Gloriana: Perspectives on Elizabeth I - A Day of Talks

Talk Heritage

Join us at Southwark Cathedral for this day of talks on one of England's greatest monarchs - perhaps the greatest?


Five of the country's foremost historians on the Tudor period present four different presentations all about the life of Elizabeth I. The day will conclude with a panel discussion with our speakers, who will debate the day's talks and take questions from the audience.

Alison Weir - Elizabeth the Queen

Elizabeth the Queen begins as the young Elizabeth ascends the throne in the wake of her sister Mary's disastrous reign - both a woman and a queen, Elizabeth's story is an extraordinary phenomenon in a patriarchal age.

From Elizabeth's intriguing, long-standing affair with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, to her dealings - sometimes comical, sometimes poignant - with her many suitors, her rivalry with Mary, Queen of Scots, and her bizarre relationship with the Earl of Essex, thirty years her junior, here, in rich, vivid and colourful detail, Alison Weir helps us comes as close as we shall ever get to knowing what Elizabeth I was like as a person.

Alison Weir is the bestselling female historian (and the fifth-bestselling historian overall) in the United Kingdom, and has sold over 3 million books worldwide.

She has published twenty history books, including her most recent non-fiction book, Queens of the Crusades, the second in her England's Medieval Queens quartet. Alison is also the author of twelve historical novels, including the highly acclaimed Six Tudor Queens series about the wives of Henry VIII, all of which were Sunday Times bestsellers.

Alison is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an honorary life patron of Historic Royal Palaces.

Sarah Gristwood - Elizabeth and Leicester

Almost immediately after she became queen, Elizabeth's infatuation with the married Earl became the subject of letters from scandalized ambassadors. And when Dudley's wife, Amy, died a mere two years later under suspicious circumstances many speculated that Elizabeth and Robert would marry.

They never did, although by the time Robert died he had been Elizabeth's councillor and commander of her army, had sat by her bed in sickness and represented her on state occasions. But she had also humiliated him, made him dance attendance on her other suitors, and tried to have him clapped in prison when he finally broke loose and married again.

Elizabeth and Leicester is a portrait - at times a startlingly intimate one - of the tie between two of the people who forced their age; of a relationship where, unusually, a woman held all the power; of an edgy yet enduring love that still speaks to us today.

Sarah Gristwood is the author of four previous books of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century history: the Sunday Times bestseller Arbella: England’s Lost Queen; Elizabeth & Leicester; Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses; and the widely-translated Game of Queens. A former journalist, contributing to papers such as the Guardian and the Telegraph, she has also written a number of books on twentieth-century subjects. She features frequently at history festivals, and on radio and television discussing the past and present of Britain’s monarchy.

Siobhan Clarke and Linda Collins: Gloriana: The Art of Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I needed a very particular image to hold her divided country together. The ‘Cult of Gloriana’ was a movement in which authors, musicians, and artists – such as Spencer, Shakespeare, Tallis and Byrd - revered the queen as a virgin or goddess, unlike other women. The queen’s image was widely owned and distributed, thanks to the expansion of printing, and the English came to surpass their European counterparts in miniature painting, primarily due to the mastery of Nicholas Hilliard. Gloriana; Elizabeth I and the Art of Queenship tells a story of Elizabethan art as a powerful device for royal magnificence and propaganda which, along with the queen’s formidable grasp of public relations, were vital ingredients of her queenship.

Siobhan Clarke BA Hons has worked for Historic Royal Palaces for 20 years, delivering tours and lectures on the palaces of Hampton Court, Kensington, the Tower of London and the Banqueting House, Whitehall. She has lectured for the British Museum, National Trust, U3A and Smithsonian and is an accredited lecturer for the Arts Society. Siobhan has featured on BBC Radio ‘Women's Hour’ and PBS Television's ‘Secrets of Henry VIII's Palace’. Her published work includes: ‘A Tudor Christmas’ with Alison Weir (Jonathan Cape, 2018). ‘The Tudors: The Crown, the Dynasty, the Golden Age’ with Linda Collins (Andre Deutsch, 2019). ‘King and Collector: Henry VIII and the art of Kingship’ with Linda Collins (History Press, 2021). ‘Gloriana: Elizabeth I and the art of Queenship’ with Linda Collins (History Press, 2022).

Linda Collins holds a BA (Hons) in Early Italian art, an MA in Art History and a diplome francais in French language and culture. She was employed by Historic Royal Palaces for 23 years whilst continuing a career as an accredited lecturer for the Arts Society. She has lectured widely around the UK, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. A member of the Association of Art Historians, Linda is proud to be President of the Harpenden Area Arts Society.

Tracy Borman - Elizabeth's Women

Elizabeth I is often portrayed as a ruthless 'man's woman', who derided her own sex – ‘I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman' – and loved to flirt with the young men at her court. Yet she was born into a world of women and it is her relationships with these women that provide the most fascinating insight into the character of this remarkable monarch.

As a child Elizabeth was raised by her mother, governesses and stepmothers, while as an adult she was clothed, bathed and watched by her ladies of the bedchamber and her maids of honour. With them she was jealous, spiteful and cruel, as well as loyal, kind and protective. Among her family it was her female relations who had the greatest influence on her life: from her sister Mary, who distrusted and later imprisoned her, to her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, who posed a constant and dangerous threat to her crown for almost thirty years.

It was these women – and many more – who brought out the best – and worst – in Elizabeth and reveal the woman behind the carefully cultivated image of the Virgin Queen.

Tracy Borman is joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces and Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust. She studied and taught history at the University of Hull and was awarded a PhD in 1997.

Tracy is the author of a number of highly acclaimed books including The Private Lives of the Tudors: Uncovering the Secrets of Britain's Greatest Dynasty, Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant, Matilda: Wife of the Conqueror, First Queen of England, Elizabeth's Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen and Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction. Tracy is also a regular broadcaster and public speaker, giving talks on her books across the UK and abroad.

End of Day Panel Event

Our speakers will conclude the day by taking questions from the audience on any of the subjects spoken about during the day.