By Mary Villeponteaux (auth.)
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Additional info for The Queen’s Mercy: Gender and Judgment in Representations of Elizabeth I
Repeatedly the Queen refused. In a letter to Elizabeth dated November 15, 1569, the Earl of Sussex, her lieutenant in the North, suggests that she pardon the earls and their followers and call the earls to court as a way of dismantling the rebellion. ”98 The letter Elizabeth wrote in response reveals not a tender and clement heart, but rather a harsh and unforgiving stance toward the rebels. She begins by addressing Sussex’s concern that the troops under his command may be seduced by the rebellion and prove faithless.
The true Israelite . . ” Anxieties about the succession, about Spain and foreign policy, about Ireland, about Mary Stuart: all of these have the Catholic-Protestant conflict at heart. But doubts about a woman’s ability to rule also resulted in a readiness to perceive Elizabeth as foolishly lenient, even in situations where in reality she showed very little mercy. The Northern Rebellion provides a striking example of the way public perception of the queen’s clemency far exceeded reality. Elizabeth was surprisingly harsh with the Northern Catholic rebels, demanding executions despite pleas from local officials and those in her service.
Just as Medina intervened “in pitty of their harmes,” Phaedria beseeches the knights: How can Your cruell eyes endure so pitteous sight, To shed your liues on ground? 5–7) She begs them to find a place for pity in their “yron brestes” and seek peace instead of war. Of course, the peace she has in mind is the “louely peace, and gentle amity” found “in Amours”; she asserts that Mars is Cupidoes frend, And is for Venus loues renowmed more, Then all his wars and spoiles. 2). 5–6). This assertion is rendered ironic when we recall that it is Phaedria who has been urging clemency.