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It seems that slanders against Elizabeth were more pronounced in areas away from the capital.This is perhaps suggestive about regional variation in the perception of Elizabeth, and the remoteness of her monarchy in those areas that she never visited.It is not only the history of one woman, the way she was perceived by her people and subsequent generations, but the history of literature, of art, of politics, of religion, and culture, for each generation writes its own history, and they write it according to their understandings of the world, their experiences and expectations.
The belief that the Queen was really a man, is interesting in what it suggests about attitudes towards women and government in this period.
The origins and prevalence of this belief are as yet obscure, but there is the suggestion that this belief was especially pronounced in the south west of England.
However, it is uncertain to what degree the crimes of the mother were held against the daughter in England.
If Elizabeth had an infamous mother, then she had a famous father, and her paternity may have been sufficient to prevent such a vehement hatred of her in England.
According to Constance Pratt, an entire legend emerged asserting that the real Princess Elizabeth was supplanted by a male or hermaphrodite imposter when she unexpectedly died of a childhood illness.
It is unclear whether this belief was present during Elizabeth's own lifetime, or was a posthumous development.Elizabeth Tudor is undoubtedly one of the most famous English monarchs.Her life and reign have inspired many biographies, histories, novels, and dramatic works.This perception is of paramount significance in understanding the nature of Elizabeth's early reputation.In Catholic Europe, Elizabeth, simply by being Anne's daughter, was abhorred as "the concubine's little bastard", which became "incestuous bastard" (2) following the accusations of adultery that were hailed against her mother - a legacy that haunted Elizabeth's reputation in Catholic Europe for the rest of her life.It was whispered that she was infertile, that she had some physical deformity, that she was half woman, half man, or even completely male.The difficulty for the historian lies in determining how much significance to attach to these rumours, and determining their timing, and social, regional and cultural origin.It is unclear to what degree these rumours were confined to Catholics alone, or were influenced by the rumours circulating about the Queen in Catholic Europe.It is equally obscure whether the rumours were primarily a plebian tendency, or also popular amongst the elite.If both Anne and Elizabeth were abhorred by the people in these years, then this means that the sheer acceptance of Elizabeth as sovereign some two decades later, needs some consideration.The hypothesis that immediately arises, is that somewhere between her birth and accession to the throne, her reputation suffered a transformation from unpopular to popular. Elizabeth's reputation from her accession to her death is no less perplexing to understand because of its many facets.