and fashioning visual images provided in Hunting enable Gascoigne to construct himself as an ideal courtier and public exemplum, preventing us from simply reading Elizabeth as the only or dominant figure in these hunting representations. Evoking a general theoretical sense of Gascoigne’s specific claim that every viewer, including the Queen, remains subject to the power of spectacle, Stephen Orgel demonstrates that artists and courtiers readily used images of themselves with the Queen to establish their own identities. In such artistic acts, which enable the “creation of the public self,” the artist or patron presents him- or herself
    The way he wants to be seen—above all, the way he wants to see himself. In such a performance, any distinction between actors and audience will be misleading. The protagonist is the audience, and other spectators, to view the spectacle correctly, must see it through his eyes. The persona he adopts, his mask, is not intended as a disguise but as a revelation: of the truest, essential, Platonic self. (40)
    The woodblock prints Gascoigne includes in Hunting and the performances they embody rely upon this early modern aesthetic practice of picture as ideal spectacle and individual as political actor in the theatrum mundi. By the time Gascoigne entered the sphere of Elizabeth’s influence, this ubiquitous specular practice had become a primary and effective means of self-fashioning and political rhetoric. Rather than ceding representational power solely to normative images of the monarch, here Orgel confirms that pictures embodied the desires of the individual protagonist: “the way he wants to see himself.” Other scholars, furthermore, have also established that portraits of Elizabeth could be read with courtiers as the foci of those pictures (41). In this broader aesthetic context, Gascoigne uses images of the Queen to construct his own ideal self: she partly serves as the spectacular light that illuminates, displays, and accentuates his own power and identity.

  29. By focusing attention and analysis solely or primarily on Elizabeth, however, cultural historians often forward a unidirectional model of the cult and its power. Such unflinching visual and modern critical focus on the Queen in these multiperspectival and multisubject pictures forwards a simplified historiography and adopts a monolithic aesthetics of the Queen, which she and her advisors readily forwarded. In fact, Elizabeth famously promulgated such a monolithic aesthetics herself, indicating to members of Parliament, “we Princes are set on stages in the sight and view of all the world duly observed” (42). Elizabeth’s use of “duly,” meaning “in a manner agreeable to obligation or propriety; as is due, rightly, properly, fitly” (OED 1), offers a hegemonic understanding of observation constituting the “view of all the world.” Subjects, that is, must view the Queen and all “Princes” “rightly” or in line with the sense of “propriety” defined, in this case, by Elizabeth and her counselors. Representing one group of readers who replicate this monolithic perspective, Leonard Tennenhouse suggests that “the very nature of the institution of monarchy was such that the monarch was always the object of public attention, constituting the court around him, in full view at all times, and the single figure upon whom everyone else gazed” (43). Hunting, however, positions the courtly Gascoigne as yet another “object” of attention gazed upon by other courtiers and the Queen, thereby literally embodying a multisubject aesthetics in which Elizabeth represents only one subject or focus. Gascoigne, moreover, incorporates contemporary European portrait aesthetics into his writing, an aesthetics, which emphasizes group identity over hierarchical imagery (44).

  30. Tennenhouse’s apparent replication of Elizabeth’s hegemonic mode of reading turns attention away from the multiple modes of reading offered by other authors and artists seeking power and self-construction through the strategic deployment of redolent images of the Queen. Not unlike a modern corporation using the image of a film star to improve the brand image of its product, men like Gascoigne used Elizabeth to improve their own “brand image” or self-fashioned identities. Although such fashioned identities may have been highly ephemeral and readily rejected, the quality of the performance could (and for Gascoigne did) lead the performer to success. Scholars have shown, in fact, that Gascoigne’s success was so “dazzling” that he produced a body of “disciples” and “imitators,” which Marie Axton dubs the “school of Gascoigne,” and created a posthumous Elizabethan reputation as a poet, the “bringer of [poetic] order,” second only to Spenser (45).

  31. Gascoigne’s strategy of praising Elizabeth at the same time that he glorifies his own power in Hunting proved dazzling enough to create not only a posthumous reputation for the struggling gentleman but also proved effective enough to draw the immediate attention of Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, “one of the most influential men in England.” In the three week long Kenilworth entertainments he produced for Elizabeth later in the same year that he published Hunting, as Ilana Nash establishes, Gascoigne wrote and acted in a series of performances that consistently praised both Elizabeth and Leicester, as well as pursuing his own self-promotion (46). In fact, very much as he presented himself in Hunting, Gascoigne designed a series of entertainments “that advertised” Leicester’s “authority and high position nearly as much as it did the queen’s” (47). Recognizing here that Gascoigne uses the same double register of self-promotion and queenly accolade in Hunting that he does in his later work at Kenilworth, we can confirm the claim that “it could have been the publication of the Noble Arte which attracted Leicester’s attention” (48). In reading The Noble Arte of Venerie or Hunting, Leicester recognized in Gascoigne the useful ability to improve one’s own power and reputation in the same moment that one glorifies the Queen. Writing that Gascoigne’s work at Kenilworth “illustrates the two constant themes of Dudley’s life: a belief in his exalted status, and his desire for Elizabeth to recognize and increase that status,” Nash could just as easily be referring to Gascoigne’s ideal self-construction in Hunting and elsewhere (49). Although Leicester’s use of Gascoigne’s literary entertainments resulted largely in the Queen’s displeasure with the Earl, Gascoigne’s self-presentation achieved what he intended, providing him with much needed employment and access to the Queen.

  32. V

  33. The final self-image Gascoigne provides in The Booke of Venerie or Hunting continues the cultural fantasy of successful courtly performance but simultaneously negotiates a potential threat that he sees as endemic to the cult of Elizabeth. In the chapter “An advertisement by the Translator of the English manner, in breaking up of the Deare” (132-135), Gascoigne explains the unique English custom in which the leader of the hunt tests the quality of the venison by cutting into the animal and measuring the thickness of its fat. In the accompanying image, the Queen stands next to a fallen deer beside Gascoigne (see fig. 3). Elizabeth has chosen the kneeling Gascoigne as her guide and has brought down the deer he originally tracked. Other courtier-hunters, holding spears or horns, and footmen, holding her horse, stand around Gascoigne and the Queen as he kneels and offers her a large knife, which she will use to cut the beast open. As the representation of “the English manner,” the image of Elizabeth attended by male courtiers represents the Queen as the defining focus of the Elizabethan political community and an emblem of national identity. While Gascoigne thus evokes the wider pictorial and poetic practice of making Elizabeth the axis mundi of British culture, this image also subtly undermines the normally hierarchical relationship between Queen and courtier (50).


    Figure 3: George Gascoigne, The Noble Art of Venerie or Hunting (1575)
    Used by permission of The Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery.

  35. As the culmination of his efforts on her behalf, this ritualistic scene of carving the fallen deer represents Gascoigne’s courtly success within the cult. Beckoning to the hunter to come close to her in the picnic image, Elizabeth initiated this allegorical and courtly journey. Such an image embodied the motivating power of the Queen to choose courtiers and servants based upon her own assessment of their abilities (51). Initially, Gascoigne’s text depicted Elizabeth as hailing him literally and ideologically into the subject position of a political lover and servant, as his verse deployment of “swaynes” and “hynde” suggests. Yet, Gascoigne also suggests that such initial acceptance will not maintain the Queen’s favor nor will the Queen be able to entirely limit the subject’s agency, because as the continuation of the hunt and capture of the deer imply, Elizabeth becomes immediately dependent upon continued performance and service. Gascoigne thus represents power dynamics in the cult as reciprocal and interdependent and not emanating solely from a deified monarch, thereby engaging contemporary political theory, as we shall see below.

  36. In the final self-portrait provided in Hunting, moreover¸ Gascoigne kneels before Elizabeth but takes the central position in the image, which also subtly suggests Elizabeth’s dependence upon him. His spatial centrality in the foreground of the image, the illusion of movement created by his outstretched arm, and his dominant position over the immense body of the magnificent deer all construct him as a powerful man, consummate hunter, and visual spectacle. While Berry is generally correct that “the dominance of the Queen herself is overwhelming” in Gascoigne’s text, Gascoigne transfers some of that dominance or power to himself (52). In essence, the constitutive fantasy of court service brings Gascoigne to center stage in an allegorical landscape in which he commands the coveted gaze of the monarch and courtiers, a gaze that he had represented as desired by all. As the Queen gazes directly and only at him as he desired in the picnic scene, the image embodies Gascoigne’s political victory.

  37. Gascoigne further constructs his own successful role in this butchering image by underscoring that this scene represents the key moment in the social and figurative performance of the hunt: a moment in which he remains the ideal and delays Elizabeth from fulfilling her function as supreme hunter and leader. As he explains, English men and women hunt in a different way than the continental authors he has collated, translated, and expanded. “We use,” he writes, “some ceremonie in taking out the shoulder” of the deer once it has been brought down (134-135). Recognizing that this moment in the English hunt represents a significant and central social performance, i.e., “ceremonie,” Gascoigne explains that as the prince or chief hunter skins the deer, he or she must perform with exacting precision. Once the prince has cut into the deer, “there he rayseth out the synew or muskle with his knyfe, and putteth his forefinger of his left hand, through under the sayd muscle to hold the legge by. If afterwerdes, he touch the shoulder or any part of the legge, with any other thing than his knife, until he have taken it out, it is a forfayture, and he is thought no handsome woodman” (134-135; my emphasis). High-stakes butchering at its best, the public performance of this arcane “ceremonie” determines the ability of the hunter and thus the identity of the prince. Within the context of this highly evocative ritual and within the context of their tenaciously ritualistic culture, Gascoigne presents himself as the one handing the huge carving knife to the Queen. Since this moment requires the monarch to perform her true identity qua monarch and since the hunter directly and manifestly enables her to perform that identity, the image ritually and allegorically constructs the courtier Gascoigne as the indispensable individual who empowers Elizabeth to be Queen.

  38. As he appears to hand Elizabeth the knife, Gascoigne also represents the Queen as a threatening monarch. Within his text and the larger culture, hunting constituted political identity and represented the quintessential masculine practice; Gascoigne’s text reconstructs the predominately masculine character of this discourse through the distinctly gendered “handsome woodman” he describes in the sporting manual. Gascoigne nevertheless represents the female monarch as an excellent hunter who can choose the right deer to hunt, track, and potentially kill. Even as she performs this traditionally masculine role attired in a highly feminine dress, she reaches for a large, threatening knife. Her hand is poised in midair set to take the knife and skin the venison, much as her hand was raised holding a symbol of peace in the staged image and poised in midair in the picnic image beckoning to Gascoigne to come close and receive her benison. Within the allegorical world of political service represented by the text, her hand thus represents her cultural, political, and legal power. Where Hunting represented her power as bringing employment and peace in the first two images, here in the final butchery image, the text allegorically represents her power as threatening ritual dismemberment and death. While Gascoigne’s text represents her without the knife, she reaches for it, promising to enact her social role(s) as butcher-monarch. Such an awareness of the life-giving and life-taking power of the Queen served Gascoigne well, for this awareness earned the Earl of Leicester’s attention and employment at Kenilworth, where Gascoigne again represented Elizabeth in this same simultaneously supportive and threatening manner (53).

  39. While Hunting admits the promise of the Queen’s disabling power in a similar fashion, within the momentary space of offering and not giving the knife to her, the butchery image briefly maintains Gascoigne’s own efficacy. Again, Elizabeth’s raised hand in the picnic image represents her power to choose, and her hand holding the emblem of peace and motioning Gascoigne forward represents her ability to settle courtly discord. Here, however, the threatening hand also momentarily represents her dependence, because she does not hold the knife but only reaches for it; the text represents her not cutting into the deer. In the moment in which Elizabeth must perform perfectly to demonstrate her cultural agency, her “handsome” or skilled (OED 2b) “woodman-ship,” Gascoigne prevents her from pictorially doing so. Both the assembly picnic and stage images depict Elizabeth in the midst of social performances, thereby representing and giving her power through the depiction of those performances. In the butchering image, however, she has yet to take the knife or cut into the deer. Berry correctly argues, “in no other activity, political, religious, or social, was the Queen’s authority so absolute as in the hunt” yet Gascoigne here pictorially and imaginatively contains that authority. The “absolute” nature of the Queen’s power in the hunt further underscores Gascoigne’s bold move. Elizabeth was known to have slit the throat of a stag, as well as other hunting feats, so there is little reason for Gascoigne not to represent her cutting into the beast, especially in light of the cultural power afforded her by the hunt (54).

  40. Within the context of those other images that make her into a consummate hunter through performance, the lack of action in what has been constructed as a semisacred vitalizing social ritual shifts from a recognition, to an assertion of Gascoigne’s discursive power. Stopping time, the image contains Elizabeth’s performance and display of power. Pictorially stopping what Catherine Bates has more generally identified as the courtly “cycle of reciprocity,” Gascoigne works to save himself or imaginatively preserve his own sense of agency (55). In contrast to Elizabeth, he has completed his assigned role; therefore, he can be said to pictorially and performatively embody the ideal hunter in this pregnant moment. In subtly but distinctly containing or momentarily postponing the Queen’s performance of her most ideal identity, Gascoigne, then, noticeably shifts focus to the hunter as the embodiment of the ideal courtier and man.

  41. Deploying hunting as a cultural allegory for the courtly pursuit of preferment, Gascoigne uses the image of the deer to embody a multiplicity of perspectives, as do the overlapping narrative and temporal perspectives he constructs within his other works (56). As we recall from the first Hunting image, Gascoigne had allegorically equated courtiers to hunted deer. In this allegorical context, when he positions himself as a power-holding (i.e., knife-holding) courtier enabling the hunting Elizabeth to bring down such a deer, he becomes a hunter of other courtiers. The image of a fallen stag lying below him thus seems suggestive and appropriate. From this allegorical perspective, one might read Elizabeth as a hunting Diana in Gascoigne’s text. In the traditional and apropos myth of Actaeon and Diana, for example, Actaeon stumbles upon the naked goddess bathing who turns him into a buck who is hunted down by his friends and dogs. While the Elizabethan cult of the Virgin Diana did not blossom until after 1580, in the Kenilworth entertainments presented in the same year as the publication of Hunting, Gascoigne was apparently the first to represent Elizabeth as the hunting goddess Diana, making her completely helpless in the hunt and entirely dependant upon a man (Leicester), even though she had turned her previous lovers into strange beasts like Actaeon (57).

  42. While Gascoigne’s text provides the hunting Elizabeth with a much greater degree of power than that given to her in the later Kenilworth texts, Gascoigne’s representation of Elizabeth as Diana in that later text echoes the allegorical meaning of the images he presents in the sporting manual. Thus, the male deer depicted in Gascoigne’s butchery print, as well as Gascoigne’s verse identification of courtiers and servants as hyndes, aptly represents those courtiers who fall foul of her pleasure and are hunted down by Diana-Elizabeth and her male courtiers. In pictorially preventing Elizabeth from cutting into the deer in his published picture, Gascoigne prevents anyone, including himself, from becoming the hunted “hynde.” Despite such discursively negotiated fears, in 1576 Gascoigne advanced his position in the Queen’s eyes by again successfully deploying the political semiotics of kneeling before her.

  43. VI

  44. Gascoigne’s self portrait crafted as the frontispiece to his Tale of Hemetes the Heremyte (1576) also depicts his kneeling before the Queen and provides a sense of ideal fulfillment to the symbolic and visual narrative of courtly desire, service, and assertion begun in The Noble Arte of Venerie or Hunting. Recognizing Gascoigne’s efforts, Gillian Austen writes that the Hemetes image “offers another version of ‘Gascoigne,’” his “most explicit bid for laureation; and it suggests a degree of familiarity between poet and monarch.” While Austen also writes that the “frontispiece to Hemetes may have another level of reference to previous encounters with the Queen,” scholars have not traced the full development of Gascoigne’s narrative of royal service through Hunting to Hemetes (58).

  45. Figure 4: George Gascoigne, The Tale of Hemetes the Heremyte (1576)
    Used by permission of the British Library.

  46. In the summer of 1575, Gascoigne participated in an entertainment for Elizabeth at Woodstock where she commanded him to write out the masque that had been performed, which he then presented to her as The Tale of Hemetes for a New Year’s gift. As “a form of encoded lobbying” for preferment, his self-representation in this image confirms the foregoing reconstruction of the aggressive aesthetics of courtly self-presentation provided in his Hunting (59). Instead of kneeling and pleading for attention as the picnic text constructs, in this Hemetes version, he kneels before the Queen and actively presents her with the book she has commanded him to write (see fig. 4) (60). Pictured with pen, sword, and lance, Gascoigne’s martial service fuses with the poetic laurel of success hovering over him. Where the picnic image of the Queen in Hunting had depicted her sitting under a tree and beckoning the kneeling hunter Gascoigne forward, the Hemetes frontispiece pictures her sitting motionless on her throne, smiling broadly and approvingly at the kneeling Gascoigne.

  47. The Hemetes image emblematically figures successful courtly performance as well as a powerful political identity for the soldier. Having translated the masque into a number of different languages, Gascoigne enacts a complex social performance. Using the pictorial semiotics of petrarchanism perfected earlier in The Noble Arte of Venerie or Hunting, Gascoigne’s accompanying visual image allegorizes and visually embodies successful performance. Where the Hunting images embodied Elizabeth’s power through the illusion of her movement, here in Hemetes, by contrast, her total lack of movement might be read as another attempt at containing her power. Reiterating but qualifying the allegorical language evoked by the visual image, Gascoigne provides yet another written text that directs readers to a specific understanding of the visual image he constructs. He writes,
    Beholde (good Quene) A poet with a Speare
    (straunge sights well markt are understode the better)
    A Soldyer armed, with pensile in his eare
    With pen to fighte, and sworde to wryte a letter.
    His gown haulffe of[f], his blade not fully bownde
    In dowbtfull doompes, which waye were best to take
    With humble harte, and knees that kysse the grownnde
    Presenntes hymsellfe, to you for dewtyes sake
    And thus he saithe, no daunger (I protest)
    Shall ever lett this loyall harte I beare
    To serve you so as maye become me beste
    In feilde, in Towne, in Cowrte, or any where.
    Then peereless prince, employe this willinge man
    In your affayres to do the beste he cann. (61)
    In potentially pathetic and depressive “dowbtfull dompes,” with a “humble” “loyall harte,” and with “knees that kysse the grownde,” Gascoigne constructs himself in a misleadingly vulnerable position similar to the one constructed in Hunting. The poet, however, magnifies his own effectual power by asserting his ability to act “in fielde, in Towne, in Cowrte, or any where,” therein commanding each of the recognized Elizabethan public spheres: the battlefield, London and/or Westminster (“Towne”), and Elizabeth’s court. Gascoigne’s resultant geographical ubiquity translates as tremendous social and political reach as a “willinge man” uniquely capable for employment, yet in ending such a description with the claim that he can serve “any where,” he connects his presence in her court to the whole world, including the hunting fields he shared with her in his hunting text and perhaps at Kenilworth the preceding summer. In effect, such a universalizing self-construction works to lift Gascoigne off the printed page. Recalling the ironic combination of text and picture in Hunting, his verse and pictorial description in Hemetes imaginatively and paradoxically combine to cast Gascoigne’s political skill as not contained or limited by courtly discourse. This ideal and poetically overt self-construction compliments the thematization of the poet’s hidden power, which R. W. Maslen sees as operative in Hemetes (62).

  48. In Hemetes, Gascoigne manipulates and relies upon numerous forms of identity as well as the cultural dynamics that make Queen Elizabeth the axis mundi of British culture, as we have seen. As axis mundi, Elizabeth remains in some senses fixed as the central point around which the rest of her culture defines itself. In this Hemetes image, Gascoigne presents Elizabeth as such a fixed, powerful, and unmoved mover, placing himself alone at that Elizabethan center. In simultaneously constructing himself as ubiquitously present any and everywhere in “towne” and at “cowrte,” Gascoigne transcends the fixity of the cultural axis and makes himself a free-ranging agent. The ostensible paradox of his vast mobility and immovable fixity, however, aptly reflects the cultural dynamics of the axis mundi. As Mircea Eliade establishes, individuals feel “the need to live at the Center always—like the Achilpa, who, as we saw, always carried the sacred pole, the axis mundi, with them, so that they should never be far from the Center and remain in communication with the supraterrestrial world” (63). By dedicating his pen and sword to Elizabeth, those powerful self-fashioning tools simultaneously become totemic synecdoches of her and her power.

  49. In this cultural context carrying his spear, he carries his own sacred pole, his own axis mundi, and therein embodies the sense of culturally and individually definitive mobility guaranteed by the sacred figure of Elizabeth. Gascoigne fully recognizes the efficacious power of making the monarch into a scared being, for he had strategically transformed Elizabeth into a “supraterrestrial” goddess the preceding summer. Echoing this strategic aesthetics, the visual text in Hemetes places Gascoigne at the sacred center of his culture and the poetic text defines his service further as connected to the divine Elizabeth wherever he goes. In the dissonant space between text and image, past and present, and center and periphery, Gascoigne once again deploys a discursive strategy that enables him to use the image and cultural position of Elizabeth to create his own sense of empowered self.

  50. The poet’s masterful command for the Queen to “Beholde” the visual text in a specific fashion further belies his pose as the humble and depressed supplicant and again goes beyond passive acceptance of subordinate courtly roles to assert that Elizabeth remains subject to the power of his spectacle and image. The poet’s self-description as a “straunge sight” once again recalls the early modern practice of self-fashioning as visual spectacle and “revelation.” When he asserts that “straunge sights” that are “well markt” are therefore “understode the better,” Gascoigne directly connects his command to “Beholde” to the process of reading and interpreting this image. As we also recall from Orgel, to read such visual self-assertions correctly, one must place oneself in the position of the artist: in this case Gascoigne. Rather than leaving such interpretation to chance, Gascoigne assertively directs the Queen to the “better” or “correct” reading of himself that he wishes to fix in her mind. Much as Gascoigne seized discursive power by depicting the Queen’s looking solely upon him in the stage woodcut, the poet once again asserts his own mastery through his commanding verse and through depicting himself alone with the attentive Queen in the Hemetes drawing.

  51. Reflecting a broader critical feeling, Orgel asserts that in this image, Gascoigne actually “disarms” himself by presenting himself as “suitor offering a love token” (64). Gascoigne’s possession of a spear and sword, powerful and violent arms in themselves, however, complicates such an assertion by depicting him as much more than a dependant lover. Also recalling his martial self-construction as a “swayne” in Hunting, in Hemetes he subversively suggests that his “blade [is] not fully bownde,” implying initially that his skill as a warrior remains at the ready but perhaps also implying that even the presence of the monarch cannot “fully bind” his power. Another notorious (but finally unsuccessful) courtier, Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, clearly embodied a treasonous threat to Elizabeth when he put his hand on his sword in anger because she had slapped him. While Gascoigne’s unbound blade fails to represent such a treasonous insult, “his blade” does speak both to the symbolic and potentially threatening power afforded swords or their wielders in the period (65).

  52. Gascoigne’s representation of such a threatening power may not be entirely out of place or overly risky because, while Elizabeth clearly wanted to control her courtiers, she needed their volatility and ability. As Montrose and others develop, to entirely suppress their power or emasculate them would prevent her from having effective use of that power. Much as the courtier-artist must be careful not to offend the Queen, Elizabeth must also take care to conserve the power of her servants lest she destroy or lose control of it (66). Gascoigne’s pictorial and poetic self-fashioning as soldier and courtier, then, positions him within a complex range of social needs, which may allow him to represent himself as a barely contained power much as he does elsewhere. In any case, as he presented in Hunting, here Gascoigne provides himself with a variety of social, cultural, and allegorical identities, all of which he classifies not solely or predominantly as a lover but as “A Soldyer armed” and as “A poet with a Speare.”

  53. While his perceived role as an allegorical lover might limit his power in relation to the Queen, his overlapping but distinctive roles as artist, soldier, and political counselor in Hemetes, provide alternative means of self-assertion. The book he depicts thus represents his subordination to Elizabeth, but the power of his pen enables Gascoigne discursively to escape her control: she has commanded him to write the book, but he, in turn, commands what and how she should read and understand the visual text he supplies of his own choice. Gascoigne’s personal presentation of the book to Elizabeth should, moreover, mimic other contemporary royal gift-giving practices in symbolizing “unconditional praise of the queen and the total subjection of” the gift-giver but fails to do so. Gascoigne’s unconventional and potentially insulting choice to advertise his own martial and intellectual prowess and ability in giving this gift repeats the kind of political slight to Elizabeth that he had helped to enact in Leicester’s royal gift-giving at Kenilworth the preceding summer (67). In fact, he classifies his pen as a weapon and his writing as dangerous: he uses his “pen to fighte” and sees himself, once again, as “A poet with a Speare,” which suggests that his translation and all of his works represent active weapons in the social and courtly war for preference he recreated in Hunting. Not simply a case of the pen being mightier than the sword, the two are synonymous since he uses his “sworde to wryte a letter,” representing thereby a powerful sense of artistic and cultural agency for himself.

  54. The writer’s gown, provocatively “haulffe of[f]”, may suggest that Gascoigne resembles a statesman or counselor in contemporary political dress. Scholars have repeatedly interpreted Gascoigne’s self-expressive power here in the Hemetes image as primarily sexual, seeing, for example, his gown as a “nightgown” (68). Under his furred gown, however, Gascoigne appears to wear a doublet with sleeves, and he would also have worn a shirt underneath that doublet. Gascoigne would probably not have worn a nightgown over a doublet, rather he probably would have worn it over his shirt (69). If not a nightgown, the furred “gown” that Gascoigne wears might suggest that he holds “civil or legal or parliamentary office” (OED 4a). The gown being half off might recall Gascoigne’s failure to take his parliamentary seat because of bad debts, asserting a paradoxical power through recognition of fault, repentance, and promised reformation, as he does elsewhere. More positively, as he also suggests, its position half off (or half on) manifests the soldier-poet’s ability to assume or abandon such an identity at will. Like the loose, readily wearable garment that he can slip into and out of with ease, Gascoigne thus advertises his facility with multiple professional identities.

  55. Gascoigne’s own active self-representation as a member of the political nation further accentuates his power when understood as functioning in concert with Elizabeth’s visual representation as a political figure; representations that together create resonant meanings in the contemporary political climate of the 1570s when Gascoigne wrote and performed for the Queen. Within this pictorial context, the artist dresses the Queen in her regalia of investiture, including staff, globe, and crown, which Gascoigne would have seen at her coronation and are represented in the “Coronation portrait” (70). Marching in her coronation procession, Gascoigne participated in the performance of the public ritual that established and enacted Elizabeth’s right to rule. In such a private meeting as he represents in the Hemetes image, the Queen would probably not have worn her coronation regalia. In presenting her in this unlikely fashion, then, Gascoigne stresses the symbolic and political significance of the regalia and the political relationships embodied in these symbols. Recalling her coronation and assumption of royal power in this way, Gascoigne flatteringly reminds the Queen that he had already participated in creating her power some eighteen years earlier. In choosing to represent her with the symbols of her imperial and royal power in Hemetes, he again connects himself to that discursively potential power.

  56. Gascoigne’s decision to depict Elizabeth in her imperial crown, the synecdoche of her royal power and coronation, places his work squarely in the context of monarchical political theory and contemporary parliamentary discourse on the nature of both Elizabeth and her subjects’ rights and powers. Elizabeth, in fact, recognized that she “derived her power from the ‘laws of God and this realm always annexed to the Crown of this realm.’” Elizabeth’s evocation of the laws of “this realm” references the limits that parliamentarians wished to place on her royal power. As A. N. McLaren establishes, starting with the Henrician reformation and reaching a crescendo in the 1570s, when Gascoigne engaged the cult, political theorists challenged the definition of English royal sovereignty and government, increasingly asserting a “mixed” monarchy in which the king or queen’s power was balanced by the godly council of parliament, to which group Gascoigne was elected a member (71). Period constitutional scholars sought to “bridle” the worst excesses of monarchy by asserting an ostensibly “balanced” form of government in which elected counselors shared legislative power with the Queen. The physical position of Gascoigne and the Queen sharing the space of his self-portrait seems to pictorially embody such a balance between the two figures.

  57. In advancing the theory of the Queen’s “two bodies,” scholars and politicians asserted such shared governance through the idea of a “marriage between monarch and realm, embodied in parliament.” Political theorists supporting the Queen argued that through her marriage to the “body politic,” Elizabeth overcame the “deficiencies” thought to be inherent to her gender. This mystical body politic, which was specifically created in the elected parliament, “represented the reason of the realm: pure, immortal, unerring, and invested in the person of the queen through a mystical marriage effected at her coronation” (72). Thus, Elizabeth’s right and power to rule not only derived from her coronation and investiture with the imperial crown but also was directly linked to and balanced by her counselors in the form of parliament. In representing Elizabeth in her coronation attire and representing himself alone with her (as a husband would be), Gascoigne potentially evokes this contemporary political context in order to accentuate his role as being in balance with hers.

  58. In their analysis of Gascoigne, the Hemetes image, and his election to the 1572 parliament, which Elizabeth prorogued or cancelled, critics and biographers have not noted Gascoigne’s potential self-representation as a furred and gowned member of the political nation, whose representation takes on tangible contemporary meaning. In specifically recalling his participation in her coronation and his own political identity as counselor, Gascoigne references a contemporary political context in which he shares a mystical union of political marriage with Elizabeth. Within this context of a “mixed monarchy,” Elizabeth still maintains her power and thus receives the appropriate deference of kneeling accorded the monarch. However, as a “counselor,” member of parliament, and member of the mystical union he helped to create in her coronation, he also has a balancing and enabling power as a kind of symbolic husband to the Queen as national, political wife. When he writes, in the controlling verse accompanying his Hemetes image, that he promises “To serve you so as maye become me beste” (my emphasis), he pointedly does not state that he will serve Elizabeth solely as she commands but as “beste” becomes him or befits his station and self-identity.

  59. As a member of the political nation of men in mystical union with Elizabeth, his best action may include decisions that benefit the whole nation (including him) and not just the Queen, as his support of Leicester’s marriage to the Queen at Kenilworth and other evidence in his writings indicates (73). In any case, the “me” to whom Gascoigne refers consistently includes both ideal and contemporary political components often ignored in readings of his work. As a member of that political nation of men in parliament and in her coronation, then, Gascoigne has a right and a “dewty,” which he overtly evokes in the Hemetes verse, to provide Elizabeth with counsel and even leadership (74). His sword, his ability, and his claims of enabling Elizabeth in Hunting all come together here in a contemporary political context that scholars have overlooked in favor of an incomplete understanding of the Queen’s power, of contemporary political theory, and of the specifics of Gascoigne’s self-representation.

  60. Finally in the Hemetes image, Gascoigne kneels before the Queen but purposefully kneels upon the sacred cloth of her gown: in effect he touches Elizabeth through the synecdoche of her clothing, which creates yet another discursive register for reading the courtier-soldier’s self-empowerment. Unlike the three other images of himself and the Queen engaged in public relations, his Hemetes portrait places him alone with the Queen (75). Where the other images depicted social performances enacted publicly out of doors, here Gascoigne and the Queen perform these roles in private chambers solely for one another. Rather than “repressing almost every trace of creative autonomy and originality from his work,” as McCoy argues, Gascoigne continues to create multiply constructed images wherein he enjoys unmediated access to the monarch and the very private, influential power of a political “husband” (76). In touching her clothes, in effect, Gascoigne symbolically touches her—an action only a husband or lover would perform privately. In this final image alone with the Queen, Gascoigne pictorially achieves the mastery of the royal attention and understanding that he sought and asserted in Hunting, making the courtier-hunter-solider into an unqualified success and considerable power with the almost magical ability to take on any number of powerful and changeable identities and deploy them anywhere (77). While this kind of self-representation might ring hyperbolic or artificial in modern ears, his self-fashioning as poet, soldier, and powerful courtier compelled one Elizabethan critic to reiterate Gascoigne’s own hypermasculine and hyperintellectual public identity in which he becomes “as painefull [i.e., diligent] a Souldier in the affayres of hys Prince and Country as he was witty Poet in his writing” (78).

  61. VII

  62. Although Gascoigne’s self-construction as powerful courtier and fighter might thus be read as containing and redirecting the Queen’s power to his own ends, Gascoigne did shortly thereafter receive employment from her. Even though such a potentially equivocal or mercenary representation of the Queen (as dependent) might be politically risky, his self-representation as a useful, effective, and—above all—powerfully creative courtier was a gamble that paid measurable rewards (79). Even so, Gascoigne published Hunting anonymously, suggesting that his representations might offend. For Charles and Ruth Prouty and for Austen, Gascoigne’s choice to remain largely anonymous came from a desire to maintain his pose as a reformed prodigal unwilling to write such a frivolous work as a hunting manual. However, these scholars also note that the lack of textual ascription by Gascoigne proved irrelevant because “the poet did not . . . make too great an effort to conceal his authorship” because “the prefatory material gives the show away” (80). Gascoigne’s friend, fellow soldier, and initial biographer George Whetstone knew that Hunting was Gascoigne’s text; the text drew attention to Gascoigne from Leicester, Lord Clinton, another of Gascoigne’s patrons, and perhaps even the Earl of Bedford (81). This thin anonymity, along with his openly direct self-construction as a soldier-courtier in the Hemetes image, suggests that he had no qualms in circulating any number of identities. I offer, then, that Gascoigne provided such a thinly veiled anonymity in order to protect himself in case his self-serving representations resulted in the Queen's dissatisfaction. In the epilogue to Hemetes, in fact, he imagined that work potentially offending in just this way. He states that he lives,
    In hope they [“ev[r]ye leafe” of his “Booke”] maye, be tane as they be ment
    But if my Queene, shulde not accepte them well
    They kyll his harte, wch (now) for Joye doth swell. (82)
    While he could control his (potentially threatening) self-construction and his construction of her, Gascoigne could not finally, as he repeatedly attempted, control Elizabeth’s interpretation of his texts, precisely because she might “not accepte them well” “as they be ment” by him (83).

  63. The allegorical embodiment of Gascoigne as aggressive courtier and artist unable to control the effect of his own self-fashioning performance, along with the image of the courtier as both fallen deer and successful hunter, thus, negotiates the tenuous position represented by a broad range of courtiers and servants at the Elizabethan court. As the butchering image aptly suggests, Queen Elizabeth is about to take the knife, and she will dissect the deer. In the end, she has primary control however much Gascoigne imagines his own role as powerful or however much he exposes her dependency. Regardless of the specifics of his work at Kenilworth or Woodstock, for Gascoigne the butchering image in Hunting represents the position in which he found himself when he performed before the Queen with less than perfect success in the summer of 1575 (84). In great debt, censured by the Privy Council for his poetry and without gainful employment, Gascoigne’s public image sometimes seemed more like the hunted deer than the powerful hunter of his text.

  64. Through his symbolic and pictorial movement ever closer to the Queen, Gascoigne nevertheless envisions his own power slowly but markedly growing until he physically and politically shares the Queen’s personal space. As scholars have noted, counselors tightly controlled access to the monarch; the closer one moved to the Queen, the more power the individual ostensibly or potentially possessed (85). As he consistently asserts in verse and picture, his position close to Elizabeth both empowers her and allows him to enjoy a mutual empowerment. In such a fashioned performance, they share the spotlight as all other competitors for her favor have been pictorially shut out. In this complex aesthetics of courtly power, Gascoigne’s texts communicate the fine line between praise and assertion that allowed artists and writers to construct their own images of power. If other courtier’s idealistic fantasies failed to achieve the kind of real success Gascoigne briefly enjoyed, his eventful life and public persona embodied a common dream and the successful language needed to actualize such a dream. Gascoigne thus provides an apt example of a larger cultural practice and aesthetic in which images of the Queen were manipulated for more than panegyric purposes. Although limited by our distant position some four hundred years after her death, by actually reading images of the Queen from perspectives that decenter her and recognize the multidirectional nature of discursive power, we might not be completely shut off from a more accurate understanding of early modern political dynamics in the cult and in the wider culture.

1 Portions of an earlier version of this text were presented at the 2003 Central Renaissance Conference. I want to thank the participants for their thoughtful commentary. Recently, Courtney Lehmann, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Agenda: How Shakespeare and the Renaissance Are Taking the Rage Out of Feminism," Shakespeare Quarterly 53.2 (2002), n. 12, has provocatively noted that the film Elizabeth (1998) "might be more aptly titled ‘Gascoigne’s Revenge,’ for it has more in common with George Gascoigne’s attempts to advance Robert Dudley’s and his own claim to power than it does with the biography of Elizabeth I."

2 Ilana Nash, "‘A Subject Without Subjection’: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and The Princely Pleasures at Kenelworth Castle," Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 25 (1994), 101-102, writes, that "Gascoigne’s innovation of deifying Elizabeth became a commonplace in the entertainment genre and later in Elizabethan poetry." Jean Wilson, Entertainments for Elizabeth (London: Woodbridge and Co., 1980), 22, has established that the Kenilworth entertainments "signal the beginning of the cult of Elizabeth as a supernatural being." Charles Prouty, George Gascoigne: Elizabethan Courtier, Soldier, and Poet (New York: Benjamin Blom, 1942), 4, asserts Gascoigne’s preeminence in the early Elizabethan court. The critical literature on the cult of Elizabeth is extensive, but the most important studies include Louis Montrose, "Idols of the Queen: Policy, Gender, and the Picturing of Elizabeth I," Representations 68 (1999), 108-161; Helen Hackett, Virgin Mother, Maiden Queen: Elizabeth I and the Cult of the Virgin Mary (New York: St. Martin’s, 1995); Carol Levine, The Heart and Stomach of a King: Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press, 1994); Susan Frye, Elizabeth I: The Competition for Representation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993); John King, Tudor Royal Iconography: Literature and Art in an Age of Religious Crises (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989); Phillippa Berry, Of Chastity and Power: Elizabethan Literature and the Unmarried Queen (London: Routledge, 1989); Louis Montrose, "A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Shaping Fantasies of Elizabethan Culture: Gender, Power, Form," in Rewriting the Renaissance: The Discourse of Sexual Difference in Early Modern Europe, ed. Margaret Feguson, Maureen Quilligan, and Nancy Vickers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), 65-87; Frances Yates, Astrae: The Imperial Theme in the Sixteenth Century (London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1985); Roy Strong, The Cult of Elizabeth: Elizabethan Portraiture and Pageantry (London: Thames and Hudson, 1977) and Portraits of Queen Elizabeth (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963); and Elkin Wilson, England’s Eliza (New York: Octogon Books, 1966).

3 George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie (1589), includes Gascoigne in the "crew of Courtly makers Noble men and Gentlemen of her Maiesities owne seruauntes, who haue written excellently well." Quoted in Marcy L. North, "Anonymity’s Revelations in The Arte of English Poesie," SEL 1500-1900 39.1 (1999), 6. Edward Berry, Shakespeare and the Hunt: A Cultural and Social Study (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 10-11, writes of "the ironies within Gascoigne’s social position. As a gentleman, he is at one remove from both the servants, who find nothing but pain in the sport [of hunting], and the nobles, who find only pleasure. The choice he makes, and with self-mocking glee, is to align himself with the nobles." Steven May, The Elizabethan Courtier Poets: The Poems and Their Context (Columbia: University Press of Missouri, 1991), 40, refers to Gascoigne as an "out-of-court poet . . . who wrote for courtiers and the court without being a part of that institution at any level." Prouty, Elizabethan Courtier, 119, asserts, "Gascoigne wrote in and for the court circle."

4 On Gascoigne’s place in early modern prodigal discourse, see Richard Helgerson, The Elizabethan Prodigals (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), 44-77.

5 The noble art of venerie or hunting (London, 1575), STC (2nd ed.) 24328.

6 The standard modern biography is Prouty, Elizabethan Courtier. G. W. Pigman, III, ed., George Gascoigne: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), xxiii-xliii, and Richard McCoy "Gascoigne’s ‘Poemata castrata’: The Wages of Courtly Success," Criticism 27.1 (1985), 29-55, also offer important insights. Rayna Kalas, "The Technology of Reflection: Renaissance Mirrors of Steel and Glass," The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 32.3 (2002), 521-527, discusses Gascoigne’s self-interested transformation and reformation in reference to his later satirical works and the tradition of estates satires, specifically his The Steele Glas (1576). Ilona Bell, Elizabethan Women and the Poetry of Courtship (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 64-65, discusses Gascoigne’s reformation as an attempt to "placate" some readers without actually reforming himself. R. W. Maslen, Elizabethan Fictions: Espionage, Counter-Espionage, and the Duplicity of Fiction in Elizabethan Prose Narratives (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 116, persuasively demonstrates that Gascoigne maintained an unreformed "youthful pride in intellectual athleticism, his gift for extemporization, his love of risks, his adventurousness [and that they] justify themselves retrospectively by being harnessed at last in the service of the state." Gillian Austen, "The Literary Career of George Gascoigne," Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, (Oxford University, 1997), 4, 191, establishes that Gascoigne successfully manipulated a number of different personas, including the reformed prodigal, as part of a concerted effort to gain courtly employment: "this shifting mode of presentation is characterized by courtly evasions," and "it seems clear that, far from rejecting the courtly means to preferment, Gascoigne continued to pursue that route while he constructed for himself a moralistic persona in print." See also, his "Gascoigne’s Metamorphoses: The Princely Pleasures at Kenilworth, 1575," Imaginaires: Revue de Centre de Recherché Sur L’imaginaire dans les Literatures de Langue Anglaise 4 (1999), 9-29. Wendy Wall, The Imprint of Gender: Authorship and Publication in the English Renaissance (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), 245-247, analyzes the way in which Gascoigne’s "apology" and "reformation" are simply part of an authorial strategy of literary self-fashioning, which reveals a false-front and lack of actual reformation.

7 Rather than forwarding an argument that Gascoigne definitively scribed the woodcut images himself, my analysis provides a much needed examination of how Gascoigne uses these images to engage with the cult in a complex fashion. Roy Strong, Gloriana: The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth (Wisbech: Thames and Hudson, 1987), 56-57, suggests that the woodcuts in the Booke of Hunting may "possibly [be] after designs by Levina Teerlinc." Gascoigne’s unique text surrounding and involving these woodcuts, along with their similarity to Gascoigne’s own image kneeling before Elizabeth in his Hemetes, suggests that at least he was active in directing Teerlinc or another artist in producing the end product. Gascoigne’s narrative claim, Hunting 94, that "I have here set in portraiture as well an assembly," self-identifies him as, at the very least, the designer of the portrait of Elizabeth in the "assembly" with Gascoigne.

8 McCoy, "Gascoigne’s ‘Poemata castrata,’" 32; see also 33, 41-44, argues that by 1576 "larger forces overwhelmed" Gascoigne’s "personal aims and authorial control," but in that same year he actually asserts powerful discursive control, redefining the Queen and pictorially containing her power in order to further his own "personal aims." More recently, Steve Mentz, "Escaping Italy: From Novella to Romance in Gascoigne and Lyly," Studies in Philology 101.2 (2004), 164, suggest that "Gascoigne’s presentation of himself as poemata castrada in the 1575 Poesies accents the helplessness of the literary courtier in Elizabethan England," citing McCoy, "Gascoigne’s ‘Poemata castrata.’" For an argument that also sees Gascoigne as maintaining agency in his later works, see Kevin LaGrandeur, "‘Androgyny and Linguistic Power in Gascoigne’s The Steele Glas," Texas Studies in Literature and Language 37 (1995), 350, 359, who writes, "far from being a beaten man—as most critics claim—he was simply learning to bend the courtly rules to his advantage," and "now we have a poet very different from the one critical tradition has given us: one who has learned to use his creative power more subtly because of his bad experience at court, rather than one who has capitulated completely to the power of censure."

9 For a recent reconstruction of the cult, which sees the cult and the bulk of Elizabethan society as praising a loving Queen, see Gale Carrithers, Jr., and James Hardy, Jr., Age of Iron: English Renaissance Tropologies of Love and Power (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998), 57-70. Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 166, writes, "that it did not seem in the interest of a substantial segment of the population to attempt to demystify the queen’s power, and hence it was enormously difficult to do so."

10 "Queen Elizabeth I: Representations of the Virgin Queen," Renaissance Quarterly 43.1 (1990), 36.

11 On such artistic resistance, see King, "Representations of the Virgin Queen," 36. See also, Louise Montrose, "The Elizabethan Subject and the Spenserian Text," in Literary Theory/Renaissance Texts, ed., Patricia Parker and David Quint (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), 310. On the active suppression of images by Elizabeth and her court, see Montrose, "Idols of the Queen," 118, Leonard Tennenhouse, Power on Display: The Politics of Shakespeare’s Genres (New York: Methuen; 1986), 104, who quotes a drafted but not enacted Tudor proclamation that called for the creation of an official court painter "‘to take the natural representation of her majesty’ and ‘to prohibit all manner of other persons to draw, paint, grave, or portray her majesty’s personage or visage,’" and Roy Strong, Gloriana, 144-145.

12 For a useful overview of the central importance of creating and maintaining a normative image of the Queen, see Gloriana’s Face: Women, Public and Private, in the English Renaissance, ed., S. P. Cerasano and Marion Wynne-Davies (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1992), 12-15, 18-20. Montrose, "Idols of the Queen," 148, aptly defines such negotiating representations as "enabling" and "constraining" and also discusses the difficulty of defining normative or "official" images of the Queen.

13 "Idols of the Queen," 109. See also, 131, where he argues that most scholars "tend to take the fulsome tropes of royal panegyric as if they were testaments of faith and consequently to exaggerate the extent, consistency, and sincerity of this ‘cult of Elizabeth.’" Marie Axton, The Queen’s Two Bodies: Drama and the Elizabethan Succession (London: Royal Historical Society, 1977), 66, asserts, "clearly the conventions used by Gascoigne and his colleagues could convey both criticism and complaint."

14 Frye, Elizabeth I, 16. On Elizabeth as the symbolic center of political power, see Levin, Heart, 38, and Tennenhouse, Power on Display, 105.

15 On Elizabeth’s love of the "aesthetics of the miniature" in which courtiers were imaginatively made into children ruled by mother Elizabeth, see Jeanne H. McCarthy, "Elizabeth I’s ‘picture in little’: Boy Company Representations of a Queen’s Authority," Studies in Philology 100.4 (2003), 461-462. Lean Cowen Orlin, "The Fictional Families of Elizabeth I," in Political rhetoric, power, and Renaissance women, ed., Carole Levin and Patricia A. Sullivan (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995), 85-110, explores the ways in which Elizabeth and others, including King James VI, manipulated her image as a mother and sister.

16 On this use of the cult of Mary, see Carrithers, Age of Iron, 57-59, Strong, Cult of Elizabeth, 16, and Wilson, England’s Eliza, 215. Robin Headlam Wells, Spenser’s Faerie Queene and the Cult of Elizabeth (Totowa, NJ: Barnes & Noble Books, 1982), 18-19, writes that "the transference [of Marian devotion] to Elizabeth of certain deep-rooted devotional habits no doubt filled an important emotional gap in the lives of her subjects," Hackett, Virgin Mother, 37, 47-49, 55, 62, argues that the cult did not fulfill such psychological needs.

17 David Starkey, Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne (New York: Harper Collins, 2001), 310, writes, "the love games" that "Elizabeth required of her courtiers and councilors throughout her reign, and the full-blown absurdities of the Gloriana cult in its later years, were all means of forcing a masculine elite to pay tribute to a woman. And curiously, only the fact that she was a woman made it tolerable. When a male sovereign required to be worshipped as a deity, like Richard II or, in a somewhat different fashion, Charles I, the political nation revolted. But with a woman such foibles could be tolerated since they resembled the rituals of courtship." Christopher Haigh, Elizabeth I (London: Longman, 1988), 172, writes, Elizabeth "had to find an image of monarchy which was appropriate for a woman yet which invited obedience. Out of these difficulties came the image of the Virgin Queen, mother of her people." David Norbrook, Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984), 117-118, writes, "the language of Petrarchan love poetry implied an absolute gulf between virtuous mistress and humble suitor, a state of complete subjection. Elizabeth’s cult of courtly love actualized a metaphor that was always latent in monarchical systems of government: relations between individual and authority were not those of citizen and state but those of a subject, a dependent, to a single individual whose favour had to be ‘courted.’"

18 The Complete Works of George Gascoigne, ed., John Cunliffe (New York: Greenwood Press, 1969), vol. 2, 510.

19 On Gascoigne’s authorship of this anonymous text, see Charles and Ruth Prouty, "George Gascoigne, The Noble Arte of Venerie, and Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth," in Joseph Quincy Adams Memorial Studies, ed. James McManaway, Giles Dawson, and Edwin Willoughby (Washington: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1948) and Jean Robertson, "George Gascoigne and the Noble Arte of Venerie or Hunting," Modern Language Review 37 (1942), 484-485. D. H. Madden, The Diary of Master William Silence (London: Longmans, Green, 1907), 366, sees Hunting as "the work of some hack scribe, inferior in literary skill as well as in social position to Turberville, whose spirited verses . . . are, in my opinion, superior to the task-work of George Gascoigne."

20 Austen, "Literary Career," 80, n. 2.

21 On the political allegory of Petrarchan love, see the essential, Arthur F. Marotti, "‘Love is Not Love’: Elizabethan Sonnet Sequences and the Social Order," ELH 49 (1982), 396-428. See also William Sessions, Henry Howard, the poet Earl of Surrey: a life (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 176-177. Wyatt writes,
Who so list to hount, I knowe where is an hynde,
But as for me, helas, I may no more:
The vayne travaill hath weried me so sore.
I ame of theim that farthest commeth behinde.
Excerpted from Collected Poems of Sir Thomas Wyatt, ed., Kenneth Muir (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966). On the petrarchan allegory of the hunt, see William Kerrigan and Gordon Braden, "Milton’s Coy Eve: Paradise Lost and Renaissance Love Poetry," ELH 53.1 (1986), 42-45.

22 The quote is from Laurie Shannon, "Poetic Companies: Musters of Agency in George Gascoigne’s ‘Friendly Verse,’" GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 10.3 (2004), 459. On hunting, period hunting manuals, and Hunting’s relation to The Boke of St. Albans, see Roger Manning, Hunters and Poachers: A Social and Cultural History of Unlawful Hunting in England 1485-1640 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 6-12, Marcia Vale, The Gentleman’s Recreations: Accomplishments and pastimes of the English gentleman 1580-1630 (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1979), 27-40, and Rachel Hands, English Hawking and Hunting in the Boke of St. Albans (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975), xlii-xliii. Gascoigne’s Hunting was republished, The noble art of venerie or hunting (London, 1611), STC (2nd ed.) 24329, under King James with slight modifications, including replacing the image of Elizabeth with James (in the picnic and butchering scenes) and entirely removing the judging of the scat. Berry, Shakespeare and the Hunt, 75, writes in reference to the most ceremonial elements of the hunt "Gascoigne’s description . . . exercised such influence upon Elizabethan readers that it provides us with our closest approximation of the actual event." Vale, The Gentleman’s Recreations, 31, writes that Hunting was "a major source of hunting information for the English gentleman."

23 All images from The Noble Arte of Venerie or Hunting are used by permission of The Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery. On the identification of the hunter as Gascoigne, see Prouty, Noble Arte of Venerie, 663. Although Prouty also suggests that the courtier might be Lord Clinton, Austen, "Literary Career," 180, 184, suggests that these images might offer another of Gascoigne’s "self portraits," providing evidence that "the distinctive profile of the chief huntsman, who appears in all three woodcuts, is very similar to the falconer in the left foreground of the woodcut in Turberville’s [hawking] book in which Gascoigne creates a covert self-presentation as a falconer as well as a woodman."

24 On high fashion in the 1570s, see Iris Brooke, English Costume in the Age of Elizabeth: The Sixteenth Century (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1967), 64-71. Shannon, "Poetic Companies," 469, also notes Gascoigne’s complex encoding of class difference and identity. Berry, Shakespeare and the Hunt, 162, 181, notes the tensions of balancing pastoral with the day’s rigorous and bloody hunt: "the difficulty with this aristocratic ‘pastoralizing’ of the hunt is that the joys of nature are incidental to the main business of the day, the pursuit and killing of deer." Berry also notes that the "farcical battle" between the butler and the cook undermines the pastoral setting. He also claims, "although such affairs may seem ‘pastoral’ in design, they connote less a harmony between civilization and nature than an invasion of nature by civilization." Manning, Hunters and Poachers, 6, 17, writes that as primarily an elite practice, hunting itself "visibly and symbolically reinforced the social hierarchy," yet nevertheless, "in actual practice hunting was never confined exclusively to those qualified by law, because peers and gentlemen invariably hunted with servants and often compelled tenants to assist them as well. The typical hunting band seems to have consisted of a dozen or so members, and consequently numerous lesser gentry, yeoman, and even husbandmen came to share with their social superiors a common set of cultural attitudes toward hunting." On the multiple forms of pastoral and their distinctions, see Michelle O’Callaghan, "Pastoral" in A Companion to English Renaissance Literature and Culture, ed., Michael Hattaway (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), 307-316.

25 On hunting as mock war, see Manning, Hunters and Poachers, 35-41. Prouty, Arte of Venerie, 657, suggests that this moment might be a record of a masque performed for Elizabeth but that Gascoigne did not have a "particular occasion in mind." Manning, Hunters and Poachers, 200-201, discusses Hunting’s masque-like qualities. On Gascoigne’s "marginalization" at court, see Austen, Gascoigne’s Metamorphoses," 13-14. On his desire for "revenge" against the "worldly, wily monsters of court," see LaGrandeur, "Androgyny and Linguistic Power," 353.

26 On hunting as mock war, see Berry, Shakespeare and the Hunt, 10. In reference to The Steele Glas, LaGrandeur, "Androgyny and Linguistic Power," 354, writes, "his reflexive language is at once allegorically allusive and self-disseminating . . . the slipperiness of the poetic tropes upon which his satire is built provides few footholds for retort. There is a good example of how such doubly reflective language operates in the epilogue."

27 Berry, Shakespeare and the Hunt, 54, writes, "Gascoigne praises hunting for its capacity to ‘represent’ other activities." On Elizabeth’s knowledge and use of petrarchanism, see Leonard Forster, The Icy Fire: Five Studies in European Petrarchism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 122-147. See Louis Montrose, "The Work of Gender in the Discourse of Discovery," Representations 33 (1991), 8-10, on Raleigh’s courtship of the Queen as his petrarchan mistress. On Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester’s petrarchan courtship of Elizabeth, see Nash, "‘A Subject Without Subjection,’" 86-88.

28 The OED also indicates that "hind" also refers to household servants. For courtiers, the ironic position of being both a political servant and potential social or political target (metaphorically a hunted hind) remained a real possibility.

29 LaGrandeur, "Androgyny and Linguistic Power," 351, establishes that The Steele Glas offers versions of Gascoigne, subsuming "simultaneous emasculation and empowerment." Austen, "Literary Career," 169, 172-174, 176, 190, also demonstrates that Gascoigne is writing "for a noble and courtly audience or readership," which included the Queen.

30 Austen, "Literary Career," 182, writes that "the Queen is depicted as holding a small branch, which could perhaps have been one of these ‘blemishes’ [a broken branch indicating where the deer ran], though most would have been left in situ to indicate the direction the hart had taken."

31 In addition to providing the allegorical symbol of the olive branch of peace, Gascoigne’s text refers to the allegorical function of these images by setting them "in portraiture" "for the better declaration and lively expressing of all these things" (my emphasis). For early modern readers, "portraiture" not only refers to the "representation" of an object or thing (OED 1) in life like terms but also, and more germane to our purposes, figuratively refers to a "mental image," "idea," "a type," and "exemplar" (OED 3).

32 On the olive branch and on the olive branch as a symbol of peace, see Strong, Gloriana, 139-141 and The Elizabethan Image (New York: Penguin, 1970), 46. On Leicester, de Heere, and "Allegory," see Strong, Gloriana, 56-57. Austen, "Literary Career," 196-197, reviews the scholarship that sees Gascoigne as "Leicester’s poet." John Kerrigan, "The editor as reader: constructing Renaissance texts," in The practice and representation of reading in England, ed., James Raven, Helen Small, and Naomi Tadmor (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 111, argues that Gabriel Harvey read Gascoigne’s "Fernando Jeronimi" and thereafter thought that he was a member of "Leicester’s war party." Shannon, "Poetic Companies," 476, however, argues that Gascoigne "supports Elizabeth’s pacifism as an instance of wisdom warranted by example." Axton, Queen’s Two Bodies, 61, 63, refers to Gascoigne as one of "Leicester’s protégés" or "poets." See also Eleanor Rosenberg, Leicester: Patron of Letters (New York: Columbia University Press; 1955), 166-172.

33 Berry, Shakespeare and the Hunt, 11, discusses Gascoigne’s painstaking translation and discussion of the language of the hunt, which gave "outsiders [or the non-elite] access to an esoteric lore [and thus social identity] from which they were otherwise excluded." In this linguistic context, "hunting was thus not merely a physical but a verbal sport, and done in which the mastery of words implied both power over nature and society."

34 Hunters, 201. Austen, "Literary Career," 180, also writes that the "three woodcuts can be seen as celebrating the Queen’s woodmanship."

35 Gascoigne writes,
My worthy Lord, I pray you wonder not,
To see your wodman shoote so ofte awrie,
Nor that he stands amased like a sot,
And lets the harmlesse deare (unhurt) go by.
Of if he strike a doe which is but carren,
Laugh not good Lord, but favoure such a fault. (1-6)
Excerpted from Pigman, A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres. On "Gascoigne’s Wodmanship," see George Kneidel, "Reforming George Gascoigne," Exemplaria 10.2 (1998), 349-355, who demonstrates that Gascoigne turns his inability to hit the target in "Wodmanship" into his moral ability to live ethically. Examining Gascoigne’s deployment of a "poetics of failure," Jonathan Crewe, Trials of Authorship: Anterior Forms and Poetic Reconstruction From Wyatt to Shakespeare (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 125, 130, 135, 139, writes, "the ostensibly deviant and recalcitrant aspects of the performance thus appear all along to have been in the secret and inescapable service of the self-empowering autobiographical subject, never other but always the same in whatever resistant or disarming guise." See also Robert DeSmith, "Gascoigne’s Poems in Context," Proceedings of the Third Dakotas Conference on Earlier British Literature (Brookings: English Department, South Dakota State University, 1995), 49-51, Jane Hedley, "Allegoria: Gascoigne’s Master Trope," English Literary Renaissance 11.2 (1981), and Douglas Peterson, The English Lyric from Wyatt to Donne: A History of the Plain and Eloquent Styles (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967), 154-160.

36 Age of Iron, 46.

37 The quote is from Shannon, "Poetic Companies," 457.

38 "Fictions of the Pose: Facing the Gaze of Early Modern Portraiture," Representations 46 (1994), 94.

39 Ibid. Steven Mullaney, "Reforming Resistance: Class, Gender, and Legitimacy in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs," in Print, Manuscript, & Performance: The Changing Relations of the Media In Early Modern England, ed., Arthur Marotti and Michael Bristol (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2000), 247, writes, "the new modes of drama emerging precisely at this moment succeeded only insofar as they successfully reconstituted their audiences, reconfigured their affective thresholds by demanding and producing new powers of identification, projection, and apprehension, altering the threshold not only of dramatic representation but also of self-representation, not only of the fictional construction of character but also of the social construction of the self."

40 "The Spectacles of State," in Persons in Groups: Social Behavior as Identity Formation in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, ed., Richard Trexler (Binghamton: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1985), 103. See also Strong, Gloriana, 153-155, who writes "this celebration of Worcester is, however, subservient to that of Elizabeth."

41 Montrose, "Idols of the Queen," 147, establishes that the "Rainbow Portrait" was read throughout Europe as a celebration of not only Queen Elizabeth but also of Sir Robert Cecil and his father William Cecil, Lord Burghley.

42 Quoted in Greenblatt, Self-Fashioning, 167.

43 "Representing Power: Measure for Measure in its Time," Shakespeare and History, ed., Stephen Orgel and Sean Keilen (New York: Garland Publishing; 1999), 141.

44 Shannon, "Poetic Companies," 474, establishes that Gascoigne "calls into being and traces" a Dutch portrait aesthetics, which "is less emphatic about vertical authority and that offers a conjoint image of individuation and membership."

45 Axton, Queen’s Two Bodies, 66, writes, "it may sound odd to speak of the ‘school of Gascoigne’ but, for men like George Whetstone, Thomas Churchyard or Thomas Blenerhasset, Gascoigne’s proximity to Leicester and the Queen was a mark of dazzling success. He had his disciples and imitators." On Gascoigne’s influence as a "bringer of order," see also Maslen, Elizabethan Fictions, 8, 156, and Diana Henderson, Passion Made Public: Elizabethan Lyric, Gender, and Performance (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995), 47-48. See also, Rosenberg, Patron of Letters. Stephen Orgel, The Jonsonian Masque (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965), 39, states that in 1576, Gascoigne was "the best living English poet (Sidney and Spenser had not been heard from yet)." On his "powerful impression" at Kenilworth, see Austen, "Gascoigne’s Metamorphoses," 16.

46 For Leicester as "one of the most influential men in England," see Nash, "‘A Subject Without Subjection,’" 82-86. For Leicester and Gascoigne’s mutually beneficial relationship, see Rosenberg, Patron of Letters, 166-172. Nash, "‘A Subject Without Subjection,’" 89-90, writes, "although the team of poets that devised the entertainment owed loyalty to Queen Elizabeth, they were keenly aware of the bounty that could follow their service to the Earl of Leicester, and would have striven to portray him in the light that he wished. The entertainment thus reveals divided loyalties, for it advertises Dudley’s puissance as well as the queen’s." On Gascoigne’s own self-promotion, see, McCarthy, "Elizabeth I’s ‘picture in little," 444-446; Henderson, Passion Made Public, 68-79; and Frye, Elizabeth I, 63-96. At 74, Henderson writes, "it is certainly true that Gascoigne argues on Leicester’s behalf at Kenilworth. But the narrative also emphasizes Gascoigne’s desire to be accepted and ‘tamed’ by the queen’s beneficent presence, a desire to be worthy of her divine grace translated into erotic imagery."

47 "‘A Subject Without Subjection,’" 91, 96. See also Austen, "Gascoigne’s Metamorphoses," 12, 14-15, 21-22. Henderson, Passion Made Public, 68-79, also analyzes Gascoigne’s complex mix of self-assertion and compliment, writing that Gascoigne’s unperformed but published masque "maintains a plausible but extremely fragile fiction that attempts to ‘cover’ political messages verging on the impertinence (from the queen’s perspective)" (76).

48 Austen, "Literary Career," 172. See also his, "Gascoigne’s Metamorphosis," 11-12, 23.

49 "‘A Subject Without Subjection,’" 89. LaGrandeur, "Androgyny and Linguistic Power," 358, dates Gascoigne’s success later, after the presentation of Hemetes to Elizabeth.

50 On Elizabeth as the axis mundi in painting and poetry, see Albert Labriola, "Painting and Poetry of the Cult of Elizabeth I: The Ditchley Portrait and Donne’s ‘Elegie: Going to Bed,’" Studies in Philology 93.1 (1996), 42-63 and Andrew and Catherine Belsey, "Icons of Divinity: Portraits of Elizabeth I," in Renaissance Bodies: The Human Figure in English Culture 1540-1660, ed., Lucy Gent and Nigel Llewellyn (London: Reaktion Books, 1990), 11-35.

51 Jane Hedley, Power in Verse: Metaphor and Metonymy in the Renaissance Lyric (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1988), 26, writes, "the language of amorous eulogy and love-complaint became the language of court politics not only because it could express the ‘irrational logic’ of the patronage system but also because it masked the economic needs which made that system an effective instrument of government. Elizabeth insisted on her royal prerogative to dispense political patronage arbitrarily, on the strength of her own assessment of the candidate’s worthiness. She must be appealed to as a goddess, with absolute power to redress her suitor’s predicament but no obligation to do so."

52 On Elizabeth’s hunting feats, see Berry, Shakespeare and the Hunt, 76.

53 Nash, "‘A Subject Without Subjection,’" 93-94, writes of Gascoigne’s work, which offers "to celebrate Elizabeth’s divine capabilities while complaining of the damage they can cause" and that his work "claims to praise [her] transformative power, but actually portrays it as a curse, an agent of misery and frustration."

54 Berry, Shakespeare and the Hunt, 77. On Elizabeth’s hunting feats, see Manning, Hunters and Poachers, 27.

55 Bates, Rhetoric of Courtship, 13, 46, writes, "the longer that the response [in courtier-monarch exchanges] (which might be positive or negative) is delayed—through the prevarication or equivocation of one party (traditionally the woman) then the more prolonged becomes the complex social interplay of debt and gratitude that exists between the individuals involved." "Archetypally, the relation between Elizabeth and her courtiers reflected a moment in which a courtship had been artificially frozen—in which the ‘lover’ and ‘beloved’ stood permanently on the threshold of a sexual relationship which would never be realized; and in which the cycle of reciprocity between an offer and its acceptance was arrested and suspended, creating a tense network of social, sexual, and political ties."

56 On these narrative positions, see Elizabeth Heale, Autobiography and Authorship in Renaissance Verse: Chronicles of the Self (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 125-144. Henderson, Passion Made Public, 53, analyzes Gascoigne’s "potentially dialogic play of lyric and satiric perspectives" and his use of "the multiple perspectives afforded by temporal change." See also, Susan Staub, "‘According to My Source’": Fictionality in The Adventures of Master F. J.," Studies in Philology 87.1 (1990); 111-119, Hedley, "Allegoria" 148-164; and George Rowe, Jr., "Interpretation, Sixteenth-Century Readers, and George Gascoigne’s ‘The Adventures of Master F. J.,’" ELH 48 (1981), 271-289. Rowe situates Gascoigne in a movement wherein fact and description replaced the humanist project of meaning and interpretation. See also, Lynette McGrath, "George Gascoigne’s Moral Satire: The Didactic Use of Convention in The Adventures Passed by Master F. J.," Journal of English and Germanic Philology 70.3 (1971), 440-443; Paul Parish, "The Multiple Perspectives of Gascoigne’s ‘The Adventures of Master F. J.,’" Studies in Short Fiction 10.1 (1973), 75-85; and Leicester Bradner, "Point of View in George Gascoigne’s Fiction," Studies in Short Fiction 3.1 (1965), 16-17. Arthur Kinney, ed., The Cambridge Companion to English Literature 1500-1600 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 5, writes, "painters and writers of the Renaissance . . . placed a premium on the potential multiplicity of perspective. Painters did not expect viewers to remain fixed in looking at a work of art, but to move around to various positions to view it, just as the writers at Henry’s court expected to be read . . . Shifting stances allow various readings."

57 The story is from Book 3 of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, ed., Horace Gregory (New York: Mentor, 1958), 89-92. The goddess Diana
Glanced a sidelong look across her shoulder
As though she wished her arrows were at hand,
But failing these, splashed water, sharp as rain,
In Actaeon’s face, and through his streaming hair . . .
And as she spoke, his wet hair branched in antlers,
Worn by the lively stag; his neck grew long,
Ears pointed, hands were hoofs, arms were thin legs,
And all his body a short-furred, spotted skin . . .
And while he stood in doubt, he saw his dogs,
His hunters, first Melampus, then quick-nosed
Ichnobates crying upon his trail.

The first early modern edition was The fyrst fovver bookes of P. Ovidius Nasos worke, intitled Metamorphosis, trans., Arthur Golding (London, 1565), STC (2nd ed.), 18955. Ilona Bell, "Elizabeth I—Always Her Own Free Woman," in Political Rhetoric, Power, and Renaissance Women, ed., Carole Levin and Patricia Sullivan (Albany: State of New York University Press, 1995), 63, 69, 77, argues that Elizabeth did not fulfill the characteristics of the traditionally chaste and virginal Petrarchan beloved. She writes that "what cannot be sufficiently explained by a theory of political Petrarchism is that even as Elizabeth veils her intentions like a conventional Petrarchan lady, she asserts her desires like a man or, some say, strumpet." Frances Teague, "Queen Elizabeth in her Speeches," in Gloriana’s Face, 63-78, argues that Elizabeth knowingly and actively created the image of herself as the chaste virgin. King, "Representations of the Virgin," 43, argues that Elizabeth only came to be identified with Diana as virgin later in her reign, after 1580, when she was no longer capable of bearing children and thus unlikely to be married. Greenblatt, Self-Fashioning, 168, dates the birth of "secular cult of the virgin" to 1563. Austen, "Gascoigne’s Metamorphoses," 21-22, writes of "Elizabeth and the mythic functions of Diana, but this version of the story seems to evoke her darker side. Her lovers (ambitious courtiers) become versions of Actaeon when the natural landscape is revealed to be the product of Zabeta’s powers of transformation." See also Montrose, The Purpose of Playing: Shakespeare and the cultural poetics of the Elizabethan theatre (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 168-169, who discusses Elizabeth’s identification with the Diana and Actaeon story in reference to Essex.

58 Austen, "Literary Career," 227 and 225; see also 246. The modern critical edition of Hemetes is available in Cunliffe, Complete Works, 2, 472-510.

59 The quote is from Austen, "Literary Career," 223. Frye, Elizabeth I, 170-171, n. 7, argues that Elizabeth commanded Gascoigne to translate Hemetes as a snub for forwarding Dudley’s power at her expense in the Kenilworth entertainments. Hemetes, by contrast, "more faithfully reproduced her preferred iconography of virginity." Frye, Elizabeth I, 84-86, writes in "Kenilworth’s opening and censored entertainments, Gascoigne and Dudley refuse the feminized role that Castiglione assigned to the courtier, to charm his sovereign, and remasculinize themselves by publicizing a deliberate conflict with her and her policies. At the same time, in looking outside the court for an arena of male action, they demonstrate how right Castiglione was that the courtier is feminized by the pursuit of ambition."

60 The image from Hemetes the Heremyte is used by permission of the British Library.

61 Cunliffe, Complete Works, 2, 473.

62 Elizabethan Fictions, 130-131.

63 The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion (New York: Harper & Row, 1959), 43-44.

64 "Spectacles of State," 113.

65 The incident is discussed in Neville Williams, Elizabeth the First: Queen of England (New York: E. P. Dutton; 1967), 332-333. The treasonous nature of such acts of threatening the monarch by touching or bearing a blade in her presence are defined in the Second Treasons Act of Elizabeth 1571, which reads, in part, "that if any person . . . during the natural life of our most gracious sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth . . . shall, within the realm or without, compass, imagine, invent, devise or intend the death or destruction, or any bodily harm tending to the death, destruction, maim or wounding of the royal person . . . that then all and every such said offence or offences shall be taken, deemed and declared, by the authority of this act and Parliament, to be high treason." Excerpted from The Tudor Constitution: Documents and Commentary, ed., G. R. Elton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 73-74. On swords, their power, and words as swords in Gascoigne’s other work and in early modern culture, see Maslen, Elizabethan Fictions, 117, 134-135, 153.

66 Maslen, Elizabethan Fictions, 118, 122, 127, 132, 142, 155-157, details Gascoigne’s poetic construction of himself as an unpredictable power that needs to be employed by the state, lest the Catholic enemies inside and outside of England do employ him. Montrose, "The Work of Gender," 9-10, writes of Elizabeth, "whose attempts to maintain an absolute command over her courtiers’ alliances and their attentions had been flagrantly flouted. Indeed, the various and conflicting recorded perceptions and attitudes of Elizabethan subjects strongly suggest that such unpredictability [of ‘courting’] is itself the historically relevant point; that it is, in fact, a structural feature of the Elizabethan political system. A strategic ambiguity that might be manifested as paradox, equivocation, or contradiction, it was of potential if limited utility both to the monarch and to her (masculine) subjects. For the latter, however—as Raleigh’s case demonstrates—it also carried considerable potential liabilities." On the potentially subversive sense of courtship used by servants (and thus not by the elite), see Matthew Steggle, "James Yates, Elizabethan Servant Poet," Studies in Philology 101.1 (2004), 57-58. In reviewing the dizzying array of identities that Gascoigne constructs for himself throughout his work, Crewe, Trials of Authorship, 122, also finds that "all this implies something more martially aggressive and mercurially devious than Gascoigne’s credible self-characterization as a weak poet might lead one to expect."

67 The quote is Nash, "‘A Subject Without Subjection,’"101. On royal gift-giving practices and Dudley’s intentional slight or "ungracious self-promotion," see 99-101.

68 The assertion comes from Susan Staub, "‘A Poet with a Spear’": Writing and Sexual Power in the Elizabethan Period," Renaissance Papers (1992), 2-3. I agree with her statement that Gascoigne "equates writing with violence and aggression and fashions the male author not as subject but as controller and creator" and the drawing "reveals the poet’s ambivalence about the poetic enterprise, portraying, on the one hand, the surrender of his freedom and identity to the female queen and, on the other, the assertion of masculine power and autonomy."

69 On men’s clothing in the sixteenth century, see Brooke, English Costume, 10-12. A contemporary image of Queen Elizabeth in parliament includes members wearing furred gowns, a number of them resembling Gascoigne’s gown with the short furred collar. The image is owned by the British Library and is reproduced by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, The Life and Times of Elizabeth (New York: Curtis Books; 1966), 5.

70 On the "Coronation Portrait" and the regalia of investiture, see King, "Representations of the Virgin,"41-43. See also Strong, Gloriana, 163-164.

71 Political Culture in the Reign of Elizabeth I: Queen and Commonwealth 1558-1585 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 72, 100-104, 158-189.

72 Ibid. 101.

73 Shannon, "Poetic Companies," 470-472, argues that Gascoigne’s martial writings also "blur" the line between support of a political superior and the assertion of Gascoigne’s own excellence (and power) via "friendship’s (dehierarchizing) values."

74 McLaren, Political Culture, 102, writes, "given contemporary beliefs about gender identities, queen-in-parliament denoted a marriage between queen and the realm that at some level allowed, even insisted upon, the ‘body’ taking the role of head, or husband. But this reversal was unnatural, threatening established relations of hierarchy and degree." On the godly as counselors, see 36-45. We should bring this highly contemporary sense of "godly men" as rightful and necessary political "bridles" to the Queen’s power to Gascoigne’s own concurrent self-representation as a reformed and godly man writing moral works. As such, his self-construction in those works seems much less the pandering argued by recent scholarship and more an assertion of a specific kind of powerful self that justifies Gascoigne’s sense of identity and desire for place.

75 Austen, "Literary Career," 228-229, also discusses this moment, "it is not only an unmistakably favourable encounter, in which Elizabeth seems to accept both Gascoigne’s book and his posturing, but also a far more private encounter than he could ever hope to achieve in his life, since there is not an attendant in sight."

76 "Wages of Courtly Success," 47; see also 52. He also sees this moment as "Gascoigne’s courtly submission."

77 LaGrandeur, "Androgyny and Linguistic Power," 351, writes of a similar power in The Steele Glas, "Gascoigne’s persona straddles another boundary besides that of gender—it also bridges the mortal and mythical, for beneath the appearance of self-deprecation are hidden the features of an apotheosis of sorts." On "Gascoigne’s flexibility and his talent for last-minute composition" at the Kenilworth entertainment, see Austen, "Gascoigne’s Metamorphoses," 12-13.

78 The quote is by William Webbe, quoted in Henderson, Passion Made Public, 48.

79 As Montrose, "Idols of the Queen," 116, writes, "an ideologically embattled and politically insecure regime such as that of Elizabeth Tudor was likely to construe a serious breach of decorum, if not as an outright indication of seditious sentiment, any less than idealized representations of the monarch and any less than reverential demeanor toward the royal image."

80 Prouty, George Gascoigne, The Noble Arte of Venerie, 652, writes, "he evidently did not think it well to put his name to so light and trivial a work as The Noble Arte" and "when we think of his other writings from this time on, all highly moral or designed to please Queen Elizabeth, we may conclude that such a secular work . . . should not have occupied as serious a reformer as George Gascoigne!" See also, Austen, "Literary Career," 171-172.

81 Prouty, George Gascoigne, The Noble Arte of Venerie, 652, and Austen, "Literary Career," 172-173. On Bedford, see Rosenberg, Patron of Letters, 167.

82 Cunliffe, Complete Works, 2, 510.

83 King, "Representations of the Virgin," 55, speaks to such courtly evasions in reference to Spenser, "he shares Sidney’s realization that ambiguity is the appropriate posture for one to assume in praising or advising a queen whose own image and desires are ambiguous." On the political function of anonymity and Gascoigne’s failure to "draw up and control the agreement regarding anonymity and revelation with his elite audience" in his A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, see North, "Anonymity’s Revelations," 13-14.

84 On Gascoigne’s muddled performance, see Austen, "Gascoigne’s Metamorphoses,"16-18, who writes, "the incident became a running joke between Gascoigne and the Queen." Such a joke characteristically turns apparent failure into power for Gascoigne. See also, Richard McCoy, The Rites of Knighthood: The Literature and Politics of Elizabethan Chivalry (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), 44-45.

85 On control and access to the Queen’s body and the associate power this brings, see Starkey, The Struggle, 242.


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